conveys the idea of the part which it acts in this important affair. Those who believe in Christ are said to receive him, and faith is the instrument by which he is received. It is the hand with which we take the gift, which God freely bestows. Whatever term we use, the sole office of faith is to put us in possession of the righteousness of our Redeemer, not in the way of merit, but by a simple acceptance of it as presented and offered to us in the gospel.

It was the will of God that we should not be immediately justified on the ground of the obedience and death of his Son in our room, but that some act of our minds should precede the application of his merits to us. In a case of suretyship, the three following things are necessary; first, that the surety be willing to engage; secondly, that the person to whom the debt or service is owing be willing to accept of him instead of the principal; and thirdly, that the person for whom he becomes bound, consent that he should act for him. God was willing to accept of Christ as the substitute of sinners; Christ was willing to come under our obligations; and all that was farther necessary, was, that we should consent to his undertaking them. Our consent, indeed, was not necessary to his entering upon his office, nor was it possible that it could be given, as he assumed it before we existed; but it was necessary to our participation of the benefits of his suretyship. This consent is given by faith, which is our cordial approbation of his substitution and vicarious righteousness. And the reason of requiring faith will be evident, if we reflect, that, vithout this act of our minds, we could not conceive the effect of his suretyship to be communicated to us; for, how could a righteousness be imputed to us, or accounted ours, which we did not desire, and which we refused to accept?

We may observe how well adapted faith is to promote the great design of God in the justification of sinners, the glory of his grace. Between grace and works, there is an irreconcileable opposition, and the admission of the one involves the exclusion of the other. If we are justified by works, we are not justified freely; and the honour of grace, which gives without money and without price, is impaired. This would have been the effect if any act of ours had been made the condition of our justification, if we had been pardoned on account of our repentance and reformation, and restored to the favour of God on account of our love to him and sincere obedience to his law. But by the appointment of faith, the glory of grace is fully displayed. It cannot be supposed, that a poor man has any merit in taking the alms which are presented to him without his solicitation. It is not his acceptance which gives him a right to enjoy them, but the offer made by his charitable neighbour. It cannot be supposed, that there is any merit in consenting that Christ should perform for us what we could not perform for ourselves; any merit in relying on his obedience and sufferings, and acknowledging that there is nothing in ourselves which could recommend us to God. This consent to the suretyship of Christ, this dependence on his righteousness, is the essence of justifying faith. The wisdom of God is manifest in this constitution, which takes away from man every ground of boasting, abases his pride, and leads him to give all the praise to the true Author of salvation. Having saved us by his own arm, he makes it bare, if I may speak so, stretches it out openly, to make all men see that by it alone the mighty work was achieved. To the sinner nothing is left but to receive, with profound humility and gratitude, the precious gift which God most freely bestows. There is an express acknowledgment in the exercise of faith, that ihere is no goodness in himself for which God should be favourable to him; and he says, "Surely in the Lord have I righteousness and strength."'*

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It may be added, that faith is not of ourselves, but “is the gift of God."* As if it were not enough to exclude works of every kind, and to appoint faith to be the means of obtaining an interest in Christ, lest we should boast of faith itself, through our strong natural disposition to set an undue value upon every thing which belongs to us, it is declared to be a gift, to the acquisition of which we contribute nothing, in the communication of which to us we are passive, and in exercising which we do not exert our own strength, but act in consequence of being acted upon by supernatural power. The glory of our salvation is thus appropriated to God without any deduction. It is his province to give all, and ours to receive all.

It remains to inquire whether any place should be assigned to repentance in our justification; and the inquiry is the more necessary, because nothing is more common than to speak of it as if it were the condition upon which the enjoyment of this blessing is suspended. It is supposed that Christ died “to give our sorrows weight,” cr to render our repentance efficacious; language which imports, that through his mediation repentance is accepted as a sort of satisfaction for our sins, or as a reason why they should be pardoned. All our former reasoning tends to show that this opinion is erroneous. If all works are excluded from being the ground of our justification, repentance is not to be exempted. In refuting this opinion some make use of this argument, that repentance cannot be the condition of pardon, because the former does not go before but follows the latter; they think, that till a man believe in Christ and consequently be justified, he cannot truly repent. I shall not enter at present into the controversy respecting the order of these two graces, although it would be easy to show that those, who place justifying faith first, are encountered by difficulties and objections, which are not sufficiently removed by a hypothesis founded on what they conceive to be the necessary arrangement of the Divine operations in the application of redemption. Some men, while they profess the highest veneration for the standards of our Church, do not always conform to their language, but take the liberty in particular instances, to make use of a corrected, and, in their judgment, a more accurate phraseology. Let our standards be altered if they are wrong, but let not those who are most zealous to maintain their integrity, and reject any proposal of change, practise, without avowing it, what they openly denounce as a crime. “Although repentance,' says our Confession of Faith, “be not to be rested in, as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof, which is the act of God's free grace in Christ, yet is it of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.”+ Not only is it asserted in general, that an impenitent sinner cannot be pardoned, but it is expressly stated that before he is pardoned he must cease to be impenitent. Whatever may be the order of faith and repentance, hoth must exist in the mind of the sinner who is justified; and indeed it is impossible to conceive any man to believe in Christ, without being duly affected with a sense of sin, of its vileness as well as of its guilt. He who is pardoned is a penitent like the publican in the parable, who said, "God be mercisul to me a sinner;" he is not pardoned, however, for his repentance, but, as our Confession affirms, by an “act of God's free grace in Christ." God has no respect to his penitence as the cause for which he receives him into favour, but solely to the atonement and obedience of his Surety.

It may be objected, that, although the Scriptures do in many places speak as if we were justified by faith alone, yet there are other passages which appear to favour the doctrine of justification by works. It is said for example, that men shall be finally judged “ according to their works;"I and our Lord represents the general judgment as proceeding upon this ground, when to the sentence pronounced upon the righteous he subjoins an enumeration of their deeds of charity as the reason of it: “For I was an hungred and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me drink,"* &c. But, besides that one part of Scripture should be explained consistently with another, and particular occasional expressions should be understood according to the general tenor of its doctrine, the apparent difficulty will vanish if we reflect upon the design of the judgment. Had nothing been intended except the distribution of rewards and punishments, this might have been accomplished without the publicity and solemnity of the grand assize; but the purpose of an assembly of the human race, of their arrangement in two divisions, and of the other proceedings of the great day, is reveal the righteousness of God. It is to convince all, that the Judge of all the earth does right, by an open display of his justice. For this end, it is necessary that the works of the righteous should be brought forward to view, as well as those of the wicked; for something would be wanting to complete the transaction, if the sentence in the case of the latter were proved to be just by a detail of their crimes, but in the case of the former were founded only on their faith. The foundation, indeed, would be valid; but as faith is an act of the mind, although known to God it is unknown to all other beings, unless it be made manifest by its fruits. Now, as the object of the judgment is not merely to exercise justice, but to convince all the spectators of the awful scene that it is exercised, it is necessary that some sensible proof should be produced, which shall leave no doubt in their minds that those on the right hand were entitled to the happiness to which they are adjudged. Their good works will constitute this proof, not as being the ground of their title, but as the evidence that they are possessed of that faith to which eternal life was promised, because it was the appointed means of uniting them to the Saviour. This is the true reason why their works will be referred to in the judgment; and in this way we must account for the fact, if we would not set one part of Scripture at variance with another. Men will be judged according to their works; or a sentence will be passed upon them according to their state and character, of which their works will be ihe evidence.

* Eph. ü. 8.

+ Conf. ch. xv. 9. 3.

Rev. xx 12.

There is another passage in which good works may seem to be represented as the foundation of our title to heaven. “ Blessed are they that do his commandments, that14—they may have right-curto the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”+ Eçcuola, which is rendered right, is a word which bears a variety of senses, and may be translated power, authority, liberty, privilege. It does not necessarily convey the idea of right, in the common acceptation of the term; it may be understood simply to mean, that those who do the commandments shall have access to the tree of life, or shall enjoy the privilege of access to it. The meaning of the conjunction area translated that, are also numerous. It denotes the final cause, or that for which any thing is done, or merely the event and issue of a thing, or it is used for the simple purpose of explanation: “ Blessed are they that do his commandments.” How does this appear? “They shall have access to the tree of life.” Blessed are they who obey in the hope of eternal life, for eternal life shall be their gracious reward. This shall be the happy result. In the preceding context, our Lord declares, “ that he will come quickly, and that his reward is with him, to give every man according as his work shall be.” | Then follows the illustration. The righteous shall be admitted into the celestial city and partake of all its delights; but the wicked shall be excluded from it, “ dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoso ever loveth and maketh a lie.”'S When the passage is thus explained, there: is no difficulty in it. It merely states the happiness of those who obey in the

* Matth. xxv. 35.

+ Rev. xxii. 14.

Ib. 12.

& Ib. 15.

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hope of eternal life, the great motive proposed in the gospel to excite and encourage us, for their labour shall not be in vain. It points out the character of the persons for whom future felicity is reserved.

The principal difficulty arises from the Epistle of James, who seems to teach a different doctrine from that of Paul, when he says, “Ye see how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”* But that the contradiction is real, we cannot admit, without supposing that one of them was a false teacher; and we must therefore use our endeavours to reconcile them; as we are certain that the Spirit of God, by whom both were inspired, could not deliver contradictory oracles. Some pretend that Paul is an obscure writer, and that on this account we should give the preference to James. We know the cause of the complaints against the style and reasoning of the former. His doctrine is peculiarly offensive to self-righteous men; and they are eager to invalidate the authority of a teacher, who tells many plain and mortifying truths concerning the depravity of human nature, the insufficiency of our works, and the absolute necessity of an entire dependence upon the righteousness of Christ.

In order to show that the difference between the two Apostles is only apparent, and that their writings perfectly harmonize, I request your attention to the following remarks.

First, Paul and James had not the same design in view. From the Epistles of Paul to the Romans and Galatians, it appears to have been his design to show, that a sinner is pardoned, and accepted, and entitled to heaven, not on account of his works, but through faith in the blood of Christ and the imputation of his righteousness. And the reason why he insisted so much upon this doctrine, was, that it is a fundamental article of the Christian religion, and was strenuously opposed by certain teachers, who affirmed that men are saved by the righteousness of the law. James had a different object in view. He does not enter upon the consideration of the plan, by which a sinner is justified before God, but sets himself to oppose the improper use which has been made of the doctrine of salvation by grace. It appears that some, misunderstanding what was said concerning faith, had imagined that we are justified by a bare assent to the gospel, or that faith consisted in an orthodox belief. To the carnally minded this was a very acceptable notion, as it followed, that they might hope for eternal life although they continued in sin. Thus they turned the grace of God into lasciviousness. In opposition to a system which was subversive of all religion, the apostle maintains that good works are required from every disciple of Christ; and that nothing was more vain than for men to pretend that they were justified, while their faith was manifestly of such a nature as to leave them in a state of alienation from God. In a word, his design is not to inform a man how he shall obtain the favour of God, but to convince him, that if his faith is barren and dead he is in a state of condemnation, notwithstanding his profession and his hopes.

I remark, in the second place, That Paul and James do not speak of the same faith. Hence, although they ascribe different things to faiih, although by the one it is represented as alone the instrument of our justification, and by the other as ineffectual without works, there is no contradiction in their writings, because they do not refer to the same subject. The faith which, according to Paul, is the instrument of our justification, is a fruit of the Spirit, the faith which is elsewhere termed “the faith of God's elect,” “precious faith,” + wrought in us by the power which raised Jesus Christ from the grave; a living and active principle which purifies the heart and excites to universal obedience. But to the faith of which James speaks, these characters and exercises cannot

* Jamcs ii. 24.

+ Tit. i. 1. 2 Pet. i. 2.

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be ascribed. The reason, indeed, why he affirms that men cannot be saved by it, is, that these properties do not belong'to it. It is a dead faith, a body without the soul, a faith which is exhausted in an empty profession, and which he therefore compares to the inefficient charity which entertains the hungry and naked with compassionate words, but neither feeds nor clothes them. Such being the marked and essential difference between these two kinds of faith, there is no inconsistency in ascribing justification to the one, and denying it to the other. “If one,” says an eminent divine, " affirms that fire will burn, and another denies it, there is no contradiction between them, whilst one intends real fire, and the other only that which is painted.”

The last remark which I shall make, is still more conclusive, namely, that Paul and James do not speak of the same justification. Paul, as we have seen, discusses the important question, How we are justified before God, how we obtain the pardon of our sins, and acceptance? and he assigns these privileges “to grace reigning through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord." The inquiry of James relates to the kind of faith by which we are justified, and to the way in which it is evinced to be genuine. It does not treat of justification before God, but of justification before men. He asks, How other men shall know that we are justified ? and answers, that they will know it by our works. That this is not a gratuitous assumption for the purpose of evading a difficulty, but is the true meaning of justification in the Epistle of James, is evident from the instances to which he appeals. The first is Abraham; concerning whom he says, Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect ? And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.”+ It deserves attention, that, while Abraham is said to have been justified by works, the Scripture is represented as fulfilled which affirms, that faith was imputed unto him for righteousness. These things seem to be contradictory; and they would be so if the apostle were speaking of his justification before God, because it would be attributed to two opposite causes, to works and to faith. But, if we consider him as referring to the justification of Abraham before men, the apparent contradiction will be removed, and this will be the meaning of the passage: “When Abraham believed in God, righteousness was imputed to him, and he was justified. This, however, was a secret transaction, known only to God and to his own conscience. But when he offered Isaac upon the altar, it was manifested to others; for this high act of obedience demonstrated that he was possessed of the living faith, to which the promise of salvation is made.” To confirm this interpretation of the passage, let it be observed, that this justification of Abraham is said to have taken place at the time when he obeyed the command of God, to offer up in sacrifice his only-begotten son. Yet the Scripture declares that, thirty years before, as we learn from the fifteenth chapter of Genesis, he was justified by faith. But men are not twice justified by faith ; and the inference is therefore unavoidable, that this second justification must relate to a different transaction,—his justification before men, the manifestation of the sincerity of his faith, and, consequently, of his acceptance with God; for faith can be shown only by our works. And thus you perceive in what sense his faith was made perfect by works. They did not supply any defect in it, and concur with it to recommend him to the favour of God; but they proved it to be perfect, or to be not a speculative opinion or listless assent, but a full and practical persuasion of the truth. The second instance which he produces, is Rahab : “ Likewise also


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