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CAUTION OF HOWE.
that of a legal representative among men; or that our notions in reference to it are to be governed by what takes place in a human court of judicature. I have long had a strong conviction that this proneness to identify Divine and human proceedings is the source of much mistake and mischief in our theological investigations; and it has been with no slight degree of pleasure that, since some of the statements contained in preceding Lectures were committed to writing, I have met with a passage in the works of the great John Howe, unob. served before, which most strikingly confirms the views I had been led to entertain. I very earnestly recommend it to the careful attention of those who have been led, by our customary and established phraseology upon this subject, to identify suretyship in Divine economies, with suretyship among men. “Much of this carnality appears about such matters when we are over-intent to mould and square gospel truths and doctrines by human measures and models; and to earnestly strive to make them correspond; that is, when we aim beyond what things will admit, to stretch (or rather to shrink and contract) God's transactions with men, unto the scheme and model of our own abstract notions and definitions, or of merely human, civil, or political economies, administrations, and transactions; such I mean as obtain among men towards one another; and so labour to have the same measures take place throughout, in reference to Divine things, as do in human. Whereby more than is needful, useful, (or indeed so much as possible to agree and quadrate,) of logic, metaphysics, and of civil or other law, is introduced into theology. Illustrations, indeed, may be taken thence, but not strict measures. It is impossible some times they should be so.” (Let the reader mark this.) “ Divers things are taken among men in such notions as, in delivering the doctrine of the gospel, cannot have a full and adequate place; they often will not exactly agree or correspond; as if, in speaking of God's pardoning and justifying a sinner, we should take our measures of pardon and justification strictly from what obtains among men, we should find a great difference, and disagreement.” And having exhibited the disparity, he adds, “Some resemblance will appear, not an exact
320 CONSEQUENCES OF ACTION REACH BEYOND THE ACTORS.
or entire correspondency.” (Pp. 466, 467, Westley's Edition.) In harmony with this great, general, and germinating principle, it may be added, that if we take our measure of the relation of Adam and Christ to their respective seeds, from that of a human legal representative, we shall find a great difference and disagreement. The analogy is in the results of the relation. The whole world experience the effects of Adam's sin-and believers enjoy the consequences of Christ's righteousness—as if both classes were, in a literal sense, legally represented by Adam, and Christ.
If it be objected, that, unless Adam and Christ were true and literal representatives, the consequences of their actions could not extend beyond themselves, we oppose facts of every day occurrence to the incautious assertion of the objector. The instances are innumerable in which this is the case. It is an ordinary law of Divine Providence that the results of actions, both virtuous and vicious, should reach beyond the actors themselves. Moral government resorts to this arrangement, as one mode, amongst others, of effecting its own wise and merciful purposes. A nation suffers from the misconduct of its rulers; a parent entails disease, degradation, and poverty, or affluence and honour, upon his children; wide-spreading ruin is ofttimes the result of unprincipled commercial speculations. Should it be said that these effects follow in the natural and necessary course of things, it is replied, First, that, granting this, it still does not alter the fact, that the results of actions do reach beyond the actors themselves, when the latter do not sustain the relation of legal representatives in the strict and literal sense of the term. But, Secondly, it is inquired, How it came to be the natural course of things ? Was not that course determined by God himself? Are not these results brought about by the agency of his providence? And does he not so arrange the course of events as that the actions of one man shall affect multitudes, that he may secure the great ends of his moral government ? that he may discountenance and prevent vice, and encourage virtue? that he may render the monarch cautious and prudent? the parent watchful and virtuous, and the tradesman and merchant honest?
RELATION BETWEEN CHRIST AND BELIEVERS,
The facts just referred to, to which others might have been added, present us with undeniable cases, in which individuals have experienced the effects of the good or bad conduct of others,-by whom they were not, in the strict sense of the term, legally represented,-as if they had been thus legally represented. I do not intend to intimate, by alluding to these facts, that the relation existing between the parent and his childby virtue of which the latter is exalted—is identical with that which is sustained by Christ to his people. The facts have been referred to for the mere purpose of repelling the objection, which they certainly do, and that most effectually. It may possibly prove to be the case, that the two relations are not so radically different as is sometimes imagined; but at present I am disposed to regard the relation of Christ to believers, as not identifying itself with that of a legal representative on the one hand, nor with that of a parent on the other. It seems more analogous to those which were sustained by Noah, and Abraham-the results of which did not altogether reach to their posterity in the natural course of things. Adam, and Christ, were rather moral, than legal, or natural heads. The disobedience of the former, and the righteousness of the latter, formed the moral ground on which the loss and the blessing are experienced. As an expression of God's displeasure against the sin of the former, the whole race suffer many of the consequences of that sin; as an expression of his high satisfaction with the righteousness of the latter, believers experience the consequences of that righteousness. The results are the same as if Adam and Christ had been, strictly speaking, legal representatives ;-as the results of justification with God are the same, as if it were the same thing with justification among men ;-and, on this account, and in this sense, they may with great propriety be denominated legal representatives.
THE MEANS OF JUSTIFICATION CONCLUDED.
In the preceding Lecture we have seen that faith does not justify on account of its being, through a relaxation of the Divine law, a perfect fulfilment of duty ;--nor on the ground of any moral excellence which may be found to exist in it. We have seen, further, that the statements of certain eminent divines, that faith justifies, because it unites to Christ, contain more of apparent than real information, inasmuch as to believe, and to be in Christ, are only two modes, the one literal, and the other figurative, of expressing the same thing. If, indeed, by being in Christ were meant nothing more than connexion with that body, the members of which are justified, and who will be finally saved by him, then it might truly be said that we are thus united to Christ by faith; but then, as this union is identical with being justified, it could not be said that we are justified by virtue of union to Christ. I prefer, therefore, the following statement of the connexion between faith and justification, viz.,
Fourthly, Faith justifies by bringing an individual into that body, to every individual of which the blessing of justification is secured by the promise, and covenant, and oath of God. The statement may be thus illustrated.
The atonement of Christ was, as we have seen, a general remedy co-extensive with the evil to be removed. The whole of the human race had, by transgression, imposed a moral necessity upon Jehovah, as a righteous moral Governor, to inflict upon
them the sentence of the law. From this neces
HOW FAITH JUSTIFIES.
sity, the obedience and death of his Son, evincing the excellence, and sustaining the efficiency of the law, rescued him. It permitted, though it did not of itself require, the pardon of the transgressor. It rendered it competent to him, as moral Governor, to extend the sceptre of mercy to the guilty-to pardon all, or any; and in whatever manner should appear right in his sight. Yet, as the whole race was not destined to appear in existence at once,--and as the moral Governor must act in his rectoral character during the entire period of the existence of the system, and impart the blessings he bestows according to some revealed rule of government, it became necessary for him to establish, and to reveal, the rule according to which these blessings should be bestowed. That rule is faith. Though all men, personally considered, deserve death, he promises, on the ground of the Saviour's work, to bestow life on all who believe the record he has given concerning him. This becomes the rule of his government, under the dispensation of mercy which has been established in consequence of the death of his Son; the rule of personal acceptance, and by which the final condition of all, who enjoyed access to the gospel, will be decided at the great day of account : “ He that believeth shall be saved ; he that believeth not, shall be damned.”
Let us carry forward our thoughts to the judgment of the great day. It is in the character of moral Governor, or Judge, that Christ will descend from heaven; and he will come render to all men according to their deeds”_"to judge the dead according to their works." (Rom. ii. 6; Rev. xx. 12.) Beyond all doubt, the reward which is, on that day, to be bestowed by the Judge, will be a reward of grace; i. e., it will be given for the sake of Christ alone,-his work constituting the ground on which it will be imparted; but still it will be bestowed by Christ in the character of moral Governor ; and, accordingly, conferred upon those only who have complied with the rule of government; or, in other words, who have yielded that obedience of faith which the Sovereign had previously declared should place all, who did yield it, in that state in which they should be treated as if they were righteous, for the sake of him who really is so. Nothing is said at present