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Christ, the worldly man, perhaps, bows his body at the name, but he bows not the heart; he sees no beauty in the Saviour,-nothing to desire, nothing to love, nothing to seek after. But behold the penitent: Christ to him is all in all: and he desires his whole soul, his body, soul, and spirit, to be committed to his care, and devoted to his service. And who, my brethren, has made the difference between the worldly and the penitent man? It is effected by the influences of the Holy Spirit? it is the work of the Lord of Hosts, and to him shall the glory be ascribed for ever. But this change of mind is farther manifested with respect to delights and enjoyments. The worldly man delights in obtaining riches, or some other temporal good. "Soul," said the fool in the Gospel, "thou hast much goods laid up for many years." What, then, was his resolution? Was it to do something for the souls of men,-something for the God who gave him his riches?-No; this was his purpose: "Take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." (Luke xii. 19.) But what is the language of the Christian ? "Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me; so shall my heart be filled with gladness, more than when corn and wine increase." The favour of God, as manifested through Christ, and brought home to the heart by the Holy Spirit, produces, in a pre-eminent degree, both joy and peace." Being justified by faith we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ," by whom we have now received the atonement." There is also a change of mind in the real penitent as to his purposes and determinations. The worldly man has always some favourite study, pursuit, or object in his view, and to this he devotes almost all his time and faculties. The whole of his history may be summed up in this:-he determines to live to himself. The Christian is the very reverse of this: he
determines to live to God; he knows he is not his own, but bought with a price; therefore he seeks to glorify God in his body and in his spirit, which are his." He draws all his motives from the cross of Christ and the hope of glory; he knows that much is forgiven him, and therefore he loves much, and "presents his body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is his reasonable service." He is doing all he can, while he can, to promote the knowledge of God and Christ; and if he can do nothing more, he is praying night and day for the extension of the Saviour's kingdom. In fine, this must ever be the language of the Christian's practice: "None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For, whether we live we live to the Lord, or whether we die we die unto the Lord; whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord's."
There is also a change in the penitent, as it regards their hopes and fears. What is a worldly man's best hope, but a poor, wretched, rotten thing. He expects happiness or comfort in this world; but were he to obtain all that he anticipates or desires, what would he do but lament that earth could bestow no more? like Alexander, who wept because he knew not of another world to conquer. But look at the hope of the Christian; he hopes to be raised from a state of weakness to power-from imperfection to unsullied purityfrom humiliation to glory. He "knows in whom he has believed, and is persuaded that he is able to keep that which he has committed unto him unto that day." We have known worldly men to offer the chief part of their precious gold to the physicians, to induce them to prolong life for a few days, but in vain. They have been told it was impossible; that their hour was at hand, and could not be deferred; and hearing this, they have cursed God and died. But look at the ex
piring Christian. The grace that changed his nature, supports him in the hour of death, and buoys up his soul with a hope full of immortality. He has made his peace with God, through Christ, and therefore is not afraid to die.
Here, then, in all these particulars, you see displayed an important change. The sorrow of the penitent is founded on right principles. It is occasioned by his feeling and seeing things in a new way. All is effected by the power of God's grace; and to him, I repeat, must the glory be ever ascribed.
WE now come to the question, What is meant by the justification of a man in these circumstances? I answer, that to justify a sinner, is to account and consider him relatively righteous, and to deal with him as such, notwithstanding his past actual unrighteousness; by clearing, absolving, discharging, and releasing him from various penal evils, and especially from the wrath of God, and the liability to eternal death, which by that past unrighteousness he had deserved; and by accepting him as if just, and admitting him to the state, the privileges, and the rewards of righteousness. "To be justified," say the Minutes of the Methodist Conference in the year 1747, "is to be pardoned and received into God's favour; into such a state, that if we continue therein, we shall be finally saved."
Hence it appears, that, in our opinion, justification, or the remission or forgiveness of sin, are substantially the same thing. These expressions, I mean
to say, relate to one and the same act of God, to one and the same privilege of his believing people. That, which viewed in one aspect is pardon, viewed in another is justification. "The same act," says that profound Divine, Mr. John Howe, "is pardon, being done by God as a sovereign Ruler, acting above law, namely, the law of works, which is justification, being done by him as sustaining the person of a Judge according to law, namely, the law of grace." Accordingly, St. Paul clearly referred to justification and forgiveness as synonymous terms, when he said, "Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts xiii. 38, 39.) The word "justified," in the thirty-ninth verse, is exegetical, or explanatory of, the word "forgiveness" in the thirtyeighth. Attend also to the following passage: him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." (Rom. iv. 5-8.) Here, the justification of the ungodly, the counting or imputation of righteousness, the forgiveness of iniquity, and the covering and non-imputation of sin, are phrases which have all, perhaps, their various shades of meaning, but which express the very same blessing under different views. Our Saviour uses another phrase, but one which is substantially equivalent, in its import, with those which have been already quoted. In his parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, he puts into the mouth of the latter this prayer, "God be merciful unto me a sinner!" And what is the mercy which a
penitent sinner desires from God? Is it not redemption through the blood of Jesus, even the forgiveness of sins? Now that mercy which this Publican implored, he actually found; and his finding mercy, that is, his obtaining pardon, is expressly called, his " going down to his house justified."
LET no man look for sanctification before he is justified; that is, let no man be discouraged from coming to Christ, because he finds not in himself that godly sorrow for sin, that ability to repent, that disposition of heart which he desires to have. We must first be in Christ, before we can be new creatures; and this is a common fault among us; we would fain have something before we come; we think God's pardons are not frée, but we must bring something in our hand. You know the proclamation runs thus, "Buy without money; " that is, come without any excellency at all; because we are commanded to come and take of the water of life freely. Therefore, do not say, I have sinful dispositions, and a hard heart, and cannot mourn for sin as I should, therefore I will stay till that be done. It is all one as if thou shouldest say, I must not go to the physician. What is the end of thy going to him, but to have thy disease healed? I say, it is the same folly. The end of going to Christ is, that the very hardness of thy heart may be taken away, that this very deadness of thy spirit may be removed; that thou mayest be enlivened, quickened, healed; that thou mayest hate sin, for he is thy physician; look not for it before-hand; thou