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Lord, is the Son of God, and Saviour of the world; and this being the great and important truth which they were so anxious to attest, and to inculcate upon mankind, we may rest assured, that in the scripture sense of the word, the belief of this truth is properly, faith in Christ; a hearty belief, that Christ is the Messiah sent into the world to teach us the will of God; the Saviour of the world, sent to redeem us by his death, from death and misery, and to bestow salvation upon all his faithful servants: that he is our Lord and King, by whose laws we must be governed, and by whose laws we must be judged at the great accounting day. That this was the faith in Christ, professed by the New Testament Saints, we have many instances upon record; we find Nathaniel declaring, « Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the king of Israel.” John i. 49. This was the faith of the Samaritan woman, and of her fellow-citizens, John iy. 26: for to this woman, our Saviour declares himself to be the true Messiah; I, says he, that speak unto thee, am He: and upon her testimony, and their own observations, many Samaritans believed, and declared it to be their firm conviction, " that this was verily the Christ, the Saviour of the world." This was the faith of Martha; for Jesus having said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; believest thou this?” She answers, “ Yea, Lord, I believe thou art the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world;" John xi. 25, 26: so that if Martha had faith in Christ, here was its objeci. Again, we find St. Paul alleging, “ that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead;" Acts xvii. 3: and, that “this Jesus, whom we preached, was the Christ;" and it immediately is added, and, “ some of them believed,” that is, they were persuaded of the truth of what St. Paul had testified: so, when they of Berea, after searching the Scriptures, were persuaded of the truth of whiat St. Paul had taught, they believed that Jesus was the Christ, that he had suffered, and risen from the dead, and thus they produced an act of faith in Christ; and when Crispus, a chief ruler of the synagogue, and many of the Corinthians, believed, on the testimony of Paul, that Jesus was the Christ, on this occasion, the apostle declares, “ the word of faith which we preach, is this,” that “if thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and in thine heart believest that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved;" Rom. x. To confess therefore, and acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord, and that God raised him from the dead, is to believe on him. Lastly," this, says St. John, is the victory over the world, even our faith;" | John v. 4: and then he adds, “ who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” wherefore, to believe this, is the true Christian, and scriptural faith. This, moreover, was the faith required by the apostles, in those who were to be baptized; and whenever it appeared to be sincere and genuine in any persons, they were admitted into the number of believers. Thus when St. Peter says to the Jews, Acts ii., " Let all the house of Israel know that God hath made
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this Jesus, whom ye crucified, Lord and Christ;” this saying immediately touches their hearts, and makes them to inquire, « what shall we do?” The apostle answers, “ repent you, and believe, every one of you, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins;” and then it follows, that," they who gladly received this word, were baptized, and there were added to the Church 3000 souls.” Again; Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached to them Christ, Acts, viii.; and “ when they believed Philip, preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God;" that is, when they heartily assented to them, “they were baptized both men and women:” and when he was asked by the noble Ethiopian, “ what hindereth me to be baptized?”' Philip returns this answer; “ if thou believest with all thy heart, thou may. cst;" and when he answered, “ I believe that Jesus is the Son of God,” then was he instantly baptized;---so that the faith required for baptism, was nothing more than a hearty acknowledgment, that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. This, therefore, being the only notion of true, and justifying faith, held out in the scriptures to the exclusion of many other modern phrases and definitions of faith, which, because they are unscriptural, we may safely pronounce to be unfounded; we will now proceed to inquire what is meant by justification, in St. Paul's acceptation of the word. The justification here spoken of by St. Paul, is “ an act of God, exercised and accomplished upon man;” and this the apostle teaches expressly in these words: 66 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? it is God that justifies:" Rom. viii. 3. And again; “ It is one God who justifies the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision by faith,” i.e. both Jew and Gentile; Rom. iii. 30. “It is God that justifies the ungodly;" Rom. iv. 5. “ He is just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus;" Rom. iii. 26. Now it is evident from the whole tenour of scripture, that God justifies the sinner by absolving him from the guilt of his past sins, by a free act of grace, in pardoning his iniquities, or not imputing to him his sins; so that his justification must import his absolution from the guilt of sin, and as a necessary and immediate consequence, his re. conciliation to God, and acceptance into his favour. That this is the meaning of the word justification, as used by the apostle in this place, is evident from many other passages of the apostolick writings. Thus, in order to induce men to believe in Christ, St. John declares him to be “the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world;" and that, “he that believeth in him should not come into condemnation;" that his “ was the blood of the new covenant which was shed for the remission of sins;” even of that covenant in which God promises to be merciful to our unrighteousness," and to“ remember our iniquities no more;" Heb. viii. In a word, " al have sinned,” says the apostle, Rom. ii., “ and fallen short of the glory of God:” therefore absolution from this sin must enable us to obtain this glory; and accordingly, he adds, “ we who have th sinned, are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Now this redemption, the same apost
twice assures us, is nothing more or less, than “ the remission of our sins," or in other words, an act of God effecting our justification, and with it, our reconciliation to God; for, says St. Paul, " much more being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath by him; for if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life;" Rom. v.: so that justification and reconciliation, mean plainly the same thing; and accordingly we are told in another place, that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;" 2 Cor. v.: wherefore, by ceasing to impute sin' unto us, God accounts us righteous, and for this reason becomes reconciled to us; because, While man continues unrighteous, such reconciliation can never take place.
Justification, moreover, stands directly opposed to condemnation;" who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?” or to believers; who shall charge them with a crime? “it is God that justifeth, who is he that condemneth them?” Rom. viii. Now of What can mankind be accused, but of sin? for what can they be conciemned, but for the transgression of God's law? Justification, therecore, must be the act, or sentence of God, discharging them from the guilt, or the condemning power of sin. Now this justification 3 ascribed by St. Paul, to faith alone, in opposition to works of
teousness performed either by Jew or Gentile; and this plainy collows from what has been shown to be the apostle's meaning the word justification in this place; for how, in fact, could either of Gentile be justified by the works of that law, whether Mu
, or natural, which rendered them both obnoxious to condemhauon for sin, and guilty before God? Could they receive remisDion of sins by complying with that law, which left them under
demnation for it? Can any man imagine, after the charge which Fings against the Gentiles, chap. i. and against the Jews, 1. & iii. of his epistle to the Romans, that the apostle could e that they should be justified, or absolved from the guilt
offences by their works, and not by faith only? A cominon con this subject seems to be, that many do not merely reStifcation back to the absolution of sius committed before
of faith was produced, but extend it also forward to our Christian conversation, to all the sins committed against utions and tenour of the new covenant of grace. They forthe apostle styles justification “the remission of our past om iii. 25; “ the redeeming of us from the sins committed our former covenant;" Heb. ix. 15; in “ purging the bein his old sins;" 2 Pet. i. 9; so that this justification which ed on us, when we first believe on the Lord Jesus, and with alone, leaves us afterwards to be absolved, or cons according as we obey, perform, or violate the conditions
covenant, and consequently, to be judged hereafter, not ng to our faith, but works. It appears, therefore, evident press and repeated declarations in the apostolick writings,
fer justification back to
liever from his old sins; is bestowed on us, wh for this faith alone, lea demned, according a of the new covenant, according to our faith, but wo from express and to
that sinful man is, in the first instance, justified by faith alone, by that faith which receives the Lord Jesus under all his scriptural offices and tities. The works of the Mosaical law have no part in this justifying process, as all divines agree; neither is it the ef. fect, or consequence, of evangelical obcdience, or works of rigbteousness performed by us, after we become believers in Christ. That these works cannot be included in justifying faith, is evident, because they necessarily follow this faith, and suppose its pre-existence. “ We are saved,” says the apostle, Rom. v. 9; i. e. we are saved from our past sins, or we are placed in a state of salvation, « by grace, through faith, not of works; for we are created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God hath ordained that we should walk in;" Eph. ii. 8, 9, 10; so that we must be first in Christ, by virtue of this faith, before we can be qualified for works of evangelical righteousness; and this argument may be confirmed from many instances of persons who believed, and wcre immediately baptized on the same day; for being baptized for “ the remission of sins, they, of course, were justified.” Thus at Peter's sermon, 3000 believed, and were baptized the same day; Acts ii. Thus the Samaritans, upon hearing Philip preach, w concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of the Lord Jesus,” were immediately baptized; Acts viii. This also was the case with the Ethiopian, with Cornelius, and the others who heard Peter's sermon; with the jailor and all his house straightway. Now what evangelical obedience could these persons perform, in order to their being justified by works? In a word, that justifying faith does not formally include works of evangelical righteousness, appears clearly from the distinction which the scripture makes between them, when it informs us, that “ faith works by love, acts with our works, and is made perfect by them," when it calls upon us " to show forth our faith by our works;” and u to add to our faith, virtue, knowledge, godliness, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, and charity;" when it speaks expressly of the “ word of faith,” and the “ obedience of faith;" 1 Thes. i. 3. The very nature of faith requires this distinction, for what is faith, but an assent unto testimony: divine faith an assent to die yine testimony: and consequently, faith in Christ an assent to the testimony given by God of him? Now it is not reasonable to suppose that Christ and his apostles, when using this word, should be thought to imply any thing beyond its obvious and literal meaning, which they would certainly have done, had they wished to include in the idea of faith, the whole of our evangelical obedience. Of this, indeed, faith is the spring and foundation, and when cordial and lasting, will assuredly produce it; but still it is no part of of its nature or essence. But, it is objected, does not St. James say expressly, i. 24, that a “ man is justified by works, and not by faith only?” In answer to this capital objection, it is necessary to consider first, the preceding verses of this chapter of St. James's epistle, and then to show that they contain nothing contradictory to the doctrine of justification by faith alone, delivered by St. Paul. The
10th and following verses to the 24th, in which St. James maintains justification by works, and not by faith alone, evidently admit the following short paraphrase:
V. 14. And let not any Jew or Christian think his faith sufficient to justify and save him, without those works of charity and mercy here spoken of, v. 8, 13: for what doth it profit if a man say he hath faith, i. e. in words profess faith in God, v. 19, or in Christ, v. 1, " and have not works,” to evidence the truth of that profession? can such a naked, fruitless faith save him?
V. 15. “ If a brother or sister be naked, or destitute of daily
V. 16. “ And one of you say unto him, depart in peace, and be you warmed and filled, notwithstanding ye give them not those things which be needful for the body, what doth it profit?”
7. 17. “Even so faith,” professed with the mouth, “if it hath not works" answerable to that profession, and flowing from it, « is dead," and fruitless as those words are, “being alone,” i. e. without works showing its reality.
1. 18.“ Yea, a man may say," to such a believer, " thou hast," in profession, “ faith, and I have” real “works: show me thy faith," which thou professest 6 without thy works," which thou canst never do, faith being seated in the heart, and only discoverable by its effects, “ and I will show thee by my works my faith," as the Cause is manifested by the effect.
V. 19.“ Thou” being a Jew,“ believest there is one God. Thou" in this,“ doest well;" but doest no more than the very devils, for "devils also believe and tremble;" and if thou hast no better faith than they, thou hast the same reason to tremble, which they have.
V. 20. “ But wilt thou know, O vain man!” who makest profession of such a naked faith, 6 that faith without works is dead," and so unable to justify or save thee? see it in the example of that very Abraham whom thou boastest as thy father.
1. 21. For « was not Abraham,” whom we style « our father, justified by works," proceeding from his faith, “ when he had offered his son Isaac upon the altar?” confiding that God was able to raise him from the dead. Heb. ii. 17. 19.
V. 22. “ Seest thou how,” [Greek, thou seest by this example, that “ faith wrought with his works,” to produce them," and by works was faith made perfect," or elevated in him to the highest degree of excellence?
V. 23. “ And the scripture was," again“ fulfilled, which saith, Abraham believed in God, and it," i. e. that faith which produced these works,“ was accounted to him for righteousness, and," upon that account, “ he was called the friend of God.”
V. 24. “ Ye see then how that by works,” proceeding from faith, “a man is justified, and not by faith only,” i. e. being alone and without them.
From this short paraphrase arises a satisfactory answer to the objection alleged from St. James's epistle. The scope of his argument does not interfere with the doctrine of St. Paul,