« PreviousContinue »
such transcendantly precious benefits; that we could think, and speak, and act as the highborn sons of Heaven! But we must wait till these bodies of sin and death are dissolved ; for not till then shall our disentangled spirits take “ the wings of a dove, and fly away and be at rest ;” and what we now see but through "a glass, darkly," shall we discern“ face to face.” The Psalmist says,
“As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness : I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.” And it is an act peculiar to God alone, that in pardoning sin, and reconciling us to himself, He can also justify and make us righteous; for the death of Christ was, further, to“ bring in everlasting righteousness ; ” clothed in which the believer stands perfect and complete before God, “ without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.'
This is the name,' says the Prophet,
whereby He shall be called, The Lord our RIGHTEOUSNESS.” “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Every believer, therefore, stands before God not merely as a pardoned and reconciled sinner, but he stands as justified -clothed with the wedding-garment of Christ's
righteousness; pure from every defilement; ' complete in Him." “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Rom. v. 19). It was the “everlasting righteousness," named in this prophecy, which was wrought out by the active and passive obedience, the sufferings and death of Christ, that was imputed to Abraham ; for He said to the unbelieving Jews, - Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad ;” and that righteousness which has been will still be imputed and imparted to every child of God to the end of time; for “ He made Him to be sin who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. v. 21).
Thus clearly is the doctrine of Justification by Faith without the deeds of the Law expressed by Old Testament Prophets, as involved in the death of Christ; thus clearly distinguished in its most essential features from all human systems; and thus is it a system that exactly applies to the condition of our fallen
It is this doctrine for which so many martyrs have shed their blood ; it was by this, that under God, Luther, and Calvin, and Cranmer, and Knox, and other Reformers, achieved their triumphs over the errors of Popery; and it is the saving belief of this that emphatically
constitutes the Church of Christ—that true church respecting which so much is said in the prophetic writings of the New Testament, particularly in the Book of Revelation; and which is destined to have a universal triumph over every system of error and apostasy, whether in the shape of Mohammedism, Popery, Infidelity, Socinianism, or any other human scheme of salvation; and in which the Jew as well as the Gentile shall ere long be enabled to rejoice.
It may be observed, that the difference between all these systems and the Gospel, or the doctrines set forth as representing the great event of the death of Christ, which have been briefly noticed above, is wide as the east is from the west, as heaven is from hell. The former propose, in all their varied ramifications, salvation by works--by something meritorious in what man, fallen man, can do;—the latter ercludes human merit altogether, as having any thing to do in the great work of salvation. Its language is, “ By grace are ye saved; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” If Divine justice could not be satisfied, after the covenant of works had been broken by our first parents, without an atonement of infinite value, and which atonement could only be made by an Infinite Being, and which Infinite Being could only be found in God himself ; what mercy can they expect who fly to other refuges, which can be
only refuges of lies, and who count the blood of this covenant an unholy thing ? Let it be remembered that God has said, “There remaineth NO MORE SACRIFICE FOR SIN, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries...... It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. x. 26, 27, 31).
And this brings to my mind an observation made by the late excellent Mr. Howels, of Long-Acre Chapel, in one of the last sermons he ever preached, " that God, in passing sentence upon the human race, could only act as in a similar case an earthly judge would act-that is, pass the sentence according to the law —for that the Divine plan was established; thať all the Divine attributes were engaged for its faithful execution; and therefore that God in like manner had only to pass sentence accordingly”-or words to that effect. therefore, to expect mercy at the expense of justice, or at the expense of the Almighty acting contrary to his essential perfections, is a vain and delusive hope. As our immortal poet says, with great truth,
“Die he or justice must; unless for him
The rigid satisfaction, death for death.” And this satisfaction has been paid ; and it is the all-important event pointed at in this pro
phecy, and that which marks the termination of this period of 490 years.
As the deliverance from Egypt, on the night when the first-born of the land were all slain, was perpetuated throughout all the generations of Israel by the institution of the Passover, which conspicuously typified the death of Christ; so, on the very evening when this type was to vanish for ever, the introduction of a new dispensation was appointed to be commemorated by another more simple and significant standing ordinance, to be observed for an assigned period in the Christian, as that had been in the Jewish church and this was the institution of the Lord's Supper. “On the night in which he was betrayed he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood : this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as oft as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come” (1 Cor.xi.).
Whilst the remembrance of this awful and illustrious transaction is thus kept up by the church on earth—not once a year only, as was the Jewish Passover, but many times in the year—throughout the whole of the Chris