« AnteriorContinuar »
was an act of mere compassion and kindness. Apply this to the case before us, and you will see the fate of your argument. You are, besides, to consider, that it is no where said in scripture, that we are at the last day to be rewarded for good works, but according to them.—The reward which believers shall receive, will be a reward of mere grace; and will, of God's infinite goodness, be proportioned to, but not merited by their obedience. Let it also be considered, in our justification in this life, Christ is considered in the special character of our Redeemer, our Propitiation, and High Priest; and accordingly applies the benefits of his redemption to our souls that we may be accepted in him; but in the great day of accounts, he will appear in the special character of our Judge, publicly owning and rewarding those graces which he has enabled us to exercise, and that obedience which he has excited and strengthened us to perform. In our justification here, he is glorifying the riches of his redeeming mercy, and love: in the day of judgment, he will glorify his holiness and equity as Governor, as well as his infinite bounty; and let the intelligent world see, that the Judge of all the earth will do right. Here, he justifies the ungodly, by acquitting them from guilt, and imputing righteousness without works: there, he will reward the godly, by crowning their piety and holiness with eternal life. Here, our justification is the foundation and fountain of our new obedience, as I have before shown you; there, we are to receive the reward of our obedience already performed and finished. In our justification here, Christ acts from the motives only of his sovereign grace and love: in the final sentence, he will proceed according to the rules of distributive, remunerative justice, in adjusting and proportioning rewards. So that, from the nature of things, it is
agreeable that we should here be justified by faith only, but there judged according to our works.
And now, sir, will you indulge me with the same freedom which
have hitherto borne with, and allow me to be your faithful monitor in an instance or two ?
I would first put you in mind, that it is of much greater consequence to your highest interests, to make it evident to yourself, that you are indeed justified in the sight of God, than to exercise your mind with this arbitrary distinction of a first and second justification. If
you are indeed interested in Christ by faithif
you do indeed experience a change of heart and life, in consequence
faith in him, and make a progress in the divine life, in the mortification of your corruptions, in love to God and your neighbour, and in heavenly-mindedness and spirituality; you will not be examined at the bar of your Judge about your acquaintance with these modern distinctions; or whether those qualifications which will then be gloriously rewarded, are the fruits of the first, or the conditions of a secondary justification.
I would again entreat you to consider, that the life of a christian is a life of faith in the Son of God. We are not only justified by faith, but we are saved by faith ; and the just must live by faith.—What-. ever becomes of this debate, you may be therefore certain, that you can be no longer safe, than while you are humbly committing your soul to Christ as to the Author of your eternal salvation, depending upon him as the Lord your righteousness, and expecting all supplies of grace
from his fulness. And believe me, sir, a lively exercise of faith in Christ will afford you more present comfort, will much more quicken you in devotion and true holiness, and inore strengthen and establish every good work, in your progress to
the heavenly kingdom, than all your studies in these fruitless doctrines about a first and secondary justification.
I will take leave to add once more, that the way to heaven is certainly a way of holiness, and without holiness you can never see God. It therefore concerns you to look to the fountain of holiness for all supplies of grace, to watch over your heart and life, to endeavour and pray for a holy conformity to the whole will of God; and amidst, and after all, to bring your great defects to the blood of Christ for pardon ; and continually implore the Divine influences, that the work of grace may be carried on in your soul with power, until you arrive, without spot and blameless, before the throne of your sovereign and righteous Judge.
thus be directed safe amidst all the snares and delusions in your way, is the prayer of,
That you may
WHEREIN THE APOSTLE JAMES'S DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICA
TION BY WORKS, IN HIS SECOND CHAPTER, IS DISTINCTLY REVIEWED, AND SET IN ITS GENUINE LIGHT, BY A COMPARISON WITH THE APOSTLE PAUL'S DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH.
SIR, You “acknowledge, that if it were not for one difficulty in your way, you should think the evidence offered against the doctrine you have proposed must be conclusive. The apostle Paul," you say, " does indeed seem to speak in favour of my principles ; but he ought to be interpreted by the apostle James, who expressly rejects my interpretation of Paul's discourses on the subject before us. What appearance, therefore, soever there may be, in favour of my principles, in Paul's epistles, these must not be understood in direct contradiction to the express declarations of another inspired writer. You therefore desire me to show how it is possible to reconcile my scheme with the doctrine of James, in the second chapter of his epistle, from the fourteenth verse to the end.”.
If this be all your remaining difficulty, I hope it will not prove a hard matter to give you
full satisfaction, that the doctrine of the apostle James, in the place referred to, is not inconsistent with the doctrine of our justification by faith, so plainly and fully taught by the apostle Paul in all his epistles; and, therefore, that our justification by works, in the sense that I oppose it, has no foundation at all in the whole word of God.
That this may be set in a proper light, there are two or three things necessary to be premised, and distinctly considered, previous to a direct and immediate view of the consistency and concurrence of these two apostles, in the doctrine of a sinner's justification by faith, notwithstanding their seeming disagreement and repugnancy.
It should first be premised, that these two apostles must be understood in such a sense as will make them consistent. We must take this for a principle, that whatever becomes of our schemes, on one side or the other, the Spirit of God cannot be inconsistent with himself, nor teach contrary doctrines. That interpretation, therefore, must be right, which will make them consistent ; and that must be rejected, which sets them at variance, and makes their doctrines utterly irreconcilable.
It should be likewise premised, that the apostle James must be understood in such a sense as will make him consistent with himself. We may not suppose, that he teaches such a doctrine in this part of the second chapter as is repugnant to the doctrine which he himself teaches elsewhere in the same epistle. Let us then see if we cannot find the doctrine I am pleading for, taught in this very epistle of James, particularly in chap. i. 5—7.
lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven of the wind, and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” From whence I argue,
if faith be the way to Divine acceptance and audience of our prayers, the means by which our duties will find a gracious reception with God, and with
*** If any,