« AnteriorContinuar »
faith which profits, and which is a true, living, and saving faith. Considering then that the apostles, who treat this point of our religion with particular attention, no where, in summing up their doctrine, use words implying that a man is justified by faith alone, but generally conclude as follows, that “a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,' Rom. iii. 28. I am at a loss to conjecture why our divines should have narrowed the terms of the apostolical conclusion. Had they not so done, the declaration in the one text, that by faith a man is justified without the deeds of the law,' would have appeared perfectly consistent with that in the other, by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. For Paul" does not say simply that a man is justified without works, but without the works of the law;' nor yet by faith alone, but by faith which worketh by love,' Gal. v. 6. Faith has its own works, which may
be different from the works of the law. We are justified therefore by faith, but by a living, not a dead faith ; and that faith alone which acts is accounted living ; James ii. 17, 20, 26. Hence we are justified by faith without the works of the law, but not without the works of faith ; inasmuch as a living and true faith cannot consist without works, though these latter may differ from the works of the written law. Such were those of Abraham and Rahab, the two examples cited by James in illustration of the works of faith, when the former was prepared to offer up his son, and the latter sheltered the spies of the Israelites. To these may be added the instance of Phinehas, whose action was counted unto him for righteousness,' Psal. cvi. 31. the very same words
being used as in the case of Abraham, whose faith was reckoned to him for righteousness,' Gen. xv. 6. Rom iv. 9. Nor will it be denied that Phinehas was justified in the sight of God rather than of men, and that his work recorded Numb. xxv. 11, 12. was a work of faith, not of the law. Phinehas therefore was justified not by faith alone, but also by the works of faith. The principle of this doctrine will be developed more fully hereafter, when the subjects of the gospel and of Christian liberty are considered.
This interpretation, however, affords no countenance to the doctrine of human merit, inasmuch as both faith itself and its works are the works of the Spirit, not our own. Eph. ii. 8-10. by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast : for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. In this
the works of which a man may boast are distinguished from those which do not admit of boasting, namely, the works of faith. So Rom. iii. 27, 28. where is boasting then ? it is excluded: by what law? of works? nay, but by the law of faith. Now what is the law of faith, but the works of faith? Hence, wherever after works' the words of the law' are omitted, as in Rom. iv. 2. we must supply either the works of the law,' or, as in the present passage, of the flesh,' with reference to xi. 1. (not of the law,' since the apostle is speaking of Abraham, who lived before the law.) Otherwise Paul would contradict himself as well as James; he would contradict himself, in saying that Abraham had whereof to glory through any
works whatever, whereas he had declared in the preceding chapter, v. 27, 28. that by the law of faith,' that is, by the works of faith, boasting was excluded ;' he would expressly contradict James, who affirms, as above, that .by works a man is justified, and not by faith only;' unless the expression be understood to mean the works of faith, not the works of the law. Compare Rom. iv. 13. 'not through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. In the same sense is to be understood Matt. v. 20. except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven ;' whereas their righteousness was of the exactest kind according to the law. James i. 25. being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed.' Heb. xii. 14. follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.' Hence perhaps Rev. ii. 26. ‘he that keepeth my words to the end, to him will I give power- 1 John iii. 7. • little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness, is righteous.'
Nor does this doctrine derogate in any degree from Christ's satisfaction ; inasmuch as, our faith being imperfect, the works which proceed from it cannot be pleasing to God, except in so far as they rest upon his mercy, and the righteousness of Christ, and are sustained by that foundation alone. Philipp. iii. 9. " that I may be found of him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.' Tit. iii. 54-7. not by works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour ; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs. 1 John ii. 29. ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.'
The Papists argue, that it is no less absurd to say that a man is justified by the righteousness of another, than that a man is learned by the learning of another. But there is no analogy between the two cases, inasmuch as mankind are not one with each other in the same intimate manner as the believer is one with Christ his head. In the mean time they do not perceive the real and extreme absurdity of which they are themselves guilty, in supposing that the righteousness of the dead, or of monks, can be imputed to others.
They likewise contend, on the authority of a few passages of Scripture, that man is justified by his own works. Psal. xviii. 20, 24. "Jehovah rewarded me according to my righteousness. Rom. ii. 6. who will render to every man according to his deeds. But to render to every man 'according to his deeds’ is one thing, to render to him on account of his deeds' is another; nor does it follow from hence that works have any inherent justifying power, or deserve any thing as of their own merit; seeing that, if we do any thing right, or if God assign any recompense to our right actions, it is altogether owing to his grace. Hence the expression in the preceding verse of the same Psalm, he delivered me, because he delighted in me;' and Psal. lxii. 12. unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy, sor thou renderest to every man according to his work. Finally, the same Psalmist who attributes to himself righteousness, attributes to himself iniquity in the same sentence; xviii. 23. “I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.'
As to the expression in Matt. xxv. 34, 35. “inherit the kingdom.....for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat,' &c. our answer is, that the sentence which Christ shall pass on that day will not have respect to faith, which is the internal cause of justification, but to the effects and signs of that faith, namely, the works done in faith, that he may thereby make the equity of his judgment manifest to all mankind.
When a man is said to be perfect, and just in the sight of God, as Luke i. 6. of Zacharias and his wife, * they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless, this is to be understood according to the measure of human righteousness, and as compared with the progress of others; or it may mean that they were endued with a sincere and upright heart, without dissimulation, (as Deut. xviii. 13. thou shalt be perfect with Jehovah thy God') which interpretation seems to be favoured by the expression in the sight of God,' Gen. xvii. 1. walk before me, and be thou perfect.? Psal. xix. 13. keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins, let them not have dominion over me; then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.' Eph. i. 4. he hath chosen us.....that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Or, lastly, it may