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God, until Christ offered his own body on the cross as a sacrifice for sin. It was by faith in these sacrifices, which before and under the Mosaic dispensation typified the atonement of Christ, that men were pardoned, forgiven, or justified; and not by their love, repentance, or obedience. We are expressly told that Abel was a believer, Enoch was a believer, Noah was a believer, Abraham was a believer, and all the patriarchs were believers. For it is said, “ These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them." These promises respected the coming and death of Christ the Messiah, whose death was typified by the vicarious sacrifices that were appointed to make atonement for sin. God first promised to Adam that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. He next promised to Abraham that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed; and that seed, the apostle tells us, was Christ. Moses foretold that Shiloh should come. Isaiah foretold that Christ should pour out his soul unto death, and make his soul an offering for sin. Daniel foretold that Messiah should be cut off, but not for himself. The gospel was symbolically preached to Adam, to Abraham, and to all under the law, by the vicarious sacrifices which typified Christ as a suffering Saviour. And it was by faith in a Saviour to come, that all true penitents were pardoned, forgiven, or justified; and not by their own obedience or righteousness. The apostle Paul takes a great deal of pains to show that men were pardoned or justified by faith, on the ground of Christ's atonement, before the gospel dispensation, as well as after it. To the Romans he says, “ Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore, by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” After this he asks,“ Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law ? Of works? Nay; but by the law of faith. Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” To this doctrine the apostle knew that the Jews, who relied on their obedience or good works for justification, would be ready to object and say, Why was not this doctrine of justification by faith alone taught before the gospel dispensation, if it were true? He implicitly says it was taught even before the Mosaic as well as christian dispensation. “ What shall we then say that Abraham, our father as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” As Abraham, who lived before the law, was not justified by works, so those who lived under the law were not justified by obedience. So the apostle expressly tells the Jews. “Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” And again he says, “I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Thus it appears that God does not promise eternal life to those who obey his commands, because their obedience atones for their sins, and lays a foundation for their pardon, forgiveness, or justification. Nor,

2. Does God promise eternal life to those who obey him, because their obedience merits eternal life? Though obedience to the divine commands is really virtuous and intrinsically excellent, yet it is not meritorious. The obedience of a creature can lay no obligation upon his Creator. Men are the servants of God, and in that character they cannot merit any good by their obedience to their divine Master. This Christ beautifully illustrated in a discourse with his disciples. “ Which of you having a servant ploughing, or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by when he has come from the field, go and sit down to meat ? And will not rather say unto him, make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken, and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant, because he did the things that were commanded him ? I trow not. So likewise



shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do." This has always been the feeling of all the penitent and obedient servants of God. Jacob acknowledged before God, “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth which thou hast showed unto thy servant.” Isaiah acknowledged his own and his people's unworthiness. are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” The church in Jeremiah's day made a still more humble acknowledgment of their unworthiness. “It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” The penitent prodigal renounced all claim to any favor. He said, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.” But Paul is still more particular and explicit, in renouncing all claim to favor on account of his own righteousness and obedience : “ If any man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in


the flesh, I more; circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law a Pharisee; concerning zeal persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, för whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” All true penitents feel as Paul felt in respect to obedience. They know, and are willing to acknowledge, that they cannot merit the least favor at the hand of God, by their best obedience to his commands. He does not, therefore, promise eternal life to those who obey him, because their obedience merits eternal life. But though God does not promise eternal life to those who obey him, because their obedience atones for their sins, nor because their obedience merits any favor at his hands; yet,

3. He does promise eternal life to them because their obedience is a proper ground, reason, or condition, for bestowing upon them such a gracious and unmerited reward. Though their obedience to his commands does not render them meritorious, yet it does render them virtuous and amiable, and worthy of his approbation; and it becomes him, as a being of perfect rectitude and benevolence, to express his cordial approbation of their cordial obedience, by giving them a free, gracious and eternal reward. His bestowing good upon the ungodly world, is no expression of his approbation of iheir character and conduct; but his bestowing good upon them that are good, is an expression of his approbation of their goodness. And every expression of his approbation of their duty and obedience, is in the strictest sense a real and proper reward. Not indeed a reward of justice, but a reward of grace. “The righteous Lord loveth righteousness." God loves those whom he has pardoned, forgiven or justified, by faith, through the atonement of Christ; and can consistently express his approbation of their love, obedience, righteousness or good works, by rewarding them with eternal life. Accordingly, he has promised eternal life to all who obey his commands, as an expression of his approbation of their duty and obedience, which is really a great and gracious reward, but not too great for an infinitely gracious God to bestow. So the apostle viewed the matter. a What shall we then say to these things? If God be for who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered



him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” All things include eternal life. And so the apostle explains it in a parallel passage. He says to the same believers, " But being now made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Eternal life is a gift of grace, or a reward of grace, as really as death is the wages or reward of sin. All the good that God bestows upon good men, either in this life or the life to come, he bestows as an expression of his approbation of their obedience or good works, which is a gracious reward. It was a proverb in Israel, that “to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward." And it is not strange that this should be a proverb in Israel; for all the promises of good, which God made to that people, were promises of a gracious reward for their obedience. Hence David says to God, In keeping thy commandments there is great reward. Christ abundantly taught the same doctrine of eternal rewards for obedience. He says to those who patiently endure reproach, “ Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven.” He says, “ Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." He says to every one that exercises true self denial, that he shall receive an hundred fold in this world, and in the world to come eternal life. He said to each of the servants that properly improved their talents, “ Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” And he says, that when he shall come to judge the world at the last day, he will reward the righteous for their good deeds, with life eternal, and the wicked for their evil deeds, with everlasting punishment. Thus it appears that God does promise eternal life to all who love and obey him with all their hearts, not because their obedience atones for their sins, and lays a foundation for their pardon, forgiveness or justification, nor because their obedience merits any favor at his hands, but because it becomes him to express his approbation of their obedience and good works, by a free, gracious, unmerited and eternal reward.


1. It appears from what has been said, that there is a wide and essential difference between the ground of God's pardoning, forgiving, or justifying men, and the ground upon which he rewards them with eternal life. It appears from both the Old and New Testament, that God pardons, forgives, or justifies sinners exclusively upon the ground of the atonement for sin, which Christ made by his sufferings and death on the cross. He pardons or justifies them freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, without paying the least respect to their love, penitence, obedience or good works. Though he can give men many other good things in a way of sovereignty, yet he cannot consistently pardon or justify them upon any other ground, than the atonement of Christ. But after he has pardoned or justified them, he can consistently bestow upon them both temporal and eternal favors, on the ground of their gracious affections and cordial obedience. The ground, therefore, upon which God pardons or forgives men, is totally different from the ground upon which he rewards them with eternal life. This distinction runs through the Bible, but is most plainly asserted, illustrated and proved, by the inspired writers of the New Testament. Paul took a great deal of pains to enlighten both Jews and Gentiles upon this subject, and to convince them, that the atonement of Christ is the sole ground of pardon or justification, exclusive of the deeds of the law, or any good works. It appears to have been his main object in writing his epistles to the Romans, to the Galatians, aud to the Hebrews, to show that Christ died as a vicarious sacrifice; that his vicarious sufferings and death made an atonement for the sins of all mankind; and that God pardons, forgives, or justifies men solely on account of his atonement, without regard to any work of righteousness that they do or can do; while at the same time, he taught all true believers, that God promised to reward them for all their benevolence, self denial, patience, submission, and every act of cordial obedience to his command. But he never intimated that God would reward them for Christ's making atonement, or for their making atonement. For they never did or could make atonement, and consequently they never merited a reward for making atonement; and as Christ stood alone, and no one with him in making atonement, they did not deserve to be rewarded for what he voluntarily did and suffered; though it is true, that he deserved to be rewarded for making atonement. Accordingly, God promised to reward him, and has rewarded and continues to reward him, by giving him those for whom he intentionally suffered, and whom he died to save. It hence clearly follows, that if men are to be rewarded for any thing, they are to be rewarded for their cordial obedience to the divine commands. And it is proper, that God should approve of their free, voluntary acts of obedience,

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