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law of reasoning, that to be justified by faith, and to be the children of God by faith, are merely different modes of designating one and the same attainment.
I honestly acknowledge, that the more I consider the whole scripture, the more satisfied I am, that wherever justification, in the usual sense of Protestant divines, may be supposed spoken of, it is not dwelt upon as the prime and central object of the Gospel, but as a privilege or blessing, which is necessarily involved in that object, in the manner which I have just been endeavouring to explain. What the central object of the Gospel is, St. Paul most plainly tells; as in numberless passages beside, so with peculiar clearness in the last chapter of Galatians. “ For in Jesus Christ, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature," or creation. Now, certain it is, that when this leading idea is analysed, absolution, or liberation from guilt, will come out of it, just as any one of the prismatic colours comes out of the dissected ray of light. And, as St. Paul's occasions led him often to treat the Christian doctrines in this analytic way, justification, in the sense we speak of, occurs wherever the nature of the discussion made it expedient. But it is worthy of observation, that, where such expediency did not exist, the terms justification, or justify, scarcely are used at all. If you examine Cruden's “ Concordance,” you will observe, and perhaps be surprised in observing, that, out of the fourteen Epistles which bear St. Paul's name, or are ascribed to him (I use the last denomination on account of
the Hebrews, which I once supposed not written by St. Paul, but which more and more appears to me to be his), there are four only in which these words occur; I mean, with reference to man's salvation : for the word justified does occur in Ist Timothy, but not in the sense I refer to. This is, altogether, the more remarkable, as some of the ten Epistles, which omit the terms in question, are most elaborate discourses on Christian doctrine; that to the Ephesians, for example, than which, I presume, no discourse ever was more animated, more methodical, more clear and copious, within the narrowest possible limits; more extended in its view, more perfect in its representation of the whole glorious subject. Without being at all controversial, it is as systematic as the Epistle to the Romans itself; and seeins no less intended to exhibit the complete portraiture of Christianity. What I have said of the Epistle to the Ephesians, applies, with even greater force, to the Epistle to the Hebrews, as the subject is so much more enlarged upon, and the particular reference to the priesthood of Christ was likely to lead the Apostle's mind to every point which he deemed essentially connected with that sublime topic.
It is true, “ forgiveness of sins” is again and again spoken of, in the Epistles I refer to; and this, it may be said, is only another word for justification. But I humbly conceive that this is not exactly the case. To be justified, is, strictly, to be either made or accounted righteous. I say, either made or accounted, because I have quoted a passage above (Rom. vi. 7), where it clearly
means the former; while, for the most part, the latter seems to be its prominent, though I by no means think its exclusive sense, in the New Testament. I must observe, however, that when I
say justification and forgiveness of sin are not quite the same, I have the usual narrow forensic sense of the former in view. Because, really, they do seem to me to be nearly convertible terms when understood as I conceive the Apostle intended. I have endeavoured to shew, that when St. Paul speaks of justification, he does not mean any distinct blessing, but merely takes a particular view of one great blessing which admits of being contemplated from a variety of points. In like manner, I conceive " forgiveness of sins” to be another word for the whole blessing of the Gospel; for what is forgiveness or remission of sins, but the being freed from those penalties, and that forfeiture • br skäies of attainder, into which sin has brought the human race ? And what is the essence of this forfeiture, the chief of those penalties, but spiritual death — the separation of the soul from God? Remission, then, being the removal of the forfeiture, must essentially be the restoration of spiritual life—the re-union of the soul to God. This is the essence of
grace here; and the consummation of this will be glory hereafter. I grant that human creatures, occupied by earthly ideas, and limiting their mind's eye to what is done by sovereigns and judges in this lower world, are apt to think and speak as if forgiveness of sins were one thing, and those happy consequences of forgiveness another. But is not this a kind of anthropomorphism? The difference between
pronouncing and executing a sentence amongst men, is an evident result of human weakness. Instruments must be employed ; and, therefore, time must intervene, and the two acts appear to be distinct from each other. But can such a procedure be attributed to Him, who “ speaks, and it is done?" In Him, whose word is Omnipotence, can we form any other than the most merely figurative distinction between what he says and what he does? Therefore, what is divine forgiveness, but deliverance from the actual penalty, and reinstatement in the actual blessing? Initially, I grant ; but, still, really and substantially.
Ever since I received the letter which Mrs. Martha was so very good as to write to me, I have had a constant wish to say something to you, were it only for the purpose of obtaining information about you. I have heard, however, once or twice, what I was sorry to hear, I mean, that your recovery was so slow as scarcely yet to be entitled to that
I trust that I may now hear a more comfortable report through the kindness of Mrs. Martha or Mrs. Sarah, either of whom, I persuade myself, will be the more ready to gratify me when they know that Mrs. joins me earnestly in the request. To be assured that you are growing decidedly better will, indeed, give heartfelt pleasure to us both. I earnestly hope that your business in this lower world is by no means yet completed; and no one unites with me more cordially in this feeling than our excellent friend of this house.
This is the third Christmas I have spent here in succession; and I have the great comfort of thinking that I never had greater satisfaction in visiting this house than at the present time. I