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النشر الإلكتروني

JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH.

CHAP. II.

INDEED, it would grieve me to speak of the ruin of mankind, without pointing out the way of their recovery. It would be infinitely better for man, not to know his disease, than not to know the remedy. Having, then, in the foregoing chapter, declared the deplorable state of man by nature, as he lies under the guilt and curse of original sin, I now come to treat of his salvation by Christ Jesus, and to discourse of justification by faith alone. I take unspeakable pleasure and satisfaction in speaking upon this subject, and I could dilate upon this theme for ever. I had a great love for this doctrine, long before I felt the power and efficacy of it upon my own heart; but, since I have tasted its sweetness and excellency, it is become the life of my soul, the joy of my heart, and the support and comfort of my spirit. My delight and glory, is in proclaiming this evangelical truth; and, I wish I could hear it preached in all the churches in England. I know, indeed, it is an arduous undertaking, for such a stripling as I, to attempt to handle this grand and important article of our religion. I know my own

weakness, and trust in the Lord for strength; I depend upon his assistance; through his grace strengthening me, I can do all things. And, that I may set this doctrine before the reader in the clearest light I can, I choose to state it in the five following propositions, each of which, (if God enables me,) I will undertake to make good, from the Homilies and Articles of the Church of England:

I. Men can do no good works, acceptable to God, before faith and justification..

II. Justifying faith, is the gift of God.

III. Justification, is by faith only.

IV. Works have no part in our justification.

V. Good works follow after justification, and are the fruits of justifying faith.

1. I am first to show, that men can do no good works acceptable to God, before faith and justification. And, this is more than once asserted in the Homily of Good works, where we meet with this passage, Faith giveth life to the soul, and they be "as much dead to God that lack faith, as they be

to the world whose bodies lack souls. Without "faith, all that is done of us is but dead before God,

although, the work seem never so gay and glori❝ous before men; even, as the picture, graven or

painted, is but a dead representation of the thing itself, and is without life, or any manner of mov❝ing; so be the works of all unfaithful persons— "They be but the shadows and shows of lively and "good things, and not good and lively things in

deed-Without faith, no work is good before "God." These words are clear, and need no commentary to explain them. All works, without faith, are here said to be dead, just as a picture, is but a dead representation of the original. The same doctrine, is afterwards confirmed and exemplified by the following instance, "If a heathen man cloath the "naked, feed the hungry, and do such other like "works; yet, because he doeth them not in faith, "for the honour and love of God, they be but dead,

vain and fruitless works to him."-Again, it is said in the same Homily, "Faith, of itself, is full of "good works, and nothing is good without faith.

And, for a similitude, he [Augustine,] saith, that they which glitter, and shine in good works with❝out faith in God, be like dead men, which have "goodly and precious tombs, and yet it availeth

them nothing.-He that doth good deeds, yet, "without faith, he hath no life." Persons, may be outwardly moral and virtuous, they may appear very good and righteous, and yet have no living faith in the Lord Jesus. This is a common case. Men, abound in works seemingly good, when yet they themselves are infidels in their hearts. Hence, all their good works, for want of faith in the blood of Christ, arc dead before God, and will no more profit

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their souls, than gilded sepulchres profit dead bodies.

The Thirteenth Article is much to our purpose; it runs thus :

XIII. Of Works before Justification.

"Works done before the grace of Christ, and the “inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, "forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus "Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive "grace, or (as the school authors say) deserve grace "of congruity; yea, rather, for that they are not "done as God hath willed and commanded them to ❝be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of "sin." We see here what estimate our church makes of works done before faith and justification; they have not only the form or appearance, but even the very nature of sin. "All the works of unbe"lievers and natural men, (saith bishop Sanderson,)

are not only stained with sin, (for so are the best "works of the faithful too,) but also are really and "truly sins."* Hence the popish doctrine of grace of congruity, or men's making themselves meet to receive grace, is justly condemned. Indeed I could wish none but Papists held the said doctrine. But, alas! there is popery enough without going to Rome

Sixth Sermon ad Populum.

for it. Yet I would observe, this article, which condemns the grace of congruity of the Papists, does equally condemn the preparatory conditions of the Socinians and Remonstrants. What a folly is it to talk of, or to suppose in fallen man, conditions previous to his justification? They who talk at this rate, know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm. In a natural man there is no meetness, but a meetness to sin, and a meetness to be damned. They who know themselves, know this. And there are no conditions pre-requisite to justification, but what God by his Spirit is pleased to work in men's hearts. None are meet to receive grace, till God makes them So. None are meet to obey the gospel, till God implants in their souls a principle of faith and evangelical obedience. Before this is done, there is no meetness in the creature, no disposition to any thing spiritually good; neither are any of our works acceptable and well-pleasing in the sight of Almighty God. This is the doctrine of the Church of England, and they are all dissenters from her articles and homilies that assert the contrary.

And as this doctrine is agreeable to the constitution of our church, so is it exactly consonant with the Holy Scriptures. Thus saith Solomon, Prov. xv. 8. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord. All unbelievers are wicked persons; how sober and upright soever their lives may be, their hearts are wicked and impious. And while they are in this state, all their sacrifices, i. c. their

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