Obrazy na stronie

Each of these circumstances was sufficient, to distinguish his faith in Christ, from a dead and ineffi. cacious assent to the truth of the gospel. Indeed, it may be questioned, whether he did not do more honour to Christ, during the short space allotted him, than many christians do in a long course of years.

This statement may shew, that we are as unwilling as our opponents, to admit, that solitary faith, faith which is not attended with true repentance, and productive of good works, is sufficient for salvation. • It is dead being alone;' and can no more justify a man, than an amputated hand can work, or an eye separated from the head can see. Had the thief merely said, however confidently, 'I believe that

Jesus is the Messiah;' it might have been thought, that he did not understand the nature of the Messiah's kingdom ; but had the same worldly notions of it, which the Jews in general entertained. But what could a dying malefactor expect from a cru. cified Messiah, as to this world ? He did not say, “ If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us:" but, “ Lord, remember me, when thou comest into thy “ kingdom.” It is manifest that, being “ taught of « God," he believed in Jesus, as “the Author of “ eternal salvation," as “ the Saviour of the lost;" and that he understood the spiritual nature of his kingdom, more clearly, than the apostles themselves at that time did; who could not conceive, how his “ coming into his kingdom,” could consist with his dying on the cross. He called on-Jesus, (with desire, and some feeble hope at leasty) for salvation from

wrath and sin, and for the blessings of his heavenly kingdom; while he confessed himself to be so vile, that he deserved crucifixion froin man, and condemnation from God. He hoped for eternal salvation from one expiring on a cross. Thus he honoured Christ, who did not disappoint his expectations. Had he been taken down from the cross,,, and lost this faith, or not shewn it by his subsequent works, - he should have lost this salvation again;' x But the question is, whether such a faith is ever; lost, if I “ have prayed for thee,, that thy faith fail not.”ww. · P. clvii. l. 22. The reference, &cit: The addition of the twelfth; article, was made, Avith great wisdom and propriety and without it, the system would have been incompletę. The doctrine of human inerit is indeed i Popish: but it is held in some

· * " The reference to the homily upon justification, iwas fit the ;'articles of 1552; bat our reformers in 1562, as, a, farther • caution, added the 12th article, no part of which was in the • articles of 1552, and which may be considered as explanatory of

the species of faith, of which they intended to speak in the pre. ceding article, the word faith being there used without any repithet. In the 12th article it is said, Albeit that good works

'cannot put away our sins, yet are they pleasing and acceptable ""to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and • lively faith ;''the Popish doctrine of humati merit is here again • condemned, for the purpose of declaring,' that though good < works possess no power to atone for sin, yet they are pleasing 6 and acceptable to God, and arise necessarily out of a true and • lively faith. This article, therefore, plainly shews, that the

faith, by which in the preceding article we are said to be justified, '; is a faith productive of a holy and virtuous life, and not a faith .. which bringeth forth no good works, but is idle, barren, and unfruitful, consisting only in believing in the word of God.'

form or other, by a vast proportion of nominal Protestants, and by others all over the world. Our articles and homilies were levelled against the sentiment, by whomsoever held, and not exclusively against the Papists. Their opinions were like those of the Jews, in the time of our Lord and his apostles; and the opinions of vast multitudes, in every age and nation, in this respect resemble their's. 3. P. clix. 1. 4. If, &c.'? Had the framers of our articles said, “We are not justified in the sight of

God by faith alone;' they would have found a difficulty in adducing any scriptural authority, in their favour.' What they have said sufficiently proves, that they understood St. James, as not meaning any thing inconsistent with the doctrine of St. Paul, in this argument'; though, probably, they would not all have made out the agreement, in exactly the same manner; any more than we now do. 1 P. clix. Note. St. James, &c.'? The apostles

assertion? ually have pled by faith, Ostead of a had said,

?" If, however, the framers of our articles had said, ' we are not justified by faith, only,' ' instead of saying, as they have done, we are justified by faith only,''they might, as we have seen, equally have pleaded the authority of an apostle for the assertion. Both propositions are true ; and the seeming contra

diction between them, arises from the different senses in which is the word faith is used.

. St. James says that a man is not justified by faith only, but $t. Paul does not expressly say that a man is justified by faith only; his words are, “ by faith without the deeds of the law." In no part however of his epistles does he mention any thing

but faith as necessary to justification, because, when he speaks * of the justification of Christians, he always ineans the justificaition conferred by baptism.'

never say, in so many words, that we are justified by faith alone : and the language of our article, in which this is expressly stated, is a decided proof, in what sense the framers of it understood the apostolical language. “ Because when he, &c." In what part of St. Paul's epistles does he so much as hint, . that the justification of which he speaks, is the

justification conferred by baptism?' Or where does. he expressly mention baptism, in connexion with justification ? Assertion is easy, but proof is wanting; and very clear and conclusive arguments, in such a case as this. · P. clix. 1. 20. These, &c.' 'This is accurately stated. Whether faith ever rises from a dead to a living faith, shall not here be disputed. We hope it is often exchanged for a living faith : of this there is clearer and fuller proof, than that a living faith ever degenerates into a dead faith. · P. clx. 1. 23. "True, &c.'? This is admitted by

1 *These men believing, but not obeying, the gospel, have the * faith meant by St. James, which does not justify; but they have • not the faith meant by St. Paul, which does justify. But if a • person of this description become convinced of the evil of his ' ways, be sincerely penitent, and feel a true and lively faith in * Christ, he is then justified from all the sins he has committed, < being accounted righteous before God for the merit of our Lord • and Saviour Jesus Christ.' • 2 • True christian faith, and good works pleasant and acćeptable • to God, are in their own nature inseparable. True faith pro• duces good works as naturally as a tree produces its fruit: good o works, wherever they exist, must proceed from faith, their only

genuine source. And hence it happens, that the one is often mentioned in Scripture without the other, although the other is 'implied or supposed.'

[ocr errors][merged small]

both parties, and needs no further remark: provided, the word produce be adhered to, and contained, or any other term to the same effect, be not substi. tuted. · P. clx. Note. Faith, &c.'' I know not of any evangelical clergyman who dissents from this statement.

P. clxi. 1. 13. St. Paul, &c.'? Where nothing occurs, to which we should materially object, I take a pleasure, in selecting a few passages, which meet my cordial approbation, and I think that of my brethren. · P. clxi. 1. 20. There are, &c.' Final salvation is frequently connected with good works, though not attributed to them: but, except the passage in St. James, which has been repeatedly considered, I do not recollect one, in which justification is attributed to good works, in any sense, or in any degree; or even intimately connected with them. It is added, in à note, “That is, the continuance in a state of justisfication :' but justification, and continuance in a justified state, are not the same. We, however, read nothing, in any part of Scripture, about' continuance

' Faith, or a general belief of the truth of christianity, is not i necessarily connected with good works. Trụe christian faith

and good works are inseparable.' & 2 • St. Paul says, " They who by patient continuance in well“ doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, shall “ inherit eternal life.” Here is not a word concerning faith ; but • it is supposed, for nothing. but faith can cause a patient continuance in well-doing with the hope of everlasting happiness.'

3 • There are, however, more passages in the episiles which "attribute justification and salvation to good works, than to faith.'

[ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »