« PoprzedniaDalej »
12. Quote a passage from the Homily, in which the doctrine of the Article is asserted.
“The true understanding of this doctrine is not that this our own act to believe in Christ, or this our faith in Christ, 'which is within us, doth justify us, or deserve our justifica'tion unto us; for that were to count ourselves to be justi'fied by some act or virtue that is within ourselves: but 'that although we hear God's word and believe it, although we have faith, hope, charity, repentance, dread and fear of God within us, and do never so many works thereunto; yet we must renounce the merit of all our said virtues and
good deeds, which we either have done, shall do, or can do, 'as things that be far too weak, and insignificant, and imperfect, to deserve remission of our sins and our justification. Therefore we must trust only in God's mercy, and that Sacrifice which our High Priest and Saviour Christ
Jesus, the Son of God, once offered for us upon the cross, 'to obtain thereby God's grace and remission, as well of our original sin in baptism, as of all actual sin committed by us after our baptism, if we truly repent and turn un'feignedly to him again.'
13. Give a few extracts from the works of the early Fathers, which bear upon the subject of man's Justification.
Clem. Rom. ad Cor. I. c. 32. We, who are called by his will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our wisdom, nor understanding, nor godliness, nor by works that we have done in the sanctity of our hearts; but by that faith, whereby God Almighty has justified all who have been justified from the beginning of the world. Polycarp, ad Phil. c. 1. Ye are saved by grace, not by works ; but by the will of God through Jesus Christ. Cyprian, Epist. 63. The blessing, which was given to Abraham, belongs to Christians also: for if Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness, so whosoever liveth by faith is found righteous. See also Iren. Hær. IV. cc. 13. 67. Test. ad Quirin. III. 42.
Of Good Works.
De bonis Operibus.
ALBEIT that Good Works, BONA opera, quæ sunt which are the fruits of Faith, fructus Fidei, et justificatos and follow after Justification, sequuntur, quanquam peccannot put away our sins, cata nostra expiare, et divini and endure the severity of judicii severitatem ferre non God's Judgment; yet are possunt; Deo tamen grata they pleasing and acceptable sunt, et accepta in Christo, to God in Christ, and do atque ex vera et viva fide spring out necessarily of a true necessario profluunt; ut and lively Faith ; insomuch plane ex illis æque fides viva that by them a lively Faith cognosci possit, atque arbor may be as evidently known ex fructu judicari. as a tree discerned by the fruit.
1. Does not the history of this Article indicate its probable object; and what is the doctrine which it asserts?
Since this Article was not included amongst those of 1552, it was probably added, in 1562, with the view of marking more distinctly the opinion of the Church laid down in the preceding Article, and guarding against its abuse by Antinomians and others to the purpose of continuing in sin. It asserts that, although good works can on no account be regarded as a meritorious cause of salvation, they are still indispensible as an evidence of a true and lively faith, and are in Christ, not in themselves, well pleasing to God.
2. What is necessary to render Good Works pleasing in the sight of God ?
Although a man's works may be popularly called good, yet, in order to please God, they must be good in a Christian sense ; or, in the words of the Article, they must be the fruits of faith, and follow after Justification. They are then acceptable to God in Christ ;' i. e. because they are done for the sake of Christ, and proceed from a principle of true faith in him.
3. What do you understand by good works, which follow after Justification ; and how does St. Paul enforce their necessity ?
It is of course essential that a man should be a Christian in order to act upon Christian principles; and therefore the good works which are pleasing to God are said to follow
after justification, or after admission into a justified state by Baptism. Because unnecessary to admission into this state, they are not therefore unnecessary to continuance therein ; and this St. Paul distinctly states in his remonstrance against any perversion of the doctrine of justification by faith only, as an argument for indulgence in vicious practices (Rom. vi. 1.):- What shall we say then?
Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer
therein ? Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized 'into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism in to death; that like as
Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the 'Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.'
4. Whence does it appear that good works are pleasing to God, and necessary to salvation ?
The numberless exhortations to practical holiness, which occur in almost every page of Scripture, afford unquestionable proof that good works are acceptable to God in Christ;' not to mention that ' Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works' (Tit. ii. 14.). A true justifying faith is known by them, as a tree is discerned by the fruit (Matt. vii. 16, 17. James ii. 18.); and although, by the corruption of human nature, even our best actions cannot endure the scrutiny of divine justice to the expiation of sin, since after we have done all we are
but unprofitable servants' (Luke xvii. 10.), yet the sentence of every man at the day of judgment will certainly be regulated by them. See Matt. xxv. 31. sqq. Rom. ii. 6. sqq.
5. Shew that it is in Christ that good works are thus acceptable.
St. Paul observes that although by grace we are saved 'through faith, not of works ;' yet are we created in Christ "Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained
that we should walk in them' (Eph. ii. 8. 10.). Thus also he writes to the Colossians (iii. 17.):- Whatsoever ye do 'in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father in him.'
6. Does not however a future judgment according to our works imply merit and demerit ?
It is utterly absurd and preposterous to imagine the remotest claim of merit, as capable of being urged by a fallen creature before a Being of infinite majesty, more especially with reference to an eternity of reward. But though imperfection can have no merit, it admits of degrees, so that all men are not, in respect of their actions, on the same footing. The merits of Christ will be applied to some, and withheld from others, in proportion to their relative exertions after holiness, and their relative disregard of religion and its duties.
7. Show that good works do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith.
It is but reasonable to suppose that a true faith will necessarily produce good works; and that in proportion to its sincerity. If a man verily believes in the truth of the Gospel, and is positively convinced that his eternal happiness depends upon a strict conformity to its precepts, he will surely endeavour, by the assistance of that grace of which he has the promise, and trusts to the efficacy, to comply with its demands. Hence it is, that wherever faith is mentioned in Scripture, it is supposed to be thus productive. See Matt. vii. 23. Acts xx. 21. Gal. v. 6. 2 Pet. i. 5.
8. Adduce passages in which the necessity of good works is advocated by the early Fathers.
Clem. Rom. ad Cor. c. 10. Abraham was found faithful, because he was obedient to God's commandments. Ignatius, ad Ephes. c. 9. Faith is your guide ; and love is the way which leads you to God. Again, c. 14. No man, who binds himself by the covenant of faith, sinneth. A tree is known by its fruit : and thus they, who have engaged themselves to be Christians, shall be manifest by the things which they do. Justin M. Apol. I. c. 16. Christ has declared that not they who only profess his religion, but they who do the works which he has commanded them, shall be saved.
Of Works before Justifica- | De Operibus ante Justification.
tionem. WORKS done before the ' OPERA quæ fiunt ante grace of Christ, and the in- gratiam Christi, et Spiritus spiration of his Spirit, are ejus afflatum, cum ex fide not pleasant to God, foras- Jesu Christi non prodeant, much as they spring not of minime Deo grata sunt; nefaith in Jesus Christ ; neither que gratiam, ut multi vocant, do they make men meet to de congruo merentur: immo receive grace, or, as the cum non sint facta, ut Deus School-authors say, deserve illa fieri voluit et præcepit, grace of congruity: yea peccati rationem habere non rather, for that they are not dubitamus. done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.
1. Why are works before Justification not pleasing in the sight of God?
Inasmuch as, from the corruption of his nature, there dwelleth in man no good thing' (Rom. vii. 18.), but the 'imagination of his heart is only evil from his youth' (Gen. viii. 21.), it follows that works which partake of this inna corruption cannot be pleasant to God : and as faith in Christ is the only principle by which they can be rendered acceptable, the grace of Christ must be communicated by baptism in order to that end.
2. Shew that the same action may be viewed in a very different light in the abstract, and with relation to the agent.