صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

grace; but if it be of works, then it is no more grace ; otherwise work is no more work. The incompatibility of grace and works in point of justification is here set before us. It is true, indeed, this latter text is delivered concerning eternal election; but since that, as well as our justification, is of grace, these words are applicable to either or to both these. The former text informs us, that justification is by grace, through faith, as the means or instrument thereof; from the latter we learn, that works and grace are two irreconcileable opposites in the affair of our justification; from both together, therefore, we infer, that works are absolutely excluded from our justification. To make a mixture or composition of grace and works in the office of our justification, (as some attempt to do,) is, in effect, to destroy their very nature. In vain, therefore, do men think thus to compromise the matter. Justification is wholly by grace, or wholly by works; if you deny that it is wholly by grace, you do implicitly assert that it is wholly by works. What signifies trifling? the covenant is either a covenant of grace or of works ; if you say that works have a part therein, (whether more or less, it matters not,) you immediately turn it into a covenant of works; for Majus & minus non mutant speciem, as Logicians say; if, therefore, you are stiff and peremptory, and will have works to be sharers with grace in the great business of justification, you may talk of grace if you please, but you are still under a covenant of works; and while you thus reason and dispute, you plainly show that you

know no other way of salvation but by the law of works.

The epistle to the Galatians is full of this doctrine; chap. v. ver. 3. the inspired author saith, I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. By law here is meant the moral law; as Matt. xxii. 36.-xxiii. 23. Luke, x. 26. John, vii. 19. Rom. iii. $1.-vii. 7. Gal. v. 14. Or, rather, the whole law includes both the moral and ceremonial. Here, therefore, the apostle acquaints the judaizing christians, that if they observed circumcision, or any other Mosaic rite, in expectation of being justified thereby, they were necessarily obliged to keep the whole law, both ritual and moral, or else they would miss of their aim. So if christians observe the ordinance of baptism, or the Lord's supper, or any other divine institution, with a dependance thereon for justification, they must fulfil the whole law perfectly, or else they are undone for ever. So, then, what think you? Can you fully obey all the commands of the divine law? If you cannot, why are you so unwilling to renounce your slight performances? Is it not safer to trust in Christ's obedience than to our own works for salvation? Or are you obstinate? And had you rather trust to your own good works, (as you call them,) and be damned, than to Christ's merits and be saved?

Eph. ii. 8. 9. For by grace ye are saved-not of works, lest any man should boast. Boasting is here absolutely excluded, as in Rom. iii. 27. But how could this be, if works had a part in our justification? If any good work bore part therein, there would be room for our boasting of that. Thus if Abraham, by offering his son, had in any measure procured his justification, he would have gloried of that notable act of faith; but what saith the scripture? He hath not whereof to glory before God, Rom. iv. 2. The same is true of all the faithful; they have nothing whereof to glory before God. Boasting is excluded, not in part, but entirely; and, therefore, works are not partially, but totally excluded from our justification. Now I have mentioned the instance of Abraham, I am apprehensive some may object from James, ii. 21. that Abraham was justified by works. It may be sufficient to reply that St. James speaks of justification not absolutely, but relatively. In the former sense, Abraham was justified about thirty years before he offered his son, as is evident by comparing Gen. xv. 6. with xxii. 12. and in the latter, he was justified, i. e. declaratively justified, or evidenced to be in a justified state by his action among others, to wit, his offering up his son Isaac. But then this declarative justification does not at all militate against the doctrine of free justification by faith only; neither will it in any ways answer our adversaries purpose; for we hold, as well as they, that faith and justification are manifested and approved by obedience and good works.

Although this doctrine is so clear, yet how many arts and devices do men use in order to avoid it! Some hold the doctrine of justification by faith, but then they make good works a part of justifying faith. How irrational and preposterous a scheme of religion is this! Are faith and works the same thing? Or are works a part of justifying faith? What saith the apostle? To him that worketh not, but believeth, Rom. iv. 5. Here you see that working is contradistinguished from, and even opposed to, (I mean in respect of justification,) believing. And faith and works are distinguished, Rom. iii. 27. Eph. ii. 8, 9. How, then, (if you will submit to the judgment of an apostle,) can you make works a part of faith, or say that faith and works are one and the same thing? Besides, to maintain justification by faith, and then make works a part of faith, is no other, in effect than to hold justification by works, or, at least, by faith and works conjoined, which is the very doctrine of the papists, and is both antiscriptural and antichristian. Again, in the last place, faith is the cause, good works the effect; faith is the tree, good works are the fruit. Now, will you say that the cause and effect, the tree and its fruit are one and the same thing? Why, then, do you labour to confound faith and works? To confound and mingle causes with their effects, is counted very bungling and injudicious in philosophy. Is it not much more unskilful as well as unsafe to do so in theology? I would also add, Does not men's using such fallacious methods to defend their opinion,

show that their cause is weak, and give us reason to suspect, that the light of truth shines into their consciences with so glaring an evidence, that with all their sophistry, they are scarcely able to withstand conviction ?

When we affirm that we are justified by faith, we do not mean that faith merits or deserves our justification at God's hands. Faith hath no more merit in it than any other grace; how should it, when itself is the gift of God? And can we merit any thing of God by that which we receive from him? What, therefore, our Saviour saith of works, Luke, xvii. 10. we may say of faith, When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants, we have done that which was our duty to do. So similarly, when we have believed all those things which God hath commanded us to believe, we are unprofitable servants, we have believed that which it was our duty to believe. Accordingly our church tells us, "We must renounce

the merit of all our said virtues, of faith, hope, "charity, and all other virtues and good deeds, "which we either have done, shall do, or can do, "as things that be far too weak and insufficient,

and imperfect, to deserve a remission of sins and "our justification.*" The meritorious cause of our justification is, the active and passive obedience

* Homily on Salvation.

« السابقةمتابعة »