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ferent meaning. We may now is counted for righteousness." speak, not only of the justifica To justify in a gospel sense tion of the law, but also of the is not to pronounce guiltless. justification of the gospel. And Though, when tried by the law, for a clear and correct under men are found guilty, still in the standing of the doctrine under gospel there is hope. Under consideration, it is necessary that the gospel, sinners are considerwe carefully distinguish between ed and treated as innocent, are these different senses of the freed from condemnation, and term.
admitted to the favour of God. Justification by the law may Their justification, however, is be defined that act of God, which not on account of any worth or declares all who have complied goodness in them. But God, with the requirements of his law, in his sovereign mercy, is pleasto be guiltless. On no other ed to take and regard those, condition than fierfect obedience, who have no righteousness, in can God, in view of his holy such a manner, that the conselaw, pronounce any to be inno- quences will be the same, as if cent. In the sense now mention they had righteousness. Those ed, the angels in heaven are jus- who are justified in a gospel tified before God. In this sense sense are as sure of eternal life, also, was Adam justified, till he as if they had always perfectly merited condemnation by eating obeyed the law. Hence it is obthe forbidden fruit. But after vious, that the justification of the this he could no longer be justi- law, and the justification of the fied, but was considered in a gospel, are essentially different. state of condemnation by the The former is a justification of law, and subject to its full penal- the innocent, the latter a justifity. Thus we see, that. to be jus- cation of the guilty. tified by the law, perfect obedi We may not, however, supence is indispensable.
pose that there is any contradicBut in the gospel, a plan of tion between the law and the justification is revealed, totally gospel. They are both in perdifferent from that of the law. fect consistency and harmony The justification by the gospel with each other. The law still is that act of God, which consid- remains in its full force. It is ers and treats those as innocent, as obligatory, as it was before the who are indeed guilty. It is a dispensation of the gospel was justification of the ungodly. introduced. Though God may Here, also, as under the law, now be just while he justifies the God is the supreme judge. But, ungodly, still sin is no less odious in mercy, he hath provided a in his view. In justifying the way, by which he may be just, sinner God does not in any reand yet the justifier of him that spect countenance sin, nor in believeth, though still guilty, any degree lessen its crimiand deserving, in strict justice, nality. On the contrary, can the full penalty of the law. Rom. there be any way conceived, in iv. 5.“ But to him that worketh which sin would appear an evid not, but believeth in him who of such magnitude, as it appears justifieth the ungodly, bis faith when viewed in the light of the
Present obedience, should we in the clearest manner, that no allow it to be even possible, canbeing but God, in the person of not put us in a state of justificaJesus Christ, could atone for sin. tion. Should we begin to day Hence in justifying the ungodly, to yield perfect obedience, and their criminality is not conceal- thus continue to fulfil the law, ed.
we should do no inore than our Enough has been said to show, immediate and indispensable duthat the term justification is used ty. The law required perfect in two senses in the scriptures; obedience from the beginning ; and from what has been remark- it now requires it, and always ed above, it is hoped that the will require it of all who are its true import of each will be cor- subjects. How then can the rectly understood. To be jus- sinner be justified ? Could all tified in one of these senses, is his past actions be obliterated, necessary to salvation. It is his present obedience, allowing therefore of the utmost impor. it to be perfect, would indeed tance to know, in which of these be sufficient proof of his innosenses, justification may be ob
But what is past cannot tained.
be recalled, nor will it be forgotThe law can never be abated, ten. For every thought, word, in any of its requirements. and action, whether good or evil, « Till heaven and earth pass, one
we must render an account. All jot or one title shall in no wise our actions are registered to be pass from the law till all be ful- exhibited in one collective view, filled.” The law, as above ob on that day, when we must stand served, knows of no justification, before the bar of God, to receive but on the ground of a perfect an adjudication for eternity. compliance with all its require. Present obedience, therefore, ments. Obey, and live ; trans cannot render him innocent, who gress, and die, is its unequivocal has once transgressed ; nor can language. Now what is the it in any measure diminish the state of mankind with respect to guilt of his past conduct. He is the law ? All have disobeyed, and must be condemned by the and all are exposed to the pen- law for every act of disobedience. alty.
Nor can the repentance of the But is it possible for those, sinner render it in any measure who are now in a state of con consistent for God to justify him demnation by the law, to be jus- in view of the law. Repentance tified by it? To be justified, has no influence to exculpate the they must be proved to be inno- criminal, even in human judicacent. But can he, who is al- tories. When a criminal is arready known and acknowledged raigned, he is not asked by the to be guilty, be proved innocent? judge, whether he repents of Innocence and guilt are directly his conduct. And indeed should opposite in their natures. They he appear ever so penitent, it cannot be blended. He who is could have do influence to lessen once found to be guilty, can nev his criminality, though it might er be innocent.
have great influence in exciting
commiseration. When a law is It will be proper here to add once broken, the injury can nev a few remarks on the ground of er be repaired, but by suffering our justification in a gospel sense. its full penalty, or by that which From what was suggesicd to is equivalent. Besides, if repen- prove, that we cannot be justified tance will furnish an excuse for by the law, it is obvious, that transgression, and thus render it nothing which we can do ourconsistent for God to justify the selves, or which belongs to us, transgressor, repentance must be can furnish any ground for our the penalty ; but this is directly justification in the sight of God. contrary to the language of the The true and only ground of our law.
justification before him is pointThat we cannot be justified by ed out to us by the apostle, in the law, is further evident from Rom. iii. 24. “Being justified the death of Christ. God can freely by his grace, through the do nothing in vain. All his ac redemption that is in Christ Jetions are dictated by infinite wis sus.” The only ground of our dom. But God has sent his Son justification is, what Christ hath into the world to make an atone effected in his obedience, suffer. ment for sin, that he might be ings and death. It is wholly out just and yet the justifier of him of respect to this, that any are that believeth. We are also as- justified in the sight of God. sured that Christ hath not died 6 Foras much as ye know," says in vain. But if men could be Peter to believers, “ that ye were justified by the law, there could not redeemed with corruptible be no necessity for the death of things, but with the precious Christ. Would God have paid blood of Christ, as of a lamb such a price, unless it had been without blemish, and without necessary ? Would he have suf- spot.” “ By Christ all that befered the Jews to shed the prec- lieve are justified from all things, ious blood of his Son, if salvation from which ye could not be jusmight have been obtained in any tified by the law of Moses." other way?
“There is, therefore, now no Since we cannot be justified condemnation to them which are by the law, we must, if ever we in Christ Jesus." It is unneces. obtain justification, be justified sary to add further quotations to through the gospel. Though prove, that the obedience and all have come under the con- sufferings of Christ are the only demnation of the law, still, ground of our justification before through the grace of the gospel, God. there is hope. Sinners, even Though the law speaks noththe chief of sinners, may now being to transgressors but indignajustified in the sight of God, and tion and wrath ; yet, in the gos. become heirs of glory. Over pel, life and immortality are all their defilement and unwor- brought to light. From the gos. thiness grace reigns. Sinners pel we learn that Jesus Christ may be released from the slav- the righteous hath made an aery of sin, and brought into the tonement, and prepared the way glorious liberty of the sons of for the reconciliation of man to God.
his Maker. The penalty of the law,
which the sinner ‘has incurred, righteousness of Christ is indeed has been the great and the only imputed to the sinner, and in conhinderance to his justification. sequence of this imputation be But in the atonement of Christ, is justified. But this imputation there is found a full equivalent is not a transfer of Christ's perto the penalty of the law ; and sonal righteousness to the sinthough the penalty is still an On this supposition, we nexed to the law, which in all its shall put the sinner in situation force is binding upon every one ; to receive justification from God, yet out of respect to this atone on account of his own personal ment, God may pardon the sin- merit. For if the righteousness ner, and release him from suffer- of Christ be actually transferred ing any part of the deserved pen- to the sinner, it immediately be. alty. It is evidently consistent comes his own, as much as any and reasonable for God to exer- thing else which belongs to him, cise mercy, as it can be done Impute, when used in connexwithout infringing his just and ion with the righteousness of holy law.
Christ, is synonymous with conLet it be here remembered, sider, esteem, or reckon; and in that the atonement of Christ is most of the instances in which it not merely the present ground is used in the Bible, it might, of justification, but that it always with propriety, be rendered by will be so. The desert of the either of these words. Christ's sinner is not altered by the mer- righteousness, therefore, is not its of the Redeemer. Those made the personal righteousness who have broken the law can of the sinner, but reckoned, as never be in a situation in which belonging to him. In consethey will not deserve its whole quence of the atonement, in penalty. After they are brought which Christ wrought out ever, into a state of justification by the lasting righteousness for the begrace of God, they are as really liever, now put to his account, deserving of eternal damnation, God treats him in the same manas before they were justified. ner, us if he were righteous. Hence it appears, that those who Herein we discover the peculiar are justified, are not only de- genius and divine nature of the pendent on the grace of God for gospel. Here we find a plan dethe first act of justification, but vised for the salvation of sinners also for their continuance in this worthy of Jehovah. In every state. The atonement of Christ part of it, God supports the dighas not altered the nature of sin ; nity of his character; the Medinor has it rendered it possible ator, who is the “day's-man" for the sinner to lay aside his ill appointed, appears unparalleled desert. The personal righteous- in beauty and excellence; the ness of Christ can never become sinner is kept at the footstool, the personal righteousness of led, during the whole of his the sinner. Christ and the sin- Christian course, in the vale of ner must forever sustain their humility, and at last exalted at own respective characters. The the right hand of God.
pect of restraint, and exclaim, IS A LIE IN ANY CASE JUSTIFI• shall we suffer ourselves, or our ABLE?
friends, to risque our lives, our Nothing ought more to ex- property, our health, in order cite our surprise, than that there barely to keep our word ? This are found among those, who style mode of proving their point has themselves Christians, men, who two very serious defects. In the can decide the question," wheth- first place, it needs proof, that er a lie is in any case justifia- this expediency is a proper law, ble,” in the affirmative ; or can by which to try the question : even doubt concerning that de- and in the next place, it needs cision, the basis of all moral ex- proof, to establish the fact of excellence. The question is, may pediency in given instances. not lying, in certain cases, be pre Against us, who maintain that ferable to speaking the truth?, a lie is never justifiable, it is of This to be sure is a strange ten alleged, that scripture has question, but it is the real one authorised lying in some cases, to be determined ; for I shall because it has recorded, without not suppose that even those in censure, examples of good men, the affirmative would consent to who have violated the truth. utter a falsehood, if the truth Admitting that no censure, eithwould equally answer their pur- er direct or implied, (which perpose.
haps it will be difficult to show) The word of God is the stan- has been passed; this of itself dard to which a Christian will prove nothing. Noah's ought, in all questions, to appeal. drunkenness is recorded withThose, bowever, who maintain out comment; but what tippler that a man may in certain cases ever justified himself from Noviolate the truth, decide the ah’s example ? Paul and Barnaquestion by the law of expedi- bas quarrelled; but who ever ency. They tell you that in considered their example, as ligeneral a man ought to speak censing others to do the same. nothing but the truth, because to Some have declared that Rahab do otherwise would destroy all was justified in her lying to the confidence, and hazard the very spies. Paul declares that she being of society. At the same was justified by her faith. The time they put an extreme case, conduct of men becomes an exthe exigence of which demands ample to us then only, when they the speaking of falsehood rather act in obedience to a just law; than truth. By exigence here and the examples in scripture is meant, that the truth would are for us to follow so far, as they be productive of mischief, and comport with the divine law, and falsehood of great good. To no farther. If the scriptures this good, however, the scrip- forbid lying, then no examples tures would give another name. to the contrary arc authoritative. If you expostulate with them on Let us then hear the word of the manifest wrong of violating God on this subject. a scriptural precept in order to “ The mouth of them that suit some particular emergency, speak lies shall be stopped. they grow impatient at the pros. fie, that telleth lies, shall not