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FAITH CONSIDERED AS THE INSTRUMENT OF
tion are found in the writings of English divines ; on the one hand, that this great gift of our Lord's passion is vouchsafed to those who are moved by God's grace to claim it, on the other, to those who by the same grace are moved to do their duty. These separate doctrines, justification by faith, and justification by obedience, thus simply stated, are not at all inconsistent with one another; and by religious men, especially if not divines, will be held both at once, or either the one or the other indifferently, as circumstances may determine. Yet, though so compatible in themselves, the case is altogether altered when one or other is made the elementary principle of the gospel system,—when professed exclu- . sively, developed consistently, and accurately carried out to its limits. Then what seemed at first but two modes of stating the same truth, will be found, the one to be the symbol of what goes by the name of Romanism, the other of what is commonly called Protestantism.
It shall be my endeavour in these Lectures to take such a view of Justification, as may approve itself to al
those among us who hold whether the one or the other doctrine in an unsystematic way, yet falls in with neither of them, when they are adopted as the foundation or
leading idea” of a theology. Justification by faith only, thus treated, is an erroneous, and justification by obedience is a defective, view of Christian doctrine. The former is beside, the latter short of, the truth. The former legitimately tends to the creed of the rigid Lutherans who opposed Melanchthon; the latter to that of Vasquez, Caietan, and other extreme writers of the Roman school. That we are absolutely saved by obedience, that is, by what we are, has introduced the proper merit of good works; that we are absolutely saved by faith, or by what Christ is, the notion that good works are not conditions of our salvation.
In this and the following Lecture I propose to set down some chief characteristics of the Lutheran and Roman schemes of justification ; and first, of the Lutheran.
2. The point at which it separates from the doctrine of our Liturgy and Articles is very evident. Our formu
[ Catholics hold that our good works, as proceeding from the grace of the Holy Ghost, cannot be worthless, but have a real and proper value; on the other hand, that the great reward of eternal life is due to them only in consequence of the promise of God. Good works have on this ground a claim on God's faithfulness to His promises, and thereby a claim on His justice, for it would be unjust to promise and not fulfil. The Council of Trent says: “Vita æterna est et tanquam gratia misericorditer promissa, et tanquam merces ex ipsius Dei promissione fideliter reddenda. Again : “Quæ justitia nostra dicitur, illa eadem Dei est, quia à Deo nobis infunditur per Christi meritum.” Sess. vi. cap. 16.]
laries speak of faith as in many ways essential to our justification, but not as the instrument of originally gaining it. This peculiar instrumentality of faith is the Lutheran tenet here to be discussed; and is plainly the consequence of what has been already adverted to, the attaching an exclusive importance to the doctrine of justification by faith only. Those who hold that this doctrine declares only one out of several truths relating to the mode of our justification, even though they express themselves like the strict Lutherans, may really agree with our Church ; but it is far otherwise with those who hold it as comprehending all that is told us about that mode.
This then is peculiarly the Lutheran view, viz. that faith is the proper instrument of justification. That justification is the application of Christ's merits to the individual, or (as it is sometimes expressed) the imparting a saving interest in Him, will not be denied by English divines. Moreover, it will be agreed that His merits are not communicated, or a saving interest secured, except through an instrument divinely appointed. Such an instrument there must be, if man is to take part in the application supposed ; and it must be divinely appointed, since it is to convey what God Himself,
passage in the Homily on the Passion will be explained in Lecture X.
2 Fides non justificat vel meritorie, vel per modum dispositionis, ut volunt Pontificii, sed organice et per modum apprehensionis, quatenus meritum Christi in verbo Evangelii oblatum complectitur.–Gerhard. de Justif. § 153.
3 Beneficia Christi . . . in quorum applicatione modus ac forma justificationis consistit.-Gerhard. de Justif. § 148.
and He alone, dispenses. It is then a means appointed by God and used by man, and is almost necessarily involved in the notion of justification. All parties seem to agree as far as this; but when we go on to inquire what it is which God has made His instrument, then, as I have said, we find ourselves upon the main subject of dispute between ourselves and the strict followers of the German Reformer. Our Church considers it to be the Sacrament of Baptism; they consider it to be Faith.
These two views indeed need not be, and have not always been, opposed to one another. Baptism may be considered the instrument on God's part, Faith on ours; Faith may receive what Baptism conveys. But if the word instrument be taken to mean in the strictest sense the immediate means by which the gift passes from the giver to the receiver, there can be but one instrument; and either Baptism will be considered to convey it (whether conditionally or not, which is a further question), or Faith to seize, or, as it is expressed, to apprehend it-either Faith will become a subordinate means, condition, or qualification, or Baptism a mere sign, pledge, or ratification of a gift which is really independent of it. And this is the alternative in which the question has practically issued at all times.
I am in this Lecture to consider the system of doctrine arising out of the belief that Faith, not Baptism,
i Baptismus ...
est signum regenerationis, per quod, tanquam per instrumentum, recte Baptismum suscipientes, Ecclesiæ inseruntur, etc.-Artic. XXVII.
2 Gerhard. de Justif. SS 64, 153. Vid. Baxter, Life of Faith, iii. 8,