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that he might impress their minds the more deeply with it, be repeats it again, by grace ye are saved. So much was the apostle Paul concerned to inculcate a doctrine which some are ready to look upon as unnecessary, and others perhaps as dangerous. But the apostle's authority is abundantly enough to outweigh all that can be laid in the opposite scale. And it will appear from what I have further to offer, that if it had not in this view so direct a sanction from his express testimony, the conclusion would follow by the justest deduction of argument from principles so fundamental to the gospel, that they cannot be denied without subverting its whole superstructure.
And here, if I would treat the subject in its full extent, I might consider what we mean by gospel salvation: But I content myself at present with telling you in a few words, that it implies" a deliverance from that ruinous and calamitous condition into which, by our apostacy from God, we are fallen ;" and it also includes "our being restored to the divine favour, and all the happy effects of it, as extending not only to time but to eternity.'
I might also consider at large the nature of that faith to which the promises of salvation are made. But that is a subject you have heard so frequently explained, that I shall only remind you of that general account of it which has often been illustrated among you. "Saving faith," for of that we are now speaking, "is such a persuasion, that Christ is the great Messiah, the Son of God, and the Saviour of men; and such a desire and expectation of the blessings he has procured under that character; as shall engage us cheerfully to commit our souls to him in his appointed method of salvation, with a disposition cordially to devote ourselves to his service in all the ways of holy and evangelical obedience." The several branches of this definition are to be taken in their connection with each other; and then there would be no difficulty in shewing from the whole tenor of scripture, that as nothing short of this can be acceptable to God, so wherever such a principle really is, the soul in which it is found is entitled to all the blessings of the covenant of grace, and has all the security for eternal happiness which the promise and oath of God can give. I might also easily shew you, that this is such a description of faith, as effectually secures the interest of practical religion, and guards against every presumptuous hope, which may be formed in a soul destitute of a principle of universal holiness.
eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hand. But it is of importance that I add,
3. That "after all, a believer is not to ascribe his salvation to the merit and excellency of this faith itself, but entirely to the merit and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the free grace of God, as manifested in it."
We know it is the constant doctrine of the New Testament, that God Hath made us accepted in the Beloved †; and that Of him we are in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption ; So that we are Justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in him §. And if we should pretend to say that we are accepted of God for faith, as the meritorious cause of that acceptance, we must contradict the whole course of the apostle Paul's argument, especially in the fourth chapter of his epistle to the Romans, where he strongly contends that Abraham was not justified by works, because if he were, he would have something to glory in before God ||. Now if he had been justified by faith, as his own meritorious act, there would have been as much room for him to have gloried in that, as in any work whether of ceremonial or moral obedience.-And in the same epistle he declares again, where he is speaking of the salvation of God's chosen remnant, that If it be of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work ¶: The meaning of which plainly is, that no man can at once be justified by grace and by works: And on the same principles we may also say, no man can be justified by the merit of faith, and yet by grace. If therefore it evidently appear from the text, and our farther reasoning upon it, that our justification and acceptance with God is to be ascribed to grace, all pretence of merit in the act of believing must of course be given
This will indeed farther appear, if we consider what it is that faith does in order to our being justified. You very well know it is represented in scripture, as receiving Christ. To as many as received him, to them gave he power (or privilege) to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his name **. Now it must be fragrantly absurd to talk of resting upon an act, whereby we do indeed receive and rest upon another. And therefore however inaccurately some may have ex
*John x. 28.
† Eph. i. 6.
Rom. xi. 6.
1 Cor. i. 30. **John i. 12.
§ Rom. iii. 24.
pressed themselves on this head, I cannot suppose that any wise and considerate Christian ever meant to assert the contrary to what I am now endeavouring to prove. We do indeed find the apostle speaking of faith as Imputed for righteousness *; but it seems to me, that the most natural sense of that expression may be fixed, and the propriety of it may be admitted, upon the principles I have now been laying down.
All manner of imputation seems to be a metaphor taken from books of account between creditor and debtor +. To impute any act of sin, or of obedience, is therefore properly no other than to set it down to his account: The great God of heaven and earth is represented in scripture with humble condescension to our manner of acting and conceiving of things, as keeping a most exact book of records and accounts, in which those things are registered concerning every one of us, which he will bring into that solemn review and survey, by which our characters and states shall finally be determined. And as the most exact and perfect obedience is a debt which we owe him, as our great Creator, Benefactor, and Governor; so on the breach of his law, we owe him some proper satisfaction for it. In this view we are all charged as debtors, poor miserable insolvent debtors, in the book of God: Innumerable sins are imputed, or set down to our account: And were things to go on in this course, we should ere long be arrested by the divine justice, and being found incapable of payment, should be cast into the prison of hell, to come out no more. But God, in
pity to this, our calamitous state, has found out a surety, and a ransom for us, and has provided a satisfaction, in the obedience and sufferings of his Son; which is what we mean by the righteousness of Christ, or his active and passive obedience. It is with a gracious regard to this, to express his high complacency in it, and, if I may so speak, his pleasing remembrance of it, that all who are finally justified and saved, meet with divine acceptance and favour: Or to pursue the metaphor opened above, the righteousness of Christ is in the book of God imputed or set down to their account, as that by which the debt is balanced, and they are entitled to such favours as righteous persons might expect from God. But then, it is an invariable rule in the divine proceedings, that this righteousness, or this
* Rom. iv. 22.
+From mercantile affairs, the metaphor is sometimes applied to judicial; as crimes to be accounted for are also sometimes called debts: But when the matter
atonement and satisfaction of Christ, (for I think it matters but little by which of these names it shall be called) be a means of delivering those, and only those that believe. Pursuant therefore to the aforesaid metaphor, when any particular person believes, this is set down to his account, as a most important article, or as a memorandum, if I may so express it, in the book of God's remembrance, that such a one is now actually become a believer, and therefore is now entitled to justification and life by Christ. In this sense his faith is imputed for righteousness. Yet it is not regarded by God as the grand consideration which balances the account, or indeed as paying any of the former debt, which it is impossible it should; but only as that, which, according to the gracious constitution of the gospel, gives a man a claim to that which Christ has paid, and which God has graciously allowed as a valuable consideration, in regard to which he may honourably pardon and accept all who shall apply to him in his appointed way, or in the way of humble believing, as faith was described above.
This appears to me a just and easy view of the gospel doctrine on this head; and it is so important distinctly to understand it, that I hope you will excuse my having represented it in so many words. And this is, on the whole, the sense in which we may be said to be saved through faith.-None can be saved without it ;-and every one who has it, is entitled to salvation; but not in virtue of the merit and excellency of faith itself, but entirely for the sake of what Christ has done and suffered; or in other words, by the imputation of his perfect righteousness, the merit of which is graciously applied to this or that particular person upon his believing: So that upon this he is justified; and by the general tenor of the gospel is to be looked on as a righteous person; or as one who shall on the whole be treated as such, and shall ere long be publicly declared righteous before the assembled world, and be freed from all the remainders of that penalty which sin has brought upon us: And though, for wise and good reasons, he be for a while continued under some of them, the time of that continuance is so short, and his succeeding happiness so lasting, that the former being as it were swallowed up by the latter in the all-comprehending views of God, he is spoken of by him as if his justification and salvation were already complete. Ye are saved through faith.-But having stated this, the method I proposed leads me,
II. To shew, that in consequence of our being thus saved through faith, we may properly be said to be saved by grace.
Now the connection between these will appear very evident; if we consider,-that faith cannot make any atonement to the offended justice of God, so as to give us any legal claim even to the pardon of our sins upon the account of it :-Much less can it confer any obligation upon God to bestow on eternal blessedness:-Nor would there indeed have been any room to mention faith in this whole affair, if God had not contrived such a method of salvation, and done that to effect it, which none but himself could have done.
1. "Faith cannot make any atonement to the offended justice of God, so as to give us any legal claim even to the pardon of our sins upon the account of it ;" so that if we are saved through faith, we must in this view acknowledge it to be by grace.
The law of so wise, so great, and so venerable a sovereign as the blessed God is, must of course suppose some awful sanctions, some solemn denunciations of wrath and vengeance on those who presumptuously transgress it. And it is certainly the part of God, as a wise, holy, and gracious legislator, to maintain its honour when it has been violated, and not to treat an offending creature as innocent and righteous, without some provision made for the satisfaction of his injured justice: In the demand of which satisfaction God does not express any thing of a sanguinary and revengeful disposition: Far be so blasphemous a thought from us! But he displays a steady regard to that order, which as the great Sovereign it becomes him, for the benefit of his subjects, as well as for the glory of his own name and government, to preserve in the moral world, i. e. among his reasonable creatures. Some ample and honourable amends must therefore be made, in order to the discharge of a guilty and condemned criminal. And is faith such an amends? Take it in its utmost extent, as an assent to whatever he proposes, and a submission to whatever he demands, to the very utmost of our capacity, this in our present circumstances is but our duty, and would have been so had we never offended him: And the performance of it, with whatever readiness, exactness, and constancy, cannot possibly atone for the violation of it in times past; as the payment of what for the future becomes due to any creditor, cannot discharge a debt formerly contracted, and remaining unbalanced upon account: Therefore it is, that we read of Christ's being Made a sin-offering for us, though he himself knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in