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commiseration. When a law is once broken, the injury can never be repaired, but by suffering its full penalty, or by that which is equivalent. Besides, if repentance will furnish an excuse for transgression, and thus render it consistent for God to justify the transgressor, repentance must be the penalty; but this is directly contrary to the language of the law.
That we cannot be justified by the law, is further evident from the death of Christ. God can do nothing in vain. All his actions are dictated by infinite wisdom. But God has sent his Son into the world to make an atonement for sin, that he might be just and yet the justifier of him that believeth. We are also as sured that Christ hath not died in vain. But if men could be justified by the law, there could be no necessity for the death of Christ. Would God have paid such a price, unless it had been necessary? Would he have suffered the Jews to shed the precious blood of his Son, if salvation might have been obtained in any other way?
Since we cannot be justified by the law, we must, if ever we obtain justification, be justified through the gospel. Though all have come under the condemnation of the law, still, through the grace of the gospel, there is hope. Sinners, even the chief of sinners, may now be justified in the sight of God, and become heirs of glory. Over all their defilement and unworthiness grace reigns. Sinners may be released from the slavery of sin, and brought into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
It will be proper here to add a few remarks on the ground of our justification in a gospel sense.
From what was suggested to prove, that we cannot be justified by the law, it is obvious, that nothing which we can do ourselves, or which belongs to us, can furnish any ground for our justification in the sight of God. The true and only ground of our justification before him is pointed out to us by the apostle, in Rom. iii. 24. "Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." The only ground of our justification is, what Christ hath effected in his obedience, sufferings and death. It is wholly out of respect to this, that any are justified in the sight of God.
Forasmuch as ye know," says Peter to believers, "that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot." "By Christ all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." It is unnecessary to add further quotations to prove, that the obedience and sufferings of Christ are the only ground of our justification before God.
Though the law speaks nothing to transgressors but indignation and wrath; yet, in the gospel, life and immortality are brought to light. From the gospel we learn that Jesus Christ the righteous hath made an atonement, and prepared the way for the reconciliation of man to his Maker. The penalty of the law,
which the sinner has incurred, has been the great and the only hinderance to his justification. But in the atonement of Christ, there is found a full equivalent to the penalty of the law; and though the penalty is still annexed to the law, which in all its force is binding upon every one; yet out of respect to this atonement, God may pardon the sinner, and release him from suffering any part of the deserved penalty. It is evidently consistent and reasonable for God to exercise mercy, as it can be done without infringing his just and holy law.
Let it be here remembered, that the atonement of Christ is not merely the present ground of justification, but that it always will be so. The desert of the sinner is not altered by the merits of the Redeemer. Those who have broken the law can never be in a situation in which they will not deserve its whole penalty. After they are brought into a state of justification by the grace of God, they are as really deserving of eternal damnation, as before they were justified. Hence it appears, that those who are justified, are not only dependent on the grace of God for the first act of justification, but also for their continuance in this state. The atonement of Christ has not altered the nature of sin; nor has it rendered it possible for the sinner to lay aside his ill desert. The personal righteousness of Christ can never become the personal righteousness of the sinner. Christ and the sinner must forever sustain their own respective characters. The
righteousness of Christ is indeed imputed to the sinner, and in consequence of this imputation he is justified. But this imputation is not a transfer of Christ's personal righteousness to the sinOn this supposition, we shall put the sinner in situation to receive justification from God, on account of his own personal merit. For if the righteousness of Christ be actually transferred to the sinner, it immediately becomes his own, as much as any thing else which belongs to him.
Impute, when used in connexion with the righteousness of Christ, is synonymous with consider, esteem, or reckon; and in most of the instances in which it is used in the Bible, it might, with propriety, be rendered by either of these words. Christ's righteousness, therefore, is not made the personal righteousness of the sinner, but reckoned, as belonging to him. In consequence of the atonement, in which Christ wrought out everlasting righteousness for the believer, now put to his account, God treats him in the same manner, as if he were righteous. Herein we discover the peculiar genius and divine nature of the gospel. Here we find a plan devised for the salvation of sinners worthy of Jehovah. In every part of it, God supports the dignity of his character; the Mediator, who is the "day's-man” appointed, appears unparalleled in beauty and excellence; the sinner is kept at the footstool, led, during the whole of his Christian course, in the vale of humility, and at last exalted at the right hand of God.
IS A LIE IN ANY CASE JUSTIFIABLE?
NOTHING ought more to excite our surprise, than that there are found among those, who style themselves Christians, men, who can decide the question, "whether a lie is in any case justifiable," in the affirmative; or can even doubt concerning that decision, the basis of all moral excellence. The question is, may not lying, in certain cases, be preferable to speaking the truth? This to be sure is a strange question, but it is the real one to be determined; for I shall not suppose that even those in the affirmative would consent to utter a falsehood, if the truth would equally answer their purpose.
The word of God is the standard to which a Christian ought, in all questions, to appeal. Those, however, who maintain that a man may in certain cases violate the truth, decide the question by the law of expediency. They tell you that in general a man ought to speak nothing but the truth, because to do otherwise would destroy all confidence, and hazard the very being of society. At the same time they put an extreme case, the exigence of which demands the speaking of falsehood rather than truth. By exigence here is meant, that the truth would be productive of mischief, and falsehood of great good. Το this good, however, the scriptures would give another name. If you expostulate with them on the manifest wrong of violating a scriptural precept in order to suit some particular emergency, they grow impatient at the pros
pect of restraint, and exclaim, shall we suffer ourselves, or our friends, to risque our lives, our property, our health, in order barely to keep our word? This mode of proving their point has two very serious defects. In the first place, it needs proof, that this expediency is a proper law, by which to try the question : and in the next place, it needs proof, to establish the fact of expediency in given instances.
Against us, who maintain that a lie is never justifiable, it is of ten alleged, that scripture has authorised lying in some cases, because it has recorded, without censure, examples of good men, who have violated the truth. Admitting that no censure, either direct or implied, (which perhaps it will be difficult to show) has been passed; this of itself will prove nothing. Noah's drunkenness is recorded without comment; but what tippler ever justified himself from Noah's example? Paul and Barnabas quarrelled; but who ever considered their example, as Hcensing others to do the same. Some have declared that Rahab was justified in her lying to the spies. Paul declares that she was justified by her faith. The conduct of men becomes an example to us then only, when they act in obedience to a just law; and the examples in scripture are for us to follow so far, as they comport with the divine law, and no farther. If the scriptures forbid lying, then no examples to the contrary are authoritative. Let us then hear the word of God on this subject.
"The mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped. He, that telleth lies, shall not
tarry in my sight. These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him; a proud look, a lying tongue, &c. A false witness shall not be unpunished; and he,, that speaketh lies, shall not escape. Remove far from me vanity and lies. Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle; who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He, that walketh uprightly, worketh righteousness, speaketh the truth in his heart. Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue. Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. All liars shall have their part in the lake, which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death."
These passages exhibit to us the character of lying, and the sentence pronounced upon those, who are guilty of it. The scriptures no where contain an exception to what is here delivered. Every thing contained in them, respecting this point, is decisive; referring to all persons, cases, and times. Such is the immense importance of truth, that the whole moral world depends upon it; and such is the amazing obliquity of lying, that Satan himself is declared in the word of God to be the father of it; and we know too well its fatal effects on our first parents and their posterity.
Those who maintain that lying is sometimes allowable are
bound to give us a rule, and from scripture too, which shall enable us to know on what occasions we may lawfully break our word. This has never been done, but every man is permitted, according to them, to lie whenever he thinks that he can justify himself in so doing. But has God thus directed us concerning our moral conduct? Has he left it to men, in this great affair, to be their own lawgivers and judges? Let us beware, that we do not deceive ourselves as well as others.
It is altogether foreign to the purpose to say, that by speaking truth we may sometimes hazard our best interests, and even our lives. The same might be said of our adhering to the religion of Jesus. If we may desert our duty because of temptation, right and wrong are then interchangeable, as circumstances may happen. The truth is,
when a man has once settled it in his mind, that he may violate the truth in extreme cases; such cases, to him, will occur very often, and he will soon conclude it expedient to break his word, whenever it meets his inclination. Our best interests, moreover, are not to be found in this state of existence; nor are they to be sought in neglecting our duty, and in the commission of sin. We best pursue our interest, when we most faithfully keep the commandments of God. To obey him is always truly expedient.
Let those parents, who are in the habit of making promises to their children, with no intention of fulfilling them, and which perhaps they cannot fulfil, reflect on what they do, and the conse
quence of such examples. thing can justify such conduct in those, who are under the strongest obligations to be scrupulously exact, and solicitously watchful in all their behaviour, from which their offspring may take a bias toward that, which is good or evil. The practice of deceiving children with regard to food, medicine, and other things, to which they are opposed, is on this ground, highly censurable. Not only does the parent destroy his own veracity in the eyes of the child, but teaches the child to undervalue truth, and prepares him to act accordingly.
Whatever attempts may be made to justify or palliate a lie, that Being, who requires truth in the inner parts, cannot be deceived as to its turpitude; nor will he fail to retribute according to his own laws, and his own declarations. C. D.
ence of his life: that his death, or the shedding of his blood, had nothing peculiarly meritorious in it, except that it was obedience in the most trying circumstances. This seems to fall far short of the scripture representation of the atonement. The vicarious sacrifices under the Mosaic dispensation evidently pointed to something more; and they were only "the shadow of good things to come, of which Christ was the substance. He offered himself up once for all, for the sins of the world. And "without shedding of blood, is no remission." However highly we may speak of Christ, as an example to believers, if we exclude the merit of his blood, as the the ground of pardon and justification, every pious soul might complain with Mary," they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.” Christ made a proper expiation for sin therefore it is said, in view of the sinner, "Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom," (in the Heb.) atonement.
But as some make too little of the atonement; So there are others who make too much of it.
Not too much, as to its glorious effects. That is impossi ble. But they include things in it, which are repugnant both to reason and scripture. They consider that in Christ's dying for the world, there is a transfer of the sins of men to the person and character of Christ, and a transfer of his righteousness to them. But sin and holiness are personal, and therefore not transferable qualities. Such a pro
Heb. ix. 22. Job xxxiii. 24.