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“Knowing that a man is not justified by the “ works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that " we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and “ not by the works of the law.” “Some persons * say, If this be true which Paul affirms, that no one
is justified by the works of the law, but by the * faith of Jesus Christ; it follows, that the patri
archs, and the prophets, and saints who lived * before the coming of Christ were imperfect. We ‘ought to admonish these persons, that those are here said not to have attained righteousness, who think that they are justified by works only; but that the saints who were in former times ' were justified by the faith of Christ, since Abra
ham saw the day of Christ and rejoiced :" and * Moses “ esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” * And Isaiah saw the glory of Christ, as John the 'evangelist relates : and Jude says generally of all, "“ I will put you in remembrance, though ye
once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved * the people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards • destroyed them that believed not.” Whence, not so much the works of the law are condemned, as those who trust they may be justified by works only.'1
This quotation from Jerome completely decides the question in favour of the Calvinists, and of our Article and Homily: and may be contrasted with those which have preceded. Thus the fathers are
* Jerome, Ref. 401.
quoted in the same book, as directly contradicting each other! and the whole is adduced as authority in a theological controversy!-But our appeal is “ to the law and to the testimony."
St. Paul, in referring to the ancient gentile world, as contradistinguished to the Jews, says, that “the gentiles were a law unto themselves ;" that -- the law was written upon their hearts.” Surely then it was possible for them to obey it ; otherwise, how could their consciences bear them witness, and their thoughts accuse. or excuse one another ?" Indeed he expressly says, that “the gentiles which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law ;” that is, the gentiles, through the natural suggestions • of their own mind, discharge the moral duties • enjoined by the law of Moses.' 1
The portion of scripture referred to in this passage, stands thus : “ For when the gentiles, which “ have not the law, do by nature the things con“ tained in the law, these, having not the law, are " a law to themselves ; which shew the work of “ the law written in their hearts, their conscience “ also bearing them witness, and their thoughts “ in the mean while accusing or else excusing “one another.”2 The natural reason and con
science of of those, who had not the law of God, formed the law to which they were bound to be uniformly obedient : thus “ they were a law unto “ themselves.” Their conduct, their reasonings, and their judgment and convictions concerning their own and one another's conduct, shewed “ the work of the law written in their hearts :" not “ the spiritual, just, holy, and good law of “ God,” but that in which “ they were a law, to “ themselves,” their natural sense of right and wrong, in some cases improved, but often coun, teracted by education and science. Many discriminations of just and unjust, virtuous and vicious, were manifest to them, by this inward law; and many of these coincided with the letter of the divine law. To these they owed subjection ; of this they were conscious, and they could not shake off the conviction. Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor. When a gentile acted according to this law of his own mind, his conscience excused or vindicated him; and, as far as this was known, others would approve his conduct. . But when he acted contrary to it he was self condemned, and others, who judged by the same rule, would condemn him likewise. But, “ if our heart condemn “ us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth “ all things."1 .
“He who keepeth the whole law, and offendeth « in one point is guilty of all.” 2 A man, accused
had not written his holy law on their hearts by renewing grace; but in their reason and conscience they had some things belonging to the work, required by that law, written in their hearts.,
'I John iii. 20. Jam. ii. 10.
of murder which he did not commit finds his conscience excuse or defend him, in that particular ; and, if his guilt be not proved, the judge must acquit him. Yet his conscience may at the same time accuse him of the robbery which formed a part of the indictment, or of some other crime for which he is put on his trial. Now his innocence as to the murder, even if fully made known to the judge, would form no sufficient reason why he should not be condemned and punished for the robbery, or other crimes. ;
Joseph's brethren, when charged with stealing his silver cup, found their consciences defending them as to that charge ; but, when they said “ one to another, we are verily guilty as to our “ brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul “ when he besought us, and we would not hear : “ therefore is this distress come upon us;" then the conscience of each of them condemned both himself and the others. Yet, when “ Reuben “ answered and said, Spake I not unto you, saying, “ Do not sin against the child, and ye would not “ hear? therefore also his blood is required;" ' his conscience in great measure acquitted him of this guilt:. but, when his incest with Bilhah was mentioned, his conscience must condemn him also, of another most atrocious crime. So that they were all in one respect or another, “convicted w in their own consciences :" and so are all inankind : or at least they will be in the day of judgment; “ That every mouth may be stopped, and “ all the world may become guilty before God.”2
It is the avowed object of the apostle, in these introductory chapters of his epistle, to " prove " that both Jews and gentiles are all under sin." I He had before stated, that the gentiles were “ without excuse :”? And surely we should pause, and well consider his words, before we adopt an interpretation, which if admitted, would subvert the whole of his reasoning! It will not be said, that any of the gentiles perfectly kept thc law of loving God with all their heart, and their neighbours as themselves : and so were entitled to “ the reward as of debt.” It will scarcely be maintained, that any of them were so perfectly obedient to that rule, by which they were “ a law “ unto themselves," as never to be self-condemned. Calvinists, as well as others, acknowledge that men, in every age and nation, have in many instances done those things, as to the outward action, which are required by the divine law: but not from regard to the will and authority of God, or any purpose of obeying and pleasing him. At least, they neither perfectly kept the holy law of love, nor “repented, doing works meet for repen“ tance,” and “ walking in newness of life.”
After all, the apostle expressly says, “ As many “ as have sinned without law shall also perish “ without law :" and he gives no intimation of the acceptance and salvation of any among them ; but, in concert with the whole scripture, “shuts “ up all under sin, that the promise, by faith in “ Jesus Christ, may be given to them that be“ lieve." 3 " He had said before, “ They who have
· Rom. iii. 9. ? Rom. i. 20 : dvaronovýtos. Gal. iii. 22.