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“Oh! might I die, that awe to prove, That bliss of pure extatic love
Before the GREAT THREE ONE ! To dwell in his eternal joy, To find an ever sweet employ
In songs around the throne.”
ST. PAUL'S DOCTRINE ON JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH.
THE doctrine of justification by faith, through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, is the grand characteristic of the Gospel, which distinguishes it from all human schemes of salvation.
It is the revelation and work of God himself. Its design is, to humble the sinner, to exalt the Saviour, and to promote holiness.
This doctrine is founded on the truth of man's guilt and of God's Justice. The latter, demanding a sinless obedience to the moral law, the former, unable to satisfy its righteous claims.
Through the fall, we lost the image of God, and all power to serve him aright. Being destitute of every holy principle, and enslaved by every evil passion, we can neither atone for past transgressions, nor perform one act of acceptable obedience.
Foreseeing our wretched state, through original and actual sin ; a God of love has provided a RANSOM, a RIGHTEOUSNESS, and a REFUGE
St. Paul was honoured of God to proclaim these heavenly truths : “ There is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a Ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Of Him, are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us Righteousness. We have strong consolation, who have fled for Refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.”
O that our hearts could expand with faith and hope; then, with the Apostle we should delight to dwell
upon this exhaustless theme, and with feelings of the liveliest joy, should thank our God for his UNSPEAKABLE GII
Being taught by the Spirit to know himself as a sinner, this enlightened Apostle had learned to value Christ as a Saviour. Wholly weaned from self, his heart was fixed upon Christ, the true foundation. With uncompromising firmness he could therefore assert: “A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ: even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law, for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
This glorious truth of the Gospel, so opposed to all his ancient views and feelings, he saw with a distinctness which no carnal reasoning could obscure. Beholding, by the light of Revelation, the wide extent of Adam's transgression, he could unite with David: “There is none righteous, no not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God; they are all
gone out of the way, they are together become unpro
fitable; there is none that doeth good-no not one.” Hence the Apostle was led to this humbling confession : “ The law hath concluded all under sin, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.”
Hearing the voice of justice in all its awfulness, with Job he abhorred himself in dust and ashes.—Hearing the voice of mercy speaking peace through the blood of Jesus, with Mary he rejoiced in God his Saviour.
Full of grateful love, he went forth into all lands, to make known these unsearchable riches of Christ:—that Jesus is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth ;-that Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us ;—that all who believe, are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified, by the Law of Moses ;--that, “the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, is unto all, and upon all them that believe, for there is no difference ;" for the Scripture saith, “ Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed ;—that, there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him ; for whosoever shall call upon the name of Lord, shall be saved."
Knowing these statements to be the Truth of God, and knowing also the legality of the natural heart and its enmity to the doctrines of grace, he boldly asks the self-righteous opposer : “Do we then make void the Law through faith?" Do we lessen the sanctions, or lower the standard of a
Law, so holy in its nature, so just in its requirements, so good in its tendencies ? “God forbid, yea, we establish the law;"—we maintain its unalterable holiness, its inflexible justice, its irreconcileableness to the smallest transgression.
Through the light of the Holy Spirit, he saw with an inspired clearness of perception, that no sinner can be saved by any obedience of his own; since, “ all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, unable to screen us from the wrath of God, who hath declared : “ the soul that sinneth it shall die.” He therefore fled to Christ for refuge ; found shelter under the covering of his perfect righteousness, and rejoiced in hope of the glory of God.
This fundamental doctrine of the Gospel, so destructive to pride and self-sufficiency, this divinely-taught Apostle found to be the very source of consolation, strength, and hope.
Having given the church at Philippi a catalogue of those things which once constituted his Pharisaical treasure, he makes this noble declaration ; " 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; for 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 mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith ; that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death, if by any