Page images

side of a horrible pit, and miry clay, out of which he has just emerged alone; who describes the way by which he has escaped, for the instruction and benefit of those who are still overwhelmed in it.

As the man is Jesus, so the horrible pit is the condition into which man has brought himself by the fall. Into this condition Jesus came, that He might show men the way out from it. He had come, indeed, into it, for He says, verse 12, as going back on that from which he had escaped, “ Innumerable evils have compassed me about, mine iniquities have taken hold of me, so that I am not able to look up,” &c. And what was the mode of his escape? He describes it summarily in the first line of the Psalm, “I waited patiently on the Lord, and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry.” Then, in the 4th verse, “Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord his trust." Then he describes it more fully in verses 6, 7, and 8, “ Sacrifice and offering, (* which are offered by the law,' according to the inspired comment in Heb. X. 8,) thou didst not desire ; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is writ.


ten of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart."

This agrees exactly with what is written of Jesus in the New Testament; “I came not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me.” This was the righteousness of Jesus. This was that on account of which he was delivered from the horrible pit. This was what the Father reckoned righteousness. He did not reckon the sacrifices of the law righteousness, but He reckoned trust in Him, and the doing of his will, righteousness. Jesus trusted in his Father, and committed himself to Him, though he knew that it was unto death-He thus fulfilled righteousness.

But Jesus is the true witness of the way out of the pit up to the Father; and he was given to men, not only that they might have a living principle in them, by which they might take hold of the strength of God for their deliverance, but also that by His example they might learn how to take hold of that strength, so as to be delivered by it. And now He is standing outside of the pit, where we are lying, and saying to us, There is but one way out—that word in you which speaks of right and wrong to your consciences, and which calls on you to give up your own will,

is the only cord by which you can be drawn out, for it is the Spirit of God-and God has let it down into your hearts, to this end, that you may take hold of it, and be drawn up by it--I got out that way—I waited patiently on the Lord, I looked to no other helper, or counsellor, or comforter-I yielded myself entirely to His will, and he brought me up out of the horrible pit, and miry clay—and now I announce to all, that God acknowledges no other thing as righteousness, or as a reason of deliverance from the pit, but trust in Him, and submission to His will. I am an example of the way of the Spirit which brought me out, is that which is striving in each of your hearts, to prevail on you to allow yourselves to be drawn out also.

But, some one may ask, Is justification by faith really so intelligible a thing as this? Is this all the doctrine? Dear reader, what. ever truth there may be in any doctrine, it is not true to me, that is to say, I do not profitably know its truth, until I find it witnessed to, and sealed by a sense and light of truth, in my own heart—it must be translated into a language which my heart understands—it must meet and tally with a living

escape, and

consciousness within me, else it is of no use to me.

I know that a great many of my readers must have been in the habit of thinking that justification by faith, means a forgiveness and acceptance which God bestows on a man, who believes in certain doctrines, only known by revelation, so that they can scarcely understand how it can have any place in what may be called natural religion. * It seems to them as a theological privilege, connected with theological knowledge. They could not conceive a heathen, who had never heard of Jesus Christ, possessing it. But there must be something in true natural religion to tally with this doctrine, else the doctrine as it stands in the Bible, however true, would be to us as a telescope unfitted to the eye.

Let me here propose a simple case, by which I may explain the elementary meaning of justification by faith, a meaning to which I feel the fullest testimony rendered


By natural religion, I do not mean any thing that man's own intellect imagines or discovers of God, and His relation to men; I mean only, that inward knowledge of God and His purpose toward us, that


human being gains or may gain by the striving and teaching of the Spirit in his conscience.

in my own conscience, and to which I am confident, the consciences of most of my readers will also abundantly testify.

I shall suppose a man who has decidedly, and consciously, through all his life, made his own gratification, his sole object—so that he has habitually, in the most direct and profligate manner, and in the most glaring instances, offended against what he knew to be his duty; and whenever he has discharged the duties of any of the relations of life, it has been without any regard to God, or any sense of conscientious obligation, but simply with a view of making life more agreeable, or of avoiding unpleasant jarrings. This man is brought, on some occasion, into circumstances where he sees he must lose his life, unless he chooses to rescue himself by an act quite easy for him to do, but which involves in it violence and fraud. He has committed such acts a hundred times before; but now, for the first time in his life, with the thought of the conclusion of life brought near to him, he listens to the inward word, which says, “Do it not, you know that it is wrong to do it.” He hears the voice, and acknowledges in his heart that it is the voice of God, and that what it speaks is true

« PreviousContinue »