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CONSCIENCE, BUT CONTAINED IN THE SCRIPTURES, 239
is not true. The Jews who opposed Christ were under condemnation, yet so far from being persuaded that that was the case, they had no doubt that God was their Father. Believers in Christ may, on the other hand, be impressed at times with strong apprehensions of Divine wrath, while yet they are not exposed to it. Neither justification, therefore, nor condemnation, consists in a persuasion of the mind that we are under the one, or the other. Besides, to make a thing consist in a persuasion of the truth of that thing, is a palpable absurdity. There can be no well-grounded persuasion of any thing, unless it be true and evident antecedently to our being persuaded of it.” “ The sum is, that neither condemnation nor justification consists in the secret purpose of God, but in his will, as revealed, as if by a sentence, in his word.”
Let it then be remembered, that the sentence, and all the sentence, which God pronounces upon the state and character of any individual, or ever will pronounce, till the judgment of the great day, is to be found in the sacred Scriptures. He there declares that all who believe are justified ; i. e., they are in that state in which he will treat them as if they were truly and personally righteous, for the sake of Him who was “ made the end of the law for righteousness, to every one who believeth in him.” Judgment had indeed come upon to condemnation; but Jehovah laid our help upon One who was mighty to save unto the very uttermost, all who come unto God by him. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.” The atonement of the Saviour removed
obstacle, on the part of God, to the bestowment of pardon upon penitent transgressors. On this, as an adequate basis, he erects and unfurls the banners of mercy. He invites all to return from their wanderings,-unfolds the way in which the blessings of salvation are to be obtained, -and solemnly and judicially declares that all who believe in his Son are justified; that all who believe not are condemned. This is the judicial sentence.
Thus justification, if the word must be understood to denote some act or declaration on the part of God, (and not merely a
all men 240
JUSTIFICATION INCLUDES PARDON.
state of exalted privilege to which certain individuals are raised,) is not an act, or a sentence, having its date in eternity, by which men are acquitted from guilt, and accepted as righteous; nor is it a secret act or decision (declaration it could not in that case be called, as that supposes revelation) of the Eternal Mind, securing these exalted blessings to them; but it is that revealed act, or declaration, which proclaims that the individual who has been brought to the faith of Christ will receive, on a ground to be afterwards pointed out, all those blessings which he might have secured to himself by personal and perfect obedience.*
The preceding statements throw considerable light upon a point in reference to which there exists no little difference of opinion. Arminians in general, and some Calvinists, maintain that justification includes only the remission of sins; while others contend strenuously that it comprehends a right or title to eternal life. Now, if to justify an individual is to count, i. e., to treat him as if he were a righteous man,-if the main analogy between Divine and human justification is to be traced, as we have seen, in their effects,-it follows,
First, that justification must include in it deliverance from condemnation, or pardon. A man who is justified, at a human tribunal, is of course preserved by that act from condemnation, and consequent punishment. The indictment preferred against him was, in effect, an averment that he deserved to endure a certain amount of suffering. His justification is, in effect, a counter averment that he does not deserve to endure it; and, accordingly, he does not endure it. Justification, then, in connexion with the Divine government, must include
* No one, it is presumed, will understand the author to intimate that, when an individual is brought to the faith of Christ, he does not become personally interested in the salvation of the gospel. This is, doubtless, the case. The fact that he is so is known to God, who reveals it to him by his conduct—his gracious communications, &c.; and who will judicially and publicly proclaim this at the day of judgment. What is meant is, that there is no particular revelation to this individual of his personal acceptance,--that no private judicial sentence of acquittal is pronounced, constituting his justification :—that he is only justified, in the sense of acquittal by a judicial sentence, by the great and gracious general decision, “ He that believeth shall be saved."
JUSTIFICATION INCLUDES A TITLE TO LIFE.
pardon. A believer could not be treated as if he were a perfectly righteous man, unless this were the case. Nor is revelation silent on this point. The following passage proves that justification comprehends pardon. “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." (Rom. iv. 6, 8.) But,
Secondly, The blessing of justification secures the certain possession of all the honour and reward which are attached to perfect obedience. A righteous man is entitled not only to immunity from punishment, but to all the approbation, and to all the substantial benefits, which may be connected by law with the active and faithful discharge of the duties of citizenship. The language of the Divine law is, “Do this, and thou shalt live.” Perfect personal obedience, i. e., righteousness, would have secured to an individual immortal life and blessedness. It seems to follow as a necessary consequence from this, that justification must secure an equal amount of good to all who believe, or they could not be treated as if they were perfectly righteous men. And the language of the apostle in the fifth chapter of his epistle to the Romans, ver. 1, 2, 18—21, renders it manifest that it does secure this. “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” “ Therefore, as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to 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. Moreover, the law entered, that the offence might abound: but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.” The language of the apostle, in the 19th verse especially, cannot be reconciled with the opinion, that justi
THE LIFE WHICH IT SECURES.
fication includes forgiveness only; and this circumstance goes far to prove that they mistake his meaning in the fourth chapter, ver. 6—8, who maintain that he represents the imputation of righteousness, the forgiveness of iniquity, and the nonimputation of sin, as being perfectly identical. To impute righteousness, is a general phrase, meaning to count or treat any one as perfectly righteous. It includes in it, as a constituent part of the blessing, the forgiveness of sin; and, therefore, though in reality it includes more than this part, the apostle might very aptly quote language which describes the blessedness of a pardoned state, in proof of the blessedness of a justified state.
Justification, then, includes in it a title to life, since perfect obedience would have given such a title. It is to be remembered, however, that the life to which Divine justification raises, is far superior to that to which we could have attained by our own personal and complete obedience to the Divine law. It is given in reward of the Saviour's righteousness; and his interposition on our behalf-his agony and bloody sweat—the sufferings of his life, and his death on the cross, are so unspeakably meritorious in the eyes of the Father, that they secure, and must secure, a greater revenue of glory for himself, and for all his people, than they could have secured for themselves, had they preserved their integrity.
THE GROUND OF JUSTIFICATION.
By the ground of justification is intended to be understood, that for the sake of which, or as the reward of which, any members of the human family—all of whom have broken the Divine law-are now treated, and will hereafter be treated, as if they were perfectly righteous. On this point I submit the following observations :
1. That this ground does not exist in those who enjoy this blessing; or, in other words, that none are, or can be, treated by God as righteous in reward of their own works. This is rendered certain by the express testimony of Divine revelation, and by the very nature of the case.
1st. The express testimony of Divine revelation may be appealed to. Numberless are the passages in which it is distinctly denied that justification is by works of law; or that the ground of justification is in the partaker of the blessing. It
may be expedient to select one of these, and illustrate it rather fully; and then show that it is in entire harmony with the remainder. “Therefore,” says the apostle, Rom. iii. 20, “ by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” To perceive the full force of this denial, we must inquire into the meaning of the terms “flesh," and "law," which are here employed. The first of the terms ordinarily comprehends the whole of the human family, the members of which are so designated on account of the material or fleshly part of their nature.
The following passages are decisive on this point. “The end of all flesh is come before me, (Gen. vi. 13,) behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” “ The congregation fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of