« AnteriorContinua »
commend faith in the view of juftification, as it would be to preach and recommend, in that view our humility, or our love to God and our neighbors, or any thing whatsoever, which may be confidered as forming, in part or in whole, the subject of moral duty.
When the queftion is afked, refpecting a trial in a court of law, by what is a man condemned or juftified? the enquiry is naturally understood to be, by what law and evidence, is he condemned or juftified?-This is the great queftion before us, by what law and evidence fhall a man be juftified in the fight of God? By the law of works we cannot be juftified, for the tranfgreffion is proved, and by this law we must die; and if no other law can be found, our cafe must be given up as hopeless. Therefore, the apofile to the Romans, in treating of this fubject, brings into view two diftinct laws, with evidence in relation to each, viz. the law of works, by which death reigns through Adam's tranfgreffion, and both Jews and Gentiles are proved to be under fin; and the law of faith, by which grace reigns through Chrift's righteousness, the righteousness of faith, and all who are under it, are proved to be under grace.-Thefe Jaws he compares; and having, for a trial of their ftrength, put their refpective governments at iffue, he finds them very unequally. matched; and that the law of life in Chrift Jefus, has made its fubjects free from the law of fin and death; and is able to protect them fafely from all its tremendous claims and charges.
The fcriptures fpeak of faith as being a fubftantial law, with which the righteousness of Chrift, in laying down his life, entirely comports as the evidence, to give it exercife; by the strength of which law and evidence, grace takes the throne, and prevails against fin and death, and finally triumphs and reigns unto eternal life.-Who fhall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that juftifieth.-Faith, the fubstance of things hoped for, as has been fhewn, is infeparable from the divine existence, Here, then, is our law; it is God himfelf.-Who is he that condemneth? It is Chrift that died, yea, rather that has rifen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who alfo maketh interceffion for us.Here, alfo, is our evidence; the evidence of things not feen-the evidence that fully comports with the law of faith-it is a crucified and a rifen Saviour.
How long, alas! will men deceive themfelves with their own righteoufnefs? O the blindness and ftupidity of their prefering for juftification their own faith, in the place of the covenant righteousness of the Father and Son, the everlafting law and evidence of the truth of God and Christ! Woe unto them that put darkness for light, and light for darkness. How is it poffible that men fhould conceive of their own faith as being a law, or evidence, or any thing of a nature by which they could be juftified! When people, who have Bibles, can make fuch a mistake, we may ceafe to wonder at the heathen who mistake a block, carved out by their own hands, for God their
creator. And, no wonder, if men, who take this ground of juftification, prove, abundantly, by their love of the world, and converfation in the things of time and fenfe, that the law of their own faith, is weak through the evidence of their own faith; and that they are ftill holden and commanded, by the ftronger principle of the law of fin and death.
But through the eternal law and righte oufnefs of faith, grace reigneth-this is the ftrength of the throne of heaven; and by this, grace has reigned from everlasting, and will reign to everlasting; and the believer in the gospel, which is, not the faith of the creature, but the revelation of Jefus Chrift's kingdom, founded in the faith and righteousness of God-the true believer, I fay, may rejoice, and he will rejoice; and, by his love of the Father, and converfation in heaven, he will prove that grace reigns through righte oufnefs-that by faith he obtains the victory, and that the body is dead, because of fin; but the fpirit is life, because of righteousness.For if by one man's offence, death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jefus Chrift.-Moreover, the law entered, that the offence might abound: but where fin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as fin hath reigned unto death, even fo might grace reign through righteous nefs unto eternal life, by Jefus Chrift our Lord. Rom v. 17, 20, 21.
Through the breach of the covenant in
Adam, men were left naked to the law; and, as in this ftate, they were free from righteoufnefs, and filled with all unrighteoufnels; the law, though holy, juft and good, could be none other to them, fo difconnected from Chrift, than a law of fin and death: As, however, Christ was made under the law, it became an instrument whereby his obedient people were united to him; and fo, even in that ftate of the fervant, were able to fland in judgment against fin and death. It might even be faid of fome of God's fervants, under the law, that they were conquerors. Mofes was an hundred and twenty years old when he died, in the embraces of his God, in the top of Pifgah; his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated:-And Elijah mounted to heaven on a chariot of fire, and out flew all the arrows of death,
But, O! how may they exult in the ftrength. of God, who are under grace, and are connected with Chrift Jefus in the gospel of the kingdom? They are juftified from all things! By the law of grace, they are brought to God; and through the finished evidence of the everlafting righteoufnefs, in the crucified, rifen and afcended Redeemer, they are prefented at the right hand of the Majelly on high; and being thus juftified by faith, we may boldly fay, God is our helper; and that we are more than conquerors.
"As I rode on the sky,
Than his chariot of fire,
While the moon rolled under his feet.
Which I found in the life-giving blood!
I was perfectly blest,
As if fill'd with the fullness of God."
In the fpirit, we have already obtained the victory over fin; and have now come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerufalem; and we are waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal fhall have put on immortality, then fhall be brought to pass the faying that is written, death is fwallowed up in victory? O death, where is thy fting? O grave, where is thy victory? The fting of death is fin; and the ftrength of fin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giv eth us the victory through our Lord Fefus Chrift.