Page images
[ocr errors]

subject, we shall find all most clear and decisive. And our reformers thought it the more necessary that it should be so, because the corruption of this doctrine forms one of the most delusive and awful errors of Popery. Let us turn to the Articles. The eleventh teaches us, that we are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. The twelfth declares, that good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God's judgment; whilst the thirteenth speaks of works done before the grace of Christ, and the inspiration of his Spirit, as not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, yea, rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.

Here we see but one way in which the sinner may be justified and accepted of God: whilst those very things which are so often regarded with complacency as virtues, are stated to be but sins.

Let us now hear the Third Homily. z Because all men be sinners and offenders against God, and breakers of his law and commandments; therefore can no man by his own acts, works and deeds, seem they never so good, be justified and made righteous before God: but every man of necessity is constrained to seek for another righteousness or justification, to be received at God's own hands; that is to say, the forgiveness of

[blocks in formation]

his sins and trespasses, in such things as he hath offended. And this justification or righteousness, which we so receive of God's mercy and Christ's merits, embraced by faith, is taken, accepted, and allowed of God, for our perfect and full justification. For the more full understanding hereof, it is our parts and duties ever to remember the great mercy of God; how that, all the world being wrapped in sin by the breaking of the law, God sent his only Son, our Saviour Christ, into this world, to fulfil the law for us, and, by shedding of his most precious blood, to make a sacrifice and satisfaction, or, as it may be called, amends to his Father for our sins, to assuage his wrath and indignation conceived against us for the same. This is that justification or righteousness which St. Paul speaketh of, when he saith-No man is justified by the works of the law, but freely by faith in Jesus Christ. And of the justice and mercy of God knit together, speaketh St. Paul in the third chapter to the Romans: All have sinned and come short of the glory of God; 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 blood. And in the tenth chapter: Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. in the eighth chapter: For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. In these foresaid places, the apostle toucheth specially three things, which must go together in our justification.



Upon God's part, his great mercy and grace: upon Christ's part, justice; that is, the satisfaction of God's justice, or the price of our redemption, by the offering of his body, and shedding of his blood, with fulfilling of the law perfectly and thoroughly: and upon part, true and lively faith in the merits of Jesus Christ, which yet is not ours but by God's working in us so that, in our justification, is not only God's mercy and grace, but also his justice, which the apostle calleth the justice of God, and it consisteth in paying our ransom, and fulfilling of the law: and so the grace of God doth not shut out the justice of God in our justification, but only shutteth out the justice of man; that is to say, the justice of our works, as to be merits of deserving our justification. And therefore St. Paul declareth here nothing upon the behalf of man, concerning his justification, but only a true and lively faith, which nevertheless is the gift of God, and not man's only work, without God.


Nevertheless, this sentence that we be justified by faith only, is not so meant, that the said justifying faith is alone in man, without true repentance, hope, charity, dread and the fear of God, at any time and season. Nor when we say, that we be justified freely, do we mean that we should, or might afterward be idle, and that nothing should be required on our part afterward: neither do we mean so to be justified without good works, that we should do no works at all. But this saying, that we be justified by faith only, freely, and without works, is spoken for to take away clearly all merit of our works, as being unable to deserve our justification at God's hands, and thereby most plainly

a Hom, iii. pt. 2.

to express the weakness of man, and the goodness of God; the great infirmity of ourselves, and the might and power of God; the imperfectness of our own works, and the most abundant grace of our Saviour Christ: and, therefore, wholly to ascribe the merit and deserving of our justification unto Christ only, and his most precious blood-shedding. This faith the holy Scripture teacheth us: this is the strong rock and foundation of the Christian religion: this doctrine all old and ancient authors of Christ's church do approve: this doctrine advanceth and setteth forth the true glory of Christ, and beateth down the vain glory of man: this, whosoever denieth, is not to be accounted for a Christian man, nor for a setter-forth of Christ's glory; but for an adversary to Christ and his Gospel, and for a setter forth of men's vain-glory."

Such is the Scriptural language of the Church of England; and equally clear and decisive are all who have faithfully set forth her doctrines.

b 66

For instance, the judicious Hooker writes, That justification through works and inherent grace is the mystery of the man of sin, and that in teaching it the Church of Rome doth pervert the truth of Christ. I cannot stand now to unrip this building, and to sift it piece by piece: only I will set a frame of apostolical erection by it in few words, that it may befal Babylon, in presence of that which God hath builded, as it happened unto Dagon before the ark. Doubtless, saith the apostle, I have counted all things lost, and I do judge them to be dung, that I may win Christ; and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness,

[blocks in formation]

but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God through faith. Christ hath merited righteousness for as many as are found in him. In him God findeth us, if we be faithful: for by faith we are incorporated into him. Then, although in ourselves we be altogether sinful and unrighteous, yet, even the man which in himself is impious, full of iniquity, full of sin; him being found in Christ through faith, and having his sin in hatred through repentance; him God beholdeth with a gracious eye, putteth away his sin by not imputing it, taketh quite away the punishment due thereunto by pardoning it; and accepteth him in Jesus Christ, as perfectly righteous as if he had fulfilled all that is commanded him in the law. Shall I say more perfectly righteous than if himself had fulfilled the whole law? I must take heed what I say: but the apostle saith, God made him which knew no sin, to be sin for us: that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Such are we in the sight of God the Father, as is the very Son of God himself. Let it be counted folly, or frenzy, or fury, or whatsoever, it is our comfort and our wisdom: we care for no knowledge in the world but this, that man hath sinned and God hath suffered: that God hath made himself the sin of man, and that men are made the righteousness of God."

Such is the doctrine of a cloud of witnessess: all looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. And such is the doctrine set forth in the word of God. All teaching us that Justification is an act wherein the severest justice and the most unbounded mercy meet: wherein Almighty God


© Heb. xii. 1, d Ps. lxxxv. 10.

for ever pardons all our sins, and accounts us pure, holy, and without the slightest spot or stain of guilt, solely on account of the perfect righteousness, and meritorious obedience of Jesus Christ: reckoned ours by grace, and received to be ours by faith.

Now, beloved, what effect have these things, not merely upon your judgment and understanding?-no, that is not the question; but what effect have they upon your heart and life? Do you really feel the transforming power, and healing, and life, and vigour, of a saving faith in Jesus Christ? Has that led you in spirit to renounce all dependence upon your own imperfect and worthless righteousness, and brought you as a sinner, as a ruined sinner, for pardon, and righteousness, and wisdom, to Jesus Christ alone?

The holy law of God requires, not only unfailing obedience in external things, but it searches the heart, it demands the most spotless purity within, and it denounces eternal death on the very least transgression: Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them. It makes no discovery of comfort to the ruined sinner: it admits of no repentance, it knows nothing of mercy, it holds out no


Being justified, all our iniquities are covered: God beholdeth us in the righteousness which is imputed, and not in the sins which we have committed.Hooker, Serm. vi. 23.

f He cannot love the Lord Jesus with his heart, which lendeth one ear to his apostles, and another to false apostles: which can brook to see a mingle-mangle of religion and superstition, ministers and massing-priests, light and darkness, truth and error, traditions and Scriptures. No we have no Lord but Jesus; no doctrine but his Gospel; no teachers but his Apostles, Hooker, Ser, v. 7.

hope of pardon. Pardon, and mercy, and repentance, are blessings and graces of the Gospel. They are bestowed upon us only in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ. Only when we renounce all for Christ, when we cast ourselves upon him for life and salvation, when our affections are fixed upon him, and we feel him to be the desire, the delight, the joy, and the glory of our souls. And then, can the believer live in sin? Can he live in forgetfulness of spiritual things? Can he live to the world, and to pleasure, and to self? Ah, no!-his desire is not only to be justified by Jesus Christ, but to be sanctified by the Spirit of holiness. He resigns himself to Christ, and the fervent struggle of his soul is to walk worthy of Christ in holiness and newness of life. He says with the apostle, ' I am dead to the law: to every hope and expectation of being saved by it. And to what end? To live in sin? To live in conformity to the ways and pleasures of the world? To live to self and its gratifications? Ah, no, I am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.


O, sweet and blessed Saviour Jesus! Too long have I been my own! I have lived to myself, I have seen nothing lovely in vital godliness, nor form nor comeliness in thee! But here I am as a poor, lost, and guilty, and unworthy creature! O take me, pardon me, rule me, do all thy pleasure with my soul! I am a grievous sinner, but thou art a glorious Saviour. I am utterly unworthy of mercy, or life, or love, but all thy gifts are free. I therefore cast myself on Thee, in Thee I live and hope. Oh, has God the Holy Spirit so opened your eyes to the excellency and glory of Jesus Christ? Has he

Acts v. 31. h Col. i. 10. i Gal. ii. 19. MAY-1845.

roused you from sin, and from unbelief, and from carnal indifference, and from self-righteousness, and brought you to the cross of Christ, and applied the blood of Jesus to the healing of your soul? No mere talk about the matter, no hearsay knowledge of it will stand the day of trial. Oh, do you know, to the peace and

strength of your soul, that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin? Have

you discovered that there is that in Jesus that can satisfy for all your sins, and fully deliver you from sin and guilt, that he can change your unholy nature, and make you happy for ever? Oh, has this work been done? Can you, amidst all the strugglings of remaining corruptions and the short-coming of imperfections, still turn your eyes for pardon and help, to Jesus Christ? Can you still renounce all the holiness at which, as a believer in Christ you aim, and declare 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?

Ah, happy and blessed soul! Christ is your desire, and Christ will be your complete salvation. Keep close to Christ: let him be your all in all. Oh, watch against carnal security and spiritual sloth! Be sober, be vigilant. And remember, to your endless comfort, that he who is justified through faith in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, is one whom grace makes free, prepares for glory, and conducts to heaven. He is a new creature in Christ; his sins are for ever washed away: he has peace with God: he is a stranger upon earth: he is dead to the world: his * Gal. ii. 20.

2 D

JJohn i. 10.

[ocr errors]

chief business is with things beyond the grave: his treasure is in heaven: he shall never perish: he is

the charge of angels; he is the child of God: he is the heir of glory.


THERE is no department of Christian duty less adequately understood, in its principles and proportions, than that of benevolence: and yet there is no duty more fully developed, or more intelligibly characterized in holy writ, none that is spoken of as more indispensable to Christian integrity, or as of more serious consequences in its failure.

And if ignorances have to be feared and deprecated, as well as sins and negligences; and if a talent hid uselessly in a napkin will lead to condemnation, as well as a talent altogether abused, it surely becomes all who name the name of Christ to be actuated by a holy jealousy of themselves, and to pray with anxious sincerity, "what I know not teach thou me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

Now as it regards practical benevolence, the great fault is that it is too rarely conducted on principle: that is, there is too little reference to the motive which prompts, or the scale or system which ought to regulate. We see a great deal done in the cause of charity, and the sum total may present a gratifying aspect; but if


come to analyse the various motives that have been at work, and could trace the streams which have come along their respective courses, and formed the grand whole, we should see much that is defective and inconsistent and inadequate. And yet this analysis must take place, and these streams must be traced as it respects our

selves individually; for no one must venture, in the contemplation of charity as a whole, in the largeness and abundance which it may present, to attach to himself a feeling of self-complacency and satisfaction. We must all stand alone in the judgment-day, and each give up our accounts separately for ourselves; and so now we must not be content to say what great things are doing for this or that charitable object, but rather look to ourselves, and ask what we are doing to promote it.

Now there are three great considerations on which charity should be based:

The calls for its exercise. The opportunities and facilities for acting upon those calls. Our ability to do so.

The calls will present themselves to our minds just as we are healthfully and duly influenced by certain fundamental principles of true religion. In rectifying the disorders into which the fall has thrown our nature, and to make "all new," the grace of God has primarily and pre-eminently to bring men out of the narrow limits of their own petty selfishness, and to expand their views, their feelings, and their aim, by bringing them under the influence of the love of Christ and the glory of Christ, and a generous sympathy for all the family of man. It is the first effect of the Gospel, where it is brought home to the sinner's heart in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, to liberalize that heart: and he may well

« PreviousContinue »