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tinctly perceived by the mind. The extent and limits of moral obligation, is what the individual, in such a state, may and will perceive and affirm to be his duty. To possess that state is to be all that duty requires. For what can justly be required of any being more than this, a sincere choice and intention, to know duty in all its forms, and to its utmost limits, for the purpose of rendering full and perfect obedience? Any form of action, which if known would be devolved upon
the subject as duty, but which, for the time being, is not and can not be known to him, can not, while he does and must sustain this relation to it, justly be devolved upon him as duty. But all such forms of action which can possibly be known to the subject, will be apprehended, when the individual is possessed of the “single eye” as above defined. To a mind in such a state then, the sphere of duty, can never, at any moment, extend beyond that of the intellectual and moral vision at the same moment of time.
12. We now understand on what grounds, the want of circumspection in enquiring, in all circumstances and relations involving moral obligation, after the demands of the law of duty, is every where charged in the scriptures as in itself the highest crime, and as a most fruitful source of all particular forms of sin. When individuals are charged with wrong, they commonly throw themselves back for self-justification upon their intentions. “We meant no wrong." "Our intentions were good.” In other words, we did not perpetuate the wrong, for the sake of the sin and guilt involved in its commission. And who, it may be asked in reply, ever sinned for the sake merely of incurring the desert of punishment? But suppose the individual is asked, Were you at the time in a state of great circumspection in discovering what right and duty demanded of you? The reply would no doubt be, I thought little or nothing upon the subject. I moved on in obedience to my inclinations, without inquiring whether my course was useful or injurious, right or wrong. Now this is one of the most guilty states of mind in which a moral agent, moving as we are, amid responsibilities of infinite weight, can possibly be. It is in itself the fruitful source of all forms of sin. The reason is that the law of duty is revealed in such a form, that honest-hearted circumspection secures of necessity, in every condition and relation in life, a knowledge of all forms of moral obligation therein devolved upon us, on the one hand, while the necessary result of the opposite state of mind on the other, is a form of ignorance involving in itself the highest degree of guilt. God may justly charge ignorance as one of the highest forms of crime, where knowledge is the necessary result of heart-integrity.
13. With a single additional suggestion we close this article. The real distinction between formalism and spiritual religion, or the religion of the bible, and between a course of formal, and of evangelical obedience to the divine precepts now becomes very clearly manifest. Formalism, in all its de velopments, is a system of external rules, conformity to which, in no sense or degree implies the obedience of the heart. The religion of the Bible, on the other hand, prescribes a system of moral duty full and entire obedience to which is found, and found only within the sphere of the heart's activity, and which demands or prohibits forms of external action, only as the indices of right or wrong intentions, and as the necessary means of accomplishing the purposes of the heart, purposes required or prohibited by the law of love. Formal obedience respects action only in its external form, and performs it as the whole of religion. Evangelical obedience, or the obedience of the heart, is action from respect to the spirit and not the letter, and complies with the letter only as a necessary consequent of heart-obedience. Whenever the mind comes to regard chiefly conformity to the external form of the divine precepts, instead of having a fundamental reference to heart-obedience to their spirit, then it has imbibed the spirit of formalism, a spirit which we have no reason to travel to Rome in order to find in its most perfect developments.
Select Passages of Scripture Considered.
By Rev, J. MORGAN, Professor of the Literature of the New Testament. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”—Rom. 8: 5.
From this passage some have argued that in no sense is any degree of holiness or conformity to the divine law a condition of justification; and some have taught that the faith which is here said to be counted for righteousness is to be regarded as containing no element of obedience to the law of God. Thus when Abraham was justified, he was justified as at the time ungodly, that is, in sin. To suppose otherwise, they say, is to subvert the gospel, and to.substitute for it a system of legality.
In answer to such views we say,
1. That not all of those who have an unsullied reputation for orthodoxy regard the passage before us as speaking of present ungodliness in the subject of justification. Some venerated theologians regard the passage as speaking of guilt, ill-desert contracted by past iniquity, on account of which mere law would condemn men and treat them as sinners, however free from present ungodliness, while the gospel, if it beholds repentance and faith in the ill-deserving, law-condemned criminals, forgives their past offences freely.
Thus Flatt, whose orthodoxy no well-informed man can question explains, “ Asebes: not godless (impious, as Morus translates,) at least not he who is still godless. Of such a one it could not be said that he is a subject of grace since faith can not subsist together with godlessness. So asebes means he who was ungodly or rather, he who is guilty, (sons) who deserves punishment, like [the Hebrew word] raushau.— That even Abraham was in this sense ungodly Paul could from ch. 3, suppose.
Perhaps he thought of particular historical circumstances, which, though they do not appear in the Old Testament, have a probable tradition in their favor, as that Abraham before he left his native country, had been an idolator. Philo and Josephus relate this; and it harmonizes well with Joshua 24: 2."
Doddridge's paraphrasc is to the same effect: “ To him that thus worketh to the full extent of all that was required, the reward proportioned to that work is not charged to account as matter of grace, but of debt. * * But to him who in this sense worketh not, who can by no means pretend to have wrought all righteousness, but humbly believeth on him who declareth the freeness of pardoning grace, and by that justifieth even the ungodly, if he repent and return, the phrase used respecting Abraham may be applied, &c.”
"This (the phrase justifieth the ungodly,'] does not imply,” says Macknight, “ that Abraham was an ungodly per son when he was justified; the apostle's meaning is justifieth him who had been ungodly,' in like manner as Matt. 14:31, "the dumb speak' signifies that persons who had been dumb, speak.”
" In explaining asebe (ungodly"] says Bloomfield in his Recensio Synoptica, our best commentators confine it to one who has been a sinner, but has now repented." That Bloomfield is an impartial reporter, appears from the fact that he himself deems this too harsh an interpretation."
2. It is said that “Rahab the harlot was justified by faith;" in which passage it surely is not meant that continuing a harlot she was justified, but that a woman who had been a harlot received justification. In the same sense in which it is said that God justifies the ungodly man, it may be said that he justifies the harlot, the liar, the thief, the oppressor. It were monstrous to imagine that God justifies persons whose present characters are designated by such terms of deep opprobrium; and we know of none who have the face to maintain thathe does.
3. Justification is a judicial transaction. An individual of our race is arraigned before God, and an investigation of his case results in the verdict “guilty of ungodliness.” But in bar of the doom of death, it is pleaded that Christ died for the ungodly, and that the convicted criminal has repented of his ungodliness and exercises faith in the Son of God. The grand result is justification instead of condemnation. Now, how can it be imagined that the ungodliness in question is such as exists at the moment of justification?
4. By many of former times, and by not a few in these days, we find the doctrine maintained, that obedience to God is not at all a condition, but an effect of justification, and that therefore justification must precede all degrees of obedience. As a moral agent must be disobedient when he is not obedient, and as to be disobedient is to be ungodly, it of course follows that the human sinner, if justified at all, must be ungodly at the moment of justification.
Let us examine this doctrine, and see whether it will bear the scrutiny of the bible. We believe that it owes all its credit with the truly pious to a certain superficial resemblance which it bears to some precious doctrines of God's word. Die
(1.) It is true that in a certain sense, pardon precedes all
degrees of holiness in sinners. Christ prayed for his murderers: 6 Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." But did he mean that God should accept them as his people, that he should justify them remaining murderers of the lowest grade? The plain meaning, we think, was that God would not shut the door of mercy against them, not close their day of grace, but still wait for them to come to repent
În a like use of words it may be said, that God forgave the whole world of mankind, when instead of dooming us to hell, “ he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” But this is a very different thing from that forgiveness and justification which is given to the penitent and believing, to those who turn from their sins to the Lord with all their heart and with all their soul. To confound this forbearance, long-suffering, and forgiveness with the acceptance of penitents as righteous, is 'to open a high-way to Universalism. this sort of forgiveness is the original source and fountain of all the benefits we have received from God. It manifested itself in the unspeakable gift of Christ, and it still manifests itself in those operations of the Spirit and that proclamation of mercy which result in all the conversions that occur on earth. But not till a soul turns from unbelief to faith, from sin to holiness, from enmity to love, from the spirit of disobedience to the spirit of obedience, is that soul justified and accepted as freed from impending divine wrath and as an heir of divine mercy.
(2.) It must also be said that in another sense forgiveness · as involving justification is the source of holiness. All holiness flows from discoveries of the truth and of the divine glory to the soul. The manifestations of God and truth made in the gift of Christ, the strivings of the Spirit, the preaching of the gospel, the example of saints, the operations of nature and providence, and the long-suffering goodness of God result in the conversion of myriads of souls. Justification and the communications of the Spirit of adoption are additional manifestations of God, giving the souls receiving them a nearer and more intimate knowledge of the Father in heaven, and these manifestations result in advancement in sanctity. And more and more as the saint beholds the glory of the Lord, he is changed into the same image from glory to glory. It is true, then, that justification and acceptance result in obedience, that is, in higher and more glorious consecration, as it unfolds in a higher degree the infinite worthiness of God; but it is not true that justification is the cause of the first holy love