Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

their scientific theology a defence against the reproaches of their own consciences and the Divine denunciations of sin. When spiritual truth has to appear on the common paths of human life, it has to become incarnate, and must accept the infirmities of the human medium through which alone it can reveal itself to mankind.

Especially we should learn from St. James that one of our chief duties is to insist that obedience to the law of God is inseparable from real faith in His love. In our own times, indeed, and in this country, the practical heresies which, from the days of the Apostles, have always arisen wherever the apostolic theology has been vigorously and earnestly preached, have no considerable strength. They may be found in obscure places, but they shun the light. They often, I fear, exist in a vague form in the minds of persons who have received, without much active reflection, the traditional evangelical creed, but they are rarely expressed. Wherever they exist, and in however indefinite a shape, they poison the air, they corrupt Christian morality, they enfeeble the fibre and muscle of the Christian life. They must receive no toleration, but must be driven away and smitten down with a relentless hand.

It may be that some Christian people are only giving an unfortunate and unscriptural expression to a very noble truth when they speak of being "clothed in the imputed righteousness of Christ;" but if "im

" puted righteousness" is made a cloak for actual sin,

1

1

[ocr errors]

they must be made to feel that they are the modern successors of those of whom St. Paul said that their "damnation is just.” If the doctrine of the Atone" ment is so perverted as to lead to the conclusion that because a man believes in Christ as the Propitiation for the sins of the world, he will not have to be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ, that he

may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad," the awful reality of judgment to come must be reasserted with the energy and steinness of apostolic times; and men must be reminded that to St. Paul himself-the great teacher of Justification by Faith—the final judgment was “the terror of the Lord,” and was one of the motives which constrained him to fidelity in his apostolic labours.

We should not, however, transform the gospel of the grace of God into a mere system of ethics, because in our times, as in the days of the Apostles, men may turn the very "grace of God into lasciviousness." We should rather recognise in the analogy between the heresies which sometimes claim to be the legitimate results of the evangelical creed, and the heresies which claim to be the legitimate results of apostolic teaching, a fresh testimony and proof that we are the representatives and heirs of “the faith once delivered unto the saints.” If there is any form of Christian doctrine which renders it impossible for men to suppose that they can be saved by faith without works—that

I 2 Cor. y. 10.

the Death of Christ secures no objective blessing, and has for its solitary purpose the creation of a new moral and spiritual life — the Epistle of St. James is a conclusive demonstration that this is not the doctrine which was taught by the founders of the Christian Church.

LECTURE VI.

THE FACT OF THE ATONEMENT: THE TESTI.

MONY OF ST. PAUL.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »