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Christian religion," and " in the sight of God of great price.”

As a means for preventing a state of things so deplorable, I can think of nothing better than for every minister of the gospel, to “get by heart,” the Sermon on the Mount, as a declaration of the righteousness which God requires for the remission of sins. Without taking into view past events, a little serious reflection might convince intelligent Christians, that men are not very likely to be restrained from abusing and calumniating one another by having been taught, that "the righteousness which is by faith,” consists in reliance on a vicarious sacrifice, as the only ground of pardon, and that personal holiness is of no account in the great affair of the sinner's justification. Yet it should doubtless be adınitted, that many Christians who entertain these opinions are restrained by other principles and motives, which occupy a place in their minds.

Should the several denominations of Christians become duly impressed with a belief, that it was by the preaching of Christ, that God declared “bis righteousness," the righteousness which he requires, “ for the remission of sins;" this would, in my opinion, occasion a more important reformation than has ever yet been witnessed in Christendom. For people would then see and feel, that except their personal righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.

CHAPTER XXIX.

Truth attainable by Approximation.

AGED ministers of the present day, who have been careful observers of the progress of opinion, must be aware, that the present popular creed in New England excludes, as incorrect, several opinions, which their fathers deemed essential, and embraces others which they deemed heretical. Even in regard to the atonement, the change of views within sixty years has been great. Our ancestors represented the atonement as designed to appease the anger of God, and to reconcile him to sinners, and as made only for an elect number of mankind. It was also their opinion, that the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ, and on this ground they maintained their doctrine of vicarious punishment. As a counterpart to this, they supposed that the righteousness of Christ was so imputed to elect believers, that God could see in them no sin. On such hypotheses, they erected the following doctrine :

" Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us and received by faith alone.”

If the several hypotheses which have been named were ever true, they are so at this day. But if they are true, and as essential as was supposed by our fathers, who o the present New England clergy can be saved ? How few of them now believe any one of the following hypothe. ses : -that the atonement was designed to appease God's anger and reconcile him to sinners,—that Christ died for

an elect number only,—that the sins of the elect were so imputed to him, that he was “ legally guilty” in the sight of God,- or that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the elect for their wedding garment? In connexion with these propositions, our ancestors maintained the doctrine of substituted punishment. But, if I mistake not, the latter hypothesis is the only one of the five, which has not been discarded.

There is such a family likeness between the opinions which have been rejected, and the one still popular, as seems to give them a claim to be kept together. If it be true that Christ suffered our punishment, why reject the idea of imputed guilt ? And if we are justified on the ground of his righteousness, or his suffering as our substitute, why reject the doctrine of imputed righteousness? I think, however, that it is much more likely that the doctrine of vicarious suffering will be discarded, than that the kindred doctrines will be recalled and reinstated. The doctrine of substituted suffering is indeed, at this day, strongly asserted ; but it is also asserted, that the sinner can have no claim to pardon but on condition of repent

This view of the subject is pretty clearly asserted by Professor Stuart, in answering the following objec

ance.

tion :

The motives to strenuous effort in order to a virtuous life are greatly weakened by the doctrine in question.'

“ The doctrine in question," was the doctrine of substituted suffering. In answering the objection, the Professor says,

“ All the difficulty of objectors here arises, from overlooking the whole of this grand point :

-Atoning blood, as extensive and gratuitous as the favors are which it proffers,

never proffers one unconditionally. The sinner must be humbled and penitent to be sprinkled with it.” Discourse,

p. 35.

Am I deceived, or is it a fact, that “the whole of this grand point” is in full contradiction to the doctrine, that substituted suffering is the only ground of pardon ? By “atoning blood,” in this case, the Professor probably meant the gospel ; and of its “favors,” we are told, that it “never proffers one unconditionally.” I may, therefore, present some of the conditions on which favors are proffered to the sinner.

“Ask, and ye shall receive,”_"Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven,”—“Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out,” _“ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”

In each of these passages, we have a duty enjoined, as a condition of the favor promised, or implied. In a similar manner other favors are promised, on condition of performing required duty. Can it then be true, that " substituted suffering,” or “ the righteousness of Christ," or merits of Christ,” is the only ground of pardon and acceptance, when duties are enjoined as indispensable conditions of obtaining the proffered favors ? When a father promises pardon to a prodigal son, on condition of reformation, and the performance of specified duties, can the son's reformation and obedience be of no account in respect to his obtaining forgiveness? As the conditions referred to by Mr. Stuart are such as God proposes to sinners, they show on what terms God is ready to pardon. These conditions, however, imply only a reasonable-service, a cordial return to the path of duty. Hence, the promises of favor, and the favors promised are all of free mercy. But while the

66 the

love of God is the source of pardon, a compliance with the proposed conditions is the ground on which the favor is bestowed.

Is it not then a truth, that “the whole of this grand point” goes to prove, that “justification by faith alone,” implies justification on condition of repentance, or obedience to the gospel, including all the conditional obedience for which the “objectors

ever contended ? For it seems to have been discovered, that the gospel does not proffer its favors "unconditionally," and that the conditions amount to this :- 6. The sinner must be humbled and penitent.

Of what use, then, is the doctrine of substituted suffering? It forms no ground on which the sinner may rationally hope for pardon without repentance; and, on condition of repentance, God was always ready to forgive, as well before as since the crucifixion.

Though the doctrine of imputed righteousness has been generally discarded in New England, yet the popular belief still is, that believers are justified only on account of the righteousness of Christ. The Creed of the Theological Institution at Andover contains two propositions, arranged as follows :

“That repentance, faith, and holiness, are the personal requisites in the gospel scheme :

“ That the righteousness of Christ is the only ground of the sinner's justification.”

When it is said, “repentance, faith, and holiness, are the personal requisites," the question occurs,—“Personal requisites” for what? The gospel would answer,-"Personal requisites " for pardon. This, too, would seem to accord with the sentiment expressed by Mr. Stuart, re

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