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‘dience which proceeds from faith ; and how or why should men obey Christ, if they do not believe him to be the predicted Redeemer of the world? The faith in the former is the faith
which produces, or is accompanied by, obedience; “and indeed a true and lively faith in the merits
and promises of Christ is naturally productive of sobedience to his commands.'1
That act of obedience, by which we receive Christ as our Saviour, is the same as faith in him; but all subsequent obedience is produced by faith, and consequently cannot signify the same thing as faith. The tree produces the fruit: but the tree and the fruit are not the same thing, any more than the mother and the child are the same person ; nor can they properly be said to 'include
each other. The tree indeed in some sense included the fruit, before it produced it; but the fruit never included the tree. The rest of the quotation shews, that the passage was intended chiefly to prove that true faith always produces obedience, about which there should be no controversy. Yet the important doctrine of justification by faith alone requires some notice to be taken of such expressions as are inconsistent with it: and, if faith and obedience ‘signify the same
thing,' we are as really justified by obedience as by faith ; and then we cannot be justified till after we have performed the obedience. But 'good works, which are the fruits of faith, follow after
justification ; '? and his Lordship maintains, that justification, in respect of Christians, is a past, and
' Ref. 162, 163.
? Art. xii.
not a future thing. - Salvation is promised both 'to faith and obedience, therefore faith and obe.
dience must in reality mean the same thing, or ' include each other.' Is this conclusion fairly deduced? Is it not wholly illogical ? The legitimate conclusión is, that faith and obedience, (where faith is genuine,) are inseparably found in the same persons. Nothing further can be inferred from it.'
"A man is saved by obedience which proceeds from faith ; a man is saved by faith which produces obedience; a man is saved by faith and
obedience. In all these three propositions, Christ ' is supposed to be the meritorious cause of sal'vation, and faith and obedience are asserted to be in the person saved. If the obedience of the · first proposition does not proceed from faith, it • does not save ; if the faith of the second propo
sition does not produce obedience, it does not save ; and therefore both faith and obedience, as declared in the third proposition, are necessary to salvation.'2
That' a man is saved by faith which produces obedience,' accords to the language of scripture : the other propositions, if intended of final salvation from sin and all its consequences, may bear a scriptural construction ; but should we not “ speak according to” the language, as well as to the meaning of “the oracles of God ? ” Moreover, as justification and salvation are often considered as the same thing, or as convertible terms, it is
! See Ref. 99, 100.
? Ref. 163..
highly important that, in shewing the necessity of obedience and good works we be careful not to cloud the doctrine of justification, or to mislead men respecting it.
• It is evident that Paul. esteemed that alone 'true faith which is productive of obedience, and
so doth virtually, although not formally, include obedience, as the effect is virtually contained in the cause.
So that the difference between men of judgment, as to saving faith, is more in words than sense, they all designing the same thing, " that we cannot be saved by that faith which doth ‘not produce in us a sincere obedience to the laws of Christ.'
Thus the acorn ‘virtually although not formally' contains the oak; as well as the oak, when grown, virtually contains other acorns and future oaks. On such subjects men may speculate in philosophy; but acorns will not answer the purpose of oaks, notwithstanding their virtually containing each other. Nor will obedience answer the purpose of faith as to justification. We agree, however, that we cannot be either justified now, or saved at last, by that faith which does not produce in us a sincere obedience to the laws of Christ.'
• If a minister should, in a country church, tell ' his parishioners, that they will be saved if they · have faith in Jesus Christ, without explaining • to them what he means by faith ; or even if, with explaining to them the true sense of the word,
· he makes this doctrine the constant subject of his discourses, and does not frequently inculcate the personal and social duties separately as essential parts of the character of a true Christian, and as an indispensable proof of his possessing a lively faith, he will be very far from improving the morality of his audience.'!
If a minister, either in a country church, or in any other place, or before any congregation, learned or unlearned, should preach in the manner here described he would prove, that he was wholly unfit for his important office; and would certainly be more likely to corrupt the principles, than to 'improve the morals of his audience;' and to pro
pagate antinomianism rather than Christianity. Much caution therefore is needful on this side as well as on the other, and much heavenly wisdom and faithfulness; which can only be obtained by constant, fervent prayer to “ the Giver of every “ good and perfect gift.”
* An illiterate person, and the bulk of country 'congregations consists of persons of that descrip
tion, if he be told, that lying and drunkenness ' are forbidden by the laws of God, and that one of * Christ's apostles has declared that no liar or * drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God, will see in this plain prohibition and declaration a rule of life. 2
In what sense is the declaration here quoted ' a ' rule of life?' This expression is used in different senses.
It may signify a rule, by which a
man ought to regulate his conduct : and every prohibition of lying and drunkenness, and other vices, as well as every command given to love God and our neighbour; in short, the whole moral law of God, as explained in the New Testament, by our Lord and his apostles, is in this sense a ' rule of life,' or' a rule of duty; which I hope but few of the evangelical clergy neglect frequently to set before their hearers, with suitable warnings and exhortations. But, by“ a rule of life' may be meant, a rule by observing which eternal life may be obtained : “What good thing shall I do, that I
may inherit eternal life?” In this sense no prohibition or precept, except, “ Believe in the Lord “ Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” can, to a sinner be a rule of life: because none of our obedience in any other respect can entitle us to eternal life, which is “ the gift of God through Jesus “ Christ our Lord.” But it is seriously to be feared, (which is my reason for thus noticing the expression,) that multitudes expect, by abstaining from gross vices, and practising some outward duties, to obtain eternal life, though destitute of true repentance, living faith, and inward holiness; and that the religious instructions which they receive do not tend to undeceive them ; though this sentiment at once renders void the whole gospel.—The ambiguity of the language likewise gives Antinomians a great advantage in opposing us, when we maintain that the holy law and commandments of God are our rule of duty, or rule of conduct ; by amusing their bewildered hearers, with shewing that men cannot be justified and saved by this rule, which, (they will say,) if a rule of life, they might be.