Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of Faith and Good Works. Hence these expressions of Peter : “ There were also false pro. phets among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways ; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their condemnation slumbereth not.” Further; “exceeding great and gracious promises are given unto us, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge ; and to knowledge, temper: ance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity, For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus

Thus also John : “ This then is the message which we have heard of him, (Christ) and declare unto you, that God is light, and in a See Macknight's Preface to James, sect. 4.

Christ."

b 2 Pet. ii. 1-3.

c 2 Pet. i. 1-8.

[merged small][ocr errors]

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth : but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” Obedience to the moral law, par, ticularly that which consists in love and charity, breathes in every line of this apostle's writings. Jude thus expresses himself: " There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. But, ye beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."

him is no darkness at all. If we say

a 1 John i. 5-10; ii. 3.

In none of the epistles from which these quotations are made, are the false and dangerous doctrines above stated, particularly that of the efficacy of faith without works, so fully refuted, as in the virtue-breathing Epistle of James. “ Pure religion,” says he, “and undefiled, before God and the Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” He asks, “What doth it profit though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?" He asserts that “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone ;»d and, as a proof of its inefficacy, thus circumstanced, that “the devils also believe, and tremble ;"e that the faith of Abraham was evinced by his obedience to the command to sacrifice his son Isaac ; that works are the only evidence of faith ; and that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

To a superficial or inattentive reader, there appears to be an opposition between the doctrines of the apostles Paul and James. But

a Jude 4, 12, 13, 20, 21.
d James ii. 17, 20.

b James i. 27.
e James ii. 19.

c James ii. 14.
f James ii. 18, 2t.

there is, in reality, the most perfect conformity in their principles. The doctrine of James is only an explication of that of Paul, which had been so grossly misunderstood, and so perniciously perverted. The latter plants and rears the tree; the former points to its fruit, and says with his divine master, “ the tree is known by his fruit. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit ; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. Every tree,” and therefore the tree of faith, as well as every other, " that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." One apostle is surely the best interpreter of another, I would rather have for my commentator on the writings of Paul, the apostle James, whose commentary shines with the light of inspiration, than all the Augustines, Luthers, and Calvins in the world.

The enormous corruptions of Christianity, prevalent during the long and gloomy reign of popish tyranny and superstition, had introduced into the Christian church a state of things very similar to that which the apostle Paul found in the Jewish, when he proclaimed and illustrated the important doctrine of saving faith. During this dark and corrupt period of Christianity, the understanding was allowed no exercise in religious matters; and the whole of piety was placed in the strict observance of an unmeaning, though pompous round of rites and ceremonies of human invention ; in implicit submission to ghostly directors of conscience; in unbounded confi. dence in the merits of martyrs and saints, whose supererogation of good works was dealt out to their blinded votaries for valuable returns of money, and in acts of liberality to the church and its rulers, which, by increasing their wealth, also increased their influence and power. Religion then consisted entirely in good works, as it always does in every system of superstition. But these good works had no connexion with real morality, no source in elevated principle, and no effect in pious, benevolent, and useful conduct.

a Matt. xii. 33; vii. 16, 17, 19.

One of the first and most important tasks of the reformers was to explode these erroneous and corrupt notions, to show the insignificance and even immorality of most of the practices which they dictated, and to evince the weakness of their principle, the possibility of any mere mortal's exhibiting a perfect conformity to the law of God. “When we have done all those things which are commanded us, we must say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do.” - There is not a

wa

a Luke xvii. 10.

« AnteriorContinuar »