Page images

attributes and perfections of Al. God has revealed himself as the mighty God, and our own vileness God of infinite goodness, by making and pollutedness by reason of sin, himself known as subsisting in a the conclusion to which we must Trinity of persons, engaged in the naturally come is, that his indig. covenant of redemption,

for the renation and wrath will assuredly covery of man from his fallen state. overwhelm us. We cannot view In reference to this subject, it is the God of supreme power and declared in the first of our Articles glory as the God of love to his of Religion, “ In the unity of this creatures who have rebelled against Godhead there be three Persons, of him. His threatenings would be one substance, power, and eternity; empty words indeed, if he did not the Father, the Son, and the Holy put them in execution ; and there. Ghost.” fore, with regard to his enemies, be It is only as the Triune Jehovah must be considered in the character that God can be viewed by his rein which the Psalmist addresses him, bellious creatures in the character as the “ Lord God to whom ven- of a God of love. If we contemgeance belongeth," and not as the plate him merely as the Creator and God of love.

King and Judge of all the earth, Those who think of the Divine there is no possibility of access into Being without dread, when they his sacred presence for fallen man, are not acquainted with him in the any more than for fallen angels. character in which lie has revealed We are entirely and for ever cut himself in his word, but view him off from communion and fellowship simply as an absolute God, must with him. Without a Mediator, God either debase him to a level in some cannot be approached by a sinner. degree with themselves, or exalt Hence it is, that false religions in themselves to a kind of equality general, and most of the corruptions with him. The idea in either case of the true religion, have introduced is most awful. Yet what multitudes inferior deities or idols as mediators are there who think that they shall between fallen man and the great escape the punishment due to their God. This seems to have arisen sins merely because, as they say, from a consciousness that man was God is merciful. They put his too impure and unholy to be admitted mercy in opposition to his holiness into the presence of his Creator ; and justice, as if the harmony of that God must banish from his sight these attributes with each other might one so sinful and polluted, if he be dispensed with. But it is not in should presume to come before him. this way that the Holy Scriptures But in the doctrine of the Trinity a make known God Almighty as the Mediator is revealed, who, being God of love to his creatures. They both God and man, is qualified to represent all his attributes as, like appear in the presence of God for himself, immutable, without “va- us, being himself perfectly“ holy, riableness or shadow of turning;" harmless, undefiled, and separate that he is at the same time the God from sinners ;” and who nevertheof intinite holiness and justice, and less can “ be touched with the feelthe God of love and mercy; at ing of our infirmities, having been once “ a just God and a Saviour.” in all points tempted like as we are, They shew that his infinite wisdom but without sin.” “ He was the formed a plan in which “mercy and friend of sinners, when upon eartlı, truth are met together, and righte. though not of sin; and he is the ousness and peace have embraced propitiation for our sins," and pleads each other," to the glory of God the merit of his blood shedding and and the salvation of his rebellious death, as our High Priest before the creature man. And in consequence throne of Heaven, of this, it is declared that God is love. No Mediator who is not truly

[ocr errors]


God could be every where present proves his position in the verses to hear the supplications of them which follow the text ; “ In this was that would put their cause into his manifested the love of God towards hands. Other mediators are indeed us, because that God sent his only gods that cannot save; and though begotten Son into the world, that their deluded votaries may call we might live through him : herein upon them earnestly, as the wor- is love ; not that we loved God, shippers of Baal did, they cannot but that he loved us, and sent his answer or regard them. What im- Son to be the propitiation for our piety then must it be to pray to sins.” And again he says, “ Heredead saints, or to other such like by know we that we dwell in Him, mediators; as the Romish church and He in us, because he hath given does to the Virgin Mary, and the us of his Spirit ; and we have seen Apostles, and other departed per- and do testify that the Father sent

They cannot hear them, the Son to be the Saviour of the because they are not every where world.” And he concludes, “We present. Could they communicate love him because he first loved us." ibeir sentiments to their deluded Thus the doctrine of the Trinity worshippers, they would express exhibits God as the God of love. their abhorrence of their impious It was revealed for the purpose of conduct.

shewing how God could be " faithThe doctrine of the Trinity alone ful and just to forgive us our sins, exhibits the Divine Being as the and to cleanse us from all unrighGod of love. It is through this teousness." It is because the obdoctrine alone that it can be appre- ject of the revelation of this doctrine bended by us how God is love to is not perceived, that it is called in sinful men. When, therefore, our question; or, because man in the Saviour began to teach, this was pride of his heart sees no need for the doctrine which he taught to the method of salvation which the Nicodemus, the ruler of the Jews. Holy Scriptures make known to He first instructed this man, that, us. He thinks that by some work of as he had been born of the flesh, righteousness which he does or can he “must be born again, born of do, he may save himself, and therethe Spirit, born of God, or he could fore a propitiation for sin is unnenot enter into the kingdom of God.” cessary. The mystery of redeeming

Then he proclaimed to him the love can never be unravelled by our love of the Father of heaven in the finite understandings ; but the exgift of his beloved Son to be the hibition of it which is made in the Saviour of the lost. He told him word of God, must commend itself that the Son of God, the Lord of to the reflecting mind as admirably glory, was to be lifted up on the adapted to the necessities of fallen cross, that sinners might behold man. When man, by transgressing him by faith and live. Here we the holy, just, and good law of his are taught the necessity that man- Creator, had fallen under its curse, kind are under of receiving Divine God was pleased, of his infinite grace, in order to their salvation; compassion, to provide a ransom and the willingness of God to be- for his deliverance from that curse stow it, as the Father of mercies, and its penalty, to “deliver him through the Son of his love, whom, from going down into the pit " of of his infinite mercy and compas- destruction. The Father of mercies sion, he has given to be our Re. sent his own, his only begotten, Son deemer. Viewing this subject as into the world “that we might live our blessed Saviour has represented through Him." Thus “God was it, we behold the truth of the asser. manifest in the flesh.” Heappeared tion in the text, that God is love. as a man among men, “ in the likeThus indeed it is that the Apostleness of sinful flesh, and for sin.”


He “fulfilled" in human nature “all lation, that “these three are one," righteousness” by his obedience to since there is but “One living and the Divine law. He “ gave bim- true God.” It is useless to ask, self for our sins, an offering and a How can this be? To those who sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling would call it in question, it is sufsavour.” “ He put away sin by the ficient to say, in the language of sacrifice of himself;" so that in Inspiration, “ Canst thou by search. consequence of his obedience unto ing find out God? Canst thou find death, the way is opened for the out the Almighty unto perfection ? reconciliation of fallen man to his It is high as heaven, what canst offended Creator. And, having thou do? deeper than hell, what returned into heaven, he“ canst thou know? The measure liveth,” as the High Priest over the thereof is longer than the earth, and house of God, “to make intercession broader than the sea.”

So that, for them that come unto God by whether we contemplate God him. him :" and he sends his Holy Spirit self, or the wonders of his graee, we to lead and guide, to sanctify and must, with the Apostle, be lost in bless, all those who believe in his admiration of the great mystery of Name. So that believers in Christ godliness; and exclaim, “Othe look up to God Almighty as their depth of the riches both of the reconciled Father in him. And wisdom and knowledge of since they are unable, in their own How unsearchable are his judgstrength, to oppose their spiritualments, and his ways past finding enemies, or to walk in the command. out! For who hath known the mind ments of God and to serve bim, of the Lord ? or who hath been his they are taught to implore the aid counsellor? or who hath first given of his Holy Spirit, that they may to him, and it shall be recompensed be enabled to "fight the good fight unto him again ? For of him and of faith,” and to do all those things through him are all things; to whom that are pleasing in his sight." be glory for ever.. Amen."

A right understanding then of Let us remember, then, that the the doctrine of the Trinity is of object for which the doctrine of the great importance. It is not re- Trinity is revealed is, that we may vealed for the purpose of leading apprehend how it is that God is us to speculate upon the mode by love ; for without the knowledge of which Deity subsists, but to enable this doctrine we cannot know him, us to apprehend him as the God of and cannot love him. This will at love ; and to lead us to walk humbly once set aside objections and diffiwith our God, in communion and culties which

may otherwise

present fellowship with him, and to live in themselves, and will lead us with humble dependence upon him for gratitude to embrace the great salhis help in the time of our need. vation therein exhibited ; and to This is a revelation suited to fallen, implore the most excellent gift of helpless creatures ; from which we the Holy Spirit, “to direct, sanctify, are to derive practical benefit for and govern both our hearts and our daily comfort, as well as for our bodies, in the ways of his laws, and eternal salvation.

While we

in the works of his commandments.” that Divine power essentially and Hereby we shall enjoy the comnecessarily belongs to the Three fortable assurance that the God of Persons in the Godhead, as being heaven is our reconciled Father; we “ of one substance, power, and shall desire to live as becometh his eternity ;" and that actions which children in this world; and we shall God alone can perform are ascribed be enabled to look forward, beyond to each Person ; we are at the this transitory life, to the “rest that same time called upon to believe, remaineth for the people of God," on the authority of the same reve- in his eternal kingdom and glory.


That this unspeakable blessing may and for our good ; the grace of the be bestowed upon us, may God of Son, in working out for us the parhis infinite mercy grant, for Jesus don of our sins, and in purchasing Christ's sake. To whom, with the our right (in him) to heaven ; and Father and the Holy Ghost, the the grace of the Spirit, in revealing “One living and true God," be all to us what Christ has done and honour and glory and praise ascribed suffered ; and working in us, and imnow and for evermore. Amen. parting to us, a holy and new nature,

a lively faith, and all other graces : this, in my esteem, constitutes im.

puted righteousness, and its necesJUSTIFICATION THROUGH FAITH. sary concomitant inherent holiness.

What God, the adorable Trinity, has To the EditoroftheChristian Observer. planned and provided, God the Son

has effected, God the Father has Permit me, in Christian simplicity, accepted, God the Spirit reveals and and with a sincere desire, not to applies, and the humbled and repent. provoke angry controversy, but to ant sinner by faith believes, receives, promote temperate discussion, and and appropriates. Grace provides thereby edification, to ask, “ How what faith embraces, and what good is a sinner made righteous, or jus- works evince us to be possessed of, tified ?” and, as arising from that, namely,justification; that is, acquittal “What is justification?”

from sin, exemption from hell, and Inverting the order, I ask first, both a right and a title (in and by “What is justification ?” is it ac- Christ) to heaven: so that before quittal ? is it innocence ? or is it the God, we are justified by Christ; being considered and made righteo before man, through works; and, to ous? or is it righteousness itself? our own apprehension and comfort, Is it pardon and favour ? does it give through faith: in other words, by both a right and a title to God's grace, through faith, and that not favour ? is it a claim to, and a of ourselves, but of God's free grace meetness for, heaven? In which, and mercy. This gives to God all or in how many, of these does it the merit and glory, and to man all consist ?

the benefit and comfort: this secures Wishing to be corrected if I err, holiness, checks licentiousness, ento prevent misconception, I beg leave forces gratitude, elicits praise, abases to state my own views of a pardoned pride, and produces humility. believer's justification, before I pro- I have, I find, insensibly, begged ceed farther. By justification, then, the question, “ How are we justiI understand God the Father's mercy fied ?” in stating my own views ; (or pity) and favour, externally given; but I will still ask, “ How is man God the Son's obedience and suffer- justified with his Maker?" is it "

“by ing, personally performed; and God works,” as we have mis-rendered the Spirit's grace and power, inter- St. James? If by works, by what nally wrought, enabling us to be- works? If by good works, or by lieve: the first is felt for us, and works of faith, is it wholly and solely, shewn to us: the second is done for or in part ? or is it by faith? and us, and reckoned, or imputed, to us; if by faith, is it by faith alone, or and the third is wrought in us, and only, without works ? or by faith imparted to us. Thus, justification necessarily producing works? or is is inseparable from sanctification ; it by faith and works united, each and, like salvation, is all of grace; the contributing its part? or, lastly, is grace of the Father, in accepting for it by neither of these separately, us, and reckoning, or imputing, to us nor by all of them unitedly, but BY what Christ has done in our stead, grace THROUGH faith? CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 342.

2 Y

The difference between by and as faith a justifier ; whereas, “it is through, as applied to faith, will be God that justifieth ;" “neither is seen and acknowledged by all who there salvation in any other” than consider this verse, in the eleventh in Christ the Lord. chapter of the Epistle to the He- If we maintain the doctrine of brews, “ By faith the walls of Jericho justification by faith, do we not set fell down;" wherein it is evident that up another saviour or justifier than the writer meant through the faith Jesus Christ; and, so far, eject the of the Israelites the walls of Jeri- Saviour from his throne ? or rob cho fell down. A drowning man is him of his crown ? or make him saved by his rescuer through his give his glory to another? holding the rope ; a beggar is kept Again, I ask, is faith above all other from starving by a donor, through graces ? is it more essential to salvahis eating the bread, or food, given tion than love; more necessary than him. In these cases love and pity repentance; more indispensible than are the source or cause, the bread restitution ; more difficult than the and the rope are the instrumental love of enemies, invariable truth, un. means. To apply this to the point feigned humility, heartfelt prayer, in hand, I ask, is faith the cause or and the constant practice of the the means of a sinner's justification ? golden rule? Can faith save us ? I humbly conceive the latter.

Feeling it to be essential to comIf we are justified by faith, then fort, though perhaps not to salvation, faith is our justifier; as he by whom to have correct views on this imwe are taught is our teacher: a po- portant subject, I have written the sition which would startle any but above, that the confusion which I a Pharisee or a Papist.

find in the minds of many, may, If we are justified by faith, or by should they read this, be removed ; faith only, how do we interpret this that each of the Christian graces saying, “ By thy words thou shalt may have its proper place in our be justified ?" or this, “ Ye see that esteem, and that God, " the giver of a man is justified by works ?" Are all grace," may have all the praise. all three, faith, words, works, sy. The divine and the scholar may nonymous, or identical ?

use the expression, “justification If we are justified by faith, then, by faith," without danger, though, I as we read of “the work of faith," humbly conceive, not without verand that “this is the work of God bal inaccuracy; but the young and that

ye believe;" as faith is a work, unlearned and poor Christian can are we not justified by works? not, without the possibility of en

If we are justified by faith, then tertaining heterodox notions, the our justification rises and falls, and probability of feeling unsettled as is subject to all the fluctuations of to the grounds of their acceptance, our faith, which may be strong one and the certainty of having much hour, and weak the next. Accord- confusion and misconception in their ing to this we should be fully justi- minds as to the cause or source, the fied when strong in faith ; partly instrumentality or agency, and the justified when weak in faith, or of means or mode, of a sinner's justilittle faith ; not justified when as- fication ; which may retard their sailed by unbelief; and condemned growth in grace; hinder their pro. when doubting or despairing. Then gress in holiness ; obscure their inwould St. Paul's words, so sadly ternal evidences; and lessen, if not perverted, “ he that doubteth is destroy, their hope, peace, and joy. damned,” be, in this sense, most true. There is another point, still more,

If we are justified by faith, then if possible, intimately connected with are we also “ saved by hope," which our justification, which I will leave would make hope a saviour, as well to another opportunity: in the mean

« PreviousContinue »