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for it? Sinned you have, condemned you are, and without forgiveness you die to eternity. Start, O start, from your stupor! Your state is dreadful, though not desperate-your sins are upon you, the law of God curses you, and you are in extreme danger of eternal damnation. You are tottering, as it were, on the brink of a dreadful precipice, and nodding on the verge of the burning lake. 'Can you sleep in your sins, can you rest in an unpardoned state, when it is all uncertainty whether the nexthour may not transmit you into an eternal world, place you at the bar of God, and put you beyond the possibility of relief? May divine grace forbid that you should continue another moment in such a perilous situation! For another moment, and your life may be gone; another moment, and your soul may be lost! and then your loss will be irreparable, inconceivable, and eternal!
Is my reader sensible of his want, and longing for the matchless blessing? Then look to Jesus, the dear, the dying Jesus. Your iniquities, it is true, abound; but pardoning mercy, through his atonement, superabounds. Be of good cheer, take encouragement; for the favour you so earnestly desire is a free gift. Blessed be God for the amazing mercy! Such are the methods of grace, and such is the nature of this forgiveness, that as your eternal salvation is bound in the enjoyment of it, so the everlasting honour of Jehovah is unspeakably advanced by freely bestowing it. There is no reason, therefore, that you should stand at a trembling distance, as if there were no such favour for you; but with boldness you may look for it in a way of grace through the blood of Christ; and truth itself has most solemnly declared that you shall not be disappointed.*
Once more: Are you acquainted, comfortably acquainted, with the pardoning goodness of God? Having much forgiven, you should love much. The remembrance of a blessing so immensely rich, the sense
* Matt. xi. 28. John vi. 37.
, and art, 0
of a favour so extremely high, should enlarge your heart with all holy affections towards the Lord Redeemer; should animate all your devotional services; should cause you to compassionate your offending brother, in forgiving him his hundred pence, considering that God has forgiven you ten thousand talents; and make you zealous for every good work. This forgiveness, far from being an incentive to vice, will win over your affections on the side of virtue; will cause you to love God as infinitely holy, and to abhor sin, as a direct opposition to his immaculate purity and revealed will. Yes, a sense of pardon, when warm on your mind, will work in you a godly sorrow for all sin, for the latent corruptions of your heart, no less than the open transgressions of your life; and will cause you to confess them before God with shame and grief. Such are the genuine effects of divine forgiveness. These fruits will necessarily appear in some degree: and he who professes to know the pardon of his sins,but does not forgive his offending brother, or walks in the ways and under the dominion of sin, ‘is a liar, and the truth is not in him.'
Of Grace, as it reigns in our JUSTIFICATION.
THE doctrine of Justification makes a very distinguished figure in that religion which is from above, and is a capital article of that faith which was once delivered to the saints.' Far from being a merely speculative point, it spreads its influence through the whole body of divinity, runs through all Christian experience, and operates in every part of practical godliness. The importance of it is such, that a mistake here has a most malignant efficacy, and is attended with a long train of dangerous consequences. Nor can this appear strange, when it is consi
*Zech. xii. 10. Ezek. xvi. 63.
dered that the doctrine of justification is no other than the doctrine of a sinner's acceptance with God.' Being of such peculiar importance, it is inseparably connected with many other evangelical truths, the harmony and beauty of which we can never behold while this is misunderstood: till this appears in its glory, they will be involved in clouds and darkness. It is, if any thing may be so called, a fundamental article, and certainly requires our most serious consideration.* How shall man,' sinful
man, be just with God?' is a question of the most interesting nature to every child of Adam-a question which, notwithstanding its infinite importance, could never have been resolved by all the reason of men, nor all the penetration of angels, if the Lord of heaven and earth had not exercised and manifested reigning grace towards his disobedient and rebellious creatures.
But, with the Bible in his hand, and the
* Let it be carefully observed by the reader, that though I here treat upon justification as distinct from pardon, yet I am fully persuaded that they are blessings which can never be separated. For he who is pardon2ed is justified; and he who is justified is also pardoned. It is readily allowed also, that there is, in various respects, a great resemblance between the two blessings. They are both gifts of grace, rich, reigning grace; both vouchsafed to the same person at the same time; and both are cummunicated through the mediation of Christ alone. Notwithstanding which agreement, the signification of the terms, and the nature of the blessing intended by them, are so far different, as to lay a sufficient foundation for distinguishing between the one and the other. I would just hint at a few things in confirmation of this. When a person is pardoned, he is considered as a transgressor; but when he is justified, he is considered as righteous, A criminal, when he is pardoned, is freed from the obligation of suffering death for his crimes; but he that is justified is declared worthy of life, as an innocent person. Wisdom is said to be justified; Christ is said to be justified; yea, God himself is said to be justified. Matt. xi. 19. 1 Tim. iii. 16. Luke vi. 29. Rom. iii. 4. But neither God, nor Christ, nor Wisdom, is ever said to be pardoned; nor, indeed, is it possible that they should be forgiven in any sense. Though we may, therefore, with the scripture, affirm that they are justified, we cannot, without absurdity or blasphemy, say they are pardoned. This one consideration, I humbly conceive, is an irrefragable proof that there is a real, an important difference between justification and pardon. To which I may add, Paul treats upon them as distinct blessings, in his sermon recorded Acts xiii. 38, 39.
gospel revelation in view, the mere infant in religious knowledge and Christian experience is not at a loss for an answer: The wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein.' And such is the pleasure of God, that he frequently reveals this truth in its glory to those who are esteemed fools by the haughty sons of science, that no flesh might have the least ground of boasting.
The word justification is a forensic term, and signifies the declaring or pronouncing a person righteous according to law. Justification is not the making a person righteous by a real inherent change from sin to holiness, in which the nature of sanctification consists, but is the act of a judge pronouncing a person acquitted from all judicial charges. That justification does not consist in a real change from sin to holiness, will further appear from considering that justification is diametrically opposite to condemnation. Now the sentence of condemnation is never supposed to make the person criminal on whom it is pronounced. There is no infusion of evil qualities into the culprit's mind; nor is he, in the least, made guilty by it in the eye of the public, or in his own estimation. But being arraigned as a criminal, and proved guilty of a capital offence, according to the tenor of that law by which he is tried, he is judged worthy of death, and condemned accordingly. So, in justification, the subject of it is pronounced righteous in the eye of the law, is deemed worthy to live, and his right to life is declared. Hence that justification of which the scripture speaks, and now the subject of our inquiry, is called a 'justification of life.* That the words justify, justified, and justification, are used in the sacred writings in a law sense, and as opposed to the words condemn, condemned, and condemnation, is manifest to every attentive reader.+
* Rom. v. 18.
To this purpose the following texts, instead of many more, may be consulted: Exod. xxiii. 7. Deut. xxv. 1. 1 Kings, viii. 31, 32. Job xiii. 18. and xxvii. 5. Prov. xvii, 15. Matt. xi. 19. and xii. 37. Luke vii. 29. Rom. ii. 13. and iii. 4, and viii. 30. 33, 34.
Further: Justification, in a theological sense, is either legal or evangelical. If any person could be found who has never in the least instance broken the divine law, he might be justified by it in a way that is strictly legal. But, in this way, none of the human race can be justified, or stand acquitted before God. For all have sinned, there is none righteous, no not one.' The whole world, having transgressed, are guilty before the eternal Judge, and under sentence of death by his righteous law. Here, every offender is excluded from all hope, and abandoned to utter destruction. For as an obedience absolutely perfect is the only righteousness which the law can accept, so punishment inconceivable, or death eternal, is the only penalty it will inflict on such as fall under its curse. That justification, therefore, about which the scriptures principally treat, and which alone reaches the case of a sinner, is not by a personal, but an imputed righteousness, a righteousness without the law, provided by grace, and revealed in the gospel; for which reason, the obedience by which a sinner is justified, and his justification itself, are called evangelical. In this affair there is the most wonderful display of divine justice and boundless grace. Of divine justice; if we regard the meritorious cause and ground on which the Justifier proceeds in absolving the condemned sinner, and pronouncing him righteous. Of boundless grace; if we consider the state and character of the persons to whom the blessing is granted.
Again: Justification is either at the bar of God, and in the court of conscience; or in the sight of the world, and before our fellow-creatures. The former is by pure, unmixed grace, through faith; and the latter is by works. It is the former of these I shall now consider, which may be thus defined: 'Justification is a judicial but gracious act of God, by which the sinner is absolved from the guilt of sin, is freed from condemnation, and has a right to eternal life ad