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remission of sins upon any person who had not faith; they could not be guilty of so great an abuse of such an extraordinary power; and if they would not, the power was useless, and a nullity, supposing remission of sins was effected at the time faith was received. But if remission of sins was not intended to take place until the day of judgment in all common cases, and on earth only on special occasions, then the intention in conferring this power had its full effect; and no other reasonable conclusion can be drawn from this text.
: Let us now consider the words in the 31st verse of the xiith chapter of Matthew. Christ, in describing an unpardonable sin, concludes by stating, that it will "not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in the world to come;" different constructions may be put, and different conclusions drawn from these words. This seems clear, that sins may be, or might have been remitted on earth: but it is also clear, that sins are to be remitted hereafter, by the words, " in the world to come." We see by 1 John 517," All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not unto death." This verse may assist us in putting a construction upon Christ's words, and drawing a conclusion from them, as to what those sins were which are remitted on earth,
and those to be hereafter remitted. If certain sins are to be brought into judgment, and is it possible to raise a doubt whether they are or not? can there be any difficulty to conclude, which of the sins above-described is the sin to be brought into judgment?-that, undoubtedly, which is a sin unto death. Such a construction may be put upon Christ's words; but the following they will bear we have before seen Christ had power to remit sins on earth; he also conferred that power on his disciples, and to a remission under this power the text might refer to, or be applied, and the latter part of the text must show, if there is any meaning in words, that sins are to be remitted in the world to come, which must be at the day of judgment. Were sins generally remitted on earth, either at baptism, embracing faith, or performing good works, there would be no ground for the statement in the text, and in that case, as far as to this statement, it would be making the word of God of none effect, the power which Christ and his disciples had was of a temporary nature; and, as far as we know, or have been informed, ceased with them, and no such power has been even pretended to exist since their time; it must therefore be concluded, that remission of sins on earth has wholly ceased, there being no ground to suppose
that God has, since the days of the apostles, in any instance, exercised his Almighty Power to remit sins on earth in any especial manner.
In the verse quoted from the tenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, was any reliance to be placed on the tenses of the verbs, we have the present tense used in the word "believeth," and the future in the words shall (and not doth) receive; and in the thirty-first verse of Matthew xii., we find the future tense used in the word "forgiven ;" and also in the thirty-second verse, with the additional words, "neither in the world to come." This verse not only uses the future tense, but shows most clearly that sins may be forgiven in the world to come. Supposing a person's sins are forgiven in this world, upon having faith, and no other time can reasonably be conceived when they are to be forgiven, particularly by those who hold, that sins are to be forgiven by or through faith only; how or in what way can these words of Christ have a sense given them to show they are not useless, should sins be generally pardoned in this world? Is it possible to suppose, that Christ would make use of words which could have no effect, and were totally useless? It is impossible. No other construction can be put upon these words of Christ, but which must show that some sins are to be forgiven hereafter, and, in his own words, " in the world to come."
It seems the words in the nineteenth verse of the third of the Acts, " times of refreshing," are held by writers to be doubtful, as to what time was intended by them, yet the most reasonable construction must be, the appearing of Christ; and which the words, " presence of the Lord," strongly show; but, whether they do or not, it is most certain they must refer to a future time for sins to be blotted out, and not at the time of repentance and conversion. The conversion here meant must be a conversion to the faith of Christ; it is therefore clear, there can be no blotting out of sins at the time of repentance and conversion, but at "the times of refreshing," whenever that may be. It is not possible to form a text which could be more conclusive than this is for establishing the principle now contended for, that remission of sins is future; the mode by which the remission is to be obtained is first stated, and the time when that remission is to take place. From this text two certain conclusions are to be drawn; one, that repentance and conversion are absolutely and indispensably necessary for a sinner to obtain remission of sins; the other, the time when the remission will take place, after a due observance of the injunction given.
We will now offer an argument against justification in this life, which must have a very con
vincing effect. It having been shown, that man can at any time during life fall from grace and faith, and be annihilated as to life eternal, we will suppose this case to have taken place, that a man has had faith, and thereby has had his sins pardoned, and he afterwards draws back, or falls from faith. We have seen that every secret thing is to be brought forward at the day of judgment; what is to become of those sins which have been remitted in this life? Can sins which have been pardoned be then brought against the transgressor? If they can, the remission has had no virtual effect; and if they cannot, the statement that every work is to be brought into judgment, and man is to receive according to that he hath done, whether good or bad, cannot be relied upon as well founded.