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'the meaning of the ancient authors,) is this: We
put our faith in Christ that we be justified by him only; that we be justified by God's free mercy, and the merits of our Saviour Christ only; and by no virtue or good work of our own that is in us, or that we can be able to have, or to 'do, for to deserve the same ; Christ himself only * being the cause meritorious thereof.'1
Let it.not be thought that we exclude good works from our system. These have their place, and that of the greatest importance, yea, of absolute necessity : but it is not as to our justification, in the least degree, except as evidencing our faith to be living and justifying:- It may seem somewhat extreme, which I will speak; therefore let every one judge of it, even as his own heart shall tell him, and no otherwise. I will but only make ' a demand : if God should yield into us, not as • unto Abraham, if fifty, forty, thirty, twenty, yea, 'or if ten good persons could be found in a city,
for their sakes this city should not be destroyed : * but and if he should make an offer thus large; ' Search all the generations of men, since the fall
of our father Adam ; find one man, that hath ' done one action, which hath passed from him
pure, without any stain or blemish at all; and ' for that one man's only action, neither man nor
angel shall feel the torments which are prepared * for both : Do you think that this ransom, to de' liver men and angels, could be found among the sons of men ?- The best things which we do
'Homily of salvation, Part 3. * See quotation from Hooker, p. 344.
* have somewhat in them to be pardoned; how
then can we do any thing meritorious, or worthy • to be rewarded. ....We acknowledge a dutiful ' necessity of doing well; but the meritorious dig
nity of doing well we utterly renounce. ' how far we are from the perfect righteousness of the law; the little fruit which we have in holiness, it is, God knoweth, corrupt and unsound: 'we put no confidence at all in it; we challenge
nothing in the world for it: we dare not call * God to reckoning, as if we had him in our debt• books : our continual suit to him is and must be 'to bear with our infirmities and pardon our of
fences.'? In this quotation the judicious Hooker goes even beyond our sentiments. The word.
unsound' seems too strong to be applied to the real good works of believers, “ the fruits of the
Spirit:" yet these are grievously defective. “ The fruits of the Spirit” in themselves are most holy: but, as the most excellent wine, when put into a cask which has not been fully cleansed, loses much of its fine flavour, and contracts a disagreeable taste from the vessel through which it has passed ; so is it with the “ fruits of the Spirit as produced by us.-We must therefore still contend, that all works of man are wholly excluded from any share in our justification : and, whatever difference there may be in other respects, between moral and ceremonial works, there is none in this grand concern.
in justification there is boasting in works: this 'by no means follows ; for we do not say that works 'have
intrinsic merit, but that they are the appointed condition of justification. The same objection would hold against the doctrine of jus* tification by faith, for we are not allowed to boast ' of faith, or to consider it as possessing any intrinsic merit.'1
We bear it with calmness, when faith, or even repentance, is called the condition of salvation; though we think the language inappropriate and unscriptural: but we must decidedly oppose the idea, of our works, in any sense, being the ap‘ pointed condition of justification:' not merely because “ there is boasting in works, but also because it is antiscriptural. No one passage, either in scripture or in the authorized writings of our church, can be adduced in support of the sentiment. The language of St. James implies no such thing “ Seest thou how faith wrought with his “works, and by works faith was made perfect? “ And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abra“ ham believed in God, and it was imputed to him “ for righteousness; and he was called the friend o of God.” “ As the body without the spirit is
dead, so faith without works is dead also.”. Working and moving evidence a man to be alive, and distinguish him from a dead corpse : but they are not the condition of his being made alive, in any measure or degree. How far this note accords with his Lordship's statement, in the preceding pages, 2 others must judge. “The faith, which
Note Ref. 120, 121.
is the means of salvation, is that belief of the 'truth of the gospel, which produces obedience * to its precepts.'' Now, if faith justifies, and obedience or good works are produced by faith, how can these subsequent works be the condition of the precedent justification? Works done be'fore the grace of Christ, and the inspiration of his
Spirit, are not pleasant to God; forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ : neither 'do they make men meet to receive grace ;-yea " rather, for that they are not done as God hath 'willed and commanded them to be done, we . doubt not but they have the nature of sin.'2 Works, then before faith are worthless, and cannot be the appointed condition of justification : and works done after faith are too late ; for the man, who doeth them has been previously justified. Some indeed put works and faith on precisely the same ground, as to justification, each being a condition, sine qua non. But, if justification before God be intended by St. James, when he says,
“ Ye see how that by works a man is justified, and “not by faith only.” 3 'EE Égywy must imply much more than this, as Éx tiotews does when used in the same way. St. Paul repeatedly contrasts étěpywr with én ziotews, shewing that both cannot stand together. How then can both be joint conditions of the same justification ? .
* Abraham seems to have been justified three "times: first, when by the command of God he left his own country ; Heb. vi. 6: secondly, when
Ref. 103. ? Art. xij.
Jam. ii. 24. Comp. Rom. iii. 30. iv. 2, 16.v. 1. Gal. ii. 16. Jam. ii. 24, 25. Gr.
* he believed God's promise of numerous descen* dents ; Gen. xv. 6: and thirdly, when he obeyed God's command to offer his son ; Jam. ï. 21.'1
Can this accord with justification being uniformly spoken of as a past transaction, in respect of believers ? 2 But, according to the general doctrine of those who are decided in respect of justification by faith alone, justification is a permanent, not a transient act of God. A believer's justification may be more clearly manifested to the soul by God at one time than at another; and it may be more clearly evidenced, by the man's conduct among men at one time than at another. It is, however, an abiding state of acceptance with God, but whether ever finally lost or not, is a distinct question. No doubt Abraham was justified when he believed and obeyed, and left, at God's command, his country and his father's house : but this was not declared, as far as we know, till a considerable time afterwards, when“ he believed in the “ Lord, and it was imputed to him for righteous“ ness.” 3 His faith was afterwards especially evidenced, when he obeyed the hard command of offering Isaac as a burnt-offering: but it is not said in the history, that he was then justified. His faith was, however, the spring and motive of his obedience, and was most illustriously displayed. He had before been justified in the sight of God; and, by this triumphant“ work of faith and labour of love,” his justification was evidenced, and declaratively recognized, and published to mankind, for the instruction of all future generations.
Ref. 121, Note.
? Ref. 99–102. Gen. xv. 6. Rom. iv. 3, 9. Jam, ii. 23.