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3dly, His third argument is yet strongest of all, and some way the darkest, ver. 20. For I through the law am dead unlo the law, that I might live unto God. As if he should have said, “ For my part, all the use that I got of the law, the more I “ was acquainted with it, it slew me the more, and I died the “ more to it, that I might live to God; all that the law can do " to me in point of justification, is only to condemn me, and so it can do no more ;” and whensoever the law enters into a man's conscience it always doth this ; When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died: the commandmeat slew me, Rom. vii. 9, 11.
4thly, His next argument is taken from the nature of the new life that he led, ver. 20. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Words of extraordinary form, but of more extraordinary matter: words that one would think seem to be some way cross to one another : but yet they set forth gloriously that gracious life that through Christ Jesus is imparted to justified believers. « Christ died « for me, and I am crucified with Christ; and yet I live, s but it is Christ that lives in me, and Christ lives in me only “ by faith.”
My text contains two arguments more, drawn from a common natural head of arguing against error, by the absurdities that necessarily flow from it; and they are two the greatest that can be, “ Frustrating the grace of God,”—and “ making o the death of Christ to be in vain.” And greater sins are not to be committed by men: the greatest sin, the unpardonable sin, is expressed in words very like to this, Heb. x. 29. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought zvorthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the Spirit of grace? And how near to one another are frustrating the grace of God, and doing despite to the Spirit of grace, and making Christ's death to be in vain, and counting the blood of the covenant an unholy thing !
There are two words to be explained before we go ang
further : Ist, What is the grace of God ?2dly, What is it to frustrate the grace of God?
First, What is the grace of God? The grace of God hath two common noted acceptations in the scripture.
1st, It is taken and used in the scripture for the doctrine of the grace of God, and so it is frequently used; the gospel itse is called the grace of God, Tir. ii. 12. The grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared unto all men: that is, the gospel; for it is the teaching grace of God that is there spoken of, called by the apostle, the gospel of his grace. And this grace of God may be received in vain. Many may have this grace of God and go to hell. Pray that you receive not the grace
of God in vain. 2dly, By the grace of God in the word is understood the blessing itself; and this is never frustrated ; that grace that called Paul, that grace that wrought mightily with him, that was not given him in vain : the grace that was bestowed avas not in vain, for I laboured more abundantly than they all ; yet na 1, but the grace of God that was with me. The gospel of the grace of God is frequently frustrated, but the grace itself is
Secondly, What is it to frustrate this grace of God? The word that I remember in the original is used, Mark vii. 9. remake void, (or reject the commandments of God. It is the same word with that in my text: to frustrate the grace of God, is to defeat it of its end, to miss the end of it. Luke vii. 30. it is said the Pharisees and Lawyers frustrated the grace of God against themselves; or, as we read it there, they rejected the counsel of God against themselves. The true grace of God itself can never be frustrated, it always reaches its end, for it is almighty : but the doctrine of the grace of God is many times rejected; and the apostle here in the text speaks of it as a sin that they are guilty of that speak of righteousness by the works of the law. There is one thing that I would observe in general from the scope of the apostle, viz. that in the great matter of justification the apostle argues from his own experience : the true way to get sound light in the main point of the justification of a sinner before God, is to study it in thy own personal concern ; if it be bandied about by men as a
notion only, as a point of truth, discoursing wantonly about it, it is all one in God's sight whether men be sound or unsound about it; they are unsound in heart how sound soever they are in head about it. The great way to know the right mind of God about the justification of a poor sinner, is for all to try it with respect to themselves. Would the apostle say, “ I know how I am justified, and all the world shall “never persuade me to join the righteousuess of the law with “ the righteousness of Christ.”
There are four points of doctrine that' I would raise, and observe from the first part of these words:
1st, That the grace of God shines gloriously in the justifying of & sinner through the righteousness of Christ.
2dly, It is a horrible sin to frustrate the grace of God.
3dly, All that seek righteousness by the law do frustrate the grace of God in the gospel.
4thly,. That no sound believer can be guilty of this sin.
I would speak to the first of these at this time: “ That the “ grace of God shines gloriously in the justifying of a sinner
by the righteousness of Christ alone.” When the apostle speaks of it, how frequently is this term grace added ? Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Rom. iii. 24. That being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
There are four things to be explained here, that will make our way plain to the proof of this point. What is justification? Who is it that doth justify? Who are justified? And upon what account?
1st, What is justification? We read much of it in our Bible, and the doctrine of it is reckoned one of the fundamental points of the true Christian religion, and so indeed it is. This grand doctrine, the fountain of our peace, and comfort, and salvation, was wonderfully darkened in the Popish kingdom ; and the first light of the reformation, that God was pleased to break up in our forefathers' days, was mainly about this great doctrine. Justification is not barely the pardon of sin; it is indeed always inseparable from it, the pardon of sin is a fruit of it, or a part of it. Justification is God's acquitting a man, and freeing him from all attainder; it is God's Vol. IV.
taking off the attainder that the broken law of God lays upoa every sinier. Who is he that shall condemn? It is God thot justifiis, Rom. viii. 33. Justification and condemnation are opposit s; every one is under condemnation that is not justified; and every justified man is freed from condemnation. Justification is not sanct fication; it is an old Popish error, sown in the hearts of a great many Protestants, to think that justification and s nctification are the same : justification and sanctification are as fir different as these two:- There is a man condemned for high treason against the king by the judge ; and the same man is sick of a mortal disease, and if he dies not by the hands of the hangman to-day, he may die of his disease to-morrow: it is the work of the physician to cure the disease, but it is an act of mercy from the king that must save him from the attainder. Justification is the acquitting and repealirg the law-sentence of condemnation ; sanctification is the healing of the disease of sin, that will be our bane except Christ be our piysician.
Justification and sanctification are always inseparable, but they are wonderfully distinct. Justification is an act of God's free grace; sanctification is a work of God's Spirit: sanctification is a work wrought within us, justification is something done about us, and therefore justification is every where spoken of in the word in the terms of a court act.
2diy, Who is he that justifies ? I answer God only: Whe shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies, who shall condemn ? Rom. viii. 33. He only can justify that gives the law : he only can justify that condemns for sin : he only can justify that is wronged by sin, Mark ii. 7. The Pharisees blasphemed, it was in their darkness; but yet the truth that they spake was good, though the application of it was quite naught: Why doth this man speok blasphemies? acho can forgive sin, bit Go:l only? In the case of the man sick of the palsy, whose sins Christ first forgave before he healed him of the palsy--so that the forgiveness of his sins was his justification, and the healing of his disease was as if it were the type of his sanctification-their application was wrong, in that they did not know that Christ was God, and
that he had power on earth to forgive sins: but the truth itself was sounds none can forgive sins but God only.”
Justification is an act of the judge ; it is only the judge and law-giver that can pronounce it : and there is but one law. giver, saith James, that can both save and destroy, chap. iv. 12. “ None properly offended by sin but God, and nothing vio“ lated by sin su immediately as the law of God.”
3d!y, Who is justified ? Every one is not justified. What sort of a man is he that is justified ? Justification is the acquitting of a man from all attainder, and it is God's doing alone ; but what sort of a man is it that is justified ? Is it a holy, man? a man newly come from heaven? Is it a new sort of a creature, rarely made and framed ? No: it is a sinner: it is an ungodly man: “God justifies the ungodly.”
The man is not made godly before he is justified, nor is he left ungodly after he is justified; he is not made godly a moment before he is justified, but he is justified from his ungodliness by the sentence of justification : when he is dead in sins and trespasses, quickening comes, and life comes, Eph. ii. 1.
4thly, Upon what account is all this done ? And this is the hardest of all. You have heard that justification is the freeing of a man from all charge, and that it is done by God alone, and given to a man before he can do any thing of good --for no man can do any thing that is good till he be sanctie fied, and no man is sanctified till he is justified--but the grand question is, How can God justly do this? saith the apostle, Rom. iii. 26. That he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. How can God be just, and yet justify an ungodly man? “ To justify the wicked, and co con" demn the righteous, are both an abomination in the sight " of God," when practised by man, Prov. xvii. 15. How then can God justify the ungodly? The grand account of this is, God justifies the ungodly for the sake of nothing in himself, but solely upon the account of this righteousness of Christ, that the apostle is here arguing upon : Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his Mod, Ron. 21, 95. When Gou justibes a man, the righ