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to, and which God only could confer, rendering us, by his free grace, innocent in his sight, is manifested without the law.
This is the righteousness which the law and the prophets had foreshown, leading and directing us as a schoolmaster, to the Messiah, even the righteousness which is counted unto us by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe, whether they be Jews or Gentiles, whether they have or have not a knowledge of the law, whether they are or are not the children of Abraham, without difference or respect of persons, for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; all therefore are in equal need of a Mediator, all equally unable to attain righteousness, except by the free gift of God. It is then through the redemption that has been worked for us in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ that we are by his grace freely justified. It is this Jesus whom God has, in his holy gospel, set forth to us as a propitiation, as an offering in our stead for sin; the acceptance of which he has been rendered
propitious : an inestimable privilege bestowed freely on God's people, and procured to us on ours through faith in the atoning efficacy of his blood; that therein his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past might be declared, that his righteousness might be accepted, as our acquittance or justification from all sins that are past, through the merciful forbearance of God; who thus accepting in his sufferings an atonement for our sin, exacts what his justice requires, while he pardons and justifies him who believes in Jesus. “ Where then,” says the apostle, “is boasting ?” Where is the proud doctrine of merit in our exertions? Where the presumptuous feeling, that by our own righteousness we may attain to heaven? It is altogether excluded. If, whether Jew or Gentile, we are all guilty before God, and can be justified only by his free grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, all boasting must be utterly excluded. And by what law? Of works? By any law that encouraged us, by our own works, to hope for salvation ? Nay, but by the law of faith, by that law of faith in the atoning blood of Christ which has been shown in the preceding argument of the apostle, to be the only sufficient means of salvation.
Seeing then that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, that neither Jew or Gentile can plead even an imperfect obedience to that knowledge of the will of God which they severally possessed, and that through the mercy of God, that righteousness which could not be by man attained, was in the fulness of time made known to us in the Gospel, God's free gift, bestowing that which no law could enable us to secure;-wedo from these premises conclude, that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law. Faith only is the justifying cause, the means through which it pleases God to confer on us his free gift of justification : nor have either law or works influence in procuring us this inestimable privilege. Faith only is the justifying cause,
while obedience, holiness, and virtue are the necessary fruits of this faith, as inseparably connected, to use the words of our Article, as the tree and its fruit.
These, however, are not either the cause or the condition of justification. Under the law or the Gospel salvation would be by these unattainable; and a higher principle was wanting to render these labours, however holy, acceptable in the sight of God. This principle is set forth to us in faith, and it is by faith every diligent examiner of the Gospel will conclude that he must look for justification; humbling him self in the sight of God, putting away from him all boasting, all feeling or belief of merit in his own exertions, and increasing and abounding more and more in holiness and every good word and work. This is the great distinguishing truth the Gospel proclaims to us—that obedience, and holiness, and piety were acceptable to God ; that, indeed, without holiness, we should never be admitted into his presence, were truths that the Jew might have learnt from his law, or the Gentile inferred, although darkly, from the dictates of reason. And were this all the Gospel taught us, however strongly it might be enforced, what further would it have done than had been already done? But it is this great principle of faith that distinguishes it, that restores the hopes of our fallen race, that raises the Christian again, a suppliant indeed, but a bold and victorious suppliant to the gates of heaven. And yet, my brethren, how little this principle is felt! In our commerce with the world, in our religious communings and exercises, how little is it insisted on, or where it is insisted on, how little is it esteemed, how often spoken against ! You preach to us faith, we are told, but forget good works :—is all our religion faith?