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perversion of any doctrine, than that which we have been now considering.
St. Paul meant, that ceremonial works were not necessary before Justification ; whereas these men pretended they had St. Paul's authority for maintaining that moral works were not necessary after Justification. Ceremonial works are not necessary to obtain Justification in this world ; therefore, say they, moral works are not necessary to obtain Justification or Salvation in the world to come. Faith alone is sufficient; meaning, instead of a true and lively Faith productive of obedience, a bare assent to the truth of the Gospel, without any practical regard to its precepts. They vainly hoped that this spurious Faith would keep them in a state of Justification in this life, and finally procure them Salvation in the next.
God is pleased to grant remission of all past sins, for the sake of his Blessed Son, on account of Faith only; but he requires from those, whom he thus graciously receives into his favour, an implicit obedience to his commands in future : if they disobey, the pardon is cancelled, the state of acceptance is forfeited, and liability to punishment ensues. The servant, whose debt was forgiven by his Lord, but who afterwards refused to forgive the debt of his fellow-servant, was severely rebuked, and delivered to the tormentors to suffer punishment for that very debt which had been
forgiven. To the much agitated question, therefore, Whether works be necessary to Justification, we answer, that if by Justification be meant the first entrance into a state of Justification, works are not necessary; if by Justification, be meant the continuance in a state of Justification, works are necessary. By this distinction, we support the fundamental principle of the Gospel, Justification by Faith in Christ; and at the same time secure the main purpose of our Saviour's incarnation and death,“ who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of Good Works (o);" we shew the consistency of Justification by Faith alone with the necessity of personal righteousness and holiness; we vindicate the mercy of God and the atonement of Christ, while we afford the strongest possible sanction to the cause of moral virtue.
From the above explanation, it is evident that I do not agree with a very respectable writer on the doctrine of Justification, in thinking that, in the passages just quoted, St. Paul is speaking of the meritorious cause, and St. James of the conditional cause, of Justification : “ St. Paul, says Dr. Pearson, in saying that a man is justified by Faith without the deeds of the law, is speaking of the meritorious cause of Justification; and his
meaning (0) Tit. c. 2. V, 14.
meaning is, that we are justified by the Christian religion, that is, by the merits of Christ alone, to the exclusion of all other meritorious causes whatever.” Dr. Pearson here, by the assistance of the expression “the Christian religion,” makes “ Faith” and “the merits of Christ” synonymous ; whereas, as I apprehend, they never can mean the same thing. Faith, when spoken of with reference to Justification, must exist in the
person justified. If a man has Faith in Jesus Christ, that Faith, through the grace of God and merits of Christ's death, becomes, properly speaking, not the cause, but the means, because it is the appointed condition, of Justification. God, according to what has been stated, of his sovereign will and infinite goodness, ordained the merits of Christ to be the cause, and Faith in those merits to be the condition, of Justification. Cause and condition are distinct ideas; and tha: they may not be confounded, it would, I think, be better not to use the expression “conditional
In order to shew that “the merits of Christ” and “Faith" are not synonymous terms, let us, in St. Paul's sentence, “A man is justified by Faith without the deeds of the law,' substitute “ the merits of Christ," instead of
Faith," and then the sentence will be, “A man is justified by the merits of Christ, without the deeds of the law;" this latter proposition is true,
but it is different from the former. In the for mer, Faith is pronounced to be the condition of Justification on our part; in the latter, the merits of Christ are declared to be the cause of Justification, which is solely owing to the free grace of God. Dr. Pearson himself considers the Christian religion as a covenant; and in one part of his pamphlet makes Faith a condition of Justification on the part of man, although in another he makes Faith, as used both by St. Paul and in our 11th Article, to signify the meritorious cause of Justification. We may farther observe, that the word Faith is a relative term, and must always refer to some person or thing, expressed or understood (p). St. Paul's words, so often quoted, are,
· A man is justified by Faith ;" Faith in whom, or what?
In Christ unquestionably. The sentence, when this defect is supplied, when the words understood are really added, will be, “A man is justified by Faith in Christ;" which is in fact the proposition St. Paul intended to express.
It (P) Whoever will examine the numerous passages of Scripture, in which the word Faith occurs, without any adjunct, will find that something is always understood. Faith must have an object. Faith is of itself an imperfect expression, though perhaps from its frequent use, and the obviousness of the person or thing signified, it is scarcely noticed as such. « The name of Faith, says Hooker, being properly and strictly taken, it must needs have reference unto some uttered word as the ob. ject of belief.”
It is manifest, that “the merits of Christ” cannot be here substituted for “ Faith;' and still less will it be contended, that “ Faith” and merits mean the same thing. Faith in Christ, and Faith of Christ, which Dr. Pearson seems to consider as conveying different senses, are synonymous expressions, and signify simply the Faith which men have in Christ. But that the ex pression, “the merits of Christ,” cannot be substituted for the word " Faith,” will, if possible, be still more evident, by making the trial in the 11th Article, to which also Dr. Pearson refers his idea of meritorious cause. The words of the Article are, “We are justified only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, without our own works or deservings.” For “ Faith” substitute “the merits of Christ,” and then the proposition will be, “We are justified only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by the merits of Christ, without our own works or deservings.” To say nothing of the tautology introduced by this substitution, the Justification of man becoines perfectly gratuitous and unconditional, and we are required neither to act nor to believe--a doctrine which Dr. Pearson will be very far from supporting. The word “ Faith” in this Article, is the only one which conveys the idea of a condition to be performed, on the part of man, and is