Page images

ousness and holiness; just as Peter gave proof of the liberty which he had attained by the angels power, when in his own power he hastened to the house of Mary the mother of John, and joined the assembly of the disciples.

This may serve as an illustration of the manner in which the believer is first justified, and then sanctified. He begins by perceiving himself lost, and betaking himself to Christ for deliverance. He proceeds to live, as his deliverer instructs him to live, and enables him to live, and declares that he must live, if he is to receive the benefit he desires. But his instructor and strengthener, is still his deliverer; even if his works were perfect, he is still his deliverer, because without him he would have been lying in darkness: but his works are not perfect, and need his constant thankfulness that they are not his trust; that his ground of confidence is in Him who died for our sins, and rose again for our justification :—though still he has no other evidence of a title to depend upon his Lord and Saviour, than the testimony of his conscience, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, he is living "righteously, soberly, and godly in this present world,” and striving to “ be perfect, even as his Father who is in heaven is perfect.”

So that the doctrine on which St. Paul insists, is

this: that the good works which the Christian performs, whether before or after believing, are no meritorious cause of our salvation; have no share in effecting our acceptance with God. And St. James, when he affirms that “ by works faith is made perfect,” does not mean that those works procure our reconciliation with God, but prove it ; and in declaring that “ by works a man is justified, and not by faith only,”“ he means that a man does not with his heart believe unto righteousness, who does not in his life make confession unto salvation.? 6 For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law are justified.”8 No others have been justified before God. Known unto him are all things from the beginning. And none are ever received into his favour, whose“ patient continuance in well doing” he has not foreseen.

There is, in truth, in the doctrine itself a provision against the licence which is sometimes alleged to spring from it. The more the atonement of Christ is dwelt upon, the greater will appear the heinousness of sin, requiring such an expiation. St. Paul lays great stress on this ; and repudiates the idea, that those who have been “baptized into the death of Christ” for sin, “ who believe in his death as a propitiation for sin,” should yet admit it into their

prac6 James ii. 14--26. 7 Rom. x. 10. 8 Rom. ii. 13.

tice, instead of being deterred by the example which that affords.

And if anything can be relied on as the result of experience, this may be fearlessly maintained, and must be re-asserted whenever it is denied : viz. that they who have most intimately understood, in their own hearts, the doctrine of justification by faith, have been the most “ careful to maintain good works :" and that they who have most clearly proclaimed that doctrine, in their public ministrations, have been the most successful in producing, through the power of the Holy Ghost, that “holiness” in others, “ without which no man shall see the Lord.”

Still, in defiance of such experience, the doctrine of justification by faith is exposed to perpetual cavil. In the many, there is a sort of conventional apprehension of it, as if it must necessarily be connected with licentiousness. And others, of larger information, are swayed, unconsciously to themselves, by the unwillingness of the heart to resign all pretensions of its own: and are thus led to mix up and confound together the merits of Christ and the works of Christians, till there remains no sure ground to rest upon. They plead as their excuse, that morality and works of righteousness are in danger. The same accusation was made against the apostle himself.

9 Rom. vi. 4.

He was obliged to meet the objection, “Shall we then continue in sin, that grace may abound ?" 1 “ We be slanderously reported, and some affirm that we say, Let us do evil that good may come.” It is no argument, therefore, against the scriptural truth of this doctrine, that it lies open to these imputations. Nay, rather, that such imputations are made, is proof that the doctrine is scriptural. Most unquestionably no other doctrine can be elicited from the Epistle which is considered in the present volume. And I think it will be acknowledged by the attentive reader, that Paul speaks “ according to the wisdom given unto him," ° whilst he unfolds the mysterious counsels of God in the salvation of man: and that our Church has no reason to revise her Articles, when she declares it to be “a most wholesome doctrine,” that we are justified by faith only : " that we are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings.”

1 Rom. vi. 1. i. 8.

2 2 Pet. iii. 15.

3 Art. xi.






ROMANS i. 1-12.

1. Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

2. (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures)

3. Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;

4. And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

5. By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name :

6. Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ :

7. To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints : Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

It was little to be expected, a few years before, that this letter should be written. It was written

This epistle was written at Corinth, after Paul's second journey through Greece, as he was setting out towards Jerusalem, A.D. 58, according to the most probable calculations.


« PreviousContinue »