Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

ment.' But, perhaps, we can hardly produce another instance of St. Paul's using the word in that distant sense. In the general tenor of his writings, it is evident he doth not. And least of all, in the text before us, which undeniably speaks, not of those who have already “ finished their course," but of those who are now just setting out, just “ beginning to run the race which is set before them."

III. 1. But this is the third thing which was to be considered, namely, who are they that are justified? And the Apostle tells us expressly, the ungodly: “He (that is, God) justifieth the ungodly:" the ungodly of every kind and degree, and none but the ungodly. As “they that are righteous need no repentance," so they need no forgiveness. It is only sinners that have any occasion for pardon : it is sin alone which admits of being forgiven. Forgiveness therefore has an immediate reference to sin, and, in this respect, to nothing else. It is our unrighteousness to which the pardoning God is merciful: it is our iniquity wbich he “ remembereth no more.

2. This seems not to be at all considered by those who so vehemently contend, that a man must be sanctified, that is, holy, before he can be justified: especially by such of them as affirm, that universal holiness or obedience must precede Justification : (untess they mean, that Justification at the last day, which is wholly out of the present question.). So far from it, that the very supposition is not only flatly impossible, (for where there is no love of God, there is no holiness; and there is no love of God but from the sense of his loving us,) but also grossly, intrinsically absurd, contradictory to itself. For it is not a Saint but a Sinner that is forgiven, and under the notion of a sinner. God justifieth not the godly, but the ungodly; not those that are holy al. ready, but the unholy. Upon what condition he doth this, will be considered quickly: but, whatever it be, it cannot he holiness. To'assert this, is to say, the Lamb of God takes away only those sins which were taken away before.

3. Does then the good Shepherd seek and save only those that are found already? No. He seeks and saves that which

+

is lost. He pardons those who need his pardoning mercy, He saves from the guilt of sin, (and, at the same time, from the power,) sinners of every kind, of every degree: men, who, till then, were altogether ungodly; in whom the love of the Father was not; and, consequently, in whom dwelt no good thing, no good or truly Christian temper; but all such as were evil and abominable, pride, ánger, love of the world, the genuine fruits of that carnal mind which is “enmity against God.??

4. These who are sick, the burden of whose sins is intolerable, are they that need a Physician;; these who are guilty, who groan under the wrath of God, are they that need a pardon. These who are condemned already, not only by God, but also by their own conscience, as by a thousand witnesses, of all their ungodliness, both in thought, and word, and work, cry aloud to bim that “justifieth the ungodly, through the redemption that is in Jesus : 'the ungodly and him that worketh not;" that worketh not before he is justified; any thing that is good, that is truly virtuous or holy, but only evil continually. For his heart is necessarily, essentially evil, till the love of God is shed abroad therein. And while the tree is corrupt, so are the fruits ; for an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit.”

5. If it be objected, “ Nay, ,but a man, before he is justified, may feed the hungry, or clothe the naked; and these are good works:" The answer is easy. He may do these, even before he is justified. And they are, in one sense, “ good works;" they are “ good and profitable to men." But it does not follow, that they are, strictly speaking, good in themselves, or good in the sight of God. All truly good works (to use the words of our Church) follow after Justification. And they are, therefore, good and “ acceptable to God in Christ,” because they “ spring out of a true and living faith.” By a parity of reason, all works done before Justification are not good, in the Christian sense, foras- much as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, (though often from some kind of faith in God they may spring,)

yea, rather, because they are not done, as God hath willed

[ocr errors]

and commanded them to be done, we doubt not (how-strange soever it may appear to some,) but they have the nature of sin.”

6. Perhaps those who doubt of this, have not duly con. sidered the weighty reason which is here assigned, why no works done before Justification, can be truly and properly good. The argument plainly runs thus : ;

No works are good, which are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done:

But no works done before Justification are done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done :

Therefore, no works done before Justification are good.

The first proposition is self-evident. And the second, That no works done before Justification, are done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, will appear equally plain and undeniable, if we only consider, God hath willed and commanded, that all our works should be done in charity, (ev ayann), in love, in that love to God which produces love to all mankind. But none of our works can be done in this love, while the love of the Father (of God as our Father) is not in us. And this love cannot be in us till we receive the “ Spirit of Adoption, crying in our hearts, Abba, Father.” If, therefore, God doth not justify the ungodly, and him that (in this sense) worketh not, then hath Christ died in vain ; then, notwithstanding his death, can no flesh living be justified.

IV. 1. But, on what terms then is he justified, who is altogether ungodly, and till that time, worketh not? On one alone, which is faith, he “ that believeth in him that justifieth the ungodly.” And“ he that believeth is not condemned;" yea, he is “ passed from death unto life.” “ For the righteousness (or mercy) of God is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe: whom God hath set forth a Propitiation, through faith in his blood; that he might be just, and (consistently with his Justice) the Jus. tifier of him which believeth in Jesus; therefore, we conclude, that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the Law: without previous obedience to the Moral Law,

which, indeed, he could not, till now, perform. That it is the Moral Law, and that alone, which is here intended, appears evidently from the words that follow. “Do we then make void the Law through Faith ? God forbid ! Yea, we establish the Law.” What Law do we establish by Faith? Not the Ritual Law : not the Ceremonial Law of Moses. In no wise ; but the great unchangeable Law of Love, the holy love of God, and of our neighbour.

2. Faith in general is, a divine, supernatura! ɛlɛ/xos, evidence or conviction of things not seen," not discoverable by our bodily senses, as being either past, future, or spiritual. Justifying faith implies, not only a divine evidence or conviction, that “ God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself;" but a sure trust and confidence, that Christ died for my sins, that he loved me, and gave himself for me. And at what time soever a sinner thus believes, be it in his early childhood, in the strength of his years, or when he is old and hoary-headed, God justifieth that ungodly one: God, for the sake of his Son, pardoneth and absolveth bim, who had in him, till then, no good thing. Repentance indeed, God had given him before; but that repentance was neither more nor less, than a deep sense of the want of all good, and the presence of all evil. And whatever good he hath or doth from that hour, when he first believes in God through Christ, Faith does not find, but bring. This is the fruit of Faith. First the tree is good, and then the fruit is good also.

3. I cannot describe the nature of this Faith better, than in the words of our own Church. “ The only instrument of salvation, (whereof Justification is one branch,) " is Faith: that is, a sure trust and confidence, that God both hath and will forgive our sins, that he hath accepted us again into his favour, for the merits of Christ's death and passion.-But here we must take heed that we do not halt with God, through an inconstant, wavering Faith. Peter coming to

the water, because he fainted in Faith, was in danger of drowning. So we, if we begin to waver or doubt, it is to be feared, that we shall sink as Peter did, not into

Christ upon

the water, but into the bottomless pit of hell-fire." Second Sermon on the Passion.

“ Therefore, have a sure and constant Faith, not only that the death of Christ is available for all the world, but that he hath made a full and sufficient sacrifice for thee, a perfect cleansing of thy sins, so that thou mayest say with the Apostle, le loved thee, and gave himself for thee. For this is to make Christ thine own, and to apply his merits unto thyself.Sermon on the Sacrament, first Part.

4. By affirming that this Faith is the Term or Condition of Justification, I mean, first, that there is no Justification without it. “He that believeth not, is condemned already;" and so long as he believeth not, that condemnation cannot be removed, but the wrath of God abideth on him." As " there is no other name given under heaven, than that of Jesus of Nazareth,” no other merit whereby a condemned sinner can ever be saved from the guilt of sin; so there is no other way of obtaining a share in his merit, ihan by Faith in his name.

So that as long as we are without this Faith, we are strangers to the Covenant of Promise, we are aliens from the common-wealth of Israel, and without God in the world.” Whatsoever virtues (so called) a man may have, I speak of those unto whom the gospel is preached; for « what bave I to do to judge them that are without ?" Whatsoever good works (so accounted) be may do, it profiteth not;' he is still a child of wrath, still under the curse, till he believe in Jesus,

5. Faith, therefore, is the necessary condition of Justification. Yea, and the only necessary condition thereof. This is the second point carefully to be observed ; that the very moment God giveth Faith (for it is the gift of God,) to the “ ungodly, that worketh not,” that “ Faith is counted to him for righteousness.” He hath no righteousness at all, antecedent to tbis, not so much as negative righteousness, or innocence. But “ Faith is imputed to him for righteousness,” the very moment that be believeth. Not that God (as was observed before,) thinketh him to be, what he is not. But as 6 he made Christ to be a sin-offering for us," that is,

« AnteriorContinua »