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to Him any other reason or consideration of the pardon of our sus; since he latir undertahen to do it for his own sake. “ in his siyht"* inen are justified or condemned: and the whole work of Justification is represented as a juridical pro ceeding before God's tribunal “ Therefore," saith the Apos. tle, “ by the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justifid in his sight."| However any may be justitied in the sight of men or angels hy their own obedience, yet in His sight none can be
If we manage our disputes about Justification without a continual regard to Him, by whom we must be cast or acquitteil, we shall it rightly apprehend what our plea ought to be. It is necessary duly to consider the Greatness, the Majesty, the Holiness, and Sovereign Authority of God, when we in. quire how we may be justified before Him. Neither shall I thi:k them meet to be contended with about the doctrine of Justification, wbo take no notice of these things. The Scrip. ture represents to us what thoughts of Him and of themselves, nut only sinners, but saints also, bave bad upon near discoveries of flis Vature and Greatness; with the fear and shame, the horror and distress they have felt. Indeed it is to inadequate conceptions of God, that the indifference and many of the errors of men relating to justification are to be attributed. But convinced sinners under a real view of the Majesty and Holiness of God cannot but feel the utmost solicitude about it. Wherewith,' saith one of them, “ shall I come bef re the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul!'S
This is the proper effect of the conviction of sin, strengthened with the consideration of the terror of the Lord who is
Psalm cxliii. 2. † Rom, iii. 20. Isa, xxxiii. 14. § Micah vi, 6, 7,
to judge concerning it. And it is thus not only with profligate sinpers; but the best of men when they have had clear representations of the Greatness, Holiness and Glory of God, have been cast into the deepest self abasement, and most serious renunciation of all trust in themselves. So the propbet Isaiah upon bis vision of the Glory of the Holy One, cried out,
“ Woe is me, I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips: was be relieved but by an evidence of the pardon of sin. So boly Job, in his contests with his friends, who charged him with hypocrisy and iniquity, with assured confidence vindicates his sincerity, his faith and trust in God, against their whole charge; but when called into the Divine presence, and the question was reduced to this, On what grounds he might and could be jastified before God? having a manifestation of His greatness and Majesty ; he laid aside all his former pleas of sincerity, faith and trust in God, which he had urged with so much earnestness with his friends. He saw they were not pleadable for his justification at the tribunal before which he now appeared. In the deepest selfabasement and abhorrence he therefore hetakes himself to Sovereign grace and mercy.
" For then Job answered the Lord and said, behold I am vile, what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth; once have I spoken, but I will not answer, yea twice, but I will proceed no further, Hear I beseech thee and I will speak, I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me; I have heard of thee by the bearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”+ Let any man place himself, as Job was, in the immediate presence of God and consider what will be his best plea before his tribunal, that he may be justified: I do not believe that he will find more encouraging grounds to plead his own faith and obedience in his justification before God than Job had-it will not be safe for us to adventure farther upon God than he durst do.
* Isa. vi. 5. † Job xl, 3, 4, 5. xlii. 4, 5, 6,
If men be unmindful of the Greatness, Holiness and Majesty of God; if they forget a reverential consideration of what will become of them and what they may trust to when they stand before Ilis tribunal, they may entertain such opinions as they dare not abide by in their own personal trial. Hence it has been observed, that the Schoolmen themselves in their meditations and devotional writings speak quite another language as to justification before God, than they do in their disputes about it. And I had rather learn what some men really judge about their own justification from their prayers, than their writings. Nor do I remercber that I ever beard any good man, in his prayers, use any expressions about justification, pardon of sin, and righteousness before Cod, in which any plea from any thing in ourselves was introduced. The prayer of Daniel hath been the substance of their supe plications. “O Lord! Bighteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of face; we do not present our supplications before thee for our own righteousness, but for thy great mercies : 0 Lord lear, O Lord forgive, for thine own sake ( my God.” Dan. ix. 7, 18, 19.
Wherefore I cannot but judge it best for those who would properly teacli or learn the doctrine of justification, to place their consciences in the presence of God, and their persons before His tribunal, and then upon a due consideration of bis Greatness, Power, Majesty, Righteousness, of the terror of his glory, and Sovereign authority, to inquire what the Scripture, and a sense of their own condition direct them to as their relief and refuge, and what plea it becomes them to make for themselves.
Thirdly, A clear apprehension and due sense of the greatness of our apostacy from Gud, of the corruption of our natures thereby, of the power and guilt of our sin, of the lioliness and severity of the law, are necessary to a correct knowledge of the doctrine of justification. The method of the Apostle in stating it is that which we should follow.
Helårs it duwu in general," That the righteousness of God is ree
vealed from faith tu faith:” Roin. i. 17 but he does not particularly declare the causes, nature and way of Justification, till he bath proved that all men are shut up under a deploralile state of sin, chap. i. ii. iii. Ignorance of these things is the foundation of all inisbelief about the grace of God. Pelagianism in its root and branches arises from it. For not appreheuding our original apostacy from God, nor its consequents in the univer a depravation of our nature, they disown any necessity of the satisfaction of Christ, or the efficacy of Divine Grace for our recovery. The principal ends of the mission of the Son of God and of the Holy Spirit, are renounced, which leads to the uenial of the Deity of the one and the Personality of the other. Our fall not being great, and the disease contracted thereby easily curable, it is no great matter to be justified from all, by a mere act of favor on our endeavows; nor is the efficacious grace of God needful to our sanctification and obedience, as these men vainly suppose.
When the minds of men are kept from a proper sense of the state of sin and guilt, and their consciences from being fected with the terror of the Lord, and the curse which the law denounces against them, Jastification is treated by them as a mere notion. Hence arise the differences about it, I mean those which are really such, and not merely the different ways whereby learned men express their thoughts concerning it.
By some the imputation of the actual transgression of Adam the head of our nature, whereby his sin became the sin of the world is utterly denied. Others deny the total corruption of our nature hich ensued on our apostacy from God aud that deformity of soul which came upon us in the loss of the image of God; that enmity to God in the mind; that darkness of our understandings; the spiritual death of the whole soul, and total alienation from the life of God; that impotency to good, that inclination to evil, that deceitfulness of sin, that power and efficacy of corrupt lusts, wbich the Scripture and experience so fully charge on our apostate nature, are rejected as empty notions or fables. No wonder if such persons look upon imputed righteousness as the shadow of in dream. There is little hope to bring nen tu value tlie riyhtevusness of Christ imputed to them, wbo aie so unacquainted with their own nnrightevusness inherent in tbem.
Against such as these the doctrine of Justification may be defended; but it is vain to attempt their satisfaction in it. Whilst men have no sense in their own bearts and consciences of the spiritual disorder of their souls, of the secret continual actings of sin with deceit and violence, obstructing all that is good, promoting all that is evil, defiling all that is done by them; who are not engaged in a constant watchful conflict against the first motions of sin, to whom they are not the greatest burden and sorrow, causing them to cry out for deliverance from them; they will reject what is proposed about justification through the righteousness of Christ imputed to os. Neither the consideration of the Holiness or Terror of the Lord; nor the severity of the law ; nor the promise of the gospel; nor the secret disquietude of their consciences can prevail with them, who have such slight conceptions of the state and guilt of sin, to fly for refuge unto the only hope set before them, or really and distinctly tu comport with the only way of salvation.
If therefore we would either teach or learn the doctrine of Justification, we must bave a clear apprehension of our apostacy from God, a due sense of the guilt of sin, and a deep experience of its power, with regard to the holiness and law of God. We have nothing to do in this matter with me'n Wiju, through the fever of pride, have lost the understanding of their own miserable condition. The whole need not the physician but the sick. Those who are pricked to the heart for sin, and cry out what shall we do to be saved, will understand What we have to say. Against others we must defend the Truth as God shall enable. And it may be made good by all sorts of instances, that as men rise in their notions about the exteuuation of sin, so they fall in their regard to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Aud it is no less true on the other