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to his own professions at other times, and in other writings, yet sựrely his words ought not to be interpreted, if there be any fair way of avoiding it, in such a manner as to make him contradict himself in the same discourse.
Now, pursuing this line of observation, we have to remark, first, that in the very same epistle to the Romans in which Saint Paul says, that “the just shall live by faith,”—not only in the same epistle, but in the same sentence, Saint Paul tells us that the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness. By quoting, therefore, the old prophet's expression, “shall live by faith,” he cannot mean to say that faith, accompanied with ungodliness and unrighteousness, would end in salvation. That indeed would be to say, not that the “just,” but that the unjust, shall live by faith. It would be to say what his next words unsay, and contradict. The most therefore that this text, “the just shall live by faith,” can amount to is, that though good works be necessary and be performed, yet, after all, it is not by them, otherwise than as they are the proof of faith, but by that faith itself, that the just shall live. Again : though it be true that Saint Paul in this epistle concludes “ that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” yet in the same epistle he had before told us, that “ God will render to every man according to his deeds; to them, who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory,
and honour, and immortality, eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jews first, and also of the Gentiles.” Therefore, his expression concerning faith, in the third chapter of this epistle, though strong, must not be so construed as to make the author assert the direct contrary of what he had asserted just before in the second chapter. Again : four chapters of this very epistle, viz. from the twelfth to the fifteenth inclusive, are occupied in delivering moral precepts. Let no one therefore
that moral precepts are indifferent, or that moral practice, i. e. the conduct which these precepts enjoin and enforce, is unnecessary-I mean in the judgement of the writer whose authority is here pleaded. Nor is it possible to reconcile with this opinion the two following texts, taken out of the same epistle : “ The wages of sin is death ;" chap. vi. verse 23. live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live;" chap. viii. verse 13.
The same species of observation applies to the epistle to the Galatians; in which epistle, it is true, that the Apostle hath used concerning faith these very strong terms: “ 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,
66 If ye
and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Nevertheless, in another place of this same epistle, we have the following plain, clear, and circumstantial denunciation : “ The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these-Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." No words can be more positive than these, and the last words are the most positive of all, “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Sinners like these may have been justified in a certain sense; they may have been saved in a certain sense; that is, they may have been brought into a state of justification or salvation for the present; but they shall not be finally happy, “they shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
In the epistle to the Ephesians, we acknowledge the same observation, namely, that the Apostle hath spoken strong things concerning faith; yet hath at the same time, and in the same writing, most absolutely insisted upon a virtuous life, and most positively declared that a life of sin will end in perdition. Concerning faith, he hath said this : “ By grace are ye saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”. Concerning a life of sin, he makes
this declaration. After having enumerated certain species of sins, he adds these cautionary words, which show his opinion as manifestly as words can show it : “ Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things, even the sinful practices before recited, cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience."
To conclude: What the Apostle might particularly mean by the several expressions concerning faith, which have been quoted, is another question ; but that he did not mean to state or teach that a life of endeavour after virtue, if that be what we understand by good works, could be dispensed with ; or that a life of continued unrepented sin would end in salvation by means, or for the sake of any belief in Christ's religion, I think most evident, and would be so, although we were not able to settle, to our satisfaction, the first question, namely, what it was he did mean. I say, the negative proposition is most evident, unless we can be brought to suppose, that Saint Paul delivered a doctrine contrary to that of our Saviour and of the other Apostles, destructive of one declared end of the christian institution itself (and the end and design of any system of laws is to control the interpretation of particular parts); and lastly, what is most improbable of all, at the same time and in the same manner, directly repugnant to what he himself has solemnly asserted and delivered at other times and in other places.
THE EFFICACY OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST CON. SISTENT WITH THE NECESSITY OF A GOOD LIFE; THE ONE BEING THE CAUSE, THE OTHER THE CONDITION, OF SALVATION.
ROMANS VI. 1.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin,
that grace may abound? God forbid.
That Saint Paul, in the texts which are usually quoted upon this question from his epistles, did not mean to say, that faith, accompanied with wickedness of life, would end in salvation, may be considered, I think, as proved. The next inquiry is, if he did not mean this, what did he mean? His words we cannot alter: and what other sense can we fairly put upon them, so as to excuse or avoid the sense which we disclaim ? Now it is but justice. to every writer to suppose, that he writes to be understood by those to whom his writing is immediately addressed, and that he has in view the circumstances and situation of the persons whom he directly accosts, much more than the circumstances