Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

assent to the truth of the gospel. Indeed, it may be questioned, whether he did not do more honour to Christ, during the short space allotted him, than many

chris tians do in a long course of years.

This statement may show, that we are as unwilling as our opponents, to admit, that solitary faith, which is not attended with true repentance, and productive of good works, is sufficient for salvation. It is · dead being alone;' and can no more justify a man, than an amputated hand can work, or an eye separated from the head can see. Had the thief merely, said, however confidently, I believe that Jesus is the Messiah;' it might have been thought, that he did not understand the nature of the Messiah's kingdom; but had the same worldly notions of it, which the Jews -in general entertained. But what could a dying malefactor expect from a crucified Messiah, as to this world? He did not say, “If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us:" but, “ Lord, remember me, when thou comest into thy king: “ dom.” It is manifest that, being “ taught of God," he believed in Jesus, as " the Author of eternal salva“ tion,” as “the Saviour of the lost;” and that he un. derstood the spiritual nature of his kingdom, more clearly, than the apostles themselves at that time did; who could not conceive, how his “coming into his kingdom, could consist with his dying on the cross.

He called on Jesus, (with desire, and some feeble hope at least,) for salvation from wrath and sin, and for the blessings of his heavenly kingdom; while he confessed himself to be so vile, that he deserved crucifixion from man, and condemnation from God. He hoped for eternal salvation from one expiring on a cross. Thus he honoured Christ who did not disappoint his expectations. Had he been taken down from the cross, and lost this faith,

оо

or not shown it by his subsequent works, he should • have lost his salvation again.' But the question is, whether such a faith is ever lost. “I have prayed for

thee, that thy faith fail not.”

P. clvii. 1. 22. 'The reference, &c.'* The addition of the twelfth article was made, with great wisdom and propriety; and without it, the system would have been incomplete. The doctrine of human merit is indeed Popish: but it is held in some form or other, by a vast proportion of nominal Protestants, and by others all over the world. Our articles and homilies were levelled against the sentiment, by whomsoever held, and, not exclusively against the Papists. Their opinions were like those of the Jews, in the time of our Lord and his apostles; and the opinions of vast multitudes, in every age and nation, in this respect resemble their's.

P. clix. l. 4. "If, &c.'t Had the framers of our articles said, “We are not justified in the sight of God

6

6

• •The reference to the liomily upon justification, was in the articles of * 1552; but our reformers in 1562, as a farther caution, added the 12th arti

cle, no part of which was in the articles of 1552, and which may be consi. dered as explanatory of the species of faith, of which they intended to speak

in the preceding article, the word faith being there used without any . epithet. In the 12th article it is said, “ Albeit that good works cammot put ' away our sins, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do

spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith;' the Popish doctrine of • human merit is here again condemned, for the purpose of declaring, that • though good works possess no power to atone for sin, yet they are pleasing • and acceptable to God, and arise necessarily out of a true and lively faith. * This article, therefore, plainly shows, that the faith, by which in the preced. *ing article we are said to be justified, is a faith productive of a holy and • virtuous life, and not a faith which bringeth forth no good works, but is • idle, barren, and unfruitful, consisting only in believing in the word of God.'

tlf, however, the framers of our articles had said, 'we are not justified . by faith only,* • instead of saying, as they have done, we are justified by ' faith only,' they might, as we huve seen, equally have pleaded the au*thority of an apostle for the assertion. Both propositions are true; and the

seeming contradiction between them, arises from the different senses in * which the word faith is used.'

• by faith alone;' they would have found a difficulty in adducing any scriptural authority, in their favour. What they have said sufficiently proves, that they understood St. James, as not meaning any thing inconsistent with the doctrine of St. Paul, in this argument; though, probably, they would not all have made out the agreement, in exactly the same manner; any more than we now do.

P. clix. Note. St. James, &c.'* The apostles neyer say, in so many words, that we are justified by faith alone: and the language of our article, in which this is expressly stated, is a decided proof, in what sense the framers of it understood the apostolical language. “ Because when he, &c.” In what part of St. Paul's epistles does he so much as hint, that the justification of which he speaks, is the justification • conferred by baptism? Or where does he expressly mention baptism, in connexion with justification? Assertion is easy, but proof is wanting; and very clear and conclusive agruments, in such a case as this.

P. clix. I. 20. "These, &c.'t This is accurately stated. Whether faith ever rises from a dead to a living faith, shall not here be disputed. We hope it is often exchanged for a living faith: of this there is clearer and'fuller proof, than that a living faith ever degenerates into a dead faith.

• "St. James says that a man is not justified by faith only, but St. Paul * does not expressly say that a man is justified by faith only; his words are, " by faith without the deeds of the law.” In no part however of his epistes

does he mention any thing but faith as necessary to justification, because, ' when he speaks of the justification of Christians, he always means the jus. * tification conferred by baptism.'

t These men believing, but not obeying, the gospel, have the faith meant by St. James, which does not justify; but they have not the faith meant by *St. Paul, which does justify. But if a person of this description become 'convinced of the evil of his ways, be sincerely penitent, and feel a true and ' lively faith in Christ, he is then justified from all the sins he has committed, being accounted righteous before God for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.'

[ocr errors]

. P. clx. 1. 23. 'True, &c.'* This is admitted by both parties, and needs no further remark: provided, the word produce be adhered to, and contained, or any other term to the same effect, be not substituted.

P. clx. Note. Faith, &c.'t I know not of any evangelical clergyman who dissents from this statement.

P. clxi. l. 13. St. Paul, &c.'! Where nothing occurs, to which we should materially object, I take a pleasure, in selecting a few passages, which meet my cordial approbation; and I think that of my brethren.

P. clxi. I. 20. There are, &c. ?s Final salvation is frequently connected with good works, though not attributed to them: but, except the passage in St. James, which has been repeatedly considered, I do not recollect one, in which justification is attributed to good works, in any sense, or in any degree; or even intimately connected with them. It is added, in a note, . That

is, the continuance in a state of justification:' but jus. tification, and continuance in a justified state, are not the same. We, however, read nothing, in any part of Scripture, about continuance in a state of justifica. * tion;' except the following texts refer to it. - Ву

• "True christian faith, and good works pleasant and acceptable to God, are in their own nature iuseparable. True faith produces good works as naturally as a tree produces its fruit: good works, wherever they exist, must proceed from faith, their only genuine source. And hence it happens, that the one is often mentioned in Scripture without the other, although the other is implied or supposed.'

+ Paith, or a general belief of the truth of christianity, is not necessarily 'connected with good works. True christian faith and good works are in. separable.

+ 'St. Paul says, “ They who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek " for glory, and honour, and immortality, shall inherit eternal life.” Here • is not a word concerning faith; but it is supposed, for nothing but faith can

cause a patient continuance in well-doing with the hope of everlasting bap*piness.

f. There are, however, more passages in the epistles which attribute * justification and salvation to good works, than to faith.:

[ocr errors]

“ whom also, we have access by faith into this grace “ wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of " God.” “ While we were yet sinners, Christ died for

Much more then being justified by his grace, “ we shall be saved from wrath through him."*“ That, “ being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs " according to the hope of eternal life.”+ Who are kept

by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.”+ There is indeed one passage, which may be thought more favourable to the sentiment; “ If ye continue “ in the faith grounded and settled, &c.:") but even here, their continuance in a state of reconciliation is connect. ed with their continuance in the faith, not with good works.

P. cxlii. l. 4. " The authors, &c.'s Were then the churches, to which the apostles wrote, constituted of professed believers, who were not real christians? This, alas! is to a great degree, the case in modern times, now that whole nations profess to believe in Christ; and yet the bulk of them do not so much as appear to live as it becometh christians! But surely it was not thus, with the select companies, collected into churches, by the apostles themselves. And if the epistles were written to make professed believers real christians: where are we to find those fuller instructions, by which they were led further into the knowledge of the deeper and more mysterious parts of christianity? The labour. ed discussions of St. Paul, in his epistles to the Ro. mans, the Galatians, and the Hebrews, were evidently

Rom. v. 2. 8, 9.

| Tit. iii. 7.

# 1 Pet. i, 5. Col. i, 21-23. 9. The authors of these epistles were therefore chiefly anxious by the use of plain and intelligible langcage, to induce their converts to walk wor. thy of the vocation wherewith they were called, by an upright and holy life; to make professed believers in the gospel real christians.'

« FöregåendeFortsätt »