[ocr errors]

Apostle, declare, without any hesitation, equivocation, or reserve, that “ concupiscence and lust,” even “in the regenerated,” “hath of itself the nature of

“ sin."

But is this difference between us, on that point of doctrine, really important ? Brethren, if it were not, I should not thus have referred to it. I may repeat what I have before said, that, in these discourses, I shall not speak evil of the Church of Rome, for the mere purpose of attacking her. But I must expose false and dangerous principles. What really is the object of that decree? To represent Baptism as doing what only the blood of Christ and the influence of the Holy Ghost can do:—and the result, indeed, has been, that the members of that communion have embraced the delusion, seeking in Baptism what is to be found only in the Saviour's "precious blood," and in the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit. That, indeed, is the “head and front of her offending"—that is the leading error, the great sin, that stamps apostacy on her brow—the substituting the sign for the thing signifiedthe form for the Spirit. Here we stand—I do not fear to say it-strikingly contrasted.

Brethren, I need say no more. The doctrine, which the Article has led me to set before


is one calculated to abase and grieve the soul. But those are precious words, bursting upon us, like the sun in a gloomy day—“ There is no condemnation

for them that believe and are baptized.” Oh! take xale admin that becampute of Sophim whatever they are come trom Blood

of 8th, a farine of "Holy Ghost



[ocr errors]

*All Cath admit that benefits of Barten

that truth, which is so scriptural, to your hearts' ' comfort. You are all sinful creatures, whether regenerated or not regenerated. If not regenerated, you are sinful altogether : if regenerated, still you have sin remaining in you. But you have no sin, whatever be your state, for which the blood of Christ cannot obtain your pardon: you have no pollution, from the influence of which the Holy Ghost cannot set you free. “Behold, then, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world :" and earnestly pray

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."



ROMANS, x. 4. “ Christ is the end of the Law for Righteousness to every one that


The Article upon which I last addressed you, left man, destitute of all “original righteousness,” in a state of condemnation. That which follows declares him to be thoroughly incapable, from the corruption of his nature occasioned by the Fall, of doing any one spiritually good action by which he may restore himself to the favour of God. This would form the subject of my present discourse, were it not that the Thirteenth Article brings forward the same truth in more direct opposition to Romish error. I shall, therefore, pass by the Tenth Article, and come to that which forms a delightful contrast to the humiliating and painful truth contained in the Ninth. There we were described, in


our natural state, as altogether sinful and obnoxious to God's wrath. Here we are called upon to consider a provision made by God, of His mere grace, for the restoration of our persons to His favour ; a provision by which He not only pardons the guilty, but re-invests them with a righteousness so perfect, that instead of looking upon them as sinners He regards them as worthy persons, meriting Heaven. Proceeding upon the fact that “God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him,” the Eleventh Article of our Church thus states the blessed doctrine of our Justification: “We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.”

The truth contained in this Article is, as Hooker, that great divine, has said, “the foundation of Christianity.” To rest on it with full faith, is to save the soul. To deny it, or to lay upon this other foundations, is to throw back the soul into its former lost state, and to bring it as completely beneath the curse of God, as if no provision had been made for its salvation. The importance then of the subject calls, my Brethren, for your very serious attention. And I pray God, that the words of our Reformers, being explained in accordance with Scripture, may remove all erroneous opinions, and bring you to look in

your sinfulness only to that Saviour who “is the

end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

Let us now hear the Article. It is a beautifully simple, clear, and full statement of the grand doctrine of our religion—Justification by Jesus Christ.

It first declares that “We are accounted righteous before God." By which it means that God looks upon as righteous persons, and treats us as suchalthough, in ourselves, we are not so. The fall of Adam, (as our Ninth Article scripturally shewed) made all men sinners. There is not one out of the whole mass of mankind that does not stand at God's bar, in his natural state, a guilty creature; and yet, by a process which Divine Wisdom, acting in concert with Divine Mercy, has devised, the man whom God's justice could convict and hand over to eternal punishment, is declared by that

very justice to be free from all guilt, as perfectly righteous as if he had never fallen from primeval innocence, and consequently absolved from all condemnation. You need scarcely be told, my Brethren, that the righteousness required by God, as necessary to satisfy the demands of His law, is a perfect righteousness. God is a Being of infinite purity, and He has established His universal throne on principles so holy, so strictly accordant with His own character, that He cannot be pleased with any thing that exhibits a deviation, however small, from strict moral rectitude. The least breach, the least imperfection, makes man a sinner in the sight of his Maker; and the non-fulfilment of the law of God, subjects him who cannot fulfil its demands to

« VorigeDoorgaan »