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the scriptures quoted to shew that justification is the opposite of condemnation, but we will give the point farther confirmation in this place. We would remark that the grace
of God, manifested through Jesus Christ, is the ground of our justification or acceptance with him. Rom. iii. 24. “Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Titus iii. 7. “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” That faith is the gospel condition of justification, is too plain to need argument, the point having been once argued and established by St. Paul. Gal. ii. 16. “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.” iii. 8. “And the scriptures foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham.” Rom. iii. 30.
Seeing it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.” v. 1. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” Gal. iii. 11. " That no man is justified by the law, in the sight of God, it is evident, for the just shall live by faith.” These pointed declarations from the pen of inspiration, concerning the gospel mode of justification, must determine it to be by grace through faith; and as we have just shown that it is totally irreconcilable with the idea, that the sinner suffers all the penalty he deserves, it follows that the gospel provides for the deliverance of the guilty from the punishment they deserve, and that those who are saved with gospel salvation, do not suffer all the punishment due to their sins.
It will be worse than in vain, to attempt to evade the force of this argument by supposing that justification does not cover the ground of past transgression, but that we are only saved from the commission of sin in future by grace through faith, and that we are thereby justified, i.e. saved from condemnation by being first saved from the commission of sin, for which all must be condemned by whom it is committed. To this exposition of the doctrine of justification we object on the following ground:
1. It destroys the very notion of justification itself. In such case, the sinner is not justified in view of his past sins, for which he suffers a full penalty, and in view of the future
he is not and cannot be justified, and can need no justification, having never been under condemnation. Nothing can be more clear than that justification relates to the sinners's past delinquency, and that it is a deliverance from the guilt and punishment of sin. Acts xiii. 39. “By him all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Here, men are said to justified by faith from that from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses. Now, from this it must follow that the Jews, under the law of Moses, could not live without transgression, so as to be justified by the non-commision of sin, or else that the gospel, which justifies from what the law could not, makes provision for saving men from past sins; either of which is fatal to the notion that the gospel justifies only by saving from the commission of sin in future. Το
that men were not able to live under the law of Moses so as to be justified by the non-commission of sin, and at the same time maintain that there is no justification from sin after it is committed, only by suffering its punishment, would be no better than to assert outright that God punishes his creatures for that which they cannot avoid, and, consequently, for which they are not responsible or in the least to blame; which would be unjust, and, therefore, cannot be allowed. It is certain, then, that it must be possible for men to live under every divine dispersation so as to be justified; or, more properly speaking, to avoid condemnation, provided they improve to the best of their abilities all the means of moral culture which such dispensation affords. From what then are those who believe in Christ justified, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses? We answer, while the law of Moses prohibited the commission of sin, it made no provision for delivering offenders from the moral guilt of their crimes after the law had been once violated ; but this the gospel does, so that he that believeth is justified from all things, from which he could not be justified by the law of Moses. Rom. v. 16. “ The judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification of life.". This text applies the free gift of God's grace, through Jesus Christ, to the justification of the condemned from the guilt of past offences, in a manner too plain to need farther comment.
2. We object to the idea, that justification through faith relates only to the future ; justifying, not from the past, but by preventing the commission of sin for time to come, on the ground that such a justification would be essentially by works. If men are not justified by grace through faith from the guilt of the past, but are only led to break off from their sins and obey God in future, and are, therefore, said to be justified because they have not committed sin, i. e. because they have answered the claims of the law, then, they are justified by the works of the law. If they are not, it would be difficult to understand what can be meant by justification by the deeds of the law. Is it said that the law is kept by faith, and therefore, the justification is by faith? We answer it would be a perversion of language to say that a man is justified by faith merely because faith is concerned in his compliance with the requisitions of the law, by which alone he can be justified. Let it be noted, that if a man could keep the law without faith, he would be justified thereby, but if he could have faith without keeping the law, on the above principle, he would not be justified; therefore the works of the law are indispensable, but faith is not indispensable to justification ; it is only an auxiliary in the work of keeping the law by which he is justified. Not only so, but if we should admit that it is by faith, because the law is kept by faith, still it would not make out justification by faith in a gospel sense ; for there would be no justification without the works of the law: whereas, St. Paul says, Rom. iii. 28 “ Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law.” Let it not be supposed by this, that good works are not necessary
after we are justified by faith, in order to retain it. On this point we cannot express our views better than in the 10th Article of the Church.' “ Although good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God's judgments : yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and spring out of a true and lively faith insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known, as a tree is discerned by its fruit."
The points which we have labored to establish in this argument are the following:
1. Justification, as held forth in the gospel, is opposed to condemnation, so that those who are justified, in a gospel sense, are absolved from guilt and delivered from punishment.
2. This justification is by grace through faith, and not by the works of the law or by enduring its penalty; as must be the case if men are punished for all the sin they commit, and are said to be justified, only, by keeping the law, or by the non-commission of sin in future.
Therefore justification as taught in the gospel implies salvation from the punishment of sin that has been committed.
IV. The scriptures clearly teach that some have been saved from the punishment they deserved.
Ezra ix. 13. “ And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou, our God, hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this." The text is as plain as words can make the sentiment we advocate. If being punished less than we deserve, does not imply salvation from deserved punishment, we have yet to learn the meaning of language.
Exo. xxxii. 9, 10, 11, 12, 14. “ And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people : Now therefore let me alone, that
may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them. And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people,” &c. 66 Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” Here God is represented as threatening his people with an overthrow, and as turning away from the evil which he thought to do, at the intercession of Moses. The evil, with which God threatened them, was a punishment for the sin of idolatry, in making and worshipping a golden calf. Now, this threatened punishment was just, or it was not ; if it was just, then God saved the rebellious Israelites from a just punishment, for he turned away from the evil which he thought to do unto them, and did it not; and if the threatened punishment was not just, then God once thought to do an unjust evil to his people; therefore, it must be admitted that God did save the people from a just punishment, in this case, since it cannot be admitted that he threatened and thought to do that which was not just.
The divine clemency, exercised towards condemned and devoted Nineveh, is another instance of salvation from just punishment. God threatened Nineveh with an overthrow in forty days, and yet, on their repentance, it is said, Jonah iii. 10. “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” The remarks which have just been made, on the case of the idolatrous Israelites, will apply with equal force to the preservation of Nineveh. God either saved the people of Nineveh from a just punishment, or else he threatened them with an unjust punishment. It will not be a sufficient reply to this, to say that the punishment, with which they were threatened, would have been just had they not repented, but in view of the change which took place in their moral character, it was not just, and therefore was not inflicted; for this would be to suppose
that the threatened overthrow was intended as a punishment for their sins which they had not committed, but which they would have committed in future time, which is false.
1. They were threatened directly for what they had already done. The Lord said unto Jonah, Chap. i. 2. go to Neneveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
.” God here speaks of their wickedness in the present tense, is come up, and not in the future, will, or will have come up. God did not command Janah to cry against them because they were about to be very wicked, but because their wickedness had already come up
before him. 2. Jonah attributes the preservation of Nineveh to the grace, mercy, and great kindness of God. Chap. iv. 2. “I kpew that thou art a gracious God, merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.” Now, on the supposition that the Ninevites did not deserve the threatened overthrow in view of their reform, wherein do the grace, mercy,
and great kindness of God appear in their preservation ? This view represents God as being grcious,