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Whether the foreknowledge of the Deity be consistent with our freedom, we do not know. One is a matter of remote, uncertain speculation, on a subject confessedly beyond our faculties. The other is a matter of intimate, continual, and certain consciousness. And if it be not true, all religious inquiries and speculations are equally vain and unprofitable.
JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH AND WORKS.
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not
faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works dead also.”—James, ii. 14—26.
The comparative agency of faith and works in the justification of man, is thus expressed in the eleventh Article of the Creed of the Church of England. "We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith; and not for our own deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only, is a
most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the homily of justification."
The Westminster Confession and Catechisms are more elaborate in their enunciation of this doctrine. “Those,” say they, “whom God effectually calleth, he freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous, not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone, not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God. Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification. Faith justifies the sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it; nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof were imputed to him for his justification, but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.”
You perceive at once, a wide discrepancy, if not a plain contradiction, between the doctrine of justi. fication as stated in the Creeds and Catechisms, and as stated by the apostle James. The Creeds say,
that “men are justified by God not for any thing wrought in them or done by them, nor any other act of evangelical obedience flowing from faith, nor yet by the merit of faith itself, but for Christ's sake alone." James declares on the other hand, that a man is justified both by faith and works. "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Now we ask, which is most entitled to credit, the apostle, or the Creeds and Catechisms? Both cannot be true. He who adheres to the Creeds' must abandon the Bible.
Before, however, we compare the Creeds with the Scriptures, we shall examine their doctrine respecting the efficacy and office of faith, as to its intrinsic reasonableness, probability and consistency. We say in the first place, that the doctrine of justification by faith alone, or the infinite preciousness of faith, and the worthlessness of works, is inconsistent with itself. It is admitted on all hands, that faith without works is dead, and standing alone is unprofitable. If it produce good works, then it is valuable. But if good works are of no value, how can faith be more valuable for producing that which is worthless? Is not action or inaction entirely indifferent, when that which action gains, is of no use, after we have obtained it? Of what consequence is it whether a man be living or dead, if what he does while he lives be of no avail; if what it is possible for him to obtain, have no power to satisfy his hunger, or clothe his body, or shelter him from the storm? What is a cause good for, if
the effect it produces be of no value? What is the seed worth, if the fruit be worth nothing? Is there any difference in value between a tree which bears no fruit at all, and that which bears a fruit, which lies useless and untouched by man or beast?
It seems to my mind to be a great inconsistency, and to approach very near a contradiction, to say that faith without works is without value, and when good works accompany it, it is valuable, and still to affirm that those good works which give it all its value are worthless themselves. Certainly they are valuable for this very purpose of giving value to faith. Take away the works, and the faith will be without value. How can it be said then that works are not valuable? If faith be not acceptable without works, and is with them, then to a demonstration it is the works which render the faith acceptable. If a man cannot be accepted for faith without works, or, to use the technical language of theologians, his faith is not acceptable saving faith, unless it be accompanied by works, and is accepted for faith with the addition of works, is it not plain that the works are in fact, however you may disguise the matter in words, the ground of his acceptance? With the works his faith is acceptable, without them it is not. It is all a mere quibble upon words to say that a man's faith is acceptable when his works are good, and still to deny that he is accepted on account of his good works. For according to this hypothesis it depends on the man's works at last, whether he is accepted