« EelmineJätka »
SERM. To which I answer, that St. Paul, when he does fa
ССІХ. cm ve
vehemently and frequently affert" justification by the “ free grace of God," and “ by faith, without the 6 works of the law," does not thereby exclude the necessity of works of righteoufness and obedience to the moral precepts of the gospel, as the condition of our continuance in the favour of God, and of our final and perfect juftification and abfolution by the fentence of the great day; but on the contrary, does every where declare the neceffity of a holy and virtuous life to this purpose. And this is most plainly the tenor and current of his doctrine throughout all his epistles. But whenever he contends that we “ are “ justified by faith without works,” he denies one of these three things.
1. That the observation of the law of Mofes is ne. cessary to our juftification and salvation. And this he does in opposition to those who troubled the christian church, by teaching, that it was still neceffary to Christians to keep the law of Moses ; and that unless they did so, they could not be faved; of which we have a full account given, Acts xv. And this for the most part is the meaning of that assertion, fo frequent in his epistles to the Romans, and the Galatians, that " we are not justified by the works of the “ law, but by the faith of CHRIST." And this is very evident from the tenor of his reasoning about this matter, in which he does sofrequently urge this argument, and infist so strongly upon it, viz. That men were justified before the law of Moses was given, for which he instances in Abraham, and therefore the observance of that law cannot be necessary to a man's justification and salvation.
2. Sometimes he, in his discourse upon this argument, denies the merit of any works of obedience
and righteousness to gain the favour and acceptance SERM.
¿ ccix. of GOD ; fo that we cannot challenge any thing of God as “of debt," andas “a ground of boasting,” but we owe all to the free grace and mercy of God; and when we have done our best, have done but our duty. And this he likewise frequently insists upon in his epistle to the Romans, in opposition to an arrogant opinion, common among the Jews, of the me-, rit of good works, and that God was indebted to them for their obedience. In this sense he says, Rom. iv. 4. 6 Now to him that worketh is the reward 66 reckoned, not of grace but of debt;" that is, he that claims justification, and the reward of eternal life, as due to him for his obedience, does not ascribe it to the free grace of God, but challengeth it as a debt due to him.
3. Sometimes he denies the necessity of any works of righteousness, antecedently to our first justificati. on, and being received into a state of grace and fayour with God; and asserts on the contrary, that by the faith of CHRIST, and sincerely embracing the christian religion, men are justified, and though they were never so great sinners before, all their past fins are forgiven, and God is perfectly reconciled to them; in which sense he says, Chap. iv, 5. " That o God juftifies the ungodly upon their believing.' So that whatever sins they were guilty of before, and though they never did any one good action in their lives, yet if they sincerely embrace the christian religion, and thereby engage themselves to reform their lives, and to obey the precepts of the gospel for the future, God will thereupon receive them into his favour, and pardon the sins of their former lives. And in this epistle to Titus, ch. iii. 5, 7. immediately before the text, “ Not by works of righteousness which
se R M.“ we have done, but according to his mercy' he saved
"us, by the washing of regeneration, and by the te“ newing of the holy Ghost: that being justified by “his grace,we should be made heirs according to the “ hopes of eternal life;" that is, though their former life had been very bad, (as he describes it before, ver. 3. " for we our selves were sometimes foolish, diso“ bedient, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in « malice, and envy, and hatred of one another)" Ifay, notwithstanding this, though they had done no works of righteousness, but the contrary, ýet upon their solemn profession of christianity at their baptism, and declaration of their repentance, and engagements to live better, they were “ justified freely by God's " grace” and “ faved by his mercy.” But then he does not say, that after this soleinn profession of chriftianity works of righteousness were not necessary to continue them in this state of grace and favour with God, but quite contrary, he plainly declares the pecessity of them in the very next words ; "this is “ a faithful saying, &c.”
And the confideration of this will fully 'reconcile the seeming difference between St. Paul and St. James, in this matter of justification. St. Paul affirms that a sinner is at first justified, and received into the favour of God, by a sincere profession of the christian faith, without any works of righteousness preceding. St. James, affirms, that no man'continues in a justified state, and in favour with God, whose faith doth not bring forth good works, and that it is not a true and lively faith which doth not approve and shew itself to be so, by the works of obedience and a good life, James ii. 14: “ What doth it profit a " man, ny brethren, if a man say that he hath faith, “ and hath not works ; can faith fave him?" And
ver. 17.“ Faith if it have not works is dead, being SERM. 66 alone.”. And ver. 20, he repeats it again, “know, "O vain man, that faith without works is dead." And ver. - 22. speaking of Abraham, “ Seest thou “ how faith wrought with his works, and by works "s was faith made perfect.” And ver. 26. “ For as " the body without the spirit is dead, so faith with"s out works is dead also." The sum and result of all which is this, that though we be justified at first by faith without works preceding, yet faith without good works following it will not finally justify and save us; nay indeed, that faith which does not bring forth the fruits of a good life, was never a true, and living, and perfect faith; but pretended, and dead, and imperfect, and therefore can justify no man; and he that hath only such a faith, does but make an empty and ineffectual profession, but is really destitute of the true faith of the gospel. . And this is agreeable to that explication which was given by our first reformers here in England, of the nature of justifying faith, « that it is not a mere 5 persuasion of the truths of natural and revealed re« ligion, but fuch a belief as begets a submission to ” the will of God, and hath hope, love, and obe“ dience to God's commandments joined to it.
That this is the faith which in baptism is profes$ sed, from which Christians are called the faithful ; “6 and that in those scriptures, where it is said, we ! are justified by faith, we may not think that we “ be justified by faith, as it is a separate virtue from “ hope and charity, the fear of God and repentance, ” but by it is meant faith, neither only nor alone, 5c but with the foresaid virtues, containing an engage$c ment of obedience to the whole doctrine and re! ligion of CHRIST. And that although all that
SER M.cc are justified, must of neceffity have charity, as
" worthiness and merit of our juftification, but that
All the application I shall make of this discourse, shall be briefly this; that if we be convinced of the necessity of the virtues of a good life to all that profess themselves Chriftians, we would seriously and in good earnest fet about the practice of them: If “ this “ be a faithful faying,” then I am fure it greatly concerns us to be careful of our lives and actions, and that “our conversation be as becometh the gospel of CHRIST;” because if this be true, there is no possible way to reconcile a wicked life, no, nor a wilful neglect and violation of any of the duties and laws of christianity, with the hopes of heaven and eternal life. In this the scripture is positive and peremptory, that “ every man that hath this hope in him, must “ purify himself, even as he is pure :" that “ with" out holiness no man shall see the Lord: but if “ we have our fruit-unto holiness, our end shall be “ everlasting life.”
And here I might particularly recommend to your careful practice, the great virtues of christianity; those which St. Paul tells, lis are the proper and genuine fruits of the spirit of Christ, “ love, joy, peace, "s long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meek“ ness, temperanče.” But I have not time to insist particularly upon them. I shall content myself briefly to mention those duties, which the apostle in this