JUSTIFICATION THROUGH CHRIST, AN ACT OF FREE GRACE.
Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in CHRIST JESUS.
–Romans 3: 24.
The point labored in the preceding part of this epistle, is the impossibility of salvation for any of mankind, on the footing of mere law, or of personal righteousness. The apostle hath proved that both Jews and Gentiles were all under sin; and hence he infers, as the necessary consequence, that, “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God.” This point being established, that the original way of life was how forever barred against the race of fallen man, the apostle proceeds, for the comfort of sinners, to open to view the gospel method of justification through a Redeemer. See the context, verse 21, and onward. “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
It is of the last importance that this new way of access into the divine favor, and of obtaining eternal life, should be rightly explained. By many it has been so misunderstood as either to make void the law, or to frustrate the grace of the gospel, or both. Some speculative inaccuracies also, it appears to me, respecting justification through the atonement and righteousness of Christ, have been inadvertently adopted by many, if not most, of the orthodox, of which men of erroneous sentiments have availed themselves to very pernicious purposes.
The great difficulty respecting this subject, to which I design to pay particular attention at present, is, how to reconcile the full satisfaction of Christ, with the free grace of God in the pardon of sin and the justification of sinners. It is proposed, agreeably to the words before us,
1st. To explain gospel justification.
2d. To consider how this is through the redemption of Christ. And,
3d. To show that still it is of the free grace of God.
But on the last of these heads I mean mainly to insist.
I. I shall endeavor very briefly to explain what we are here to understand by being justified.