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good men self-righteous, but quite the reverse. By this the loftinsss of man is bowed down, and the haughtiness of men is made low, and the Lord alone is exalted. From the law of perfection, principally, are those weapons of our warfare, which are mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds: casting down imaginations, and every high thing which exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into capti vity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Let the law be truly preached, and divinely impressed, and sinners will see the necessity of fleeing to a better refuge than their own graceless duties. The best of men will also see that they stand by faith, and will not be highminded, but fear. They will see that they must be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law. They will see that in point of justification, all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Through the law they will be dead to the law, though more than ever engaged to live unto God. The man of the greatest attainments in grace and holiness, will not feel as if he had already attained, either were already perfect; but this one thing he will do, forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, he will press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Eternal Salvation on no account a Matter of just Debt; or, Full Redemption, not interfering with Free Grace.




Justification through the Merits of Christ, an Act of the free Grace of God.

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ROMANS iii. 24.

Being justified freely by his Grace, through the Redemption that is in Jesus Christ.

THE point laboured in the preceding part of this

epistle, is the impossibility of salvation for any of mankind, on the footing of mere law, or of personal righteousness. The apostle hath proved that both Jews and Gentiles were all under sin; and hence he infers, as the necessary consequence, that "by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God." This point being established, that the original way of life was now forever barred against the race of fallen man, the apostle proceeds, for the comfort of sinners, to open to view the gospel method of justification through a Redeemer. See the context, ver. 21, and

on ward. "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Being justified freely by his grace," &c.

It is of the last importance that this new way of access into the divine favour, and of obtaining eternal life, should be rightly explained. By many it has been so misunderstood as either to make void the law, or to frustrate the grace of the gospel, or both. Some speculative inaccuracies also, it appears to me, respecting justification through the atonement and righteousness of Christ, have been inadvertently adopted by many, if not most, of the orthodox, of which men of erroneous sentiments have availed themselves to very pernicious purposes.

The great difficulty respecting this subject, to which I have in view to pay particular attention at present, is, how to reconcile the full satisfaction of Christ, with the free grace of God in the pardon of sin and the justification of sinners. It is proposed, agreeably to the words before us,

1st. To explain gospel justification.

2d. To consider how this is through the redemption of Christ. And,

3d. To show that still it is of the free grace of God.

But on the last of these heads I mean mainly to insist.

I. I shall endeavour very briefly to explain what we are here to understand by being justified.

Justification literally signifies judging one to be just. A man is said to justify himself when he asserts his

own innocence, or denies that he has been to blame in any instance. So one is said to justify another when he stands up for him, or undertakes his vindication. Among the Jews this was a law phrase, or was used in reference to their courts of judicature. See Deut. xxv. 1. “If there be a controversy between men, and they come into judgment, that the judges may judge them, then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked."

From this judicial use of the word, it came to be applied to the case of mankind, in regard to the sentence of the Supreme Judge. The legal justification of man, had he persevered in perfect rectitude, would have been the sentence of his Maker, pronouncing him righteous, and confirming him in immortal happiness. But gospel-justification-the justification of fallen men before a holy and just God, must be supposed to have something peculiar in it. The application of the word to this case, must be understood as borrowed and figu rative; yet the thing intended is sufficiently analogous to the primary meaning of the phrase to well warrant this metaphorical use. It bears a resernblance to the legal and literal justification of the righteous in the two most essential points. It implies an acquittance from sin as exposing to eternal death, and the grant of a sure title to everlasting life.

1st. Gospel justification implies an acquittance from all sin, as exposing to eternal death. To this purpose see Acts xiii. 38, 39. "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." In the Mosaic law, provision was made for cleansing persons from ceremonial, but not from moral trans

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gressions. Not from sin, the apostle to the Hebrews observes, as pertaining to the conscience. Hence David says, Psalm li. 16. "For thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it." That is, there were no sin-offerings instituted for such crimes as those of which he had been guilty. But through the atonement of Christ believers are justified from all things. His blood cleanseth from all sin. Accordingly we read, Rom. viii. 1. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus." That is, no condemnation to eternal death. Not that there is no kind of condemnation to those who are justified according to the new covenant. The best saints are liable to temporal punishments, notwithstanding their justification. Moses, and David, and Hezekiah were condemned for their sins, and sorely punished for them in this world, though good men, and interested in the covenant of grace.— And St. Paul, reproving the Corinthians for their unworthy attendance on the Lord's Supper, says, "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." Believers, by being justified, are not exempted from all expressions of the divine displeasure. The pardon implied in this gracious act of God, is only a discharge from the condemnation of the wicked; that is, from future and eternal punishment. But,

2d. Gospel justification implies the grant of a sure title to eternal life.

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This is more than merely being delivered from the curse of the law. Adam, before his fall, was perfectly free from all condemnation; but he was not confirmed in the divine favour. He was placed in a state

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