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and height ; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. Having predestinated us, says the same Apostle, unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace; wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved : In whom we have redemption, through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. Praise the Lord, says David, for he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever! In this manner the subject is always considered, and always spoken of, by the divine writers. I shall only add, that the Angels themselves appear to entertain similar thoughts concerning it; as was abundantly manifested, when, at the birth of the Saviour, they sung, Glory to God in the highest; and on earth Peace : Good-will towards men.

All men will probably agree, that love, exercised towards enemies, is the fairest and most illustrious specimen of good-will, of which we have any knowledge. Exercised by God towards sinners, not only his enemies, not only lost and ruined, but eminently vile and guilty enemies, it is certainly seen in its consummation. In justifying mankind through faith in the Redeemer, this manifestation of love is seen in its fairest and most finished form. All the previous steps, indispensable to its accomplishment, and beyond measure wonderful, were dictated, and carried into execution, by mere grace. By mere grace, when all these things are done, is the sinner accepted, without any merit of his own; and only in the character of one, who has confidentially given himself to Christ. In this dispensation, then, this most glorious attribute of God is seen in the fairest light.

2dly. It is fitted to produce the greatest degree of gratitude in


In Luke vii. 40, we are told, that Simon the Pharisee, at whose house our Saviour was sitting at meat, censured him for suffering a poor, sinful woman to anoint him with precious oinment; and that Christ said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.

There was a certain creditor, who had two debtors; the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered, and said, I suppose, that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.

From this passage of Scripture it is evident, that forgiveness confers a peculiar obligation, and inspires peculiar gratitude ; and that this obligation and gratitude are great, in proportion to the number, and guilt, of the sins which are forgiven. But the scheme of justification by faith, being a scheme of mere forgiveness, without any consideration of merit on the part of those who are justified, and the number and guilt of the sins forgiven being very great ; the fairest foundation is laid, here, for the highest possible gratitude. This emotion, and its effects, will extend through eternity; and constitute no small part of the character, usefulness, and felicity, of the Redeemed; and no small part of their loveliness in the sight of their Creator. Had mankind been justified by works either wholly or partially, this affection, and its consequences, could not have existed in the same manner, nor in the same degree.

3dly. This dispensation is eminently honourable to Christ.

St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians, quoting from Jeremiah 9th, delivers it as a precept, intended universally to regulate the conduct of mankind, that he who glorieth should glory only in the Lord; because he is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. In conformity to this rule of conduct, we find it asserted in the 5th of the Revelation, that the four living Ones, and the four and twenty Elders, fell down before the Lamb, and sung a new song ; saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof ; for thou wast slain ; and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. And hast made us unto our God Kings and Priests: and we shall reign on the earth. Immediately upon this, the whole host of heaven exclaimed with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb, that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Finally, both heaven and earth are exhibited as uniting with one voice in this sublime ascription, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be anto Him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and eyer. At the close of this act of celestial worship, the four living Ones subjoin their solemn Amen! This passage needs no comment.

In the scheme of justification by faith it is evident, that all the glory of saving sinners from endless guilt and misery, and of raising them to immortal happiness and virtue, centers in the Redeemer; and that, according to his own declaration, he is eminently glorified, in this manner, in those, who are given to him by the Father as his children. John xvii. 10.

4thly. It is honourable to God, that he should annex justification to virtue, and not to any thing of a different nature.

Faith is virtue. But the works of mankind, wrought before the existence of faith in the soul, are in no sense virtuous. Faith, also, is the commencement of virtue in man. It is highly honour able to God, that he should annex justification to the first appearance of virtue in the human character. In this manner, be cxhibits, in the strongest degree, his readiness to forgive, accept, and save, the returning sinner; the greatness of his mercy, which, at the sight of the returning prodigal, hastens to ineet, and welcome, him, guilty as he has been, in all his rags, and dirt, and shame, merely because he has set his face in earnest towards his father's house; and the sublime and glorious pleasure, which he enjoys in finding a son, who was lost to all good, and in seeing him, once dead, alive again to useful and divine purposes.

5thly. It is honourable to God, that he should annex our justifi. cation to that attribute, which is the true source of virtuous obe dience.

That faith is the true source of such obedience, in all its forms and degrees, is so completely proved by St. Paul in the xi. Chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, as to admit of no debate, and to demand no further illustration. He declares directly, and universally, that without faith it is impossible to please God in any act whatever; and that by faith Enoch in his obedience pleased God. By necessary consequence all the other worthies, mentioned in that chapter, pleased him also for the same reason. On account of their faith, he teaches us, that God is not ashamed to be called their God; and has prepared them a city; an everlasting residence, a final home, in the heavenly world. Finally,

he shows, that faith is the real and only source of that obedience, which is the most arduous, self-denying, honourable to the human character, and eminently pleasing to God. In a word, every thing truly glorious, which can be achieved by man, he declares, in the latter part of the chapter, to be achieved by faith alone.

St. John, also, assures us, that faith is the victory, which overcometh the world; the real power, by which, on our part, temptations are effectually resisted, snares escaped, enemies overthrown, and heaven with all its blessings finally won.

While this scheme of justification, therefore, strips man of all pretensions to merit, and gives the whole glory of his salvation to his Maker, it furnishes the most efficacious means, and the most absolute assurance, of his future obedience, his perpetual improvement in holiness, and his certain advancement towards the best character, which he will ever be capable of sustaining. The obedience, springing from faith, is voluntary, filial, and lovely. All other obedience is mercenary, and of no moral worth. It will not be denied, that a dispensation, of which these are the consequences, is highly honourable to the character of its Author.

Every person, who has attended to these observations, must clearly see, that they illustrate, in various particulars, the usefulness of this dispensation to man: all of them plainly involving personal advantages, and those very great, to the justified; as well as peculiar glory to the Justifier. Two additional observations will contain all, that is necessary to the further illustration of this part of the subject.

1st. This dispensation is profitable lo mankind, as it renders their justification easy and certain.

Had our justification been made to depend on a course of obedience, it is not difficult to see, that we should have been involved in many perplexities and dangers. Repentance at late periods of life would, particularly, have been exceedingly discouraged. It will not be denied, that such repentance exists; nor, however rare we may suppose it, that it exists, upon the whole, in many instances. Nor can any man of common humanity avoid wishing, that the number of these instances may be greatly in

pure must it be?

creased. Such instances exist even on a dying bed; and, as there is good reason to believe, in considerable numbers. But how discouraging to such persons would it be, to know that their Justification was dependent on their own obedience ? Is there not every reason to believe, that most, if not all persons, in these circumstances, would be discouraged from every effort, and lay aside the attempt as hopeless. What, in this case also, would become of children, dying in their infancy? and what of persons, perishing by shipwreck, the sword, and innumerable other causes, which terminate life by a sudden, unexpected dissolution ?

Further; if Justification were annexed to our obedience; how should the nature and degree of obedience be estimated ? How

What degree of contamination might it admit, and still answer the end? With what degree of uniformity must it be continued ? With what proportion of lapses, and in what degree existing, might it be intermixed? These questions seem not to have been answered in the Scriptures. Who is able to answer them?

Again, from what principle in man shall this obedience spring? From the mere wish to gain heaven by it? Or from a virtuous principle ? From a virtuous principle; it will probably be answered. In reply, it may be asked, From what virtuous principle? I presume, it will be said, From love to God. But it ought to be remembered, that, where there is no confidence, there is no love, and therefore no virtue. Consequently, there is, in this case, nothing, from which virtuous obedience can spring. How, then, can man be justified by his obedience ?

But, by annexing Justification to faith, God has removed all these difficulties and dangers. It is rendered as easy, as possible, to our attainment. For the first act of virtuous regard to God, which is exercised, or can be exercised, by a returning sinner, is faith. If, then, he can do any thing, which is praise-worthy, or virtuous, he can exercise faith. As his Justification is inseparably annexed to this exercise by the promise of God; it is as certain, as that promise is sure.

2dly. This scheme provides most effectually for the happiness of


Evangelical faith is an emotion of the mind, delightful in itself,

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