Page images

hand, that as uphelief worketh in men a disesteem of the per son and righteousness of Christ, they seek for countenance to their own consciences, in the extenuation of sin.

Fourthly. The opposition that the Scripture makes between grace and works in general, with the exclusion of the ope and the assertion of the other in our justification, deserves a previous consideration.

The principal seat of this doctrine is in the Epistles of Paul to the Romans and Galatians, to which also that of the Hebrews may be added. But in that to the Romans it is treated by the apostle, at large, both doctrinally and by way of controversy. And it deserves to be considered how and upon what principles be proceeds.

He lays it down as a general Thesis, that in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, the just shall live by faith, ch. i. 17. All men who had any knowledge of God and themselves were then, as they must be always, inquiring after righteousness as the only means of an advantageous relation between God and them. selves. The generality of men thought that this righteousness must be their own, inherent in, and performed by them; this being most agreeable to the dictates of natural conscience and of the law, and to all pbilosophical notions of the nature of righteousness. But in opposition to this righteousness of our own, and the necessity of it testified by the law, conscience and the apprehension of the nature of things by reason, the apostle declares, that in the gospel there is reveal. ed another righteousness-the righteousness of another-the righteousness of God, and that from faith to faith.

This is the general Thesis which he proposes to confirm. And to this purpose he considers all persons that pretend to righteousness or seek after it; and all ways and means whereby they hope to attain it, declaring the failing of all persons, and the insufficiency of all means for obtaining a righteous-. ness of our own before God.

1. He considers the Gentiles with their notions of God,

religious worship and conversation. And from the whole of what might be observed amon, st them, he concludes that they neither were, nor could be justified before God; but were inost deservedly obnoxious to the sentence of death. Chap. i. from ver. 19 to the end.

2. He considers the Jews who enjoyed the written law, and the privileges with which it was accompanied; and on many considerations, and with many arguments he excludes them also from any possibility of attaining justificatiun before God by any of the privileges they enjoyed. Chap. ii.

3. He proceeds farther to that wbich is common to all, and proves against all sorts of persons whether Jews or Gentiles, from the corruption of nature in them all with the effects that follow in the bearts and lives of men, that all are and must be shut up under sin and come short of righteousness. Chap. iii. 9-18.

4. From persons be proceeds to things or means of righteousness. And because the Law was given of God immediately as the sole rule of our obedience to him, and the works of the law are therefore all that is required of us, these may be pleaded with some pretence as those whereby we may be justified; he particularly considers the nature, use and end of the Law, and shews its utter insufficiency to be a means of our Justification before God. Chap. iii. 19. 20.

5. And as it may yet be objected, that the Law and its works may be insufficient as it is obeyed by unbelievers, without the aids of grace; but with respect to regenerate believers, whose faith and works may be accepted with God, it may be otherwise, he obviates this objection by giving an instance in two of the most eminent believers under the Old Testament, namely, Abraham and David, declaring that all works whatever were excluded from their Justification. Chap. iv.

On these principles, and by this gradation he concludes that all are guilty before God, obnoxious to death, shut up under sin, and without excuse; that they had no rigliteous. Dess wherewith to appear before God, and that all the ways

and means whence they expected it, were insufficient to that purpose.

He then proceeds with his inquiry : how are men delivered from this condition and justified before God? And in answer to this inquiry he affirms that we are justified by the righteousness of God which is by the faith of Jesus Cbrisť; or that we are justified freely by Grace through the redemption that is in him, Chap. iii. 22-25: and immediately proceeds to a positive exclusion of every thing in and of ourselves, as tlrat which is inconsistent with the righteousness of God as revealed in the Gospel, and witnessed by the Law and the prophets : ver. 27 to the end.

Answerable to this declaration of the mind of the Spirit by the apostle is the current testimony of the Scripture. The grace of God—the promise of mercy—the free pardon of sinthe blood of Clirist, hïs obedience and the righteousness of God in him, rested in and received by faith, are every where asserted as the cause and means of our justification, in

орроsition to our obedience and personal righteousness. Some passages to this purpose may be recited. “A brabam believed in the Lord and he counted it to him for righteousness. I will go in the strength of the Lord God, I will make mention of thy righteousness even of thine only. If thou Lord shouldst mark iniquity, O Lord who shall stand ? but there is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared of Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength, in the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and glory. All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the in. iquity of us all. By his knowledge shall my righteous Ser. vant justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities. For this is his Name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. But we are all as an unclean thing,

Gen, xv. 6. t Psalm lxxi, 16. cxxx. 3, 4. § Isa. xlv, 24, 2

li Isa. liü, 6, 11. Jer. xxiii, 6.


and all our righteousness as filthy rags.* He shall finish the transgression, and make an end of sin, and make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness. For as Moses lifted up the Serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting lite ? Be it there. fore known unto you men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by him all that believe are justified from all things from wbich ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. But not as the offence so also is the free gift; for if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man Jcsus Christ, bath abounded

many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift; for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 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, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men unto condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness unto every one that believeth. I For he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.** 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."S$

These are some of the places wherein the Scripture re

Isa. Ixiv. 6. + Dan. ix. 24. I John iii, 14, 15. § Acts xiii. 38, 39. Rom. v, 15--19. f Rom. x. 4. ** II Cor. v. 21, SS Gal, ii, 16,

presents to us the grounds, causes, and reasons of our acceptance with God. And from a general view of them, every thing in and of ourselves appears to be excluded from our justification before God, faith alone excepted whereby we receive his


and the atonement. On the other side, the whole of our acceptance with Him appears to be assigned to grace, mercy, the obedience and blood of Christ; in opposition to our own worth and righteousness. And I cannot but suppose that a convinced sinner, if not preposessed with prejudice, will readily judge which of these things that are set in opposition to each other, he should betake himself to, that he may be justified.

Fifthly. The Scripture represents to us a commutation of sin and righteousness between Christ and believers, that is ju the imputation of their sins to him, and of his righteousness to them.

This was taught in the Church of God in the offering of the Scape Guat,

And Aaron shall lay his hands on tbe bead of the live Goat, and confess over bim all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins putting them on the head of the Goat ; and the Goat shall brar upon him all their iniquities.” Lev, xvi. 21, 22. Whe, ther this Goat sent away with his burden upon him lived, and so was a type of Christ in his resurrection after death, or whether he perished in the wilderness, it is generally acknowledged, that what was done to him and with him, was only a representation of wbat was done really in the person of Jesus Christ. Aaron not only confessed the sins of the people over the Goat but he also put them on bis bead: and answerably to this transaction it is said that he bore thein all

upon Tbis he did by virtue of the divine institution He did not transfuse sin from one subject into anutier, but transferred the guilt of it from one to another. And to evidence this translation of sin froin the people to the sacrificer, in his confession, he put both his hands on his head. Thence the Jews say, " tliut all Israel were waue as innocent on the day of ex


« PreviousContinue »