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Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall
enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
This declaration and warning of our Redeemer must suggest reflections so apposite to the subject which has recently occupied our attention, and appears, in particular, to afford so decisive a confirmation of that exposition which has been offered of the doctrine of St. James, that we propose it to your consideration, as a conclusion of the whole argument.
It has become a current observation with a considerable number of sincere Christians, that to urge the necessity of personal holiness or “works” to our justification, is needless and superfluous, as well as dangerous to the
faith of a Christian. Let the sinner, say they, be convinced of his guilt and condemnation by the law, and his need of the redemption unfolded to him in the Gospel ; let him be assured of his interest and participation in its benefits; and a sentiment of gratitude will constrain him to regard the injunctions of his Lord, and to aspire to a resemblance of his example : whereas, by maintaining the necessity of personal holiness to justification, you exhibit salvation as an object of purchase or achievement by man; and thereby encourage an unwarrantable reliance on our own merits or righteousness. Now, how manifest it is that Christians who have adopted, and who circulate this notion of the true scriptural method of instructing inankind in the knowledge of Christianity, must have failed to remark, or must have entirely forgotten, the example of our Lord himself; and that they are, doubtless most unwittingly, and, it may be, with a purpose as pure as their zeal is ardent, inferring a disparagement on His manner of preaching the Gospel, no less than on that of St. James his Apostle.-For did He, we ask, adapt his instructions exclusively to their view of the working of religious principles in the human mind to their view of the effects
which a belief of His own mediation in our behalf is adapted, and may be expected, to produce ? Did he account it sufficient to exhibit the proofs of his Messiahship ; and to apprize those who believed on him of the deliverance which he was about to accomplish for them, by laying down his life as a ransom for the transgressor ? Or did he content, himself with even explaining and inculcating the moral law, as a permanently authoritative rule of life ; or with delivering a number of commands and prohibitions; and take for granted that their gratitude for his voluntary and exceeding humiliation and sufferings on their account would attract, would constrain them to observe and keep them? Did he abstain from a distinct and specific affirmation of the necessity of obeying his precepts, lest those who believed on him might misconceive the nature of that economy which he was about to institute : lest they might disparage the sufficiency of his own work, and arrogate something of the glory of their own salvation ? What, then, was his purpose, or where shall we look for his wisdom, in making the declaration in the text ?-a declaration which did not escape him on a solitary occasion, but was, in substance, repeatedly and emphatically
made ' by him during his wonderful sojourn and most gracious ministry in our world. Why did he, again and again, declare, “ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven ?"- It would not, surely, be alleged that any will eventually enter the kingdom of heaven,* who shall not have been justified, or acquitted before God; or that any of the finally justified will be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. Entering the kingdom of heaven is, unquestionably, the glorious and beatific result of our justification, or the actual and complete fruition of that salvation which is the property of those who are justified. However we may discriminate the specific sense of the term justification, certain it is that any definition of it which should disjoin the fact—not the offer or capacity—the fact of our acquittal from the guilt of sin, from a coexisting certainty of our entering the kingdom of heaven - any definition of it, which should infer the possibility of our being
* It must be manifest from the spirit and drift of the passage, that “the kingdom of heaven” cannot here mean the visible church of Christ merely, or his kingdom as externally constituted in the present state.
actually justified by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ without being admissible into the kingdom of heaven, or of our being admissible into the kingdom of heaven without being justified
-must be, to say the least, a purely arbitrary one, and without foundation in the word of God. When our Saviour declared that none should finally enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who kept his commandments, he virtually declared that none but they should be justified. The opinion, then, that it is superfluous, or detrimental to the purity of our faith, to inculcate the necessity of personal holiness or “works” to our justification; and that these should be expected to flow from the gratitude of the believer, or be regarded as the certain fruit, the necessary consequence of his faith, cannot be preeminently evangelical—cannot be peculiarly conformable to the mind of Christ. On the contrary, it betrays an inattention to his own example, and the wisdom on which it was founded.
That wisdom is immediately intelligible, and above all question. It may be as certainly affirmed of knowledge communicated from God, as of any production of the human intellect, or instrument fashioned by the hand of