« הקודםהמשך »
ness and glory, and enjoy greater happiness and honour, than any of those creatures who have not been redeemed, though perfectly holy. In this respect, as well as others, redemption is the new creation, the new heaven and new earth, far exceeding the first and old creation. In this there is a new display of the divine glory; a new mode of the exercise of holiness by a new kind of creatures, by putting on a form in which there is a new beauty and excellence; and a new degree of happiness; a new and glorious character in the Redeemer, the centre of union, love and holiness of the redeemed church ; and, in one word, a new moral world, which could not have taken place, were it not for the apostasy of man, and redemption by Christ. In this sense, “ Old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new !"
X. On the whole, the doctrine of the justification of sinners by faith in Jesus Christ appears to be not only agreeable to the scripture, but rational, when examined and understood; there being nothing absurd or inconsistent in it. The law of God admits of a substitute to obey or to suffer for others in their room and stead. The first man was constituted such, and he was made a type and figure of the second man, who was to come, the Lord from heaven. He was able to do what the first man could not, even to redeem sinners from the curse of the law, by taking the curse on himself, and suffering it for them, as well as obeying it perfectly; being made under the law, and putting himself in their place. Thus he has a righteousness which answers the law; and therefore sufficient for the justification of all those in whose favour it can be properly applied, so as consistently to have the benefit of it, as much as if it were their own personal righteousness. This can be done only by the sinner's being cordially united to him, approving of his character, and receiving and trusting in him for righteousness and redemption, which is done by believing in him. Therefore, «Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe." And this righteousness avails to their complete justification; their sins are pardoned for the sake of Christ,
nevolence. And there is always, and in all instances, as much wisdom as there is goodness, and vice versa. Yet it is proper and necessary to distinguish between these, in order to think and speak most clearly of the perfection of God. And this is done in the scripture. The goodness of God is a wise goodness, is exercised in the wisest and best manner, to answer the best ends. God is as wise as he is good.
There is a most bright and glorious display of the wisdom of God in the redemption of man. Therefore, the gospel of the grace of God is called wisdom, the wisdom of God: And Christ is called so : And the apostle Paul, speaking of the redemption of man, has the following remarkable expression. “ According to the RICHES OF HIS GRACE, wherein he hath abounded towards us, in ALL WISDOM AND PRUDENCE."* And he says, the angels learn the manifold wisdom of God, in the redemption of his church by Jesus Christ. “ To the intent that now unto the principalities and pow. ers in heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”+
In order to lay the best and most ample foundation, and give opportunity and occasion for the greatest and most glorious exercise and manifestation of the love and grace of God, it has been wisely ordered that there should be creatures in a state of infinite guilt and wretchedness, from which they could not be delivered consistent with the honour of the divine law, and the moral character and government of God, unless a divine person, the Son of God, became a man, and took upon him the form of a servant, putting himself under the law, and taking the sinner's place, so as to bear the curse in his stead, and die an ignominious, cruel and accursed death for him : And having thus suffered, and obeyed the law of God in the most trying circumstances, he is become the author of eternal salvation to all them who obey him : And in this way of salvation by Christ, there is no room for mere human righteousness and worthiness to come into the account. The righteousness • Eph. i. &.
† Chap. iii. 10. 11.
by which man is accepted and justified, is a divine righteousness, the righteousness of God : A righteousness of which not a mere creature is the author ; and the worth of it arises from the dignity of the divine nature, and not from any worthiness of a mere creature. In this way man is emptied of all worthiness in himself, and greatly humbled, and brought into a state of exceeding, peculiar dependence on God; and divine grace is exalted and honoured, while the believer receives from him “ abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness."*
And the redeemed are interested in this divine righ. teousness, not out of regard to any worthiness of their own ; but when they are justified, they are considered in themselves infinitely unworthy; and that by which they are united to this divine person, so as to have the advantage of his merit, the bond of union on their part consists in an exercise of soul in which they discern and acknowledge that they are infinitely guilty, ill deserving, hateful creatures ; that were there not an infinitely meritorious righteousness in Christ, it would not be
proper or consistent with the law and the perfection of God, that they should be pardoned and saved ; and that the righteousness by which they are justified, is that of a divine person, the righteousness of God. They therefore ascribe every good they receive, every thing better than endless destruction, to the free sovereign grace of God, and give him all the glory of it. This is " to be justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ : And it is of faith, that it might be by grace.”+
“By grace are ye saved through faith." And the apostle adds, " And that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."I This leads to observe, that the faith by which men are united to Christ, is the free, sovereign gift of God, in renewing their hearts, and forming them to such an exercise ; in which he acts as an absolute sovereign, and has mercy on whom he will have mercy.
Every thing is so ordered in the work of redemption, as to give the greatest occasion and advantage, and the best opportunity for the exercise of the infinite goodness and grace of God; and in such a manner as to make it most visible to creatures : And the redeemed are put under the best advantage to see it in the extent and glory of it, and be properly affected with it. The emptiness and nothingness of the creature, his infinite dependence on God, the fountain of being and all good ; the infinite sufficiency for the creature, even for infinitely guilty and wretched creatures, and his free, sovereign, unbounded love and grace, are here set in the most advantageous and striking light, especially to the redeemed ; so that in the final issue of things, when redemption is perfected, God will appear in the clearest light possible, to be ALL IN ALL.* And they will receive unspeakably greater good, than they could have wanted, or were capable of, had they not sinned, and had there been no divine Mediator and righteousness. And all “ to the praise of the glory of his grace.”+
* Eph. v. 17. ť Rott, üi. 24. iv. 16. * Eph. ü. 8.
Now the wisdom of God has contrived and laid the plan for all this. Therefore it is manifested, and glorified in this exercise and display of divine grace, in which God hath abounded in all wisdom and prudence. Here the wisdom of God is set in the most conspicuous, pleasing light, which draws the attention, raises the admiration, influences the love, and exalts the praise of angels. And all who understand the gospel will cordially join with them, and with St. Paul, in his rapture and doxology : “O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, THE ONLY WISE GOD, be honour and glory, forever and ever, Amen."!
II. In the view of this subject, we see how and in what respects the law is established in the justification of sinners by faith in Christ.
The apostle Paul says, the law is established in this way. “Do we then make void the law through faith ? Yea, we establish the law.”ll And when we consider what saving faith is, and how the sinner is justified by faith, we may see on what ground this is asserted.
The whole work of the Redeemer in his incarnation, obedience and sufferings, had reference to the law, in order to establish that, and magnify it, and make it honourable, consistent with the pardon and salvation of * 1 Cor. xv. 28. † Eph. i, 6. Rom. xi. 33. 1 Tim. i. 17. Rom. ii. 31. the sinner who believeth in Jesus. He was made under the law with this view, in order to suffer the curse of it, and obey it in the room of sinners, as their substitute and surety, and in this way obtain the righteousness of the law for them, that he might be “the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
That the law might be maintained and established by vicarious obedience or suffering, or by a substitute, was made known when man was first created, as has been shewn. The first substitute or public head failed of obedience, and introduced sin and condemnation, which by divine constitution extended to all his posterity. All mankind are by the disobedience of the first man constituted sinners, and by sinning are under the curse of the law ; from which they cannot be delivered, without abolishing the law, unless it be suffered by them, or a substitute. They could not suffer this curse and sur, vive it : for the evil implied in it, and which they deserved, is infinite. And for the same reason, no mere creature in heaven or earth could be a substitute to suffer it in their room. But the last Adam, the second man, who is the Lord from heaven, is able to take the curse on himself and suffer it, and yet survive ; and having by this made full atonement for sin, and satisfied the threatening of the law; and by his obedience done all that is required of man, in order to his justification, he has introduced a complete and everlasting righteousness; so that he to whom it may be properly imputed, and he have the advantage of it, as much as if it were his own personal righteousness, and he stood perfectly right in the sight of the law, may be justified, perfectly consistent with the law; and the law be more established, respected and honoured by the divine righteousness of the Mediator, than it would have been by the eternal sufferings of every transgressor, and the obedience of all creatures.
But no man can be justified by the righteousness of Christ, unless he unite himself to him by faith in him ; in which he is brought to see and heartily acknowledge the law which curses every transgressor of it, to be holy, just and good, and that he may be justly destroyed forever for his sin, and if he be pardoned and saved, it