But how does grace appear according to the doctrine which has now been delivered ? The blessing is strictly due to us; the full price has been paid for it; and, properly, justification should be considered as an act of justice. But 10 this objection the answer is easy. In one view, God is just when he justifies the ungodly man who believes in Jesus; for every deniand upon him has been satisfied, and, consequently, the privilege could no more be withheld from him, than a discharge can be withheld from a debtor after his surety has made full payment of his debt. But, let it be remembered, that those who are justified possess in themselves no claim to the blessing. They have made no atonement for their sins, and performed no obedience to entitle them to the reward. They did not even provide a surety to do for them what they could not do for themselves; but God called him to the office. In every view, they are utterly unworthy of his favour; and hence, although their justification may be an act of justice in respect of the Saviour, it is an act of pure grace in respect of them. They are merely recipients of a privilege, which was obtained for them without their concurrence, and for which they give nothing in exchange. They are freely forgiven and accepted, and are thus laid under eternal obligations. Of this they are deeply sensible; and, accordingly, say with the Psalmist, “ Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us; but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake."*

A question has been proposed, which is of no practical use, and has been dictated by idle speculation and vain curiosity, whether the whole righteousness of Christ is imputed to every believer, or only so much of it as will answer all the demands of the law upon him? If we must answer this question, we may do so by asking another: Whether, when a surety pays the debt of twenty persons at the same time, the whole sum is reckoned to each individual, or only that part of it which corresponus to the sum which he owed to his creditor? It is possible that this question might be perplexed with a variety of refinements and subtile distinctions; but it would not be worth while to bestow a moment's attention upon them. It is of no consequence what sentiments men adopt upon a point of this nature. It is not in such niceties that true wisdom consists. The inquiry will appear exceedingly uninteresting to a sinner who is anxious to learn how he may obtain peace with his offended Creator; and he will be content to know in general, that, if he believe in Jesus Christ, he shall enjoy the full benefit of his mediation.

I conclude with two quotations from the fathers. The first is taken from the writings of Justin Martyr; and in the following words, from his epistle to Diognetus, the doctrine of justification through the righteousness of Christ is concisely and perspicuously delivered: “God gave his own Son a ransom for us, the holy one for the transgressors, the innocent for the wicked, the righteous for the unrighteous, the incorruptible for the corruptible, the immortal for the mortal. For what else could cover our sins but his righteousness? In whom could we transgressors and ungodly be justified, but only in the Son of God? O sweet exchange ! O unsearchable contrivance! that the transgressions of many should be hidden in one righteous person, and the righteousness of one should justify many transgressors !”

I shall add a quotation from Chrysostom on the fifth chapter of the second epistle to the Corinthians. “ He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” * What mind can represent these things? He made the righteous one a sinner, that he might make the sinners righteous. Rather this is not what he says, but something much greater. He does not say he made him a sinner, but sin; not only him who had not sinned, but who did not know sin, that we might be made, not righteous, but righteousness, and the righteousness of God. For this is the righteousness of God, when we are justified not by works, for in this case it is necessary that there should be no spot in them, but by grace, in the blotting out of all sin. This does not permit us to be lifted up, because God freely gives us all, and teaches us the greatness of the gift; for the former righteousness is that of the law and of works, but this is the righteousness of God.” From these passages it appears, that, although the fathers do not always express themselves with the same accuracy as modern theologians, whom controversial discussion has led to a more careful selection of language, yet the scriptural doctrine of justification was understood and taught, long before the days of Luther and Calvin.

* Ps. cxv. 1.



Office of Faith in Justification-Whether it precedes or follows Justification-Definition

of it-Faith not the Ground or Condition of Justification, but the Instrument of Partaking of it— The Relation of Repentance and Good Works to Justification.

ALTHOUGH Jesus Christ fulfilled the righteousness of the law during his abode upon earth, yet those for whom he acted as a surety, are not immediately delivered from the guilt of their sins, and restored to the favour of God. They are born children of wrath as well as others, and they sometimes continue for many years in a state of condemnation. The righteousness of the Redeemer is not of avail to them till it is applied. I proceed to speak of its application, and remark that, while it is revealed and brought near to us in the Gospel, faith is the means by which it is received, or by which we obtain such an interest in it as to be accepted in the sight of God. God "justifieth the ungodly that believeth in Jesus.”

But before I consider the office of faith in justification, it is necessary to attend to the question, whether we are justified before faith or after it; or, "whether the act of God imputing the righteousness of Christ to us, or our receiving it by faith, be first in the order of nature.” The question will probably astonish you; but it has actually engaged the attention of some theologians, and given rise to much discussion and metaphysical argumentation. Those who aim at being exceedingly accurate and consummately orthodox, maintain, “ that justification, as it is the act of God, is, in the order of nature, antecedent to our faith; and, that our faith is antecedent to it, as it is passively received into, and terminated on, our conscience.” The last words I do not well understand; but, if they have any meaning it must be, that the assurance of our justification, and the peace of conscience which flows from it, are posterior to faith. But surely, if men would allow themselves to think, they would see that this assurance is not justification, but a fruit or consequence of it. It follows from this theory, that what has been always understood by jus. tification is not that which is spoken of in the Scriptures when we are said to be justified by faith, but a certain state of mind closely connected with it. It is not the sentence of God pronounced upon the sinner, but his knowledge and experience of the sentence. It would seem, then, that we have been all along in an error; and that, while we supposed that we became righteous by faith, and gave credit to the Scriptures, which told us that righteousness would


be imputed to us if we believed, the matter is transacted in a different manner. We become righteous without faith; righteousness is imputed to us before we believe.

The principal argument by which this opinion is supported, is, that faith is a fruit of the Spirit, and that the Spirit cannot be given to men while they are under the curse of the law, which is not repealed till they are actually justified. The curse is an impenetrable barrier in the way of all gracious communications. But although this seems to be logical reasoning, there are two reasons why I deem it inconclusive. The first is, that, notwithstanding their subjection to the curse, God did love men, and bestow upon them the unspeakable gift of his Son. I should wish to know what there is peculiar in the gift of the Spirit, which should hinder God from giving him till the curse is removed; or how it comes to pass that, while men were under the guilt of sin, God might send his Son to die for them, but cannot send his Spirit to infuse life into their souls. The second reason is, that no reasoning, however plausible, can support any theory in opposition to Scripture. If the Scripture declares, that we are “justified by faith;” that righteousness is imputed to those who believe; and calls the righteousness of Christ, “ the righteousness which is by faith," plainly signifying that faith is antecedent; what right has any man to come forward and tell me, that I should beware of being misled by this language, for that this is not the true order of things ?: God stands in no need of the counsels of men to direct him how to proceed. He knows what he may do consistently with his own character, and the moral constitution of the universe. If he has said, that he justifies a sinner by faith, what signify all the minute reasonings of puny mortals, which go to prove that this is impossible, because there is a sentence against the sinner which must be reversed before the Spirit is given? Did not God know of this difficulty ? or, knowing it, did he express himself as if it did not exist? It were well if, in such matters, the interpreters of Scripture would lay aside their logic, and exercise a humble faith, assenting to what is revealed without obtruding their corrections and twisting every thing into an agreement with their systems. And let us all learn to derive our sentiments in religion, not from the subtilties of scholastic divines and their imitators in modern times, but from the writings of the prophets and apostles, whose language, if it should appear to some men not properly guarded, is, however, such as they were directed to use by the Spirit of inspiration.

The opinion which I have endeavoured to expose, is hyperorthodoxy. As it is contrary to the uniform language of the Scriptures, so it is at variance with the doctrine of our church, which teaches us, that the righteousness of Christ is received by faith; that "faith is the instrument of justification ;"* and that, although “God did, from all eternity, decree to justify the elect; and Christ did, in the fulness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification; nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth in due time actually apply Christ unto them.”+

Of the faith by which we are justified, such a definition has been sometimes given as entirely overthrows the doctrine which we have laboured to establish. It is represented not only as a living faith which works by love, but as formally comprehending good works. It justifies us not as faith, or a reliance upon Christ, but as operative in the performance of our duty, and is another name for believing obedience. As this definition is inconsistent with the known and established use of the term, so it confounds faith and works, which the Scriptures most carefully distinguish and oppose to each other in justification, and it renders some of their declarations on the subject unmeaning and absurd. If faith signifies believing obedience, they are convertible terms, and the one may therefore be substituted for the other. Let us then make the exchange in the following passage from the Epistle of James, and observe what is the result: -“Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.”* Observe how the sentence runs. Show me thy obedience without thy obedience, and I will show thee my obedience by my obedience.' A most wonderful species of demonstration, surely! and worthy to be proposed with great solemnity by an inspired apostle! In other passages, the substitution of obedience for faith, would produce an equally ridiculous effect.

* Conf. Ch. xi. . 1, 2.

† Ib. . 4.

Justifying faith has been defined to be a persuasion that Christ died for us in particular, and that our sins are forgiven. I have already shown that this view of it is a mistake. Nothing is the object of faith but what is revealed. But there is no revelation in the Scriptures that Christ died for any man in particular, and that his sins are forgiven; and, therefore, to believe these propositions in the first instance, would be downright presumption. Besides, if ihis were a just definition of faith, if this persuasion entered into its essence, every man would be an unbeliever who never possessed this persuasion, and the moment he lost it would fall from faith. How many of the people of God would be thus excluded from his favour! how few would be in a state of grace! It is not a fair way to evade this difficulty, to say, that faith, like all the other graces, is imperfect, and that the exercise of it may be suspended. However imperfect any thing may be, its essence always remains; and to talk of suspending what is essential io it, is in fact to say that it is annihilated.

I have shown you, in a former lecture,t that justifying faith is not only an assent to the testimony of God concerning his Son, but the reliance of the soul upon his atonement and righteousness as the only ground of acceptance with God. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness."! I shall not resume the illustration of this point, but shall proceed to state what is the office of faith in the justification of a sinner. Now, faith may be considered as itself our justifying righteousness; or as the condition of our justification; or as the means, and, as it has been often called, the instrument, by which we become partakers of this blessing.

To suppose that faith itself is our justifying righteousness, would be to contradict the language of Scripture, in which we are said to be justified by, or through, faith ; an expression which merely imports, that it is somehow connected with the enjoyment of the privilege. None, indeed, will maintain that faith is our justifying righteousness, but those who, contrary to the obvious meaning of the word and its constant distinction from works, have first assumed that is comprehensive of obedience. It may seem to favour this opinion, that it is said of Abraham, that he “believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."'S The expression is remarkable, and is not without difficulty. The meaning of it, we are confidently told, is, that his faith was accepted as his justifying righteousness; that, by mere favour, God valued it as equal to a complete performance of his duties, and rewarded him as if he had been a righteous person.”ll It would be well if those who use this language, would tell us plainly what they mean by faith ; whether it is a simple reliance upon the merit of Christ to the exclusion of works, or such a belief in him as is accompanied with works and derives its efficacy from them. If they speak of faith in the latter sense, as their sentiments on other occas ns would lead us to think, their doctrine is refuted by the arguments by which it was formerly proved, that we are not justified by sincere obedience to a new law of grace which God is supposed to have given to us. But if they refer


* James ii. 18.

Rom. iv. 3.

+ Lect. lviii.

1 Rom. x. 10. Il Dr. M.Knight, Note 2. in loco.



to faith alone, and, at the same time, deny that the righteousness of Christ is imputed, they must maintain that this single act is accepted instead of ohedience in general, and on the ground of it a sinner is pronounced to be righteous. Is it possible that any man really believes that faith, thus disjointed from all works, is equivalent, in the Divine estimation, to the whole obedience which we originally owed? Whatever some may believe, it is certain that this faith is the act of the sinner. It is his obedience to a law requiring faith, and is therefore a work as much as any other duty. How, then, are we to understand the words of the Apostle, “ 'Io him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."* He evidently' speaks of faith and works as directly opposed to each other in our justification. According to this opinion, however, they are not opposed, but while all other works are excluded, one work, namely faith, is retained; so that Paul should have said, “To him who omits all works but one, that work is counted for righteousness.” But he has said no such thing, and we are certain never intended to say it; for his design was to prove, that all works are excluded, without a single exception, and that we are justified by faith, not as constituting our righteousness, but as receiving the righteousness of Christ. No unprejudiced man who had read his writings, ever doubted that this was his design. When we reflect, that he expressly declares that Christ is made righteousness to us, that we are made righteous by his obedience, and that righteousness is imputed to us without works, we cannot suppose for a moment that the true meaning of the passage before us is, that faith itself is our justifying righteousness. Fair criticism requires, that a singular expression should be explained in consistency with the general sentiments of the book in which it occurs. By this rule, we must understand the words, “faith is imputed for righteousness,” in consistency with Paul's uniform doctrine, that a sinner is just before God only in the righteousness of Christ, and must admit that here he uses a metonymy by which the efficient is put for the effect, or the instrument for the end accomplished by it. Abraham's faith was imputed for righteousness; that is, he obtained by it a righteousness, on the ground of which God justifies the ungodly. We are sure that this was the fact; and we are sure, therefore, that this is what the apostle intended to express.

Again, Faith may be considered as the condition of our justification, as it has been sometimes called ; but whether with propriety, may be doubted. If, by condition, is meant that which is required to the enjoyment of a blessing, that which must precede it in the order of time or of nature, it may be truly said, that faith is the condition of justification, because nothing more is intended than to express, in different words, the uniform doctrine of Scripture, that we are justified by faith. But the "condition” of any thing usually signifies that which, being done, gives us a right or title to it, because it possesses either intrinsic or conventional merit. To call faith, in this sense, the condition of our justification, would be worse than inaccurate ; it would introduce human merit to the dishonour of Divine grace, and overthrow the doctrine so clearly taught in the New Testament. The term, condition, should therefore be avoided, because it is calculated to mislead the ignorant by suggesting ideas contrary to the truth of the gospel.

In the last place, Faith may be considered as the means or instrument of justification. The latter term especially has been frequently employed; and as both are of human origin, they have no other claim to be preferred but what arises from their fitness to express the office of faith. As a certain induence is ascribed to it in the justification of a sinner, and, at the same time, it is not the meritorious cause nor properly the condition, either of the terms

* Rom. iv. 5.

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