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justification takes place at baptism; another at the time of believing, particularly those who hold that justification is by faith only: another, that works as well as faith are necessary to justify; and another, that there are two justifications, one on earth, the other at the day of judgment. Those who hold that baptism is the time of justification, must reject infant bapism, because an infant cannot have faith; and justification, according to the general received principles of Christianity, must be obtained by faith as a condition, or instrument, either with or without works. Those who hold that faith only is sufficient to justify, without works, must at the same time hold, that any one, after he has faith, cannot commit sin, or that all his sins must be remitted as soon as committed, which is nearly the same thing in other words; and it is scarcely possible to conceive how a person who, by having faith, has his former sins remitted at the time he believes, and afterwards continues in that state of belief, can commit sin, because he is possessed of that faith which not only remits past but present sins; will it be said, that the commission and remission can take effect, as it were, uno flatu, as is said of some who blow hot and cold at the same time? This difficulty cannot be surmounted but by one of the two modes above stated, namely, that the believer, from the time
of having faith cannot commit sin, or that his sins at the instant they are committed are remitted. The first is clearly unscriptural as the following texts will shew.
Gal. ii. 17. “But if while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin ? God forbid."
Heb. x. 26. “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin."
Ibid. x. 38. “ Now the just shall live by faith : but if any man draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”
2 Pet. ii. 20. “ For if after they have escaped the pollution through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning."
Ibid. ii. 21. “ For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them."
Ibid. ii. 17. “Ye therefore beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.”
From these texts, and many others that might be adduced, it plainly appears from the admissions therein stated, that a man after he has faith may commit sin ; how far the latter principle, that sins at the instant they are committed, are remitted, can be supported by reason, it must be difficult to shew; by Scripture, it is conceived, it most certainly cannot.
With respect to those who hold that works as well as faith are necessary to effect justification, upon the principle that man can at any time during life commit sin, or fall from grace, must have his subsequent sins after he has been once justified, as repeatedly remitted as often as he commits them; consequently he may have many justifications, because upon every fresh sin committed, he is out of the pale of justification, till he has done works to effect a new remission, and as it is not scriptural, we must conclude it is not reasonable, that God should be sitting in judgment continually, because “it is God that justifieth b.
We will now see how the matter stands with respect to those who hold that works are necessary to manifest or evidence faith at the last, or day of judgment, as that must be the time they mean works are to have effect, and not on earth; those who hold this principle must, and cannot do otherwise than hold, that without
b Rom. viii. 33.
works their faith cannot be manifested, and therefore must be dead, and can have no effect, of course their justification cannot take place at the time of believing, and how can it take place till it is manifested by works ? and it is not to be manifested by works till the day of judgment; then, and then only, according to their own principles, is faith to be manifested by works; consequently their justification cannot take place till the day of judgment. On the other hand, if justification takes place upon doing a good work, it will be doubtful what work is necessary; and if such a work is done, may it not be said man is justified by works only ?
Another difficulty which occurs from the opin nion that justification takes place in this life is, how the person who is justified can continue in that state, and what is necessary to be done ? Some have erroneously believed or held that good works are necessary for this purpose : it may be asked, where in Scripture is it to be found so stated, or from what part is it to be concluded that good works are to have such an effect? The facts which are stated, where good works have had an effect in justification, such as Abraham, when he sojourned in a strange land, and readily obeyed the command of the Lord to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, were acts done, which shewed his obedience, and not only proved, but co-operated with his faith to effect his justification: it is not said that either of these acts of obedience, or any other act done by Abraham, were to continue his justification; no, they were to perfect his faith as expressly stated by St. James.
The tenet of two justifications, one in this life, and the other at the day of judgment, has generally the same difficulties and objections to it that justification in this life has with the addition of the following: that two justifications are not mentioned, or even alluded to in Scripture, and consequently there can be no certainty as to the different parts or purposes each are to consist of, such as one man may hold, that remission of sins is annexed to the first justification, and another that it is a part of the second or final justification.
The case of Simon Magus shews that justification does not take place either at baptism or believing; he was baptized and believed, but Peter told him his heart was not right in the sight of God', of course he was not justified, yet he was baptized and had faith.
All the foregoing difficulties, with many others, which must occur, by holding the tenet that justification takes place in this life, are
¿ Acts viii. 21.