Page images


[ocr errors]

sequently, faith is the condition to be performed by ourselves, to render the death of Christ effec* tual to our justification. And the same thing is • expressed in a preceding verse: “The righteous

ness of God [is manifested] which is by faith of * Jesus Christ' unto all, and upon all them, that

believe:” belief or faith is here also pronounced 'to be the condition of justification. Thirdly, the 'motive which led to the appointment of this mode

of justification is contained in these words, “ Be‘ing justified freely by God's grace:" it was the mercy of God, his good will towards men, which alone induced him to appoint this gracious mode

of justification. It was done “ freely” and gra“tuitously, without any merit in us, any claim on

our part, when we were all sinners, when the ' whole world was guilty in the sight of God, and 'must otherwise have perished everlastingly.

Where is boasting then. It is excluded. By ' what law? Of works ? Nay, but by the law of faith.” 1

The clause, “ The condition to be performed by 'ourselves, to render that cause efficacious,' may perhaps by a laboured explanation be made to bear a scriptural meaning. Yet the sacred oracles contain no words signifying conditions, conditional, or terms, on this subject : and, as the inspired writers fully expressed themselves without them ; and as they are liable to be misunderstood ; we hope to be excused from employing them in our discussions. These words can never be scripturally used, as implying any thing more than something, sine

[ocr errors]

Ref. 106, 107.

qua non. He, who repents and believes, and shews his repentance and faith to be 'genuine by his conduct, according to the gracious constitution of the new covenant, is a partaker of its blessings : but he who does not repent and believe is not at present a partaker of these blessings : yet if hereafter he shall repent and believe he will be made a partaker of them. In respect, however, of justification, nothing, even in this sense, can be considered as a condition, except“ faith ; and that not of our

selves, it is the gift of God.” In other respects, the quotation does not materially differ from our views ; at least from the views of all those whose cause I would at all advocate.

• The apostle (St. Paul) in this discourse,'' says Dr. Barrow, “implies, that no precedent dispensa«tion had exhibited any manifest overture or pro‘mise of pardon, and upon that account we are in a main point defective; for the light of nature * doth only direct to duty, condemning every man

in his own judgment and conscience, who trans'gresseth ; but as to pardon, in case of transgression, it is blind and silent: and the law of Moses rigorously exacteth punctual obedience, denouncing in express terms a condemnation and curse to the transgressors of it in any part: and so it was a law, ου δυνάμενος ζωοσοιήσαι, not able to give life, Gal. iii. 21, or save us from death. · Hence doth the apostle lay down this as the · foundation of this whole dispute, that the gospel * alone was the power of God through faith' to the

Acts xüi. 38, 39.

'salvation both of Jew and gentile, Rom. i. 16, 17; because in that alone was the righteousness of * God by faith revealed to beget faith in them,

even the faith by which the just shall live, de'claring that no precedent dispensation could jus

tify any man, and that a man is justified by faith, ‘or hath an absolute need of such a justification as that which the gospel tendereth.''

It is indeed a truth worthy of peculiar attention, that' the light of nature doth only direct to duty, (and that very imperfectly,) ' condemning every

man in his own judgment and conscience, who 'transgresseth ; but as to pardon, in case of trans'gression, it is blind and silent.' But had they, whose names are recorded with honour in the Old Testament, and in the New also, no other light than that of nature ?—This subject has, however, been sufficiently discussed. Yet it may well be here noted, that the apostle in the passage referred to, is speaking, not of the light, or rather the darkness, of nature,' but of the law of Moses, which assuredly was given by immediate revelation. The legal sacrifices could not of themselves, and except as referring to Christ, take away guilt from the conscience of him who brought them : and there were many sins for which no legal atonement was appointed ; as murder, adultery, gross idolatry, and other capital crimes. But free and complete forgiveness, was preached in the name of Jesus, of every sin without exception ; and “ all, “ who believed were justified from all things, from



Note from Barrow, Ref. 107 Acts xiii. 38, 39.

3 Heb. ix. 9-14. x. I---4..

“ which they could not be justified by the law of « Moses."

It is superfluous to quote the texts from the Old Testament, in which manifest overtures or promises of pardon are found. Forgiveness meets our attention, as the grand blessing, and that from which all others flowed, from the first promise of a Redeemer to the close of the canon of the Old Testament. Forgiveness, and salvation through this Redeemer are the grand subjects of revelation, in every part of it; though with more resplendent glory in the New Testament than in the Old. The holy moral law shewed men their need of forgiveness; the types and shadows of the ritual law pointed out“ the Lamb of God that taketh away “ the sin of the world.” When David had said, “ Blessed is the man whose transgression is for

given, and whose sin is covered : blessed is the “ man to whom the Lord doth not impute ini

quity ; ” St. Paul expounds his words to describe “the blessedness of the man to whom God imputeth “righteousness without works.”2 Abraham was justified by faith ; and St. Paul speaks of all those whom he celebrates, as having obtained a good report “ by faith ;” and Noah became “ heir of the

righteousness which is by faith : " how then could it be said, that ‘no precedent dispensation could justify any man?' Surely the learned writer of this note had been so swallowed up in other studies, as to have nearly forgotten the oracles of God

· Gen. ii. 15. ? Ps. xxxii. 1, 2. Rom. iv. 6–8.-See, also Ex. xxxiy. 5,6. 1 Kings viii. 34,50. Neh. ix. 17. Ps. xxxii. 5. Ixxxvi. 5. cxxx.3, 4. Isa. i. 18. lv. 6, 7. Dan. ix. 9.

Should it be said, that it was through the gospel, to which the preceding dispensations pointed, and not by the dispensation itself, that they were justified: then the point is, for substance conceded. “Justification unto life was both proposed, and actually received by great numbers, under the preceding dispensations ; yet not from them, but from Christ and from the gospel-covenant.

gave himself

* Boasting cannot be excluded by the law of 'works, that is, by the law of Moses, because in " that dispensation God sent no one to be “the

propitiation for our sins ;" no one“ ' for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God;" there 6 is no “ Mediator between God and men;" and therefore, if the works of the Mosaic law do jus

tify, it must be on account of their own merit, - and the performance of them must be attended ‘with a ground for boasting. It is otherwise with 6“ the law of faith,” or the gospel of Christ, where

boasting is excluded by denying merit to faith, ' and by referring all merit to Christ, from whose

death the justifying efficacy of faith is wholly derived. This is a fundamental difference between ' the two covenants, the law of works and the law of faith, the dispensation of Moses and the gospel of Christ.' 1

The Apostle argues on this subject in the following manner : “This I say, that the covenant, “ that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the “ law, which was four hundred and thirty years " after, cannot disannul, that it should make the

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »