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God's UNCHANGEABLE LOVE TO SINNERS THE CAUSE
OF CHRIST'S MISSION.
ROMANS, v. 8.
But God commendeth his love toward us. in that, while we were yet sin
Christ died for us.
The general subject, on which the Apostle labored, which led him to the statement made in our text, was to show that the justification of man unto spiritual life, depended on a covenant of promise, and not on a law of works. In the preceding chapter our author is remarkably explicit, where he says , “ Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.". And speaking of the faith of Abraham, even before circumcision, he says, " For the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect. Therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed: not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.” The faith of which the Apostle here speaks, is the same which he calls “the covenant of promise" in Ephesians ii. 12. It is an egregious mistake to suppose that Abraham's believing in the promise of God, is the "righteousness of faith," by which he was constituted the heir of the world; for Abraham could not believe the promise that he should be the heir of the world un
til such promise was communicated to him, and this promise could not have been communicated to him, at an earlier date than the establishment of its own truth in the purpose of him who made the promise.
This covenant of promise is the FAITH, of which the Apostle again speaks in the beginning of this chapter as follows ; “Therefore, being justified by FAITH, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That this faith, by which we are justified, is not our act of believing, will appear evident by the connexion in which the Apostle here places it. That we may understand this subject cleariy, we must disregard the division of these two chapters, and read the last verse of the fourth chapter and the first of the fifth together. Speaking of Jesus, the Apostle says, “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we h ve peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." Here it is evident that the inspired Apostle makes the resurrection of Christ, and the faith by which we are justified the same ; by which it is evident, that by FAITH he no more meant the act of believing, than he meant that the resurrection of Jesus, for our justification, was the act of believing.
This Faith, which is the covenant of promise, the Apostle distinguishes most clearly from the act of believing in chapter 3d, as follows; “For what if some did not believe ? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect ? God forbid : yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.”
No one will suppose that the faith of God is his act of believing, for the act of believing is a consequence resulting from the power of evidence in the mind, which power can never act in the mind of him who is omniscient... But this FAITH of God is his covenant of promise, made known to Abraham four hundred and thirty years before the giving of the law by Moses ; concerning which covenant our author speaks to the Galatians as follows ; "And this I say, that the covenant that was confirm
ed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect." This covenant of promise this author again calls faith in the Ilth of Hebrews. 66 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." The
substance of what we hope for is not our act of believing, but the thing in which we believe.
It was thought needful to be thus particular on this subject, for two reasons.
1. To expose the common error which supposes, that our act of believing is required as a condition of our justification before God. This error has so confused the minds of professors of Christianity, that they know not how to explain their own thoughts. They believe that God requires our act of believing as a condition of our justification ; and it is constantly held up and urged that our everlasting destruction will be the just recompense of our unbelief. But if we ask what there is for us to believe, there is no answer. For if the thing to be believed were stated, the next question would be, shall the unbelief of man make the faith of God without effect? And,
II. Because it was in the fulfilling of his covenant of promise, that God commended his love to sinners by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
The particular mode by which the Apostle presented the testimony contained in our text was by drawing a comparison between the compassion or goodness of man, and the compassion or goodness of God. The following are his words; “For when we were yel without strength, in due time Christ died for the un godly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for
Here the comparison is clear and striking to the mind; and evidently shows that the design of the Apostle was to show that the love of God to sinners is vastly stronger than the love of man toward man.
The first particular which we shall consider as prov
ed by the testimony of our text is, that neither sin nor any thing else was ever the cause of enmity in God toward man.
Though this proposition is of immense consequence, it
seems to have been overlooked by our divines, who have constantly represented the divine Being to be full of wrath and tremendous indignation against sinners. And yet the passage under consideration is a direct and plain testimony against all that has ever been said on this subject.
The hearer is requested to notice, with attention, the two propositions which are in direct opposition to each other, and which are the foundations of true and false doctrine. One proposition asserts that God loves sinners, and that nothing ever can cause biin to do otherwise ; and the other contends that God hates the sinner, and will eternally exercise unmerciful wrath on the transgressor. If one of these be true, the other must be false; they cannot both be true, nor can they both be false. But which is true ?
As there is like to be some dispute on this subject, and as the hearer will wish to have it so conducted, as to make a clear distinction, both between the parties, and their respective arguments, we will give to the parties distinguishing names. The party, who contends that God loves the sinner, we will call Light, and the one who contends for the contrary proposition we will call DARKNESS. Do
you ask why these names are chosen ? Because light seems to be expressive of love, and darkness of hatred. And the beloved John says, “ He that loveth his brother abideth in the light-But he that hateth his brother is in darkness.”
Let us hear what darkness argues in support of his favorite proposition, viz. that God hates the sinner.
says, as God is a Being of infinite holiness and purity he cannot love unholiness and impurity, but must, consistently with his own essential attributes, hate sin in an exact proportion to his love of righteousness; and as the sinner is not righteous, but sinful;
is not holy, but unholy; is not pure, but impure, God must of necessity hate the sinner.
Light replies; Though I grant your premises, yet I cannot concede to your conclusion. So far from allowing your conclusion to be a just deduction from your premises, I shall contend that it is in direct opposition to them, and if it could be maintained as a truth, it must be by disproving the argument from which you deduce it.
The amount of your argument is, that God is opposed to sin. This I grant. Now tell me, Darkness, what is sin ?
Sin is the transgression of the law. What does the law require? Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy strength, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Rightly answered. Now, Darkness, do you not see that hatred is the transgression of, and the only sin that can be committed against this law? If it be sin for man to hate God, is it holiness for God to hate man?
In room of hating sin, you contend that God hates the sinner, that is, he hates the man who hates him. Thus you deny your cwn premises. For there is no more holiness in God's hating man, than there is in man's hating God; there is no more righteousness in any supposed enmity in God toward man, than there is in man's enmity toward God.
Darkness says, that this argument is blasphemy, that it accuses God with unholiness and sin. Light denies the charge, and says; It is you,
Darkness, that accuses God with this unholy spirit of hatred. To illustrate the subject light uses the following metaphor.
The parent of a family of children gives to his offspring a law which requires them all to love him sincerely, and to love each other ; but these children fall out by the way, get wrong notions respecting their parent's character and law, and are filled with hatred toward him, toward his law, and toward one another. In consequence of this the parent, in room of loving his children as he did when he first gave them this