Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

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

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 works, or that good works must inevitably spring from faith; this principle being assumed, not only as the foundation, but made the main buttress to the grand erection thereon built; should this foundation and buttress be found faulty, and not sound in all parts, the danger to the whole structure must be great, and the question will be quite changed, and have a much more serious aspect than a disputation of words. When Scripture is properly examined, and a rightful conclusion made, the foundation as well as the buttress will not only be shaken, but disappear and become a nonentity, and nothing more than a baseless fabric will remain. In discussing this great disputed point of justification by faith only, it has been generally done, without the proper distinction being made between the source, the cause, and the appointed means by which justification is to be obtained. We will shortly state the two first in a concise way, and in a manner, it is conceived, which will be admitted by all Christians. We must first consider, that the unbounded love and mercy of God towards sinful man, is the source of justification ; and at the same time, that it is to be granted only from his free grace: secondly, that Christ, from what he has done and suffered, is the only meritorious cause, and consequently no merit can be ascribed to any other party, or to any other cause. We next come to the means and object: we must now introduce man, who is to be considered a party, and immediately arises the great and momentous question, what matters or works, as far as relates to man, are necessarily to be used, or to contribute, according to the words of Holy Writ, to effect the accomplishment of the great work of justification. The first thing which must attract our notice is faith, as man cannot approach the meritorious cause without faith, which must first bring him to Christ, and place him in a situation to have or partake of the benefit Christ has effected for him, from whence faith of course becomes indispensable. We must next endeavour to learn, whether this indispensable ingredient, is the only ingredient required on the part of man. (By strictly attending to what is stated above relative to the meritorious cause, which must be admitted by all professed Christians to be true, we are relieved from all questions or difficulties upon that point.) It being agreed that faith is indispensable in justification, not as a cause, but as a condition, mean, or instrument, we would then enquire, whether Scripture has in any instance stated or shewn, that faith alone in man, without any other work or matter on his part, is only required ? Should Scripture require other matters on the part of man, it is no answer to say, that God or Christ accepts faith only in man's justification, the proposition is felo de se; to say that God requires other matters besides faith as a sine qua non in justification, and yet accepts faith only; but supposing such a proposition tenable, that man is under the necessity not only to have faith, but to perform good works, the statement, that God accepts faith only, either as the instrument or otherwise, is then quite harmless, if not perfectly insignificant, because faith will not, and cannot have any effect, and the man will not be accepted to justification without doing the necessary works, whether as duties, conditions, or means.

seen.

To make faith alone only necessary in justification, it must be shewn, that faith without works justifies, and that there is no necessity for man to possess any work whatever besides faith, otherwise a proposition is urged which is either harmless or insignificant, and must be deception and mislead. If any single work is necessary, and a sine qua non for man to possess, as well as faith in justification, that work, whatever it may be, becomes as necessary as faith, and is a sine qua non ; because without that work, faith is ineffectual and useless. Here it should be particularly borne in mind, that there is no necessary union or connection between faith and good works, except for the purpose of obtaining justi

« ElőzőTovább »