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Saviour"; which he " sanctifies i ” and to which “the Lord added the saved."
When man, perusing the sacred Scriptures, “ believes from the heart unto righteousness", the truths and promises there contained, the word of God becomes the mean of his justification.
When, by the ministry of reconciliation, faith is quickened, strengthened, and rendered productive of good works, then the ministry becomes the channel by which justification is conveyed.
But the ordinances are the principal means and pledge of this holy grace. By baptism, on our professing sincere faith, we are placed in a justified statė, that is, in the language of the Church, “called unto a state of salvation!.” According to the declaration of the Apostle -" As many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death m”- that is, not only into a profession of his laws and doctrine, but into a conditional participation of the merits of his death *.
Hence, in the language of all the Apostles in their epistles, baptized Christians are addressed
called," as “ elected,” into a state of salvation. It is in this sense that baptism is styled
Eph. v. 23.
j Aets ii. 47. * Rom. X. 10.
be Rom. vi. 3. * “ Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, have the full efficacy of Christ's death sealed up unto us, and by virtue thereof die unto our sins."—Bishop Hall.
“the washing of regeneration,” as distinct from “the renewing of the Holy Ghosto.” Regeneration, and renovation then, are terms of distinct signification. By regeneration is meant, our being born again into a new, a justified state, in baptism; that is, a state in which we are conditionally entitled to the blessings of salvation.
And renovation, or “the renewing of the Holy Ghost,” means that change of heart and life, through the operations of the Divine Spirit, which is necessary finally to secure to us the privileges of our baptismal justification. The Apostles do not call on baptized Christians to be regenerated, but to “ be transformed by the renewing of their mind ?, and thus to “make their calling and election sure ";" to secure the blessings of that state of salvation or justification into which they are called by baptism. And thus our Church, while in all her services she considers baptized Christians as “regenerated,” as “called into a state of salvation,” as made “members of Christ, children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven,” prays that they may be “renewed by God's Holy Spirit;" and exhorts them to “die unto sin, and to rise again unto righteousness, that they may finally secure the privileges of their justification, may inherit God's everlasting kingdom. The error would be fatal which would suppose that no other spiritual change is necessary than that which takes place in baptism.
• Titus iii, 5,
p Rom. xii. 2.
1 2 Peter i. 10,
On our exercising true and lively faith, the justification, received in baptism, is assured to us in the ordinance' of Confirmation, which is a pledge to those who, in faith, ratify their baptismal vows, of God's grace and favour. And this justification is constantly renewed and preserved by receiving, with lively faith, the symbols of the body and blood of Christ.
Behold then, intelligible to the humblest capacity, the whole process of our justification, of our being accounted righteous before God.
Our justification must be ascribed to the free grace of God the Father, who is pleased to accept of the righteousness of his Son Jesus Christ, as an atonement to his offended justice. This righteousness is the meritorious cause of our justification. Faith-consisting in a sincere disposition to know and to do the will of God; which disposition, where the Gospel is promulgated, must be evidenced by submission to all its truths and precepts, and humble reliance on its promises, particularly the promise of pardon through the blood of Christ-is the condition of justification. And the Holy Ghost, by the word, the ministry, and the ordinances, conveys this justification to true believers, and renews and confirms it to them.
How great then is the error of those, who contend that good works are, in no sense, neces
sary to justification. All works, indeed, are excluded, which are not evangelical, which are not -wrought through faith ; and faith, equally with works, is excluded as the meritorious cause of our justification; which must be referred solely to the free grace of God, through Jesus Christ. But the faith by which we are justified, is " a faith working by love;" a faith, so sincere and lively, that it brings forth all the fruits of righteousness. Thus, then, good works are included in that faith which justifies as the principle from which they proceed. And therefore, though in the language of our Church, they “ follow after justification,”, after we are accepted by God, on the exercise of a true and lively faith; yet, as our Church also affirms, they are “ the fruits of faith, they spring necessarily from it”;” and wherever they do not exist, we may conclude, there is not true and lively faith; and, of consequence, not that faith which justifies,
If good works, then, are necessary to our justification, why are we said to be “ justified by faith only?" Obviously, because faith is the principle from which all good works must proceed. We cannot obey God, until we believe in his existence, his attributes, and his will; nor can we rely on the righteousness of Christ, as the only meritorious cause of our acceptance, and serve him as our Lord and Master, until we believe in his character and divine offices. Excluding then both faith and good works from all meritorious agency in our justification, and accepting pardon and salvation as the unmerited gift of God, through his Son Jesus Christ, we exclude all boasting, and give to God the supreme glory.
r Art. xii.
Adore then, Christians, his infinite love, displayed to mankind through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ. “God," said the Apostle, “is the Saviour of all men”;" rendering salvation possible to all who, in the humble and submissive spirit of faith, according to the lights which reason, which conscience, which traditional revelations, which the secret inspirations of God's Spirit afford, worship and serve him, “ in whom they live and move and have their being.” But God is " especially the Saviour of them that believe.” They who are justified by faith in the blood of his Son, possess the peace of a conscience cleansed from guilt, the joy of a spirit purified from sin, the hope of an everlasting inheritance of glory-blessings which, in his inscrutable wisdom, he withholds, in this life, from the worshippers of his name, according to the feeble lights which reason sheds upon
•1 Tim. iv. 10,