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but he never did the work of a sinner, that stood in need of a Redeemer, so as to excuse him from it. And, therefore, though men may be justified by a surety, yet they cannot be sanctified by a surety; but, still, holiness, obedience, and good works must be personal, and not imputative.
Thus then you see the absolute necessity of good works, in those who are capable of performing them, in order unto eternal salvation. They are necessary, not indeed as the meritorious cause of it, but as a preparing and disposing cause; necessary, by God's absolute and indispensible command; as a debt of gratitude; and, lastly, as the way and means, by which alone it can be attained. Thus the Apostle, Heb. v. 9. Christ is become the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.
 The next thing to be inquired into, is, the Necessity and Influence of Obedience and Good Works into our Justification.
And, in order to this, I shall lay down these following particulars.
1st. Good works, or obedience, doth not justify us in the sight of God, as it is itself our righteousness.
This is the main scope and drift of the whole Epistle to the Romans, and of a great part of the Epistle to the Galatians. It were endless to cite all the texts: see only Rom. iii. 20. By the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight : and v. 28. the Apostle lays down this great conclusion as the upshot of his dispute, Therefore we conclude, saith he, that a man is justified.....without the deeds of the Law: and, Gal. ii. 16. Knowing that a man is not justified by the deeds of the Law. It is needless to add more.
And, therefore, I shall only answer an objection or two, drawn from Scripture, against this doctrine.
(1st) Some may say that the Scripture seems to attribute Justification unto Works, as well as unto Faith: for it is said of Phineas, Psal. cvi. 30, 31. that he executed judgment (viz. in killing Zimri and Cosbi) and that was imputed unto him for righte
But, to this, the answer is easy: That the Psalmist speaks only of the righteousness of that particular act of Phineas, that it was imputed to him for righteousness: i. e. it was accounted by God as a righteous deed; though, perhaps, others might
censure it, as proceeding from rash and unwarrantable zeal, acting without a commission. But,
(2dly) The great place, most urged and insisted on, for Justification by Works, is James, chap. ii. from the 14th verse to the end; especially verse 24. Ye see, then, how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
Here the grand difficulty is, how we shall reconcile St. Paul, asserting, that we are justified by faith only without works, with St. James, affirming we are justified by works, and not by faith only.
To this I answer: That there is no opposition at all between the two Apostles. For St. Paul only excludes works, from being the way and means of our Justification; and St. James only excludes that faith, which is without works. St. Paul disputes against Legalists and Self-justiciaries, who trusted to their own works to justify them; and, against them, he lays down this conclusion, That it is faith, and not works, that doth justify: but St. James disputes against the Gnostics and Libertines, who trusted to an outward and fruitless profession of faith, or rather indeed to a vain fancy instead of faith; and, against them, he lays down this conclusion, That not by faith only, but by works, a man is justified. St. Paul's scope is, to shew by what we are justified; and that, he tells us, is by faith: St. James's scope is to shew what kind of faith that is, which must justify us; not an empty, vain, fantastical faith but such as is operative and productive of good works: his intent is not, to exclude faith from our justification, no nor so much as to join works with it in partnership and commission; for, verse 23, he tells us, the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: the very place, which St. Paul, Rom. iv. 3. Gal. iii. 6. makes use of to prove Justification by Faith and, therefore, when he saith a man is justified by works, he contends for nothing else but a Working Faith : Abraham, saith he, was justified by works, ver. 21: if you ask how that doth appear, he tells you it was because his faith was imputed unto him for righteousness: now let any man declare, that can, what sense there can be in this proof, if, by being justified by faith, he should mean any thing else besides a working faith. So that the upshot of all that St. James here intends, is, to shew us, that the faith, which justifies us, must be a faith bringing forth good works; and that, we grant and contend for:
and, likewise, to exclude a barren speculative faith, which is not accompanied with good works; to exclude it, I say, from having any influence into our Justification. So, in the 14th verse, What doth it profit.....though a man say he hath faith, and have no works? Can faith save him? i.e. Can such a faith as hath no works save him? This faith he calls a dead faith: v. 17. the faith of devils: v. 19. and the faith of a vain man: v. 20: now a dead faith, a faith that may be in devils and vain men, is no true faith, nor can any affirm that it will justify. Thus you see St. Paul and St. James fully accorded, about this doctrine of Justification by Faith. St. Paul affirms, that it is faith alone that justifies: St. James denies, that a lonely faith can justify: and we assent to both as true; for the faith, which alone justifies us, is not a lonely or solitary faith, but accompanied and attended by good
That is the first particular. Good works are not the righteousness by which we are justified.
2dly. Though we are not justified by works, yet good works are necessary to our Justification, so that we cannot possibly be justified without them.
There must, at least, be those inward good works of sorrow for sin, hatred of it, true repentance and humiliation, hope in the pardoning mercy of God through Jesus Christ. Yea, faith itself inust be in the soul as it is a good work, before it can justify this is evident; for if faith justify, and a justifying faith be a good work (though it doth not justify as it is so) then some good work is absolutely necessary to Justification. Yea,
3dly. Good works are absolutely necessary, to preserve the state of Justification when once obtained.
It is impossible that we should maintain our Justification, without believing, repenting, mortifying the deeds of the body, and performing the duties of new obedience; all which are good works and the reason is, because, as soon as these cease, their contraries, which are utterly inconsistent with a justified estate, succeed in the room of them. If faith, repentance, and mortification, cease, it is impossible that Justification can be preserved otherwise, a man might be a justified unbeliever, a justified impenitent, a justified slave to his lusts; which is a contradiction. You see then that good works are necessary, both for the first obtaining of Justification, and for the preservation of it when obtained. Hence, then,
4thly. We may easily determine that much debated question,
Whether good works be required in the Covenant of Grace as a Condition of Justification.
For if, by a Condition of Justification we negatively understand that, without which we cannot be justified, then certain it is, that, in this sense, good works are a condition of it. But, if we take condition positively, for that, whereby we are justified, so not works, but a working faith, is the condition. We are not justified by works, neither can we be justified without them. And, therefore, when the Apostle tells us, Rom. iii. 28. that we are justified by faith without the deeds of the Law, this must not be understood without the presence of works, for that I have shewn you is necessarily required, but withou their causality and influence into our Justification. Conditions we may call them, in a large sense, because they are indispensibly required in the person justified; but they are, in no wise, causes or means of our Justification.
So that you see the doctrine of Justification by Faith is no patronage for looseness and libertinism. Good works are now as necessary under the Covenant of Grace, as ever they were under the Covenant of Works; but only to other ends and purposes. The Covenant of Works required them, that we might be justified by them; but the Covenant of Grace requires them, that we might be justified by faith. Let none think, that the Covenant of Grace gives any dispensation from working; or that an airy and speculative faith, and a barren and empty profession, are enough to answer the terms of this covenant: Can faith save him? and yet what other is the faith of many professors? Should I bid them shew me their faith by their works, I much doubt, that, besides phrases and canting, we should have but very slender evidences of their Christianity; and yet these men are very apt to condemn others for carnal legalists, and low attainers. But let such notionists flatter themselves as they please; yet, certainly, they will find such low attainers, who work out their salvation with fear and trembling, more exalted saints in glory, than those, who think both working, fear, and trembling too slavish and servile, and below the free spirit of the gospel.
Now the God of Peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect....to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ: to whom be glory for over and ever. Amen.