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things, which are written in the book of the law, to do them. Surely, the difference between justification by works, and justification by faith in Christ, is very wide and conspicuous.
2. In the light of this subject, we discover the great error of those who hold, that salvation is partly by works, and partly by grace. The current doctrine of the scriptures respecting salvation by Christ is, that he is all in all. 6 Neither is there salvation in any other.” Christ alone, is the hope of glory. The Apostle is decisive, that salvation is of works only, or of grace only. "If by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise
grace more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace : otherwise work is no more work." The idea is, that justification by works, in our fallen and condemned state, is a perfect contrast to justification by faith. The two plans cannot be blended together. Repentance and faith in Christ, and evangelical obedience, are real virtues, and are the sum of christian holiness. But even these best virtues, which are the condition of salvation, have no merit in themselves, to atone for a single sin ; and they do not at all diminish the grace of God in our salvation. How then can any one imagine, that his mere selfish morality, his dead works, can avail any thing towards his salvation ? Most certainly, if salvation be at all of grace, it must be by grace alone. Justification is doubtless by grace alone.
6. Not of works, lest any man should boast.
3. The discussion of this subject revives in our minds the impropriety of a current mode of expression among divines, that believers are justified by the righteousness of Christ. If, by the righteousness of Christ, is meant his sacrifice for sin, or his atoning blood; we do well to express this idea, in scripture language. It is plainly said in scripture, that we are justified by his blood, and saved from wrath through him ; that without shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins; and, that the church of God was purchased with his own blood. Truly, he was obedient unto death, even the death and this was required of him, to make an atonement for
sinful men. The death of the cross, rather than any mere acts of righteousness, was the ground of justification. Christ died, the. just for the unjust ; died as a substitute for sinners. But was his moral rectitude a substitute for that of sinners ? Did bis obedience answer for the obedi. ence of sinners ? Or did he, by his nbedience, atone for the disobedience of sinners ? Or, is there the least need of a Redeemer, for any purpose but to make an atonement for the sins of the world, and to prepare the way, by his own blood, for the pardon and salvation of the penitent, and all that embrace bim by a living, and justifying faith? The voluntary sufferings of Christ, in behalf of perishing sinners, afford a demonstration of his perfect holiness, and infinite benevolence. But bis holiness and benevolence did not constitute an atonement for sin. By his benevolence and mercy, he was induced to offer his life in sacrifice to divine justice; and in this consisted the atonement, by which believers are justified:
4. The doctrine of justification by faith has a strong tendency to promote religion and morality. The doctrine of justification by works, cultivates a spirit of pride and boasting. But on the plan of justification by faith, and by free grace, boasting is excluded. When once the crucified Saviour is embraced, nothing remains as a ground of vain glorying. His examples are those of self-denial, and pure benevolence. His precepts, promises, threatenings, all tend to establish holy principles and practices; and to eradicate the seeds of vice and iniquity from the heart. But above all ; the sufferings of Christ, to redeem us to God by his blood, are calculated to break the rocky heart, and to produce a humble and holy life. The christian faith, in its nature, is holy, and resembles the Spirit of Christ. It is a spirit of ineekness, of love, of patience and forbearance; and es pecially is it a spirit of devotion-a spirit of prayer and praise. They who enter deeply into the great doctrine of salvation by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ; and yet continue to be immoral and profane; must be, to all intents, reprobates.
All the doctrines of grace express or imply the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints to eternal life. Particularly is this implied in the doctrine of justification. And it is plainly declared, “Whom he justified, them he also glorified.". Justification by faith, as we have found, implies, not only the forgiveness of sin, but an unfailing title to eternal life. Being justified by his grace, we are made heirs, according to the hope of eterDal life.” “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ :” an established, permanent peace.“ There is therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, bath made me free from the law of sin and death." There is no more subjection to a state of sin and condemnation. This is the plain import of the doctrine of justification, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The doctrine of election, or predestination, equally proves the doctrine of perseverance. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect ? Not but that they are chargeable with indwelling sin, and many external crimes, in this state of trial and temptation. But who shall justly charge them with apostacy from God ? and froin the christian faith ? If we duly consider when, and for what purpose they are elected ; we shall, at one step, come to a demonstration of the doctrine of
perseverance, But, in the scriptures, we read clearly, when, and for what purpose, they are elected. “ According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love ; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace ; wherein he hath made us accepted in the belov
ed.” To christians it is said, “ God hath, from the beginning, chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” From the beginning, as respects the purposes and exercises of the Divine mind, means the same as from eternity. For who that believes in the immutability of God, can imagine that he has any new purposes, or purposes formed in time? It is therefore, evident, that God's election of all those who ever become the subjects of his grace, is an eternal and immutable election. And for what purpose they are chosen, we have already seen; “ That they should be holy:" That they should obtain salvation. Since it is evident, that salvation is by grace alone; since no man will, of his own accord, come unto Christ, that he may have life; it is reasonable to conclude, that whenever divine, renewing, grace is exercised, in the conversion of sinners, it is, by the same grace, renilered effectual to their salvation. Hence the Apostle, in his letter to the saints at Philippi, expresses his confidence in this one thing, that 5 he who had begun a good work in them, would perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ.”
If the perseverance of the saints depended on their own strength and constancy, all would soon fall away to perdition. Unsupported by the special grace of God, not even a patriarch or a prophet would ever have entered into the kingdom of heaven. But, on the plan of divine grace, christians are said to be kept, by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.” If so, then how can they fall away to final and eternal perdition ? Who can pluck them out of the hands of Christ, or of his Father ? If God's purposes, and the exertions of his
be 'frustrated here, in the infancy of our existence; why not hereafter, in the eternal world ? And why do the elect angels persevere? What security is there for the perpetuity of the church on earth, or of the church in heaven? God has absolutely promised to build up his church to all generations ; so that no weapon that is formed against it shall prosper. He has promised, that a multitude which no man can number, out of all nations shall be saved. But if the perseverance of all individual saints be insecure; then
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all are in danger of falling from grace; and even the whole church, consisting of individuals, is liable, in a very short time, to become utterly extinct. The consequence is, that all the rich and precious promises respecting the glorious MILLENIUM, are groundless, and hopeless. Set aside the doctrine of perseverance, and no hope remains of such a glorious period of the church, as the
scriptures have so abundantly promised. Set aside the doctrine of perseverance, and not one of the divine promises, in the covenant of redemption, nor in the covenant of grace
is secure. In the eternal covenant of redemption, God the Father has made rich and glorious promises to his Son. One is, that, in consequence of his humiliation, and sufferings for sin, as predicted in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah; 66 He shall see his seed, see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.” “ Therefore,” saith the Father," will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” In the second Psalm we read another promise of the Father to the Son ; 6. Yet have I set my king upon my holy bill of Zion. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” Many and great are the promises to Christ in the eighty-ninth and other Psalms; and in
A specimen is this : “ Once have I sworn in my holiness, that I will not lie unto David ; his seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me.” This is the true David, the Messiah, who richly merited the promises. But all these and an hundred more infinitely great and precious promises, will doubtless fail forever, should the doctrine of perseverance fail. Also the promises in the covenant of grace will be groundless. The covenant of grace is made between God, even the Mediator, and all true believers. It was expressly said to be made between the Lord and Abraham. “ I will make my covenant between me and thee." The substance of this covenant is, that true believers