David Black.

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strength, even to him shall men come,
and all that are incensed against him shall
he ashamed. In the Lord shall all the seed

* Isa. Ixi. lOv


of Israel he justified, and shall glori/ *.
Jeremiah is equally explicit in declaring
the same comfortable truth, Behold, the
days come, saith the Lord, that I will
raise unto David a righteous branch,
and a king shall reign and prosper, and
shall ctecute judgment and justice in the
earth. In his daijs Judah shall be saved,
and Israel shall dwell safely ; and thi»
is the name whereby he shall be call-
ed, the Lord (or Jehovah), our righte-
ousness -j'. To add but one instance more,
Daniel, foretelling the time when Messiah
should appear, makes use of the following re-
markable language : Seventy weeks are Je-
ter mined upon thy people and upon thif ho-
ly city, to finish the transgression, and to
mxike an end of sin, and to make reconcilia-
tion for iniquity, and to bring in everlast-
ing righteousness t.

Thus it appears, that in every period of
the church, before the coming of our Savi-

* Isa. xlv. 24, 25. + Jer. xxiii. 5, 6.

X Dan. ix. 24.

208^ JUSTIFICATION. Sfeli. 7i

our, the same truth was revealed as the ob-
ject of faith ; and that all who obtained the
favour of God, obtained it ni the same way,
by believing the divine testimony concern-
ing Christ, which was then more obscurely
held forth under the veil of types and pro-
phecies, but is now revealed to us who live
under the gospel, in the fullest and clearest
manner. But,

2. This righteousness is called the righte-
ousness of God, because it was wrouaht out
by him who was God as well as man.

■ Without controversy, great is the myst^-
ry of godliness . God zi-as manifest in the
Jlcsh. In the beginning was the Word, and
the JFord was with God, and the Ward was
God. And the Word was made flesh, and
dwelt arnona: us, and zi}e beheld his glory,
the glory as of the only begotten of the Fa-
ther, full of grace and truth. The righ-
teousness, even of the mo.^t exalted creature,
could be oF no avail to the justification of a
sinner in the sight of God. Obedience is
due from every creature to his Creator, and

SEll. 7. JUSTiriCATIONo 209

Cannot, therefore, by its own intrinsic merit,
procure blessings for others. But behold
the depth of divine wisdom, as well as good-
ther hath accepted it.

Of this the resurrectibn of Christ from the
dead is an undoubted evidence. When our
blessed Lord suffered on the cross, he suf-
fered in the room and stead of the guilty.



The Lord had laid on him the iniquity of
us all, and therefore he exacted of him the
punishment which our sins deserved. Our
blessed Surety shed his precious blood for
the remission of our sins, and was brousfht
down to the dust of death, that he might
purchase our redemption. But the grav^e
could not possibly hold him. Soon he burst
the bands of death, and triumphed glorious-
ly over all opposition, leading captivity cap-
tive. His resurrection was the visible pledge
and token of his victory. By it the Father
declared his complete satisfaction in the fi-
nished work of Christ : He declared that he
was well pleased with believing sinners for
his righteousness sake ; that the debt which
they owed to divine justice M'as now com-
pletely discharged ; that the honour of his
law was vindicated, and the reign of grace
established on the firm and immutable basis
of impartial equity.

This glorious truth, therefore, is the grand
foundation of the believers faith and confi-
dence before God. Accordingl}^, we find,
that when the apostles after the day of Pen-


tecost, preached the doctrine of salvation
through a crucified Redeemer, they princi-
pally insisted on this fact, in proof of what
they advanced. Be it hiown unto you ail,
said the apostle Peter to the rulers of the
Jews, and to all the people of Israel, that
by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,
Zi^honi ye crucified, whom God raised from
the dead, even by him doth this man stand
here before you whole. This is the stone
which was set at nought of you builders,
which is become the head of the corner.
Neither is there salvation in any other, for
there is none other name given under hea-
ven amo7ig men zi' hereby we must be sav-
ed^. To the same purpose, the apostle
Paul havinp; established the truth of Christ's
resurrection, thus addressed the rulers of the
Synagogue, Be it knozvn unto you, there-
fore^ men and brethren, that through this
man is preached unto you the forgiveness
of sins. And by him, all that believe ore
justified from all things, J rom which they
ceuld not be justified by the law of Moses -^f'.

^ Acts iv. 10 — J 2. f Acts xiii. 3S.



Upon the whole, tlien, must not that
righteousness be perfect, and exactly suited
to the wants of a sinner, which was appoint-
ed and accepted by God the Father, and
wrought out by one who is his equal, the
only begotten and well beloved Son of God ?
Must not that righteousness be perfect and
suitable to our deplorable circumstances,
which in every age has been the ground of
the sinner s trust, to which thousands and
tens of thousands are indebted for their eter-
nal salvation, and the efficacy of which re-
mains the same to the latest generations.
Where sin abounded, grace hath mucJimore
abounded. That as sin hath reigned unto
death, even so juight grace reign through
righteousness unto eternal lije, by Jesus
Christ our Lord^,


1. Let me beseech all who now hear me,
seriously to enquire, what is the ground of
their confidence toward God ?

* Rom. V. 20, 2 L


I have endeavoured to shew yon the in-
sufficiency of our own righteousness, and
the perfect suitableness and sufficiency of
the method of salvation revealed in the gos-
pel. Now let me ask you, Is the righte-
ousness of Christ the only foundation on
which you build your hopes for eternity ?
Be not hasty, my friends, to answer this
question. It is not enough to say, that you
trust in Christ for salvation ; for many who
say so, discover too plainly by their conduct
that they have never knv-^wn the grace of God
in truth. If you are built upon the foun-
dation which God hath laid in Zion, then you
must have discovered previously your lost and
ruined circumstances as sinners in the sight
of God. You must have seen yourselves con-
demned by the sentence of his righteous
law, and not only seen, but felt the justice
of that sentence. If you are built on this
foundation, then you must have perceived
a peculiar excellence and glory in the gos-
pel — an excellence and glory infiuxtely su-
perior to every thing which the world calls
good or great. You must have been brought
with the apostle to count all things mit loss


for the excellency of the Jmozvledge of
Christ. Unto them which believe He is pre-
cious. His name is as ointment poured
forth ; and an interest in him, and in the
favour of God through him, appears of in-
finitely greater value than ten thousand
worlds. Are these things so Avith you ? or
are you still ignorant of the peculiar glory
of the gospel, and of your own pressing need
of it ? Then let me beseech you, as you va-
lue your own souls, not to remain in this
dreadfully dangerous situation, no, not for
a single moment. Perhaps you never be-
fore questioned the safety of your state.
If so, then it is high time to awake out of
sleep, and seriously to put to your own con-
science this most important of all questions,
Am I in Christ, or not? Were I this mo-
ment to be called into the presence of God,
to answer at his tribunal, what could I plead
before him ? Would I plead the righteous-
ness of Christ? Let me ask myseli, what do I
know^ about this riohtecusne.'S ? Did I ever
pro])erly consider what it means? Was I
ever convinced of m.y need olit, and brought
to renounce ail my lormer self-righteous


refuges, and to depend on this alone as the
ground of my confidence in , the mercy of

It is to be feared, that there are many
nvino^ in a state of awful security, from a
presumptuous confidence in their own righ-
teousness. If at any time their conscience
is awakened under the afflictino; hand of
God, or under the ministry of his word,
how soon are their fears dispelled, by re-
flecting on what they reckon a well spent
life, good dispositions, or virtuous actions.'*
But such refuges as these will prove miser-
able comforters, when death, the king of
terrors, begins his approach ; and still more
at that grand and decisive period, when the
fire shall try everv man^s work, of what sort
it is. Then shall it be found, to the ever-
lastino; confusion of all despisers of the gos-
pel, that other foundation can no man laif,
than that is laid, ivhich is Jesus Christ.

2. Such as are awakened to perceive their
dangerous and lost situation as sinners, may
derive encouragement from this subject, and


be directed what course to pursue. Beuare of
striving, my irieiids, to obtain the favour of
God and eternai life, by your own doings.
You must fiiot receive spiritual hfe from
Christ, before you can be capable of per-
forming any spiritual or acceptable obedi-
ence. Go, search the scriptures, for in them
are the words of eternal life, and they are
they which testify of Christ. Examine with
attention, and with a mind free from preju-
dice, the way of salvation as it is laid down
in the gospel. Place yourselves as in the
presence of God. Compare your actions
with the perfect standard of the divine iaw^
Look into the secret springs of your con-
duct ; and let your heart be affected with
a deep sense of your guilt and misery. At-
tend to the gospel plan of sahation in its
connection and fulness. Ponder the preci-
ous truths of the word of God. Pray over
them: Endeavour to apply them. You
will find that there are properly no qualifi-
cations required to prepare you for the grace
of the gospel, unless guilt and misery can
be accounted such. Go, therefore, ca&t
yourselves at the feet of sovereign mercy.

6ER. 7. JUSTiriCATION". 217

Confess your unworthiness. Praj^ that God
would effectually open your eyes to see his
glory as it shines ni the face of Jesus Christ,
and tliat he w ould fulfil in you the good
pleasure of his goodness, and the work of
faith with power. Believe, and plead the
promise of his grace, and take encourage-
ment from such assurances as these : If any
man tJiirst^ let 1dm come wito me and
drink ; and him that cometh unto me, I
will in nowise cast out.

Finalli/, Let true behevers, who are look-
ing for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ
unto eternal life, be careful to adorn the
doctrine of God our Saviour in all t'iino;s.
This is a faithful sai/ing, and these things
I will that tJiou affirm constantli/, that theij
which have believed in God might be care-
ful to maintain good works ; for these
things are good and profitable unto men.
In this way only ci^jn we justify the sinceri-
ty of our faith, and the truth of our Chri-
stian profession ; and thus may we hope to
advance the glory of our Redeemer, and to



put to silence the mouths of gainsayerSy
while we shew out of a good cojiversa'
tion our works with meekness oj wisdom.



RoMAjrs iii. 31.

Do we then make void the law through
faith f God forbid : yea, we establish
the law.

IN matters of religion, as in other things,
men are generally prone to extremes. Hence
has arisen the unhappy opposition which
has too often been stated betwixt faith and
practice. Some have altogether neglected
and undervalued sound principles, and con-
fined the whole of religion to what they e-
steem a regular practice ; while others, e«»
qually mistaken, have laid the whole stress
on orthodox opinions, to the disparagement


and neglect of moral duties. The gospel
gives no countenance to either of these ex-
tremes. It unites, what, alas • men have
too often attempted to separate, a sound
belief with a holy and virtuous life. On
the one hand, it teaches, that good princi-
ples are the only foundation of good prac-
tice ; that a corrupt tree can produce no-
thing but corrupt fruit ; and, that whoever
would attain habitual conformity to the will
of God, must first believe in the name of
Christ, and feel the influence of evangelical
truth. On the other hand, it teaches, that
the belief which men profess to have in the
gospel, is nothing but a dead faith, a mere
unprofitable notion, if it does not produce
the fruits of universal holiness, in the tem-
per and conversation ; and, that all hopes of
heaven, which are not supported by this
clear and indispensable evidence, are vain
and delusive.

Thus the word of God uniformly instructs
us. While it gives no countenance to the
self-righteous Pharisee, who seeks to recom-
inend himselt to his Alaker by his own do-

SER. &» I3Y FAITH. 221

ings, it equally condemns tlie slothful and
unprofitable servant, who, under pretence
of honouring the gospel, omits, or careless-
ly performs the weighty matters of the law.
It speaks peace to the guilty sinner, who, de-
spairing of salvation by the works of the law,
flees for refuge to the hope set before us in the
gospel. But this peace is connected with holi-
ness. It is not designed as a pillow on which
a man may lie down in ease and security ;
but as a spur to diligence, a motive to acti-
vity, a powerful incitement to the practice
of all that is true, honest, just, pure, lovely,
and of good report.

The words which I have just now read as
the ground of this discourse, clearly express
the apostle's sentiments on this important
subject. If we look back to the preceding
context, "We find him engaged in proving,
that w^e are justified by faith alone. With
this view, he considers the state both of
Jews and Gentiles, and shews, with abun-
dance of evidence, from fact, as well as scrip-
ture testimony, that all have sinned, and


come short of the qlory of God. Having
inferred from thence the impossibility of
beinc^ j'lstified by our own obedience, and
stated the method which the gospel reveals,
he concludes with this declaration, that a
man isjnstijitd by faith, z&itliout the deeds
of the law.

It was easy to foresee an objection agatinst
this doctrine, which might be made, and
which actually has been made in all ages ;
that to say we are justified by faith alone^
without the deeds of the law, is, in fact, to
abolish the law. The apostle, without en^
tering into a formal refutation, dfenies the
charge, and asserts, in the strongest lan-
guage, that the tendency of his doctrine was
directly the reverse. Do we make void the
lazi^ through faith ? God forbid : yea, we
establish the lazs^.

I think it altogether unnecessary to take
up your time in shewing that by the law
here, the apostle can mean no other than
the moral law. This is the only law that is

SER.8- BY FAITH. 223

established throu2:h faith. For the ceremo-
nial law, which was given to the Jewish
church for a particular purpose, till the ful-
ness of time should come, was certamly made
void, and altogether set aside by the gos-
pel. But the mor '1 law, which was given
to be the rule of man's obeihence from the
beginning, so far from being made void by
the gospel of Jesus Christ, is confirmed and
enforced by new obligations.

This is the truth which I propose at thisi
time to illustrate, in a humble dependance
on divine aid. Witii this view, I shall,

I. Lay before you, very shortly, the doc-
trine of faith, as taught by the apostle here,
and ni other parts of his writings.

II. Explain what is meant by making
void the law. And,

III. Prove that the law is not made void,
but e5tabhshed through faith.

I. I am to lay before you the doctrine of



faith, as taught by the Apostle here, and in
other parts of his writings.

Upon this part of the subject, I shall only
attempt a summary of what you are accus-
tomed to hear more fully explained in the
course of our ordinary ministrations. The
doctrine of faith is the doctrine of salvation
through the blood and righteousness of the
Son of God. It is the doctrine which teach-
es, that we are justified freely hy the grace
of God, through the redemption that is in
Jesus Christ. This can only be understood
by those who entertain just conceptions of
the present state of human nature. Accord-
ing to the account which scripture gives
of the fallen corrupted state of man, an
account which is uniformly conlirmed by
fact and experience, every mouth is stopped,
and the whole world is become guilty before
God. All men, however different in their
characters and circumstances, are, in this
respect, considered on an equal footing
in the sight of God. They have all sinned
and come short of the glory of God. They
are all equally exposed to divine condemna-*

SEIl. 8. fcY FAItli. 22^

tion, and equally incapable of relieving
themselves by any exertions of their own.
In this situation the gospel brings a suita-
ble and seasonable relief. It informs us,
that a person of no less dignity than the Son
of God, undertook from eternity to restore an
innumerable multitude of the guilty apos-
tate race of Adam, to the favour and image
of their Maker ; and that, in pursuance of
this purpose, a variety of means have been
employed, suited to the grandeur and im-
portance of the undertaking. In particular,
we learn, that immediately upon the fall of
man an intimation was given to our first |)a-
rents of God's gracious design of saving sin-
ners. It was promised, that the seed of the
woman should bruise tJie head of the ser-
pent. The mercy contained in this pro-
mise was gradually unfolded in subsequent
revelations, till, at length, in the fulness of
time, God sent forth his Soji, made of a*
woman, made under the law^ to redeem
them that were under the law.

When this divine person appeared in our
world, it was, as had been ll/rttold in an-



cient prophecy, not uitb the pomp and
splendour of a king, but in the humble
form of a servant. He became a mmi of
sorrows, and acquainted with grief. His
whole life was a series of the most disinter-
ested beneficence. But for his love he re-
ceived hatred. He endured the contradic-
tion of sinners against himstJf; was revil-
ed, insulted, betrayed ; and, at last, by
wicked hands crucified and slain.

These are marvellous facts. The gospel
explains their cause. It informs us, that
in the whole of this amazing transaction, our
Lord Jesus Christ acted as a pubhc person.
lie zc'as made sin for us, who knew no sin,
that is, though perfectly free from sin, he
was considered in the eye of the divine law
as a transgressor. Our guilt was imputed
to him ; therefore it pleased the Lord
to bruise him and put him to grief lie
was wounded for our transgressions, and
bruised for our iniquities; the chastise-
ment of our peace xvas iipon him, and zcith
his stripes we are healed. He bare our
sins in his own body on the ^ree, and chear-
I'ully submitted to all the appointments of

SER. 8. BY FAITH. 227

of his heavenly Father, till the work was fi-
nished that had been given him to do.

Thus far the Redeemer appears in a hum-
"ble and suffering state, obeying, as our
surety, the precepts, and enduring the pe-
nalty of the divine law. But from this pe-
riod, a more pleasing scene opens to our
view. Jesus, the Prince of life, after sub-
mitting for a season to the power of death,
rises triumphant from the grave. The bands
of death are burst asunder. The shout of
victory is heard. It is the shout of a king.
The glorious Redeemer triumphs over prin-
cipalities and powers. The ransom is paid ;
complete atonement is made for sin ; ever-
lasting righteousness is brought in ; and, if
you ask what evidence can be produced of
all this ? It is answered, evidence the sim-
plest and the most satisfying. The Lord is
risen indeed, and God the Father hath o-i-
ven him glory, that our faith and hope
might be in God.

Such, my Christian fiiends, is the doc-
trine of faith which the apostles preached,

. 2


and which has been found in every age to
be the power of God, and tlie wisdom
of God unto salvation. God is in Christ
reconciling the zaorld unto hi?nself\ not
imputing unto men their trespasses. Jus-
tice is now satisfied ; the law fulfilled ;
and every obstacle removed, that stood
in the way of a sinner's recovery to God and
happiness. For Him hath God set forth to
he a propitiation through faith in his bloody
to declare his righteousness in the remission
of sins. To believe this great, this comfortable
truth, and simply to rely for pardon, peace,
and eternal life, on the faithful word of that
God who cannot lie, is what the scripture
calls the obedience of faith — the first and
great duty of a sinner, in obeying which,
according to the divine appointment, he is
furnished with strength to obey all the other
commandments of God,

If this account of the doctrine of faith be
agreeable to the \\ord of God, then you will
easily perceive, that in the justification of a
sinner in the sight of God, our own works
can have no place. In the grand scheme of

SER. 8. BY FAITH. 229

salvation, tliey certainly have a place, and
what that place is, I shall afterwards endea-
vour to shew : But, at present I would ob-
serve, and I wish it to be deeply impressed
upon your minds, that no good disposition
or qualification whatever, nothing, in short,
that distinguishes one man from another,
can he joined with the righteousness of
Christ as the ground of our confidence to-
wards God. Here there is no room for
boastmg. We must be saved either com-
pletely by grace, or completely by our own
works. To him that ziorketh is the reward
not rtckoned of grace, hut of debt. But to
him that worketh not., but bcUeveth on him
that jusHjieth the ungodly, his faith is
counted for righteousness.

Having thus laid before you what I appre-
hend to be the doctrine of faith, I proceed,

II. To explain what is meant hy making
void the law.

The original word signifies to render use-
less, or of no avail. It expresses the same idea


that is stated by our blessed Lord, when he
says, / came not to destroy the law, but to
fulfil it. Now, there are two ways in which
the law may be said to be destroyed, or
made void ;

1. In principle ; when any doctrine is
taught, which, in its just consequences, has
a tendency to relax our obligations to obey
the law of God.

2. In practice ; when persons take encou-
ragement from mistaken views of gospel
truths, to continue in sin, or to be less punc-
tual in discharging the duties which they
owe to God or their fellow-creatures.

1 . The law of God is made void in prin-
ciple, when any doctrine is taught, which,
in its just consequences, has a tendency to
relax our obligations to dwty. Thus to sup-
pose, that holiness is less necessary now,
than it was before the coming of Christ ; or
that a less degree of it is necessary ; or that
it is less necessary to believers than to o-
thers ; or even to suppose that we may safe-

SER. 8. BY FAITH. 231

\y take more liberty in particular cases, thari
we could have done before we believevl ; all
this is, in effect, to make void the law, since
it weakens the obligations to duty, and en-
courages the natural sloth and indolence of
the human mind. We cannot magnify too
much the grace of God in the salvation of
men ; but let us beware of doing it in such

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Online LibraryDavid BlackSermons on important subjects → online text (page 11 of 23)