Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

respect to justification, and who in their dealings with God for acceptance, come not as righteous, but as ungodly, no such consequence will follow. On the contrary, it will follow that if the apostle's doctrine be perverted, it is Mr. M. that has per, verted it.

That the apostle is speaking of believers, we are expressly told in the passage itself. He that worketh not is said at the same time to believe; but whenever this can be said of a man, it cannot with truth be affirmed of him, that he has done nothing good in the sight of God, or that he is under the dominion of enmity against him. By Mr. M.'s own account, he has, by the influence of divine grace, done “ what is right in giving credit to what God says ;" he has “ obeyed the gospel;" he has complied with “ the command of God,” that we should believe in him whom he hath sent. It may, however, be truly affirmed of him, that he worketh not with respect to justification: for it is of the nature of faith to overlook and relinquish every thing of the kind. Whatever necessity there may be for a writer, in vindication of the truth, to enumerate these things, they are such as the subject of them thinks nothing of at the time ; especially as the ground of his acceptance with God. All his hopes of mercy are those of a sinner, an ungodly sinner.

Him that worketh not, stands opposed by the apostle, to Him that worketh; to whom, he says, the

reward is not reckoned of grace, but of debt. Ch. v. 4. And is this a description of actually working for God? The character referred to is either real or supposed: either that of a self-righteous sinner, who would at last be dealt with on the footing of that covenant to which he adhered; or of a perfect conformist to the divine law. If it be the former, he that worketh, undoubtedly means, not one that actually labours for God, but one that worketh with a view to justification ; and consequently, he that worketh not, must mean, not one that has actually wrought nothing for God, but one that worketh not with a view of being justified by it. Or if, on the other hand, the character be allowed to be only a supposed one; namely, a perfect conformist to the divine law; yet as what is done by him that so worketh, is done with a view to justification, it is on this account properly opposed to the life of a believer; who, whatever he may do, doth nothing with such an end, but derives all his hopes of acceptance with God, from the righteousness of another.

To this may be added, the examples which the apostle refers to, for the illustration of his doctrine. These are Abraham and David ; and let the reader judge whether they be not decisive of the question. It is of Abraham's justification that he is speaking. He it is that is held up as a pattern of justification by faith, in opposition to the works of the law. Of him it was supposed, that he worked not, but believed on him that justifieth the ungodly. If Abraham, therefore, at the time when he is said to have believed God, and it was counted to him for righteous. ness, had never done any good thing, and was actually the enemy of God, Mr. M.'s position is established. But if the contrary be true, it is overturned. To determine this, the reader has only to consult the following passages-Gen. xv. 6. xii. 1. and Heb. xi. 8. He will here perceive that it was several years after his departure from Haram, at which time the apostle bears witness to his being a believer, that he is said to have believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. From hencë it is manifest, that the character described by the apostle, is not that of an enemy, but a friend of God; and that it is not merely applicable to a Christian at the first moment of his believing, but through the whole of life. We have to deal with Christ for pardon, and justification more than once; and must always go to him as working not; but believing on him that justifieth the ungodly.

Nor is the example of David less decisive than that of Abraham. When the blessedness, of which the apostle speaks, came upon him, he was not in a state of enmity to God: but had been his friend and servant for a series of years. The thirtysecond appears evidently to be one of his penitential psalms, composed after his fall in the case of Uriah. Yet he also is supposed to have worked not, but believed on him that justifieth the ungodly. And it is worthy of notice, that the very principle inculcated through this whole psalm, is, the neces. sity of repentance in order to forgiveness ; a prin: ciple which requires to be disowned before the position maintained by Mr. M. can be admitted.

It has been said, that the term ungodly is never used, but to describe the party as being under actual enmity to God at the time. I apprehend this is a mistake. Christ is said to have died for the ungodly. Did he then lay down his life only for those who at the time were actually his enemies? If so, he did not die for any of the old testament saints ; nor for any of the godly who were then alive, not even for his own apostles. All that can in truth be said, is, that whatever were their char. acters at the time, he died for them as ungodly ; and thus it is that he justifieth the ungodly, Gospel justification stands opposed to that which is in ordinary use: the one acquits the righteous, the worthy, the deserving; the other the unrighteous, the unworthy, the ungodly.

But let us examine the other branch of Mr. M.'s objection ; namely, the effect which such a doctrine must have on the mind of an awakened sinner. “ This, he says, is obvious. He who conceives " that in order to his pardon and acceptance with “ God, he must be first possessed of such good u dispositions, and holy affections, as are commonly “ included in the nature of faith, will find no im“ mediate relief from the gospel, nor any thing in “ it which fully reaches his case, while he views “ himself merely as a guilty sinner. Instead of « believing on him that justifieth the ungodly, he “ believes, on the contrary, that he cannot be “ justified till he sustains an opposite character. “ Though Christ died for sinners—for the ungodly; «yet he does not believe that Christ's death will “ be of any benefit to him as a mere sinner, but as “possessed of holy dispositions ; nor does he ex

pect relief to his conscience purely and directly “ from the atonement, but through the medium of " a better opinion of his own heart or character. “ This sentiment, if he is really concerned about “ his soul, must set him' upon 'attempts to reform « his heart, and to do something under the notion “ of acting faith, that he may be justified; and all “his endeavours, prayers, and religious exercises, “ will be directed to that end.”

By the manner in which Mr. M. speaks of “ pardon and acceptance with God," uniting them together, and denying all holy affection to be necessary to either, it is manifest that he denies the necessity of repentance in order to forgiveness; a doctrine taught not only in the thirty-second psalm, from which the apostle argued the doctrine of free justification, but also in the whole tenor of scripture.*

Secondly, By rejecting this doctrine, he finds in the gospel, “ relief for the mere sinner.” This

• 1 Kings viii. 29-50. Prov. xxviii. 13. Isai. Ix. 6-8. Matt. iii. 2.

Mark i. 4. Luke iii. 3. Acts v. 31. Luke xxiv. 48. Acts ii. 38. ü. 19. xxvi. 18.

« AnteriorContinuar »