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things to come, and that they had been fully accomplished in the birth, life, and death of the Messiah. Under these mistaken impressions, they insisted that all the Gentile converts should submit to circumcision, and the other ceremonial customs prescribed by the law of Moses ; thus blending the Jewish and Christian religions, and making the latter only a modification of the former. It was to counteract this erroneous doctrine that St. Paul was writing, when he declared, “a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law;" and again, that “a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ." Can we imagine that the Apostle intended by these words to assert, that faith in the Gospel, without obedience to its precepts, would aught avail us in the sight of God? How can we reconcile such an opinion with the whole tenor of St. Paul's writings, which uniformly exhort us to a holy and religious life, command us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and instruct us to be fruitful in every good work? The words of the Apostle, rightly understood, cannot be referred to any thing else but those works and ceremonies of the Jewish ritual, which were no longer necessary, because the great truths and realities of Christianity, of which they were only the types, had been brought to light.
Thus, to the candid and pious Christian, St. Paul's doctrine of justification through faith, without the works of the ceremonial law of the Jews, is free from all difficulty and obscurity. We know too well, however, by experience, that even the best and purest things are liable to be corrupted; and so it has happened that this plain doctrine of the Apostle, from his own days to the present, has been perverted, either through ignorance or wilful malice, to the utter dissolution of all moral obligation, and to the encouragement of wickedness and vice.
It was with a view of exposing and obviating this fatal misinterpretation of St. Paul's meaning, that St. James wrote his Epistle; and the words of the text are to be considered as an answer to the vain disputant, who contended that a bear belief in Christianity, without christian practice, was of itself sufficient to secure our everlasting salvation.
But wilt thou know, ( vain man, that faith without works is dead ?" Without what works? The works or rites of the Mosaic dispensation ? By no means ;-—such is not the Apostle's meaning. The works which he is here recommending are not the works of the law, but those works of a holy and religious life, which spring out of a true and lively faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as naturally as good fruit proceeds from a good tree. And what is faith without these fruits of holiness? A body without a spirit, a shadow without the substance. Let us then remember, that St. Paul and St. James are speaking of two distinct subjects, when the one declares that we are justified without works, and the other by them. St. Paul is treating of the works of the Mosaic law; St. James, of a man's own works or moral actions. St. Paul speaks of faith, out of which good works proceed ; St. James, of the works which spring out of a true lively faith. St. Paul is addressing persons who relied upon ceremonial observances, as indispensably necessary for salvation ; St. James is dissuading all men from the false delusion, that St.Paul does not inculcate the necessity of christian virtue. It is from a want of properly considering the design of St. James in writing his Epistle, that any mistake has ever originated as to the meaning of the Apostle's words. So simple and intelligible are they, when viewed in this their true light, that it is surprising and painful to think they should ever have been wrested by the unlearned and unstable to their own destruction, that upon them should have been raised that most impious and unchristian of doctrines, the doctrine of human merit;-a doctrine which can never be admitted into the heart of that man who feels himself to be a fallen descendant of Adam, a partaker in the sin of his first parents, inheriting from them a deadly corruption-born in sin, and consequently the child of wrath ;-a doctrine, which is at variance with the whole spirit of the Bible, which teaches us to rely for acceptance with our Almighty Judge solely on the merits and intercession of our Redeemer, and to make ourselves worthy of that his all-prevailing intercession, by endeavouring to the utmost of our imperfect efforts to act up to the precepts which he has enjoined.
Thus has it been my object to show you, that the seeming contradiction between the doctrines of St. Paul and St. James is only seeming ; and that the false notions that exist respecting them have originated either in a partial or prejudiced study of the Holy Scriptures, in a wilful misinterpretation of them, or in a misunderstanding of the design and drift of the writers. I next propose to prove the mutual connexion and relation between a genuine faith and good works. And here I would appeal to every one who is well acquainted with his Bible, whether it does not throughout uniformly inculcate religious practice as an indispensable test of religious faith. And first let us attend with humility to the words of our Saviour himself on this important point. “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.” “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” “ If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” “ Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” Can any one read these, and the numerous other declarations of our Saviour as to the indispensability of a correct and virtuous course of life, and yet presume to flatter himself that a cold belief, unaccompanied by active virtue, can carry with it any redeeming efficacy? Recollect, that the, unfruitful fig-tree withered away and perished. The unprofitable servant, who hid his talent in a napkin and employed it not, was punished most severely for his inactivity and negligence. The young man mentioned in the Gospel, who consulted our Saviour as to the qualifications necessary for eternal happiness, was by Him instructed to keep the commandments. word, there is scarcely a parable of our Lord on record, which does not inculcate an active and conscientious discharge of the duties which religion enjoins. Not less forcible than the words of our Redeemer, are the exhortations of all the Apostles to the same effect. Hear what St. Paul says: “ This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.” What says St. James? “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” The Epistles of St. Peter and St. John abound with passages of similar
import. " Add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly-kindness, and to brotherly-kindness charity.” “ He that doeth good,” says St. John, " is of God, but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” Such is the doctrine of Scripture respecting faith and good works, and such is the doctrine of the Church of England. In the words of the Articles of that Church, we are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith ;" but this faith must be genuine, that is, productive of good works, which " are pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith ; insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known, as a tree discerned by the fruit." Good works are absolutely necessary, although not of themselves sufficient to entitle us to reward. Our sins of ignorance or surprise may, through the infinite mercy of God, be blotted out by the blood of our Redeemer; but we are nowhere in Scripture authorized to believe that our presumptuous and deliberate sins will be pardoned by any measure of faith, unless indeed that faith leads us to repent them bitterly and forsake them entirely.
The example of Abraham, by which St. James in the text illustrates the necessary connexion between faith and works, is at once appropriate and convincing. Vain would have been the most earnest professions of his faith in the Almighty, had they not been accompanied with a prompt and devoted obedience to the heavenly command. And we shall do well to remember, that the blessing which was promised to the Patriarch was declared by an Infallible Judge to be the reward of his obedience. " By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord; for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore, and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice.” After this, let any one decide, whether his obedience was not the very test and criterion of Abraham's faith. He believed in God, and he gave the only satisfactory proof of his belief-he obeyed his commands.
But good works are not only necessary as an evidence of true faith, they are necessary also for its maintenance and support. “ Faith without works is dead.” It is possible, then, that this holy principle may die; and die it most assuredly will, unless quickened and nourished by the graces of a holy life. An unproductive faith is like the light of the moon, chill and powerless; but faith accompanied by good works resembles the splendour of the sun, warming and fertilizing the soul which is blessed by its celestial and fostering ray. Thus shall we find in every page of Scripture that christian faith and christian practice, to be eflicacious, must go hand in hand. The one without the other is ineffectual. Faith without works is dead, because it bears no fruit ; and good works without faith are equally unavailing, because they originate in pride, partake of the corruption of our fallen nature, and spring not out of faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ask then yourselves, my brethren, whether you possess that saving faith, which is made manifest by every good word and work. · It is a
question of the most vital importance to your eternal happiness : propose it, I beseech you, frequently and impartially to your own conscience. “ Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves.” Be assured your faith is not sincere, unless it has a practical influence over you.
They only are Christ's, who have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts." Whilst then we repose with perfect confidence and humble gratitude on the merits of our blessed Saviour, the Paschal Lamb slain for our transgressions, the vicarious sacrifice for guilty man appointed from the foundation of the world; whilst we know and confess that His blood alone can blot out the large catalogue of our sins; whilst we feel assured that all the good works of all the good men that ever lived are not of themselves sufficient to save a single soul from destruction ; let us show that we cherish a grateful remembrance of the benefits which Christ has conferred upon us, by striving upon all occasions, and under all circumstances, to obey the precepts of his most holy Gospel, and to imitate (as far as the frailty of our imperfect nature will allow us to imitate) his pure and spotless example. Thus shall we be justified by faith, if that faith be productive of a life of holiness. And thus when we shall be summoned, as we soon must be, from this world to another; when we shall have put off the tabernacle of our flesh; when we shall be called on to render an account of the deeds done in the body; then may we indulge the humble but well founded hope, that when we go hence we shall, through the merits and intercession of our Redeemer, receive remission of our sins, and that our Almighty Judge will accept the all-sufficient ransom paid on our behalf, and thus, consistently with his infinite justice, find room for infinite mercy.
“ Then said they, What shall be the trespass-offering which we shall return to him ?
They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines ; for one plague was on you all, and on your lords. Wherefore, ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice, that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel : peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your
land.”—1 Sam. vi. 4, 5. The word employed in the Hebrew text for mice, is 7a3y, which the LXX. render simply uvūv, coupling it with the expression, diapepórtwy Thv yñv. The animals must, therefore, have been a species of field mouse; and if the sacred text did not tell us that these mice "marred the land," the derivation of the Hebrew word* would confirm the fact. The term seems to answer to the uvāv dpovpalwy of Æliant and the “murium
.ager בר consumere, ct עכר •
† De Nat. Animal. xvii. 41.
agrestium " of Pliny :* which probably applies to the equivalent of the animal called by Linné and Pallas mus arvalis, the Campagnol of Buffon and Cuvier,the arvicola agrestis of Flemming and Yarrel, the Field Vole or Meadow Mouse of Belli and Shaw.$
Every one of these authors speaks of the occasional wonderful increase in the numbers of this little animal, and of the immense damage done by their depredations; and there is no doubt, that facts such as those which have been well attested by accurate observers in modern times, and reported in ancient chronicles and works of natural history, have given rise to those popular stories, which both in England and on the Continent may be traced, in the histories of Whittington and his Cat, and Archbishop Hatto of Mayence.
The former of these legends was, no doubt, founded on fact. The country where the mice did so much damage, running over the table and devouring the provisions of the legendary king and queen, was, if I remember right, on the shores of the Mediterranean; and it is of the countries bordering that sea, that so many tales are told of marauding mice. The legend of Hatto belongs to the Rhine; and the story is, that during a famine when the people perished by thousands, the archbishop continued to feast and revel; and being pursued by his subjects, he fled to the tower in the Rhine called Maeusethurm, whither the mice (or rats) followed him and there devoured him, as a punishment for his cruelty.ll Thus does fable employ mice as an instrument of vengeance. To prove that the English legend may have a foundation (if the German has none) to rest on, I may refer the reader to a work recently published by one whose statements may be relied on. Mr. Williams, (Narrative of Missionary Enterprises in the South Sea Islands, p. 151,) tells us, that in the year 1827, "the rats were astonishingly numerous" at Rarotonga, "so much so indeed, that we never sat down to a meal without two or more persons to keep them off the table. When kneeling down
. Nat. Hist. x. 65.
† Règne Animal, 1. 192. British Quadrupeds, p. 325.
s Zool. ii. 81. || Mr. Leitch Ritchie, in the Picturesque Annual for 1833, p. 95, has wrought up this legend into a little romance, but he chooses to call the murderers rats and not mice. But as mice and rats belong to the same genus, the fiction is equally well sustained. Klein, in his “ Rheinreise von Mainz bis Köln,” p. 57, calls this story a "phantasie," and says that Hatto died in A.D. 970, whereas this tower was built in the middle ages; that the word Muss, in the Gothic, means harness; that in ancient chronicles we meet with Musshaus and Mausshaus, a fortified place, and Musemeister, inspector of arms in the towns of the Rhenish confederation, whence the word Muskquet : he adds, it is more natural to derive the word from Maeuse, (the mice) who were brought thither by certain vessels. Fischer, in his “Neuester Wegweiser für die Rheinreise von Mainz bis Köln,” (p. 99) calls the story a "laecherliche moenchslegende,"'. (a ridiculous monkish legend), and adds that the tower was built in the middle of the 13th century, and that once it was used as an armoury, (musserie): “Aus Muss, oder Mussenthurm, ward also Maeusethurm gemacht." I have no doubt, that the derivation of the name Maeusethurm may be as these authors state; but the fiction, nevertheless, may have had a real origin in fact, thouglı referred popularly to the tower in question. Respecting the famine supposed to have occurred in Hatto's time, who was archbishop froin 968 to 970, there did certainly occur in Germany a faminc in 968 which arose from a destruction of grain, occasioned by a violent earthquake and tempestuous winds. (Baron, x. 771. Magd. cent. 10. 13. Pistorius, 1. 134 : cited by Dr. Webster, 1. 176.) The story, therefore, has foundation.
Snow, Paternoster-row, 1837.