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obligations to obey his precepts and confide in his messages of love. But the faith which he required was not a barren assent to the truth, that Jesus is the Messiah; it was such a cordial and practical belief in him as the anointed Son of the living God, as would dispose men to become his disciples indeed, to obey his commands, to take up the cross and follow his example. Hence the s righteousness which is by faith of Christ,” or “faith in Christ,” is that holy obedience to his precepts, which naturally results from love to his character, and a cordial reliance on him as one invested with divine authority to proclaim to men the glad-tidings of salvation, and the righteousness which God requires for the remission of sins. “ Abraham believed in God, and it was counted to him for righteousness," because it was an obedient faith, which disposed him to do what God required. So faith in Christ is reckoned to Christians for righteousness, when it is a faith which works by love and purifies the heart.

I partially admitted some doubt as to the meaning of the phrase, “the righteousness of God," as used in verse 5. I did this from deference to the opinions of several respectable writers, who agree, that in this case, the phrase is used in a sense different from its more common meaning in the New Testament. But on further reflection, I see no ground for their hypothesis. For “our unrighteousness may commend the righteousness,” which God requires, as well as the righteousness of his own character. The fact, that “ all have sinned," was with Paul a reason for making "no difference” between Jews and Gentiles, as to their need of the gospel method of justification by faith in Christ. On this very ground, “our unrighteousness may commend the righteousness” which God requires, as it shows this righteousness to be essential to our salvation.


I have assigned four reasons for believing that it was the righteousness which God requires, that Paul meant by “his righteousness," in verses 25 and 26. 1. It was a dispute about the righteousness which God requires, that occasioned Paul to use the phrase, “the righteousness of God.” 2. He explained the meaning to be “the righteousness which is by faith in Christ.”

3. It was righteousness “for the remission of sins," which he represents Christ as set forth to declare. 4. It is certain that Christ was set forth to declare the righteousness which God requires for the remission of sins. I think these reasons will not be denied, and cannot be invalidated. Therefore, unless the righteousness which God requires for the remission of sins, stood in the way

of forgiveness, the passage

under review affords not the shadow of support to the doctrine of substituted punishment.

I cannot, however, close this chapter without remarking on the contrast which is presented by the different modes of interpreting the phrase, “ the righteousness of God,” or “his righteousness," as used by Paul in the controverted passage. According to the popular explanation of the phrase in verses 25 and 26," the righteousness which is by faith" is supposed to consist in reliance on a vicarious punishment for the remission of sins. On the other interpretation, “ the righteousness which is by faith,” is supposed to consist in humble obedience to the moral precepts of Jesus Christ, in which God declared by him the righteousness which he requires for the remission of sinssuch obedience as results from cordially believing in Jesus as the promised Messiah and the Light of the world.

It hence becomes a serious question, whether reliance on vicarious suffering for the remission of sin, is equiva

lent to doing the will of the Father, as declared by the Son in his Sermon on the Mount, and in other discourses recorded by the evangelists? Should any one doubt my correctness in supposing that the Sermon on the Mount was a declaration of the righteousness which God requires for the remission of sins, I would entreat him to read the sermon again, with an impartial desire to know what is its character and what was its purpose, and whether it is not adapted to the very purpose for which I have supposed it to have been delivered. I would request particular attention to the two last paragraphs of the sermon. If calling Christ “ Lord, Lord,avails nothing, except we do the will of his Father,-if hearing his sayings or precēpts and doing them is like building a house on a rock, a firm foundation,—and if hearing his sayings and not doing them is like the conduct of “a foolish man who built his house on the sand,” and thus exposed it to be ruined by an approaching storm and flood; what better evidence can we desire that Christ had been declaring the righteousness which God requires for the remission of sins, and the salvation of the soul ?

Let it not, however, be imagined that I am disposed to retort the censures of those who have represented a belief in vicarious punishment as essential to the faith of a Christian. Candor requires me to say, that when a reliance on a supposed vicarious sacrifice leads a person to obey the precepts of Christ and to imitate his example ; these effects are salutary, acceptable to God, and the righteousness which he requires for the remission of sinshowever incorrect may have been his views of the design of the atoning sacrifice. “Where there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” But when reliance on the supposed vicarious suffering renders a person indifferent or negligent in regard to obeying the moral precepts of the gospel ; this reliance, in my opinion, is pernicious in its effects, and tends to the ruin rather than the salvation of the soul.

I may also express my belief, that good people who have been in the habit of regarding the atoning sacrifice as à substitute for punishment, have been really under a mistake in supposing that they “rely solely” on such a sacrifice for pardon and acceptance with God; and that, in point of fact, they do habitually and practically. regard obedience to the moral precepts of Christ as essential to peace of conscience, to the approbation of God, and to the forgiveness of their sins. But in regard to others, who do in fact“ rely solely ” on a vicarious sacrifice, and hence esteem personal obedience as of no account in respect to pardon ; it is my opinion that the reproof of Samuel to Saul, with little variation, is truly applicable to them : “ Hath the Lord as great delight in ” a reliance on vicarious suffering, “as in obeying the voice of the Lord ? Behold, to obey is better than " reliance on “sacrifice, and to hearken, than" any faith which worketh not by love.

N. B. Since writing this chapter, I have observed that Peter 'used the phrase, “the righteousness of God," in the first verse of his Second Epistle. He thus addressed the Christians to whom he wrote-" To them that have obtained like precious faith with us, through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ." He might use the phrase to denote God's faithfulness to his promises ;

but I think it is more probable that he used it as Paul did, nieaning the righteousness which God requires.


The Veracity of God in regard to his Threatenings, It has been supposed that it would have been inconsistent with the veracity of God to forgive the penitent without a vicarious punishment. It may, therefore, be thought incumbent on me to show that this opinion is groundless.

Let it then be observed, that under all the forms of human government a power of pardon is supposed to exist; and this supposed power is exercised without any impeachment of veracity. Why then should it be imagined that free pardon is inconsistent with the veracity of God?

“In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” was the threatening to Adam; by which he was informed of evil to which he would be instantly exposed, if he should transgress. Perhaps, however, the meaning was no more than this, that by transgression he would become immediately liable to die, or that the sentence of death would be immediately passed upon him; and that he would be constantly liable to the execution of the sentence. But whatever might be the import of the threatening, Adam was allowed a long space for repentance. May we on such ground impeach the veracity of God? Shall we not rather infer, that in all his threatenings, God reserves to himself the power of pardon ?

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