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may think of the wisdom or propriety of that arrangement, that remission of sins is every where in scripture attached to faith, as the instrument, through which it must be received. "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.'
Accordingly, Moses, the first of the prophets, informs us concerning Abraham, in the sixth verse of the fifteenth chapter of Genesis, that he believed in the lord, and that he counted it to him for righteousness; which is the same thing as saying, that he believed in the lord, and thereby received complete remission of sins. Justification before God, or an acquittal before God, is here in express terms attributed to Abraham on the exclusive score of his believing in the lord ; and although it is true, as the lord afterwards declares, that he knew him, that he would command his children and his household after him, and they would keep his way, to do justice and judgment, that he might bring upon Abraham that, which he had spoken of him, still it is not on account of his fidelity and obedience, that righteousness is imputed
to him, but because he believed in the lord. David also describeth the blessedness of the mån, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying in the thirty-second psalm Blesssed are they, whose iniquities “are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. · Blessed is the man, to whom the lord will 'not impute sin.' Thus again Isaiah addresses the lord, saying—Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is staid on thee,
because he trusteth on thee.' And again in the sixteenth verse of the twenty-eighth chapter he introduces the lord, God, as saying* Behold! I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone,
a sure foundation.' These are expressions, which every where in the new testament are applied to Jesus Christ: and, having thus announced his appointment and office, he adds -He, that believeth, shall not make haste.' He shall have no occasion to run about from one teacher to another in search of instruction. He shall have no need to make haste, like those, who have not found a refuge; for his soul shall have her rest in God: and therefore, as the same phrase is rendered by the apostles, he shall not be ashamed or confounded. To the same effect Zechariah says in the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of his prophecy, writing there in the name of the coming Messiah_ I will pour upon the ' house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of sup‘ plications; and they shall look upon me, ' whom they have pierced. In that day there
shall be a fountain opened to the house of · David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem • for sin and for uncleanness.'
But, if all the prophets before the coming of Christ gave witness to him, and especially if they all bore testimony to the doctrine of remission of sins through his name, all the apostles attest the same truth still more distinctly: for they all in plain terms connect the pardon of iniquity and the justification of the sinner with faith in the name of the saviour. Thus saint Peter says in the text Whosoever believeth in him shall 6 receive remission of sins '-; saint Paul - All “have sinned, and come short of the glory
of God, being justified freely by his grace through the redemption, that is in Christ Jesus,'—and saint John- These things have I written unto you, that believe on the name of the son of God, that ye may know, that
have eternal life.' But what is the testimony even of inspired prophets and divinely authorized apostles, to assure a doubting mind upon such a subject, when compared with the authentic declaration of our lord himself ? and he has said in language, the plainness of which would seem calculated to preclude all evasion or mistake, (it has been already quoted from the eighteenth verse of the third chapter of saint John's gospel)— He, that believeth on him, is not condemned. But he, that believeth not, is condemned already.'
Yet, though remission of sins and complete justification before God are thus expressly attributed to faith in the saviour, care is taken even in this very text to avoid ascribing to that act of the mind any meritorious efficacy in procuring remission. If it is stated in ample and unlimited terms, that whosoever
believeth in him shall receive remission of sins, it is yet added, that he shall receive this boon, not through any intrinsic virtue of his faith, but through the name of Jesus. It is by his authority, by his power, by his favour, all which notions are included in his name, that remission of sins is granted to our faith ; and, to shew, that in this application of the word the name of Christ is designedly opposed to any holiness or power in the faith, to which the blessing is promised, the two ideas were thus strongly contrasted by saint Peter at a time, when he was anxiously disclaiming all right or pretension to glory in a signal miracle, which yet he had just been the instrument of performing. Why look ye’ (said he to the astonished people) 'why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk ? God hath ' glorified his son Jesus ; and his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong.'
The doctrine of the text therefore is plainly this, that remission of sins is promised to faith in the saviour, but nevertheless, that it is promised to it not for any inherent virtue