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June 30, 1832.
For the Hopkinsian Magazine, PAUL AND JAMES CONSISTENT. [The following, which concludes the essay of Philonomus, was ro ceived in season for our eighth number, but such a disposition had been made of the printer's types, that it could not be set up, without delaying the Magazine, a week.) Remarks upon Romans iii. 28. Therefore we conclude that a man is
justified by faith, without the deeds of the laro; compared with James ii. 24.-We see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
[Concluded from page 393.) The preceding remarks suggest the following REFLECTIONS :
1. What has been advanced on this subject, may teach us to be cautious in charging inconsistency and contradiction to the sacred writers. Some avowedly discard the bible, as of human invention, because, as they say, it is full of contradictions and absurdities. Others, who would by no means incur tho imputation of being infidels, are yet inclined to think, that the sacred writers do, in several instances, contradict themselves, and one another. They find things, which, with such a degree of inquiry and investigation as they feel inclined to make, they are unable to reconcile; and so they hastily conclude that they cannot be reconciled. The following are some of the things in sacred scripture, which persons of the above description are apt to regard as inconsistent. It is taught in scripture, that God is unchangeable ; and yet that he is moved by prayer, and repents, and is grieved. It is taught in scripture, that God is necessarily holy; and yet that he is perfectly free in all his moral exercises. It is taught that all mankind come into the world sinners, in consequence of Adam's fall; and yet that no one is to blame, or will ever be punished for any but his own actual transgressions. It is taught that mon are absolutely dependant upon God for all their moral exercisos; and yot that they are free and accountable in all their moral
conduct. It is taught that God foreknew and determined events from eternity; and yet that men have natural power te do right or wrong, and act freely in fulfilling the divine parposes. It is taught that God chose some of mankind to salra tion, and appointed others to wrath ; and yet that whosoerer will may take of the water of life freely. It is taught that the new heart is produced by the power and special agency of the Holy Spirit ; and yet that it is the duty of all sinners iminediately to make themselves a new heart and a new spirit. And to name no more, it is taught that all true believers in Chris: will infallibly be saved ; and yet that unless they strive to enter in at the straight gate, and give diligence to make their calling and election sure, they will perish.
Things of the above description, are thought and pronounced contradictions, by certain persons. But, if they do ncí lean to infidelity, they lean to their own understandings. Is it not possible that some things may be consistent in therselves, which in their eyes appear contradictory? Is it certain that they have exainined the scriptures with all that attention, care and candor, which are necessary to understand them, and see their consistency? And is it not possible that some things are intelligible, which they do not understand; and that others may see the consistency of certain things, which appear to them contradictory? The apparent contradiction between the passages which have been the subject of this essay, we have seen may be easily and satisfactorily reconciled. And would it not be wise to conclude, that other things in the scriptures which to a superficial observer may appear inconsistent, will also admit of reconciliation ? It becomes us, “who are of yesterday and know nothing," to approach the inspired word with cautious steps, and to take heed how we examine, compare and understand, lest we should charge God foolishly. If there be an inconsistency, it is in us, and not in the scrip: tures of truth. We are not bound to receive contradictions; nor are we at liberty to see contradictions where there are
As the bible comes to us attested by the finger of God, we should presume that it contains a harmonious as well as a complete system of truth and duty. And if we are unable at present to understand, comprehend and reconcile some things, we should distrust our own understandings and hearts, rather than the infallibility of divine revelation, and ask for light and wisdom of Him who giveth to all liberally.
2. The preceding observations show the vanity of all endeavors made by mankind to recommend themselves to the fa. vor of God by their own works. It is natural for mankind to endeavor to justify themselves on the ground of their own doings. Men are naturally very self-righteous and self-sufficient. Every one, who troubles himself at all about religion, “ goes about to establish his own righteousness.” And the reason is they do not see the “plague of their own hearts," and the nature, extent and spirituality of the divine law. Like Saul, they are alive without the law. This is the native character of men; and it is well if it is not the character of some, who, hope they have been the subjects of grace. If there are any, who think that it would not be just in God, notwithstanding all their doings, to cast them off forever, they are seeking justification by the deeds of the law. If there are any that
suppose themselves more deserving of pardon than the vilest sinner upon earth, they are seeking justification by the deeds of the law. If there are any who imagine they can lay God under the least obligation to bestow upon them his saving grace, they are seeking justification by the deeds of the law. But how vain must be all attempts to seek justification in this way? For,
First, All have sinned and stand condemned by the law as transgressors.
Secondly, Nothing done by men can ever make atonement for their past transgressions, for they can never do more than their present duty. And,
Thirdly, Works done with a view to satisfy the justice of God or to gain his favor, are selfish works, such as the divine law condemns, and instead of pleasing God, offend him. The only works'approved and accepted of God, are such as flow from that disinterested, holy love, which his law requires.Those who seek justification by the deeds of the law, never do any thing but transgress the law.
3. This subject shows why so much stress is laid, in the New Testament upon believing. Christ and his apostles speak much of faith. They minutely describe its nature and effects. They are very urgent in persuading, men to believe, and use the most alarming expressions in setting before them the danger of unbelief. The reason is obvious: Faith is the grand condition of justification. Though faith in Christ has nothing in it meritorious, since it is but the duty and reasonable service of all who hear and understand the gospel, and “he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the son of God;" yet faith which worketh by love, that exercise of mind which receives the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, which includes repentance and reconciliatios to God, and to which, therefore, God is graciously pleased te make the promise of pardon. Since faith is thus the appointed condition of pardon and acceptance with God, surely too much stress cannot be laid upon it. Well might the Apostle call is precious faith. It deeply concerns us to be well acquainted with the nature, properties and fruits of that true and living faith which unites the soul to Christ, and makcs it a partaker of his saving benefits. A mistake here may prove fatal. Let as da over so much in religion, we are nothing without that faith which worketh by love, and assimilates the heart to God.
4. It appears in view of what has been advanced, that unregenerate sinners never do any works, in the sense either of Paul or James. By works, Paul understands, the “deeda of the law"-such deeds as the law requires. The law of God requires such deeds, and such only, as flow from pure, disinterested love. All that the law requires is summed up by our Saviour in these two precepts. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself." The Divine law requires nothing but love, and those actions.which palurally flow from it. The deeds of the law, therefore, are such deeds as low from true love, or holy exercise of heart. And these are precisely the same with James' Works. Those deeds which James calls works, are expressions of true charity, towards our neighbor. They are such deeds as never flow from a dead faith. But a dead faith, or mere speculative belief, may produce all kinds of works, except those which now from true love. Again, by works, James means such deeds as are the er. idences of a living faith, or that faith which works by love.Here he says, “I will show thee my faith by any works." But no works except those which proceed from true love, are any evidence that one has true faith. James, then, means the same by works, that Paul does. Works, in the sense of both these Apostles, are such deeds as the Divine law requires, such deeds as flow from true love, or charity, or disinterested benerolence; they are holy actions, such as an enlightened conscience approves, and God himself will not condemn. But it is evident that unregenerate sinners never do such deeds as these. They never aet from Holy love, for there is never any holy love in
"heir hearts. They are utter strangers to disinterested love, and act merely from selfishness in all they do. « The hearts of " he sons of men is full of evil. "All seek their own, not the
hings of Jesus Christ. They are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” The unregenerate, therefore, never do azany good works. Their actions are all sivful. They, and they sonly, who have that faith which works by love, do good works, and those have all been born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Those who place all their dependence on their own works, never do any: while those, who renounce their own works and place all their de- , pendence upon the atonement of Christ, do works pleasing to God.
5. Those who hope that they are true believers in Christ, while they live in the neglect of good works, deceive themselves. There ever have been such, in all periods of the Christian church. It is apprehended that this is a numerous class, at the present day. They imagine they have been converted, and shall be justified by faith in Christ; while they live in the neglect of known duty, and in the commission of known sin. Do not some build a hope of heaven upon their supposed faith, who indulge the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life? Do not some imagine themselves believers, who conform, in all things, to the maxims and manners of an ungodly world? Do not some think themselves possessed of precious faith, who break the Sabbath, neglect prayer, and absent themselves from the worship of God? Do not some consider themselves believers, who are dishonest in their dealings; who injure the truth, and are unkind to the poor and distressed? And do not some dare to build a hope on their faith, who find no heart to do any thing to spread the gospel in the world, and save the souls of their fellow men !
All such persons stand condemned by the Apostle James. They do not show their faith by their works. Their faith is dead, “ being alone ;' i. e., without good works. Through their speculative faith, they “make void the law." They are Antinomians. Their supposed conversion was all a delusion. Their religious exercises have been all spurious. They must be born again, or die in their sins. “ If,” says Paul, “ while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin ! God forbid."
It should be engraven on our minds as with the point of a