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is generally understood, that a gospel salvation is a salvation from what is called vindictive justice, which is supposed to exist in God, and which requires a never ending unmerciful punishment to be inflicted on all the sinners of mankind. Should the reader object to the term unmerciful, as applied to the endless punishment which divine justice is supposed to require, the objection will undoubtedly be dropped, unless it can be made to appear that there is mercy in such punishment. It is conceived that the supposition of this vindictive justice involves a number of difficulties inconsistent with the character of God as exhibited in the scriptures, and, of course, derogatory to the Gospel scheme of Salvation, and also to the moral character of a disciple of Christ. God is represented in the scriptures as willing in himself, and purposing, according to his good pleasure, the salvation of sinners. See Eph. i, 9, &c. "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of time, he might gather together in one all things in Christ." And in the 11th verse, the Apostle speaks of an inheritance to which the saved were predestinated. "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." Now it is evident, beyond all controversy, that if God were possessed of a vindictive justice, which required the endless misery of all sinners, it could not consist with that justice that he should purpose, according to his own good pleasure, the salvation so clearly pointed out in the above passage. The difficulty evidently involved, is the representation of the will, pleasure and purpose of God in direct opposition to the requirements of his justice.
Again, God is represented as loving us before we loved him, and while we were dead in trespasses and sins; and that this love was the cause of the Saviour's dying for us. See Eph ii. 4, 5. "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ." Again 1 John, IV. 10. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." If God loved us, while we were dead in trespasses and sin, with so great a love as to send his Son to be the propitiation for our sins, it must be evident, to the candid reader, that the supposition of a Justice in God which required the endless punishment of man
kind, in a state of sin, is, in every sense, opposed to that great love with which the above scripture says, God loved us. Secondly. Of course this erroneous supposition will be found in direct opposition to the declared object of the Saviour, which object is plainly set forth in the following scriptures. See St. John, iii, 17-"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" I. John, Iv. 14. "And we have seen, and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." If the salvation of the world he the declared object of the Saviour's mission, the supposition that divine justice requires the endless misery of the world of mankind, is in direct opposition to this declared object. Here, perhaps, it may be said that the dispensation of gospel grace being designed to save the sinner from this deserved punishment which justice requires, the opposition of this supposed just punishment to the dispensation of gospel grace ought not to be urged against the justice of such punishment. Reply-of two opposites, when it can be said that one is just, it follows of course, that the other is unjust. If, therefore, the supposition be correct that divine justice requires the endless unmerciful punishment of sinful man, the opposite dispensation of gospel grace must of necessity be equally as obnoxious to divine justice as the sinner is whom it aims to save from this just punishment.
Thirdly, it was suggested that this supposed justice is in opposition to the moral character of a disciple of Christ, which will evidently appear to be the case, as it must be granted that the moral character of the disciple is similar to that of the master, whose design and grand aim we have seen to be, in direct opposition to this supposed justice. Here the reader is requested to permit his mind to ponder the following question with candor. If there be a vindictive justice in God, which demands the endless unmerciful punishment of mankind, how can it be just for Christ the mediator, to save mankind from such punishment?
The mind which has never travelled out of the common road in respect to this subject, will naturally come, by the course of the above reasoning, to the following crisis. If divine justice do not demand endless punishment, it is very true that the scheme of salvation does not in that particular stand in opposition to justice; but if divine justice do not require some punishment, from which gospel grace is designed to save, there seems to be no salvation at all: and on the other hand, if it be admitted that justice demands any punishment, be it ever so
limited, from which gospel grace is designed to save, it establishes the principle against which the foregoing arguments are directed. The mind having formed this crisis, it seems to be in a suitable situation to consider the suggestion, that gospel grace is not designed to save the sinner from any deserved punishment. The maintenance of this suggestion will appear absolutely necessary, if we duly consider an important fact which forms one grand section of our general query, which is, that God will render to every man according to his work. If it be objected, that unless the sinner be saved from deserved punishment, he cannot be said to be saved by grace, the objection is rendered impotent by reversing the subject, which produces the following proposition. If the sinner do not receive a punishment from which divine mercy is disposed to save him, he cannot be said to receive a punishment which is just.
By this time it will undoubtedly appear evident to the reader, that the common opinion of saving sinners from deserved punishment, by grace, is an opinion which sets the divine attributes of justice and mercy at variance, which is doing great injustice to the character of the divine being. In forming and arranging arguments illustrative of subjects founded on the authority of scripture, it is most reasonable that we use the sacred testimony in such a way as not to render one part void in order to establish another. If we are assured by the sacred text that God will render to every man according to his work, there appears no way whereby a salvation from justly deserved punishment can be effected without making this testimony void..
Having shown the impropriety of the common notion of sal-. vation, it may be proper to give a direct answer to the question, "What are the saved saved from?". Which answer will be rendered unexceptionable and perfectly satisfactory, being found in the following scriptures. Mat. i. 21. "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins." Acts iii. 26. “Unto you first, God, having raised up his son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities." Col. i. 13. "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear son." St. John, xii. 46. "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."
That this salvation from sin, this turning away from iniquities, and this deliverance from the power of darkness, is a salvation in which justice is engaged, may be seen by the following. Isaiah xlv. 21. "Who hath declared this from ancient
time? Who hath told it from that time? Have not I the Lord? And there is no God else besides me; a just God, and a Saviour there is none besides me." Zech. ix. 9. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold thy king cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation."
A salvation from sin is not only consonant with the very nature of justice, but it is equally consistent with every precept which justice has enjoined on mankind; and it is likewise necessary in order that the sinner may be saved to his own advantage and for his own happiness; whereas a salvation from deserved punishment would be directly opposed to those three important subjects. It could be of no advantage to a sinner to save him from the punishment which divine justice has attached to his sins, if the sinner still continues in sin.
Secondly. The situation into which the saved are brought by salvation, claims our notice. Salvation from sin brings the creature into a state of righteousness, holiness, and active obedience to God and his commandments. That power which delivers from the power of darkness, translates into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Reconciliation to God, love to his lovely attributes, sincere love to fellow-beings, divine light, heavenly wisdom, joy unspeakable, and the peace of God, are some of the blessed characteristics of the happy situation into which salvation from sins, brings the saved. The saved being led by the spirit, bear its fruits, which are love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, weekness and temperance, against which there is no law, but the law of God is fulfilled in the soul by those divine virtues. Justification is one important eharacteristic of the situation of the saved. The law, in all its requirements, being fulfilled in the soul, justification is the consequence. This shows that the salvation is perfectly consistent with justice. There is no divine law which opposes the reconciliation of the unreconciled. The saved therefore, are brought into a state wherein all their moral faculties harmonize with all the revealed attributes of God.
The life of God is the life of the ransomed soul. This is the life which was manifested in Jesus, which is the true God and eternal life.
Our second general enquiry is to ascertain the nature of the forgiveness of sin, and the action of that grace by which the before described salvation is effected.
Forgiveness of sin is an act originating in the nature of God, and harmonizes both justice and mercy in the same action.
If this can be made to appear, from the testimony of truth, it will happily accord with the arguments on the first general query, and will also serve as a lamp, by which the remaining section will be illuminated. "God is love.", Forgiveness is a manifestation of love and one of its inseparable qualities. See Psalm cxxx, 3, 4. "If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” In this text the following ideas are manifest:
1st. That God does not mark iniquities in the sense express
ed in the text.
2d. That if he should mark iniquities in the sense of the text, none could stand. And
3d. That there is forgiveness with God, as an abiding quali ty of his nature, for which he is to be reverenced. It would be time lost which should be spent in proving what must be self-evident to every candid enquirer; and surely nothing can be more self-evident than that justice and mercy have their or igin in the same eternal fountain of Love, which is God. There can be, therefore, no radical difference in their nature, any more than there can be two or more radically different principles in one indivisible essence.
Justice and mercy are only different names whereby we distinguish between different operations or manifestations of the same divine nature of love; and as they have their origin in love, so they must of necessity be found united in love in their final ultimatum. Justice is that action or manifestation of love, by which divine requirements are enjoined on moral, accountable beings, and by which also proportionate rewards and punishments are assigned and awarded to all moral actions. Justice, in the foregoing operations, being a modification of divine love, never deviates from the nature of love in the smallest degree, and therefore never violates the designs of its con- · temporary manifestation of love, which we call mercy; and therefore never becomes unmerciful,
Mercy is that action or manifestation of love, by which that forgiveness which is with God is manifested to the transgressor, in which manifestation we are brought to see,
1st. The divine fitness of all the requirements of justice, and their perfect loveliness, being nicely fitted, planned and directed according to the moral propriety, and the happiness of the
2dly The goodness of God in awarding tribulation and anguish to every soul of man who doeth evil, as a mean directed