Gal. ii. 16. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law ; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. The doctrine of justification is the compendium and sum of revealed religion ; for this revelation is given to teach us how to unite man and God, and to form and preserve a commerce between heaven and earth; and the true way of union and friendship with God is to be found only by a proper answer to this question, "How can I be justified before Jehovah ?" And as it is the great design of the scriptures to teach us how we may be pardoned and accepted, so to the convinced conscience and the awakened sinner, there is no instruction more cheering, no information more eagerly sought than that which relates to this subject. By the doctrine of justification we may judge of the essential correctness of any theological system. If an opinion be held on this sub-

MISCELLA EOUS. 427 ject honourable to God and his justice, worthy of the Redeemer and his sacrifice, suited to man and his condition, the whole system cannot be grossly erroneous ; but if false opinions be entertained on this subject, the system, however plausible it may appear to carnal reason, jeopardizes the souls of those

that embrace it, and removes the only firm foundation of our hopes, Christ Jesus. Since this subject is so infinitely important, listen while I explain to you the scripture doctrine of justification. Man may be considered in three different characters ; as innocent, as a penitent and believing sinner ; and as a regenerate Christian, aiming to cultivate holiness. According as we view him in one or the other of these characters, will the nature and grounds of his justification differ. I. Had man remained in the state of innocence in which God created him, and fulfilled the laws which God had given him, he would not have needed pardon ; he would have been pronounced from the holy tribunal to be innocent ; and would from his own righteousness, have obtained a right to everlasting life ; not indeed by his own merits, (for the creature can merit nothing from his Creator,) but in virtue of that covenant into which God had entered with him, and in which the Lord engaged to reward his obedience, and punish his rebellion. Thus the justification of innocent man would have been " a declaration of God as a judge, that he was holy and righteous, and a conferment of eternal life upon him, in consequence of these qualities." II. But, alas ! my brethren, we have fallen from the state of innocence, and we are sinners. The two chief effects of sin are these : it pollutes our souls*,

428 SERMO CVI1. and it renders us subject to the punishments which divine justice owes to the guilty. To remove these

two evils, God has provided two remedies : by sanctification he removes the pollution of our souls ; by justification he delivers us from the punishment which our sins have merited. Though these blessings alalways accompany each other, though the justified man always receives the Spirit of holiness ; yet, if we would have a correct and accordant system of divine truth ; if we would not impair the grace of the gospel, and diminish our obligations to Christ, we must carefully distinguish between justification and sanctification: the one is a relative, the other a real change; the one alters our condition in the view of the law and the lawgiver ; the other is a change of heart and conduct. By the one we are brought into favour w ith God, and made his children ; by the other, we are made like unto him ; the one gives us a title, the other a meetness for heaven. Justification may be defined " a judicial act of God, who as a sovereign but merciful Judge, pardons penitent sinners their iniquities, and gives them a right to eternal life, through his grace, on account of the satisfaction and obedience of Christ, which he imputes to them, and which they embrace by faith." Let us consider the several parts of this definition. !. Justification is a judicial act ; the consciences of all men point to the holy tribunal of God, and acknowledge him as the supreme Judge, who must decide upon our actions, and from whose mouth we must receive the sentence. If this sentence seal our misery, it is condemnation : if it absolve us, it is justification. 2. It is an act of God. This is evident, because the power of pardoning sins supposes supreme authority,


and cannot be communicated to any creature ; because he alone reads the heart, and has an exact knowledge of the conscience ; because he alone, who has authority over heaven and hell, can in justification open the one and close the other ; because he alone can dispense those blessings which follow the remission of sins — a sentiment of peace in the conscience, the assurance of the divine protection, and the Spirit of consolation and holiness. 3. It is an act of God as Judge and Sovereign Governor of the universe : it is in this character that he has a universal tribunal to which all creatures are responsible. It is generally represented as an act of God the Father, who, in the economy of man's redemption, is considered as the guardian and defender of the rights of the Godhead. The Father devised the plan of justification, provided that righteousness which satisfies the law, absolves the guilty through the satisfaction of the Son, applied by the Holy Spirit. Yet al the same time, justification is not so to be appropriated and made peculiar to the Father, as to exclude from it the Lord Jesus Christ, who is sometimes represented as the Judge, who claims the power to forgive sin, and who will pronounce the final justifying sentence; not the Holy Spirit who applies and seals upon the conscience the sentence of justification. Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit ; the ever-blessed Trinity, is the author of this glorious privilege. 4. Though it is the act of God as a Judge, it is nevertheless, an act of mercy ; since it is the pardon of vile sinners, whom, without injustice, he might have consigned to everlasting ruin ; since it is the conferment of infinite and eternal felicity upon worms of the dust.

430 SERMO CVII. 5. This justification comprises two things: a pardon of iniquity, and a title to eternal life. The criminal is not only forgiven, but is loaded with honours. This is the constant language of the scriptures : M Christ was made under the law," says the apostle, " to redeem those that wore under the law," to deliver them from its curse; here is the pardon of sins : and " that we might receive the adoption of sons;" here is eternal life, the privilege which flows from adoption. 4 « That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and au inheritance among them that are sanctified," is the language of the blessed Saviour. Indeed, the two blessings are every where united. When God delivers us from the pains of hell, he gives us a right to the glories of his paradise; when he washes us from our sins, he makes us kings. ;//' 6. Justification has for its foundation only the obedience and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here, my brethren, I pray your attention : no question is more intimately connected with your dearest, your eternal interests than this — On what shall I rely as the ground of my justification before God? Mistake here, and you are done for ever; build here upon a wrong foundation, and the superstructure that you rear, shall not defend you in the hour of death, shall fall and crush you in the judgment-day. When summoned now by conscience to the tribunal of God, or when appearing before it at the final day, one of these pleas must be presented by you, ' 1 am innocent ; I have never sinned:' or, ' I have sinned indeed ; but I have satisfied for my offences by my holy acts and my good deeds :' or, ' I acknowledge that I have sinned, but I rely upon thine infinite mercy :' or, ' I have sinned, 1 deserve hell, I have nothing of my own to plead ; I renounce all dependence on myself, and

MISCELLA EOUS. 431 I dare not trust to uncoveuanted mercy ; but I plead thy mercy through the blood of Jesus, his atonement and righteousness.' Let us examine for a moment, on which of these grounds we may most safely rest the happiness of our souls. o one can be so ignorant of God, of the divine law, or of himself, as to say, k I have never sinned;' or, if he should dare to make this assertion upon earth, it would die upon his lips; he would stand speechless and confounded, when before the kt great white throne" the splendours of the divine purity showed his guilt and pollution. But there are many who will acknowledge that they have sinned, but who still hope that in consequence of the good deeds they have done, the general morality of their lives, their sorrow for their offences, they shall be justified. Let us examine this plea : I repeat, Be solemn in the examination ; for heaven or hell depends upon its validity. 1. What then, is the decision of the statute-book of the kingdom of heaven, with respect to this plea ? What is the declaration of those scriptures, according to which we must be justified or condemned ? " Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight." " Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." Say not that the apostle in these and similar passages speaks merely of works of the ceremonial law. He tells us that the law of which he speaks is that by which we have the knowledge of sin, and by which the whole world was subject to condemnation. You see then, the decision of your Judge on this plea; dare you still rely on it? It must fail you,

unless God be false, and the scriptures a lie. 2. Are you more holy and devoted to God than was the father of the faithful ? Yet of him it is said, " If

432 SERMO CV1I. Abraham were justified by works, he had whereof to glory, but not before God ; for what saith the scripture ? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. ow to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned of grace, but of debt." 3. Do you not perceive that the great doctrine, that salvation is entirely of grace, which is written with a sun-beam in every page of the holy volume, which is the only refuge of the penitent, the triumph of the saint on earth, and the song of the redeemed sinner in glory, is entirely sapped and undermined by this plea ? 4. Do you not perceive, that by this plea you render the death of Christ of none effect, and m ike his sacrifice, useless ? Do you not see that it is a contradiction in terms, to say that you can merit forgiveness ? Have you the insupportable arrogance to pretend that your works can merit the glories of heaven ? Just God ! should rebels, should worms of the dust, appear before thy dread tribunal with such pretences, would not thy violated holiness take hold on justice and blast them from thy presence ? I do not, my brethren, multiply such reflections ; you must feel that this is not a sure hope for your soul ; cling not to a covenant and law which utter only curses against you. Will you then say, * Though I dare not plead my

own works for justification, yet I rely for pardon on the mercy of God : this mercy is infinite, and through it I hope for forgiveness and glory ?' Yes ! this mercy is infinite ; is far beyond thy conception ; far beyond the conception of the most exalted intelligence in heaven: yet, remember, that this mercy flows to the children of men only through

MISCELLA EOUS. 433 Christ. The contemplation of an absolute God, of a God out of Christ, is enough to make the sturdiest sinner tremble : he that has no other reliance than uuconvenanted mercy, must for ever perish. This is the constant testimony of the scripture ; you cannot deny it without denying your faith, your religion, your Saviour ! If you can be saved by the mere mercy of God, without the atonement; if the Lord, in consistence with his attributes, can pardon your offences without a sacrifice, then every pang that Jesus felt was an act of useless cruelty towards him on the part of his Father. My dear brother, after reading in the word of God that there is no hope for the children of men, except in Jesus, that mercy cannot be exercised towards the guilty, wilt thou have the madness at the decisive day to approach the holy tribunal, and say, i Lord, I expect to be justified through mere uncovenanted mercy ; I hope that thy goodness is so great, that for my sake thou wilt falsify thy word, renounce thy holiness, undeify thyself!' Oh! then, my brethren, renounce all other hopes, and present as the only plea for your justification, the obedience and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the only righteousness in which a sinner can

appear before God ; a righteousness that answers all the demands of the law, and expiates all its curses. Hear your scriptures : " As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made rignteous," — " and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, whicb is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." " Christ is made unto us righteousness." vol. in. 55

434 SERMO CVII. " This is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness." 7. This righteousness is imputed by God to the believer; by the obedience and the sufferings of Christ, the perfections of God, the excellence of his government, the holiness and purity of his law, are so fully displayed to the universe, that he can now, without derogating from his character as the moral Governor of the world, justify him who belie veth in Jesus ; forgive and crown him for the sake of what Jesus had done and suffered. 8. But in order thus to be justified by the righteousness of Christ, we must by faith be united to him. This is asserted in many of the texts which have been quoted to you. Let me add that expressive passage : " Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in hip blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God : to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believ-

eth in Jesus." Faith justifies, not because it is accepted in the place of righteousness, not because it is a new condition of the covenant arbitrarily chosen by God, but solely because it is the means and instrument of communion with Jesus Christ. It is efficacious, not from its own dignity, but from the dignity of Him on whom it relies. It is the flight of the trembling soul to a secure ark of safety. III. Having thus considered the justification of the penitent believing sinner, I have time to say but a few words on the justification of the regenerate man. This we are taught by the scripture is by works. Of *two things the believer can be accused before God :

MISCELLA EOUS. 435 of having broken the law of God, and of not having a true faith. To the first accusation the believer pleads guilty ; but flees for pardon to the merit of Christ, which he embraces by a lively faith : but to the second accusation he answers by justifying his faith, proving its reality by his works. It is thus that the sincerity of their faith will be justified by their works at the judgment-day. It is of this second justification that James speaks, when he says, " But wilt thou know, O vain man ! that faith without works is dead ? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar ? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect." There is not, as some have supposed, the smallest contradiction between him and Paul in the doctrine of justification. Paul speaks of the ground of a sinner's forgiveness, James of the proof of the sincerity of a professor's faith ; Paul of imputed righteousness, James of inherent holiness; the one of the justification of the sinner, the other of the justification of

the righteous. And now, my brethren, let us solemnly inquire, Are we justified by faith in Christ Jesus ? Let us bring this great question to an issue ; it is too serious a consideration to be left in suspense : let us be impartial in our examination respecting it, since ours is not the final or supreme judgment. In order to decide whether we are justified or condemned; in the favour or under the wrath of God ; the heirs of heaven or of hell, let us ask ourselves, What knowledge we have of Christ, and of the gospel method of justification through his righteousness ? Has your mind been enlightened, so as to perceive that this method which is foolishness to the natural man, is honourable to the

436 SEKMO CVII. perfections of God, exactly suited to your wants and necessities, and free from those defects that you have found in every other method that you have tried, or that has been invented by the wisdom of man ? Are you disposed to say of it, with David in his dying day, " It is all my salvation and all my desire ?" Have you actually accepted the offer which God makes you in his gospel, of Christ and his righteousness, and have you made that righteousness the sole ground of your pardon and acceptance in the sight of God? Have you, awakened to a sense of your guilt, and of your dangerous condition while exposed to the wrath of the Almighty and the curse of the law, heard the voice of God in the gospel, addressed to you in particular, as really as it ever was to any of Adam's lost family, offering you Christ and salvation ; and in a day of divine power have you accepted the gracious proposal, and said in raptures of joy and love," In the Lord have I righteousness ?" Is this still your disposition ; are you still disposed to

renounce all dependence upon your own righteousness, and to rest only upon Immanuel ? Are you inherently righteous, as well as righteous through the merits of Christ ? o person is ever -made the righteousness of God in Christ, in whose soul the Spirit of Christ does not take up his residence. Are you then a partaker of that Spirit ? Is it your daily endeavour to '* walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit j" taking the law of Christ as your rule, the example of Christ as your pattern, the glory of God in Christ as your ultimate end ? Do you endeavour to obey every precept of the divine law, and on every occasion? Do you obey in the strength of promised grace, and esteem yourself an unprofitable servant

MISCELLA EOUS. 437 titer all you do ? By these and by similar questions you may decide your true condition. Happy are those of you who are warranted to say, " Christ was made sin for us, and we have become the righteousness of God in him." Your iniquities are blotted out; you shall have a complete and final victory over all your spiritual foes, within you as well as without you ; you shall have the gracious presence of God with you while you pass through earth ; you shall receive all necessary strength and grace to perform duties and to bear afflictions ; you shall obtain a triumph over death, and an unutterable felicity beyond the grave. Let these blessings animate you to warmer wra// We ; bless God with ardour for Christ his unspeakable gift, and all the infinite mercies which he bears with him. In the midst of thy holy exultation, be humble ; thou hast nothing which thou hast not received ; boasting is excluded ; by the sublimest holiness display thy gratitude to such a Benefactor, and evidence that thou art indeed united to Christ.

And you, my dear brethren, who are still in a state of condemnation, and uninterested in the righteousness of Immanuel, at last awake to a sense of your guilt and danger ; renounce the refuges of lies in which you have hitherto confided. However little the consideration may have hitherto affected you, you are a guilty sinner in the sight of God. As such, you stand condemned while in your natural state, by the dreadful sentence of the lawgiver. There is no other possible way to escape the execution of that sentence but by having an interest in the sacrifice of Christ, as a full atonement for your sins. His righteousness is freely offered to you : though you

438 SERMO CV11. now may scorn it, a day is coming when you shall be sensible of your need of it. That same Saviour, who now stands among you with the arms of his mercy as widely stretched out as when upon the cross, making a full and free offer of his righteousness, and all the rich fruits of it, to every child of Adam that hears me ; that same Saviour is constituted the Judge of quick and dead ; he shall come with clouds, and thine eye shall see him ; he shall then crush with his rod of iron all who on earth have rejected his offers. Will you then longer neglect him ? The grave will shortly open for you, and no tenders of pardon are made there; but now there is hope: Jesus is again presented to you; if you reject him and perish, your blood must be upon your own heads; you must eternally curse yourselves for your obstinacy in unbelief. Oh ! accept, the gift of God ; obey the call o( the gospel ; have mercy upon your own souls !

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