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consistently with St. Paul's words to the Ephesians, as thus interpreted.
The third chapter of the Galatians is another scripture which has been much relied upon on the other side of the question. To the apparent difficulties arising out of this chapter, I should be inclined to apply a somewhat different solution from that which we last gave. I think that in this chapter the term faith means a productive faith; and I think also, that the works of the law mean circumcision and the other rites of the Jewish law. As to the first point, St. Paul, in the ninth verse of this chapter, says, "They which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." Now common sense obliges us to suppose, that the faith of those concerning whom he says, "they that be of faith," was of like kind with the faith of Abraham, so that they might partake of the blessing along with him; but St. James, you know, hath asserted, and shown indeed, that the faith of Abraham was faith efficacious to the production of good works. Then, as to the second point, the works of the law, of which St. Paul appears in this epistle to lower the value, are explained by him in the ninth and tenth verses of the fourth chapter, and so explained, as to show that they were ritual works which he was thinking of: "But now after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
Ye observe days and months, and times and years." The truth was, that in St. Paul's absence, his Galatian converts had been going fast into Judaism, which he considered as an undoing of every thing which he had done amongst them; and which conduct of theirs drew from him some very strong expressions; yet none, I think, but what may be fairly understood without supposing him to dispense with the necessity of a virtuous conduct.
Justification is properly distinguished from sanctification. Justification, in the scripture sense of it, is the pardon of sins, prior to a certain period: sanctification is holiness of life subsequent to that period; or more strictly speaking, these words express what God does for us in these different stages of our Christian life. Justification is altogether his, because pardon is by its very nature the subject of favour. Sanctification, to say the least of it, is indebted to the support and assistance of his spirit. There is, therefore, an intelligible difference between justification and sanctification, and this is included in the term: for, as it respects us, it would be called sanctity; as it respects God's assistance, it is called sanctification. But, as hath been said before, they are both necessary. A man may be justified, that is, may have his sins forgiven up to a certain period; yet if he be not also sanctified, if, after that period, he relapse into and go on in unrepented wickedness, he will perish notwithstanding his justification. On the other hand, sanctification itself would not avail,
without having a preceding justification to rest upon. Good behaviour, from a certain period, has not in itself any proper virtue or quality such as to atone for bad behaviour before that period. By the grace of God it hath this effect, but not by its proper nature, any more than the regular paying off of our debts, after a certain period, will discharge or cancel those which were contracted before that period. Wherefore there must be a remission of prior sins, or in other words, justification, in order that a subsequent good life, or sanctity, or sanctification, may avail us at the last.
It may be true, that, according to this representation, the terms justification, faith, and works of the law are not every where used in scripture in exactly the same sense. Thus, although justification be generally used to express the pardon of sins that are passed, with a reference to some certain period, commonly that of their becoming believers in Christ, yet one or two passages are found, in which the word denotes our final destiny at the day of judgement. This, I think, is the sense of the word in that text of St. Paul, wherein he declares that not the hearers of the law, but the doers of the law, are justified; and most unquestionably it bears this sense in that discourse of our Saviour, in which he tells his hearers, "by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned:" for this declaration is equivalent to another, which our Saviour delivers at the same time, namely, that
for every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgement. So again, although in the texts which have been quoted from the epistle to the Galatians, it appears highly probable that, under the word faith, St. Paul had in contemplation an efficacious faith; and that by the works of the law he meant particularly the rites and ordinances of the Jewish law, the view with which he wrote that epistle naturally and necessarily suggesting these ideas to his thoughts; yet in the epistle to the Romans, penned with a somewhat different aspect, and under a different impression, especially in that famous text, "Therefore we conclude that man is justified by faith without the works of the law," I think he meant by faith, the simple act of believing, and by the works of the law, the practice of those duties which are enjoined by its precepts, moral as well as ritual; and that the true interpretation of the text turns upon the word justification, which does not here signify finding acceptance, but the pardon of all sins committed before conversion. Therefore, there is some latitude to be allowed in the exposition of these terms as they occur in different places.
It may be also further true, that some passages of St. Paul's epistles are not according to the interpretation which we have put upon them, so applicable to us (or as some may think, so useful, or instructive, or affecting) as they are under a different exposition. Is it to be wondered at, that portions
of ancient writings are not in all points, and in all their expressions, so applicable to us at this day, as they were to the persons to whom they were immediately addressed? Is it not true rather, that this is no more than the necessary consequence of those changes which have taken place in the circumstances of Christian life? But we are not to put a different sense upon words from that which was intended, in order to make them more closely applicable to our own case: or to make them, as we may suppose, more edifying; for there is no real edification separate from truth. That great revolution which had taken place in the lives of the Christians of Saint Paul's time, upon their becoming Christians at a ripe age, together with the almost entire change both of opinions and of conduct, which accompanied that event, does not take place in the ordinary life of a Chris tian at this day; whereby it comes to pass, that such of Saint Paul's expressions as refer particularly to that change will not admit of the same proper application to us as it did to them. This, no doubt, constitutes a considerable difference; and without having some regard to this difference, we may fall into error in interpreting divers passages of scripture.
Nevertheless, we are not to dismiss every text which we cannot at first sight explain, with the short answer, that it relates to the first Christians, and not to us. This is a negligent and unworthy way of treating subjects of such deep importance,-it often proceeds from rashness, or indolence, or reli