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of Sodom in the day of judgement,' than for the land whose people are disposed to cherish such ruinous doctrines'. For, if what our Saviour has said of himself be true (and where is the man professing himself a christian, who dares avowedly maintain that it is not true?)' WITHOUT ME YE CAN DO NO
THING,' what shall become of all the boasted mnorality of the Deist and Socinian ? To what must all those GOOD WORKS tend, which are not only exulted in as having been performed independent of a right • faith' in the performer ; but which have been performed for the laudable purpose of undermining every principle of true and undefiled religion ?
I leave these, and such like reflections, with the christian friends of unchristian morality ; whom, I am willing to hope, an excess of what is commonly, though erroneously, called CHARITY,' has induced to adopt the opinion, that it is indifferent what a
man believes, provided only that he acts an inoffen. sive part in social life.'
See as particularly applicable, St Matth. xi. 19. to 25.
FROM discussing the doctrine of Works, as I have briefly done in the foregoing Letter, I am led to treat, in the present Letter, of the doctrine of JUSTIFICATION.
Of all the points of christian faith, which the reformers had to debate with the church of Rome, the point of Justification was that which, next to Transubstantiation, produced the greatest display of zeal, as well as the greatest variety of learned argumentation. It is certain, that when Luther commenced the work of reform, the Romish church had both adopted and published strange opinions, on the fundamental points of Faith; and had not only ascribed the christian's justification to the merit of works, but had in a great measure confined that merit to the practice of excessive devotions, and of making large donations to images, saints, and relics; which donations were warmly recommended, and at length expressly enjoined, under the specious, and almost exclusive title of works of piety,' or 'good works.'
The extravagance of this conceit gave the reformers a powerful advantage, which they did not fail to seize. And though it cannot be denied, that Luther carried his opposition to an undue length, so far indeed, as to exclude the apostle St James from the list of canonical writers, on account of his apparent testimony to the merit of good works; yet this essential article of our christian creed, Justification by faith, was, at that period, so clearly illustrated, and so firmly established, that to this very day it constitutes the catholic belief of every denomination of well-informed and conscientious protestants. At the same time, it is not to be concealed, that upon a strict investigation of this catholic doctrine, there do appear difficulties, arising by no means out of the intrinsic nature of the doctrine itself, but out of the multifarious explications and illustrations, to 'which the doctrine has given birth. The seeming contrariety between St Paul and St James, on this very subject, has proved a source of inconceivable debate and altercation. Many attempts have been made to reconcile the existing difference in their language. That such attempts are well meant, it would be uncharitable not to believe. Yet I could wish, that their authors had described them by another name than · Reconciliation. It is no doubt a fit occupation for philosophical criticism, to reconcile a Plato and an Aristotle : But the christian critic revolts at the supposed necessity of reconciling two inspired apostles ; more especially on the subject of one of the fundamental articles of his faith! The very idea of their opposing each other is enough to confirm the Уу
sceptic sceptic in his system of doubting and distrust, and to give the irreverent scoffer a theme for the display of his wit and blasphemy; which, when but the semblance of foundation is given, are sure to produce the desired effect on the young,
the thoughtless, and the unwary.
Believing, as we all do, that these two eminent apostles were both alike gifted with the spirit of truth, we must necessarily infer, that there can be no contrariety in what they have delivered as a point of doctrine. They may differ in their respective modes of expression ; but it ought to be the endeavour of every one, who searcheth the scriptures,' in the
which his blessed Master has commanded, to reconcile his own mind to their respective modes of expression, which may easily be done, by imputing any defect of explication to weakness of apprehension in the uninspireil erplicator, not to any possible defect in the inspired author. Actuated by zeal for the glory of God, and the promoting his truth and righteousness, and with that view, applying what has just now been remarked, to my own exertions, as a biblical critic, I proceed, not as derogating from the learning and labours of former expositors; but, as having profited by their well-meant endeavours, to offer my mite in explication of a doctrine, as to the real essence of which, I hope and trust that all christian people are unanimous,
There are connected with this essential doctrine, several terms, which require to be defined, before the doctrine itself can be satisfactorily elucidated, as well as to be viewed, in their relation to each other, and in the connection which we shall discover to subsist between them. The terms are JUSTIFICATION," • Faith,' and · WORKS.
It has been said, that the term justification is forensic term, that is, a term used in courts of law, for acquitting the accused, and for declaring them innocent of the offence charged upon them. And in this sense the term has been held to signify, in its religious acceptation, • The remission, or forgiveness of ' sin ;' a definition which does not fully accord with the sense of acquitting a criminal, who upon trial was pronounced not guilty. Besides, no sin can be forgiven until it has been committed ; which, where original sin is denied, makes justification, in the abstract, of none effect : and they, who have adopted the above definition of the term, own farther, that in strict propriety of expression, no man can be said to be justified, until the final sentence be pronounced, whether that sentence be pronounced at each individual death, or be reserved for the day of general judgement. In order to simplify the doctrine, some would have us to believe, that justification implied merely our being at peace with God, and our being individually acceptable in his sight; which I admit may beome the happy consequence of justification, but surely is not radically the import of the term. Y y 2