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This way and manner is comprised in faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby we keep our attention fixed upon his promises, and willingly submit ourselves to obey his precepts : which faith renders our obedience more estimable and more acceptable in the sight of God; and, provided it be real and sincere, supplies the deficiency of our obedience, and causes us to be justified by God.
What then is this faith in our Lord Jesus Christ ?
In order to understand this, you must observe, that faith in Christ is of two kinds. Sometimes it means that faith which, unless something else be added to it, is not attended with salvation; and sometimes that which is of itself followed by salvation.
What is that faith which taken by itself is not attended with salvation ? :
It is a bare assent alone of the mind, whereby we acknowledge the doctrine of Jesus Christ to be true; which assent is not attended with salvation, unless something else be added to it. This appears, first, among many other things, from the apostle James, who asserts that faith cannot save him who has not works,—that without works it is dead; and that this is only such a faith as even the dæmons entertain : secondly, from those rulers concerning whom John writes (John xii. 42), that “ many of them believed, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him lest they should be put out of the synagogue.” ....
What is the faith which is by itself followed by salvation ? It is such an assent to the doctrine of Christ, that
we apply it to its proper object : that is, that we trust in God through Christ, and give ourselves up wholly to obey his will, whereby we obtain his promises ; for without this, our trust were vain, and without trust our assent would also be vain.
What is meant by trusting in God through Christ?
It is so to trust in God as at the same time to trust in Christ, whom he has sent, and in whose hands he has placed all things ; and also both to expect the fulfilment of the promises which were given by him, and to observe the precepts which he delivered : that is, to obey God not only in those things commanded in the law delivered by Moses, that are not annulled by Christ, but also in all those which Christ has delivered beyond and in addition to the law.
You include then in that faith to which alone and in reality salvation is ascribed, not only trust, but obedience also ?
I do so : partly because the thing itself shows that he who has conceived a firm and confident hope of eternal life, which Christ has promised to those alone who obey him, must be impelled to yield him obedience, in as much as immortality is such a blessing that no one can knowingly and willingly despise it : but if any one should despise it, or not so esteem it as to give himself to obey Christ with the view of attaining it, what can this excellent faith avail him? And partly because faith, unless obedience follow, when life is continued after faith has been embraced,
has no power to effect our salvation, as James ex· pressly testifies (chap. ii. 26), as we have already seen:
who also says (ver. 21, &c.) that Abraham likewise was justified by works, and that by these “ his faith was made perfect, and the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.”” Now if piety and obedience, when life is continued after the acknowledgement of Christ, be required as indispensable to salvation, it is necessary that the faith to which alone and in reality salvation is ascribed, or which alone is necessarily followed by salvation, should comprehend obedience 59. · How happens it, then, that the apostle says (Rom. x. 9), that he who “shall confess with his mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in his heart that God hath raised him from the dead, shall be saved ?"
He does not so assert, as if this alone and of itself were sufficient for salvation in those who live subsequently to this faith, or the occasion of embracing it; but hecause from this faith follow, by a certain natural tie and connexion, the other things which are necessary to the attainment of salvation : for he who believes that Jesus is raised from the dead, must believe also that he is made by God both Lord and Christ: he who believes this will place faith in him, and invoke his name : he who does this will wholly devote himself to obey him; and thus will have a lively faith working by love, which is followed by salvation.
59 The papists object to Luther, that these words of Paul are corrupted by the addition of the word ALONE which indeed is never found in Paul, and therefore it ought not to be so often repeated here.-M. RUARUS.
Why then does the apostle Paul oppose faith to works?
In those places where the apostle opposes faith to works,-as Rom. iii. 28; iv. 5; Gal. ii. 16; Ephes. ii. 8,9—he speaks of such works as absolutely exclude every transgression of the law; such works as must be performed by every one who seeks to be justified by the law, especially to the obtaining of eternal life : but not of such works, or of such obedience, as God requires, and with which he is satisfied, in those whom he justifies by his grace, and to whom he imputes faith for righteousness. .
What then is this obedience?
Under the Gospel it is this,—that after being adopted by God for his sons, and endued with a filial spirit, we conduct ourselves as becomes obedient children, doing with our whole heart and with all our strength those things which we know that our heavenly Father requires us to perform, and giving all heed not to offend him in any thing. That is, that we put off the old man with his works, and desist from all our former sins ; that we walk not after the ffesh, but by the spirit mortify the deeds of the body. In short, that we continue in the habitual practice of no sin, but be endued with every christian virtue; so that, if a fault occur in our pious course, it may proceed not from any evil disposition or design, from any habit or custom, but from some weakness of human nature or from ignorance : all which indeed the Scripture is wont to comprise under the name of penitence : and as such an obedience is not servile, but filial and vo
luntary, so also our religious duties under the gospel require much more perfect things from us as free-men than the law forinerly exacted or could exact from slaves, whom it was permitted to treat with severity..
OÉ FREE WILL. Is it in our power to obey God in the way you have stated ?
It is, when strengthened by the divine aid, and by that filial spirit of which I have spoken. For it is certain that the first man was so created by God as to be endowed with free will; and there was no reason why God should deprive him of it after his fall. And the equity and justice or rectitude of God will not allow that he should deprive man of the will and power of acting rightly; especially since, subsequently to that period, lıe requires, under a threat of punishment, that he should will and act rightly (Deut. xxx. 19). Nor is there any mention of a punishment of this kind among the penalties with which God. punished the sin of Adam.
Is not this free will depraved by original sin?
It is not yet agreed among its advocates themselves, what original sin is. This is certain, that by the fall of Adam the nature of man is by no means so depraved as that he is deprived of the liberty and power of obeying or not obeying God in those things which he requires of him under the threat of punishment or the promise of reward, Nor can it otherwise be shown,