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FAITH AND MORALITY;
FAITH AND WORKS.
Christianity consists of two parts—the speculative, or Faith; and the operative, or practical, called Works or Morality.
Faith is the essential, and works are the test, or proof, of faith.
It is faith that saves ; but it cannot save without works; nor can works save without faith.
Some sectarists place such a reliance upon faith alone, that they reject works altogether.
Others, discarding faith, depend (or affect to depend) upon morality alone for salvation; but I will prove to you that morality alone cannot save any man; for, in the first place, God has no where told us that it will; and, since salvation depends upon him, he is the only being on
whose word we can rely in such a case ; and he has most assuredly told us that we cannot be saved by works alone; for Christ has said that, to make our works acceptable in the sight of God they must originate in faith. Secondly—To be saved by the law of morality is impossible, because we cannot fulfil it; for man is by nature imperfect, and cannot of himself acquire perfection; and the law of morality is a perfect law, extending to all our words and thoughts, as well as to our actions; and as we must, to be saved by this law, fulfil every tittle of it, (since it provides no other way of saving us) should we commit only one, the smallest, breach of it, that breach can never be repaired; and even one immoral thought (who is not guilty of many ?) would condemn us finally, without any hope of re covery, or escape.
We may therefore say to those who depend upon the moral law alone for salvation what St. Paul said to the Romans
concerning the Jewish law. Rom. c. 3, v. 20. “ Therefore, by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” But has it the knowledge of salvation ? No.
Those who depend upon faith without works equally misunderstand the hope of salvation. Hear wbat St. James, who received the law from Christ's own mouth, says, in his Ep. c. 2.
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works, can his faith save him :v. 14.
“Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, be. ing alone.-v. 17.
66 Thou believest that there is one God, thou doest well; the devils also believe and tremble. y. 13.
“ But, wilt thou know, 0, vain man, that faith without works is dead?" v. 19.
And, it will be found that our Saviour in none of his discourses gives his follow
ers any encouragement to hope for salvation from faith alone; but always implies that there is something to be done, to prove that our faith is sincere. We are enjoined to keep the whole of the commandments; for our Saviour said he came to fulfil the law, not destroy it. Christ told the rich man who asked “ what he should do to inherit eternal life?" and boasted that he had kept all the cominandments from his youth up, that he lacked yet one thing; and bade him sell all he had and give to the poor : here was another good work to perform to prove his faith. The parable of the king, who gave his servants talents; to one ten, to another five, another three, and another one, clearly intimates that there are works to be performed, because these talents were given to be improved ; and, in short, our Saviour's discourses are so replete with commands upon this subject, it is needless to quote any more; yet one suggests itself, strongly in point:" Not every one that
saith unto me, Lord, Lord; but he that doeth the will of my Father that is in Heaven," and that will is, that the commandments shall be obeyed, in proof of our faith.
Setting aside, therefore, the quibblings of conceit, and the sophisms of convenience, young Christians, it is faith that saves you; but not an unprofitable faith. If you rely on a faith which merely assents to the fact of Christ's coming into the world, and the purpose of his coming, “ye do well," as St. James ironically says, i.e. ye think ye do a great deal; you consent to that which is too evident for you to doubt; but, the devils do the same, yet they “tremble.” If ye believe, and prove that ye believe by performing the works which are the fruit of the tree of faith, then are ye secure of salvation; and he who tells you the contrary does not understand the scriptures of God, which are as clear upon this subject as the most self-evident axiom.