Obrázky na stránke

confidence ?' This question being answered in the affirmaative, two other questions of transcendent importance would then occur :- What is the disposition of the sovereign towards us? and what does he require of us as conditions of forgiveness and restoration ?' Now these questions are both answered by the parable in a clear and impressive

Does not, then, this parable contain a summary of the good tidings of great joy, in a form adapted to the capacities of the different classes of mankind,—the rich and the poor, the old and the young, the learned and the ignorant? And may I not be justified in saying, that it exhibits the essentials of the gospel, in a much more perspicuous and intelligible form, than they have ever been exhibited in any party-creed or confession of faith, since the days of the Apostles ?


No. III.

Thoughts on the Righteousness of Faith.

In the chapter on the phrase " the righteousness of God," I briefly explained what I believed to be meant by “the righteousness of faith,” or “the righteousness which is by faith.” The more I have reflected on the hypothesis I then advanced, the more important it has appeared to my mind, and the stronger has been my desire that it should be thoroughly examined, and clearly understood. For a mistake on this point must naturally involve injurious consequences; and it may expose many to think, that they are in the path of life, while indeed they are “in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

Cordial obedience to the precepts of Jesus Christ, resulting from faith in him as the promised Messiah, the Light, and the Savior of the world, must be a very different kind of righteousness from that which consists in a re

liance on vicarious suffering. It is, indeed, said, "Unto the pure, all things are pure ;” and it may be true, that good people sometimes make erroneous opinions subservient to good purposes, even the purposes of obedience to God. But it has often been asserted and admitted, that mankind are too generally disposed to devise substitutes for obedience. What, then, must be the natural effect of a supposed essential article of faith, which not only presents a substitute for obedience, but explicitly asserts personal obedience to be of no avail in reference to the

pardon of our offences, and our acceptance with God.

Any doctrine which makes the righteousness of faith to consist in something which God does not require, instead of something which he does require, must surely be pernicious in its tendency. I hope that no minister of the gospel at this day will deny, that Christians are required to obey the moral precepts of Jesus Christ, as taught in the Sermon on the Mount, and in other discourses; and I think it cannot be denied, that such obedience is the

genuine fruit of faith in him as “the Christ of God," the Son whom the Father sent to be the Savior of the world. But where shall we find a requirement to believe that God laid on this Son “the punishment due to us all ? " or where shall we find a promise that those shall be saved who rely on a vicarious punishment for the remission of their sins ? I can honestly say, that I have not been able to find either such a requirement, or such a promise in the Bible.

“ The WORD OF FAITH," wbich the Apostles preached, was the following :" That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Rom. x. 9. As the resurrection of Christ from the dead, was not only a proof of the resurrection and future life which he taught, but a proof that he was the Messiah, it is easy to see that a cordial belief, that 6 God raised him from the dead," was necessary to that obedience to his precepts which he required. But to believe that God raised him from the dead, is a very different thing from believing that he bore our punishment on the cross.

To the words of Paul just quoted, he immediately subjoined, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness," -meaning, as I conceive, that the belief which produces righteousness, or true obedience, implies, not a mere assent of the understanding, but the approbation of the heart, real love to the truth believed. Hence, it is “ with the heart that man believeth unto righteousness," or so believes, as to obey the truth.” But to rely on vicarious suffering for the remission of sin, is not obedience to any precept that I have been able to find in the gospel.

Among his definitions of righteousness, Mr. Cruden bas the following :-" The active and passive obedience of Christ, whereby be perfectly fulfilled the law, and propitiated the justice of God; which obedience being imputed to the elect, and received by faith, their sins are pardoned, their persons accepted, and they brought to eternal glory. This righteousness whereby the sinner is justified, is called the righteousness of God, because it is of God's institution, and which alone he will accept of to life

e; or because it was performed by hiin who is God as well as man, and is therefore of infinite value or merít. It is called the righteousness of faith, because it is apprehended and applied by faith.”

The texts to which he principally refers as proofs of his doctrine, are such as contain the phrase, “the righteousness of God.” The obedience and sufferings of Christ are what he calls, the "righteousness of God;" and this he supposes is also called, “the righteousness of faith,” as it is apprehended and applied by faith.

It implies nothing of the nature of obedience on the part of the believer. One of the texts to which Mr. Cruden refers, is Rom. x. 3.

“For they, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

Believing that a mistake as to the meaning of the phrase, “the righteousness of God," has done much to mislead the minds of men on this most interesting subject, I shall here bring to view the substance of Dr. Campbell's note on Matt. vi. 33, to which I alluded in the chapter on

[ocr errors]

Wben a

“ The Righteousness of God." I quote from Dr. Campbell,
regarding him as both a candid and a judicious writer.
The intelligent reader will readily perceive that, in the note
to be quoted, the Doctor had independence enough to
explain the passages referred to, in a very different sense
from what had formerly been given to them by the Pres-
byterian church of which he was a member.
writer of such talents and learning as Dr. Campbell, ven-
tures, at the hazard of his reputation, so far to depart from
what had long been the popular belief of the church to
which he belonged, he is surely entitled to a candid hear-
ing. Though I cannot acknowledge myself indebted to
him for the hypothesis I have advanced, I freely own, that
after forming the opinion, I was gratified in finding that it
had been supported by so eminent a writer as Dr. Campbell.

Substance of Dr. Campbell's note on Matt. vi. 33.

The righteousness of God, in our idiom, can mean only the justice or moral rectitude of the divine nature. But, in the Hebrew idiom, that righteousness which consists in a conformity to the declared will of God, is called his righteousness. In this way, the phrase is used by Paul, Rom. iii. 21, 22. x. 3., where the righteousness of God is opposed by the Apostle, to that of the unconverted Jews; and their own righteousness, which he tells us they went about to establish, does not appear to signify their personal righteousness, any more than the righteousness of God, signifies God's personal righteousness. The word righteousness, as I conceive, denotes there, what we should call a system of morality, or righteousness, which he denominates their own, because fabricated by themselves, founded partly on the letter of the law, partly on tradition, and consisting mosty in ceremonies, and mere externals. This creature of their own imaginations they had cherished, to the neglect of that purer scheme of morality which was truly of God, which they might have learnt, even formerly, from the law and the Prophets properly understood, but now more explicitly from the doctrine of Christ. That the phrasc, the righteousness of God, in the sense I

have given, was not unknown to the Old Testament writers, appears from Micah vi. What is called (verse 5) the righteousness of the Lord, which God wanted that the people should know, he explained (verse 8) to be what the Lord required of them; namely, to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with their God. Now the righteousness of God meant, in this discourse by our Lord, is doubtless what he had been explaining to them, and contrasting with the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees.”

The distinction between the pharisaical righteousness, and the righteousness which God requires, is again brought to view by Paul, in stating to the Philippians what he had endured that he might "win Christ, and be found in him,—not,” he says, “baving mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Philip. iii. 5, 6. Instead of that self-invented righteousness of which he and others had formerly boasted, he wished 10 possess that more pure and spiritual righteousness, which results from cordial faith in Christ, and obedience to his precepts.

“The righteousness which is by faith” does not consist in a mere belief of any truth whatever, but in such obedience as the truth believed requires. A belief that there is such a God as is made known in the Bible, involves an obligation to acknowledge him in all our ways, and to worship him in spirit and in truth. Such obedience to the dictates of the truth believed, is what I suppose to be meant by “ the righteousness which is by faith.” A belief that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Light and Savior of the world, requires of the believer, a disposition to learn of him who was meek and lowly of heart, to obey his precepts, and to imitate his example. Such obedience is “the righteousness which is by faith in Jesus Christ,” and such a righteousness as God requires for the remission of sins. That this hypothesis is correct, may appear from the following facts :

« PredošláPokračovať »