« السابقةمتابعة »
portion to human vanity.' Nothing short of an obedience commensurate to the requirements of divine law, and to the threatenings of eternal justice, can afford the sinner a well grounded hope of that blessedness which it is the glory of God to bestow as a gift ; but which never was conferred on any as a debt, or as a recompense for diligence in duty.
Ascriptions of merit to man may be the language of mortals on earth ; but it is not the language of saints in heaven. Concerning that great multitude which stood before the throne, and before the lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands, not a word is said of their having deserved the honour and the happiness to which they were exalted; but, on the contrary, that they themselves Cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen. Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God, for ever and ever, Amen.' Not an individual of that innumerable company is heard attributing his deliverance and his triumph to himself—to the possession of moral qualities, the performance of moral duties, nor yet to the patient endurance of great tribulation; but the reason given by one of the elders, why they were before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple, is this— They have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.' The unanimous voice of the church militant and the church triumphant is— Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and has redeemed us to God by his blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation ; and has made us unto our God kings and priests--Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.'
But while it is positively asserted that good works have nothing to do in the justification of a sinner before God, it is maintained with
equal confidence, that there are other highly important purposes for which they are indis. pensably necessary. The scriptures declare, that the elect of God are chosen in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world that when the time to manifest this infinite grace is come, they are called with a holy call. ing, not according to their works, but according to his own purpose, and grace--that they are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that they should walk in them.
That faith without works is dead, is an established maxim with the christian. If there be time and opportunity, every believer is taught, by the Holy Spirit, to maintain good works for necessary uses—to let his light so shine before men, that they may see his good works, and glorify his Father which is in heaven.' In this case, faith and holiness are inseparable: and it was à conviction of the importance of this truth that induced the apostle, James to ask, when writing to the Jewish converts, Was not Abraham our father justi. fied by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar ? He knew there was a con. nexion between the faith of which he then spoke and moral duties : that it would be as congruous to expect grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles, as to suppose faith in the heart unproductive of real holiness in the life. It is as impossible for the sun to be in his meri. dian sphere, and not to dissipate darkness, or diffuse light, as for faith to exist in the soul and not exalt the temper and meliorate the conduct.' Faith, as a divine principle in the soul, purifies the heart ; and is, in fact, the only source of good works. The tree must be made good before the fruit can be good. But without faith it is impossible to please God :' and hence we learn that Abraham's faith was prior to that striking proof of filial obedience by which he is said to be justified ; and, therefore, neither the cause nor the condition of his justification.
In examining another part of the same chapter, we find the apostle asserts, when speaking of the extent and spirituality of the moral
law, “That whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all.' Now as Abraham had, in many instances, violated this divine statute ; his works could not so justify him, as to render him guiltless and acceptable in the sight of God. Throughout the whole of the apostle's reasoning there is a beautiful connexion and consistency. For, by reciting the affecting story of Abraham and his beloved Isaac, he has shown, that by the venerable patriarch's obedience to the command of God, was manifested both the genuineness and the strength of his faith.
It is an article of the christian's faith, and from which he ought never to depart, that God, for the display of his own almighty power, sovereignty, and grace, does at the last hour, and perhaps in the latest moments, sometimes snatch sinners from the very jaws of hell, without any consideration as to moral worth, of what they have been, or what they then are. For the glory of infinite mercy, it may probably be said of numbers at the last day as was