Pardon and Peace Made Sure
"Christ for us," the obedient in the room of the
disobedient, is the first part of our message. His assumption of
the legal claims, which otherwise would have made good against us, is
the security for our deliverance. That deliverance becomes an actual
thing to us immediately upon our consenting to allow Him to undertake
in us" is the second part of our gospel. This second is of mighty
moment, and yet is not to be confounded with the first. That which is
done for us is not the same as that which is done in us.
By the former we are constituted righteous, by the latter we are made
holy. The one is properly the gospel, in the belief of which we
are saved; the other, the carrying out of that gospel in the soul.
"for us" is our justification. "Christ in us, and we in Christ," is our
holiness. The former is the external substitution; the latter, the
internal energy or operation, taking its rise from the former, yet not
to be confounded with it, or substituted for it.
the substitute, giving His life for ours upon the cross, is specially
the object of faith. The message concerning this sacrificial work is the
gospel, the belief of which brings pardon to the guilty.
has given us this gospel not merely for the purpose of securing to us
life hereafter, but of making us sure of this life even now. It
is a true and sure gospel; so that he who believes it is made sure of
being saved. If it could not make us sure, it would make us miserable;
for to be told of such a salvation and such a glory, yet kept in doubt
as to whether they are to be ours or not, must render us truly wretched.
What a poor gospel it must be, which leaves the man who believes it
still in doubt as to whether he is a child of God, an unpardoned or a
pardoned sinner! Till we have found forgiveness, we cannot be happy; we
cannot serve God gladly or lovingly; but must be in some bondage or
is the view of the matter which Scripture sets before us; telling us
that salvation is a free, a sure, a present gift. "He that believeth is
justified" (Acts 13:39). "He that believeth hath everlasting life" (John
3:36). The Bible gives no quarter to unbelief or doubting. It does not
call it humility. It does not teach us to think better of ourselves for
doubting. It does not countenance uncertainty or darkness.
was the view taken of the subject by our fathers, from the Reformation
downwards. They held that a man ought to know that he is
justified; and that it was Popery to teach uncertainty, or to set aside
the full assurance of faith, or to hold that this sureness was not to be
had from the beginning of a man's conversion, but only to be gathered up
in process of years, by summing up his good feelings and good deeds, and
concluding from his own excellences that he must be one of the elect, a
man in favor with God. Our fathers believed that the jailer at Philippi
rejoiced as soon as he received the good news which Paul preached to him
(Acts 16:34). Our fathers believed that, "being justified by faith, we
HAVE peace with God" (Rom 5:1), and that the life of a believing man is
a life of known pardon; a life of peace with God; a life of which
the outset was the settlement of the great question between himself and
God; a life in which, as being a walk with God, the settlement of that
question did not admit of being deferred or kept doubtful: for without
felt agreement, without conscious reconciliation,
intercourse was impossible.
the Reformation creeds and confessions take this for granted; assuming
that the doctrine of uncertainty was one of the worst lies of Popery, the device and stronghold of a money-loving
priesthood, who wished to keep people in suspense in order to make room
for the dealings of priests and payments for pardon. If assurance be the
right of every man who believes, then the priest's occupation is at an
end; his craft is not only in danger, but gone. It was the want of
assurance in his poor victims that enabled him to drive so prosperous a
trade, and to coin money out of the people's doubts. It was by this
craft he had his wealth, and hence the hatred with which Rome and her
priests have always hated the doctrine of assurance. It took the bread
out of their mouths. If God pardons so freely, so simply, so surely, so
immediately upon believing, alas for the priesthood! Who will pay them
for absolution? Who will go to them to make sure that which God has
already made sure in a more excellent way than theirs?
have always maintained that assurance is presumption; and it is
remarkable that they quote, in defense of their opinion, the same
passages which many modern Protestants do, such as, "Work out your
salvation with fear and trembling"; the apostle's expression about being
"a castaway"; "Let him that thinketh he standeth"; and the like.
them, in reasoning with one of the English Reformers, speaks of "the
presumptuous opinion of the certainty of grace and salvation, contrary
to that which St. Paul counselleth, Philippians 2:12"; and the great
Romish controversialists give the following reasons against assurance,
which we abridge and translate:--(1) No man certainly ought to disbelieve
God's mercy and Christ's merits; but on account of his own
imperfections, he ought to be fearful about his own grace, so that no
one can certainly know that he has found favor with God. (2) It is not
expedient that men should have certainty about their own grace; for
certainty produces pride, while ignorance of this secret preserves and
increases humility. (3) Assurance is the privilege of only a few favored
ones, to whom God has revealed the singular benefit of the pardon of
their sins. (4) The most perfect men, when dying, have been humbled
because of this uncertainty; and if some of the holiest men have been
uncertain, is it credible that all believers ought to have assurance of
their justification? (5) The best men fall from faith; therefore there
can be no assurance. (6) The following passages confute the error of
assurance: 1 Corinthians 10:12; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Romans 11:20;
are the Popish arguments against assurance, and the conclusion to which
the Council of Trent came was: "If any man shall say that justifying
faith is confidence in the mercy of God, who remitteth sins for Christ's
sake, or that it is by such confidence alone that we are justified, let
him be accursed."
John Foxe, who three hundred years ago wrote the history of the martyrs,
remarks concerning the Pope's Church that it "left the poor consciences
of men in perpetual doubt" (volume 1. page 78).
is a true saying. But it is true of many who earnestly protest against
the Church of Rome. They not only teach doctrines which necessarily lead
to doubting, and out of which no poor sinner could extract anything but
uncertainty; but they inculcate doubting as a humble and excellent
thing; a good preparation, nay, an indispensable qualification, for
faith. The duty of doubting is in their theology much more obligatory
than that of believing. The propriety and necessity of being uncertain
they strongly insist upon; the blessedness of certainty they undervalue;
the sin of uncertainty they repudiate; the duty of being sure they deny.
same John Foxe, after showing that a man is saved not by working, but by
believing, gives us the following specimen of "the horrible blindness
and blasphemy" of the Church of Rome: "That faith wherewith a man firmly
believeth and certainly assureth himself, that for Christ's sake his
sins be forgiven him, and that he shall possess eternal life, is not
faith, but rashness; not the persuasion of the Holy Ghost, but the
presumption of human audacity." The above extract is from a Popish book
of the time, and is a fair specimen of the Romish hatred of the doctrine
of assurance. Its language is almost the same as that employed by many
Protestants of our day.
Romanists held that a man is to believe in the mercy of God and the
merits of Christ, but that this belief brought with it no assurance of
justification; though possibly, if the man lived a very holy life, God
might before he died reveal His grace to him, and give him assurance;
which is precisely what many Protestants hold. In opposition to this,
our forefathers not only maintained that a man is justified by faith,
but that he ought to know that he is justified, and that this
knowledge of justification is the great root of a holy life. The
Romanists did not quarrel with the word assurance; they did not hold it
to be impossible: they held that men might get it, nay, that some
very holy men had got it. But they affirmed that the only means of
reaching the grace of assurance was by a holy life; that with the slow
development of a holy life, assurance might develop itself; and that in
the course of years, a man by numbering his good deeds, and ascertaining
the amount of his holiness, might perhaps come to the conclusion
that he was a child of God; but perhaps not. They were very strenuous in
contending for this life of religious suspense, sad and dismal as
it must be; because conscious justification, such as Luther
contended for, shut out priesthood and penance; giving a man the joy of
true liberty and divine fellowship at once, without the intervention of
another party or the delay of an hour. This conscious
justification started the man upon a happy life, because relieved from
the burden of doubt and the gloom of uncertainty; it made his religion
bright and tranquil, because springing so sweetly from the certainty of
his reconciliation to God; it delivered him from the cruel suspense and
undefined fears which the want of assurance carries always with it; it
rescued him from all temptations to self-righteousness, because not
arising from any good thing in himself; it preserved him from pride and
presumption, because it kept him from trying to magnify his own goodness
in order to extract assurance out of it; it drew him away from self to
Christ, from what he was doing to what Christ had done; thus
making Christ, not self, the basis and the center of his new being; it
made him more and more dissatisfied with self, and all that self
contained, but more and more satisfied with Jesus and His fullness; it
taught him to rest his confidence towards God, not on his satisfaction
with self, not on the development of his own holiness, not on the amount
of his graces and prayers and doings, but simply on the completed work
of Him in whom God is well pleased.
Romanists acquiesced in the general formula of the Protestants, that
salvation was all of Christ, and that we are to believe on Him in order
to get it. But they resisted the idea that a man, on believing, knows
that he is saved. They might even have admitted the terms "justification
by faith," provided it was conceded that this justification was to be
known only to God, hidden from the sinner who believes. They did not
much heed the mere form of words, and some of them went apparently a
long way to the Protestant doctrine. But that which was essential to
their system was, that in whatever way justification took place, it
should be kept secret from the sinner himself, so that he should remain
without assurance for years, perhaps all his life. Unconscious
justification by faith suited their system of darkness quite as well
as justification by works. For it was not the kind of
justification that they hated, but the sinner's knowing it, and
having peace with God simply in believing, without waiting for years of
doing. No doubt they objected to free justification in the Protestant
sense; but the force of their objection lies not so much against its
being free, as against the sinner being sure of it. For
they saw well enough, that if they could introduce uncertainty at
any part of the process, their end was gained. For to remove such
uncertainty the Church must be called in; and this was all they wanted.
doctrine, then, that makes uncertainty necessary, and that affirms that
this uncertainty can only be removed by the development of a holy life,
is the old Popish one, though uttered by Protestants. Luther condemned
it; Bellarmine maintained it. And many of the modern objections to
assurance, on the part of some Protestants, are a mere reproduction of
old Romish arguments, urged again and again, against justification by
faith. There is hardly one objection made to a man's being sure of his
justification which would not apply, and which have not been applied,
against his being justified by faith at all. If the common arguments
against assurance turn out valid, they cannot stop short of establishing
justification by works. Salvation by believing, and assurance
only by means of working, are not very compatible. The interval which is
thus created between God's act of justifying us, and His letting us know
that He has justified us, is a singular one, of which Scripture
certainly takes no cognizance. This interval of suspense (be it longer
or shorter) which Romanists have created for the purpose of giving full
scope to priestly interposition, and which some Protestants keep up in
order to save us from pride and presumption, is not acknowledged in the
Bible any more than purgatory. An intermediate state in the life to
come, during which the soul is neither pardoned nor unpardoned,
neither in heaven nor hell, is thought needful by Romanists for purging
out sin and developing holiness; but then this interval of gloom is
man's creation. An intermediate state in this life, during which
a sinner, though believing in Jesus, is not to know whether he is
justified or not, is reckoned equally needful by some Protestants, as a
necessary means of producing, and through holiness leading perhaps ere
life close to assurance; but then of this sorrowful interval, this
present purgatory, which would make a Christian's life so dreary and
fearful, Scripture says nothing. It is a human delusion borrowed from
Popery, and based upon the dislike of the human heart to have immediate
peace, immediate adoption, and immediate fellowship.
self-righteous heart of man craves an interval of the above kind as a
space for the exercise of his religiousness, while free from the
responsibility for a holy and unworldly life which conscious
justification imposes on the conscience.
will be greatly worth our while to see what Romanists have said upon
this subject; for their errors help us much in understanding the truth.
It will be seen that it was against present peace with God that Rome
contended; and that it was in defense of this present peace, this
immediate certainty, that the Reformers did battle so strenuously, as a
matter of life and death. The great Popish Assembly, the "Council of
Trent," in 1547, took up these points concerning faith and grace. Nor
was that body content with condemning assurance; they proclaimed it an
accursed thing, and pronounced an anathema against every one who
affirmed that justifying faith is "confidence in the mercy of God." They
denounced the man as heretic who should hold "the confidence and
certainty of the remission of sins."
they had a theory of a justification by faith. We give it in their own
words, as it corresponds strikingly with the process which is prescribed
by some Protestants as the means of arriving, after long years, at the
knowledge of our justification: "The beginning of justification
proceedeth from preventing grace. The manner of the preparation is,
first to believe the divine revelations and promises, and knowing
oneself to be a sinner, to turn from the fear of God's justice to His
mercy, to hope for pardon from Him, and therefore to begin to love Him
and hate sin, to begin a new life, and keep the commandments of God.
Justification follows this preparation." This theory of a gradual
justification, or a gradual approach to justification, is that held by
many Protestants, and made use of by them for resisting the truth of
immediate forgiveness of sin and peace with God.
comes another sentence of the Council which expresses truly the modern
theory of non-assurance, and the common excuse for doubting, when men
say, "We are not doubting Christ, we are only doubting ourselves." The
Romish divines assert: "No one ought to doubt the mercy of God, the
merits of Christ, and the efficacy of the sacraments; but in regard to
his own indisposition he may doubt, because he cannot know by
certainty, of infallible faith, that he has obtained grace." Here
sinners are taught to believe in God's mercy and in Christ's merits, yet
still to go on doubting as to the results of that belief, viz. sure
peace with God. Truly self-righteousness, whether resting on works or on
feelings, whether in Popery or Protestantism, is the same thing, and the
root of the same errors, and the source of the same determination not to
allow immediate certainty to the sinner from the belief of the good
Popish Council took special care that the doctrine of assurance should
be served with their most pointed curses. All the "errors of Martin"
were by them traced back to this twofold root, that a man is justified
by faith, and that he ought to know that he is justified. They thus
accuse the German Reformer of inventing his doctrine of immediate and
conscious justification for the purpose of destroying the sinner's works
of repentance, which by their necessary imperfection make room for
indulgences. They call this free justification, a thing unheard of
before,-a thing which not only makes good works unnecessary, but sets a
man free from any obligation to obey the law of God.
would appear that the learned doctors of the Council were bewildered
with the Lutheran doctrine. The schoolmen had never discussed it, nor
even stated it. It had no place either among the beliefs or misbeliefs
of the past. It had not been maintained as a truth, nor impugned as a
heresy, so far as they knew. It was an absolute novelty. They did not
comprehend it, and of course misrepresented it. As to original sin,
that had been so often discussed by the schoolmen, that all Romish
divines and priests were familiar with it in one aspect or another. On
it, therefore, the Council were at home, and could frame their curses
easily, and with some point. But the Lutheran doctrine of justification
brought them to a stand. Thus the old translator of Paul Sarpi's History
puts it: "The opinion of Luther concerning justifying faith, that is a
confidence and certain persuasion of the promise of God, with the
consequences that follow, of the distinction between the law and the
gospel, etc., had never been thought of by any school writers, and
therefore never confuted or discussed, so that the divines had work
enough to understand the meaning of the Lutheran propositions." Luther's
doctrine of the will's bondage they were indignant at, as making man a
stone or a machine. His doctrine of righteousness by faith horrified
them, as the inlet of all laxity and wickedness. Protestant doctrines
were to them absurdities no less than heresies.
was it merely the Church, the Fathers, and tradition that they stood
upon. The schools and the schoolmen! This was their watchword; for
hitherto these scholastic doctors had been, at least for centuries, the
bodyguard of the Church. Under their learning, and subtleties, and
casuistries, priests and bishops had always taken refuge. Indeed,
without them, the Church was helpless, so far as logic was concerned.
When she had to argue, she must call in these metaphysical divines;
though generally by force and terror she contrived to supersede all
necessity for reasoning.
men in the Council showed some independence: a Dominican friar, by name
Ambrosius Catarinus; a Spanish Franciscan, by name Andreas de Vega; and
a Carmelite, by name Antonius Marinarus. The "Heremites" of the order to
which Luther originally belonged were especially blind and bitter, their
leader Seripandus outdoing all in zeal against Luther and his heresy.
in the investigation of the subject, to pass beyond Luther to Luther's
Master, they were sorely puzzled. To overlook Him was impossible, for
the Protestants appealed to Him; to condemn Him would have not been
were obliged to admit the bitter truth, that Paul had said that a man is
justified by faith. They had maintained the strict literality of "This
is my body"; must they admit the equal literality of 'justified by
faith"? Or may this latter expression not be qualified and overlaid by
scholastic ingenuity, or set aside by an authoritative denial in the
name of the Church? At the Council of Trent both these methods were
not Luther only who laid such stress upon the doctrine of free
justification. His adversaries were wise enough to do the same. They saw
in it the root or foundationstone of the whole Reformation. If it falls,
Popery stands erect, and may do what she pleases with the consciences of
men. If it stands, Popery is overthrown; her hold on men's consciences
is gone; her priestly power is at an end, and men have directly to do
with the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, and not with any pretended vicar
upon earth, or any of his priests or seven sacraments. "All the errors
of Martin are resolved into that point," said the bishops of the
Council; and they added, "He that will establish the Catholic doctrine
must overthrow the heresy of righteousness by faith only."
did not Paul say the same things as Luther has said? Did he not say,
"To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the
ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness"? (Rom 4:20). Yes; but
we may use some liberties with Paul's words, which we cannot do with
Luther's. It would not do to refute Paul; but it is quite safe to
demonstrate that Luther is wrong, and is at variance with the Church.
then assail Luther; and leave Paul alone. Now Luther has said such
things as the following:-
Faith without works is sufficient to salvation, and alone doth justify.
Justifying faith is a sure trust, by which one believeth that his sins
are remitted for Christ's sake; and they that are justified are to
believe certainly that their sins are remitted.
faith only we are able to appear before God, who neither regardeth nor
hath need of our works; faith only purifying us.
previous disposition is necessary to justification; neither doth faith
justify because it disposeth us, but because it is a means or instrument
by which the promise and grace of God are laid hold on and received.
the works of men, even the most sanctified, are sin.
Though the just ought to believe that his works are sins, yet he ought
to be assured that they are not imputed.
righteousness is nothing but the imputation of the righteousness of
Christ; and the just have need of a continual justification and
imputation of the righteousness of Christ.
the justified are received into equal grace and glory; and all
Christians are equally great with the Mother of God, and as much saints
were some of Luther's propositions which required to be confuted. That
they looked wonderfully like the doctrines of the Apostle Paul, only
made the confutation more necessary. That "faith justifies," the bishops
said, we must admit, because the apostle has said so; but as to what
faith is, and how it justifies, is hard to say. Faith has many meanings
(some said nine, others fifteen; some modern Protestants have said the
same); and then, even admitting that faith justifies, it cannot do so
without good dispositions, without penance, without religious
performances, without sacraments. By introducing all these ingredients
into faith, they easily turned it into a work; or by placing them
on the same level with faith, they nullified (without positively
denying) justification by faith.
men! Thus to overthrow the truth, while professing to admit and explain
it. In this ingenious perversity they have had many successors, and that
in churches which rejected Rome and its Council.
crucified" is the burden of the message which God has sent to man.
"Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures." The reception
of this gospel is eternal life; the non-reception or rejection of it is
everlasting death. "This is the record, that God hath given to us
eternal life, and this life is in His Son." The belief of the gospel
saves; the belief of the promise annexed to that gospel makes us sure of
this salvation personally. It is not the belief of our belief
that assures us of pardon, and gives us a good conscience towards God;
but our belief of what God has promised to every one who believes His
gospel, -that is eternal life. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,
and THOU SHALT BE SAVED."
is God to me? This is the first question that rises up to an inquiring
soul. And the second is like unto it,-What am I to God? On these two
questions hang all religion, as well as all joy and life to the immortal
is for me, and I am for God, all is well. If God is not for me, and if I
am not for God, all is ill (Rom 8:31). If He takes my side, and if I
take His, there is nothing to fear, either in this world or in that
which is to come. If He is not on my side, and if I am not on His, then
what can I do but fear? Terror in such a case must be as natural and
inevitable as in a burning house or a sinking vessel.
if I do not know whether God is for me or not, I can have no rest.
In a matter such as this, my soul seeks certainty, not uncertainty. I
must know that God is for me, else I must remain in the sadness of
unrest and terror. In so far as my actual safety is concerned,
everything depends on God being for me; and in so far as my present
peace is concerned, everything depends on my knowing that God is
for me. Nothing can calm the tempest of my soul, save the knowledge that
I am His, and that He is mine.
relationship to God is then to us the first question; and till this is
settled, nothing else can be settled. It is the question of questions to
us, in comparison of which all other personal questions are as
moonshine. when the health of a beloved child is in danger; I seem for
the time to lose sight of everything around me, wholly absorbed in the
thought, Will he live, or will he die? I move about the house as one who
sees nothing, hears nothing. I go to and I come from the sick-room
incessantly, watching every symptom for the better or the worse. I
eagerly inquire at the physician, Is there hope, or is there none? I am
paralyzed in everything, and indifferent to the things which in other
circumstances might interest me. What matters it to me whether it rains
or shines, whether my garden-flowers are fading or flourishing, whether
I am losing or making money, so long as I am uncertain whether that
beloved child is to live or die? And if uncertainty as to my child's
health be so important to me, and so engrossing as to make me forget
everything else; oh, what must be the engrossment attending the
unsettled question of the life or death of my own immortal soul! I must
know that my child is out of danger before I can rest; and I must
know that my soul is out of danger before I can be quieted in
spirit. Suspense in such a case is terrible; and, were our eyes
fully open to the eternal peril, absolutely unendurable. Not to know
whether we are out of danger, must be as fatal to peace of soul as the
certainty of danger itself. Suspense as to temporal calamities has often
in a night withered the fresh cheek of youth, and turned the golden hair
to gray. And shall time's uncertainties work such havoc with their
transient terrors, and shall eternal uncertainties pass over us as the
great things of eternity nothing but certainty will do; nothing
but certainty can soothe our fears, or set us free to attend to the
various questions of lesser moment which every hour brings up. The man
who can continue to go about these lesser things, whilst uncertainty
still hangs over his everlasting prospects, and the great question
between his soul and God is still unsettled must be either sadly
hardened or altogether wretched.
remains in this uncertainty remains a burdened and weary man. He who is
contented with this uncertainty is contented with misery and danger. He
who clings to this uncertainty as a right thing, can have no
pretensions to the name of son, or child, or saint of God: for in that
uncertainty is there any feature of resemblance to the son or the saint;
anything of the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father; any
likeness to the filial spirit of the beloved son of God?
resolves to remain in this uncertainty is a destroyer of his own soul;
and he who tries to persuade others to remain in this uncertainty is a
murderer of souls. He who does his best to make himself comfortable
without the knowledge of his reconciliation and relationship to God, is
a manifest unbeliever; and he who tries to induce others to be
comfortable without this knowledge is something worse; if worse can be.
That there are many among professing Christians who have not this
knowledge, is a painful fact; that there are some who, instead of
lamenting this, make their boast of it, is a fact more painful still;
that there are even some who proclaim their own uncertainty in order to
countenance others in it, is a fact the most painful of all.
the questions about assurance resolve themselves into that of the
knowledge of our relationship to God. To an Arminian, who denies
election and the perseverance of the saints, the knowledge of our
present reconciliation to God might bring with it no assurance of final
salvation; for; according to him, we may be in reconciliation today, and
out of it tomorrow; but to a Calvinist there can be no such separation.
He who is once reconciled is reconciled for ever; and the knowledge of
filial relationship just now is the assurance of eternal salvation.
Indeed, apart from God's electing love, there can be no such thing as
assurance. It becomes an impossibility.
nature we have no peace; "there is no peace to the wicked." Man craves
peace; longs for it. God has made it for us; presents it to us.
are the causes of dispeace; sin is the root of all. Where unpardoned sin
is, there cannot be peace. Many are the subordinate causes. An empty
soul; disappointment; wounded affection; worldly losses; bereavement;
vexations, cares, weariness of spirit; broken hopes; deceitful
friendships; our own blunders and failures; the misconduct or
unkindnesses of others. These produce dispeace; these are the winds that
ruffle the surface of life's sea.
are the efforts and appliances to obtain peace. Man's whole life is
filled up with these. His daily cry is, "Give me peace!" He tries to get
it in such ways as the following:-
By forgetting God. It is the remembrance of God that troubles a
sinner. He could get over many of his disquietudes, if he could keep God
at a distance. He tries to thrust Him out of his thoughts, his heart,
his mind, his conscience. Though he could succeed, what would it avail?
He would only bring himself more surely into the number of those who
shall be "turned into hell"; for they are they who "forget God." What
will forgetting God do for a soul? What will it avail to thrust Him out
of our thoughts?
By following the world. The heart must be filled by some one or in
some way. Man betakes himself to the world, as that which is most
congenial, and most likely to satisfy his cravings. Pleasure, gaiety,
business, folly, change, gold, friends,-these man tries; but in vain.
Peace comes not.
By working hard and denying self. The dispeace of a troubled
conscience comes from the thought of evil deeds done, or good deeds left
undone. This dispeace he tries to remove by trying to shake off the evil
that is in him, and to introduce the good that is not in him. But the
hard labor is fruitless. It does not pacify the conscience or assure him
of pardon, without which there can be no peace.
By being very religious. He does not know that true religion is the
fruit or result of peace found, not the way to it, or the price paid for
it. He may be on his knees from morn to night, and may make long
fastings and vigils, or prosecute his devotional performances till body
and soul are worn out; but all will not do. Peace is as far off as ever.
wants peace; but he takes his own way of getting it, not God's. He
thinks there is a resting-place; but he overlooks the free love that
said, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest."
The peace of the cross, what is it? What does it do for us?
is it? It is peace of conscience; peace with God; peace with the law
of God; peace with the holiness of God. It is reconciliation,
friendship, fellowship; and all this in a way which prevents the dread
or possibility of future variance, or distance, or condemnation. For it
is not simply peace, but the peace of the cross; peace extracted
from the cross; peace founded on and derived from what the cross
reveals, and what the cross has done. It is peace whose basis is
forgiveness, "no condemnation." It is peace which comes from our
knowledge of the peace-making work of Calvary. It is true peace;
sure peace; present peace; righteous peace;
divine peace; heavenly peace; the peace of God; the peace of
Christ; complete peace, pervading the whole being.
does it do for us?
It calms our storms. In us tempests rage perpetually. The storms of
the unforgiven spirit are the most fearful of all: the whirlwind,
earthquake, rushing blast, lightning, raging waves,-these are the
emblems of a human heart. But peace comes, and all is still. The great
Peacemaker comes, and there is a great calm. The holy pardon which He
bestows is the messenger of rest.
It removes our burdens. A sinner's heaviest burdens must ever be
dread of God, want of conscious reconciliation with Him, uncertainty as
to the eternal future. Peace with God is the end of all these. A sight
of the cross relieves us of our burdens, and connection with the
Sin-bearer assures us that these shall never be laid on us again.
It breaks our bonds. Sharp and heavy are the chains of sin; not
merely because it is a disease preying upon our spiritual nature, but
because it is guilt which must be answered for before a righteous Judge.
Unpardoned guilt is both prison and fetters. Forgiveness brings with it
peace; and with peace every chain is broken: our prison doors are
opened; we walk forth into liberty.
It strengthens us for warfare. Without peace we cannot fight. Our
hands hang down, and our weapons fall from them. Our courage is gone. So
long as God is our enemy, or so long as we know not whether God is our
friend, we are disabled men. We are without heart, and without hope. But
when reconciliation comes, and God becomes our assured friend, then we
are strong; well nerved for battle; fearless in the conflict; full of
hope and heart. "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
It cheers us in trial. The peace of God within is our chiefest
consolation when sorrows crowd in upon us. Lighted up with this true
lamp, we are not greatly moved because of the darkness without. Peace
with God is our anchor in the storm; our strong tower in adverse times;
the soother of our hearts, and the dryer up of our tears. We learn to
call affliction light, and to find that it worketh for us an exceeding
and eternal weight of glory.
soul at rest? If so, whence has the rest come? If not, why is it not at
rest? Is unrest a necessity, after Christ has said, "I will give
satisfied with the gospel? Is my heart content with Christ Himself, and
my conscience with what He has done? If not content, why? What aileth me
at Him and His work? Would I have something added to that work, or
something taken from it? Is it not, at this moment, exactly the thing
for me; exactly the thing which contains all the peace and rest I need?
and am I not, at this moment, exactly the person whom it suits; to whom,
without any change or delay, it offers all its fullness?
propitiation and the righteousness finished on the cross, and there
exhibited as well as presented to me freely, are such as entirely meet
my case: offering me all that which is fitted to remove dispeace and
unrest from heart and conscience; revealing as they do the free love of
God to the sinner, and providing for the removal of every hindrance in
the way of that love flowing down; proclaiming aloud the rent veil, and
the open way, and the gracious welcome, and the plenteous provision, and
the everlasting life.
does not save us, yet it is the portion of a saved soul.
does not save us; and they have erred who have spoken of assurance as
indispensable to salvation. For we are not saved by believing in our own
salvation, nor by believing anything whatsoever about ourselves. We are
saved by what we believe about the Son of God and His righteousness. The
gospel believed saves; not the believing in our own faith. Nevertheless,
let us know that assurance was meant to be the portion of every
believing sinner. It was intended not merely that he should be saved,
but that he should know that he is saved, and so delivered from
all fear and bondage, and heaviness of heart.
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