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justification, unless it is of such a nature as to lead into obedience to his revealed will ; that is to say, into good works. Now, I apprehend, that these two positions contain the substance of the memorable doctrine of the apostle James, respecting faith and works.
" What doth it profit, my brethren,” says the apostle, “ though a man say he hath faith, and have not works ? Can faith save him ? If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed, and be ye filled: notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit ? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.......Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar ? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect (or completed !*) And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. . . .For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also :" James ii, 14-26.
This passage was, probably, intended as an explanatory ad. dition to the well-known declaration of the apostle Paul, that 66 a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law :" Rom. ili, 28. That it oflers no contradiction to that declaration, a very slight consideration of its contents will serve to evince. The apostle James is here pleading for the superstructure of works ; but the foundation on which he builds that superstructure is, exclusively, faith. We cannot indeed trace the history of Abraham without perceiving that the two apostles are in substantial accordance with each other. Abraham, like other men, was a sinner ; but he cast himself by faith on the Lord, believing in his word ; and it was in consequence of his doing so, that he received the forgiveness of his sins. His faith was counted unto him for righteousness. As a penitent transgressor, he was justified by faith, without the deeds of the law. But his faith was a living faith. It operated as a powerful practical principle in his soul. It wrought with his works, and by works it was completed. When he offered up Isaac on the altar, this was indeed the final triumph
the perfect victory—of his belief in the promise of God, that through this very Isaac, he should become the father of many nations. Thus, therefore, was “ the Scripture fulfilled, which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness;" and thus, at the same time, we perceive “how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only."
While, however, it is satisfaetory to observe, that this remarkable passage in no degree undermines the great doctrine of justification by faith without the deeds of the law, we ought, in the consideration of its contents, chiefly to direct our attention to the unspeakably important point, on which the stress of the apostle's argument is evidently laid. Let every one who professes a belief in the only true God hold in perpetual remembrance, that vain is the conviction of his understanding vain the correctness of his creed-dead and unprofitable all his faith--unless he is humbly endeavouring to bring forth those fruits of a virtuous obedience, which a Being of perfect holiness, and absolute sovereignty, is requiring at his hands.
Having premised these general observations on faith and works, we may proceed to consider our present subject, as it relates more especially to the dispensation of the Gospel.
The law is declared, by the apostle Paul, to be " a schoolmaster," to bring us “ unto Christ ;" (Gal. iii, 24;) a declaration, which, in one point of view, is of universal application, but which was evidently, in a particular manner, directed to the case of the apostle's fellow-countrymen, the Jews. While that people groaned under the pressure of an extensive ceremonial institution, they were incapable, in their own strength, of fulfilling even the moral injunctions of the Mosaic code ; and to such of them as were awakened to any just sense of their true condition, it must have been evident, that the curse pronounced against every one, who continued not « in all the things which were written in the book of the law to do them," was recorded for their condemnation. In the mean time, however, many of the ritual provisions, under the burthen of which they suffered, were calculated to point their attention to their Messiah ; and, by the whole system of their law, they were “shut up” from the false religions of their heathen neighbours, and kept, as it were, under tutelage, for Christ at his coming.
It appears, then, that the Jewish law, with its terrors on the one band, and its types and protecting sanctions on the other, was, in an eminent manner, calculated to prepare the Hebrews for their Almighty Redeemer for him who was to break all their bands asunder-deliver them from the burthen of their ceremonies—and unite them with the Gentile believers, in the fellowship of the same pure and unalterable faith. And, although the multitude of the nation rejected the Messiah, and despised his offers of emancipation, there were not a few among them who, like the apostle Paul, forsook their dangerous dependence on a ritual worship, and were made willing to suffer the loss of all things, that they might win Christ. They knew that the law, in which they had formerly trusted, did but sentence them to death ; and now, in unison with the believing Gentiles who were alike condemned by the law of natural religion, they took refuge with their Saviour, that he might wash away their guilt in the fountain of his blood, and cover them with the robe of his own righteousness. Thus were the original converts to Christianity, like their successors in every age of the church, justified by the faith of Christ, without the deeds of the law.
Now, after explaining the method which God has thus appointed for the justification of sinners, the apostle Paul proceeds to ask himself a question of the highest moment: “ Do we then," he says, “make void the law by faith ?" It is to be feared, that some persons have so much misconstrued the doctrines of truth, that they are ready to give to this question an affirmative answer, under the false and dangerous notion, that, for those who are delivered from the terrors of the law, through faith in the blood of Christ, the law itself, with all its wise and holy provisions, is no longer in force. Such persons, it is supposed, were the Nicolaitans of the infant church ; nor will it be disputed, that the same description is partially applicable to many professing Christians in the present day. The apostle, however, replies to his own question with a strong, and even indignant, negative- God forbid !” he cries, 6 yea, we esta-, blish the law :" Rom. iii, 31.
It is true, indeed, that the ceremonial law of the Jews, “ which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation," (Heb. ix, 10) was at once fulfilled and abrogated by the sacrifice of the Messiah.
But the moral law of God, which the same apostle, else. where, describes as “ holy, and just, and good;" Rom. vii, 12 ;) is eternal, like its Author, and capable of no abrogation. Christianity “marks it for her own," and confirms and establishes all its provisions. This was the law, of which our Saviour evidently spake, when he taught his disciples to surpass the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, who were strict
in the performance of ceremony, and immoral in life and conversation. “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil ; for verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. ... Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven :" Matt. v, 17-20.
But although the moral law of God is, in its nature, eternal and unchangeable, it may, I think, be concluded from the records of Scripture, that the revelation of it to mankind has been gradually progressive. Under the dispensation of Judaism, and still more so, probably, during the anterior ages of the church, some things, in condescension to the ignorance and weakness of men, were permitted, for a season, which, although not inconsistent with the law of God, as far as it was then revealed, are no longer allowed to believers on the discovery of a fuller and clearer light. Now, this is surely one of the principal glories of Christianity, that it not only establishes the moral law of God, to the extent in which it was previously received and understood, but enlarges its provisions, and unfolds it to the view of mankind, in all its purity, comprehensiveness, strength, and perfection. It is the lawgiver of the Christian dispensation who searches the inmost recesses of the heart, calls for an absolute holiness in motive and thought, as well as in word and action ; demolishes the narrow boundaries of national prejudice ; proclains an universal charity and love ; and fears not to concentrate his whole preceptive code in the awful injunction“ BEYE THEREFORE PERFECT, EVEN AS YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN IS PERFECT :" Matt. V, 48 : comp. Eph. v, 1, And, further, he requires of his disciples, not merely faith in his blood, but obedience to all his commandments. We declares, that those only who hear his sayings and do them, are building their house on the rock. He says to his disciples, of every name and in every age, “ He that hath my cominandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me:" John xiv, 21. “ Ye are my friends, if ye do WHATSOEVER I command you :" xv, 14.
Here I may once more allude to a subject already adverted to in the course of these Essays—the example of Jesus Christ. Christ hath left us " an example” that we should follow his steps :" 1 Pet. ii, 21. “ He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked :" 1 John ii, 6: comp. John xiii, 15, &c. If the anxious inquiry is sometimes excited in our minds, by pursuing what particular course of conduct we may imitate the perfection of our Heavenly Fa. ther ? these, and such as these, are the passages of Scripture by which that inquiry must be answered. We must humbly endeavour, in our life and conversation, to resemble him, who is the IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD—in whom all the moral attributes of the Deity, without losing a single particle of their excellence, are brought within the scope of our intellectual perception, and reduced to the level of our circumstances and our practice. Let the Christian reflect on the character and conduct of his incarnate Redeemer. Let him meditate on the sinless purity of the heart of Jesus; on his meekness, gentleness, and forbearance ; on his condescension and humility; on his devotional spirit; on his unqualified dedication to the Father's will; on his boldness in asserting the truth ; on his zeal, patience, and fortitude ; on his perfect fidelity and integrity; on the universal diffusiveness of his love and charity and let him habitually aim at a practical conformity to this perfect model. It is only by putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, that we can maintain the character of consistent disciples, or comply with the unalterable injunctions of the law of God.
On the whole, then, it appears, with great clearness, that, under the light of Christianity, the revealed moral law of God is neither abolished, nor in any degree weakened, but, on the contrary, confirmed and enlarged; and, that the standard by which the followers of Jesus are required to regulate their conduct and conversation, is, in various respects, more exalted and comprehensive than any which was ever before proposed to the attention of man. Now, there is ever to be observed in the provisions of divine wisdom, an evenness of design and operation; and, on a recurrence to the successive dispensations, of which we find a record in Scripture, we can scarcely fail to perceive, that the extent of the revelation of the moral law has always corresponded with the extent of the revelation of doctrinal truth.
Under the Mosaic institution, doctrinal truth, on the one hand, and the moral law, on the other, were in several points of view only partially unfolded : under the dispensation of the Gospel, both are revealed to us in their fulness. Now, as faith in the religion of the Jews was sufficient to sustain an obedience to the law, as it was prescribed to the Jews; so faith, in the religion of Christians--if it be indeed a living principle working by love-will also be found sufficient to sustain an obedience to the law, as it is enjoined on Christians. If we reflect on all the glorious features of the scheme of redemp. tion on the compassion of our heavenly father, as displayed