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*tween the meritorious cause of our salvation, and the conditions required to be performed on our part ' in order to obtain pardon and accept‘ance with God. These conditions may be in- dispensable, and yet utterly destitute of merit ; 'giving no claim from their own nature to the * inestimable, blessing of eternal happiness, but deriving all their efficacy and value from the 'merciful appointment of God, through the merits of Christ.'1
The distinction between justification and final salvation is every where implied in Mr. Overton's work, when good works are insisted on, as necessary to be performed by justified persons, even though it be not formally made. As the words, conditions required to be performed on our part, in order to obtain pardon and acceptance with God,' are not found in scripture, or in our authorized books; a writer may omit them, without being chargeable with mistatements and misrepresentations. His Lordship calls faith, on our part, the condition of acceptance, and distinguishes it from the meritorious cause of justification. Mr. O. connects faith and justification together by various other expressions; but he still distinguishes faith from the meritorious cause of justification, even the righteousness and atonement of Christ. Repentance he would class with “the things which accompany salvation ;
"2 and good works he would call the fruits or evidences of living faith ; still, however, insisting upon the necessity of
them; and clearly enough distinguishing them from the meritorious cause of our acceptance.'
But Calvinistic ministers, with all their zeal to support the doctrine of salvation through faith ' alone, and all their anxiety to depreciate the importance of moral virtue, cannot avoid the inconsistency of allowing, that 'good works will in any sense be rewarded; that they are acceptable ! to God in Christ; absolutely requisite in order ' to our meetness for God's service and heaven;' ' and that they will • fix the degrees of our bless
edness in eternity;' although they will not ac' knowledge good works to be a condition of ' salvation. If good works be not a condition of ' salvation, salvation may be attained without
them ; but it is acknowledged that a man cannot be meet for heaven without good works ; therefore a man may attain salvation without ' being meet for heaven.'1
The language of scripture fully warrants all our zeal for salvation by grace through faith' alone; 2 if we do but carefully shew the nature and fruits of saving faith as distinguished from dead faith ; for all truly good works spring from faith. If assigning to good works precisely the same place, which the scriptures and our articles do, be depreciating them, we depreciate them; and not otherwise. But if any Calvinists exclude them from their system, or do not allow them their due importance; or if they speak of them in language
Ref. 182, 183.
Mark xvi. 16. John ïïi. 14-16. v. 24. Acts xvi. 31-34. Rom. i. 16, 17. Eph. ii. 8, 9.
really depreciating, (as, alas, this is sometimes done ;) the blame rests with the offending individuals, for this is no part of our system. Whether our language on the subject be inconsistent or not, others will judge. But, though we hold good works as essentially necessary to salvation, when time is given for performing them, we cannot allow them to be properly a condition of salvation: and must think ourselves fully authorized to avoid this unscriptural expression. We evidently adhere to the language of scripture, and to that of our authorized books, from which our opponents undeniably deviate. “Being created in “ Christ Jesus unto good works,” we consider the inclination and ability to love and perform good works, as an essential part of our salvation. We would therefore “ give thanks to the Father, “ who hath made us meet to be partakers of the “ inheritance of the saints in light;" and we would reflect with lively gratitude on his love, “ who gave himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify us unto himself a peculiar
people zealous of good works." —Health is essential to our enjoyment of life, so that without it we can enjoy nothing: we thank God for giving us health ; but it would be absurd to call health a condition of our enjoyment.
* If the endeavour to maintain such a distinction as this does not deserve the name of direct absurdity and contradiction, surely it is at least
a strife of words,” “a perverse disputing,”
' Col. i. 12. Tit. ii. 14.
which ministers questions, rather than godly edifying.”)
They who consider these distinctions as a mere “ strife of words” may disregard them ; but we think them essential to the doctrine of Christianity: and, though most of us, contented with using the language of scripture, and of the reformers of our church, on these subjects, if we might do it without offence; are little disposed to enter into disputes with those who adopt another phraseology: yet, when our whole system is directly assaulted, we must either stand forth, and shew what we do maintain, and what we do not; and explain our views, and assign our reasons for our conduct; or we must tacitly plead guilty to all the charges brought against us, and give up as indefensible those truths which we value more than life. But, whether they who retain the language of scripture, and of our articles and homilies, or they who depart from it, most resemble the philosophizing
Greeks in the days of the apostles,' must be left to the judgment of the public. And let the quotations made from the works of the reformers, and from the homilies, determine whether the language above objected to, or that which states that good works are essential as the evidences of true faith, and for many other important purposes, but not as the condition of our salvation,' be the most proper to find the way into protestant pulpits.' Of this there can be no doubt, to those who are acquainted with the history of the times between Edward VI. and James I., that the propositions,
before animadverted on, could never have been brought forward in a protestant pulpit, without being protested against as direct popery, in the grand article of a standing or falling church.We never meant to exclude either hope or charity, from being always joined, as inseparable mates of faith, in the man who is justified ; or ' works from being added, as necessary duties, required at the hands of every justified man: but to shew, that faith is the only hand which putteth ‘on Christ for justification; and Christ the only garment which, being so put on, covereth the
shame of our defiled natures, hideth the imper'fection of our works, preserveth us blameless in ' the sight of God; before whom otherwise, the weakness of our faith were cause sufficient to make us culpable, yea, to shut us from the kingdom of heaven, where nothing that is not perfect can enter. In this passage the judicious Hooker is expressly vindicating the doctrine of justification, held by protestants, against the objections of Papists; yet now his views and distinctions on the subject, it seems, 'ought never to find their way • into the pulpits of a protestant church!' We hold no other doctrine, as to justification, than what he held, and we make no other distinctions than those which he made. If we do, let it be clearly shewn.
The words, Works are clearly made the grand hinge, on • which our justification and salvation turn;' are in fact, as I have since discovered, Mr. Overton's, as comprising the substance of Mr. Daubeny's doctrine in this respect: but the manner in which his Lordship has introduced them, as an unfair inference from Mr. Daubeny's words, but as a proposi