Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

However dependent a creature is for his exercises or actions, it is understood that, being a moral agent, his exercises or deeds are his own; and if they be of an evil nature, and ill-deferving, the blame and punishment is due to the agent or doer; or if they be worthy and meritorious, the praife and reward belongs alfo to the agent or actor.

Therefore, in illuftrating the truth, that juftification is of grace, and that no flefh fhall glory before God, the apofile does not take this ground; he does not mention the circumitance of our dependence, but goes directly to another ground, and places our juftification upon another law, different in its nature from that of works, from which the natural obligations and proper exercises, and all the righteoufnefs of creatures, are derived, viz. the law of faith, or the covenant righteousness of God, Kom. iii. 26, 27. To declare, I fay, at this time his righteoufnefs: that he might be just, and the juflifier of him which believeth in Jefus. Where is boafting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay? but by the law of faith.

It is faid alfo, that our faith is confidered only as being the inftrument that unites us to Chrift, and therefore we have nothing to afcribe to ourselves; for, although we be juftified by our faith, or through our faith, yet we are not juftified on account of it, but alone for the fake of Chrift,-1 his, however, does not in the leaft obviate the difficulty; for,

[ocr errors]

1. Something may well be thought due to the inftrument that can avail to our jullifica

tion before God. It is allowed that the mari who should have fuftained the righteousness of the law, and was therefore justified, would have had whereof to glory; and yet the law could be confidered no more than the instrument by which he was fo profited; for I adhere to the doctrine, that there never was any other foundation for acceptance with God, and justification, but Christ. The fpirit of truth never propofed any other way but Christ; the whole power and glory of the law, as it refpected life and the favor of God, confisted in its being an instrument, by the righ teousness of which, the holy obferver became connected with Christ; and so, in relation to him as his obedient fervant and fubject, enjoyed favor and acceptance with God. If then, justi fication, in the humble capacity of a fervant, obtained by the instrumentality of the law, admitted of his boasting in the righteoufnefs thereof, who fhould fo profit by it; why may not fomething be afcribed to faith, by the righteoufnefs of which instrumentally, we are justified in a far higher fenfe? Why may not the man glory, who, by his own faith instrumentally, is fuppofed to be justified, even from all things, from which the most perfectly obe dient, and holiest fubject could not be juftified by the law of Mofes?

2. The views in which justifying faith is confidered in the fcriptures, are of a nature to imprefs the mind with the strongest ideas of its being divinely meritorious. Faith, in the divine record, is counted for righteousness;what more could be faid of the meritorious

ground of our justification? Again, Building up yourselves on your most holy faith.-What more can be faid of the foundation that God has laid in Zion, than that it is most holy, and that we may fafely build upon it? And again, The just fhall live by faith-What more can be faid of the fource of life?-What more can be faid of the bread that came down from heaven, than that we fhall live by it?-To fay that a man, a finner, fhall be justified by faith, is feemingly afcribing to faith the greatest poffible merit; nothing higher in terms can be expreffed; for, in this work of juftifying finful men before God, there is neceffarily contemplated the greatest poffible difplay of divine virtue.

3. It is grofsly abfurd to confider our faith, i. e. our exercife of faith, in the view of its being an inftrument in the matter of our juftification, or spiritual life; for our own faith is fimply the act of receiving or eating the divine food; and nothing could be more abfurd than to conceive, and more improper than to speak of our act of receiving and eating food, as being an inftrument by which we lived. To mean our own faith, when we fay that we live by faith, is to confound ideas. and pervert terms.-Should a man be asked, what he lived by, or, by what means he was fupported; would it not seem like making a jeft of the queftion, if he should answer, that The lived by the act of eating; or that he was fupported by the means of eating and drinking?-Would fuch an anfwer become one, especially one who lives upon grace?—But

S s

[ocr errors]

there would be as much fenfe and propriety in this answer, as there is in the conftruction which fo commonly has been forced upon the divine declarations, that we live by faith, and are juftified through faith; for, if our faith be meant, which is only our act of receiving or feeding upon the bread of God, then, when we are afked the great question, what are we juftified by? or by what means we live to God? inftead of the acknowledgement of the truth of God in Chrift, to the praise of the glory of his grace, we may anfwer, that we live by ourselves, by our own believing exercises; and that our spiritual fuftenance is derived by our own means, in the way of fpiritually eating and drinking.

"

4. When, therefore, faith is confidered properly, as that by which we are justified and live to God, it is faith the jubjtance of things hoped for; there is virtue in this; through this we may be juftified; this can fupport life; this is meat indeed, and drink indeed! and this is given to us in Chrift. Or, if faith be regarded as being an instrument, &c, it must be underflood, not of our exercife, but in the view of its being the evidence of things not feen. This evidence, once delivered to the faints, as the fubftance of things is invefted in it, is properly flyled faith; and this, with propriety, may be confidered as an inftrument, the great inftrument in the work of our falvation. This is precious faith.-In this view faith is to be held in the highest confideration; it comprifes all the glory of God's

hteoufnels; there is infinite virtue and me-in the word of faith, Rom. x. 6, 7, 8. But

the righteousness which is of faith fpeaketh on this wife, Say not in thine heart, Who shall afcend into heaven? that is to bring Chrift down from above, Or, who shall defcend into the deep? that is to bring up Christ again from the dead But what faith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is the word of faith which we preach.

Therefore, By grace are we faved, through faith; and that not our own faith, but the word of faith, which is the gift of God. Many, in advancing their own righteousness, to the rejection of the righteoufnels of God, will proceed in an indirect and plaufible way; they will go about to establish their own righteousness. And, it it is apparent, that thofe who substitute their own faith in the place of the juftifying faith of Christ, do as effectually fruftrate the grace of God, as do those who choose to proceed in the more direct and open way of propofing their own works in that place.

This fpecious fcheme is by far the most dangerous; for whilft the effect is the fame as that which avows the works of the law, the delufion of it is much harder to be de. tected; it equally establishes the righteoufnefs of the creature, whilft, at the fame time, it admits of words being used which found evangelical.-Faith is preached, faith is recommended; but the fenfe of the term being fixed, and our own righteousness being meant by it, it is coming as far fhort of the eternal foundation, and as really fubftituting the fand of our own righteoufnefs, to preach and re

« AnteriorContinua »