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to inquire what would be the first and chief objection to which it would be open. “What shall we say, then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” And again; "Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace?" Having thus proposed the difficulty, he then satisfactorily removes it, by shewing that the Gospel afforded no licence for continuing in guilt; but, on the contrary, exacted in the strongest manner, the mortification of sin, while it provided a deliverance from its power. But at present it is more material to observe, that by bringing forward the objection prominently, and by shewing that it was founded on an erroneous and imperfect view of the Gospel, it is plainly implied that there was in the doctrines of Christianity something which did give some plausible countenance and colour to such a conclusion.

These passages, selected from many more of a similar kind, are quite sufficient to prove, that in the justification of man, his good works are in some sense entirely devoid of any efficacy. But single expressions, however strong, may be misunderstood; and it is more satisfactory, if the truth of any disputed doctrine can be confirmed, by shewing that it does not rest on solitary or insulated passages

, but is embodied into the very fabric of Christianity, and made a component part of its general system. Now such a proof may, in the present case, be fairly drawn from that doctrine which is confessedly peculiar to Christianity, which is interwoven into its very substance, and is held forth in every page of its records: I mean that of Jesus Christ having come into the world to be the Saviour of sinners. Now if we examine that fact carefully, we shall find that it necessarily supposes and implies the truth of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. For if a Saviour is appointed, for whom is he appointed? Evidently for those who cannot deliver themselves from destruction. "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." The death of Christ was to be a sacrifice, a propitiation for sin: His blood was to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now what do these expressions imply, but that men are to be saved, not as meriting heaven by their own innocence or virtue, but as sinners rescued by a Saviour from destruction. The claim of salvation by our works, is indeed utterly incompatible with the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ. In applying to a Saviour, we in effect renounce the plea of innocence; we confess the charge of guilt; we ask for pardon and mercy. Thus, there are two different systems of salvation. Of one, our own virtue is the basis: the foundation of the other is faith in Christ. He who embraces the first, pleads his innocence: he who trusts to the latter, confesses his guilt. In the former of these characters, there is a self-satisfaction; in the other, a spirit of humiliation and contrition. The one claims reward; the other sues for pardon. The one depends upon himself; the other relies upon a Saviour's death and intercession on his behalf. The one appeals to God's justice; the other throws himself upon his mercy.

The one claims heaven as a right; the other asks it as a gift, of which he confesses himself to be unworthy. The one boasts of his integrity; the other is deeply humbled for his transgression. The one trusts to his own merits; the other renounces his own righteousness, confesses himself a guilty sinner, and seeks for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Hence it is evident, that the system which requires faith in Christ, and therefore renounces the merit of our own obedience, may be easily misunderstood or misrepresented as undervaluing good works, because it does not make them the ground of our hopes of salvation.

All that is said, then, of the inefficacy of good works for salvation, is said with reference only to our justification before God. If we are forbidden to plead our good works, as our recommendation to his favour, it is for this valid reason, that no man living can offer to the

pure and holy God—to Him in whose sight even the

heavens are unclean, and who chargeth his angels with folly-such a degree of righteousness as he can accept. It is ignorance of ourselves, of the purity of the law, and of the holiness of the nature of God, which alone could lead us to exalt ourselves in his presence. We are sinners in his sight, and he therefore requires that we should be saved as sinners; that we should acknowledge our guilt; that we should feel contrition for our sins; and that we should humbly ask for forgiveness for the sake of his Son, and not assert a title to heaven as a right.

It has often appeared to me a very striking proof of the Divine original of Christianity, that it has exhibited a plan of salvation so very different from what it is probable man would have devised, which, however, when fully understood, is so perfectly consonant to reason and to truth; a plan which is exactly adapted to the true state of man, and which most highly exalts the attributes of God. The common sense of mankind seems naturally to lead them to think, that we must obtain the favour and avert the displeasure of God, by a life of devotion and innocence. This opinion seems so obviously just, and so consonant to the feelings of mankind that it is scarcely to be supposed, that if men had invented a system of religion, and particularly if good men had been its authors, it would not have been founded upon this principle. A system, however, is produced, which is directly contrary to this fundamental assumption, and which is built upon the opposite supposition of the inefficacy of man's righteousness to recommend him to the Divine favour. Let us, then, examine this system. In what light does it consider man? In what light does it represent God? Does it exhibit views of the condition of man and the character of the Deity, which, when they are properly understood, are consistent with truth and reason. With respect to man it represents him as a sinner. It declares, that all mankind have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Let the truth of this declaration be deVol. 11.

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cided by an appeal to every man's conscience. Whó can lay his hand upon his heart, and say he has never done wrong; that he is not chargeable with sin? Let its truth be examined by experience. Look at the state of the world, and judge whether all men have not been chargeable with guilt in the sight of God. These statements of the inefficacy of human merit in obtaining the favour of God, clearly indicate also their Divine original, by the very sublimity of the ideas which they convey of his holiness. There must be an infinity in every Divine attribute; and this system exalts the holiness of God to an infinite degree. It represents the purity of his nature to be such, that he can accept nothing but what is absolutely perfect. He considers all men as sinners, and the least taint of sin is odious in his sight. There may be, indeed, a great difference between one man and another: one may be comparatively righteous, and another comparatively wicked: but before the infinitely holy God, all these shades of difference vanish; all are in his sight unclean. In his presence all are guilty sinners. The very best man living bas to answer at the judgment-seat of God for innumerable transgressions. Yet he has appointed a way in which men, although thus sinful and impure, may

be saved. He therefore forbids the plea of righteousness, and requires humiliation in all his creatures, “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” How sublime is this representation of the Divine purity! How clearly does it prove itself to be consonant to the Majesty of Infinite Holiness!—But this view of the purity of the most High also tends to glorify and illustrate another attribute of the Divine character-his infinite goodness. For although God could not consider man in any other light than as guilty and sinful, yet such was his infinite goodness, that he sent his only-begotten Son upon earth to take upon him their nature, and to make atonement for them by his death on the cross, that thus he might save, through him, those who in his holy eyes were the objects of displeasure and aversion, and whom he could not save on their own account; that thus she might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." Such a view of the system of salvation appears, in my own mind, so honourable to God, and so plainly carries with it the seal and impress of Divine holivess and majesty, that I cannot but assent to it as coming from God, both on account of the honour which it pays to him, and the sublime views it exhibits of the Divine character.

This account of the nature of salvation will tend to dissipate the obscurity which might seem to prevail, respecting the doctrine of the insufficiency of our own works to make atonement for our sins; as well as to reconcile any apparent contradiction between that doctrine and the general obligations of Christians to cultivate holiness and obedience to God. A holy and righteous life is not only recommended, but required in every page of Scripture. It was the design of every Prophet, and of every Apostle, to inculcate and to sanction such a life in the strongest and most effectual

It was the very end of the Gospel to produce it. The disciples of Christ are to be a holy generation, distinguished by their purity and their good works from the rest of inankind. But in their application to God for pardon, they are to renounce all high ideas of their own character; they are to humble themselves before him, and to sue for forgiveness as sinners; for in his sight they are guilty and miserable, and laden with iniquities. And in truth their own humility, and their just views of the perfection of the law of God, will lead them to see themselves as indeed sinners in his

presA lively sense of their own deficiencies (which will be always more lively in proportion as they increase in the love of righteousness and in knowledge of the extent of the obedience they owe to God) will prevent their ever thinking of themselves in any other light than as unworthy sinners. They will therefore

manner.

ence.

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