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20, 21, 22, &c. where the apostle speaks more fullyS E R M. and expresly of the way of our justification by the faith of Jesus Christ; that is, by the belief of the gospel: He asserts at the 2oth verse, “ that by the deeds of " the law there shall no fesh be justified in the sight " of God.” To this way of justification “ by the “ deeds of the law,” he opposerh “ the righteous“ ness of God by the faith of Jesus Christ, to us all and upon all them that believe,” which is the gospel way of justification, ver. 21, 22. “ 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 the faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and “ upon all them that believe.” “ The righteousness «s of God without the law is manifested :” that is, the way which God hath taken to justify sinners, and declare them righteous “ without the deeds of the «. law,” that is, without observing the law of Moses, " is manifested,” that is, is clearly revealed in the gospel, (which is the same with what the apostle had said before, that s the righteousness of God is “ revealed in the gospel) being witnessed by the law " and the prophets,” that is, the righteousness of God, or the justification of finners by Jesus CHRIST, is clearly revealed in the gospel, being also in a more obscure manner attested or foretold in the old testament, which he calls " the law and " the prophets ;” and this fully explains that difficult phrase of “ the righteousness of God being re" vealed by the gospel from faith to faith;" that is, by a gradual revelation, being more obscurely foretold in the old testament, and clearly discovered in the new; so that these two passages are equivaA 3
SER M. lent; " in the gospel, the righteousness of God is CXI. a
“ revealed from faith to faith ;” and “ the righte66 ousness of God without the works of the law is “ manifested, being witnessed by the law and the “ prophets." There is the first and more imperfect revelation of it, but the clear revelation of it is in the gospel; this the apostle calls “ a revelation from faith á to faith," that is from a more imperfect and obscure, to a more express and clear discovery and belief of it. And then the citation which follows is very pertinent, “ as it is written, the just shall live by faith;" for this citation out of the old testament plainly shews, that the way of justification by faith was there mentioned; or, as our apostle expresseth it, “ was witnessed by the “ law and the prophets;" and consequently char this was a gradual discovery, which he calls “ a revelation
from faith to faith.” “The just shall live by faith ;" that is, good men shall be faved by their faith, shall be justified and esteemed righteous in the sight of God, and finally saved by their faith. And so the apostle in the vth chap. of this epistle, ver. 18. calls our justification by the faith of the gospel, “ the “ justification of life,” in opposition to condemnation and death, which very well explains that saying of the prophet, “ the just shall live by faith.” I have been the longer upon this, that I might give some light to a very difficult and obscure text.
Secondly, the other instance whereby the apostle proves the gospel to be so powerful a means for the recovery and salvation of men is, that therein also the severity of God against impenitent finners, as well as his grace and mercy in the justification of the penitent, is clearly revealed, ver. 18.“ For the wrath « of God is revealed from heaven, against all
“ ungodliness a ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who holds E R M. s the truth in unrighteousness; because that which s may be known of God is manifested in them, for 66 God hath fhewn it unto them.” The first, viz. the grace of God in our justification and the remisfion of sins paft, is a most proper and powerful argument to encourage us to obedience for the future, nothing being more likely to reclaim men to their duty, than the assurance of indemnity for past crimes ; and the other is one of the most effectual confidera tions in the world to deter men from fin, that "the “ wrath of God is revealed from heaven againft all " ungodliness and unrighteoufness of men, &c.”
From which words I shall obferve these fix things.
First, the infinite danger that a wicked and finful course doth plainly expose men to." The wrath of 5God is here said to be revealed against the impiety 46 and unrighteousness of men.”
Secondly, the clear and undoubted revelation which the gospel hath made of this danger. « The wrath " of God" against the sins of men, is said to be 56 revealed from heaven."
Thirdly, that every wicked and vicious practice doch expofe men to this great danger. “ The wrath “ of God” is faid to be “ revealed against all un“ godlinefs, and unrighteousness of men.”
Fourthly, that it is a very great aggravation of fin, for men to offend against the light of their own minds. The apostle here aggravates the impiety and wickednefs of the heathen world, that they did not live up to the knowledge which they had of God, but contradicted it in their lives, which he calls “ holding 65 che truth in unrighteousness.” A4
Wickedness of the recovery and of CHRIST
SERM. Fifthly, the natural knowledge which men have off CXI.
God, if they live wickedly, is a clear evidence of their “ holding the truth in unrighteousness.” . The apostle therefore chargesh them with “ holding the truth “ in unrighteousness,” because' « that which may " he known of God is manifested in them, God hav« ing shewed it to them.”
Sixthly, and lastly, that the clear revelation of the wrath of God in the gospel, against the impiety and wickedness of men, renders it a very powerful and likely means for the recovery and salvation of men. For the apostle proves “ the gospel of Christ to be the “ power of God to salvation,” because " therein the “ wrath of God is revealed from heaven against allun“ godliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the “ truthin unrighteousness;" that is, against all impeni.. tent sinners.
I shall at the present, by God's affiftance, speak to the three first of these particulars.
First, the infinite danger that a wicked and sinful course doth plainly expose men to. If there be a God that made the world, and governs it, and takes care of mankind, and hath given them laws and rules to live by, he cannot but be greatly displeased at the violation and transgression of them; and certainly the displeasure of God is the most dreadful thing in the world, and the effects of it the most insupportable. The greatest fear is from the greatest danger, and the greatest danger is from the greatest power offended and enraged, and this is a consideration exceeding full of terror, that by a sinful course we expose ourselves to the utmost displeasure of the great and terrible God; for “ who knows the " power of his wrath ?” and “ who may stand be« fore him when once he is angry? according to
" thy « thy fear, fo is thy wrath” (faith the Pfalmift.) S ER M.
CXI. There is no passion in the mind of man that is more boundless and infinite than our fear; it is apt to make wild and frightful representations of evils, and to imagine them many times greater than really they are; but in this case our imagination must fall short of the truth and terror of the thing; for the wrath of God doch far exceed the utmost jealousy and suspicion of the most fearful and guilty conscience; and the greatest finner under his greatest anguish and despair, cannot apprehend or fear it more than there is reason for; “according to thy fear, fo is thy wrath.”
If it were only the wrath and displeasure of men that the sinner were exposed to, there might be reafon enough for fear, because they have many times power enough to crush an offender, and cruelty enough to fret every vein of his body, and to torment him in every part : but the wrath and vengeance of men bears no comparison with the wrath of God. Their passions are many times strong and blustering; but their arm is but short, and their
power small, “ they have not an arm like God, nor .." can they thunder with a voice like him.” They
may design considerable harm and mischief to us;