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come; and by these precautions the event was kept off till the appointed time.
'St. Paul tells the Romans and Galatians, that they have been justified; and yet he gives them 'rules for their conduct, the observance of which ❝he represents as essential to their salvation. But, had he considered their justification as necessarily continuing; had he conceived salvation in the next world as inevitably following justifica'tion in this; all advice would have been super'fluous nor could he have felt or expressed any 'anxiety for the future welfare of the converts. Nay, he speaks of " some who, having put away ' a good conscience, concerning faith had made 'shipwreck." These men must have lost that 'state of justification which they once had, and ' have failed of salvation.'1
This is introduced by a long note, consisting mainly of quotations from Bishop Bull and Dr. Whitby; but containing nothing materially different from the text: and, as these writers are not authority, their opinions may be passed over. St. Paul indeed says in general to the Romans, "Therefore being justified by faith, yè have peace "with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: "2 but surely no one will infer from this, that he considered it as infallibly certain that every professed Christian at Rome was in a justified state, at the time when he wrote this epistle! Having not been at Rome, he had no personal acquaintance with the Christians in general residing in that
1 Ref. 136, 137. VOL. VII.
• Rom. v. 1.
city but he knew that all true believers were justified; and in the judgment of charity he supposed them to be what they professed to be. He does not however say, even in this general sense, to the Galatians that they were justified: nay, he plainly tells them that "he stood in doubt "of them."-It would have been impossible, in writing to collective bodies,, to draw lines of distinction between individuals, all professing the same faith, except by distinguishing true faith from all counterfeits; and by calling on them to beware lest they deceived themselves. When they had been admitted into the church by baptism, they continued a part of it unless excommunicated. The collective body must then be addressed as believers; and the warnings, and cautions, and calls to self-examination, sufficiently proved to them, that the apostle did not mean that they should individually take it for granted that they were, without exception, what they professed to be. But, had he spoken of their past justification, nay, of their final salvation, in as absolute and unqualified terms as he did of the preservation of all those who sailed with him, when he said, "There shall be no loss of any man's life
1 The apostle indeed sent salutations to about twenty persons by name at Rome. But some of these had been his converts when he preached in other places, or his fellow labourers, or fellow prisoners; or they were his relations, or had been his helpers; yet they were at that time, when he wrote his epistle, at Rome. This does not then at all prove, that he was acquainted with the Christians statedly constituting the church at Rome.-Rom. xvi. 1-16.
among you;" it would not at all have been superfluous to shew them by what means, and in what way, this absolute promise, or declaration, must be accomplished. For we find him presently after saying to these very persons, when the seamen would have quitted the vessel, and left the rest to their fate, "Except these abide in the ship,
ye cannot be saved."-Probably, the apostle felt no anxiety about the event, as to the preservation of the lives of those who sailed with him, though he deemed it proper thus to caution them; for their lives were individually secured by promise. But he felt much anxiety about those whom, in the judgment of charity, he addressed as Christians because he did not certainly know that every one of them was a true Christian, and interested in the promises, which, we suppose, secure true Christians. He loved them as children, and he was cast down at every thing which made him fear lest any of them should be found to come short of salvation.-He who supposes that a belief respecting the divine decrees exempts a man from anxiety, on his own account, or that of those whom he loves, except as it induces reliance on God, and submission to his holy will, has little experimental acquaintance with the subject; and will not readily enter into the apostle's feelings, when he says, "My little children, of whom I travail in "birth again, till Christ be formed in you."2-As for those, who "had made shipwreck of their faith," before it is allowed that they had lost 'the state of justification which they once had,'
1 Acts xxvii. 22—24, 31.
2 Gal. iv. 15-20.
it must be proved that they ever had any better faith than that of the stony ground hearers; who "believed for a time, but, having no root in them"selves, in time of temptation fell away."1
"This is acknowledged by Dr. Doddridge :'Several of the Jewish Christians discovered a disposition to rest in an external and empty profes'sion of religion, probably from an abuse of the 'doctrine of justification by faith. 'James's Epistle.)' 2
(Pref. to St.
This was the case with others, as well as the Jewish Christians, and always has been, more or less, in every age. A proud self-righteous rejection of the scriptural doctrine concerning justification, and a licentious perversion of it, have at all times been as the Scylla and Charybdis in this part of theology: and the Holy Spirit alone can safely guide us, at an equal distance from the rock on the right hand and the whirlpool on the left. "I lead in the paths of righteousness, in the midst "of the paths of judgment." 3
'He' (St. James) 'does not mean to assert, that sincere faith alone will not justify a man when 'first converted to the gospel, by procuring him ' remission of the sins committed by him previous < to his conversion; but that when a man has been 'converted and justified, a bare belief of the gospel ' will not keep him in a state of justification.'4 Are then sincere faith,' and a bare belief of
'Luke viii. 15. 1 John ii. 23-25. 'Prov. viii. 20.
' Note, Ref. 137.
'the gospel,' the same thing? If they are not, why is the one used when justification is spoken of, and the other substituted when continuance in a justified state is mentioned? Let the terms be reversed: He does not mean to assert, that a bare belief of the gospel alone will not justify a man, when first converted to the gospel, by procuring him remission of sins committed by him previously to his conversion; but, when a man has been converted and justified, sincere faith will not keep him in a justified state. Every one sees the glaring absurdity of such a proposition: but this arises solely from the use of the two different terms, as if denoting the same thing. A bare belief of the gospel never justified any man, and therefore cannot keep him in a justified state. If any one loses a justified state, it is because he loses true and living faith, and retains only a dead faith.
'He describes a dead charity, and by it exemplifies a dead faith: as that charity is a mere pre'tence, which shews itself only in words of courtesy ' and compassion, without affording any real assis
tance to a suffering fellow creature; so that faith ' is dead and useless, which consists in a naked as'sent to the truth of Christianity, without the performance of those works which are enjoined by its author. Not only the understanding is to 'be convinced, but the will and affections, the spring of human actions, are to be influenced ' and regulated.'1
This quotation is full to the purpose, and needs
Ref. 138, 139.