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ject 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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and cannot be communicated to any creature; because he alone, reads the heart, and has an exact knowledge of the conscience; because he alone, who has authority over heaven and hell, can in justification open the one and close the other; because he alone can dispense those blessings which follow the remission of sins-a sentiment of peace in the conscience, the assurance of the divine protection, and the Spirit of consolation and holiness.

3. It is an act of God as Judge and Sovereign Governor of the universe : it is in this character that he has a universal tribunal to which all creatures are responsible.

It is generally represented as an act of God the Father, who, in the economy of man's redemption, is considered as the guardian and defender of the rights of the Godhead. The Father devised the plan of justification, provided that righteousness which satisfies the law, absolves the guilty through the satisfaction of the Son, applied by the Holy Spirit. Yet at the same time, justification is not so to be appropriated and made peculiar to the Father, as to exclude from it the Lord Jesus Christ, who is sometimes

represented as the Judge, who claims the power to forgive sin, and who will pronounce the final justifying sentence; not the Holy Spirit who applies and seals upon the conscience the sentence of justification. Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit; the ever-blessed Trinity, is the author of this glorious privilege.

4. Though it is the act of God as a Judge, it is nevertheless, an act of mercy ; since it is the pardon of vile sinners, whom, without injustice, he might have consigned to everlasting ruin; since it is the conferment of infinite and eternal felicity upon worms of the dust.

5. This justification comprises two things: a pardon of iniquity, and a title to eternal life. The criminal is not only forgiven, but is loaded with honours. This is the constant language of the scriptures: "Christ was made under the law," says the apostle,"to redeem those that were under the law," to deliver them from its curse; here is the pardon of sins: and “that we might receive the adoption of sons;" here is eternal life, the privilege which flows from adoption. That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified," is the language of the blessed Saviour. Indeed, the two blessings are every where united. When God delivers us from the pains of hell, he gives us a right to the glories of his paradise; when he washes us from our sins, he makes us kings.

6. Justification has for its foundation only the obedience and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here, my brethren, I pray your attention: no question is more intimately connected with your dearest, your eternal interests than this-On what shall I rely as the ground of my justification before God? Mistake here, and you are done for ever; build here upon a wrong foundation, and the superstructure that you rear, shall not defend you in the hour of death, shall fall and crush you in the judgment-day. When summoned now by conscience to the tribunal of God, or when appearing before it at the final day, one of these pleas must be presented by you, I am innocent; I have never sinned:' or, I have sinned indeed; but I have satisfied for my offences by my holy acts and my good deeds:' or, I acknowledge that I have sinned, but I rely upon thine infinite mercy:' or, 'I have sinned, I deserve hell, I have nothing of my own to plead; I renounce all dependence on myself, and

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I dare not trust to uncovenanted mercy; but I plead thy mercy through the blood of Jesus, his atonement and righteousness.' Let us examine for a moment, on which of these grounds we may most safely rest the happiness of our souls.

No one can be so ignorant of God, of the divine law, or of himself, as to say, 'I have never sinned;' or, if he should dare to make this assertion upon earth, it would die upon his lips; he would stand speechless and confounded, when before the "great white throne" the splendours of the divine purity showed his guilt and pollution.

But there are many who will acknowledge that they have sinned, but who still hope that in consequence of the good deeds they have done, the general morality of their lives, their sorrow for their offences, they shall be justified. Let us examine this plea: I repeat, Be solemn in the examination; for heaven or hell depends upon its validity.

. 1. What then, is the decision of the statute-book of the kingdom of heaven, with respect to this plea? What is the declaration of those scriptures, according to which we must be justified or condemned? "Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight." Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." Say not that the apostle in these and similar passages speaks merely of works of the ceremonial law. He tells us that the law of which he speaks is that by which we have the knowledge of sin, and! by which the whole world was subject to condemnation. You see then, the decision of your Judge on this plea; dare you still rely on it? It must fail you, unless God be false, and the scriptures a lie.

2. Are you more holy and devoted to God than was the father of the faithful? Yet of him it is said, "If

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