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gives us a title to salvation; and whence it is that this repentance and new obedience flows, by which we are qualified to partake of saving benefits. The Scriptures assure us, that this is the righteousness of Christ received by faith; and what you now offer, is no ways inconsistent with the many declarations of this kind, throughout the whole word of God. If it were granted that whatever are the requisites in them that shall be saved, and whatever qualifications have the promise of pardon and salvation annexed to them, are the conditions of our justification, it would then follow, that perseverance is a condition of our justifi. cation; and consequently, all dispute about being justified in this present life is at an end, as I have observed before. For the benefit is suspended, till the condition on which it depends is accomplished. Besides, I think, all men allow, that if repentance be the fruit and consequence of our justification, it cannot be the condition of it. There can be nothing more preposterous, than to suppose an effect to be a condition of the cause producing it.
And the Scriptures assure us, that repentance is the fruit and consequence of our justification. Thus is it particularly represented to us, Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 28, 31. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put
and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings which were not good; and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and for your abominations.” Thus, likewise, Zech. xii. 10. " And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications; and they
shall look upon me whom they have pierced ; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son; and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born." In which texts you see, there is first a new heart and a new spirit; they are first in a justified state, they are God's people, and he is their God; they are first renewed, and have a spirit of grace and supplication; they have first the exercise of faith; " they look upon him whom they have pierced:” and then follows their repentance, as an immediate and necessary consequence of their regenerate, justified state. This truth is most evident, not only from the scripture representation of this matter, but also from the nature of a true and sincere repentance. We must be united to Christ, and have a principle of life, before we can perform vital actions. We must have the dispositions of our souls renewed, before we can hate sin, and heartily mourn after a deliverance from what is naturally, pleasant and delightful to us. We must first have faith in Christ's blood, before we can repair to it for cleansing from pollution and guilt. We must first have a principle of love to holiness, before we can live a life of new obedience. The legal terrors, resolutions, and endeavours, which precede our justification, are very far short of a true repentance, and therefore can have no promise of pardon or salvation made to them. It is therefore evident, that though an evangelical repentance does immediately succeed (and in its beginnings is even contemporary with) a true justifying faith; yet it is, in order of nature, an effect and fruit of it, and consequently, cannot be the condition of our justification,
And now I proceed to the consideration of your last argument, for the vindication of these principles. “ It seems (you say) that our obedience must be the condition of our justification, because the process of the final judgment will be put upon that issue, and every man will be judged in that awful day according to his works."
To which I answer, that I can see no manner of consequence in this reasoning, because God, of his infinite grace and bounty, will be pleased to reward the obedience of believers at the eternal judgment, that therefore our obedience is the condition of our present justification. You yourself, Sir, have been so good to the young gentleman, your sister's son, , as to take him out of prison, to pay his debts, to adopt him into your family, to call him by your own name, and to treat him as your own child; and I am told that you intend to reward his dutifulness to you, by giving him the preference to your daughters, and by making him the heir of your solid estate. If it should be so, would it from thence appear, that bis dutiful behaviour was the condition of your taking him out of prison, and adopting him into your family? No, Sir; you know that this was an act of mere compassion and kindness. Apply this to the case
will see the fate of your argument. You are, besides, to consider, that it is no where said in Scripture, that we are, at the last day, to be rewarded for good works, but according to them. The reward which believers shall receive, will be a reward of mere grace; and will, of God's infinite goodness, be proportioned to, but not merited by, their obedience. Let it also be considered, in
not influence a man's life and actions, is evidently dead; a dead thing in itself, argues a dead soul, and is dead as to the purposes and offices of Gospel faith. We must therefore understand all the arguments here used to refer to this point only. They are all brought to prove, that faith which is without (or severed from) works, is dead; and that therefore there is a necessity of works to justify our faith, or to make it manifest that it is not a dead faith. Were justification here taken in the other sense, his arguments would not only be utterly inconclusive, but his reasoning quite foreign to his subject, which may not be supposed ; and therefore it necessarily is the justification of our faith, or Christian profession, and not of our persons, which the apostle James is here treating of.
This is also evident from every one of the arguments used by the Apostle in this context. Every one of them will bring out the conclusion now mentioned; but neither of them separately considered, nor all of them connected, have any appearance of an argument in proof of our personal justification (or our persons being made righteous) before God, by our good works.
The first argument seems but ironically proposed. “ Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works,” verse 18. As if he should have said, . Have you indeed faith without works! I pray,
faith without works, if you can.
For my part, I know of no such way of manifesting the truth of faith; I resolve to take a contrary method ; and “ will show you my
show me your
faith,” will evidence the sincerity of it, and justify my profession of faith “ by my works.” Here the argument is very clear and full, in favour of the interpretation I am pleading for. And here we have an index, to point out the meaning of the word justification, in the subsequent discourse.
It cannot import more than a manifestative justification. Indeed it signifies the same thing with showing our faith, or evidencing the truth of our profession, and so of our justified state. But now let us see how this argument will conclude for the other side of the question. The argument ought to be thus stated : Our faith must be shown and manifested by our works: therefore our good works will justify our persons before God, and render us righteous and acceptable in his sight. I think every body will own, that the Spirit of God does not reason at that rate; and, therefore, that justification before God, which is the sinner's relief against the challenges of his law and justice, cannot be the subject here treated of.
The second argument here used is, that a fruitless and inoperative faith, though it be good as far as it goes, yet is no other than what the devils have; he is therefore a vain man who depends upon acceptance with God by such a dead faith.
66 Thou believest there is one God; thou dost well; the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man ! that faith without works is dead," ver. 19, 20. Here the Apostle expressly shows us what it is he had undertaken to prove:* which is, that a bare, fruitless, historical faith cannot save us, because it is common to the