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right to an actual and vast reward, are such distinct things, that one cannot but wonder they should be so generally confounded as they are in theological discussions.-In the scriptures, however, justification undoubtedly signifies that God hath given the sinner a right and title to eternal life, accounting him righteous by an act of sovereign grace; so that “ there is no condemnation “ for him :" but, being thus justified, “ he is made “ an heir according to the hope of eternal life.”
II. Every attentive reader of the scriptures, especially of those epistles which contain the last and fullest revelation of the truth and will of God to mankind, must observe in them an uniform declaration made, and strenuously insisted on, as of the greatest importance, that "a man is justified “ by faith without the deeds of the law.” Many learned men have endeavoured to explain all these testimonies of the Mosaic law, as distinguished from the Christian dispensation; and to confine the meaning of them principally to the abrogated ceremonies. But, is “the knowledge of sin" by the ceremonial, or by the moral law? Was the ceremonial law “the ministration of death, written “ and engraven in stones ?" Did the apostle know this “ law to be spiritual,” “ holy, just, and
good?" Did “he delight in it after the inner “ man? Did the Mosaic rites, or the tenth commandment, convince him that concupiscence was a sin, and slay his hope of justification by the law 13 Did Christ “redeem , us from the curse” of the ceremonial law alone, by “ being made a curse for “us?" Such questions might easily be multiplied; and each of them formed into a regular argument, demonstrating the falsehood and absurdity of this opinion: but the compass of this Essay does not admit of it, nor is it necessary in so plain a case. No law in the universe can both justify and condemn the same person : if then no man have always “ loved God with all his heart, and his “ neighbour as himself,” no man can be justified according to the works of the moral law, for this most obvious and conclusive reason, that all are exposed to condemnation for breaking it. If no human action be more excellent than the law requires, then none of our works of righteousness can do any thing to reverse the condemnation that our sins have incurred : and, if the best of our good works come short of perfection, and our best days are chequered with many sins ; then we must continue to accumulate guilt and condemnation, as long as we remain under the law, and are judged according to it. So that by no works of any law whatever can a transgressor of that law be “justified in the sight of God.”
1 Tit. iii. 1-7.
2 2 Cor. iii. 7-9.
s Rom. vii. 7--22.
These considerations may prepare our minds for attending more carefully to the language of the apostle, in discoursing on this subject. He constantly insists upon it, that a man is “justified by or through “ faith,” and “not by the deeds of the “ law.” He even says without hesitation, “ To “ him that worketh not, but believeth in him that “justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to “him for righteousness." And he carefully dis
Gal. iii. 13.
2 Rom. iv. 5.
tinguishes this way of justification from that by works ; nay, opposes the one to the other as incompatible. “Because the law worketh wrath ;“ therefore it is by faith, that it might be by grace. “ And, if by grace, then it is no more of works; “ otherwise grace is no more grace.”_For this reason all those whom God justifieth are considered as “ungodly.” True faith is indeed the effect of regeneration ; an important part of true godliness ; and inseparable from all other holy exercises of the soul towards God : yet the believer, considered as he is in himself, according to the holy law, is liable to condemnation as ungodly; and is justified solely and entirely as viewed in Christ, according to the gospel
Even James, who in another sense shews that “a man is justified by works, and not by faith
only,” illustrates his doctrine by the example of Abraham, who was “justified by works, when he “ had offered Isaac his son upon the altar:” and he then adds, “Seest thou how faith wrought with “ his works, and by works was faith made perfect; “ and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, “ Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to “him for righteousness."? Now these words were spoken many years before Abraham was called to sacrifice Isaac, indeed before Isaac was born.3 James therefore evidently meant, that the true believer proves his profession to be sincere, and his faith living, by the fruits of holy obedience; and is thus justified before men on earth, and will be justified before the world at the last day, from that charge of hypocrisy which will be substantiated against all those who “say they have faith and < have not works." Unless we admit this interpretation, we shall find as much difficulty in reconciling James with himself, as some have done in reconciling Paul with him. For he adduces the same example, and quotes the same scripture, in illustration of his point, that St. Paul does : and he supposed that he had confirmed the true doctrine of justification by faith, in thus distinguishing a living from a dead faith ; and in shewing that no faith could justify a man before God, which did not prove itself genuine, and justify the possessor before his neighbours, by influencing him to the practice of good works according to the opportunity afforded him.
2 Jam. ii. 20—26.
! Rom. iv. 14–16. xi. 6. 3 Gen. xv. 6.
But the general doctrine, that a man is justified in the sight of God by faith alone, is too plain to need much proof. They who read the epistles of St. Paul must know, that he not only teaches this doctrine, but likewise bestows much pains in establishing it by various arguments, illustrations, and examples. He declares that no man is justified in any other way:1 that“they, who seek righteous
ness as it were by the works of the law,” stumble and fall,2 and receive no benefit from Christ and the gospel ;3 and that, “if any man, or angel, “ should preach any other gospel, he would be “ accursed."4 Indeed those scriptures, which do not immediately relate to justification, continually
" Gal. iii, 11, 12. 3 Gal. v. 2-6.
2 Rom. ix. 30-33. x. 3--11. 4 Gal. i. 8-10.
speak of faith as the grand distinguishing difference between those who are saved, and those who perish. In this way the apostle evidently teaches us, that all the accepted servants of God under the Old Testament were justified by faith. And the same is certainly implied when he says, “ They that be “ of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham ; for
as many as are of the works of the law are under
« the curse."?
The texts, containing propositions to this effect, are more numerous than can easily be conceived by persons who have not particularly examined the subject; as may readily be seen by looking over, in a good Concordance, the articles faith, believe, believing. By faith, we pass from death unto life: by faith we are saved, we walk, we stand, we work, we fight, and conquer: we come unto God, we receive the Spirit, and we are sanctified, by faith : all things pertaining to our peace, stability, fruitfulness, comfort, and eternal felicity, are evidently suspended on our faith, and inseparably connected with it, in a peculiar manner, and wholly different from the relation which they bear to any other holy disposition, or act of obedience. So that it is really surprising that any, except avowed infidels or sceptics, should deny the doctrine of justification by faith alone, whatever interpretation they may adopt of the words faith and justification.
III. I shall therefore next proceed to consider the distinguishing nature and effects of faith, and the manner in which it justifies. Some opposers of this fundamental doctrine attempt to explain it away by
• 1 Heb. x. 38,
2 Gal. jji. 8---14.