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Kom. iii. 27–31.
27. Where is boasting then? It is excluded By what law ? Of works ? Nay, but by the law of faith.
28. Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith ithout the deeds of the law.
29. Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also.
30. Seeing it is one God, who shall justify the circumcision through faith, and the uncircumcision through faith.
31. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid ; yea, we establish the law.
“EXCEPT ye be converted, and become as little children," saith our blessed Lord, “ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven."* A child has imbibed no prejudices, he submits to his teacher, and becomes wise by his instructions. Thus should we be disposed to learn ; thus should we listen to the teaching of the Sacred Word, and be diligent in obeying whatever is commanded us. It is because men, in general, are of a disposition contrary to this, that they are obliged to have line upon
* Mat. xviii. 3.
line, and precept upon precept; and that the inspired writers, instead of simply declaring“ Thus and thus saith the Lord”-condescend to plead, and argue with them, in order to beat them off from their fond fancies, and to prove, that the word, which they deliver, is highly worthy of acceptation. How much the Jews were inclined to adulterate the word of God, and to deceive themselves, has been shewn in some preceding discourses, wherein I mentioned the high value which they placed on the mere ceremony of circumcision, as if that alone were sufficient to merit eternal life; and also how much they were disposed to boast of works of righteousness, which they had done, while it was well known to the Searcher of Hearts, that they wanted that in. ternal purity, without which no work can be acceptable in his sight. The same sort of arrogancy, which attached to the Jew, belongs also to the Gentile, or to men of every nation; for pride, since the fall, seems to form a part of our constitutions, and to manifest itself, more or less, in every human character, so that we are ready to boast upon occasions, when humility would best become us, and to exalt ourselves before God, when it is proper for us to lie, covered with dust and ashes, in the deepest self-abasement, at the footstool of
his mercy. It is to lower this towering pride, to bring down this lofty spirit in man, that Saint Paul in this Epistle, and particularly in that part of it now under consideration, dwells so much on the doctrine of justification, and argues his point in such a manner, as to leave the proud transgressor without any other plea than this before the Throne of Grace, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” This being the case, he justly demands—“Where now is boasting ?” Where is the man, who will presume to plead his meritorious services before God? Such boasting ~ is excluded.” - By what law? Of works? Nay, but by the law of faith; therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” This, Brethren, should be our conclusion, from what has been already said upon the sinfulness and depravity of man; but, as a notion of some desert is not easily rooted out of the human heart, I shall mention one or two instances of it, which very commonly occur, and at the same time endeavour to prove to you the fallacy of such a conceit.
It is not denied, I believe, by the generality of Christians, that we are saved by the merits of Christ; but then they suppose they must do something to deserve those merits; and if we ask what they have done, they will tell us,