Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Christ has performed on his behalf become putatively, but not the less on that account substantially his own; and as Christ in the work of redemption acts as a public and not a private individual, there is a transfer of His active and passive obedience to the sinner whom He has represented. Consequently whatever Christ did in His capacity as a substitute and covenant head may be properly said to have been done by the believer. As Christ lived a life of obedience to the precepts of the law, the justified sinner is regarded in law as having done the same: and as Christ died to satisfy the penalty of the violated law, the believer is considered as having legally died with Christ on the cross. Christ died to sin; that is, to that sin which, although not His own by nature, became His own by imputation; for it is only in that sense that our blessed Lord, who was "holy, harmless and undefiled," could be said to be a sinner. The moral turpitude of sin could not have attached to Him in any respect. As God, His nature is immaculate holiness, and as man, He was born out of the ordinary line of human descent, and, therefore, was not chargeable with the guilt of Adam's sin, and consequently was not obnoxious to its penalty-the loss of original righteousness and a positive tendency to transgression. But the guilt of sin, or its legal liability to punishment, did attach to Christ, and hence, since death is the punishment of sin, Christ died. He died to the guilt of sin. The believer, therefore, thus died to the guilt of sin with Christ, his covenant head. Hence it is, we understand the apostle to assert, that believers are "dead to sin." But since a federal union with Christ is presupposed, and that federal union is indissolubly connected with the spiritual union as the source

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

of a godly life, death to the guilt of sin implies a corresponding life to holiness.

If the believer has died with Christ, there is a necessity that he should also rise with Him from the dead. And since Christ has risen that He might live to the glory of God, there is a moral necessity that the believer's life should be devoted to the same great end.

As the perversion of his doctrine which the apostle considers is not infrequent at the present day, we propose, with God's assistance, to indicate the connection between justification and sanctification-to show that the scheme upon which the sinner is justified by mere grace through faith, so far from being adverse to holiness of life is that by which it is effectually secured.

I. We would observe, in the first place, that this scheme is the only one which places the sinner in a condition in which he may attain to holiness of life.

1. It is evident that since the fall no man can be sanctified unless he has been previously justified upon some scheme. In the case of Adam, on the contrary, it was necessary he should be holy, or, what is the same thing, that he should have obeyed the law before he could be justified. His justification in the eye of the law depended on his perfect fulfillment of all its commands, both in the letter and in the spirit.

No less could have been required under the scheme of works upon which he relied for justification. And doubtless Adam was endued with strength sufficient to have enabled him to yield such an obedience, and had he remained in his integrity during the time appointed by God for his trial, he would have been pronounced legally righteous, and confirmed in holiness for eternity. But the moment he broke the law and failed to perform the conditions of the covenant into which he

had entered with God, that instant it became absolutely impossible for him to be justified on the scheme under which he hitherto lived. The order which had previously existed between justification and sanctification was completely reversed, and it became absolutely necessary for him to be justified before he could be sanctified. And since the sinner is now precisely in the same situation with Adam subsequent to the fall, the same necessity must still hold in every individual case. The impossibility of being sanctified before justification, consists in the fact that all are under the curse of God's violated law, and consequently in a state of present condemnation. "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the law to do them." As the person and the works of the moral agent are strictly related, the one derives its complexion from the other. Now, under the first covenant, the person of the individual was accepted in consequence of the previous acceptance and justification of his works; under the last covenant, the order is directly inverted. The works of the sinner are accepted in consequence of the previous acceptance and justification of his person. Or, as has been pithily said under the covenant of works, the order was, do this and live. Under the covenant grace: live that you may do this.

But as it is a fact that the sinner's person is in a state of condemnation, all his works must also be in the same state; and if his works are not acceptable to God there is not the remotest possibility of his sanctification, since sanctification, as far as his agency is concerned, is the performance of works acceptable in God's sight. It is, therefore, necessary that the sinner should be justified upon some scheme before he can serve God

acceptably and attain that holiness of life without which "no man shall see the Lord."

Now it is equally clear that the scheme upon which the sinner is actually justified before God is that very scheme of grace which the apostle has so elaborately expounded, and one principal department of which he concisely enunciates in the expression, "dead to sin." Several distinct methods of justification have been advocated by different men and by men, too, professing to found their views upon the teaching of the inspired word. We undertake not to assert that inadequate apprehensions of the great plan of justification are invariably attended with fatal consequences to the salvation of those who entertain them. Some are more grossly and glaringly erroneous than others, and whilst a total or wilful misconception of the doctrine of Scripture on this important point must result in the most serious peril, none may venture infallibly to declare the exact amount of truth which is necessary to salvation, or the precise quantity of error which precludes its possibility. It must, however, be a concern of the last importance to approximate as closely as possible to the decisions of God's word.

The fatal delusion which exercises so baleful an influence on the practice of multitudes, that we are dependent for salvation upon our own works as a meritorious ground of justification, aside from the sacrifice of Christ, is so palpably opposed to every declaration of Scripture on the subject that it needs only to be brought into contact with "the law and the testimony" and the most cursory examination by its light to insure its final overthrow. "In thy sight shall no man living be justified." The apparent inconsistency between Paul and James while treating of faith, which to many affords

a countenance to this monstrous scheme, is seen upon investigation to be no inconsistency at all. Paul treats of the ground, James of the evidence of justification. The faith, which is exclusive of works, as far as justification is concerned, when viewed in reference to sanctification, is evidenced by works to be sincere.

[ocr errors]

But there are more specious forms in which the same principle of self-righteousness is so disguised as apparently to mingle with the grace of God in the great work of man's salvation.

The Romanist contends that the act of God by which the sinner is justified is not a judicial or forensic act, but the infusion of an inherent personal holiness or habit of grace. This act which they term the first justification is efficacious in removing original sin and expelling habits of unholiness. The faith by which we are thus first justified has itself an intrinsic virtue predisposing the soul for pardon. But the value of this justification is limited, and it is only by good works performed in subsequent life that we derive the second justification which avails in the day of final judgment.

The doctrine of the Socinian upon this point is in perfect keeping with that general view which they take of the Gospel as merely a declaration of the mercy of God, a grand moral lesson and a promise of eternal life. Discarding as they do the satisfaction and vicarious sacrifice of Christ, they hold that the sinner is justified by faith as a great moral virtue exercising a commanding influence on a life of obedience which, through the general mercy of God, merits salvation.

The Armenian, while he regards the righteousness, or what in their view is the same thing, the death of Christ as the meritorious cause of justification, coincides with the Romanists in attributing to the faith

« AnteriorContinuar »