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“ tual resolutions ?, The fruits which godly sorrow “ produced in the Corinthians, are thus beautifully " pourtrayed: "What carefulness it wrought in you, 6 yea what clearing of yourselves, yea what indignation, « yea what fear, yea what vehement desire, yea what “ revenge?' There are moments in the experience of “ a good man, when he feels a more than ordinary « softness of mind; the frost of selfishness dissolves, " and his heart flows forth in love to God and his fel“ low-creatures. How careful should we be to cherish * such a frame, and to embrace the opportunity of “ subduing resentments, and of healing those scars « and wounds which it is scarcely possible to avoid in “ passing through this unquiet world !
“Remember, we as Christians profess a peculiar “ relation to God as his children, his witnesses, his 6 people, his temple; the character of that glorious “ Being and of his religion will be contemplated by " the world, chiefly through the medium of our spirit « and conduct, which ought to display, as in a mirror, « the virtues of him who hath called you out of dark“ ness into his marvellous light. It is strictly appro“priate to the subject of our present meditations, to “ remind you that you are temples. For ye,” says « the apostle, are the temple of the living God, as * God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in « them, and I will be their God, and they shall be “ my people. What purity, sanctity, and dignity « may be expected in persons who bear such a cha“racter ! A Christian should look upon himself as “ something sacred and devoted, so that what involves “ but an ordinary degree of criminality in others, in “ him partakes of the nature of sacrilege ; what is a "breach of trust in others, is in him the profanation of < a temple. Let us watch and pray that nothing may “ be allowed a place in our hearts that is not suitable “ to the residence of the holy and blessed God. “ Finally, having such great and precious promises, « dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all « filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in « the fear of the Lord.” (n)
On Justification by Faith.
HERE again, my dear friend, we enter controverted ground: and on such ground, indeed, you must expect to find me, nearly till we terminate our correspondence. - This, however, does not arise from any obscurity in the subjects themselves, or from the vagueness of the terms in which they are revealed; but rather from the natural aversion of the unenlightened human mind to receive religious truth in the way God has been pleased to communicate it, and from that peculiarity of the Christian system which requires that “ the lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the “ haughtiness of men bowed down,” in order that " the Lord alone may be exalted." (0)
It is the humiliating fact, that “all have sinned " and come short of the glory of God," () that renders the Christian Religion necessary. Or, in other words, it is because “ by the works of the law no “ flesh living can be justified,” that the new dispensation was requisite. If obedience be at all times our duty, in what way can present repentance release us, as some would argue, from the punishment of former transgressions ? Can repentance annihilate what is past? Or can we do more, by present obedience, than
(0) Is. ii. 11. (-) See pp. 3, 43m 48, of this volume.
acquit ourselves of present obligation ? Or does the contrition we experience, added to the positive duties we discharge, constitute a surplusage of merit, which may be transferred to the reduction of our former demerit? “ We may as well affirm,” says a learned divine, « that our former obedience atones for our “ present sins, as that our present obedience makes “ amends for antecedent transgressions !” No man can discharge an old debt merely by taking care to incur no fresh ores: and, in like manner, since sin is a debt to Divine justice (which demands undeviating rectitude and holiness), when once incurred it would not be cancelled merely by abstaining from sin in future ;-supposing it were possible (which I am not inclined to admit) that sin could be entirely avoided without the aid of that restraining and invigorating principle which is implanted in the heart of a sincere believer on his conversion. (9) The question, then, to which not merely every philosophical inquirer, but every man who is interested about his eternal welfare, must be solicitous to receive a satisfactory answer is, 6. How shall God be just, and yet the justifier of the “ ungodly?” To this question the New Testament happily furnishes a most explicit reply. “ For when · (@) As the due consideration of that branch of the argument which fixes the guilt of sin upon every individual, however he may have escaped all the grosser vices, would draw me too far from my present purpose, I beg to refer to ch. 5, of that valuable work, Dr. Doddridge's “ Rise " and Progress of Religion,” and to section 7 of the excellent Hooker's Discourse on Justification : and, for a striking proof of the practical necessity of the entire doctrine of the Trinity, to the first part of Bishop Beveridge's “ Private Thoughts.”
56 we were yet without strength, in due time Christ “ died for the ungodly.” (r) And how were the ungodly to avail themselves of the benefit resulting from the death of Christ ? The scriptural reply is, " by faith.” “ By him (Jesus) all who believe are “ justified from all things, from which they could not “ be justified by the law of Moses.” 6 Being justified “ freely by his grace through the redemption that is “ in Christ Jesus.” “ Man is justified by faith, with« out the works of the law.' “ He saved us not by “ works of justification, but according to his mercy." “ By grace are ye saved through FAITH, not of your“ selves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any “ man should glory.” “ Wherefore, being justified by “ faith, we have peace with God through our Lord “ Jesus Christ.” (8)
Such being the main tenour of the declarations in the New Testament, it is no wonder that the doctrine of justification by faith should in all ages have ob tained a very general reception, or that infidels and others should in all ages have disputed it. “ You tell “ sinners (says Celsus), not to examine, but to believe; “ and their faith will save them ;” which is just the language that it might be expected an uncandid opponent would adopt. (t) Our Reformers, whose views of most doctrinal points were remarkably clear and
(r) Rom. v. 6.
(3) Acts, xiii. 39. Rom. iii. 24, 28. Tit. iii. 5. Eph. ii. 8, 9. Gal. ii. 16. Rom. v. 1.
(1) Orig. con. Cels. p. 8. Ed. 1658. Bellamy's ed. p. 67.