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True faith will always be accompanied with repentance ; but this cannot properly be said to ‘procure' justification ; otherwise we should be justified as well by repentance as by faith ; which is not the language either of the Bible or the Prayer-book. • Obedience must be added,' to prove' our faith sincere ;' and for many other important ends : but “by faith we stand.” No faith can justify which cannot also continue the possessor in a justified state ; unless it fail, or degenerate into a dead faith.
No one, by the evangelical covenant, obtained and ratified by the shedding of the blood of Christ, can obtain remission of sins or justification, without faith and repentance; no one can keep and preserve justification when received, without the fruits of faith and repentance.''
This note may at first seem equivalent to what has above been admitted. But it is Bishop Bull's doctrine, that repentance, faith, and works all justify alike, and none of them in any other sense than as a sine qua non : while we would maintain that neither repentance, nor works, in any degree or sense, help to justify; but only that repentance always accompanies justifying faith, and that the 'fruits of faith and repentance always follow -even such as spring from a lively penitent faith, and by which ‘it may as certainly be known as a tree by its fruits.' These are indispensably needful to prove the sincerity of our faith: to evidence that we are justified ; and in order to our
Translation of Note from Bp. Bull, Ref. 142.
continuance in a justified state; not as added to our faith, as a distinct means of this continuance, but as manifesting our faith to be justifying and saving. “ Seest thou how faith wrought with his “ works, and by works was faith made perfect:"] -perfect as a tree is when covered with its valuable fruit. Though living and growing before, it was not in its perfect state.
· These adults are not required to perform any 'good works previous to baptism, but simply to ' profess their faith in the blessed Trinity, and to
promise future obedience to God's holy will and * commandments: they are then baptized, and by * this spiritual regeneration they receive remission
of all their former sins, both original and actual. · Here is an exact conformity to the practice of • the primitive Christians. But, though an adult, ' when baptized, may have a firm belief in the • truth of Christianity, and a real intention to obey
its laws; yet, from the corruption of his nature, ' and the enticements to sin, he may afterwards not lead a life agreeable to the precepts of the gospel ; he
“ for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.” And in that case his faith, though at first it might deserve to be * called a true faith, afterwards loses that character; ‘and, if he dies while he continues an impenitent * sinner, he will not be saved, although he once
had justification in this world. Having failed to · fulfil the conditions of the covenant, into which ' he had voluntarily entered and which he ex
Jam. ii. 22.
pressly promised to fulfil, he can have no claim ' to its privileges and benefits. But, if he repents, ' and returns to a true and lively faith in the merits
of Christ, his sins are pardoned, and his justification is renewed.'i
· These adults simply professing faith, &c. and promising obedience—are then baptized, and by ‘this spiritual regeneration they receive remission
of all their former sins, both original and actual.' Is then the simple profession, though ignorant or insincere, and the promise of future obedience however formal and unmeaning, sufficient to ensure the forgiveness of all past sins ? Is the outward sign of baptism, even if administered to hypocrites,' spiritual regeneration?' I can hardly conceive that this was diliberately intended : but the language marks no distinction between a sincere and an insincere profession and promise ; and certainly leads to the conclusion that all, even if concealed Jews, or infidels, or atheists, who make the profession and promise are, by the opus operatum, spiritually regenerated and actually pardoned! I only mean, by these remarks, to shew that in matters of such vast importance, on which everlasting happiness or misery is suspended, more distinguishing and cautious language is needful. It has been shewn that they who are baptized on a sincere profession of faith have previously been regenerated and justified. Let any man who thinks himself able attempt to answer the argument there used. It is observable that justification when lost may be renewed, though regeneration
Ref. 143, 144.
cannot: but they who have sinned away regeneration must still be addressed as regenerate! I can see no reason for this distinction, unless the opus operatum of baptism is actually regeneration.
* Repentance and faith are the only things re'quired for baptism or justification.'
In the former chapter it was 'baptism or regeneration ;' here it is, 'baptism, or justification.' Is then baptism not only regeneration, but justification also ? The answer in the catechism, on which this is grounded, says no such thing. 'Question. What is required of persons * to be baptized ? Answer. Repentance, whereby they forsake sin, and faith, whereby they stead
fastly believe the promises of God made to them ( in that sacrament.' There is not a word about justification, nor even concerning regeneration.
* As by baptism, says Bishop Bull, all sins com'mitted before the grace of the gospel is received ' are washed away; so in the Lord's supper the remission of all sins, which are committed after
baptism and regeneration, is sealed to those who ' are truly penitent.'?
Why not ' sealed' in baptism, as well as in the Lord's supper? Baptism, says our article, ‘is also ' a sign of regeneration, or new birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the church; the promises
of the forgiveness of our sins, and of our adop‘tion to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed.'3 Is remission of
! Ref. 144.
* Ref. 145.
* Art. xxvü.
sins in adults more inseparably connected with baptism than with the Lord's Supper? If hypocrites, coming to the Lord's Supper, eat and drink their own condemnation ; do hypocrites, coming to baptism, receive salvation ? Surely both are signs and seals: they are signs and seals to the believer, but not to the unbeliever whatever be his profession. It is sealed to those who are truly ' penitent:' then it is not so much as sealed to the impenitent. But suppose a believer who had fallen into sin, now truly penitent, yet so circumstanced that he could not receive the Lord's Supper; or even so mistaken that he thought himself not required, or allowed, to do it; would he not be pardoned, though he did not receive the outward pledge and seal of his forgiveness?
* Our church, in the beginning of its daily service, calls upon its members to confess their
sins, and assures them that God pardoneth and • absolveth all them that truly repent, and un
feignedly believe his holy gospel. Wherefore 'we pray and beseech him to grant us true repentance, and his Holy Spirit, &c.'i
This certainly proves that our church considers repentance and faith as needful in order to pardon and justification; and a holy life for the rest of our days as needful to final salvation: and it also implies that true repentance and faith, and all the holy fruits of repentance and faith, are the gift of God; else why do we pray for them every time we meet in public worship?
* Ref, 145, 146.