ROMANS, v, 1,2.

" Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."

To be justified here, is not to be made righteous, but to he counted righteous. To be justified by faith, expresses to us the way in which an imputed righteousness is made ours. Faith is that act of the recipient, by which he lays hold of this privilege. It contributes no more to the merit that is reckoned to us, than the hand of the beggar adds any portion to the alms that are conferred upon him. When we look to the righteousness that is made ours by faith, it is well to go altogether out of ourselves, and not to mix up any one personal ingredient whether of obeying or of believing with it. The imagination of a merit in faith, brings us back to legal ground again, and exposes us to legal distrust and disquietude. In the exercise of faith, the believer's eye looks out on a cheering and a comforting spectacle; and from the object of its external contemplation, does it fetch homeward all the encouragement which it is fitted to convey. In a former verse of this epistle, we are said to be justified by grace. It was in Love to the world, that the whole scheme of another righteousness was devised, and executed, and offered to man as his plea both of acquittal and of reward before the God whom he had offended. In another place of the New Testament, we read of being justified by Christ - even by Him who brought in that righteousness which is unto all, and upon all who believe, One should look out to that which forms the ground and the matter of our justification and when we read here that we are justified by faith, one should understand that faith is simply the instrument by which we lay hold of this great privilege - not the light itself, but the window through which it passes - the channel of transmission upon our persons by which there is attached to them the merit of the righteousness which another has wrought, and of the obedience which another has rendered.

"We have peace with God."
There are two senses in which this expression may be understood. It may signify that peace which is brought about by a transition in the mind of the Godhead, and in virtue of which He is appeased towards us. He ceases from that wrath against the sinner, which only abideth on those who believe not; and from an enemy, He, in consideration of a righteousness which He lays to our account after we have aecepted it by faith, becometh a friend. Or it may signify that state which is brought about by a transition in our minds, and in virtue of which we cease from our apprehension of God's wrath against us - not, we think, a dissolving of our enmity against Him, but a subsiding of our terrors because of Him - rest from the agitations of conscious guilt, now washed away - rest from the forebodings of anticipated vengeance, now borne by him on whom time chastisement of our peace was laid. This we conceive to be the true meaning of peace with God in the verse before us. The whole passage, for several verses, looks to be a narrative of the personal experience of believers - of their rejoicing, and of their hoping, and of their glorying. The subject of the peace that is spoken of in this verse is the mind of believers - a peace felt by them, no doubt, because they now judge that God is pacified towards them; but still a peace, the proper residence of which is in their own bosoms, that now have ceased from their fears of the Lawgiver, and are at rest.

Peace in this sense of it then, being the effect of faith, affords a test for the reality of this latter principle. Some perhaps may think that this could be still more directly ascertained, if instead of looking at the test, we looked immediately to the principle itself. By casting an immediate regard upon one's own bosom, we may learn whether peace is there or not. But by casting the same inward regard, might not we directly learn whether faith is there or not? If it be as competent for the eye of consciousness to discern the faith that is in the mind, as to discern there the peace that is but the effect of faith - might not we, without having recourse to marks or evidences at all, just lay as it were our immediate finding upon the principle that we want to ascertain; and come at once to the assurance that faith is in me, because I am conscious it is in me?

Now let it be remarked, that there are certain states and habitudes of the soul, whichi are far more palpable than others to the eye of conscience - certain affections, which give a far more powerful intimation of their presence, and can therefore be much more easily and immediately recognized; certain feelings of so fresh and sensible a character, that almost no power of self-examination is required to ascertain the existence of them. I could much more readily, for example, find an answer to the question, what the emotions of my heart are, if there be any depth or tenderness in them at all, than I could answer the question what the notions of of my understanding are; and whether they amount to a belief, om stop short at a mere imagination. A state or a process of the intellect, is far more apt to elude the inward discernment of man, than a state or a process of sensible impression, which announces its own reality to him in spite of himself. And thus it is, that it may be a very difficult thing to find whether faith be in me, by taking a direct look at the state of the understanding - while it may not be difficult to find, whether peace be in me, or love be in me, or a principle of zealous obedience be in me - all of these making themselves known, as it were, by the touch of a distinct and vigorous sensation. And hence the test of the principle may be far more readily come at than the principle itself. The foliage and the blossoms may stand more obviously revealed to the eye of the inner man, than the germ from which they originate; and what our Saviour says of His followers is true of the faith by which they are actuated, that by its fruits ye shall know it.

And as to the peace of our text, which is stated there to be a consequence of faith - it surely cannot be denied, but by those who never felt what the remorse and the restlessness and the other raging elements of a sinner's bosom are, that the consequence is far more obvious than the cause. The mind that has been tost and tempest-driven by the pursuing sense of its own worthlessness, should ever these unhappy agitations sink into a calm, will surely feel the transition and instantly recognize it. When an outward storm has spent its fury, and the last breath of it has died away into silence, the ear cannot be more sensible of the difference - than the inner man is, when the wild war of turbulence and disorder in his own heart, is at length wrought off to its final termination. The man may grope for ever among the dark and brooding imagery of his own spirit, and never once be able to detect there that principle of faith, which may tell him that though he suffers now he will be safe in eternity. But should this unseen visitor actually enter within him, and work the effect that is here ascribed to it, and put an end to that sore vengeance of discipline with which God had exercised him, and again restore the light of that countenance which either looked to him in wrath or was mantled in darkness - should he now feel at peace from those terrors that so recently had made him afraid; and the God that lowred judgment upon his soul, now put on a face of benignity, and bid this unhappy outcast again look up to Him and rejoice - should the guilt which so agonized him be sprinkled over with the blood of atonement, and he again be translated into the sunshine of conscious acceptance with the Being whose chastening hand had well nigh overwhelmed him - We repeat it, that though faith in itself may elude the exploring eye of him, who finds the search that he is making through the recesses of his moral constitution to be not more fatiguing than it is fruitless - yet faith as the harbinger of peace may manifest at once its reality, by an effect so powerful and so precious.

This may serve perhaps to illustrate the right attitude for a penitent in quest of comfort, under the burden of convictions which distress or terrify him. He may at length fetch it from without - but he never will fetch it primarily or directly from within. The children of Israel might have as soon been healed by looking downwardly upon their wounds, rather than upwardly to the brazen serpent, as the conscience- stricken sinner will find relief from any one object that can meet his eye, in that abyss of darkness and distemper to which he has turned his own labouring bosom. This is where he ought to be, when lying low in the depths of humiliation; but never will he attain to rest or to recovery, till led to the psalmist's prayer - " Out of the depths do I cry unto thee, 0 Lord." It is not from the trouble that is below, but from the truth that is above, that he will catch the sunbeam which is to gladden and to revive him. It is not by looking to himself, but by looking unto Jesus; and that peace with God which he never can arrive at through the medium of so dark a contemplation as his own character - that peace the tidings of which he never will read, among the lineaments of his own turpitude and deformity - the peace to which no exercise of penitential feeling, though prolonged in sorrow and bitterness to the end of his days, will ever of itself conduct him - the peace with God, which, through himself or through any penance of his own inflicting, he never will secure, can only come in sure and abundant visitation upon his heart, through the channel of our text, when it is peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

"Look unto me, all ye ends of the earth, and be saved." " Like as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever behieveth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." " God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in the hearts of those who believe, to give them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; and they who believe not and are lost, are blinded by the god of this world, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."

Ver. 2.
The single word also may convince us, that the privilege spoken of in the second verse, is distinct from and additional to the privilege spoken of in the first. The grace wherein we stand is something more than peace with God. We understand it to signify God's positive kindness or favour to us. You may have no wrath against a man, whom at the same time you have ho feeling of positive good-will to. You are at peace with him, though not in friendship with him. It is a great deal that God ceases to be offended with us, and is now to inflict upon us no penalty. But it is still more that God should become pleased with us, and is now to pour blessings upon our heads. It is a mighty deliverance to our own feelings, when our apprehensions are quieted; and we have nothing to fear. But it is a still higher condition to be preferred to, when our hopes are awakened ; and we rejoice in the sense of God's regard to us now, and in the prospect of His glory hereafter. It is additional to our peace in believing that we also have joy in believing. There is something here that will remind you of what has been already said of negative and positive justification. It was in dying, that Christ pacified the Lawgiver. It was in rising again, that He obtained, as the reward of His obedience, the favour of God, in behalf of all those for whom he now liveth to make intercession, and from these two verses, the distincton to which we have already adverted receives another illustration.

The following is a paraphrase of these two verses.

"Therefore having righteousness laid to our account because we have faith, we enjoy peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also it is that we have obtained admittance through our faith, into that state of favour with God wherein we stand here, and rejoice in the hope of His glory hereafter."

The only remaining topic that occurs to us from this short but comprehensive passage, is that glory of God which is hereafter to be revealed. The apostle Peter speaks of believers being begotten to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that passeth not away, and is reserved in heaven for those who are kept by the power of God through faith unto a salvation, that is ready to be revealed in the last time. We cannot speak in detail upon a subject that has yet to be revealed. We cannot lift away the veil, from what another apostle tells us is still a mystery, when he says, that it doth not yet appear what we shall be. But we may at least carry our observation to the extent of the partial disclosure made to us by the same apostle, when he says, though "it doth not yet appear what we shall be, yet we know, that, when He shall appear, we shall be like him ; for we shall see him as he is."
From this we at least gather, that we shall have a direct perception of God. You know how much it is otherwise now - how, though He is not far from any one of us, He is as hidden from all observation as if removed to the distance of infinity away from us - how, though locally He is in us and around us, yet to every purpose of direct and personal fellowship we are as exiles from his presence - how all that is created, though it bear upon it the impress of the Creator's hand, instead of serving to us as a reflection of the Deity, serves as a screen to intercept our discernment of Him. It is not true, that the visible structure of the universe, leads man at least, to trace the image, and to realize the power and operation of that Divinity who reared it. It is not true, that he is conducted upwards, from the agents and the secondary causes that are on every side of him, to that unseen and primary Cause who framed at first time whole of this wondrous mechanism, and still continues to guide by His unerring wisdom all the movements of it. The world, in fact, is our all; and we do not penetrate beyond it to its animating Spirit; and we do not pierce the canopy that is stretched above it, to the glories of His upper sanctuary. The mind may stir itself up to lay hold of God; but, like a thin and shadowy abstraction, He eludes the grasp of the mind - and the baffled overdone creature is left, without an adequate feeling of that mysterious Being who made and who upholds him. To every unconverted man, creation, instead of illustrating the Deity, has thrown a shroud of obscurity over Him; and even to the eye of a behiever, is He seen in dimness and disguise, so that almost all he can do is to long after Him in the world ; and, as the hart panteth after the water brooks, so does his soul thirst after the living God. The whole creation groaneth and travaileth, under the sentence of its banishment from Him who gave it birth; and even they who have received the first fruits of the Spirit, do groan within themselves, under the heavy incumbrance that weighs down their souls as they follow hard after the yet unseen Father of them. All they can reach in this nether pilgrimage, is but a glimpse and a foretase of the coming revelation; and as to that glory, which, while in the body, they shall never behold with the eye of vision, they can now only rejoice in the hope of its full and abundant disclosure in the days that are to come.

It were presumptuous, perhaps, to attempt any conception of such a disclosure - when God shall show himself personally to man - when the mighty barrier of interception, that is now so opake and impenetrable, shall at length be moved away when the great and primitive Father of all, shall at length stand revealed to time eye of creatures rejoicing before Him - when all that design and beauty by which this universe is enriched, shall beam in a direct flood of radiance from the original mind that evolved it into being - when the sight of infinite majesty shall be so tempered by the sight of infinite mercy, that the awe which else would overpower will be sweetened by love into a most solemn and confiding reverence - and the whole family of heaven shall find it to be enough of lmappiness for ever, that the graces of the Divinity are visibly expanded to their view, and they are admitted into the high delights of ecstatic and ineffable communion with the living God. But it will be the glory of His moral perfections, tlmat will minister the most of high rapture and reward to these clmildren of immortality. It will be the holiness that recoils from every taint of impurity. It will be the cloudless lustre of justice unbroken, and truth unchanged and unclmangeable. It will be the unspotted worth and virtue of the Godhead - yet all so blended with a compassion that is in finite, and all so directed by a wisdom that is unsearchable, that by a way of access as wondrous as is the Being who devised it, sinners have entered witlmin the the threshmold of this upper temple ; and, without violation to the character of him who presides there, lmave been transported from. a region of sin to this region of unsullied sacredness. And there, seeing Him as He is, do they become altogether like unto Him ; and there are they transformed into a character kindred to his own ; and there that assimilating process is perfected, by which every creature who is in Paradise, has the image of glory, that shines upon him from the throne, stamped upon his own person ; and there each, according to the measure of his capacity, is filled with the worth and beneficence of the Godhead ; and there the distinct reward held forth to the candidates for heaven upon earth, is, that they shall see God, and become hike unto God - like him in His hatred of all iniquity, like Him in the love and in the possession of all righteousness.
You will be at no loss now to understand, how it is that he who hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as God is pure. It is by progress in holiness, in fact, that he is making ground on that alone way which leads and qualifies for heaven. There is no other heaven truly than a heaven of godliness ; and by every wilful sin that is committed, does man lose so much of distance from the promised reward, and puts himself more hoplessly away from it. You will see by this that faith in the gospel and a deliberate following after sin, is a contradiction in terms. The very road to heaven is a road of conformity to the will, and of unceasing approximation to the resemblance of the Godhead. the great object of the dispensation we sit under, is to be restored to His forfeited image, and to be reinstated in all the graces of the character that we have lost. The atonement by Christ is nothing - justification by faith is nothing - the assumption of an orthodox phraseology is nothing - unless they have formed a gate of introduction to that arena, on which the Christian must fight his way to a heavenly character, and so be created anew in righteousness and true holiness. Every sin throws him aback on the ground that he is travelling; and often throws him aback so fearfully, that, if he feels as he ought, he will tremble lest he has been thrown off from the ground altogether - lest the sore retrogression that he has made from all holiness, has made him an outcast from all hope - lest by putting a good conscience away from him, he has made shipwreck of faith: And never will the irreconcilable variance between salvation and sin, come home to his experience in more sure and practical demonstration, than when sin has thrown him adrift from all the securities which held him and, through a lengthened season of abandonment and distress, he can find no comfort in the word, and catch no smile from the upper sanctuary, and hear no whisper of mercy from God's returning Spirit, and feel no happiness and hope in the Saviour.

The same doctrine receives a more pleasing illustration from the bright side of the picture. To ascertain the kind of happiness that is in heaven, the best way is to observe the happiness of a good man upon earth. You will find it to consist essentially in those pleasures of the heart, which the love and the service of God bring along with it - in a sense of the divine favour, beaming upon him from above; and in the fresh and perpetual feast of an approving conscience within - in the possession of a sound and a well-poised mind, prepared for the attack of every temptation, and with all its ready powers at command, on the intimation of every coming danger - in the triumph of those noble and new-born energies by which he can clear the ascending way of a progressive holiness, through all those besetting urgencies that are found to entangle and to discomfit other men - and, above all, in those hours of sweet and solemn rapture, by which he diversifies a walk unspotted in the world, with the lofty devotion of his occasional retirements away from it. Who shall say that righteousness is not the road to a believer's heaven, when it is righteousness, and that alone, which gives its breath and its being to all the ecstacy that abounds in it? Or who shall say that the grace in which he is taught to rejoice, encourages to sin, when it is sin that wrests every foretaste of the coming blessedness from his soul; and darkens, if not to utter and irrecoverable extinction at least for a period of deep and dreadful endurance, all his prospects of enjoying it?

We shall conclude with offering you an actual specimen of heaven upon earth, as enjoyed for a season of devotional contemplation on the word of God; and it may afford you some conception of the kind of happiness that is current there. " And now," says the good Bishop Horne, after he had finished his commentary on the Psalms, and had held many a precious hour of converse with God and with the things that are above when meditating thereon - " And now, could the author flatter himself, that any one would take half the pleasure in reading the following exposition, which he hath taken in writing it, he would not fear the loss of his labour. The employment detached him from the bustle and hurry of life, the din of politics and the noise of folly; vanity and vexation, flew away for a season, care and disquietude came not near his dwelling. He arose fresh as the morning to his task ; the silence of the night invited him to pursue it; and he can truly say that food and rest were not preferred before it. Every psalm improved infinitely upon his acquaintance with it, and no one gave him uneasiness but the last ; then he grieved that his work was done. Happier hours than those which have been spent in these meditations on the songs of Zion, he never expects to see in this world. Very pleasantly did they pass, and moved smoothly and swiftly along; for when thus engaged he counted no time. They are gone, but have left a relish and a fragrance upon the mind, and the remembrance of them is sweet."

May every sabbath you shall spend upon earth, bring down such a glimpse of heaven's glory and heaven's blessedness upon your habitations. No care; no poverty; no desolation, by the hand of death upon your household; no evil, saving remorse, that the world can oppose, need to keep such precious visitations away from you. But 0 remember that it is only to those who keep the sayings of the Saviour, that He has promised thus to manifest Himself; and it is only after a pure and watchful and conscientious week, that you can ever expect its closing sabbath to be a season of rejoicing piety, a day of peace and of pleasantness.
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