« EdellinenJatka »
it must be proved that they ever had any better faith than that of the stony ground hearers ; who “ believed for a time, but, having no root in them“ selves, in time of temptation fell away." I
“This is acknowledged by Dr. Doddridge:• Several of the Jewish Christians discovered a dis
position to rest in an external and empty profes
sion of religion, probably from an abuse of the * doctrine of justification by faith. (Pref. to St. * James's Epistle.)'2
This was the case with others, as well as the Jewish Christians, and always has been, more or less, in every age. A proud self-righteous rejection of the scriptural doctrine concerning justification, and a licentious perversion of it, have at all times been as the Scylla and Charybdis in this part of theology: and the Holy Spirit alone can safely guide us, at an equal distance from the rock on the right hand and the whirlpool on the left. “ I lead in the paths of righteousness, in the midst “ of the paths of judgment.”3
He' (St. James) 'does not mean to assert, that sincere faith alone will not justify a man when first converted to the gospel, by procuring him remission of the sins committed by him previous to his conversion ; but that when a man has been converted and justified, a bare belief of the gospel will not keep him in a state of justification.'4 Are then sincere faith,' and a bare belief of
'Luke viii. 15. 1 John i. 23-25. • Prov, viii. 20.
· Note, Ref. 137. * Ref. 138.
the gospel,' the same thing? If they are not, why is the one used when justification is spoken of, and the other substituted when continuance in a justified state is mentioned? Let the terms be reversed : He does not mean to assert, that'a bare belief of the gospel alone will not justify a man, when first converted to the gospel, by procuring him remission of sins committed by him previously to his conversion ; but, when a man has been converted and justified, sincere faith will not keep him in a justified state. Every one sees the glaring absurdity of such a proposition : but this arises solely from the use of the two different terms, as if denoting the same thing. A bare belief of the gospel never justified any man, and therefore cannot keep him in a justified state. If any one loses a justified state, it is because he loses true and living faith, and retains only a dead faith.
He describes a dead charity, and by it exemplifies a dead faith: as that charity is a mere pre"tence, which shews itself only in words of courtesy
and compassion, without affording any real assis'tance to a suffering fellow creature ; so that faith is dead and useless, which consists in a naked assent to the truth of Christianity, without the performance of those works which are enjoined by its author. Not only the understanding is to 'be convinced, but the will and affections, the .spring of human actions, are to be influenced and regulated.'?
This quotation is full to the purpose, and needs
Ref. 138, 139.
no further remark. “Faith which worketh by love" must have its seat in the will and affections, and be an active principle of obedience.
It is certain by God's word, that children which are baptized, dying before they commit actual sin,
are undoubtedly saved. (Public Baptism of In‘fants.)'?
There is no ground of doubt of infants, the children of believers, devoted to God in baptism, and dying before they commit actual sin, being saved : but whether all infants who are baptized, and none else, dying before they commit actual sin, are thus saved, this involves questions of a very complicated nature, on which scripture gives no light. Our Rubric assumes that the profession and engagements made in the name of the baptized infant, and implied in the act of the parents who offer their child to baptism, are sincere: and therefore speaks of the infants as the children of believers ; but it is properly silent as to others. Yet, when we consider the various circumstances which may prevent the baptism of infants born of believing parents ; and that the children of believing Abraham, to whom circumcision was given as the seal of the covenant, by which the Lord engaged to be “ a God to him and to his seed,” must not take place before the eighth day--previously to which many would die; we cannot be authorized to confine the salvation of those who die in infancy to such as are baptized. A few presumptuous, extravagant Calvinists have spoken shocking things of
· Note, Ref. 140.
the damnation of infants : but to consign the innumerable multitudes of those, all over the world, and in every age, who die before they commit actual sin, and die unbaptized, to eternal damnation, is far more shocking. Even such Calvinists may suppose some of these children to be elect, and saved: but the sentiment that none dying when infants, except such as have been baptized, are saved, excludes them all. On both sides, however, it is a presumptuous intrusion into things unseen and unrevealed, and a practical forgetfulness of the words of God by Moses : “ The se“ cret things belong to the Lord our God; but “ those things which are revealed belong to us “ and to our children for ever, that we may do all " the words of this law.'1
* That many persons, duly baptized in their infancy, and confirmed in their youth, fall into ' wilful and habitual wickedness, even while they
retain a belief of the general truth of the gospel, is a fact which will not be disputed; and it will also be readily acknowledged that such persons, although 'baptized and born again in Christ,' do 'not remain in a state of justification. How then is that state. to be recovered? By repentance and faith. They must feel “ godly sorrow which worketh repentance,” and a lively faith that their sins will be pardoned through the merits of • Christ: and God will then be pleased, for the
sake of his blessed Son, to accept their repentance
Deut. xxix. 29.
' and faith, and they will become again justified from all their offences.'!
The subject of baptism has been so fully discussed in the preceding chapter, that it is the less necessary here to resume it. The invariable union of baptisn with regeneration, of which it is the outward and visible sign, has in no wise been proved : but the union of baptism with justification, of which it is not so much as the outward sign, is never mentioned in scripture, nor in express terms in our liturgy or articles. If conferred only in baptism, all who die unbaptized must die in an unjustified state : and, if baptized children shew no tokens of faith and grace as they grow up, it is a mere contest about words, to dispute, whether they never were justified, or whether they have fallen from a justified state. For, though it is not allowed by his Lordship concerning regeneration, it is concerning justification, that they
who do not remain in that state'must recover it; and that they must' become again justified,' exactly in the same manner as if they never had been justified.— Justification in baptism' cannot in the case of infants be justification by faith, with which alone scriptures and our article connects justification before God.
* Repentance, therefore, and faith, if sincere, will 'in all cases procure justification ; but obedience 'must be added, to preserve the state of justifica
tion when obtained.'2
1 Ref. 141, 142.
? Ref. 142.