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Hence we are said to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. Rev. xix. 8. to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the justification of the saints. For the same reason we are also called the friends of God. James ii. 23. Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness, and he was called the friend of God.
ARE ABsolved FROM siN AND DEATH, Acts x. 43. to him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. xxvi. 18. that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith which is in me. Rom. v. 18. by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. viii. 1. there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. v. 34. who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died—. Coloss. ii. 14. blotting out the hand-writing of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross. Even from the greatest sins. I Cor. vi. 9–11. neither fornicators, nor idolaters, ...... &c. and such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified. Jer. l. 20. in that time, saith Jehovah, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found; for I will pardon them whom I reserve. Isai. i. 18. though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white
AccountED JUST IN THE sight of GoD. Eph. v. 27. that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. On the same principle the faithful both before and under the law were accounted just; Abel, Gen. iv. 4. Enoch, v. 24. Noah, vi. 8. and vii. 1. and many others enumerated Heb. xi. Nor is it in any other sense that we are said not to sin, except as our sins are not imputed unto us through Christ.
NoT BY works of THE LAW, BUT THROUGH FAITH. Gen. xv. 6. Abraham believed in Jehovah, and he counted it to him for righteousness. Habak. ii. 4. the just shall live by his faith. John vi. 29. this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. Acts xiii. 39. by him all that believe are justified from all things from which ge could not be justified by the law of Moses. Rom. iii. 20–23. therejore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: Jor by the law is the knowledge of sin; but now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. v. 27, 28. where is boasting then 2 it is excluded: by what law f of works 2 nay, but by the law of faith: therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. v. 30. seeing it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. iv. 2–8. for if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God: for what saith the Scripture ? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness : now to him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt; but to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness: even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered: blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. ix. 30–33. what shall we say then 2 that.... Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness : wherefore ? because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law: for they stumbled at that stumbling-stone. Gal. ii. 16. 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, for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. v. 21. I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. iii. 8–12. the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through Jaith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed: so then they which be of faith, are blessed with faithjul Abraham : for as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them: but that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident; for, The just shall live by faith; and the law is not of faith, but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Philipp. iii. 9. that I may be found in him, not having mine own, righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. Heb. xi. 4, &c. by faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Eph. ii. 8, 9. that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. Throughout the whole of this multitude of passages we are said to be justified by faith, and through faith, and of faith; whether through faith as an instrument, according to the common doctrine, or in any other sense, is not said. Undoubtedly, if to believe be to act, faith is an action, or rather a frame of mind acquired and confirmed by a succession of actions, although in the first instance infused from above; and by this faith we are justified, as declared in the numerous texts above quoted. An action, however, is generally considered in the light of an effect, not of an instrument; or perhaps it may be more properly designated as the less principal cause. On the other hand, if faith be not in any degree acquired, but wholly infused from above, there will be the less hesitation in admitting it as the cause of our justification.
An important question here arises, which is discussed with much vehemence by the advocates on both sides; namely, whether faith alone justifies? Our divines answer in the affirmative; adding, that works are the effects of faith, not the cause of justification, Rom. iii. 24, 27, 28. Gal. ii. 16. as above. Others contend that justification is not by faith alone, on the authority of James ii. 24. by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. As however the two opinions appear at first sight
inconsistent with each other, and incapable of being maintained together, the advocates of the former, to obviate the difficulty arising from the passage of James, allege that the apostle is speaking of justification in the sight of men, not in the sight of God. But whoever reads attentively from the fourteenth verse to the end of the chapter, will see that the apostle is expressly treating of justification in the sight of God. For the question there at issue relates to the faith which profits, and which is a living and saving faith; consequently it cannot relate to that which justifies only in the sight of men, inasmuch as this latter may be hypocritical. When therefore the apostle says that we are justified by works, and not by faith only, he is speaking of the faith which profits, and which is a true, living, and saving faith. Considering then that the apostles, who treat this point of our religion with particular attention, nowhere, in summing up their doctrine, use words implying that a man is justified by faith alone, but generally conclude as follows, that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law, Rom. iii. 28. I am at a loss to conjecture why our divines should have narrowed the terms of the apostolical conclusion. Had they not so done, the declaration in the one text, that by faith a man is justified without the deeds of the law, would have appeared perfectly consistent with that in the other, by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. For Paul does not say simply that a man is justified without works, but without the works of the law; nor yet by faith alone, but by faith which worketh by love, Gal. v. 6. Faith has its own works, which may be different from the works of the law. We are justified therefore by faith, but by a living, not a dead faith; and that faith alone which acts is accounted living; James ii. 17, 20, 26. Hence we are justified by faith without the works of the law, but not without the works of faith; inasmuch as a living and true faith cannot consist without works, though these latter may differ from the works of the written law. Such were those of Abraham and Rahab, the two examples cited by James in illustration of the works of faith, when the former was prepared to offer up his son, and the latter sheltered the spies of the Israelites. To these may be added the instance of Phinehas, whose action was counted unto him for righteousness, Psal. cvi. 31. the very same words being used as in the case of Abraham, whose faith was reckoned to him for righteousness, Gen. xv. 6. Rom. iv. 9. Nor will it be denied that Phinehas was justified in the sight of God rather than of men, and that his work recorded Numb. xxv. 11, 12. was a work of faith, not of the law. Phinehas therefore was justified not by faith alone, but also by the works of faith. The principle of this doctrine will be developed more fully hereafter, when the subjects of the gospel and of Christian liberty are considered.
This interpretation, however, affords no countenance to the doctrine of human merit, inasmuch as both faith itself and its works are the works of the Spirit, not our own. Eph. ii. 8–10. by grace are ye saved through Jaith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast: for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. In this passage the works of which a man may boast are distinguished from those which do not admit of boasting, namely, the works of faith. So Rom. iii. 27, 28. where is boasting then 2 it is excluded: by what law? of works? nay, but by the law of faith. Now what is the law of faith, but the works of faith ? Hence, wherever after works the words of the law are omitted, as in Rom. iv. 2. we must supply either the works of the law, or, as in the present passage, of the flesh, with reference to xi. 1. (not of the law, since the apostle is speaking of Abraham, who lived before the law). Otherwise Paul would contradict himself as well as James; he would contradict himself, in saying that Abraham had whereof to glory through any works whatever, whereas he had declared in the preceding chapter, v. 27, 28. that by the law of faith, that is, by the works of faith, boasting was excluded; he would expressly contradict James, who affirms, as above, that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only; unless the expression be understood to mean the works of faith, not the works of the law. Compare Rom. iv. 13. not through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. In the same sense is to be understood Matt. v. 20, except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees,