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faith alone." It being so very plain, in what respect he was justified by works, when he offered up his son Isaac. Only turn back to the twenty-second Chapter of Genesis, and there you may read the whole story, and you cannot be at a loss. And it came to pass after these things, i. e. fifty years after Abram had been in a justified state, (Heb. xi. 8.) that God did tempt, (i. e. try,) Abraham. Take now thy son, thine ONLY SON ISAAC, whom thou LOVEST, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer HIM there for a BURNT-OFFERING, Abraham, whose love to God was supreme, readily obeyed. Now follows his justification, in these very words; ver. 12. NOW I KNOW THAT THOU FEAREST GOD, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine ONLY SON. And indeed this was sufficient proof that he did fear God. And thus he showed his faith, which he had had about 50 years, by his works. And now he might with peculiar propriety be called the friend of God. And in this same sense all true believers are justified by works; i. e. by external visible acts of obedience, under great trials, it becomes manifest that they do fear God: while stony ground hearers at the same time fall away. All which has not the least show of inconsistency with our being justified by faith without works, in the sense, and according to the language of St. Paul.
THIRDLY. And if the whole bible does constantly declare, "that none but good men shall ever be saved;" so does St. Paul too. But this does not prove "that they are saved by their goodness."
FOURTHLY. Yea, it is constantly maintained by St. Paul, and by all the apostles, "that perseverance in all holy living through all the great trials they may meet with, is absolutely necessary to an admittance into heaven at last. Compare Rev. ii. 7. 11. 17. 26. and Chap. iii. 5. 12. 21. with Rev. xxi. 7. and Chap. xxii. 14. Yea, St. Paul, speaking to true believers, says, if ye live after the flesh ye shall die P. But this does not prove that they are justified, or saved by this their goodness. Yea, notwithstanding all this, and in a perfect consistence with all this, it remains true, that we are saved by
grace, through faith, not of works 9. But how? Why, thus the difficulty may be easily solved. We are all the children of God, by faith in Jesus Christ *. And if children, then heirs ; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, to the heavenly inheritance. And if our actual enjoyment of the heavenly, inheritance is suspended, upon our being the followers of God, as dear children, this is but a proper test to determine our character. For some, who profess to be children of God, fall away, like the stony-ground-hearers, who indeed never had any root in themselves, when a time of trial comes". Now, if we persevere through all trials, it proves our sincerity; and demonstrates, that we were not merely the children of God in name, but in truth. And shows that we did really believe in Christ, not with a dead, but with a true and living faith. Thus Abraham, in this sense, was justified by his works. And thus, in this sense, they that do the commandments, have right to the tree of life. For NOW I KNOW THAT THOU FEAREST GOD. Now I KNOW thou art a TRUE CHILD of God becomes applicable to such. And if children, then heirs, according to the tenour of the new cove
Yea, I may add that, to persevere in all holy living, is but to show the heart, and act up to the character of a true child of God. It is, in effect, but to maintain the temper of a child. And this is but the same thing, viewed in another point of light, with that faith whereby we become children. For justifying faith implies in it every filial grace, as we shall afterwards see. So that perseverance in all holy living, is implied in our perseverance in faith. But it is necessary we should persevere in faith, in order to our final admittance into heaven, for the same reason, that it was necessary that we should be first united to Christ by faith, in order to our being interested in him. Let the marriage union be dissolved between the husband and the wife, and the woman has no longer any right in the man's estate. It is necessary that they continue united, in marriage, that she may have right to his estate. So, it is necessary that we continue in Christ, that we may
s Rom. viii. 17.
9 Eph. ii. 8, 9. t Eph. v. i. VOL. III.
r Gal. iii. 26. 29.
u Matt. xiii. 20. 21...
remain the children of God through him; that being children, we may be heirs, and so have right to the tree of life. But to prevent misunderstandings, it is needful to observe the contents of the next inference, which, now at length I proceed unto.
2. From what has been said, we may learn, "that although we are justified by faith, yet we are not justified for faith." That is, our faith, considered as something holy, virtuous, and good in us, is not that which recommends us to God, in whole, or in part. Nor has it, viewed in this point of light, any hand in our justification.-For,
The true believer, considered as in himself, without any relation to Christ, does, in strict justice, deserve damnation after he believes, as much as he did before. The act of faith makes no amends for his past sins; none at all. The account stands just as it did. Only, as he falls short of sinless perfection every moment; so every moment he merits damnation afresh; according to law: a law holy, just, and good. And indeed, it must in reason be so. For if we should perfectly devote ourselves to God in heart and life for the time to come, we should but give God his just due; for we are his, wholly his. But doing our duty for the future, cannot make up for past neglects, any more than our paying the debts we may contract for the time to come, will satisfy for debts contracted in time past. Besides, our sins are infinite evils: but our virtues are of finite worth: but finite put in balance to infinite is nothing. For when it is substracted, the remainder is still infinite. Therefore only the mere defects, attending our best services, our highest exercises of grace, in this imperfect state, merit eternal damnation. Nor does all the grace and goodness in us make the least amends. So that the believer, in his purest and highest act of faith, considered as in himself, without any relation to Christ, merits eternal damnation, instead of justification to eternal life.
Or, if we leave speculation, and come to experience, still the point before us appears to be true. "For the believer
John xv. 6.
y If the reader would see this subject thoroughly discussed, let him read Mr. Edwards' sermon on Justification by Faith alone.
feels that hell is his proper due, that very moment he exercises faith in Christ." For why else does he apply to the atonement of Christ? For if he does not deserve to go to hell, he does not need the sacrifice of Christ to save him from hell. His looking to Christ by faith, to be saved from hell, supposes he feels hell to be his proper due. Else, it is a mere mockery.
But it is plain from Moses, and from St. Paul, "that no goodness short of sinless perfection can entitle us to the favour of God." Faith, as it is our virtue, cannot do it any more than repentance, or sincere obedience. For nothing short of sinless perfection can do it. But faith is not sinless perfection. Therefore we cannot be justified on the account of our faith. In a word, St. Paul's reasonings do as effectually prove that faith cannot justify us in this sense, as that works cannot. And indeed, faith viewed in this light, is as much a work, as any other Christian grace whatsoever, or as any external act of obedience a man can do. And he that depends upon his faith to recommend him to God, depends upon his own righteousness, as much as the Galatians did. He is in the same scheme, only a little refined. There is no essential difference. The Galatians trusted in their own righteousness. So do these. The Galatians nevertheless hoped and expected that Christ would be of some effect to them, and profit them some. And so do these. The Galatians had never had the law sufficiently set home upon their hearts. So it is with these. The only difference is, that the Galatians seem to have trusted chiefly in their external religious performances; and these trust chiefly in the internal religious frame of their hearts. But as there was nothing of the nature of true virtue in the duties of the self-righteous Galatians; so there is nothing of the nature of true faith, in the faith of these self-righteous believers. It being as inconsistent with the nature of faith in Christ, for a man to make a righteousness of his faith, as it is to make a righteousness of any thing else.
If it should be inquired, " in what sense then are we justified by faith?" I answer-When the Jew brought a bullock for a sin-offering, and presented it before the Lord, and
laid his hands on the head of it, that it might die in his stead, and make an atonement for his sin, that it might be forgiven; if he acted understandingly, and uprightly, it implied an hearty approbation of the law; which he could not have, without a supreme love to God; which would naturally lay the foundation for repentance and sincere obedience. Yet it was not that approbation of the law, nor that love to God, nor that repentance, nor that sincere obedience, nor his bringing the bullock, nor his laying his hands on his head, which was to make atonement for his sin; but the blood of the bullock; according to the constant language of the law of Moses. So, although true faith in Christ implies an hearty approbation of the law, which cannot be without a supreme love to God, which will naturally lay a foundation. for repentance and sincere obedience; yet, it is not this hearty approbation of the law, nor this supreme love to God, nor this repentance, nor this sincere obedience, no, nor the act of faith itself, that makes atonement for sin; but only the blood of Christ; according to the constant language of the New Testament. Nor are any of these, therefore, to be depended upon; but only Jesus Christ. Nor can faith do any thing towards justifying us, unless as it UNITES us to Christ. For in the very act of faith, all pretences to the divine favour on our own account, are given up; and hell is owned to be our due. And we look only to the merits and atonement of Christ leave all other refuges, and fly hither: are divorced from the law, and married to Christ; according to the language of St. Paul. And the married wife, we know, is interested in her husband's estate. For they two are become one flesh a. They are one in law. And in consequence of this relation, this union, or oneness, she is interested in all his riches and honour; even if he is a prince, and she before but a poor, despised maid. And this marriage union, St. Paul considers, as resembling the union between Christ and believers, and dwells upon it at large, in Eph. v. 23—32. And as the husband pays his wife's debts; so Christ gave himself for his Church, to pay the ten thousand talents she owed, and to redeem her to himself, to be his wife. To be a Eph. v. 31.
z Rom. vii.