Sivut kuvina

the apostle, was equivalent to a denial of Christ's resurrection; but if Christ were not risen his atonement was not accepted; and, consequently, the preaching of even the apostles was in vain, and the faith even of true believers was in vain. Whether this interpretation be admitted or not, it still remains wonderful that Christian divines cannot express their meaning without devising unscriptural terms. For where is a state of possible salva"tion,' or 'a salvable condition,' found in scripture, or in our authorized writings? And is there any human being that can be excluded, while living on the earth, from the former? or any one, who hears the preaching of the gospel, or has access to the Bible, from the latter? We can have no objection to the apostolic exhortation ; ? and indeed there are few sermons in which many of us do not introduce it. But let it be observed, that it is not in order to being preserved in a salvable condi

tion,' or even in order to having some further hope of salvation, that it is urged; but“ forasmuch " as ye know that your labour is not in vain in “ the Lord.”—The other scriptures also, which are adduced in the next page, 3 are constantly brought forward by the evangelical clergy in general, in their instructions and exhortations.—Good works are doubtless necessary : let it however carefully be noticed, that the controversy is not concerning this, (which both parties allow ;) but concerning the rank which they are to hold; the office which

'1 Cor. xv. 14--17.

1 Cor. xv. 58. * Matt. xvi. 27. John v. 28, 29. Acts x. 35. Rom. ii. 6. xiv. 12. I Cor. iii. 8. Phil. ii. 12. Jam. i. 25. 1 John iii. 7.

they are to perform or sustain ; whether of recommending us to God; or as proving the sincerity of our professed faith and love; as the genuine expressions of our gratitude and our zeal; as those things in which the true Christian delights, and desires to abound; as glorifying God,“ and adorn“ing the doctrine of God our Saviour ;” and as profitable to our brethren and fellow creatures, whom grace teaches us to love and to desire to serve. This is the only point in debate : whereas our opponents argue against us under the mistaken supposition that we undervalue good works in themselves, and do not consider them as any essential part of Christianity. But that may be important, nay, essential to the building, which is wholly unsuitable to be in any degree the foundation of it.

*Our Saviour, in his awful description of the proceedings of the last judgment, not only assigns eternal life to those who have performed acts of ' mercy to their fellow creatures, but expressly on

account of those acts; “ Come, ye blessed of my * Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from *the foundation of the world, for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat.” “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, 'ye have done it unto me.” Is it possible to read these passages of the New Testament, and to deny that works are clearly made the grand ‘hinge on which our justification and salvation 'turn;' and not to be astonished that any person * professing belief in the divine authority of the 'scriptures, himself a minister of the gospel, should

with marked severity inveigh against those teachers, who make works the grand turning * point in the matter of our salvation ?"!!

Would his Lordship then say, that an habitual adulterer, a thief, a drunkard, or a perjurer, will be welcomed by our Saviour, in the words here quoted because he has performed acts of mercy to his

fellow creatures, and expressly on account of · those acts ;' I know he would not. Some limitation therefore must be admitted, and the passage itself clearly shews what the proper limitation is. The acts of mercy are stated by the Judge to be done to him ; because done to these his brethren:' that is, not done to their fellow-creatures from motives of whatever kind, but from love of Christ, to those whom he owns, and whom he will own at the day of judgment, as his brethren. “ And he “ stretched forth his hands towards his disciples, " and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! “ for whosoever shall do the will of my Father “ which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and “ sister, and mother.”2 Not that acts of mercy to others, performed in faith, and love to God and man, will not be graciously accepted and rewarded. But our Lord saith, “Whosoever shall give you a “ cup of cold water in my name, because ye belong “ to Christ; verily I say unto you, he shall not “ lose his reward."3 Nothing however “ availeth “ in Christ Jesus, but faith which worketh by love." The persons spoken of in the account of the day of judgment, were professed believers. The question was, Had they the true and living “ faith,

[ocr errors][merged small]

“ which worketh by love?" “ The work of faith " and labour,” and liberality“ of love" evidenced this to be the case, in respect of those on the right hand; the want of these fruits, in those of the left hand, shewed that they either had no faith, or had merely a dead faith. It might be said of the former, but not of the latter,“ Seest thou how faith “ wrought with their works, and by works was “ faith made perfect?” “Ye see then how that by “ works a man is justified, and not by faith only:"1 It might also be said, “ By faith they obeyed;" “ by faith they wrought righteousness ;" “ by faith, “they obtained this good report.” Salvation is wholly of the grace and mercy of God, in Christ, to believers; saving faith worketh by love ; all who love Christ, love his brethren; “ not in word and “ in tongue, but in deed and in truth ;" for they perform acts of mercy to them as they have oppornity and ability, and so “ prove the sincerity of “ their love.”2 And « God is not unrighteous to “ forget their work and labour of love which they “ have shewed towards his name, in that they “ ministered to his saints.”3 As they honoured Christ on earth, he will thus honour them before the assembled world. The passage is perfectly conclusive against a dead and solitary faith, and against every antinomian perversion of evangelical doctrines. But surely it does not prove, that works

are clearly the grand hinge on which our justifi'cation and salvation turn;' or that' works are

the turning point in the matter of salvation.' Where is such language as this any where to be found in scripture, or in our articles : “ By grace

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

“are ye saved, through faith ; and that not of “ yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, “ lest any man should boast; for we are his work.“ manship, created in Christ Jesus unto good “ works, which God hath before ordained, that we “ should walk in them.”l_Indeed few persons, on reading the former part of this chapter of the Refutation, in which so many things are stated very differently concerning justification and salvation, would expect such propositions as these towards the close of it. The necessity of good works is entirely as much established, by stating them to be the distinguishing proof of a living faith,' by which it may be as evidently known, as ' a tree discerned by the fruit:' as by making them, the grand hinge on which our justification * and salvation turn,' the turning point in the

matter of salvation;' in diametrical opposition to the words of those articles which we all subscribe, and which some require others also to subscribe, if they would be ministers of that church, over which by divine providence,' they themselves preside.

. . This author confounds justification and salvation throughout his work, which I have proved not to be synonymous terms, either in the apostolical epistles when applied to Christians, or in the public formularies of our church ; and that he is guilty of a variety of mistatements and misrepresentations, by not distinguishing be

Eph. ii. 8–10. * Ref. 100—102. 103-105, 111_114. True Churchmen, p. 293.

« EdellinenJatka »