صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

This will appear evident, if we consider in the first place, that these Apostles are treating of a dif. ferent faith. The one of them has not the same idea, and does not mean the same thing with the other, when they discourse of faith and its influence upon our justification. You remember I have formerly shewn you at large, in a letter purposely written on that subject, that there are two sorts of faith mentioned and described in the Scripture. By the one we are, and by the other we are not justified before God. Now the Apostle Paul speaks of the former of these, and the Apostle James of the latter. There is therefore the greatest truth and propriety in what each of these Apostles speak of faith, taking it in the notion which they respective. ly intend. It is true, that by the faith of God's elect we are justified and saved : It is also true, that the faith of the vain man, or empty profeffor, a bare notional, historical, fruitless faith will not save us.—The Apostle Paul speaks of a living faith, by which the just shall live, Rom. i. 17. The Apostle James speaks of a dead faith, which is but as a body without the Spirit, ver. 17. 26.--The Apostle Paul speaks of a faith which worketh by love, Gal. v. 6. The Apostle James speaks of a faith which hath not works, and which is deftitute of mercy or charity, ver. 16, 17.-Paul treats of a special faith, by which we are the children of God, Gal. iii. 26. Janies of a faith which is common to the devils, ver. 19.-Paul treats of a faith by which we shall be saved, Rom. x. 9. James of a faith which cannot Save us, ver. 14.-Paul treats of a faith by which we are justified without the deeds of the law, Rom. iii. 28. James, on the contrary, Ipeaks of a faith, which being alone without works, is such as will not justify us, ver. 24.--Now, can it possibly be true of the same faith, that it is both alive and dead ;

that trary

[ocr errors]

that it worketh by love, and yet hath not works, but is without love and mercy ; that by it, we are the children of God, and yet not distinguished from the devil by it; and that we are saved by it, and not saved by it; that we are justified by it without works, and are not justified by this alone without works? If these are not some of the highest contradictions, I know not what in the world either is or can be fo. The consequence therefore is inevi. table ; either that these contrary characters and accounts of faith cannot be both true, or else that it is. a different faith which these Apostles speak of. You dare not assume the former of these conse. quences, and therefore must allow the latter to be necessarily true. You must allow it to be true, that Paul speaks of one kind of faith, and James of another. And what argument can now be fairly drawn from this discourse of the Apostle James, but this only, that a lifeless, fruitless, unoperative faith will not justify or save us? And who but sen., fual libertines ever thought that it would ?-If you suppose James to be here speaking of a true lively. faith, you must suppose him to contradict, not only the Apostle Paul, but our blessed Lord himself, and the Holy Ghost, in multitudes of plain and express passages of Scripture, which are every where dispersed through the Bible, that ascribe our jufti. fication before God to faith only. Here then the controversy is brought to a point. And what com. clufion will you now come into? Is it not time to give up your scheme, and ingenuously acknowledge, that as the Apostle James is here faying nothing to the fubject before us, there can nothing be infer. red from what he says against the doctrine which

yoy oppose

It is also further evident, that the Apostle James, in the context referred to, is saying nothing con.. Bb

trary to the doctrine so constantly caught by the Apostle Paul, of our being juftified before God' by faith alone, without the deeds of the law, nor any thing in favour of our juftification before God by our own works; this, I say, is further evident; be. cause he is not there treating of justification, as it is the relief of a guilty world, and imports the acceptance of our persons before God ; nor is he fay. ing any thing at all about this, one way or ano. ther : But he is treating of the justification of our faith, or demonstration of the lincerity of our profeffion, by its proper evidences, which justification, he shews us, is by works. Whereas the Apoftle Paul is always treating only of juftification as it is the relief of an awakened finner, and imports the acceptance of our person, when he tells us, that we are justified by faith without works:-I' have former, ly shewn you, that though the word juftification (in its general notion) has always an unvaried' mean. ing, and uniform signification in Scripture, yet it is frequently applied in both these refpects. It is indeed most usually to be understood for the acceptation of our persons with God; and respects our in. terest in his favour ; but it sometimes also intends a vindication of our character as believers, and, such a manifestation of the fincerity of our faith and profeffion, by the neceffary practical evidences, as will give them a just estimation and acceptance with our own consciences, or with our fellow. creatures. Thus the word is used, Deut. xxv. I. Fob. xxxiii. 32. Luke vii. 35. Rom. iii. 4. and else. where. And I am now to fhew you, that the Apostle Paul understands the word in the former of these senses, but the Apostle James in the latter.

By justification the Apostle Paul intends the reo miffion Pfins, Rom. iii. 25. Our receiving the gift of righteoufhefs, Rom. v. 17, And our being ent

[ocr errors]

titled thereby to grace here, and glory hereafter, Rom. v. 1, 2.

But by justification the Apostle James intends no more than the approving ourselves found believers, evidencing the fincerity of our faith, or manifesting the truth of our profession, and fo the safety of our ftate.If this appears to be fu, upon a particular examination of the case, you must own, that there is no place for any argument in favour of your scheme from this context. Let us then consider this matter distinctly and impartially.

It may be presumed, that the Apostle James is not treating of the justification of our persons in the fight of God, in that there is not one character of such juftification to be seen in his whole discourse. There is nothing spoken about our obtaining par. don of sin; nothing of our persons being made righteous in the sight of God; nothing of our being entitled to future glory, by the works unto which our juftification is ascribed. No more can therefore be proved from this Apostle, but that we are in some respe&t justified by works; yet not fo justified as to obtain renrission of fins, and reconci. liation to God, or to be entitled to an inheritance in the future glory by our works. For of these things, or of any thing else which implies them, he fays nothing at all. But this may be more fully and clearly evinced by the following considerations :

It is evident, in the first place, from the occasion of this discourse, as it is represented to us in the first sixteen verses of this chapter. They professed faith in the Lord Jefus Chrift, the Lord of glory, and yet hath respect of perfons, making a criminal diftinction between the rich and the poor, of the 'fame Chriftian faith and profession with themselves, as appears from the four first verses of the chapter. They despised the poor, and thereby violated that B b 2


royal law, Thou shalt. love thy neighbour as thyself, ver. 6. 8. They respected persons; they committed fins, and were convinced of the law as tranfgreffors, ver. 9. They exposed themselves to have judg. ment without mercy, if they thus shewed no mercy, ver. 13.-And would such as these pretend to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? What doth it profit, if a man say, that he hath faith, but hath not works? . Can that faith fave him? What profit can that faith be to them which leaves them so uncharitable and unmerciful, that they can see a brother or fifter naked, or deftitute of daily food, and only say to them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled : But not. withstanding they give them not those things which are needful to the body, ver. 14, 15, 16.This is plainly the occasion of this discourfe. They pretended to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; but brought forth fruit quite contrary to their pretenfions.-How then could they justify their pretenfions? how could they justify their profession of faith against the charge of hypocrisy, and prove it to be lincere and saving? They could never, in this sense, be justified any way, but in that of evidence by a life correspondent to their profession. Their faith must be justified or evidenced by their works. I may allude to that, Ifai. xlii. 9. Let them bring

forth their witnesses, that they may be justified. Otherwise let them pretend what they would to faith, while they lived without brotherly love and good works, it was but an empty pretence, and their profession wanted the proper witnesses to justify it. Thus the argument is natural and easy; and the conclusion necessarily follows. But then, on the other hand, if we consider justification as ineaning our reconciliation to God, and our personal accepe ance with hini, the Apostle's argument will appear very lame and defective, and the conclusion will

« السابقةمتابعة »