Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

haughty, ruined child. Nor could any repentance be everlooked upon sincere, or any reconciliation be esteemed genuine, in the rebellious son, but what should have its foundation in thorough conviction, that his father's character and government were wholly right; and his own temper

and

conduct, froin first to last, entirely wrong. An entire alteration in the state of his mind would therefore be absolutely necessary, to the end his father's character and government might appear in their native beauty. And as soon as ever he begins to see the beauty of his father's character and governinent, he will begin with all his heart, to take all the blame to hiinself: and be ready, with the prodigal son, to say, Father, I have sinned against heaten and in thy sight, and am no more worth to be called thy son. And now he will be glad to return, it he may. But,

A crime way be too great to be forgiven, merely upon repentance, let the criminal be ever so penitent. Thus a wilful murderer must be put to death, let him be ever so sorry for his crime. And thus a prince, lately married to a poor maid, who, notwithstanding all her obligations to fidelity, soon after marriage, to his great reproach, prostitutes herself to the meanest wretch in the kingdom, is obliged in honour to himself and to his kingdom, to put her away, let her penitency be

so great. Pardon cannot be granted in such cases merely upon repentance. Something further is plainly needfu). But these instances fall infinitely below the case they are designed to represent. For in the sight of God, a sinner, ever so penitent for his crimes, deserves so much to be cast off for ever, that infinite wisdom, goodness, and rectilude, judged he could not honourably be pardoned and received into favour, unless the Son of God himself would become incarnate, and stand, and obey, and die in his stead. Penitency is so far from being a sufficient atonement for our sins, that merely the defects attending the deepest repentance of the most humble, broken-hearted saint on earth, according to law, that perfect rule of right, merits eternal damnation. There is no hope, therefore, in the case of a penitent sioner, absolutely no hope at all, but what arises froin the atonement, merits, and mediation of Christ, and the free grace of God through him, as revealed in the Gospel.

ever

This view of the mediation of Christ may help us to understand the following Scripture phrases : John iii. 17. God sent his Son, that the world THROUGH HIM might be saved. 1 John iv. 9. That we might have life THROUGH HIM, John xx. 31. have life THROUGH HIS NAME. Rom. vi. 23. The gift of God is eternal life THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. Acts x. 43. THROUGH HIS NAME whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. i Cor. vi. 11. Justified in THE Name of the Lord Jesus. Rom. v. 1. Have

peace with God THROUGH HIM;-ver. 9. Saved from wrath THROUGH HIM. John xiv. 6. He is THE WAY to the Father, and no mun cometh to the Father but BY HIM. John X. 9. I am the DOOR. By me if any man enter in. John xvi. 23. Ask the Father IN MY NAME.

Heb. vii. 25. Come to God BY HIM. 1 Pet. i. 21. By him do believe in God. Heb. x. 19, 20. Boldness to enter into the holiest BY THE BLOOD of Jesus. By A NEW AND LIVING WAY, which he hath consecrated for us. Eph. ii. 18. THROUGH HIM huve access to the Father. Chap. V. 20. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, IN THE NAME of our Lord Jesus Christ.

i Pet. ii. 5. Ofer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by JESUS CHRIST. Eph. i. 6. Made us acceptable in the BELOVED. 2 Cor. v. 18, 19. God hath reconciled us unto hims if by Jesus Christ. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.

For as the mediation of Christ was designed to secure the divine honour, and open a way for the exercise of divine grace to the glory of God the Father, and as he hath finished the work appointed him to do; so through him God can consistently with his honour, call and invite a guilty world to return and be reconciled, and can stand ready to pardon and receive to favour, and give eternal life to all that come to him in Christ's name.

And whosoever shall hear God's call, understand and believe the Gospel, may see sufficient warrant to come, may have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, to come to God by him ; and such shall be justified in his name, freely by divine grace through the re

demption which is in Christ Jesus ; be accepted themselves in the beloved, and their spiritual sacrifices be acceptable to God by him; and through him they may have peace with God, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And wbatsoever they ask in his name shall be granted. For through him they may have access to God. And,

The same view of the glory of the holy majesty of heaven and earth, which brings us to see that God and his law are wholly right, and our disaffection and rebellion wholly wrong, and infinitely criminal, and so to see our need of Christ's mediation, righteousness, and atonement ; at the same time discovers God to be the supreme good, and the Gospel to be true. In consequence of which, it appears our highest daty and highest interest to return to God, the fittest and happi est thing in the world. This begets an inclination to return to God as our sovereign Lord and supreme good. And so a foundation for repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, and for every filial grace, is at once laid in the soul.

We return to God in Christ's name, conscious eternal destruction is our just desert. Our courage, our boldness, even all our hope of acceptance, is from the mere grace and infinite goodness of God through Jesus Christ. Hell our due, we look only to free grace through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ. Our whole dependence rests here. And this is what St. Paul calls, Faith in Christ's blood. It implies an understanding and belief of the report of the Gospel, as 10 the nature of Christ's mediatorial office and work, and an exercise of heart towards the mediator, answerable to the nature of his office and work, called receiving him, and believing IN HIS NAME; and denoted by those phrases so often used in the New Testament, when speaking of a sinner's coming to God by Christ, THROUGH Christ, IN THE NAMB of Christ. For to come to God by Christ, through Christ, in the name of Christ, and by Faith in Christ's blood, are all of the game import.

To say, that faith consists in “the bare belief of the bare truth,” without admitting any other idea into its definition, does not come up to the plain purport of these phrases, which evidently denote a dependence on him as mediator. To come to God in his name, by him, and through him, who is the appointed mediator between God and man, is not only to believe him to be such, but also to be affected towards him as such, in all our approaches to God. It is not only to believe him to be the Messiah, but to believe in his name as such, and to have boldness to enter into the holiest by his blood *.

* Object. To come to God in the name of Christ ; is the fruit of faith, and not that faith itself by which we are justified. He who believes the Gospel to be true, has the whole of that which the New Testament means by justifying faith. He will come to Christ, and come to God in the name of Christ ; but these are the fruits of faith, and not faith itself.

Answ. I grant these are the fruits of faith. That is, the fruits of a belief of the truth of the Gospel. . But the question is still undetermined, which is this : Does not the New Testament mean to comprehend this belief and these fruits of it, in justifying faith? Or does this belief justify a sinner prior to these effects ? Our Saviour said, ye will not come to me that ye might have life. If a bare belief that he was the Messiah, entitled to eternal life, then one who believed this bad a title to eternal life before he came to him, and if so, he had no need to come to him that he might have life. Our Saviour directed his disciples to ask all things of the Father in his name. He also taught them every day to pray, forgive us our debts. Query –How can we go to God in the name of Christ for the pardon of daily transgressions, if pardon is not to be obtained this way? If pardon is had " by a bare belief of the bare truth,” we are not in the belief of the truth to ask for pardon in the name of Christ, because we are pardoned already. And so we are never to ask pardon in the name of Christ at all. Before we believe the Gospel, we cannot do it: and when we believe the Gospel, it is too late ; for we are pardoned already. And if we sin, as we daily do, we must never look to God in the name of Christ for pardon, repent and pray, looking toward the holy temple, as the Jews were directed to do, (1 Kin. viii.) but only believe the Gospel to be true. That is, believe that there is forgiveness with God through the atonement. But we are not to say, have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness ; according to the multitude of thy .tender mercies, blot out my transgres. sions. For this is something more than “a bare belief of the bare truth;" and so is not proper in order to obtain pardon. And so neither at first conversion, por through the course of our lives, have we any occasion, nor ought we to look up to God in the name of Christ, and pray, saying, forgive us our debts. We must only believe the Gospel to be true, and in this belief, according to Mr. Sandeman, we are to be perfectly“ passive," " no act, exertion, or exercise of the human mind," is to be in the affair. For pardon at first conversion, and afterwards is, he grants, to be obtained in the same way. (Letters on Theron, p. 418.) A wrong notion of the Gospel, leads Mr. S. to this wrong notion of faith. For if this be the sum of the Gospel, " there is forgiveness with God for impenitent sinners through the atone. ment, to be by God dispensed according to his sovereign pleasure, in a sovereign way: then in the nature of things, there is ground only for a passive belief of this truth." There is in fact no room for any “ act, exertion, or exercise of the human mind,” in the affair. But if the Gospel reveals God as ready to be reconciled to all that come to him in the name of Christ, then no sooner do I believe the Gospel to be true, but I also come to him in the name of Christ. As to what is implied in the declaration of the Gospel, see Sect. vii. and viii. if it should appear, that there is no forgiveness with God for impenitent sinners, while such, Mr. S.'s scheme, must be esteemed fundamentally wrong.

Should a soldier, belonging to the army of Prince Ferdinand, steal away into the Prussian camp, and attempt to murder that noble hero, the king of Prussia, to whose glory Prince Ferdinand is most firmly attached ! Should this wicked soldier be apprehended, condemned to die, and brought forth to the gallows; and while both armies are assembled to see the execution, and agreed to cry, " away with such a vile fellow from the earth, he is not fit to live," should Prince Ferdinand step forth, and before all the multitude justify the law by which he is condemned to die, and offer a ransom for his life to the acceptance of his Prussian majesty ; and then turning to this wicked soldier, should he declare, “ O guilty wretch! repent of this thy wickedness, and on thy knees ask pardon of his Prussiao majesty in my name, and thy sin shall be blotted out:" would not the meaning of the words be easy to the understanding of all the assembled multitude ? Not his repentance, nor bis asking pardon in Prince Ferdinand's name, do in the least counterbalance bis crime, or pay a ransoin for his life. Prince Ferdinand's mediation, ransom, and declaration, are the sole foundation of hope to the guilty wretch. Emboldened by these, he falls at his Prussian majesty's feet, and with a penitent heart, looks up to him for pardon in Prince Ferdinand's name. And, in this way, is forgiven, simply on Prince Ferdinand's account y. But no similitude from earth

y But should the wicked soldier be too stomachful to fall upon his knees and ask pardon in Prince Ferdinand's name, his belief, that in this way pardon might be obtained, would not entitle him to it, but rather render him the most inexcusable man alive. So had an Israelite, bitten with a fiery serpent, believed that whosoever looked up to the brazen serpent should be healed, but not desiring a cure, should he refuse to look up, his belief would not have healed him. So bad Peter's hearers, on the day of Pentecost, when pricked at the heart to think that they had murdered the Messiah, refused to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, notwithstanding the call they had, their belief that he was the Messiah, and that there was forgiveness with God through his name, would not

« AnteriorContinuar »