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the mercy of God obtains for the transgressor that Justification as an act of grace, which his own uniform obedience, had it taken place, would have obtained for him as a debt of justice, but which he could not claim, because he had not been uniformly obedient. And this is what St. Paul means, when he says, “ if by grace, then is it no more of works—but if it be of works, then is it no more grace (m):” if it be an act of justice, in consequence of a man's works, or uniform obedience, it is not an act of grace; and if it be an act of grace, it is not in consequence of his works. A claim from works, and grace through Faith, are incompatible. A man cannot obtain Justification upon both grounds, works and grace; in the one case he would have fulfilled the law, in the other case he would not have fulfilled it.
We find the same doctrine, as far at least as the condition of Justification is concerned, clearly asserted in the Epistle to the Galatians, “A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the Faith of Jesus Christ; even we (that is, even we Jews, who were born under another Covenant with God) have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the Faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law : for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified (n).” “No man is
justified (m) Rom. c. 11. v. 6. (n) Gal. c. 2. v. 16.
justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by Faith. And the law is not of Faith: but, the man that doeth thein shall live in them (0);” meaning, that the promises of the law are not made upon condition of believing, but upon condition of doing. This doing must be undeviating obedience, for, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them (P);" and all having violated the law, no one could be justified by it." But the Scripture hath concluded aļl under sin, that the promise by Faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe (9);" the Scripture has pronounced every individual of the human race to be guilty of sin, that the promise of Justification and life through Faith in Christ might extend to all, both Jews and Gentiles, who shall comply with the condition of sincerely believing in his name.
In these texts, not only the justifying power of Faith in Christ is asserted, but it is also declared that the works of the law do not contribute to Justification. This explicit renunciation of the works of the law was directed against the mistaken notion, that the observance of the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic Dispensation, was required in those Gentiles who embraced the
Gospel. fo) Gal. c. 3. v. 11 & 12. (P) Gal. c. 3. V. 10.
(9) Gal. c. 3. v. 22.
Gospel. The great objection of the Jews against Christianity, was, that it contradicted, as they iinagined, the religion of Moses, which they justly tonsidered as of divine origin, and as preserved to them by the immediate interposition and favour of Heaven. Our Saviour himself said, that he was “not come to destroy the law (r);" he came indeed to confirm the moral part of the Mosaic law, and to fulfil the ritual part; and by fulfilling the design of the rites and ceremonies of this typical, and therefore trànsitory, dispensation, and by rendering them no longer necessary, he in fact abolished them. The abolition however of these rites and ceremonies, the Jews did not comprehend, knowing them to have been established by God, and believing them to be of eternal obligation. This prejudice was " a stumbling block to the Jews,” and caused many of them to reject the Gospel; and even some of those who embraced it (s) could not be prevailed upon to abandon ordinances to which they and their ancestors had been so long accustomed. These Jewish Christians, not contented with themselves retaining the observance of their ancient ceremonies, endeavoured to persuade the Gertile converts, that it was necessary for them also to conform to the Mosaic ritual; they “ taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be cir
cumcised (1) Matt. c. 5. v. 17. (1) Acts, c. 21, V, 20.
Cuincised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved (t).” This opinion was first publicly advanced at Antioch, not long after the ascension of our Saviour, and it produced so muche“ dissension and disputation,” and was considered as a point of so great importance, that it was “ determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain others of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto. the Apostles and Elders about this question." Upon their arrival at Jerusalem, they declared the purpose of their journey, and “the Apostles and Elders came together to consider of this matter;" and after a full discussion, the doctrine of the Judaizing Christians was condemned, and the Gentile converts were pronounced to be free from the burden of the Mosaic law. Though this decision carried with it not only the authority of the “ Apostles and Elders with the whole church,” but also the express sanction of the Holy Ghost (u), and was formally communicated in writing to the churches, and confirmined by the spea cial mission of “ Judas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren, who were sent to tell the same things by mouth,” yet the practice of circumcising the Gentile converts, and of requiring their obedience to the other legal ordinances, con. tinued to prevail. The severity with which this practice was reproved by St. Paul, and the
decided .(1) Acts, c. 15. V. 1. (u) Acts, c. 15. v. 22, 23 & 28.
decided manner in which he maintained the doctrine of Justification by Faith without the deeds of the law, unhappily led to another error in the highest degree injurious to the cause of religion and virtue. It was inferred, that because Faith would justify, and the deeds of the law were unnecessary, Christians were under no obligation to obey the moral precepts of the Mosaic law (2), and that Faith alone would entitle them to all the privileges and blessings of the Gospel, both here and hereafter. This error, as congenial to the corrupt nature of man, as it is contradictory to the true spirit of Christianity, was eagerly adopted, and produced its obvious consequences, licentiousness and profligacy. St. James, in his Epistle (y), argues against it with great earnest
ness (x) Irenæus, Lib. 1. cap. 23. says, that Simon Magus, mentioned in the Acts, c. 8, taught, secundum ipsius gratiam salvari homines, sed non secundum operas justas, which is a clear proof how early the doctrine of Justification by Faith was corrupted, and that salvation by grace without Good Works was considered as an heretical doctrine. Irenæus lived in the second century, and his authority upon this point cannot be questioned. This corruption is the more remarkable, as St. Paul seems to have guarded against it, Rom. c. 6. v. 1 & 15. Gal. c. 2. v. 17. St. Paul hinself tells us that his doctrine was misrepresented, Rom.c. 3. v. 8. St. Peter says the same of St. Paul's doctrine, 2 Pet. c. 3. V. 15 & 16.
(y) Veterum multi (eosque inter Augustinus) censent Epistolam Jacobi, et Jahannis primam, et Judæ,