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time when their sins were forgiven them, but he says, your sins are forgiven you for his (Christ's) name's sake:" which leaves the matter open as to the time when the sentence of justification was actually to take place, and to reconcile Scripture by Scripture this passage must have the same construction put upon it as all other general statements, where the present or past tenses are used, but the future intended, as to the certain time when justification is actually to take place: this is the most reasonable construction that can be put upon these texts in Col. ii. 13. and I John ii. 12.; but should it not be perfectly satisfactory, and there should be a doubt whether these texts are authorities for remission of sins on earth, there is another most sure and unanswerable ground to place this argument upon, and which will shew beyond a possibility of doubt they really are not, and cannot be any authority for the principle of remission of sins in this life since the Apostle's time. We see by John xx. 23. that Christ conferred the power of remission of sins on earth in an especial manner upon his disciples, and if these texts or any others are taken in a literal sense, and apply to the time of the Apostles, the sins mentioned in them might be remitted by, and under the power the disciples had especially given them by Christ. This argument is most
conclusive and irresistible, and strongly shews sins are not remitted generally upon faith or any particular act taking place, and only by those endued with a special power for that purpose.
We will now consider the case of Abraham, which is relied upon to shew that justification takes place in this life; it may be admitted that his justification was pronounced upon him by God while living; we should not only see upon what ground it was pronounced, but consider the whole matter concerning his justification; he had been fixed upon by God, and received a special command to sojourn in a strange land, and thereupon God promised to bless him", this it is conceived was done to try him, and to prove whether his faith was good and perfect, that he had faith previously cannot be doubted; and we find, although he obeyed God's special command in sojourning in the land of Canaan, the sentence of justification was not passed upon him at that time, and not until he sought of the Lord an heir, and upon God asking him if he could number the stars, said "so shall thy seed be," and upon that occasion Abraham believing the Lord, he
This is not admitted by all theologians, there are those who conceive that Abraham's justification was only assured to him in this life, and that the sentence was to be passed upon him at the last day. See Dwight's Theology, vol. ii. p. 578.
d Gen. xii. 1, 2, 3.
e Gen. xv.
having before had proof of his faith by obeying his command, God justified him'. We see Abraham was not justified upon having faith, nor even when he had obeyed God's command, consequently by this case two certain facts are clearly shewn, the one that justification does not take place upon having faith, and the other that it did not upon this act of obedience taking place. The case of Abraham, his faith, his acts of obedience to God's commands, and his justification were all special, and all special cases of this nature must be considered as excepted cases. When any matter comes to pass, either from God's special act, or through his special command, it must be concluded it is to effect some great end, which he, in his supreme wisdom, has thought proper should come to pass in the manner he ordains; and as he does no special act, unless for some particular purpose, the special cases are not applicable to, nor can they be used as an argument in favour of a general rule, but rather as an exception to such rule. This case,
f Gen. xv. 6.
* In confirmation of the principle here stated we would refer to the cases of Enoch and Elijah, two special cases of man being translated without undergoing the sentence of death to which all men are subject; had they not been special cases the mention of them was unnecessary, and Abraham's case being specially stated, shews the case was special, otherwise
as far as any reasonable argument is to be deduced from it, proves that justification does not take place on earth, either at the time of believing or acting upon that belief, (if it does not take place at either of those times, when can it take place on earth?) on the contrary, we see God specially justified Abraham, at a distance of time after he had faith, and had acted upon that faith; from whence it most clearly appears justification on earth was not general, either upon having faith or obedience, otherwise there would have been no occasion for God's special justification; and if it does not take place at either of those times, it must be difficult to shew by Scripture any other time, that it can take place on earth generally. The case of David, the man after God's own heart, who undoubtedly had faith, will be observed upon as a conclusive case under the head Texts of Scripture, to shew justification does not take place in this life, that by his own words he was not justified in this life.
the special statement was unnecessary. A particular case stated to shew a general rule must be differently stated from one stated as a special case.
TEXTS OF SCRIPTURE QUOTED TO PROVE JUSTIFICATION MUST TAKE PLACE AT THE DAY OF JUDGMENT.
Job xiii. 18. "BEHOLD now, I have ordered my cause, I know that I shall be justified."
Psalm cxliii. 1. "Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness."
Ibid. cxliii. 2. "And enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified."
Rom. ii. 13. "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified."
Ibid. iii. 20. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
Ibid. iii. 30. "Seeing it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith."
Gal. ii. 16. "Knowing that a man is not jus