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in justification there is boasting in works: this by no means follows; for we do not say that works ' have any intrinsic merit, but that they are the ⚫ appointed condition of justification. The same objection would hold against the doctrine of jus'tification by faith, for we are not allowed to boast of faith, or to consider it as possessing any in'trinsic merit.'1
We bear it with calmness, when faith, or even repentance, is called the condition of salvation; though we think the language inappropriate and unscriptural: but we must decidedly oppose the idea, of our works, in any sense, being the appointed condition of justification:' not merely because there is boasting in works,' but also because it is antiscriptural. No one passage, either in scripture or in the authorized writings of our church, can be adduced in support of the sentiment. The language of St. James implies no such thing. "Seest thou how faith wrought with his
works, and by works faith was made perfect? "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abra"ham believed in God, and it was imputed to him "for righteousness; and he was called the friend "of God." "As the body without the spirit is "dead, so faith without works is dead also." Working and moving evidence a man to be alive, and distinguish him from a dead corpse: but they are not the condition of his being made alive, in any measure or degree. How far this note accords with his Lordship's statement, in the preceding pages, 2 others must judge. The faith, which
Note Ref. 120, 121.
2 Ref. 107-113.
'is the means of salvation, is that belief of the 'truth of the gospel, which produces obedience 'to its precepts.' Now, if faith justifies, and obedience or good works are produced by faith, how can these subsequent works be the condition of the precedent justification? 'Works done be'fore 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 ;—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.'2 Works, then before faith are worthless, and cannot be the appointed condition of justification: and works done after faith are too late; for the man who doeth them has been previously justified. Some indeed put works and faith on precisely the same ground, as to justification, each being a condition, sine qua non. But, if justification before God be intended by St. James, when he says, "Yesee how that by works a man is justified, and "not by faith only." 3'E уw must imply much more than this, as x TiCrews does when used in the same way. St. Paul repeatedly contrasts yw v with ix lorews, shewing that both cannot stand together. How then can both be joint conditions of the same justification?
'Abraham seems to have been justified three 'times: first, when by the command of God he 'left his own country; Heb. vi. 6: secondly, when
2 Art. xiii.
'Jam. ii. 24.
Comp. Rom. iii. 30. iv. 2, 16. v. 1. Gal. ii. 16. Jam. ii. 24, 25. Gr.
' he believed God's promise of numerous descen'dents; Gen. xv. 6: and thirdly, when he obeyed 'God's command to offer his son; Jam. ii. 21.'1
Can this accord with justification being uniformly spoken of as a past transaction, in respect of believers? 2 But, according to the general doctrine of those who are decided in respect of justification by faith alone, justification is a permanent, not a transient act of God. A believer's justification may be more clearly manifested to the soul by God at one time than at another; and it may be more clearly evidenced, by the man's conduct among men at one time than at another. It is, however, an abiding state of acceptance with God; but whether ever finally lost or not, is a distinct question. No doubt Abraham was justified when he believed and obeyed, and left, at God's command, his country and his father's house: but this was not declared, as far as we know, till a considerable time afterwards, when " he believed in the
Lord, and it was imputed to him for righteous"ness." 3 His faith was afterwards especially evidenced, when he obeyed the hard command of offering Isaac as a burnt-offering: but it is not said in the history, that he was then justified. His faith was, however, the spring and motive of his obedience, and was most illustriously displayed. He had before been justified in the sight of God; and, by this triumphant" work of faith and labour of love," his justification was evidenced, and declaratively recognized, and published to mankind, for the instruction of all future generations.
'Ref. 121, Note.
2 Ref. 99-102.
3 Gen. xv. 6. Rom. iv. 3, 9. Jam. ii. 23.
'Both St. Paul and St. James speak of the justi'fication of Abraham: the former ascribes it to faith, referring to a passage in Genesis: -the 'latter ascribes it to works; and, as it were to 'shew that his doctrine was not contrary to that ' of St. Paul, he refers to the same passage in "Genesis; "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon 'the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought by his 'works, and by works was faith made perfect? ' and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abra'ham believed God and it was imputed unto him 'for righteousness."2 God foreseeing that the faith ' of Abraham was of that true and lively nature, 'which would produce obedience whenever an op'portunity offered, " imputed it to him for righ'teousness; " and accordingly he did obey upon 'the very trying occasion of God's commanding 6 him to "offer Isaac his Son upon the altar;" his "faith wrought with his works;" that is, his 'faith produced this act of obedience; by it, "his 'faith was made perfect ;" and it was proved that 'he possessed the genuine principle of human 'conduct, a conformity to the will of God: he was therefore "justified by works," for if he had not 'done this work, or at least expressed a sincere 'readiness to do it, he would not have been justi
fied, disobedience to the commands of God being 'incompatible with a state of justification. Hence 'it follows that faith, which produced works, was. 'the faith which justified Abraham, and was con'sequently the faith which St. Paul meant, when,
1 Gen. xv. 6.
Rom. iv. 3.
2 Jam. ii. 21-23.
' in arguing upon justification by faith, he appealed 'to the justification of Abraham. St. Paul's as'sertion therefore is this; Abraham was justified by faith, which produced works: St. James's is, 'Abraham was justified by works, which proceeded from faith. These assertions are in substance 'the same; and St. James, in pointing out the true ' nature of Abraham's faith, only intended to cor"rect the error of those who had misinterpreted the "doctrine of St. Paul. This instance of Abraham's 'justification; the still earlier examples of Noah, Enoch, and Abel; and the more recent ones of Gideon, David, and the prophets under the Mosaic economy mentioned by St. Paul upon another occasion; mark the uniformity of God's dealings ' with mankind in every period of the world, and ⚫ establish these fundamental and universal princi"ples of the divine dispensations, that “without 'faith it is impoossible to please God;" and that ""faith without works is dead."' 1
"God, who knoweth the hearts," not only foresaw, but saw at the time, that the faith of Abraham was of that true and lively nature, which would produce obedience, whenever an opportunity offered. Upon the very trying occa'sion of God's commanding him to "offer Isaac 'his son upon the altar," his "faith wrought with
his works;" that is, his faith produced this act of ' obedience; by it his "faith was made perfect." All this, for substance, is the view that Calvinists in general would give of this passage.-' Dis' obedience to the commands of God being in