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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.
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
fication, but not as to good works being produced, or springing from faith. If candour is to be admitted in this case, can it be denied by those, who are strenuous in propagating the principle that faith is only necessary in justification, that they intend, otherwise than to shew, that man is not necessarily to possess any work whatever besides faith? This is apparent from the manner and language they use in enforcing their arguments to establish the principle of justification by faith alone; they do not enter into the distinction, whether man is to have faith only, and that no other qualification is necessary on his part; or whether it is God that accepts faith as the instrument only in the office of justification; did they do this, it would lay a foundation, whereby the great error, which they so strongly support, would be laid open and exposed. They state generally, that faith alone justifies every sinner, without shewing distinctly how it justifies, whether as the sole instrument, or as a cause, which it must be, if a sinner is justified upon believing, and justification must be the effect. We may here see the great impropriety.. in every instance in stating generally, that faith alone justifies, particularly by those who intend and understand, that by faith alone is meant, that faith is the instrument only. Such statements have given great support to the argu
ments of those who hold the strict solifidian principle, that faith alone, to the utter exclusion and without the necessity of any other work, justifies, and saves the sinner from first to last.
We must deplore the long and unscriptural use of those two epithets "only" and "alone" as companions of faith, unless the strict Antinomian idea was intended to be expressed, and which is the real import of the words. Neither St. Paul nor any writer in Scripture can be produced as an authority, not even constructively, much less directly or literally, on the affirmative side of the question; but what do we find on the negative side? We see St. Paul, by the plainest and most reasonable construction of words, negatives justification by faith alone, in stating that faith must work by love, and unless the man who has all faith, has not charity or love, he is nothing, and his faith is unavailable with Christ. These are plain undeniable facts, wanting, and requiring no comment or elucidation. What is St. James's testimony? He wholly excludes one of those solitary beings. from any connection with living, justifying faith ; his words are, "Even so faith if it hath not works is dead being alone." From these words in every instance, where the significant epithet "alone" is united or annexed to the word faith, that faith must be scripturally dead; no perver