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PSALM xxxii. 1, 2. Blessed is he whose unrighteousness is forgiven, and
whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth no sin, and in whose
spirit there is no guile. THE Psalms, more frequently, perhaps, and remarkably, than any other Book of the old Testament, are framed in language suitable to the New. David, and the several inspired persons by whom they were written, may be observed in many places to have expressed them selves, not only as distinctly foreseeing, but, as even enjoying by anticipation, the spiritual blessings which have been since, accordingly, wrought out, and declared unto all people. Instructed by “ the Holy Spirit of promise,” they spake, on various occasions, like men already reaping the comforts and benefits of that "great salvation,” which was not, during their lives, nor during a number of succeeding generations, to be actually introduced, and made known, in order to the common acceptance of it by mankind.
There is, in the verses which I have chosen for my text, a very striking example of this evangelical language of the Psalms. So apposite are the terms and manner of expression therein adopted, to the doctrine of grace and truth, which, in these last days, Jesus Christ hath revealed, that St. Paul thought proper to make use of them, when he would describe to the disciples at Rome, the peculiar process, or dispensation of their deliverance from the Divine wrath, and reinstatement in the Divine favour, through the gospel. Having most unequivocally asserted that leading feature of the new covenant, the justification of man by faith, and not by works, by stating, “ To him that workseth not, but believeth on Him that justifieth “ the ungodly, his faith is counted for right
eousness,” the Apostle immediately remarks, “ Even as David also describeth the blessed“ ness of the man, unto whom God imputeth
righteousness without works, saying, Blessed
are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and " whose sins are covered : blessed is the man “ unto whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Rom. iv. 5, &c.) Nor does he let it drop after this, as a place of Scripture only casually referred to in his argument. On the contrary, he examines into it, and proceeds to prove; concerning the blessedness thus described by the Psalmist, that it cometh without distinction
upon all, Gentiles no less than Jews, who will walk in faith before God, after the pattern of « faithful Abraham.”
These verses, then, of the royal Psalmist are (it is evident) universally interesting, and adapted to the good instruction of all, so many as may have attained, in any hopeful degree, unto spiritual life and understanding. Wherefore, I design to employ the present opportunity in setting forth by them, first, an account, corresponding with the gospel, of the important blessing which is usually denominated justification, and secondly, the character of the man, unto whom that blessing may properly be represented to appertain.
First; respecting the doctrine of justification, if any have not hitherto understood what is signified by that important term, they cannot do better than attend to the plain description of it, which is given in my text. By that, the most ignorant may be informed, in a manner adapted to their uncultivated powers of apprehension: thence, even“the wayfaring men,
though fools,” may be able to derive a correct notion of the subject. When his “unright
eousness is forgiven, and his sin is covered, “ and the Lord imputeth to him no sin,” then may it be said of a man, that he is justified, or hath attained unto a state of justification. We
have seen these remarkable expressions thus interpreted by the Apostle to the Romans; the above words of the Psalmist being cited by him, as descriptive of a justified condition.
To declare this matter yet more succinctly, the term justification may be represented, in agreement with the foregoing, to signify pardon and grace; pardon, or a forgetfulness (if I may so speak) of the past, according to which, the “unrighteousness” of every justified per
son is forgiven, and his sin covered ;” and grace or favour for the future, whereby the Lord imputeth to such an one no sin, is not extreme to mark the frailties and imperfections from which, in his mortal state, he cannot entirely cleanse and keep himself. Such was the covenant foretold of God by Jeremiah, with a view to the gospel dispensation ; “I “ will put my laws into their mind, and write " them in their hearts, and I will be to them a “God, and they shall be to me a people.--For “ I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, " and their sins and iniquities will I remember “ no more.” (Heb. viii. 8, &c.)
The perfect wisdom of this proceeding, or scheme, may perhaps not be immediately apparent. It might have seemed, at first sight, most proper, that a man, if justified, or made just, at all before God, should be made such by his innocency and uprightness. But, had no easier way than this been provided, by which to escape condemnation, the whole race of mankind must certainly have perished altogether. We stand not, each man on his own foundation, sinless and undefiled, like Adam previous to his transgression, for so much as a single mo. ment of our lives. On the contrary, all of us have received by inheritance from him, a corrupt and sinful nature, evil of itself in the sight of God, and moving us to evil deeds with the very earliest use of our members, before we can justly consider what things we ought to avoid, or to do.
It is a truth constantly asserted in Holy Scripture, and therefore one, which, be it ever so unpalatable to the carnal mind, we are, nevertheless, bound to receive, that every child of Adam is by nature “a child of wrath,” and liable to the judgment of God, even from his mother's womb; add to which the actual transgressions of the Divine law, which all persons in any degree capable of thought and recollection, must be conscious to themselves of having frequently committed, and human righteousness becomes evidently a thing of naught, or a broken reed, fit only to pierce the hand of him who is vain enough to lean on it. Verily, by no other way than by that of having their
unrighteousness forgiven," and their “sins