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peculiarities designated by that term, and is received by many who reject its other concomitants.
b) The work of Christ has been regarded by some, as an actual vicarious endurance of all the punishment, which would have been inflicted throughout eternity on a certain portion of the human family, whom, they supposed, God had determined infallibly to save, and as the price of their actual and infallible salvation. This system admits that all men are by nature (morally) incapable of attaining salvation without a special influence of God, and maintains that this special influence is withheld from all except this select portion. This is what, with various modifications, is termed the old Calvinistic view of the atone
c) Others regard the work of Christ, as the actual vicarious payment of the penal debt, and purchase of the title to heaven, for all the members of the human family, to be offered to them on conditions made possible by divine grace, to all who hear the gospel. Or by a slight modification of the same view,
The work of Christ may be regarded as the vicarious endurance of incalculable suffering and the exhibition of perfect righteousness, by which full atonement was made and salvation purchased for the whole world, to be offered to them on conditions made possible by divine grace to all who hear the gospel. This may properly be termed the Lutheran view of the atone
The only difference between the two aspects of this view relates to the duration, kind, and relations of the Saviour's sufferings. They were not the same as those of the sinner would have been in duration; for they were not eternal: nor in kind, for the Son of God suffered no remorse of conscience, was tormented by no sense of personal guilt: nor could the atonement be the literal payment of the debt; else when once discharged by the Saviour, the sinner might by right claim exemption from punishment and admission to heaven, regardless of his moral
qualifications, for a debt once paid cannot again be demanded. Moreover, crime is a personal act, and cannot like a pecuniary debt, be transferred or literally imputed to another.
This system (the Lutheran) regards man as incapable of the conditions of salvation prescribed in the gospel (repentance and faith) without the gracious aid of God; but maintains, that this necessary aid consists in means of grace and invariably accompanying influences of the Holy Spirit, for the sincere (not perfect) use of which all men possess the entire ability (physical and intellectual) and the sincere and persevering use of which is always, sooner or later, made effectual to the accomplishment of the above conditions of salvation.
By "sincere" use is here not meant a perfect use, but a volition (and consequent effort) to use the means of grace aright, made in view of the proper motive. The difference between a sincere and a perfect performance of an act is not only obvious to the common sense of all mankind, but also taught in the sacred volume. No mortal, not even the most advanced Christian, can perfectly fulfil the requisitions of the all-perfect law of God. The degree of perfection attending our efforts at duty will generally be proportionate to our advancement in the Christian life. But however various be the degree of success attending the effort, all true Christians make it sincerely. But not only can every true Christian act with sincerity in this matter; every truly penitent and awakened sinner can resolve sincerely, that is, in view of the proper motive, to seek the Lord; nay, even every careless sinner in a land of gospel light, possesses at all times the power to reflect on the evidences of his obligation to serve God, and in view of them, that is, in view of the proper motive, that is, sincerely, to resolve to seek his forsaken God. His efforts at first will be exceedingly imperfect, nay it may be impossible for him even to continue thinking of God any length of time, without being led off by his inveterate habits of attention to different objects; yet is the divine blessing promised even
to the most feeble attempt. And every sincere effort of the unregenerate, to perform any duty, is doubtless pleasing to God. The contrary supposition involves the absurdity, that an unregenerate sinner must first be an advanced Christian, or at least truly converted, before he can begin to seek the Lord acceptably. What parent does not applaud the sincere efforts of his child to accomplish the task assigned him, however imperfect the success with which those efforts are crowned? The scriptures no where teach, that the prayers of the returning sinner are an abomination in the sight of God; but the passage so often misrepresented, evidently and expressly refers to such sinners as are deliberately continuing in a course of transgression.1 Do the scriptures announce to us displeasure on the part of God at the resolution of the returning prodigal, "I will arise and return to my father's house?" or do the doctrines of Christianity imply, that he ought to have undertaken the execution of this happy purpose in his own strength without addressing the mercy seat of heaven for gracious aid? Does not an inspired apostle say "If any man lack wisdom (not having already attained it) let him ask of God who giveth liberally unto all men (and consequently also to returning prodigals as well as to professing Christians,) and upbraideth not?" "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and grace to help in every time of need? "2
By" entire ability" in the above delineation of the sinner's state, is meant every thing that is necessary to bring an action fairly within the range of our voluntary agency, within our power of choice. To suppose the volitions of men to perform their duty mechanically or rather constitutionally, impeded by a cer
1 Prov. 28:9. He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination. Of the same import also is Prov. 15: 8.
2 Heb. 4: 16. See also Matt. 7: 11. and 7: 7.
tain indefinite innate something within, misnamed moral inability, which the sinner cannot overcome, and which the Deity must first remove before a right volition can take place; is to suppose all men born in a state in which they must necessarily sin on, until God removes from their hearts this insuperable barrier to holiness. What is it else than a delusive idea enveloped in misapplied terms? What else than to has ability to do his duty, and yet has it not? term inability cannot with propriety be applied to any thing in the sinner, which it is in his power to remove; nor can there be any more propriety in predicating ability of any one, whose volitions are impeded by an innate impediment which he cannot surmount, either by his own strength, or by the help of gracious aid, which is actually offered to him and which he has power to accept.
say that man Certainly the
4. The part which it is required of us to perform, or the conditions on which the benefits of this covenant are applied
These conditions have been somewhat various in different ages, according as the features of this covenant have been more or less clearly revealed. There have usually been four gradations acknowledged in the successive publication of this covenant which have been termed economies:
The Adamic, the Abrahamic, the Mosaic, and finally, the Christian as fully developed by our Lord and his inspired servants, and recorded for the use of future generations in the New Testament. In each of these economies, the condition of salvation was in substance, faithful obedience to the light enjoyed. It is unnecessary to enter into a discussion of any but the last. Before the advent of Christ, the children of God exercised faith, more or less definite, in the Messiah to come. Under the last economy, in which we live, the conditions are repentance,1 and
1 Mark 1: 15. Repent ye, and believe the gospel. Luke 13: 3. Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
faith in Jesus Christ. These conditions may indeed be reduced to one, namely faith; because this by its very nature presupposes repentance. Accordingly the Scriptures often mention faith alone; "We are justified by faith," says the apostle Paul to the Romans.
Whenever any individual performs these conditions, on which the blessings of the covenant of grace are bestowed, he is represented by the word of God as being in a state of
that is, he is no longer under the curse of God's law, but is regarded by the moral governor and judge as an heir of heaven, and as entitled to all the blessings necessary for his preservation and growth in grace. The nature of justification is, therefore, easily understood.
Justification is that judicial act of God, by which the believing sinner is declared to be entitled to the benefits of the Saviour's merits. Or more amply defined, Justification is that judicial act of God, by which, a believing sinner in consideration of the merits of Christ, is released from the penalty of the law, and is declared to be entitled to heaven.
a) The source of our justification is the benevolence or grace of God.
b) The ground of this justification of the sinner is not his own works, but is none other than the above mentioned basis of the covenant of grace, the merits of Christ.
1 Acts 16: 31. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.
2 Rom. 3: 21. 22. 28. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets : even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe, for there is no difference.-Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law. Rom. 4: 3. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed