« ElőzőTovább »
THE different heads proposed in this discussion being passed through, for the sake of perspicuity we will run over the same in rather a cursory manner, making such observations or remarks as may occur, either to explain or elucidate such parts, which, from ambiguity, abstruseness, uncertainty, or any other cause, may seem to require it, as well as to confirm and establish the inferences, deductions, and conclusions, from the arguments used.
In considering the first head, Definition of Justification, there can be no doubt of the importance of this head, which may be said to be the foundation upon which the whole fabric rests, and unless this is good, a failure may reasonably be expected. From what is stated on this head, it is to be inferred, that justification is an act of God, previously taking place to the sentence of salvation, and indispensable, which shews its great and momentous consequence; and when
we are duly impressed with its importance in this point of view, no labour, time, or attention we give to all matters relating to or connected with the subject, can be said to be unnecessarily bestowed or uselessly applied. According to Scripture no act seems necessary to be done, nor any matter whatever to intervene between justification and salvation, consequently the man who is justified must be in that perfect state of righteousness to be fit and meet for salvation; this must be apparent from many parts of Scripture. How can man be fit for salvation, unless he is purified from all his sins? and this must be by pardon; this pardon must come from God; and when this is passed upon the sinner, he is then accepted of God as just and righteous; this is justification. St. Paul's words, where he says, "it is God that justifieth," most fully confirm this statement. We may then conclude, that our definition of justification before God is a remission or pardon of all sin, and an acceptance by him of the person as perfectly just and righteous, whereby he then becomes entitled to all the celestial blessings promised the righteous in and by the Gospel, is correct. The two other senses of the word "justification" are so plain and certain, that they cannot require any observation upon them.
Upon the next head, "Connexion of Justifi
cation and Salvation," it may have been ob→ served, that some writers have considered the words justification and salvation as having the same meaning, and have used the words indiscriminately, and in which they are strongly sup ported both by St. Paul and St. James in many instances, where the words have seemingly been used to that effect; but, as Bishop Tomline has observed, they are as distinct as they are important', though at the same time, notwithstanding they are distinct, yet that will not and cannot affect their connexion. In many cases, two or more things or matters, quite distinct and different, must necessarily be connected or united to produce the required effect; such is the connexion of justification with salvation, the former must precede, and is an essential and indispensable part in the attainment of the latter, which, from the authorities of Scripture advanced under this head, is so plain and conclusive, that no further authority or argument can be required to establish their connexion than what is there stated.
Our next head is "Definition of Justifying Faith," we now approach or enter upon a subject of great expansion and fertility, in whatever
a See Rom. v. 9. Gal. iii. 11. Titus iii. 7. James ii. 14. 24.
point of view we look at it, whether as to its great importance, or difficulties in its comprehension. We find faith to have been of the greatest and first moment with the Jews, under the old covenant, for man to possess; and we find the same principle continued by Christ and his Apostles, under the new covenant, commonly called the Christian dispensation, that no doubt can be made as to its importance and indispensable necessity, in justification, either as a condition or instrument. This principle is not admitted by all Christians, there being those who hold that justification is obtained by works only, but such a principle is so palpably and plainly contradictory to the principles generally preached and propagated by Christ and his Apostles, it must be deemed unnecessary to bring such a question into discussion; we will, therefore, observe upon what has been stated upon this head. In defining the faith which God will accept, or is the condition or instrument of justification, it becomes necessary to learn its qualites, attributes, connexions, and operations; and as it appears faith hath different operations and effects, it became proper to consider them in their separate order. A scriptural definition of faith is first given, that it is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. Faith is here applied to the man who
possesses it, and where it is living and operative, will have the effect upon the heart of the man here described, and denominated a substance from its powerful operation; faith that does not have this effect, is not, and cannot be the faith St. Paul has described; this appears to be the first distinguishing quality or operation of true living faith. The next consideration of faith is, as to its operations, effects, or attributes, both with respect to God and man. We now come to a question upon which the greatest doubts and difficulties have arisen, and upon which many, yea very many volumes may truly be said to have been written. This is, whether faith alone, or of itself without works, will effect man's justification with God. Upon this point, the most momentous question, involving the deepest interests of man, is brought to our view, namely, what are the required duties, obligations, or requisites man is to possess, on his part, to attain celestial bliss hereafter? In taking a passing view of the great and long-disputed point, whether faith alone, or faith and works united, is the necessary and appointed mean or means to obtain the great object, may appear little more than a verbal disputation, particularly in the manner the argument has been very generally supported, by the false and unscriptural principle of faith necessarily producing good