Imágenes de páginas
[merged small][ocr errors]

had never apostatized from the temple worn ship—he had to boast that both his parents were Hebrews—that he himself had been peculiarly strict, both in the Mosaic ceremonies and the traditions of the elders—his persecution of the Church had but too plainly proved his zeal for the Jewish religion-and, in fine, he could allege, that his whole external conduct was so conformable to the letter of the law, that in respect of that kind of righteousness, it was utterly impossible to lay any thing to his charge--and yet with a character which, doubtless, had excited the admiration and respect of the Jewish Sanhedrim-and was accompanied with feelings of no small complacency towards himself-he tells us in a few short words in the seventh chapter of his Epistle to the Romans—“ that the commandment which was ordained to life, he found to be unto death." Hence, there was a complete revolution in his mind-he had been alive without the law once, but when the commandment came in all its righteous authority and extent, sin revived and he died-and guilty and helpless and polluted, he renounces all claims to any righteousness of his ownand tells the Philippians, that what things were gain to him, those he counted loss for Christ. “ Yea,” says he, “doubtless, and I

count all things,—as well my former pretensions as my present attainments,—but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

Here then we would pause, and make the inquiry—are we thus minded with the Apostle Paul ? There is an account to be tendered in at the bar of Heaven-and if we are at all alive to the awful solemnities of a future judgment, we shall be anxious to ascertain from the assured declarations of Scripture, upon what ground we may stand justified before an holy and a jealous God? If the Scriptures have a meaning, it is absolutely certain, “ that by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified”. and the man who will venture his eternal interests upon the plea of a comparatively harmless and innocent life, is alike unacquainted with the nature of sin, the purity of the law, and the holiness of God. “If,”

If,” says the admirable and judicious Hooker, “God should make us an offer thus large--search all the generations of men since the fall of our

father Adam, find one man that hath done one action, which hath passed from him pure, without any stain or blemish at all; and for that one man's only action, neither man nor angel shall feel the torments which are prepared for both.-Do you think that this ransom to deliver men and angels, could be found to be among the sons of men? The best things which we do have somewhat in them to be pardoned. How then can we do any thing meritorious, or worthy to be rewarded ?”

My brethren, the subject upon which we are speaking, is one of infinite moment-God hath made his beloved Son “ to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him”—and if you trust to your own righteousness, and do not unreservedly confide in the proclaimed mercy of him “ who is just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus”-it is our duty to warn you, that "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin.” You will have to meet the righteous Governor of the world, not with the consolatory plea, that “if any man sin there is an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," and that “he is the propitiation for our sins"-but with the bold determination of appealing to a law that has been broken in word, thought, and deed--a law that worketh

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

wrath-a law which states, that “as many as are under its works, are under a curse.” Look diligently, lest any of you fail of the grace of God. It is written, and who shall reverse the record_" Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law:ye are fallen from grace.” Gal. v. 4.

But this will lead us to notice another feature in the Apostle's character:

(2). A cordial acceptance of the Redeemer.It must be obvious to the slightest reflection, that this subject is intimately and necessarily connected with the former, « The whole need not a physician, it is only they that are sick.” Prior to his conversion, the Apostle informs us, that he thought he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth—and when he subsequently reflected upon his character and conduct, in his daring opposition to the cause of the Redeemer, he can scarcely find language strong enough to express on the one hand, his deep abhorrence of himself, and on the other, his admiring views of the Divine mercy. He glories in the declaration, that " it is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners” -and in

stances himself, for the encouragement of all : that should hereafter believe, as the most illus

are at

ing his

trious monument of the Saviour's compassion and forbearance-and those of


who all conversant with the Apostle's writings, cannot fail to have observed the fervency and frequency of his discussions on the love, power, grace and majesty of the Redeemer.

But I am aware that to this statement it may be objected—that the Apostle is reject

own righteousness as well as expressing his cordial acceptance of the righteousness of Christ-on his immediate conversion to the Christian religion. If this argument has any weight, it must be confirmed by his subsequent statements. To his subsequent statements, therefore, we are particularly anxious to direct your attention, and without multiplying quotations in illustration of my argument—we would claim a candid examination of the Apostle's views, in the eighth verse of the chapter from whence the text is taken. In the preceding verse he has stated what were his first views on the subject—but in the eighth verse we have his deliberate and confirmed conviction“

yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.”. Here, if language have a meaning, and that meaning can be at all defined—the Apostle not only had

« AnteriorContinuar »