"we conclude a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law," mean to exclude all the deeds of the law from uniting or co-operating with faith in justification, from the inconsistencies which have been so plainly pointed out such a construction would produce, as well as to many other statements in Scripture. St. Paul's purpose by his words is fully shewn, that he was excluding boasting, and according to what he has in another place said, there can be no boasting without a perfect obedience to the law, and by his words at the close of the iiid of Romans, he would in the plainest manner directly contradict himself when he says, "Do we then make void the law through faith?" and answers, " God forbid.” But did he by the words, "without the deeds of the law," mean wholly to exclude the deeds of the law from all effect in justification and salvation, he would most unequivocally and expressly have made void the law. This must be a sound construction of St. Paul's intention from his words, and must in a most effectual manner do away many great and otherwise insurmountable difficulties and irreconcileable inconsistencies. By any other construction the Apostle would most plainly contradict his own words, where he has made works an absolute condition of salvation, such as holiness and love, and that all faith which is not accompanied with charity can

A a

have no more effect in man's justification than sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, and who has also said, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." A short paraphrase of the verse now considering, it is conceived will give a full and perfect description of the Apostle's intention by the words used, when examined, compared, and considered with other statements found in his epistles: "Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith, and thereby justification is of grace, and without the deeds of the law, that is, a perfect obedience to the law, which would make it a debt." How man's understanding can be so perverted, his reason and judgment misled, who has read St. Paul's epistles with any attention, as to have his mind brought to believe, that the Apostle could be supposed by this verse to exclude all the deeds of the law from having any effect in justification, and that faith alone would justify, must appear marvellous! when he has made one of them the most essential, and described as the greatest deed of the law, and a sine qua non for man to possess, and without which faith can avail nothing with Christ, and can have no effect with God. We cannot pass without notice some very long and laboured arguments, involved in great subtleties, frequently advanced by Calvinistic

Rom. x. 13.

writers from the words of St. Paul in the ivth chapter of the Romans upon the imputation of righteousness by or through faith in Christ only; or that faith only is counted for righteousness. We conceive there can be no difficulty to prove from facts stated by St. Paul, that any arguments which have been, or can be brought forward with an intention to shew, that St. Paul could by any thing he has stated mean that righteousness is, or can be imputed to man for faith only, or that faith alone can be counted to him for righteousness, is wholly erroneous". There are two certain facts stated by St. Paul, too plain, clear, and express, not to be doubted, but must be admitted by all professors of Christianity: which are, first, that any description of faith which man can have without charity can profit nothing: the second, that faith to be available with Christ must work by love. In all the statements, that justification is by faith only, or that righteousness is imputed to man for his faith only, or that faith is counted to him for righteousness, the distinction is not shewn, which has been before noticed, whether faith is the sole instrument or mean with respect to God, by which righteousness is imputed, or justification obtained, or whether the faith by which they are so imputed or obtained is intended to be the faith which the

[ocr errors][merged small]

man possesses. It is upon one of these propositions the question rests, and by a proper understanding upon them can light appear, and truth be elicited. When St. Paul says, "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness"." By these words it is quite plain the Apostle means the faith which the man possesses. It may be asked, what description of faith can be intended? Whether faith which worketh by love and united to charity, or the faith which St. Paul has called all faith, and St. James a dead faith? If the former, we then see faith is not alone; but if the latter, an unprofitable dead faith is counted for righteousness. Is it to. be believed that St. Paul could intend, that a dead unprofitable faith was counted for righteousness; but a living faith which worketh by love, and is united to, or accompanied with charity, and consequently not alone? The latter proposition surely cannot produce any difficulty to its admission, and the certain consequence is, that faith alone was not, and could not be intended by the Apostle to be counted for righteousness: and of course all arguments, founded upon faith alone being counted for righteousness, must fall to the ground: and the imputation of righteousness by faith alone must

n Rom. iv. 5.

stand upon the same footing: consequently the above is a full and perfect answer to the arguments advanced before alluded to. In the 6th verse St. Paul has stated, "Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works." The latter words, "imputeth righteousness without works," are strongly urged to shew that works are wholly excluded from justification; but the words, "without works," must have the same construction as the words in the preceding verse, "to him that worketh not," that is, does not obtain justification by works; and such construction is fully explained by the two following verses, the 7th and 8th, by which it is seen there must either be forgiveness or nonimputation of sin, which must be from grace; but did the man work, that is, obtain justification by works, and in no other sense can he be said to work, justification would be a debt. St. Paul also shews in the same chapter, verses 13 and 14, that the promise, that Abraham was to be the heir of the world, was not through the law, "but through the righteousness of faith," that is, the faith of Christ being added to the law, which the Apostle calls fulfilling the law. "Therefore it is of faith, (that is, righteousness,) that it might be by grace;" ver. 16. and the law which had not righteousness, from the inability of man to perform a perfect obedience, was

« ElőzőTovább »