Reconciliation With God
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
From the Preface to “History Of The Reformation,” by J. H. MERLE D’AUBIGNE. This book was published in its final form in 1872, the year of the author’s death.
Man is well aware that a new life can only be begun in him when he has true and joyful communion with God. He knows that if he is in any degree to accomplish the Divine will here below, he must first find in God a reconciled Father, who forgives him all his offences. He knows that he can only love God when he is convinced that God first loved him. He knows that it is the love of God towards him which can only bring forth in him true humility, self-denial, hunger and thirst after righteousness. How would it be possible for him to enter, with courage, into the work of personal sanctification, if he were continually troubled by the reproaches of conscience, and kept back by the burden of his sins weighing always upon him? He must, before all, have pardon; he must know that his sins are no longer imputed to him, because the Saviour has given His life as a ransom for his soul—because He bore on the cross the punishment of his guilt. The conscience of a true Christian tells him that, if his reconciliation with God by Christ depended in any degree on his sanctification, he could never feel assured of having acquired the necessary amount of holiness, and, consequently, could never have joyful confidence in God; and he would thus be incapable of taking even the first step in the path of sanctification. Faith in the expiation of Christ, and reconciliation through His blood, is the commencement of the union of man with God; the gift of Divine grace gratuitously made, received by faith without any merit on our part, is the beginning of the new creation and of the new creature. That is the faith taught by St. Paul and the apostles—that is the doctrine taught by Luther and the other Reformers, as it had never been taught since the apostolic times. That doctrine may, perhaps, bring a smile to the lips of some great writers, of men of the world; and yet it was that which transformed Christendom three centuries ago, and brought about a new era, one of light, of liberty, and of faith, contrasting forcibly with the darkness of the Middle Ages. If this book—inferior in many respects to the works of the great historians we have named—has had some success, it is owing not only to the fact, that it narrates faithfully the exterior structure of the Reformation, but also, we repeat it, because it sets forth the spirit which pervaded it, and shews the heavenly influence by which it renewed the Church.