« AnteriorContinuar »
consistently with the holiness of his nature, and the immutability of his truth in the threatenings, justify a sinner who, during his whole life, has paid little or no regard to either ? Now, in the cross of Christ, this question is explicitly answered—the whole mystery is completely developed. “He that commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shineth in the heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.' The eye of faith discovers how God can be just, and the justifier of him that believeth. The just God and the Saviour are beheld with awful reverence and delightful astonishment! Tears of gratitude stream from the eyes of the adoring penitent: he looks upon him whom his sins have pierced, and mourns. « Surely,' he exclaims with the prophet, ‘he hath born our griefs, and carried our sorrows--He was wounded for our transgressions ; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the ini.
quity of us all-God forbid that I should henceforth glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ--who loved me, and gave himself for me.'
In the cross of Christ, the loving kindness of God to man appears with meridian lustre. By this despised means of human happiness, and this only, the divine perfections are glorified, and the chief of sinners saved. Not, be it remembered, by works of righteousness which we have done ; for there is nothing we ever have done, or ever shall do, that can me. rit an interest in the divine favour. Suppose a character, among the apostate sons of Adam, in whom resides all the moral excellency that ever dignified human nature since the fall; and, on the other hand, one in whom concentres all the moral evil committed since that, fatal period ; and it will be found on exami. nation that, in point of justification before God, they stand on a perfect level. The accumulated virtue of the former, if pleaded as that which might render him acceptable to his Judge, would avail nothing; nor would
the enormous guilt of the latter, simply considered, be an obstacle to the bestowment of grace and of glory. ...
Moral rectitude in all its forms, we ought; nevertheless, to admire, and studiously endeavour to cultivate. A disregard of this, where final, renders eternal happiness impossible, and condemnation absolutely necessary. That virtuous actions are praiseworthy in the sight of men, and, in a comparative view, in the sight of God, is certain ; but that these actions, however numerous, or however splendid, are of no use in the affair of justification is demonstrable: and it is this grand fact, and this only, that abolishes, in a religious view, all human distinctions ; that exalts the riches of sovereign grace ; opens a door of hope for the guilty; and effectually secures all the glory of salvation to our adorable Immanuel.
That Christ is the only author of salvation, must never be forgotten. It may be said, in reference to all he did as surety of the church, as well as to the complete conquest of his ene
mies; Of the people, there was none with him : there was none to help, none to uphold: therefore his own arm brought salvation.' The work of redemption was assigned to him in the everlasting covenant ; it was what he then voluntarily undertook to perform, and what, as mediator, he came to execute in the state of his humiliation on earth. By perfect conformity of heart and of life to the moral law ; by suffering on the cross the dreadful penalty annexed to transgression ; the stupendous undertaking was accomplished. That it was complete in all its parts we can have no doubt, because to this the divine Jesus bore unequivocal testimony when, in the agonies of death, he cried, “It is finished; and gave up the ghost.' As, therefore, he had no copartner, no assistant in the work, we are not to imagine that he will give his glory to another. He that glorieth must glory in the Lord only. We are not saved, says an apostle, by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saveth us, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ : whom God hath set forth to be
a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay; but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.'
The apostle, Paul, who made these assertions, and who laboured much in all his preaching and writings to establish the sovereignty of grace, is, in this affair, extremely tena. cious of the honour of his Master. "Who, he asks, maketh thee to differ from another? and wisat hast thou that thou didst not receive ? Now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?' Sinners are not called according to their works, but according to God's purpose and grace, given them in Christ Jesus before the world began. Salvation is of grace; and if by grace, then, he adds, “it is no more of works : otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more of grace: otherwise work is no more work.' On this