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THE SCRIPTURAL VIEW OF FAITH.
find more of holiness in faith than is necessarily involved in this admission ? If we are justified solely on the ground of the perfect work of Christ, there is nothing to prevent the justification of all men, without a single thought or act on their part, but the rectoral character and relation of Jehovah, which renders it necessary that some rule of justification should be enacted, that the justice of the Divine Being may be rendered apparent by his bestowing it upon those, and those only, who comply with that rule. Now, it is manifest that any requisition (and it must be a requisition on account of the rectoral character of God) would secure this object; it might be love, for instance: an individual might have been commanded to love Christ in order to his obtaining that interest in him which is essential in all cases to a person's being treated as if he were righteous for the sake of him. But to have required love, as the medium of interest, would have made it appear as if justification had been by works, if it had not overthrown the doctrine of gratuitous justification altogether. Since, therefore, the requisition of love, which is manifestly a work of the law—a fulfilling of the law is not necessary, it is not made the medium of interest. Something, on the contrary, which is an act of subjection to Divine authority, but which, according to the common consent of men, cannot be confounded with the fulfilling of the law, namely, faith, is constituted that medium; and thus regard is had to the character of God as the moral Governor,-justification manifestly appears to be by grace, and the interests of holiness, as we shall presently see, are perfectly secured. Now, if any act of obedience might have been made the medium of interest in Christ, the question returns again upon us, why should we be solicitous to discover any thing more of holiness in faith than must of necessity be included in every act of obedience ? How difficult is it to avoid the suspicion that those who discover this solicitude have not the clearest conceptions of the grounds of justification.
There are some expressions in Dr. Dwight's Sermon on Justification which seem to me to intimate that he has felt the injurious influence of his own views of the nature of faith. In
INCAUTIOUS LANGUAGE OF DWIGHT.
encountering the false position, that man is absolutely passive in believing, he argues that, if this were the case, faith, so far from being praiseworthy, amiable, and capable of recommending us to God, would merit and sustain no moral character at all. He proceeds, “ According to this scheme, therefore, faith and unbelief being equally and absolutely involuntary and unavoidable, can never constitute a moral distinction between men. Faith can never be an object of the approbation, nor unbelief of the disapprobation, of God. Much less can we be praiseworthy in believing, or blameable in disbelieving. Still less can we on one of these grounds be rewarded, and on the other punished. Least of all can we on account of our faith be accepted and blessed for ever; and, in consequence of our unbelief, be rejected and punished with endless misery.” (Sermon 67.) Now, it is freely admitted that many of these remarks are correct, and perhaps it might not be impossible so to explain the whole of them, as to purge them of any material error in regard to doctrine. Yet I do not like the phraseology that "faith recommends us to God; that it is the ground on which we are rewarded by him; that in consequence of our faith we are accepted and blessed for ever.” Nor can I approve of the statements which he afterwards makes, “that it is honourable to God to annex justification to virtue, and not to any thing of a different nature-to that attribute which is the sum of virtuous obedience." The entire language would appear to intimate that the Doctor attaches more influence to the moral excellence of faith in procuring our justification than he is himself aware of. The proper view of the matter seems to be, not that faith must be holy to procure justification, but to be an act of obedience to Divine authority; since God never commands any thing which is not spiritually good. As an act of obedience only can it become a medium of interest in Christ; since the rewards of God's moral government are given according to the rule of that
government, though not for the sake of compliance with the rule. It might justify without holiness, if it could be obedience without it. This is not, however, the case. At the same time as justification is appointed “to be by faith,"
STATEMENTS OF WARDLAW.
that is, instrumentally, “ that it might be by grace,” it seems necessary not to include more of moral excellence in its nature than is essentially and necessarily involved in every act of obedience to the Divine commands.
• • Wherefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace.' Its being by grace is essential to the very nature of the gospel : and its being by faith is represented as securing this essential point. There is a perfect contrariety between grace and works; but there is a perfect, and simple, and beautiful harmony between grace and faith. Justification is by the latter, that it may be by the former. This is fully brought out in Paul's reasoning, (Rom. iv. 1–8,) What shall we then say that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? 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 unto 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.'— It is impossible that words should more distinctly express the difference between two things and it is obvious, that the simpler the conception is which we have of faith or believing, the more fully and clearly will the meaning and the justness appear of the apostle's proposition in verse 14— It is of faith, that it might be by grace.” Our believing the Divine testimony is the simple medium, appointed by God, of our interest in Him whom that testimony makes known as The Lord our righteousness.'” (Wardlaw's Essays on Assurance, &c., pp. 47, 48.)
Thirdly, Faith secures justification, in the opinion of many writers of great eminence, by bringing the sinner into a state of union to the Lord Jesus Christ, which union constitutes the basis on which God treats him as if he were
FULLER AND EDWARDS's views
actually righteous. “We need not;" says Mr. Fuller, "reduce faith to an exercise of the intellectual faculty in which there is nothing holy; but whatever holiness there is in it, it is not this, but the obedience of Christ, that constitutes our justifying righteousness. Whatever other properties the magnet may possess, it is as pointing invariably to the north that it guides the mariner; and whatever other properties faith may possess, it is as receiving Christ, and bringing us into union with him, that it justifies. In order to be interested in justification, and other blessings arising from the obedience and death of Christ, we must first be interested in Christ himself; for it is as having the Son that we have everlasting life. The benefits of Christ's obedience unto death require to be received in that same order in which they were given. As God first gives Him, so we must first receive him, and with him all things freely. Many would wish for the benefits o Christ's death, who yet have no desire after Christ. Like hin that was nearest of kin to the family of Elimelech, they would, on various accounts, be pleased with the inheritance; but when it is understood that, in order to possess it, they must take him with all that pertains to him, and that this would mar their present inheritance, they give it up."
“ Thus it is that justification is ascribed to faith, because it is that by which we receive Christ; and thus it is by faith only, and not by any other grace. “ Thus it stands connected in the Scriptures with union with Christ: Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness,' &c. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.' That I may be found in him, not having mine own righteousness,' &c. From these and other passages we perceive that faith justifies not in a way of merit, not on account of any thing in itself, be it what it may, but as uniting to Christ. It is that which the act of marriage is on the part of a female ; by it she becomes one with her husband, and (whatever might be her former property) legally interested in all that he possesses. Having him, she has all that is his. Thus it is, that Christ being heir of all things, believers in him become heirs of God, not in their
OF THE CONNEXION BETWEEN FAITH AND JUSTIFICATION. 313
own right, but as joint-heirs with him. And as, in a marriage union, the wealth which an indigent female might derive from the opulence of her husband, would not be in reward of having received him, so neither is justification the reward of faith, but of the righteousness which is of God, i.e., the righteousness of Christ by faith."
“Great things are ascribed to faith in a way of healing. Many of the miraculous cures performed by our Lord are ascribed to the faith of the parties. The virtue, however, proceeded not from faith, but from him. It is the same in justification. By faith we receive the benefit, but the benefit arises not from faith, but from Christ. Hence the same thing which is ascribed in some places to faith, is in others ascribed to the obedience, death, and resurrection of Christ." (Works, vol. vii., pp. 414-416.
To the same effect are the statements of Jonathan Edwards. “ When it is said that we are not justified by any righteousof our own,
what is meant is, that it is not out of respect to the excellency of any qualification or acts in us whatever, that God judges it meet that this benefit of Christ should be ours; and it is not, in anywise, on account of any excellency or value that there is in faith that it appears in the sight of God a meet thing, that he who believes should have the benefit of Christ assigned to him ; but purely from the relation which faith has to the person in whom this benefit is to be had, or as it unites to that Mediator in and by whom we are justified.” “Here, for the greater clearness, I would particularly explain myself under several propositions.
“1st. It is certain that there is some union or relation that the people of Christ stand in to him, that is expressed is Scripture, from time to time, byóbeing in Christ,' and is represented in Scripture by those metaphors of being members of Christ, or being united to him as members to the head, and branches to the stock, and is compared to a marriage union between husband and wife.” Having stated that it is not necessary to explain this union, he adds, “ I do not desire to determine more about it than all, of all sects, will readily allow; viz., that there is a peculiar relation between true Christians