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been within the scope of his gracious purpose, that we all should obtain remission. And indeed of the correctness of this inference we are assured by positive texts of scripture: for we are taught in plain terms, that he is not willing, that any should perish, but that he will have all men to be saved; for God sent not his son into the world, to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.
Nevertheless it is too certain, that all men, notwithstanding this graciousness of our maker and redeemer, are not pardoned. • Be not 'deceived!'-says saint Paul once and again. 'The unrighteous shall not inherit the king'dom of God. The lord, Jesus, shall be ' revealed from Heaven with his mighty angels
in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them, 'that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our lord, Jesus Christ.'
On whom then will this grace of free remission be bestowed? Hear the answer of saint
Peter in the text!
Through his name whoso
' ever believeth in him shall receive remission
' of sins.'
Now this, my beloved brethren, is in plain terms that doctrine of justification by grace through faith, which has been an object of contention ever since, nay, long before the days of the apostles: for what is justification, as it applies to a sinner, but remission of sins? and here it is stated expressly, that whosoever believeth in Jesus, shall receive remission of sins.
Justification, wherever it occurs in scripture, implies three things, an accusation, a trial, and an acquittal. Every sinner is accused by the law. < There is one, that accuseth you,' (said our lord in the forty-fifth verse of the fifth chapter of saint John's gospel) even Moses.' The accused sinner is brought to trial; for- God'—we are taught in the thirty-first verse of the seventeenth chapter of the acts- hath appointed a 'day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man, whom he hath
' ordained.' And what will be the result of this trial? It is given in express terms in the eighteenth verse of the third chapter of saint John's gospel. He that believeth on him, is 'not condemned. But he, that believeth not,
is condemned already.' The use of the present tense is here very remarkable and significant. The trial will not take place formally till that day, which has been appointed in the secret counsel and foreknowledge of God. But it has taken place virtually long since; and every one, who believes truly in the name of the only begotten son of God, stands even now acquitted before God, and will be finally and formally acquitted, when the day shall come for declaring the righteous judgment of God in the face of the universe. Then shall it be seen in the clear light of unquestionable truth, that according to the faithful testimony of the baptist he, that believeth on the son, hath everlasting life, and he, that believeth not the son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.
In the mean time it becomes a serious point for us to determine first, what is meant, when remission of sins is so exclusively and invariably attached to faith, and secondly, what is the faith, to which such decisive efficacy is ascribed.
First it is undeniably certain, whatever we
may think of the wisdom or propriety of that arrangement, that remission of sins is every where in scripture attached to faith, as the instrument, through which it must be received. 'To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him 'shall receive remission of sins.'
Accordingly, Moses, the first of the prophets, informs us concerning Abraham, in the sixth verse of the fifteenth chapter of Genesis, that he believed in the lord, and that he counted it to him for righteousness; which is the same thing as saying, that he believed in the lord, and thereby received complete remission of sins. Justification before God, or an acquittal before God, is here in express terms attributed to Abraham on the exclusive score of his believing in the lord; and although it is true, as the lord afterwards declares, that he knew him, that he would command his children and his household after him, and they would keep his way, to do justice and judgment, that he might bring upon Abraham that, which he had spoken of him, still it is not on account of his fidelity and obedience, that righteousness is imputed
to him, but because he believed in the lord. David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying in the thirty-second psalm-Blesssed are they, whose iniquities
are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 'Blessed is the man, to whom the lord will 'not impute sin.' Thus again Isaiah addresses the lord, saying- Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is staid on thee, 'because he trusteth on thee.' And again in the sixteenth verse of the twenty-eighth chapter he introduces the lord, God, as saying'Behold! I lay in Zion for a foundation a 'stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, 'a sure foundation.' These are expressions, which every where in the new testament are applied to Jesus Christ: and, having thus announced his appointment and office, he adds 'He, that believeth, shall not make haste.' He shall have no occasion to run about from one teacher to another in search of instruction. He shall have no need to make haste, like those, who have not found a refuge; for his soul shall have her rest in God: and