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* The quotations which have been produced in the three preceding chapters, from the writings of the ancient fathers, and from the works of * Calvin, not only prove that the peculiar tenets of · Calvinism are in direct opposition to the doctrines maintained in the primitive church of Christ, but they also shew that there is a great similarity between the Calvinistic system and the earliest heresies. The assertion of Simon Magus, who is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, and called by ecclesiastical historians • the first Christian heretic, that “men are saved • according to his grace, and not according to just ' works,” contains in it the essence of Calvinism; and it clearly appears that Irenæus considered * this as an heretical opinion.''
“The original of this train of heretics' (Valentinus, Basilides, Saturninus, the Manichees, and others) is to be fetched from Simon Magus, whose
assertion was, that Christ had neither come, nor ' suffered any thing of the Jews. Wherefore, mak‘ing himself the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, he affirmed that he had appeared only in shew, (putative,) in the person of the Son, and so that ' he had suffered as the Son among the Jews; that
in truth he suffered not, but in appearance only. '--Now what Simon Magus said of himself when he made himself the Son, those who followed ' said of Christ.'2 That is, they said that Christ did not suffer in reality, but in appearance only. Hence it is manifest that Simon meant, that men are saved by his grace, and not according to just
2 Bp. Pearson.
works.' He was the Messiah, by whose grace, and that of his Helena, men must be saved ! and might be saved, if they trusted in them, however wicked they had been, and still continued !
As to this charge against Calvinists, I do not at all think that all the authority, and learning, and rank of any man, or any number of men, on earth, will ever influence one reflecting person to regard it as entitled to the least credit, or even to much notice; so that à formal confutation of it is quite -superfluous.
Many of the ancients, and among them Augustine, think that the Epistle of James, and the First of John, and that of Jude, and that which • is called the Second of Peter, were written against
those, who, corruptly interpreting Paul's epistles, • said that faith without good works was sufficient for salvation.'1
There can be no doubt but many things in these epistles were written against the sentiments here mentioned; whether the persons who held them inferred them from a perverse interpretation of St. Paul's epistles, or not.
· St. James uses the word faith, not in the sense ' in which it was used by St. Paul when speaking of justification, but in the sense in which it. was used by those whose opinions he is combating, namely, bare belief, without producing inward 'purity or practical obedience: this is evident, by ' his attributing the faith, of which he is speaking,
to devils. By works, he means not the ceremonial works of the Mosaic law, which were reject?ed by St. Paul, but works of benevolence and 'conformity to the will of God, as appears from the illustration of “ a brother or sister who is naked and destitute of daily food,”1 and from the examples of Abraham and Rahab, who gave proof of their faith by their actions. And by the word justify he does not mean, as St. Paul did, justification or remission of past sins at the time of admission into the Christian covenant, but the
continuance in a state of justification, which 'would be followed by salvation : and here again he conforms himself to the language of those whose error he is refuting. In reasoning upon this point, he asks, “ Can faith save him?”3 im'plying, that the faith spoken of is insufficient for salvation.'4
Is there any ground in scripture for the marked distinction between ceremonial works and works of moral obedience, as to this grand question, 'How shall men be justified before God?' It may be important to remark, that Bishop Bull, and even Dr. Taylor of Norwich, expressly admit, and even positively assert, that there is no ground for such a distinction. That Paul treats concerning even the moral works of the Mosaic law, (however some may say the contrary,) is too manifest from his own words. (Rom. iii. 20. vii. 7, &c.) The disputation of the apostle, therefore, beyond doubt, belongs to the works even of the moral
| Jam. ii. 15, 16. 3 Jam. ii. 14.
? Jam. i. 22–25.
Ref, 118, 119.
law.!!Y By works excluded from justification or salvation, he doth not mean only ceremonial works, or ritual observations of the Mosaic constitution : for he expressly excludes “ works of righteousness” or righteous works. (Tit. iii. 5.) Now this sets aside, not only ceremonial works, 'but all acts of obedience properly moral.??---- Ce‘remonial works,' he observes, ‘do not come into the apostle's proofs,' or his quotations from the Old Testament, or his reasonings upon them. Abraham's justification preceded the ceremonial law, and even the appointment of circumcision : yet he was not justified by works, in any degree, but by faith exclusively. His Lordship has before stated,4 that we cannot be justified before God by obeying the moral law, unless through life we obey it perfectly : 'a single transgression would
destroy the right of justification, and in many * things we offend all.' Thus the apostle says: “ If there had been a law given, which could have
given life, verily righteousness should have been
by the law. But the scripture hath concluded 5 “all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus “ Chrișt might be given to them that believe.”6 The ceremonial law was indeed principally concerned in the disputations excited by the Judaizing teachers : and this, apart from the question concerning justification, with which it was closely connected, involved another question, of great importance at that time; namely, whether the
Bp. Bull, H. A. vii. 2. Translated. Taylor's Key,c. xii.
• Ref. 111, 112. * EuvéxiCeY. Shut up together as close prisoners. Luke v. 6. Rom. xi. 32. Gal. iii. 23. Gr. 6 Gal. ü. 21, 22.
gentile converts were bound to become Jews, (as well as Christians,) by receiving circumcision, and obeying the ritual law of Moses ; and whether the Jewish converts were still bound to observe the legal ceremonies.—The instances of Abraham and Rahab, 'who gave proof of their faith by their
actions, and who were not under the ceremonial law, fully proves that works of moral obedience were, indeed, exclusively intended by St. James : but it by no means follows, that works of ceremonial obedience were exclusively meant by St. Paul.
* But, if it be insufficient for salvation in the world to come, it is insufficient to keep a person ' in a state of justification in this world ; and ac'cordingly the apostle soon after says, “ By works a man is justified, and not by faith only;”) that is, faith only will not preserve a man in a jus* tified state ; it must be accompanied by works,
for “ faith without works is dead." It is evident * that the faith here spoken of may exist without works; and in that case it is of no avail to salvation.'2
Would “ dead faith” then, 'bare belief, without producing inward purity, or practical obedience,
the faith of devils,' bring a person into a state of justification ? His Lordship has repeatedly marked the difference between true living faith, and this worthless assent to the truth ; 3 and has ascribed justification to the former exclusively. Yet here, by a strange inadvertency, he supposes that a man is brought into a state of justification by a dead
! Jam. ii. 24.
? Ref. 119.
3 Ref. 103-105.