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and has no desire to be made holy, he has no desire after such a salvation as Christ proposes in his gospel, nor is he like to attain it.
We must be sensible then of the corruption of our natures, the perverseness of our wills, the vanity of our minds, the earthliness of our affections, our inability to do that which is good for time to come, as well as our guilt, condemnation and misery, because of our transgressions past: We must desire that a thorough work of repentance may be wrought in our hearts, that the power and reign of sin may be broken there, and that we may become new creatures as well as desire to escape the wrath of God, and hell, and eternal death, if ever we would be partakers of that salvation which the gospel proposes, Christ will not divide one part of his salvation from the other: And in vain do we presume to trust in him for happiness, if we are not willing to be made holy too.
How false and unreasonable are all the reproaches that are cast upon the doctrine of salvation by faith, as though it tended to promote looseness of life, and to indulge iniquity; when that very salvation includes in it a freedom from the power of sin, and a delight in all that is holy? This is the very character of Christ our Saviour, and the reason of his name Jesus, that he should save his people from their sins; Mat. i. 21. If we are delivered by Christ, it is from this present wicked world; Gal. i. 4. If we are redeemed, it is from all iniquity, that we might be a peculiar people purified to himself, zealous of good works; Tit. ii, ́14.
IV. Though the gospel is such a glorious doctrine of grace, that there is no reason to be ashamed of it, yet since it saves us by faith, and not by works, there is no reason for us to boast when we are saved. We may glory indeed in the cross of Christ and make our boast in the Redeemer all the day long; but the gospel for ever cuts off all ground of boasting in ourselves, Here the justice and mercy of God shine forth gloriously; here the righteousness of God is declared, sinners find remission or pardon, God is just, and a justifier of him who believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay, but by the law of Faith; Rom. iii. 25, 26, 27. By grace ye are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast; Eph. ii. 8, 9.
The gospel concurs with the law in this respect, that it shews us our own guilt and vileness, our ruin and our impotence to restore ourselves, and therefore it has put all our help upon another. God has laid our help upon one that is mighty to save; Ps. lxxxix. 19. and he has ordained that the way whereby we should derive this salvation, is by renouncing all dependance upon self, and trust
ing in Christ and grace for all that we enjoy and hope for. This is the business of faith; this is the very nature of that Christian virtue, to disclaim all self-sufficiency, and receive all from mere mercy; and therefore it is appointed to be the means of our justification under the gospel; therefore it is said so often in scripture, that we are justified by faith, that divine grace may have all the glory; Rom. iv. 16. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be of grace. We are ignorant and foolish, and must derive wisdom from Christ: We are guilty, and must receive righteousness from him: We are unholy, he is the spring of our sanctification : We are captives and slaves to sin and Satan, and we must have redemption from him: He is made of God to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, that no flesh might glory in his presence, but he that glories, must glory in the Lord; 1 Cor. i. 29, 30.
Man, innocent man, had power and righteousness, and life put into his own hands; but the first Adam grew vain in his selfsufficiency, and he foolishly sinned, and lost it all: Therefore God, in order to our recovery, would put power, and righteousness, and life into the hands of another, even his own Son, the second Adam, that we might go out of ourselves, and seek it all from another hand. Now faith, or trust, is the proper act of the soul, to express our own emptiness, and our dependance on another for all.
This is the language of faith, “Lord, I am a sinful and guilty creature; I have no righteousness, no merit, to recommend me to thy favour; I have no power to change my unholy nature, and rectify the criminal disorders of my soul; I am unable to subdue the sins that dwell in me, or practise the required duties of holiness; I deserve condemnation and death, and I am by nature walking in the way to hell: helpless and hopeless for ever in myself, but in thy rich grace is all my hope: I rejoice in the discoveries of thy mercy; I come at the call of thy gospel, upon the bended knees of my soul I accept of the proposals of thy grace; I give up myself to thy power and mercy, as it is revealed in Jesus Christ, thy Son, that I may be saved from sin and hell. To me belongs nothing but shame and confusion of face; I renounce for ever all self-sufficiency, and if ever I am saved, thy grace shall have all the glory." Now when a poor humbled sinner is brought thus far, and receives the salvation of God in this lowly posture of soul, the great God has obtained a good part of his designs in the gospel upon him; self is humbled, grace is glorified, and the sinner is saved by faith.
V. Heaven is made up of believers. The whole number of the saved were once sinners, and obtained salvation by faith.
The holy angels indeed never sinned, and yet whether their
confirmed state of holiness and glory is not secured to them by trust or dependance on Christ, may be a reasonable enquiry; for all things in heaven and earth are said to be gathered together, and reconciled in him; Eph. i. 10. Col. i. 20. But this we are sure of, that not one of all the race of Adam hath been restored to the love of God, or raised to heaven, by their own works but all by faith. It is sovereign and glorious grace that has saved them all, and that by the gospel too, in the various editions of it, from the promise in Eden, till the full discovery of grace at the day of pentecost after the ascension of Christ.
O it is a pleasing entertainment of soul to send our thoughts forward to the last great day, or to send them upward to the courts of heaven and glory, and to hear how the millions of redeemed sinners shout and sing to the honour of divine grace? How all that happy world of believers assist the melody, and dwell upon the delightful sound. "Not unto us, O God our Father, not unto us, but to thine own name, and to thy mercy be all our honours paid through the ages of eternity. We were a race of guilty and perishing rebels, who had sinned against thy majesty, and ruined our own souls: We lay upon the borders of death and hell without help, and without hope: We could do nothing to procure thy love, nor merit any thing by the best of our works: But thou hast called us to believe thy gospel, to trust in thy grace, and to lay down the arms of our rebellion, and to receive the , blessings of salvation by faith: We have nothing to boast of, for we are mere receiver Thou hast put forth thine almighty arm, and hast made thy gospel the instrument of thy power to save us; and while we feel and taste the complete salvation, thy power and thy mercy shall have all the praise.
Not unto us, O Lord Jesus our Saviour, not unto us is any honour due; but to thy condescending love; to thy compassion and death shall our honours be paid, and our acknowledgments made for help. We saw ourselves helpless, and were directed to thee for ever: We trusted in thee, and thou hast saved us: it is thy sufferings that have procured our pardon; it is by faith in thy blood we find an atonement; it is through thy righteousness that we are justified and accepted of God, and made partakers of these heavenly glories that shine all around us. All our sacred comforts, our excellencies, and our joys are thine. Pride is hidden from our eyes for ever, and boasting is banished from all our tongues: It is thou hast fulfilled the law it is thou hast suffered the curse; it is thou hast purchased, and promised, and bestowed the blessing. We believed thy word, we received thy grace, and behold, we, dying sinners, are raised to life, and advanced to glory. There is not a soul of us but delights to join in these sublime anthems of worship; Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to
receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing: Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be to him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever." Amen.
HYMN FOR SERMON XVIII.
Faith the Way to Salvation.
NOT by the laws of innocence
Not the best deeds that we have done,
Lord, I believe thy heavenly word,
O may thy grace its power display,
None Excluded from Hope.
Rom. i. 16.—The Gospel of Christ, it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
WE have seen the gospel of Christ vindicated in the former
discourses on this text, and the glorious doctrines of it guarded against the various reproaches of an unbelieving world: We have heard what a powerful instrument it is in the hand of God for the salvation of perishing sinners. We have been taught the way to partake of this salvation, and that is by believing; and we have learned what influence our faith has in this sacred concernment. I proceed now to the last thing which I proposed, and that is to shew the wide extent of this blessing of the gospel; for it brings salvation to every one that believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Where the word Greek is used in opposition to the Barbarian, as it is in the fourteenth verse before my text, it signifies the learned part of mankind, as distinguished from those that are unlearned; the Greeks being the most famous among the nations for wisdom, knowledge, or learning in that day: But when this same word stands in opposition to the Jew, as it does here in my text, then it includes all the heathen world, so that when the apostle says, the gospel brings salvation both to the Jew and the Greek, he shews the extent of this benefit to all mankind that hear and receive it.
It may be worth our while to spend a few hints upon the order in which the apostle represents the communication of this blessing, viz. to the Jew first, and then to the Greek or Gentile.
When he describes, in the second chapter of this epistle, the terms or conditions of the covenant of works, he sets mankind in the same order; he pronounces indignation and wrath upon every soul that doth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile. So when he declares the blessings of the covenant of grace or the gospel, he brings the salvation first upon the Jews, and then upon the Gentile nations: And one reason of it may be this, that the Jews having been favoured with an earlier and more express discovery of the nature and will of God than the heathens, they seem to stand fairest for the par