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salvation both of Jew and gentile, Rom. i. 16, 17; • because in that alone was the righteousness of · God by faith revealed to beget faith in them,
even the faith by which the just shall live, declaring that no precedent dispensation could justify any man, and that a man is justified by faith, or' hath an absolute need of such a justification ' as that which the gospel tendereth.'
It is indeed a truth worthy of peculiar attention, that “ the light of nature doth only direct to duty,' (and that very imperfectly,) 'condemning every ' man in his own judgment and conscience, who 'transgresseth ; but as to pardon, in case of trans
gression, it is blind and silent.' But had they, whose names are recorded with honour in the Old Testament, and in the New also, no other light than that of nature ?—This subject has, however, been sufficiently discussed. Yet it may well be here noted, that the apostle in the passage referred to, is speaking, not of the light, or rather the darkness, of nature,' but of the law of Moses, which assuredly was given by immediate revelation. The legal sacrifices could not of themselves, and except as referring to Christ, take away guilt from the conscience of him who brought them : 3 and there were many sins for which no legal atonement was appointed ; as murder, adultery, gross idolatry, and other capital crimes. But free and complete forgiveness, was preached in the name of Jesus, of every sin without exception ; and “ all, “ who believed were justified from all things, from
· Note from Barrow, Ref. 107 Acts xiii. 38, 39.
Heb. ix. 9-14. x. 1---4.
“ which they could not be justified by the law of “ Moses."
It is superfluous to quote the texts from the Old Testament, in which manifest overtures or promises of pardon are found. Forgiveness meets our attention, as the grand blessing, and that from which all others flowed, from the first promise of a Redeemer 1 to the close of the canon of the Old Testament. Forgiveness, and salvation through this Redeemer are the grand subjects of revelation, in every part of it; though with more resplendent glory in the New Testament than in the Old. The holy moral law shewed men their need of forgiveness; the types and shadows of the ritual law pointed out “ the Lamb of God that taketh away “the sin of the world.” When David had said, “ Blessed is the man whose transgression is for
given, and whose sin is covered : blessed is the man to whom the Lord doth not impute iniquity ;” St. Paul expounds his words to describe “ the blessedness of the man to whom God imputeth
righteousness without works."2 Abraham was justified by faith ; and St. Paul speaks of all those whom he celebrates, as having obtained a good report “ by faith ;" and Noah became “ heir of the “righteousness which is by faith : " how then could it be said, that ‘no precedent dispensation could justify any man' Surely the learned writer of this note had been so swallowed up in other studies, as to have nearly forgotten the oracles of God !
· Gen. iii. 15.
Ps. xxxii. 1, 2. Rom. iv. 6-8.-See, also Ex. xxxiv. 5,6. 1 Kings viii. 34,50. Neh. ix. 17. Ps. xxxii. 5. Ixxxvi. 5. cxxx.3, 4. Isa. i. 18. lv. 6, 7. Dan. ix. 9.
Should it be said, that it was through the gospel, to which the preceding dispensations pointed, and not by the dispensation itself, that they were justified: then the point is, for substance conceded. “ Justification unto life” was both proposed, and actually received by great numbers, under the preceding dispensations ; yet not from them, but from Christ and from the gospel-covenant.
Boasting cannot be excluded by the law of 'works, that is, by the law of Moses, because in ' that dispensation God sent no one to be “the * propitiation for our sins ;” no one“ gave himself ' for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God;" there is no “ Mediator between God and men;" and therefore, if the works of the Mosaie law do jus
tify, it must be on account of their own merit, s and the performance of them must be attended 'with a ground for boasting. It is otherwise with ““ the law of faith,” or the gospel of Christ, where * boasting is excluded by denying merit to faith, - and by referring all merit to Christ, from whose * death the justifying efficacy of faith is wholly derived. This is a fundamental difference between the two covenants, the law of works and the law ! of faith, the dispensation of Moses and the gospel of Christ.' 1
The Apostle argues on this subject in the following manner : “This I say, that the covenant, “ that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the
law, which was four hundred and thirty years “after, cannot disannul, that it should make the
“promise of none effect. For, if the inheritance “ be of the law, it is no more of promise : but God
gave it to Abraham by promise.”—“Is the law “ then against the promises of God? God forbid!
for, if there had been a law given which could “ have given life, verily righteousness should have “ been by the law. But the scripture hath con“cluded all under sin, that the promise, by faith “ of Jesus Christ, might be given to them that be“ lieve.”] This fully demonstrates, to all who adhere to the apostle's decision, that there never was a law given to fallen man, by which life could be obtained ; and that “ the covenant confirmed
by God in Christ,” with Abraham, was not disannulled by the Mosaic law, and the Sinai covenant. Under the legal dispensation, Israel, as a nation, was under the covenant made at Mount Sinai, which especially related to temporal and national mercies and judgments : but individuals, if believers, were justified and saved according to the covenant made with Abraham, by faith in the promised Redeemer; and circumcision was to them “a seal of the righteousness of faith :" if unbelievers, they remained under the curse of the violated law, and without any benefit from the promised Saviour: and indeed all unbelievers, even under the Christian dispensation, do the same. The principal appointments of the ceremonial law were sacramental prefigurations of the way of sal. vation by Christ; as the Lord's supper is now a commemoration of the death of the promised Saviour. They were means of grace,' and acts of
· Gal. iii. 16-22
worship acceptable to God through the blood of Christ, which was typified by that of the sacrifices, when attended on in faith ; but to unbelievers they were formality or hypocrisy. Christ was the Mediator from the first promise given to fallen Adam ; 1 and this was more clearly shewn by the Abrahamic covenant. Yet doubtless the New Testament is a far clearer discovery of salvation, and the way of salvation, than any which preceded. “Our Saviour Jesus Christ hath brought life and “immortality to light by the gospel.”? But from the beginning all believers were saved in the same way; and in heaven they doubtless join in the same song, “ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, “and hath redeemed us to God with his blood :"even “ the Lamb slain from the foundation of the “world.” 3__ The dispensation of Moses contained “the types and promises of a Saviour:' but “ the “ law of works” simply means the requirement and sanction of the law.'
* Upon the subject of the efficacy of the Mosaic atonement as applied to cases of moral transgression,' vide Dr. Magee's Discourses, V. i. p. 308. The learned author admits that “the 'blood of bulls and of goats could not take away ' sins," but as connected, in the eye of faith, with ‘ that more precious blood-shedding which can
purge the conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” If therefore we consider the · Mosaic dispensation as independent of the Chris'tian ; if we suppose Moses to have delivered the
DurioaYTOS, 2 Tim. i. 10. • Rev. v, 9, 10. xiii. 8.