« ElőzőTovább »
would be obtained before the conditions were fulfilled. This argument must be found to be most conclusive.
It has been before noticed, that frequent mention is made of men, who are by Scripture called just and righteous on earth ; the latter part of the 23rd verse of the xiith Heb. will assist us to explain, and distinguish the difference of expression of “just and righteous on earth and in heaven. St. Paul has stated, “ There is none righteous, no not one'.” This statement applies to man on earth; and means, that no man is perfected in righteousness on earth ; this is to take place in heaven, when those who are called * just on earth, have at the last day received the crown of righteousness mentioned by St. Paul, 2 Tim. iv. 8. and to which the expression in the verse under consideration of the spirits of just men made perfecť fully applies. Taking the two verses together, the one from 2 Tim. iv. 8. and the other from Heb. xii. 23. can there be a doubt when man is to receive the crown of righteousness, and when the spirits of just men are to be made perfect ? St. Paul has said, not only himself, but all who shall love Christ's appearing, shall at that day receive the crown of righteousness, which he says God has laid up for them. Was man justified on earth, that is, pardoned and cleansed from all his sins and impurities, he would be perfected in righteousness, and the crown promised, as stated by St. Paul, would not be wanting. This must be a sound construction of St. Paul's words, and those in Timothy are most strongly confirmed by those in the Hebrews; and the latter have an additional proof and confirmation by St. Paul's words in Phil. iii. 12.“ Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect.” St. Paul is here speaking of the resurrection of the dead, to which he had not attained, that is, secured his resurrection to life, and gained the prize of his high calling. Neither was he perfect; that is, in a state fit and meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. Justification is being perfected in righteousness and true holiness, and accepted by God as such ; of course, the man who is justified has obtained the prize of his high calling, and made his calling and election sure. St. Paul here plainly and pointedly says he has not done so, but is pressing toward the mark, having previously stated, in the 11th verse, “ if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” It must consequently be concluded St. Paul was himself doing those things which he knew were right,
f Rom. ii. 10.
and necessary to gain the prize, a sure and certain resurrection to eternal life; and in stating his own case, he confirms and proves the words of Christ, who has said, ' he that shall endure unto the end shall be saved. Such is the general doctrine of St. Paul through the whole of his epistles. How then is it possible for man to be justified on earth, when there is a most positive condition that he must endure unto the end ? All the statements relating to this condition are very plain, clear, and express, and the conclusion from them incontrovertible.
We will now consider the words in Matt. xii. 36, 37. which are so plain and intelligible, that nothing more than reading them seems necessary to comprehend their full meaning; but as the plainest words are by some persons wholly misunderstood, or misapplied, it may not be improper to take a short review of them, and add such observations as may occasionally occur. Christ has in these verses attached the greatest importance to words. He had previously in the same chapter said, that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which must be by words, would not be forgiven ; and to enforce his statement, and show the ground upon which the great importance of words arises, he stated that it was from the heart (the seat of all good and evil) words proceeded. What Christ said in this chapter is most fully supported and confirmed by St. Paul in these words :
Rom. x. 8.“ But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is the word of faith which we preach;
Ibid. x. 9. “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.
Ibid. x. 10. “ For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
It is here seen, that Christ and St. Paul most perfectly agree as to the important effect of words. St. Paul states, that with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, consequently by words. Christ, in the 37th verse of Matt. xii. stated, “ by thy words thou shalt be justified :" so that justification and salvation are both to be effected by words, at least as an essential part; and Christ, in the end of the same verse, has added another most serious and important matter, that is to be effected also by words, in saying, “ and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” We will now see when these words, which are to have such important and most momentous consequence as the justification or condemnation of man, are to have that effect; by reading the 36th verse we are at once relieved from all doubt and uncertainty as to the time when they are to have that effect. Christ has there stated, “ But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment,” and then follows it up in the next verse with these words, “ For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Is it possible to make any other conclusion from these two verses,united and connected as they are, otherwise than intended to explain each other? and whatever we find in one verse, as far as it can be applied to the words of the other verse, must be considered as a part of the sáme verse, in putting a construction
upon these verses. Christ, in the same chapter, had previously stated the effect of words in the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, and says, “either make the tree good and his fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt, for the tree is known by his fruit;" and then exclaims,“ O generation of vipers ! how can ye, being evil, speak good things.? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good