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It may be truly said, the Scriptures overflow with exhortations and inducements, to bring frail man into the right way to serve his God with reverence and holy fear, and with instructions and admonitions to convince him, that it is his bounden and indispensable duty to shew forth his praises and glory, by every word of his mouth, and every work of his hand, and which he cannot do by faith only.
Under this head several leading texts of Scripture, usually advanced in favour of the principle that faith alone justifies, have been examined, and the common construction or explanation given them by Calvinistic writers, shewn from plain and fair argument, cannot be supported, but are clearly erroneous; and in furtherance of what is there advanced upon the first text stated, " Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law;" Rom. iii. 28. we may observe, this text is probably the strongest in favour of the Calvinistic principle, that faith alone justifies, of any in the New Testament, and upon which the greatest reliance has been placed; it, therefore, requires most particular consideration. As a general observation, we may notice the purpose and object St. Paul had in view, from the manner he treats the subject of justification in the chapter from whence the text is taken, and
which cannot be misunderstood.
This text is preceded by a statement to shew, in the plainest language, that the Apostle's intention, from the words he used, was to correct the error of the Jews in boasting of their works, and having a dependence that they were meritoriously entitled to justification on their account; this is most apparent; and had the words of the Apostle in this text wanted confirmation or explanation, as to this point, the 8th and 9th verses of the 2nd of Ephesians, upon the subject of salvation, where the Apostle had the same identical object and purpose in view, namely, to exclude boasting in salvation from works as he did in justification, by the 3d of Romans. In the Ephesians, he tells the saints and faithful at Ephesus, by grace are you saved through faith." Grace is here made, and may be not improperly called, with respect to God, the ground-work of salvation, and faith a mean or instrument, and to be possessed by man, from whence faith becomes a sine qua non and most indispensable part of salvation: it is not possible to raise a doubt upon these facts. The other words of the 8th verse are too plain to require a single comment. We will proceed to the words of the 9th verse, "Not of works, lest any man should boast." Here the Apostle has done the same thing as is done in the 3d of Romans,
wholly excluded boasting from, or on account of works; no fact can be more plainly shewn by words. Coming to this conclusion, we have then obtained a perfect knowledge of the intention and purpose of the Apostle, and instead of his object being to shew from these texts, that faith alone was to justify and save, his sole purpose was to correct the error of the Jews, and to exclude boasting from works. We may notice the similarity of the meaning of the words in the Romans and Ephesians; one is," without the deeds of the law;" the other, "not of works." The works which the Apostle meant must be the deeds of the law, because no other works could have an effect in salvation. Comparing these texts, and the chapters in which they are, no other reasonable construction can be put upon them than what has been stated, that St. Paul's great object was to exclude boasting, and not works, wholly from justification and salvation; but although the argument we have used must, on due consideration, be deemed perfectly satisfactory to shew what St. Paul's intention was, without travelling out of his own record, we will add another proof, that the imputation which has been attempted to be fixed upon him, that faith alone, to the exclusion of all works, justifies and saves, is not well founded, but involves many parts of his Epistles with the
greatest inconsistencies and even to direct contradictions. We will take the word faith used in these texts, it cannot be supposed from what the Apostle has stated elsewhere that the word is intended, and only to have an abstract meaning, that is, a belief in God and Christ, when he himself has said, that faith which worketh by love is only available with Christ; here is the strongest authority which can be produced, that whenever the Apostle uses the word faith, and thereby means an available faith, he must mean a faith that worketh by love, and not faith alone, which must be a mere belief in God and Christ, otherwise the word alone is useless and ineffectual. When St. Paul said, "I have kept the faith," is it possible to conceive he could by these words mean, he had retained a mere belief of God and Christ, and that nothing more was intended by his words?-it is incredible, particularly after what the Apostle had stated, that faith, which is available with Christ, must work by love, as well as from numerous other statements, such as without charity he himself would be nothing, and in another place, Rom. x. 8. et seq. that "the word of faith which we preach, that if thou shalt confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart, that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." We here see the
word of faith was not limited or confined to a mere belief in the heart, and is it to be supposed St. Paul could mean when he said "I have kept the faith," that the faith which he had kept was not the same faith which he preached? And if it was, we find from his own words, that confession with the mouth was to be made, as well as believing with the heart, to obtain salvation; and in the verse where these words are, 2 Tim. iv. 7. he says, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course." Faith alone was undoubtedly not the only weapon he fought with, we are assured of the contrary, and when he uses the word, he did not mean a mere belief only, but a faith that must be accompanied with love, otherwise it would be useless and unavailable both with God and Christ. We may now, from such strong and irresistible authorities, come to a sure and undoubted conclusion, that St. Paul in every instance where he has used the word faith, and intended such a faith as is available with God and Christ in man's justification and salvation, cannot by any forced construction of his intention be faith alone, that is, a mere belief in God and Christ, but a faith which worketh by love, and is accompanied with charity and other works. If such a conclusion is well founded from his words, and it cannot be doubted, it is then most apparent, that St. Paul could not by the words,