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boldness of Paul before Festus, they would be met with the accusation, "Thou art mad ;" or of Stephen and the other apostles at the time of Pentecost, "These men are full of new wine." It would be the glory of the Church if this charge should be so reiterated at the present day. Would that there were many a madman like Paul in the ministry of Jesus. Then there would be more truly rational Christianity in the Church, and less of a mania for the world among the people.
JUSTIFICATION BY WORKS.1
THE sinner's justification before God, the ground and mode of that justification, are among the most interesting topics of religious truth; and as they are topics vital to the gospel, and to the question of our interest personally, in its provisions, it becomes all to gain clear and determinate views upon the whole subject.
This is the more important, as there seem to be presented two rather conflicting aspects of the doctrine-one by James, the other by Paul. And it is interesting to see how boldly these two inspired servants of God, speak forth their respective views; in other words, each, the aspect which his object at the time demanded. Probably no man constructing a system of theology, would have spoken in a way which seems so unguarded. The Apostle James throughout his epistle, utters himself with great strength and boldness of language, and no where more so than when on this subject of justification. "Ye see, then, how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only." Seemingly teaching the doctrine of justification by works.
And how far is it true, that a person is justified by works? Is it true that he is wholly justified by works? Certainly not. There is not a passage in God's book, that reads as follows: A man is justified by the deeds of the law without the faith which works by love. All scripture, every page, passage, and word, rises up to condemn such a sentiment. Even the passage in James condemns the sentiment indirectly, for he says, "By works a man is justified, and not by faith only;" implying most clearly,
1 The author (who is a frequent and welcome contributor to our pages), of this brief but conclusive article, chooses, for reasons of his own, that it shall go forth unaccompanied by his name. Though not in accordance with our custom or our views of what is best, we have yielded to his wishes, but desire it to be considered in no way a precedent.-ED.
that faith has an important, a primary part in the soul's justification.
This leads upon another question, namely: Is a man justified partly by faith, and partly by works? This seems to be the doctrine, as laid down by James. If it is the docrine of the New Testament, of course it stands. If another doctrine is taught by the whole tenure of scripture, and this doctrine decisively contradicted, then it cannot stand; and we must seek for another interpretation. What, then, does the Bible teach on the subject? While it is admitted, that the passage already referred to, seems to teach the doctrine of justification partly by works, and partly by faith, yet it is maintained, that such a doctrine is no where clearly, explicitly, taught in the scriptures.
A point further. Is there anything in the New Testament which cuts short such a doctrine, plainly condemning it, and as plainly teaching another doctrine? There is; if not in so many express words, this doctrine of a mixed justification is cut off by the intense explicitness with which the opposite doctrine is taught, viz. that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law. We find this doctrine affirmed in repeated instances, in various connexions, and in language which admits of no double interpretation. This is Paul's great proposition in his epistle to the Romans. He states it in different forms; he proves it by various arguments. He shows that by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified, because all have sinned and come under the condemnation of the law. To such, justification comes freely, by his grace. It is by faith, that it might be by grace. God is the justifier of him that believeth. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay, but by the law of faith. "Therefore," says the apostle, giving to the sentiment all the solemnity of a great conclusion, "we conclude, that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." We find, then, Paul's undoubted meaning to be, that a man is justified by faith alone.
And the Apostle James, too, really teaches the same doctrine. We find the doctrine in the illustration he derives from the case of Abraham. He indeed says, "Abraham was justified by works, when he had offered up his son upon the altar." But the apostle immediately adds, "And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, Abraham believed God, and it (this faith), was imputed unto him for righteousness." Here James teaches, that Abraham was justified by an act of faith; an act which was exercised some twenty years before he was subjected to the trial of offering up his son. It appears then, that even James teaches, that justification is by faith alone.
Reason concurs with the teachings of inspiration, that it is by faith alone. We do not suppose, that reason would ever have
thought of the way of justifying sinners through faith in a vicarious sufferer. It was above reason, the device of God; the plan, the offspring of his wisdom; the sacrifice, the gift of his goodness. But reason approves of this mode; and says, if at all, it must be by faith only, not the result of working, but entirely by grace. Justification, when it takes place, must, from its very nature, be at some time, at some instant; and at the first, be complete. But this cannot be, if it is partly by works. In that case, when the sinner believes, he is but half justified; when he has performed a few works, he is a little more than half; and not till the close of a long life of good works, is he wholly justified. He who should die, between exercising faith and performing works in this outward sense, having had no time allowed him for such works, could not be properly classed either with the righteous or the wicked, and would hardly belong either to heaven or to hell, but must go to some intermediate place. But Christ said to the believing thief on the cross, "This day, shalt thou be with me in paradise." His faith was imputed unto him for righteousness. It was a case of justification by faith alone. It was complete the moment he believed, and the next moment he was in glory.
The question then returns, if a man is justified without the deeds of the law, by faith alone-justified before he has had time to perform works in the exterior sense, so that they could have no part nor influence in the matter,-in what sense is a man justified by works? What does the Apostle mean, in that seemingly discordant declaration, that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only? Let the mind here recur to the fact which has already been shown, that a man is justified before works; that Abraham, our father, who as James declares, was justified by works in offering up his son, was, according to the same Apostle, justified twenty years before that work, by believing. then is the meaning? Evidently, that a man is justified by a faith that will produce works, and not by faith only—that is, by a faith which will not produce works-in other words, a mere dead faith, such as the devils have. Where there is faith to justify the soul, there will be works to justify the faith; to show that it is a living faith; that it works by love; has power, productiveness. In this way, faith is made perfect, complete; the inward power is followed by its legitimate results; the justifying faith leads to acts of holy living-to deeds of beneficence. the fruit is a part of the tree, intimately and vitally united with it, so the benevolent and holy acts are a part of the faith; they spring directly out of it, and can never fail to be where the faith is. There can be no justification, then, where there are bad works-a bad life; no justification, where there is a failure after opportunity granted to perform good works, because the faith is wanting. And there being justification where there are the
works which spring from the living faith, we see how it is-in what sense it is, that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only; it is that he is justified by a living, loving, working faith, and by such a faith only.
In making a few remarks upon this exposition and discussion, we cannot, in the first place, but notice the completeness of doctrinal statement, as an admirable feature in the teachings of the Bible. Especially is it an admirable feature, in the instance of a doctrine. which like the present, lies at the foundation of all our hopes. We have it fully drawn out; not only the root, but the tree and the fruit; not only the affection in the heart, but the development in the life. It would seem that none would mistake; they have the whole thing, the internal principle, the essence of the thing, the thing, and the outward manifestation.
But still it is obvious, that this very completeness of exhibition, or description, lays the basis for practical error; not necessarily, but on account of the obtuseness of some heads, and the blindness of more hearts. The two features or aspects lie apart in the Bible; and some cannot, and others will not, put them together into one structure of symmetry and beauty. The part which is congenial is taken, a part for the whole. Some take the side of faith, and will have it dishonored by no works-a faith which knows no works; justified by faith, without the deeds of the law, or any works of righteousness. We believe; no matter how we live; believing, heaven cannot be missed. Such pretend to think a great deal of Paul and his teachings.
Others prefer to work their way to heaven; if they go at all, go independently; and not be beholden to another for their very character, and their title to the place. These get their light from James. In the former case, the indolence of the heart operatesits love of ease and sinful indulgence. In the latter case, the pride of the heart operates. And between the two, the selfindulgent tendency, and the self-justifying tendency, it is to be feared a great many souls come short and perish.
But the gospel brings not only great clearness of instruction, but also great weight of motive, against these two false tendencies of our nature. Take the self-justifying tendency. How strong is this often, yea commonly. The heart naturally is full of selfrighteousness. It is the doctrine of the depravity of the world, It is the doctrine of most of the religions of the world; for the greater part of the visible Christian Church is resting on a foundation of works. And there is nothing men will not do, in order to gain heaven as matter of merit. They will give anything, will sacrifice anything, will suffer anything; they will even walk to heaven in their own blood, if they get there in their own way. Such is the strength of the self-justifying tendency. And how is it met? It is met and rebuked by the cross of Christ. God
manifest in the flesh, living, laboring, suffering, dying, rising, ascending in the flesh. Why was it? It was that men might be justified. It was because they could be justified in no other way. "If righteousness come by the law or by works, then] is Christ dead in vain." It is an enormous absurdity to suppose, that the Son of God, co-equal with the Father, would come down from heaven, and by dying, do for men what every one by a little pains-taking, could do for himself. This one great and mysterious act, the wonder of heaven, ever since made the chorus of its songs, admits of no such petty and contemptible partnership. The voice of this event, rolling like the thunder's peal from pole to pole, is, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth." If Christ's death has any efficacy, it is a justifying efficacy; if it has a justifying efficacy, then the works of men have no justifying efficacy; and if men have any reason, or hear to any, they will admit the fact, and consent to be justified, and fervently pray to be justified in God's better way,—justified by faith, and yet a faith that works by love, and brings forth acts of holy obedience.
Let us pass now, to the self-indulgent tendency, by no means infrequent nor feeble, because fostered by the indolence of our nature. The plan is, to go to Heaven on the strength of the atonement. Christ does all; we are simply to trust, and he will take care of us. There is no call for effort, or resistance to sin, or to spiritual discipline of any kind. It must be acknowledged, as beyond all question, that in a free salvation, like that of the cross, it is exceeding difficult wholly to avoid the licentious tendency. Where the pardon comes so cheap to ourselves, the sin often will not be decisively dealt with, nor the offence cut short off, nor the duty, at all hazards, done. The short argument is; "If we sin, we have an advocate with the Father:" if we have faith, not much matter as to the sort, we shall reach Heaven. This is not only a short argument, it is a very short-sighted one; for the person who resorts to it, can hardly read a page of Scripture anywhere, without finding himself cut off from hope, unless he does works meet for repentance. We are justified by works; we cannot be justified by a faith that produces no works; indeed, we are as really condemned without right living, as we should be, were right living the meritorious ground of our acceptance. Thus at the first symptom of perversion in this quarter, we are met by all the weight of motive which can be made out of God's authority, and heaven's glories, and hell's wailings.
Our doctrines represents the religion of Christ as a visible religion, His Church a visible Church; its members visible members. This visibility is an important feature of Christian piety, while its seat is in the heart, the vital and moving power there, there must be a profession, a manifestation. This grows not out of any