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and then say, ye who are interested in it, in what situation may you not derive support from it ? Have


domestic trials? Are your children unholy; or have they descended to the grave ? though your house be not so with God," neither so holy nor so prosperous as you would desire, yet think of the covenant. You are permitted to weep at your trials, yet do not murmur; the grace of the covenant is so rich, that it may yet reach the heart of your most hardened child ; and so permanent, that though you have outlived some of your offspring, and survived many earthly comforts, yet you cannot outlive the salvation of the covenant, which is eternal: your relatives die, and perhaps under circumstances which aggravate your distress; but your best, your heavenly friends remain, and your God's covenant mercies are eternal. All things are 6 ordered.None of these domestic trials were overlooked by Him, who is able to render them beneficial to you; the disappointment of your hopes, the withering of your comforts, though they may appear to bear marks of wrath, are yet consistent with paternal love. The covenant is sure : you shall hereafter acknowledge that God has done all things well; that he has led you by a right way to the city of habitation ; instead of crying with Jacob in his despondency, “ All these things are against me," look oft from outward appearances of providences, to the promise and power of God, and say in the midst of your troubles, “Why art thou cast

, down, O my soul ?”

When, like David, you shall be stretched on the bed of death; like him, seek not support from any past dignities, or honours, or religious services, but clasp by faith the promises of the covenant ; let it be “ all your salvation and all your desire.” When na


ture is decaying and earthly objects vanishing, then think of everlasting blessings, and shout, “ I will sing of the mercy of the Lord for ever; thy mercy shall be built up for ever; thy faithfulness shalt thou esta blish in the very heavens.” Think that in the covenant, the time and circumstances of your death were ordered, and triumph in Him who is wise in his appointments, and sure in his promises.

When you recall your wanderings and your falls, weep for having violated covenant engagements; but seek the restoration of peace and comfort by a penitent and grateful recurrence to the grace of that covenant which is the only refuge of the sinner, which encourages the wanderer to return; where the law would pronounce only a curse, it cries, “ Return, ye backsliding children; I will heal your backsliding and love you freely.” And while it thus pronounces pardon, it also sheds down grace to enable you to walk more worthy your vocation : supported by the hold that Christ has of you, you shall find the truth of his declaration : “If my children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments, then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes; nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from them, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail." You shall see that - the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his."

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Gal. ii. 16.

Knowing that 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.

The doctrine of justification is the compendium and sum of revealed religion; for this revelation is given to teach us how to unite man and God, and to form and preserve a commerce between heaven and earth; and the true way of union and friendship with God is to be found only by a proper answer to this question, “ How can I be justified before Jehovah ?" And as it is the great design of the scriptures to teach us how we may be pardoned and accepted, so to the convinced conscience and the awakened sinner, there is no instruction more cheering, no information more eagerly sought than that which relates to this subject. By the doctrine of justification we may judge of the essential correctness of any theological system. If an opinion be held on this subject honourable to God and his justice, worthy of the Redeemer and his sacrifice, suited to man and his condition, the whole system cannot be grossly erroneous; but if false opinions be entertained on this subject, the system, however plausible it may appear to carnal reason, jeopardizes the souls of those that embrace it, and removes the only firm foundation of our hopes, Christ Jesus.

Since this subject is so infinitely important, listen while I explain to you the scripture doctrine of justification.

Man may be considered in three different characters; as innocent, as a penitent and believing sinner ; and as a regenerate Christian, aiming to cultivate holiness. According as we view him in one or the other of these characters, will the nature and grounds of his justification differ.

I. Had man remained in the state of innocence in which God created him, and fulfilled the laws which God had given him, he would not have needed pardon; he would have been pronounced from the holy tribunal to be innocent; and would from his own righteousness, have obtained a right to everlasting life; not indeed by his own merits, (for the creature can merit nothing from his Creator,) but in virtue of that covenant into which God had entered with him, and in which the Lord engaged to reward his obedience, and punish his rebellion. Thus the justification of innocent man.would have been a declaration of God as a judge, that he was holy and righteous, and a conferment of eternal life upon him, in consequence of these qualities.”

II. But, alas ! my brethren, we have fallen from the state of innocence, and we are sinners. The two chief effects of sin are these: it pollutes our souls,

and it renders us subject to the punishments which divine justice owes to the guilty. To remove these two evils, God has provided two remedies : by sanctification he removes the pollution of our souls; by justification he delivers us from the punishment wbich our sins have merited. Though these blessings alalways accompany each other, though the justified man always receives the Spirit of holiness; yet, if we would have a correct and accordant system of divine truth; if we would not impair the grace of the gospel, and diminish our obligations to Christ, we must carefully distinguish between justification and sanctification: the one is a relative, the other a real change; the one alters our condition in the view of the law and the lawgiver; the other is a change of heart and conduct. By the one we are brought into favour with God, and made his children; by the other, we are made like unto him; the one gives us a title, the other a meetness for heaven.

Justification may be defined “ a judicial act of God, who as a sovereign but merciful Judge, pardons penitent sinners their iniquities, and gives them a right to eternal life, through his grace, on account of the satisfaction and obedience of Christ, which he imputes to them, and which they embrace by faith.” Let us consider the several parts of this definition.

1. Justification is a judicial act; the consciences of all men point to the holy tribunal of God, and acknowledge him as the supreme Judge, who must decide upon our actions, and from whose mouth we must receive the sentence. If this sentence seal our misery, it is condemnation : if it absolve us, it is justification.

2. It is an act of God. This is evident, because the power of pardoning sins supposes supreme authority,

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