Imatges de pàgina
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sidered as standing thus, 'If man were justified by works his justification would be a matter of debt, and consequently not of grace; But it is manifest, even from the old testament scriptures, that the justification of a sinner is a matter of grace; therefore he cannot be justified by works. But when St. Paul so decidedly excludes works from the economy of man's justification, it is of no small importance that we understand his meaning accurately. In order to this it should be recollected that he was arguing an important point with those who were not sufficiently enlightened relative to the gospel plan of salvation, or strongly prejudiced in favour of the Law. This being the plain state of the case, it is not difficult to perceive (nay, it would be difficult to perceive otherwise) that when he denounces works in reference to justification, it is simply the works of the Law, without the least allusion to those works which the Gospel requires as ne. cessary to acceptance with God. A multitude of parallel passages, introduced for the same purpose, go to confirm this sense of the words. “For by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse. But that no man is justified by the works of the law in the sight of God is evident. For if the inheritance be of the law it is no more of promise. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law,” &c. In all these passages the Apostle is opposing the evangelical righteousness of the gospel to the legal righteousness of the law, and showing that justification can be obtained only on the former. Again, should we consider the Apostle, as including all works, in that unlimited sense, in which some have been disposed to understand him, we should find it extremely difficult to reconcile him to St. James, or even to himself. In short, if he meant to include those works which Jesus Christ has enjoined under the New covenant, we must consider him as saying, “Now to him that repenteth, believeth, and obeyeth the gospel, is the reward not reckoned of grace but of debt; for repentance, faith, and obedience to the gospel are the sum of the works which Christ requires, both to justification and eternal life. It must be further observed that the Aposile considers faith as a principle of justifying righteousness without the works of the law: and this is the sum of the scriptural doctrine of imputed righteousness. Abraham believed God, and it (his faith) was counted (imputed) to him for righteousness. It may be proper to observe that the word 'Encywn, in our translation is

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rendered counted, v. 3. reckoned v. 10, and impuled v. 22., and the same word is varied in the same way in its translation in several other passages, where its meaning is identically the same. Would it not have been preferable to have preserved the same word in the translation where both the word and the sense in the original are obviously the same ? especially when it is recollected that according to the common acceptation there is considerable difference in the meaning of the words account and impute? That the former word agrees best with the original is manifest; for Eloyto 9n, signifies to state and reckon up an account; and also to estimate, or put a value upon things, see Romans viii. 18. Language could not be more beautiful or expressive. God has summed up in faith whatever is requisite to man's justification; and having fixed the highest value upon it, is pleased to set it to man's account in the place of that righteousness which he bad lost by the fall; so that, in the economy of grace, faith in Jesus Christ is designed to answer the same purposes, with respect to salvation, which the most perfect obedience to the original law could have done. This is St. Paul's doctrine of imputed righteousness. But how widely different is this from the modern doctrine of the imputation of the personal righteousness of another for the justification of a sinner. This notion of imputation (if I understand it may be summed up as followsWhen God created man he gave him a law, annexing the penalty of death in case of transgression,—Adam, the federal head and representative of the whole human family, transgressed this law, and thereby exposed himself and all his posterity to the entire penalty which it threatened, without the capacity of recovering from his hopeless condition. The blessed Redeemer, beholding him in this forlorn state, moved with compassion, undertook his redemption. For this purpose he made his appear. ance in the world in the form of a servant, and by his obedience to the law, and death on the cross, made full satisfaction to diviné justice for all whom the Father had given him. That he personally obeyed the broken law in man's behalf, and on his account; and suffered in himself the whole penalty which the law inflicted upon transgressors. That this personal obedience, or righteousness of Christ, is, by an act of God, transfered, imputed or made over to all who are given to Christ; by virtue of which transfer, or imputation, they are forever justified, sancti fied and glorificd.

Before notice is taken of the difficulties connected with this doctrine, it may be proper to observe that the Apostle no where, either in this chapter, or any of his epistles, says that the personal obedience or righteousness of Christ is imputed to man for justification ; but throughout the whole asserts a very different thing, namely, that faith in Christ is counted or imputed for righteousness. And who does not perceive a striking difference between the personal righteousness of Christ, or his actual obedience to the divine law, and faith exercised in him for justification ?

This distinction being kept in view, it will not be difficult to perceive the objections to the doctrine of the imputation of the personal obedience of Christ to man for justification. The first objection is, that it makes justification to be by the works of the law. This is too obvious to escape observation ; for if the obedience of Christ to the law is made over to man for his justification, he is as fully justified by the righteousness of the law as if he had performed that righteousness in his own person ; for it matters not whether the law be fulfilled by my person or proxy, provided the government, and the judge place it to my account. Hence it will appear, that if the Governor and Judge of the universe has accepted the obedience of His son, to the law which I had broken, in my behalf, and has made over that obedience to me by an act of imputation, I am justified and acquitted by the immutable principles of the righteousness of that law which I had transgressed.

A second difficulty in which this doctrine is involved is, that it obscures (not to say destroys) the doctrine of pardon, or the forgiveness of sin.

Pardon is an exercise of mercy with reference to an action to which the justice of law has annexed guilt and punishment: But if the justice of the divine law has been fully satisfied for me in the person of my proxy, by what law of moral justice am I judged guilty, or held liable to punishment? and if not guilty in the strict justice of law, where is the ground of pardon? Or how can I be forgiven those offences for which the law has received perfect satisfaction ?

To illustrate this subject by a plain figure---suppose I have committed an offence against the laws of my country, for which I am arrested, brought to trial, found guilty, and sentenced to ten years imprisonment: I enter, and continue the whole time which

the law requires. Now, on what principle am I discharged? Is it justice ? or is it pardon ? Every one says justice. Pardon would be applicable to my case at any period previous to the close of the time which the righteousness of the law required me to suffer ; but not afterwards. And it is the same thing whether I suffer in my own person or by proxy, provided the law will admit of a substitute. Nor does it alter the case in any wise, if obedience be considered instead of penalty ; for if the law was such as to admit a substitute, or surety for me, I should be legally discharged to the extent of that substitution, and the doctrine under consideration takes it for granted that the divine law recognizes such suretyship.

(To be continued.)

REMARKS ON 1 cor. XIII. 12.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.

1 Cor. xiii. 12.

We shall see God face to face. Of what nature will be that view or that knowledge ? Here it would be rash and absurd to conjecture, because, in order to be in a state to do it, we must be invested with the faculties requisite to conceive that kind of knowledge; that is, we must be now, what we shall be after a glorious resurrection. When St. Paul was caught up to heaven in a miraculous ecstacy, he heard things which he declares to be “unspeakable.” Thus with regard to the manner of the beatific vision, we are in a state of profound ignorance here below. But we may venture to assert, that we shall know God, and every other object, with a strength, a facility, a clearness of conception, infinitely superior to all that the finest capacity can hope for on earth, from the longest study. . The soul, invested with a spiritual body, and thus provided with organs incomparably more perfect than those with which it is now connected, will have great advantages for acquiring knowledge, and making a rapid progress in it. The attributes of God, the conduct of his providence, his vast designs, and, as proceeding from them, the wonders of creation, of which we now discern only a small part; all these objects of infinite grandeur, beauty, variety, and importance, in the study of which we are every moment sensi

ble of the weakness of our understandings, will be placed within the reach of our observation.

By the lustre of the heavenly ray, with which God will enlighten us, a thousand admirable novelties will burst upon our sight; in him, and by him, we shall see all around us what, at present, eye cannot see; hear what, at present, ear cannot hear, and our hearts shall understand that of which, at present, they can form no conception.

Those who sail upon the ocean, some leagues from land, see only the coasts ; those who have the clearest eyes, with the best instruments, discern in this confused landscape only some ob. jects, which are lost to others, and which strongly excite curiosity. Night comes on, and veils the prospect from their sight. During their sleep the vessel approaches the port, and at sunrise casts anchor. They land; a thousand beautiful and magnificent objects present themselves on every side, infinitely excelling all which the distant view had induced them to imagine.

Thus we shall enjoy in heaven, to a degree beyond all conception, the pleasures of novelty and surprise, of finding our curiosity satisfied, or at least ourselves provided with means to enable us to satisfy it; for if we were to suppose that God would display to us at once all which we hope to know through eternity, this would be, according to my ideas, to suppose that he would rob our knowledge of one of its greatest charms. In proportion as the truths we are to learn shall become more difficult to comprehend, we shall doubtless acquire talents adapted to them; and thus we shall go on from strength to strength, with regard to the pleasure of acquiring and possessing knowledge, as in every other respect we shall rise from glory to glory.

If then we are in the smallest degree susceptible of those pleasures, which are the most worthy of a thinking being, the idea of seeing God as he is must excite very strong desires; and how natural is it to seek incessantly the means to fulfil those desires, and to employ those means without delay! They are all comprehended in this word, holiness. Those alone will be admitted into the adorable presence of God, who labour sincerely and assiduously in the work of their sanctification : " without holiness no man shall see the Lord :” “ Depart from me ye that work iniquity.” To meditate on God as soon as we are capable of reasoning, to apply afterwards to that meditation

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