Images de page

things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things 8.” He then concludes the subject with the 36th and 37th verses, to shew the great importance attached to words, because they shew the heart of man, from whence all good and evil spring. Whether it is understood, that the 'words' here mentioned, are to have the same construction as words spoken or written generally have; or, figuratively, to include all conceptions of the mind, cannot be material for the purpose for which they are at present adduced, the conclusion must be the

It is impossible upon these words of Christ to raise a doubt, when they are to have such great and important effect. By the 36th verse, men are to give account of every idle word at the day of judgment; and in the 37th verse, which begins with the conjunction “ for,” and goes on to say, 'by thy words thou shalt be justified, no other time can be applied to these last words than is stated in the previous verse, it having been there stated, it was not necessary to repeat it, the sense was quite perfect without; but had the former verse stopped at the words “ they shall give an account thereof,” and not concluded with the words“in the day of judgment,” no other deduction could have been made from the statement, nor could men be expected to account for their words at any other time than at the day of judgment. It may be truly said of these two verses, if words have a meaning to be understood, or any reliance is to be placed upon them, they are in these verses most perfect, most clear, and most express; no subtlety can alter their meaning, no refinement vary their import, no ingenuity or sophistry lessen their force, by any false glossing that can be given them; and without the most extraordinary perversion of plain words, or an utter rejection of them from Scripture, these are so convincing, incontrovertible, irresistible, and conclusive, supported and confirmed in the manner they are in so many parts of the Gospel of God, that they cannot have any other sense or construction put upon them, but such as must, without a shadow of doubt, determine the question now contended for, that justification, according to Scripture, will take place at the day of judgment, and not at any other time.


8 Matt. xii. 33, 34, 35.

[ocr errors][merged small]



The difficulty which theologians have found in speaking as to the precise time when what is called JUSTIFICATION takes place, shews clearly there has always been much uncertainty upon the subject. Some, in order to surmount the difficulty, have supported an opinion that there are two distinct justifications, one on earth, and another at the day of judgment. There have been other opinions that it takes place at death. Upon examining the writings of most theologians, who have generally held, that it takes place on earth, they appear either in giving a definition of the word or explanation of particular parts of Scripture, or by quotations from other authors to have manifested themselves, that justification CANNOT take place in this life, or at least have had great doubts : and though opinions from authors are not, strictly speaking, authorities, such as the Scriptures particularly are, yet as the question under discussion must be determined by opinions upon the real and true meaning and intention of the words of Scripture; the opinions or statements of writers who have held an opinion contrary to the one which is now intended to be established must be considered of greater weight than any opinion or statement of those who have written in support of their own opinions, it may, therefore, be deemed fair argument to appeal to such statements or opinions.

Without referring to any particular author, there is one general opinion which has prevailed among writers, who, in either giving a definition or speaking of justification have held, that it is a forensic term, that is, applicable to a court of judicature, and by its primary sense denotes the proceedings of a trial". Here we begin with first principles, and as no argument can be considered sound or good unless it rests upon a firm and solid basis, and like all erections not so founded, will be more or less in danger of failure. We will enquire and examine whether the foundation in the present case is such a sure and stable one that reliance can be placed upon it. This construction or meaning of the word has at least

• See Bull's Har. Apos. ch. üï. 1. also Hammond's Ann. on Rom. iii. 4.

in its favour the assent or opinion of all authors who have entered into a definition of the word in this point of view, and it is conceived no writer has at any time doubted this construction : and which is strongly confirmed by Scripture, particularly in the statement in Deut. xxv. 1. where it is clearly so used; and also frequently opposed to the word condemnation. Should this be held to be the true meaning of the word, it

may be asked, why may it not be applied as well to man when on earth, as to any other time? This question directly leads to another, namely, what tribunal or court of judicature is there on earth before which man is to be brought, where this term in its true and scriptural sense can be used ? If it appears that this term in its forensic meaning cannot be applied to man on earth, how is man to be justified on earth ? Here we meet with a difficulty of no small magnitude ; and which can be surmounted only in one of these ways, either the generally accepted and received meaning of the term must be given up, or it must be held that God is continually or at all times sitting in judgment upon man.

The latter is so unscriptural, that it is conceived not a single opinion will be found in its support, and the former has both Scripture and general opinion in its favour; if the difficulty cannot be got over by one of these ways, how can remission of

« PrécédentContinuer »