« AnteriorContinuar »
My first inquiry shall be, in what senses the words Justification and Faith are used in the New Testament, and in the Public Formularies of our Church
Justification is a forensic term-to be justified before God, signifies to be declared and accounted as just or righteous in his sight. The application of this word in the New Testament is not confined to Christians. St. Paul and St. James both speak of the Justification of Abraham (y). The for mer Apostle says of the Jews, “Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified (%);” and of the Heathen he says, “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Heathen through Faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham (a);” and speaking both of Jews and Heathen, he says, " It is one God, which shall justify the circumcision ' by Faith, and úncircumcision through Faith (6.).” In the following passage the word is applied to all mankind at the day of final retribution, “ Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment; for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned (c)."
Such 0) Rom. C. 4. V. 2. Tas, c. 2. v. 21. (*) Rom, č. 2. v. 13. (a) Gal. c. 3. v. 8. b) Rom. c. 3. v. 30. (c) Matt. c. 12. v. 36 & 37-This declaration was
Such is the extensive use of the word justify; but our more particular concern is, to ascertain its exact meaning when applied to Christian's exclusively. For this purpose, we must have recourse to the Apostolical Epistles; and I have to observe, as a very important consideration, that when thus applied it always refers to the present life. Justification of Christians means Justifica. tion in this world, as in these passages, “ And such (namely thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers and extortioners) were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (d):" here St. Paul represents the Corinthian Christians as having been formerly guilty of great sins, but as being now washed, sanctified, and justified; that is, as having been baptized, as having abandoned their former wickedness, and as having been justified from their former guilt, in the name of Christ, and through the operation of the Divine Spirit at the time of baptism: it is evident that in this passage nothing is spoken of as future; the washing, the sanctifi
cation, .. . (d) 1 Cor. c. 6. 8. 11. addressed by our Saviout to the Pharisees, who blasphemously asserted that he cast out devils by Beelzebub the prince of the devils, and seems intended to admonish us, that words, as well as actions, will be the subject of judicial inquiry at the last day.
cation, the Justification, were all events which had already taken place. “ Being justified by Faith, we have peace with God (e);” St. Paul here speaks of living Christians, who, in consequence of having been justified from their former sins through Faith in Christ, have now peace with God. The following text is still more clear, and points out the difference between Justification and Salva. tion, “ Being now justified by his blood, we shall. be saved from wrath through him (f);" here also Justification is spoken of as having already taken place, Salvation as being future; that is, Justification is in this world, Salvation in the next. Justification is the remission of sins here on earth; Salvation is the attainment of happiness in heaven. Not a single passage can be found in the Epistles, or indeed in any part of the New Testament, in which Justification or justify, when applied to Christians exclusively, that is, when treated of as belonging to them as such, denotes the sentence to be pronounced at the day of judgment. Nor do the Apostles ever tell their converts, that they will hereafter be justified; but always address them as persons who have been justified.
If we examine our Articles, we shall there find the word invariably used in the same sense: in the 11th Article it is said, “We are accounted
righteous," (e) Rom. c. 5. V. I. (f) Rom. c. 5. v. 9. , righteous,” and “we are justified;” which are synonymous expressions, both in the present tense, and referring to the present life..
The 12th Article speaks of " Good Works which follow after Justification,” and consequently Justification must be in this life.
The title of the 13th Article is, “ Of Works before Justification;" which implies that there are works after Justification, and consequently that Justification takes place in this life.
In the 17th Article, the distinction is clearly marked; it is there said of the elect, “ They be justified freely, they walk religiously in Good Works, and at length by God's mercy they attain to everlasting felicity:" being justified and walking in Good Works must refer to this life, as attaining to everlasting felicity refers to the next.
The word does not occur in any other of the 39 Articles.
The Homily “On the Salvation of Mankind,? in strict conformity to the 12th Article, speaks of " Good Works necessarily to be done afterwards (g)” (that is, after a man is justified); and the same Homily uses the expression, “ baptized or justified,” considering Justification as taking place at baptism, and consequently in this life; “Our office is not to pass the time of this present
life (8) Part the ist.
life unfruitfully and idly, after that we are baptized or justified, not caring how few Good Works we do to the glory of God, and profit of our neighbours (h).”
Faith in several parts of the New Testament, and especially in the 11th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, is attributed to persons who lived prior to the times of the Gospel (i); but my present business is to inquire into its signification when applied to Christians.
In writing to the Corinthians, St. Paul says, “ Though I have all Faith, and have not Charity,
I am (b) Part the 3d.
(i) It is said in this chapter, that “ without Faith it is impossible to please God," y. 6: By Faith must be here meant, not Faith in Christ exclusively, but a species of Faith, varying in different men according to the different means afforded them of knowing and otactising their duty. For in this chapter we find Faith, a Faith pleasing to God, attributed to a great variety of persons living at very different times and under different dispensations, from Abel the son of Adam, to David and the Prophets under the Jewish ceconomy. The Gentiles “ were a law unto themselves," and their Faith consisted in believing that a compliance witli that law was acceptable to the Deity. The efficacy however of this Faith, whether in the Patriarchs, the Jews, or the Gentiles, must still be derived from the merits and through the mediation of Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of the whole world. Thus it appears