« PreviousContinue »
for it is now repealed. Christ the substance is come, and has fulfilled all the legal types. These shadows of good things are now fled away, and to observe them at present would be denying that Christ has been manifested in the flesh, and has completed them. And therefore, since the moral law brings us all in guilty, and condemns us for transgressing it, and the observance of the ceremonial law is now repealed, there remains only the law of faith, by which a guilty sinner can be saved. This way of salvation by faith is established by law. The Lord God has made a decree, and has enacted by his sovereign authority, that he who with his heart believeth unto righteousness shall be saved. This is the great charter of heaven, by which all the divine graces and blessings of time and of eternity are conveyed to transgressors. The law of faith says to them, you have broken the moral law, and are under sentence of condemnation; but behold the Lamb of God, believe in him, and you shall be justified. And thus the law of faith takes a poor sinner off from working and striving to merit his justification, and requires him only to believe what Christ has done and suffered for him and in his stead. It commands him to rely entirely upon the righteousness of the Lord Christ for his pardon and acceptance with God the Father. This is the only way of justification now established by law. Ail other ways are illegal, and are expressly forbidden by a divine statute, in this case made and provided, in which are these words : “ therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law”-either moral or ceremonial. The moral law is broken, and it condemns him, and the ceremonial law is repealed; therefore we conclude, that he cannot be justified but by the law of faith; and by this he is obliged and bound to accept of justification by believing, and not by working; so that if he seek to enter into life, he must keep this commandment; he must renounce all merit of his works, all righteousness of his own, and accept of the Saviour's righteous
ness as a free gift, and have it by faith imputed to him for his justification. This is the law of faith, upon which the scripture is very full. The apostle has discussed this point at large, in his epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians. In the third chapter of the Romans he proves to both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin and guilt, and cannot, by any of their own works, be justified before God; and then he speaks of the manner of their justification, which is freely by grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness. In the fourth chapter he proceeds to illustrate this doctrine from the case of Abraham, who believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness. Now unto him that worketh, the reward is 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; and since this is entirely of grace, then it is no more of works; for it is a manifest contradiction to maintain, that we are justified freely by the grace of God, and
needful to merit our justification. Is not this something like purchasing a free gift? Equally inconsistent is the grace of God bestowing freely, and the works of man meriting righteousness. Man has nothing to do but to believe, and this too is the gift of God's free grace: for righteousness is imputed to him who worketh not, but believeth, 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. In these scriptures our justification before God is ascribed to faith without works. These two, faith and works, cannot stand together. The righteousness of Christ freely received by faith, is inconsistent with man's working in hopes of attaining & righteousness of his own: for he hopes to attain au
impossibility. The apostle, in his most excellent sermon preached at Antioch, recorded Acts xiii. declares, that we cannot be justified by the works of the law. After he had finished the argumentative part of his discourse, he makes this application : “ Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses," neither by the works of the moral, nor yet of the ceremonial law, so that the whole of a singer's justification is put upon believing. “ All that believe are justified.”
I might bring many more passages of scripture to confirm this doctrine, but they would be needless, be. cause it is already abundantly confirmed by the articles and homilies of our church. The title of the eleventh article is,
“Of the justification of man.- We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings; wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort, as is more largely expressed in the homily of justification."
In which homily we have these words :
“ This saying, that we be justified by faith only, freely, and without works, is spoken for to take away clearly all merit of our own works, as being unable to deserve our justification at God's hand, and thereby most plainly to express the weakness of man and the goodness of God; the great infirmity of ourselves, and the might and power of God; the imperfection of our own works, and the most abundant grace of our Saviour Christ, and therefore wholly to ascribe the merit and deserving of our justification unto Christ only, and his most precious blood shedding. This faith, the holy scripture teacheth us, is the strong rock and foundation of the Christian religion; this doctrine all old and ancient authors of Christ's church
do approve; this doctrine advanceth and setteth. forth the true glory of Christ, and beateth down the vain-glory of man; this whosoever denieth is not to be accounted for a Christian man, nor for a setter forth of Christ's glory, but for an adversary to Christ and his gospel, and for a setter forth of man's vain glory."
These remarkable words are in the second part of the homily; in the third part we have this passage:
“ The very true meaning of this proposition, or saying, we be justified by faith in Christ only, is this; we put our faith in Christ, that we be justified by him only, that we be justified by God's free mercy, and the merits of our Saviour Christ only, and by no virtue or good works of our own that is in us, or that we can be able to have or to da, for to deserve the same, Christ himself only being the cause meritorious thereof."
These authorijies are very plain and very decisive. They declare that we are justified by faith only, without any of our works or deservings. What words can be more full to the point than these are ? “ We put our faith in Christ, that we be justified by him only, and by no virtue or good works of our own that is in us, or that we can be able to have or to do for to deserve the same.” And are these the words of our established church? Are they indeed part of our homilies? What, does she teach that no good works which we can be able to do deserve our justification ? Surely then, my brethren, the law of faith is here with great plainness enforced, and you cannot, as good members of our church, refuse your assent to this proposition, that in the way of justifying a sinner by faith in the righteousness of Christ, all boasting is excluded.
The natural man cannot receive this proposition, although it comes recommended to himn by the highest authority. His heart rises against it. To leave him nothing to boast of, no work, no virtue to glory in-Oh, it is too humbling to be borne! Scripture
may be plain, and our church's comment on it still plainer, but he cannot allow himself to be quite helpless. It appears strange to him, that he should have no hand nor merit in justifying himself. His carnal reason cannot conceive how this should be, and therefore whenever he hears of justification by faith only, he always fastens the idea of licentiousness to it, and is ready to object, “ If this doctrine be allowed, what a wide door is here opened for all manner of wickedness? At this rate men may do just what they please: for if they are to be justified by faith only, without works, is not the moral law hereby made void, and all obedience to it? Can there be any necessity for their obedience, unless they are to merit heaven by it?” The apostle was aware of this objection, and has answered it in this chapter: “Do we then make void the law through faith ?” Do we repeal the moral law, by showing that it cannot justify the sinner? Is this making it void? God forbid." Yea, we establish the law.” It stands established by faith, and by no other method that has been revealed from heaven, or can be contrived on earth, as I proposed to show, under my
Second general head; wherein I was to prove the truth of the apostle's doctrine in my text. The doctrine is this. 'In the way of pardoning and justifying a sinner, God was willing to shut out all boasting, that the whole glory might be ascribed to his free grace; and therefore he chose the law of faith, which obliges the sinner to acknowledge himself justly, condemned for breaking the moral law, and to rely upon the righteousness of the Lord Christ, as the only means of his pardon and acceptance: for if the sinner's justification had been altogether of works, or partly of faith and partly of works, then he would have had whereof to glory, because he would have done something whereby to merit; but now that righteousness which is the matter of his justification, being freely wrought out for him, and given to him by sovereign grace, as a free gift, and then appre