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Justification by Faith.
Rom. v. 1. Therefore, being justified by faith, we ihave peace
with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
IT is a matter of vast importance for a sinful world to know the way of justification before God. The heathens, with all their boasted wisdom, never found it out: the jews had but an imperfect view of it: but christianity has brought it to light.
Our text will lead us to examine every thing of importance relating to this subject: it may be divided into three parts: first, we are justified by faith; secondly, we have peace with God: and, thirdly, it is through our Lord Jesus Christ that we have pardon and
1. We are justified. Justification is either legal or evangelical. Legal justification implies a full acquittal from charges, upon the ground of innocency. Evangelical justification implies the pardon of sin, upon the ground of Christ's atonement.
We cannot be justified before God on the ground of innocency, because we have broken his holy law; and one transgression, were it not for divine mercy, would bring us into a state of everlasting condemnation. The law of God requires perfect obedience ; and neither sorrow for the past, nor amendment for the future, can justify a sinner. What would a judge say to a criminal, in a court of justice, who should claim justification on either of these grounds ? He would soon inform the poor unhappy man, that the law does not look at future conduct, but keeps a steady eye upon the past. The same remark we make upon the law of God; for future obedience, however perfect, cannot remove the guilt of past offen
Hence we infer, that “by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
We are justified before God by the forgiveness of our sins. Justification stands directly opposed to condemnation ; and therefore to say that a believer has no condemnation, is the same thing as to say, he is justified. But how do we obtain a freedom from condemnation? Certainly by a free and full pardon. The following passage is a direct proof that forgiveness and justification are the same thing: “Through this man (Jesus Christ) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from
which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” In one place it is said, “We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins;" and in another, that we are “justified by his blood.” When a merciful God pardons our sins, through the merit of his Son, there is no more charge against us than if we had never sinned. " Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth, Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died."
O blessed state! It is worth a thousand worlds! Happy is the man whom grace has pardoned! “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered, Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit : there is no guile," The vilest may obtain mercy, and enjoy this unspeakable blessing, Come my guilty brethren, let us humble ourselves before God, and thankfully accept his offered grace upon gospel terms,
2. We are justified by faith. Justifying faith implies two things: first, a full persuasion, upon proper evidence, that Jesus is the saviour of the world : and secondly, a complete dependance upon him in that respect.
Faith does not justify as a meritorious act; but as a term or condition which God requires. To make this matter plain and
easy to be understood, let us closely attend to the following things : A penitent sin ner desires pardon : He cannot be par doned without a sucrifice ; Christ, our passover, was sacrificed for sin ;, We bes lieve the report, and firmly depend upon Christ as our sacrifice. Then God is reconciled, sin is pardoned, and we are justified. This method is plain, simple, and easy to be understood by the meanest capacity.
It appears highly proper that God, who saves men by an atonement, should require a dependance upon that atonement as a condition of salvation. The great objection against this is, that it sets aside the necese sity of practical religion ; but, when it is understood that justifying faith necessarily produces good works, the objection is at once removed, No doctrine can possibly. be true which sets aside practical religion ; but this establishes it, and places it 'upon a firm foundation. Faith produces love, and love produces obedience. The true believ) er submits to Christ as his king, and cheerfully obeys his laws, 0 let us now comvi mit ourselves to Christ ! Let us seek evangelical justification without delay! This blessing is purchased for us, and offered to us; and we may humbly claim it as our own. Having obtained it, let us recollect, that though we are justified by faith in
this day of grace, yet that a day of judgment is approaching, in which we shall be justified by the evidence of our works. In that solemn day“ by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
II. WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD.
Peace with God necessarily follows the pardon of sins. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. Sinners are at war with Almighty God: a thought which should strike them with terror; as they never had the smallest prospect of success ! Omnipotence must prevail. When they lay down their arms, and humbly seek reconciliation with God, through Jesus Christ, he forgives them all, and takes them into favour. “Ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Now there, fore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints in light, and of the household of God.” How sweetly does life glide away when this is our experience! How pleasing are our prospects of a future state! Devils and men