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Word of God, but its special object is the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Son of God and the Saviour of the world: just as the eye of a condemned criminal, at the place of execution, beholds the assembled multitude, the fatal tree, and the messenger whom he sees hastening with the reprieve; but it is on the latter that his view is fixed with the greatest steadiness and delight. Faith in Christ, then, is a full persuasion of the truth of the glorious Gospel concerning Him, accompanied by a full confidence in his veracity, and an expectation of the fulfilment of his word. It is not a mere notion, a purely intellectual act; but certainly implies an exercise of the will. It is the belief of something spoken by a living person, and necessarily involves a confidence in his veracity; it is something interesting to us, and must contain expectation. Hence it is represented by the Apostle as synonymous with the act of committing the soul into the hands of Christ. "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him." If it were a purely intellectual act, how could it be the subject of command or the matter of duty? For can that which is exclusively mental contain either moral good or evil? If faith be purely intellectual, must not unbelief, its opposite, be the same? But it is said, that as the disposition influences the judgment, and leads to either faith or unbelief, according to the state of the heart, the moral excellence of one, and the turpitude of the other, arises from its cause. But is not the Scripture most explicit in its condemnation of unbelief, as evil in itself; and in its commendation
of faith, as morally excellent? The question is not what is the meaning of the term faith, as employed by metaphysicians, but as employed by the Apostles; and this meaning can be gathered only from their writings, in which many terms are employed with a signification somewhat different to that in which they are employed in ordinary discourse. Justification, for instance, in reference to ordinary affairs, means the act of declaring an accused person to be innocent of the charge brought against him; but, as the term is used by the sacred writers, means nothing more than treating a person acknowledged to be guilty, as righteous, for the sake of the righteousness of Christ.
Faith is not that which constitutes the ground of our acceptance with God, but which places us upon that ground; it is not our justifying righteousness, but that which unites us to Christ, and appropriates his righteousness to ourselves. It is true that a different view seems to be given by the Apostle, when he says, quoting the Old Testament expression," Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness." It would seem from hence, and so it has been contended, that his faith was accepted in lieu of his obedience, as the matter of his righteousness, and the ground of his acceptance with God. But a more correct translation of the passage will rectify this mistake, and prevent what must be considered a fundamental error on the very important doctrine of justification by faith. "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him 'to,' ' in order to,' or 'towards,' his
justification." It is not, then, for our faith, but by it, that we are justified: faith, as an act of ours, is no more the meritorious ground of our justification than any other of our performances; for, if it were, we should still be justified by works, as faith is as much a work as penitence. The Apostle is sufficiently explicit on this head, where he says, "But now the righteousness of God without law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe." "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned towards justification." "By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
• Great efforts have been made by the opponents of the imputation of Christ's righteousness to believers for their justification, and especially by M'Knight, to overturn this doctrine, by the aid of the text we are now considering. This critic thought he had found in this passage a triumphant proof that our own faith, or act of believing, and not Christ's obedience unto death, constitutes our justifying righteousness, in lieu of our own good works. It is a little remarkable that so acute a critic should have overlooked the force of the Greek preposition (E), not only as established by other scholars, but by himself: for in his preliminary Essay on the meaning of Greek Particles, which he has prefixed to his Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans, although he gives fourteen different but harmonious renderings of this preposition, the meaning of "for," or, "in lieu of," has no place. We have "concerning," "in order to," "towards," but not "for:" and yet he has given it this meaning in the text.
HOPE is the desire and expectation of those. future good things which God has promised in his word. Faith believes the promise, hope desires its fulfilment. It is essential to hope, that its object be. some good thing, either supposed or real; for no one can desire that which is evil, as evil: and its object must be something future; for who expects that of which he is already in possession? Desire, without expectation, is either mere wishing, or else despondency; expectation, without desire, is either indifference or dread: the union of both constitutes hope. The object of Christian hope is thus stated by the Apostles: :-"Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; and every man that hath this hope in him" [in Christ] "purifieth himself, even as he is pure." Paul represents it as that which the whole rational creation has groaned after, ever since the entrance of sin into the world. "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits
of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope; seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."*
for what a man
Rom. viii. 18-25. This passage has been thought to contain inexplicable difficulties, and to have been in the mind of the Apostle Peter when he spoke of the things hard to be understood in the writings of Paul. Upon this text some have raised the benevolent, but, as it strikes me, the groundless, hypothesis of the resurrection of the brute creation. If we are willing to be guided by the generally acknowledged canon of interpretation, of explaining a difficult passage by the context, we shall find a light which will conduct us through the intricacies of this text, and illuminate our course as we proceed. If we examine the context, we shall find, both from what precedes and what follows, that the Apostle is speaking of the future happiness of the righteous. The passage is introduced thus: "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us ;" then follows the expression," for the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God;" or, as it might be rendered, "looketh for the revelation of the sons of God;" i. e. the glory to be revealed, of which be had just spoken. Next comes a parenthetical description of the present earthly and temporal condition of the moral creation, and how it was brought into this condition. "For the creature was made subject to vanity;" i. e. to the misery of this present world, terminating in death; "not "willingly," not on account of their own personal transgression, "but by him who hath subjected the same;" i. e. Adam, their natural root and federal head. The expression, "in hope," should be taken from the end of the twentieth verse, and placed at the commencement of the twenty-first; the conjunction (ori) should be translated "that," instead of