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circumcision, and an observance of the whole ritual of the Mosaic institution, were required in Gentiles who embraced the Gospel, as essential to their justification ; and therefore the justification which he means is the first entrance into a state of justification, and the works and deeds of the law, which he excludes and rejects, are the numerous outward ordinances prescribed by the Law of Moses, and abolished by the Gospel of Christ. But this obvious sense of these passages was soon perverted, and they were made to signify, that faith in Christ, without works or deeds of any kind, that is, without the practice of moral virtue, was of itself sufficient to procure salvation. This most unwarrantable interpretation St. James reprobates and refutes(k), by proving that a man is justified by his works, and not by faith only. He does not say by the works of the law, but by works, that is, by a man's own works or actions. When therefore he says, that a man is not justified by faith only, he means
(k) Several antient authors mention that St. James wrote this Epistle to correct some errors which had arisen from a misapprehension of St. Paul's writings. St. Peter observes, that in St. Paul's Epistles, there
are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.” 2 Pet. c. 3. v. 16.
that a man is not preserved in a state of justification by a bare belief in the religion of Christ.
Faith,” says he repeatedly in the same chapter, “ without works is dead (1);” that is, although a man believes in the divine mission of Christ, and in consequence of that belief has been admitted into the Gospel covenant, yet if he does not afterward obey its precepts, his faith is ineffectual; he will not continue justified; and if he perseveres in his disobedience he will not inherit eternal life. The Apostles therefore are speaking of different things: St. Paul is showing what it is which places a man in a state of justification; St. James is showing what it is which is necessary to continue a person in a state of justification: and they were respectively led to discuss these subjects by errors which prevailed among those whom they addressed. St. Paul asserts, that if a man be convinced of the truth of the Gospel, and sincerely intend to obey its precepts, he becomes justified without the observance of the Mosaic ceremonies. St. James asserts, that a man, who has thus been once justified, does not continue in a state of justification unless he actually obeys the moral precepts of the Gospel. Faith will place a man in a state of justification ; but faith and works are both necessary to pre
serve (1) James, 2. v. 17, 20 and 26.
serve a man in a state of justification. These two doctrines are perfectly consistent with each other. In proof that when St. Paul says, a man is justified by faith, without mentioning any other requisite, he means the first entrance into a state of justification, and that by the works of the law which he rejects, he does not mean the duties of morality, we may observe, that every one of his Epistles, and particularly those in which he treats of justification, abounds with the most earnest exhortations, and strict injunctions to the practice of moral virtue as essentially necessary in persons after they have embraced the Gospel, and as absolutely indispensable to final salvation. And that St. James, when he says that a man is justified by works, is speaking of the continuance in a state of justification and that by works hemeans the moral duties, is equally evident from his reasoning and the examples which he adduces in the second chapter of his Epistle. St. Paul puts faith for faith in Christ, in contradistinction to the Law of Moses ; and the works which he declares to be unnecessary for justification are the rites and ceremonies of that law. On the other hand, by faith St. James means a bare assent to the truth of the Gospel, without conformity to its precepts; and the works, which he pronounces to be necessary for justification, are the moral duties
enjoined enjoined by the Gospel, and which are produced by a true and lively faith.
We now return to the article, which proceeds in this manner; WHERE FORE THAT WE ARE JUSTIFIED BY FAITH ONLY IS A MOST WHOLESOME DOCTRINE, AND VERY FULL OF COMFORT; the word only is here added for the purpose of again disclaiming the popish doctrine of Human Merit. Justification by faith cannot but be a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort, as it places our hope of justification in this world, and of everlasting happiness in that which is to come, upon the infallible promises of God, and the all-sufficient merits of Christ.
As IS MORE LARGELY EXPRESSED IN THE HOMILY OF JUSTIFICATION. It is remarkable, that there is no homily with this title. The homily intitled “ Of the Salvation of all Mankind,” is generally supposed to be here meant, though some learned men have thought that the four homilies upon “human misery, salvation, faith, and good works,” were all referred to. The former opinion seems to be the better founded, as the word in the article is Homily, and not Homilies; and that homily relates more particularly to the subject of this article. We find in it
“ This saying, that we be justified by faith only, freely, and without
the following passages
works, is spoken for to take away clearly all merit of our works, as being unable to deserve our justification at God's hands, and thereby most plainly to express the weakness of man, and the goodness of God; the great infirmity of ourselves, and the might and power of God; the imperfection of our own works, and the most abundant grace of our Saviour Christ; and therefore wholly to ascribe the merit and deserving of our justification unto Christ only and his most precious blood-shedding.”...“Our office is not to pass the time of this present life unfruitfully and idly, after that we are baptized or justified, not caring how few good works we do to the glory of God, and the profit of our neighbours." From the expression “ baptized or justified,” and also from the Forms of Baptism in our Liturgy, it is manifest that our Church considers justification as taking place at the time of Baptism, both in the case of infants and also of adults (m).
(m) I desire to refer to the third chapter of my Refutation of Calvinism, for a more comprehensive view of the doctrines of Justification, Faith, and Works, than the designed brevity of this work will admit; but I have thought it my duty to insert in this edition some passages from that chapter, which appear to be particularly connected with this article.