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Both St. Paul and St. James speak of the justification of Abraham: the former ascribes it to
faith, referring to a passage in Genesis : 1-the • latter ascribes it to works; and, as it were to ‘shew that his doctrine was not contrary to that
of St. Paul, he refers to the same passage in · Genesis ; “ Was not Abraham our father justified
by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon · the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought by his
works, and by works was faith made perfect? ‘ and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abra· ham believed God and it was imputed unto him ' for righteousness.”? God foreseeing that the faith
of Abraham was of that true and lively nature, ' which would produce obedience whenever an op
portunity offered, “ imputed it to him for righ* teousness ;” and accordingly he did obey upon
the very trying occasion of God's commanding ‘him to “ offer Isaac his Son upon the altar;" ' his “faith wrought with his works ;” that is, his ' faith produced this act of obedience ; by it,“ his ' faith was made perfect;" and it was proved that 'he possessed the genuine principle of human 'conduct, a conformity to the will of God: he was 'therefore “justified by works,” for if he had not * done this work, or at least expressed a sincere * readiness to do it, he would not have been justi
fied, disobedience to the commands of God being incompatible with a state of justification. Hence it follows that faith, which produced works, was the faith which justified Abraham, and was consequently the faith which St. Paul meant, when,
' Gen. xv. 6. Rom. iv. 3.
? Jam. ii. 21-23.
'in arguing upon justification by faith, he appealed 'to the justification of Abraham. St. Paul's assertion therefore is this.; Abraham was justified by faith, which produced works : St. James's is, * Abraham was justified by works, which proceeded
from faith. These assertions are in substance * the same; and St. James, in pointing out the true nature of Abraham's faith, only intended to correct the error of those who had misinterpreted the doctrine of St. Paul. This instance of Abraham's `justification ; the still earlier examples of Noah, * Enoch, and Abel; and the more recent ones of Gideon, David, and the prophets under the Mosaic economy mentioned by St. Paul upon another occasion; mark the uniformity of God's dealings ' with mankind in every period of the world, and
establish these fundamental and universal principles of the divine dispensations, that “ without
faith it is impoossible to please God;" and that or faith without works is dead." ' 1
“ God, who knoweth the hearts,” not only foresaw, but saw at the time, that the faith of
Abraham was of that true and lively nature, 'which would produce obedience, whenever an
opportunity offered. Upon the very trying occa*sion of God's commanding him to "offer Isaac
his son upon the altar,” his “ faith wrought with • his works ;" that is, his faith produced this act of • obedience; by it his “faith was made perfect." ' All this, for substance, is the view that Calvinists in general would give of this passage.—Dis* obedience to the commands of God being in
..compatible with a state of justification. No doubt deliberate habitual disobedience is here meant ; for “ in many things we offend all.”— Abraham's conduct, in denying his wife, and saying, “My soul shall live because of thee,” implied no small degree of unbelief and distrust, and reliance on a creature; and was not conformity to
the will of God.' And this conduct he repeated, after he had been declared to be justified: but long before he was called on to sacrifice Isaac.2 In other respects the statement in these pages, as reconciling the doctrine of the two apostles, is to me satisfactory. The language produce, produced, (not contains,) should be especially noticed.
. It is scarcely possible to imagine a more gross perversion of any doctrine, than that which we ' have been now considering. St. Paul meant, • that ceremonial works were not necessary before justification ; whereas these men pretended St. · Paul's authority for maintaining that moral * works were not necessary after justification.
Ceremonial works are not necessary to obtain `justification in this world : therefore, say they, moral works are not necessary to obtain justification or salvation in the world to come.'3
Nothing can be a more gross perversion of any doctrine, than to maintain that a dead and barren faith is sufficient to justification and salvation, because the scripture teaches us that we are justified and saved by a living, operative, and fruitful
1 Gen. xii. 13.
? Gen. xx. 2-11. 3 Ref. 123.
faith. But did St. Paul mean, that moral works were needful before justification, though ceremonial works were not ? and needful in order to justification ? If so, where were the moral works of the Corinthians to whom St. Paul preached the gospel ? “ Such were some of you ; but ye are “ washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, “ in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit “ of our God.” L-Indeed, his argumentative language is peculiarly energetic. « To him that “ worketh not, but believeth in him that justifieth “ the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteous
Even as David also describeth the bles“ sedness of the man unto whom God imputeth
righteousness without works.”2 And again, 56 What shall we say then that the gentiles, “ which followed not after righteousness, have “ attained to righteousness, even the righteous
ness of faith : but Israel, which followed after “the law of righteousness, hath not attained to " the law of righteousness. Wherefore ? Because " they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the “ works of the law : for they stumbled at that “ stumbling-stone.” 3. Was any true believer ever excluded from justification because he had not previously done moral works? And what are moral works? Doubtless acts of obedience to the moral law of God. But “ the carnal mind “ is enmity against God; for it is not subject “ to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” 4 And therefore (according to our Article,) all “works
il Cor, vi. 9-11. 3 Rom. ix. 30-32.
? Rom. iv. 3-5. * Rom. viii. 7, 8.
' which spring not from faith in Christ,—we doubt not have the nature of sin.'1
* Therefore, say they, moral works are not necessary to obtain justification, or salvation in the 'world to come.' Justification has before been shewn by his Lordship to belong to this life, and is distinguished from salvation.? “ Justification is the remission of sins here on earth : salvation is the attainment of happiness in heaven. Not a single passage can be found in the Epistles, or indeed in any part of the New Testament, in which justification, or justify, when applied to Christians
exclusively, that is, when treated of as belonging 'to them as such, denotes the sentence to be pro‘nounced at the day of judgment. Nor do the ' apostles ever tell their converts that they will · hereafter be justified, but always address them as persons who have been justified.'3 Yet his Lordship here speaks of obtaining justification in
the world to come!'-Had he forgotten what he had written? or has he in reserve some method of reconciling the two passages, which at least appear to be irreconcilable?
• Faith alone is sufficient; meaning, instead of ' a true and lively faith productive of obedience ' a bare assent to the truth of the gospel, without
any practical regard to its precepts. They vainly • hoped that this spurious faith would keep them ' in a state of justification in this life, and finally procure them salvation in the next.'4