Page images


rendered; nor is the law of sin in the members causing that misery more a thing known by the individual than “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ, which makes free from the law of sin and death.” Therefore, the freedom from condemnation, in other words, the justification through being in Christ Jesus, spoken of, is clearly one with that cleansing by the blood of Christ, that purging of the conscience, on which I have dwelt so much; nor can it be at all separated from that “fulfilment of the righteousness of the law” in those who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” which the Apostle goes on to mention as the direct end which God has contemplated in sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as a sacrifice for sin, and so condemning sin in the flesh. The subjective character of this passage,—that is to say, the relation between freedom from condemnation and the condition of a man's own spirit which it recognises,—and the place which it ascribes to the law of the Spirit of the life that is in Christ in connexion with this freedom, that is, in connexion with justification, is too broadly marked to permit its being quoted in favour of the doctrine of justification by an imputation of righteousness.

But the conditions of true peace of conscience must always be the same; and therefore, although the first verse of the fifth chapter is so quoted, we must believe that that in Christ, in respect of which thanks are rendered that “there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus," is present to the mind of the Apostle when he speaks of “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” in connexion with “being justified by faith.” This language, indeed, occurs in immediate connexion with that reference to the glory given to God in the faith of Abraham, which sheds such clear light on the righteousness of God in recognising faith as righteousness : while, in saying that faith shall be imputed to us for righteousness, “if we believe on Him that raised up our Lord Jesus from the dead, who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification,” the Apostle has brought before us that in God which the faith by which we are to glorify God must apprehend and trust. For justifying faith, in trusting God, does so in response to that mind of God in relation to man which is revealed to us in our being, by the grace of God, embraced in Christ's expiatory confession of our sins, when, by the grace of God, He tasted death for every man; and embraced in that perfect righteousness of sonship in humanity which Christ presented to the Father on behalf of all humanity as the true righteousness of man, and which, in raising Him from the dead, the Father has sealed to us as our true righteousness. This gracious mind of God in relation to us it is that our faith accepts and responds to; for our faith is, in truth, the Amen of our individual spirits to that deep, multiform, all-embracing, harmonious Amen of humanity, in the person of the Son of God, to the mind and heart of the Father in relation to man,—the divine wrath and the divine mercy, which is the atonement. This Amen of the individual, in which faith utters itself towards God, gives glory to God according to the glory which He has in Christ; therefore does faith justify: and this justification is not only pronounced in the mind of God, who accepts the confidence towards Himself, which the faith of His grace in Christ has quickened in us, imputing it to us as righteousness, but is also testified to by the Spirit of truth in the conscience of him in whom this Amen is a living voicea spiritual mind—the fellowship of that mind in the Son of God by the faith of which it is quickened. The Amen of the individual human spirit to the Amen of


[ocr errors]

the Son to the mind of the Father in relation to man, is saving faith—true righteousness,being the living action, and true and right movement of the spirit of the individual man in the light of eternal life. And the certainty that God has accepted that perfect and divine Amen as uttered by Christ in humanity, is necessarily accompanied by the peaceful assurance that in uttering, in whatever feebleness, a true Amen to that high Amen, the individual who is yielding himself to the spirit of Christ to have it uttered in him, is accepted of God. This Amen in man is the due response to that word, “Be ye reconciled to God;" for the gracious and gospel character of which word, as the tenderest pleading that can be addressed to the most sin-burdened spirit, I have contended above. This Amen is sonship; for the gospel-call, “Be ye reconciled to God," when heard in the light of the knowledge that “God made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him," is understood to be the call to each one of us on the part of the Father of our spirits,—“My son, give me thine heart,”—addressed to us on the ground of that work by which the Son has declared the Father's Name, that the love wherewith the Father hath loved Him may be in us, and He in us. In the light itself of that Amen to the mind of the Father in relation to man which shines to us in the atonement, we see the righteousness of God in accepting the atonement, and in that same light the Amen of the individual human spirit to that divine Amen of the Son of God, is seen to be what the divine righteousness will necessarily acknowledge as the end of the atonement accomplished. . I have illustrated above the distinction between the righteousness of faith and self-righteousness, and the way in which faith excludes boasting, while introducing CAMPB.


us into the light of God's favour, and have anticipated what would have been urged with advantage here as the justification of God in accounting faith righteousness. I only add now, that, as in illustrating the elements of the atonement, I have desired that the reader should see by its own light the suitableness and adequacy of the moral and spiritual expiation for sin which Christ has made, and should see all such expressions as “A. way into the holiest,”-“Propitiation,"_"Reconciliation,”—“Peace with God,”-in that light of our spiritual relation to the Father of our spirits which demands for them a spiritual, as distinguished from a mere legal meaning;—so, now, I have sought for “ Justification by faith,” also, a spiritual and self-evidencing character, and that the attitude towards God of a human spirit in the light of that will of God which the Son of God came to do and has done, and cherishing a confidence towards God in harmony with that light, shall be felt to be the right attitude towards God of the spirit of man,—that in which are combined, God's glory in man and man's salvation in God.

I have sought for justification by faith this selfevidencing character, not fearing by this to open the door for a self-righteous and presumptuous confidence, - believing that the true confidence alone can preclude the false in all its measures and forms. The Amen of faith,—the being reconciled to God,peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,—these, in meekness and lowliness, are known in the light of the atonement. For that light of eternal life harmonises us with itself, and so with God,—and in it, it is impossible to trust in self,—it is impossible not to trust in God, it is impossible to doubt that this trust in God is true righteousness,-it is impossible to doubt that God is just in being the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.




TN recognising at the outset a need-be for the atoneI ment, I sought to separate between what is sound and true in the feelings of awakened sinners, and what is to be referred to their remaining spiritual darkness. At the same time I have desired that we should be in the position of learning from the atonement itself why it was needed, as well as how it has accomplished that for which it was needed. The error which in its grossest form has amounted to representing the Son as by the atonement exercising an influence over the Father to make Him gracious towards us, (but which, even when such a thought as this would be disclaimed, has still led to seeking in the atonement a ground of confidence towards God distinct from what it has revealed as the mind of God towards man,) has become very manifest in the light of the nature of the atonement as a fulfilling of the purpose of the Son, “ Lo, I come to do thy will, O God,”—His “declaring of the Father's Name.” In the light of that will as fulfilled,—that Name as declared, our faith has been raised to the Eternal Will itself thus revealed, to the Unchanging Name thus declared: as the Apostle speaks of those that believe in Christ as those who by Him do believe in God, who raised Him from the dead, and gave Him glory; that our faith and hope might be in God.” i Peter i. 21. Yet it seems to me that in this high spiritual region some of the difficulties which we experience in all our deeper meditations on the ways of God, are more realised when

« PreviousContinue »