« AnteriorContinuar »
they had forgotten their foolish anger, God remembered it, and said "Amen" to both their cursed speakings. Nay, there is yet a greater example of human frailty; St. Paul and Barnabas were very holy persons; but once, in a heat, they were both to blame; they were peevish, and parted company. This was not very much; but God was so displeased, even for this little fly in their box of ointment, that their story says, they never saw one another's face again. These earnest emissions and transportations of passion do sometime declare the weakness of good men; but that, even here, we ought at least to endeavour to be more than conquerors, appears in this, -because God allows it not, and by punishing such follies, does manifest that he intends that we should get victory over our sudden passions, as well as our natural lusts. And so I have done with the third inquiry, in what degree God expects our innocence; and now I briefly come to the last particular, which will make all the rest practicable. I am now to tell you how all this can be effected, and how we shall get free from the power and dominion of our sins.
4. The first great instrument is faith. He that hath faith like a grain of mustard-seed, can remove mountains; the mountains of sin shall fall flat at the feet of the faithful man, and shall be removed into the sea, the sea of Christ's blood, and penitential waters. "Faith overcometh the world," saith St. John; and "walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh." There are two of our enemies gone,-the world and the flesh, by faith and the Spirit, by the spirit of faith; and, as for the devil, put on the shield of faith, and "resist the devil, and he will flee from you," saith the apostle; and the powers of sin seem insuperable to none, but to them that have not faith: we do not believe that God intends we should do what he seems to require of us; or else we think, that though God's grace abounds, yet sin must superabound, expressly against the saying of St. Paul; or else we think, that the evil spirit is stronger than the good Spirit of God. Hear what St. John saith "My little children, ye are of God, and have overcome the evil one; for the Spirit that is in you, is greater than that which is in the world." s Believest thou this? If you do, I shall tell you what may be the event of it. When the father of the boy possessed with the devil told his sad story to Christ, he said, Master, if thou canst do any thing, I pray help me. Christ answered him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. t N. B. And therefore, if you do believe this, go to your prayers, and go to your guards, and go to your labour, and try what God will do for you. whatsoever things ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye shall receive them, and ye shall have them." Now consider; Do not we every day pray, in the Divine hymn called "Te Deum," Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin?" And in the collect at morning prayer," and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither rum into any kind of danger; but that all our doings may be ordered by thy governance, to do always that which s 1 John iv. 4. Mark ix. 23. VOL. II.
is righteous in thy sight?" Have you any hope, or
2. He that would be free from the slavery of sin,
3. If you would be in the state of the liberty of the sons of God, that is, that you may not be servants of sin in any instance, be sure, in the mortifications of sin, willingly or carelessly to leave no remains of it, no nest-egg, no principles of it, no affections to it; if any thing remains, it will prove
to us as manna to the sons of Israel on the second | hath done all that he could do, and yet hath failed day; it will breed worms, and stink. Therefore, of his duty,—if he can say truly, that he hath enlabour against every part of it, reject every propo- dured as much as is possible to be endured,—that sition that gives it countenance, pray to God against he hath watched always, and never nodded when it all. And what then? Why then, “ask, and he could avoid it,—that he hath loved as much as you shall have," said Christ. Nay, say some, it is he could love,—that he hath waited till he can wait true, you shall be heard, but in part only; for God | no longer;—then, indeed, if he says true, we must will leave some remains of sin within us, lest we confess that it is not to be understood. But is there should become proud, by being innocent. So vainly any man in the world that does all that he can do? do men argue against God's goodness, and their own If there be, that man is blameless; if there be not, blessing and salvation; μετὰ πλείονος τέχνης καὶ then he cannot say but it is his own fault that his παρασκευῆς, καὶ πραγματείας ἀπόλλυνται, as St. sin prevails against him. It is true, that no man is Basil says; "they contrive witty arts to undo them- free from sin; but it is as true, that no man does as selves," being entangled in the periods of ignorant much as he can against it; and, therefore, no man disputations. But as to the thing itself, if by the must go about to excuse himself by saying, No man remains of sin, they mean the propensities and is free from his sin; and, therefore, no man can be, natural inclinations to forbidden objects, there is no no, not by the powers of grace: for he may as well arquestion but they will remain in us, so long as we gue thus,-No man does do all that he can do against bear our flesh about us; and, surely, that is a great it, and, therefore, it is impossible he should do what argument to make us humble. But these are not he can do. The argument is apparently foolish, the sins which God charges on his people. But and the excuse is weak, and the deception visible, if, by remains, we mean any part of the habit of sin, and sin prevails upon our weak arguings; but the any affection, any malice or perverseness of the consequence is plainly this,-when any man comwill, then it is a contradiction to say that God leaves mits a sin, he is guilty before God, and he cannot in us such remains of sin, lest, by innocence, we be- say he could not help it; and God is just in punishcome proud; for how should pride spring in a man's | ing every sin, and very merciful when he forgives us heart, if there be no remains of sin left? And is it any. But he that says he cannot avoid it, that he not the best, the surest way, to cure the pride of cannot overcome his lust,-confesses himself a serour hearts, by taking out every root of bitterness, vant of sin, and that he is not yet redeemed by the even the root of pride itself? Will a physician blood of the holy Lamb. purposely leave the relics of a disease, and pretend he does it to prevent a relapse? And is it not more likely he will relapse, if the sickness be not wholly cured? But besides this, if God leaves any remains of sin in us, what remains are they, and of what sins? Does he leave the remains of pride? If so, that were a strange cure, to leave the remains of pride in us, to keep us from being proud. But, if not so, but that all the remains of pride be taken away by the grace of God blessing our endeavours, what danger is there of being proud, the remains of which sin are, by the grace of God, wholly taken away? But then, if the pride of the heart be cured, which is the hardest to be removed, and commonly is done last of all,—who can distrust the power of the Spirit of God, or his goodness, or his promises, and say that God does not intend to cleanse his sons and servants from all unrighteousness; and, according to St. Paul's prayer, "keep their bodies, and souls, and spirits, unblamable to the coming of the Lord Jesus?" But, however, let God leave what remains he please, all will be well enough on that side; but let us be careful, as far as we can, that we leave none; lest it be severely imputed to us, and the fire break out, and consume us.
4. Let us, without any further question, put this argument to a material issue; let us do all that we can do towards the destruction of the whole body of sin; but let us never say we cannot be quit of our sin, till we have done all that we can do towards the mortification of it. For till that be done, how can any man tell where the fault lies, or whether it can be done or no? If any man can say that he
u Ille laudatur, qui, ut coeperint, statim interficit cogitata,
"Suffer not your
5. He that would be advanced beyond the power and necessity of sinning, must take great caution concerning his thoughts and secret desires; "for lust, when it is conceived, bringeth forth sin;" but, if it be suppressed in the conception, it comes to nothing; but we find it hard to destroy the serpent, when the egg is hatched into a cockatrice. The thought is àμáρтvρоç àμapтía; no man takes notice of it, but lets it alone till the sin be too strong;" and then we complain we cannot help it. sinas cogitationem crescere," thoughts to grow up;" for they usually come dove, wσaкóñшç, ȧтρayμarɛúrwe, as St. Basil says, "suddenly, and easily, and without business;" but take heed that you nurse them not; but, if you chance to stumble, mend your pace, and if you nod, let it awaken you; for he only can be a good man, that raises himself up at the first trip, that strangles his sin in the birth: Totavraι Tv åɣíwv &vxaì, πṣìv Teσav, ávíσTavrai, “Good men rise up again, even before they fall," saith St. Chrysostom. pray, consider, that when sin is but in the thought, it is easily suppressed, and, if it be stopped there, it can go no further; and what great mountain of labour is it, then, to abstain from our sin ? Is not the adultery of the eye easily cured by shutting the eye-lid? and cannot the thoughts of the heart be turned aside by doing business, by going into company, by reading, or by sleeping? A man may divert his thoughts by shaking of his head, by thinking any thing else, by thinking nothing. “Da mihi christianum," saith St. Austin, "et intelligit quod dico." Every man that loves God, understands et allidit ad petram.
this, and more than this, to be true. Now if things be thus, and that we may be safe in that which is supposed to be the hardest of all, we must needs condemn ourselves, and lay our faces in the dust, when we give up ourselves to any sin; we cannot be justified by saying we could not help it. For as it was decreed by the fathers of the second Arausican council, “Hoc etiam secundum fidem catholicam credimus," &c. "This we believe according to the catholic faith," that have received baptismal grace; all that are baptized by the aid and co-operation of Christ, must and can, if they will labour faithfully, perform and fulfil those things, which belong unto salvation.
6. And lastly if sin hath gotten the power of any one of us, consider in what degree the sin hath prevailed: if but a little, the battle will be more easy, and the victory more certain; but then be sure to do it thoroughly, because there is not much to be done but if sin hath prevailed greatly, then indeed you have very much to do; therefore begin betimes, and defer not this work, till old age shall make it extremely difficult, or death shall make it impossible.
Nam quamvis prope te, quamvis temone sub uno
Cum rota posterior curras, et in axe secundo. PERS. If thou beest cast behind; if thou hast neglected the duties of thy vigorous age, thou shalt never overtake that strength; "the hinder wheel, though bigger than the former, and measures more ground at every revolution, yet shall never overtake it;" and all the second counsels of thy old age, though undertaken with greater resolution, and acted with the strengths of fear and need, and pursued with more pertinacious purposes than the early repentances of young men, yet shall never overtake those advantages, which you lost when you gave your youth to folly, and the causes of a sad repentance.
However, if you find it so hard a thing to get from the power of one master-sin; if an old adulterer does dote,—if an old drunkard be further from remedy than a young sinner,-if covetousness grows with old age,-if ambition be still more hydropic and grows more thirsty for every draught of honour, -you may easily resolve that old age, or your last sickness, is not so likely to be prosperous in the mortification of your long prevailing sins. Do not all men desire to end their days in religion, to die in the arms of the church, to expire under the conduct of a religious man? When ye are sick or dying, then nothing but prayers and sad complaints, and the groans of a tremulous repentance, and the faint labours of an almost impossible mortification: then the despised priest is sent for; then he is a good man, and his words are oracles, and religion is truth, and sin is a load, and the sinner is a fool; then we watch for a word of comfort from his mouth, as the fearful prisoner for his fate upon the judge's answer. That which is true then, is true now; and, therefore, to prevent so intolerable a danger, mortify your sin betime, for else you will hardly mortify it at all. Remember that the snail outwent the eagle, and won the goal, because she set out betimes.
To sum up all: every good man is a new creature, and christianity is not so much a Divine institution, as a Divine frame and temper of spirit,— which if we heartily pray for, and endeavour to obtain, we shall find it as hard and as uneasy to sin against God, as now we think it impossible to abstain from our most pleasing sins. For as it is in the spermatic virtue of the heavens, which diffuses itself universally upon all sublunary bodies, and subtilely insinuating itself into the most dull and inactive element, produces gold and pearls, life and motion, and brisk activities in all things that can receive the influence and heavenly blessing :-so it is in the Holy Spirit of God, and the word of God, and the grace of God, which St. John calls "the seed of God;" it is a law of righteousness, and it is a law of the Spirit of life, and changes nature into grace, and dulness into zeal, and fear into love, and sinful habits into innocence, and passes on from grace to grace, till we arrive at the full measures of the stature of Christ, and into the perfect liberty of the sons of God; so that we shall no more say, The evil that I would not, that I do ;-but we shall hate what God hates, and the evil that is forbidden we shall not do; not because we are strong of ourselves, but because Christ is our strength, and he is in us; and Christ's strength shall be perfected in our weakness, and his grace shall be sufficient for us; and he will, of his own good pleasure, work in us, not only to will, but also to do, "velle et perficere," saith the apostle, "to will and to do it thoroughly" and fully, being sanctified throughout, to the glory of his holy name, and the eternal salvation of our souls, through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom with the 'Father, &c.
FIDES FORMATA; OR, FAITH WORKING BY LOVE.
You see, then, how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.-James ii. 24.
THAT we are 66 justified by faith," St. Paul tells us; that we are also "justified by works," we are told in my text; and both may be true. But that this justification is wrought by faith without works, "to him that worketh not, but believeth," saith St. Paul: that this is not wrought without works, St. James is as express for his negative as St. Paul was for his affirmative; and how both these should be true, is something harder to unriddle. But, "affirmanti incumbit probatio," "he that affirms must prove ;" and, therefore, St. Paul proves his doctrine by the example of Abraham, to whom faith was imputed for righteousness; and, therefore, not by works. And what can be answered to this? Nothing but this, that St. James uses the very same argua Rom. iii. 28. iv. 5. v. 1. x. 10. Gal. ii. 16.
ment to prove that our justification is by works also; | sometimes it is taken for a perfect, actual, unsinning "For our father Abraham was justified by works, obedience,--sometimes for a sincere endeavour to when he offered up his son Isaac." b Now which please God;—sometimes they are meant to be such of these says true? Certainly both of them; but who can challenge the reward as of debt;-someneither of them have been well understood; inso- times they mean only a disposition of the person to much that they have not only made divisions of receive the favour and the grace of God. Now heart among the faithful, but one party relies on since our good works can be but of one kind, (for faith to the disparagement of good life, and the other ours cannot be meritorious, ours cannot be without makes works to be the main ground of our hope sin all our life, they cannot be such as need no reand confidence, and consequently to exclude the pentance,) it is no wonder if we must be justified efficacy of faith: the one makes christian religion a without works in this sense; for by such works no lazy and inactive institution; and the other, a bold man living can be justified: and these St. Paul calls presumption on ourselves; while the first tempts us the "works of the law," and sometimes he calls to live like heathens, and the other recalls us to them "our righteousness;" and these are the covelive the life of Jews; while one says "I am of nant of works. But because we came into the world Paul," and another, "I am of St. James," and both to serve God, and God will be obeyed, and Jesus of them put it in danger of evacuating the institution Christ came into the world to save us from sin, and and the death of Christ; one looking on Christ only "to redeem to himself a people zealous of good as a Lawgiver, and the other only as a Saviour. The works," and hath, to this purpose, revealed to us effects of these are very sad, and by all means to be all his Father's will, and destroyed the words of the diverted by all the wise considerations of the Spirit. devil, and gives us his Holy Spirit, and by him we My purpose is not with subtle arts to reconcile shall be justified in this obedience; therefore, when them that never disagreed; the two apostles spake works signify a sincere, hearty endeavour to keep by the same Spirit, and to the same last design, all God's commands, out of a belief in Christ, that though to differing intermedial purposes; but be- if we endeavour to do so we shall be helped by cause the great end of faith, the design, the defini- his grace, and if we really do so we shall be partion, the state, the economy of it, is that all be-doned for what is past, and if we continue to do so we lievers should not live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Before I fall to the close handling of the text, I shall premise some preliminary considerations, to prepare the way of holiness, to explicate the differing senses of the apostles, | to understand the question and the duty, by removing the causes of the vulgar mistakes of most men in this article; and then proceed to the main inquiry.
shall receive a crown of glory;—therefore, it is no wonder that it is said we are to be justified by works; always meaning, not the works of the law, that is, works that are meritorious, works that can challenge the reward, works that need no mercy, no repentance, no humiliation, and no appeal to grace and favour ;—but always meaning works, that are an obedience to God by the measures of good will, and a sincere endeavour, and the faith of the Lord Jesus.
3. But thus also it is in the word "justification:" for God is justified, and wisdom is justified, and man is justified, and a sinner is not justified as long as he continues in sin; and a sinner is justified when he repents, and when he is pardoned; and an innocent person is justified when he is de
1. That no man may abuse himself or others by mistaking of hard words, spoken in mystery, with allegorical expressions to secret senses, wrapt up in a cloud; such as are, "faith, and justification, and imputation, and righteousness, and works," be pleased to consider, that the very word "faith" is, in Scripture, infinitely ambiguous, insomuch that in the Latin concordances of St. Jerome's Bible, pub-clared to be no criminal; and a righteous man is lished by Robert Stephens, you may see no less than twenty-two several senses and acceptations of the word "faith," set down with the several places of Scripture referring to them; to which if, out of my own observation, I could add no more, yet these are an abundant demonstration, that whatsoever is said of the efficacy of faith for justification, is not to be taken in such a sense as will weaken the necessity and our carefulness of good life, when the word may, in so many other senses, be taken to verify the affirmation of St. Paul, of "justification by faith," so as to reconcile it to "the necessity of obedience."
2. As it is in the word "faith," so it is in "works" for by works is meant sometimes the thing done,-sometimes the labour of doing, sometimes the good will;-it is sometimes taken for a state of good life,-sometimes for the covenant of works;-it sometimes means the works of the law, sometimes the works of the gospel;
b James ii. 9.
justified when he is saved; and a weak christian is justified when his imperfect services are accepted for the present, and himself thrust forward to more grace; and he that is justified may be justified more; and every man that is justified to one purpose, is not so to all; and faith, in divers senses, gives justification in as many; and, therefore, though to every sense of faith there is not always a degree of justification in any, yet when the faith is such that justification is the product and correspondent,-as that faith may be imperfect, so the justification is but begun, and either must proceed further, or else, as the faith will die, so the justification will come to nothing. The like observation might be made concerning imputation, and all the words used in this question; but these may suffice till I pass to other particulars.
4. Not only the word "faith," but also "charity," and "godliness," and "religion," signify sometimes particular graces; and sometimes they suppose universally, and mean conjugations and
unions of graces, as is evident to them that read the | it is evident, by the premises, that this article is not Scriptures with observation. Now when justifica- to be determined or relied upon by arguing from tion is attributed to faith, or salvation to godliness, words of many significations, we must walk by a they are to be understood in the aggregate sense; clearer light, by such plain sayings and dogmatical for, that I may give but one instance of this, when propositions of Scripture, which evidently teach us St. Paul speaks of faith as it is a particular grace, our duty, and place our hopes upon that which canand separate from the rest, he also does separate it not deceive us, that is, which require obedience. from all possibility of bringing us to heaven : which call upon us to glorify God, and to do good "Though I have all faith, so that I could remove to men, and to keep all God's commandments with mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing :" c diligence and sincerity. when faith includes charity, it will bring us to heaven; when it is alone, when it is without charity, it will do nothing at all.
5. Neither can this paróμevov be solved by saying, that though faith alone does justify, yet when she does justify, she is not alone, but good works must follow; for this is said to no purpose:
1. Because if we be justified by faith alone, the work is done, whether charity does follow or no; and, therefore, that want of charity cannot hurt us.
2. There can be no imaginable cause why charity and obedience should be at all necessary, if the whole work can be done without it.
3. If obedience and charity be not a condition of our salvation, then it is not necessary to follow faith; but if it be, it does as much as faith, for that is but a part of the condition.
For since the end of our faith is, that we may be disciples and servants of the Lord Jesus, advancing his kingdom here, and partaking of it hereafter; since we are commanded to believe what Christ taught, that it may appear as reasonable as it is necessary to do what he hath commanded; since faith and works are in order one to the other, it is impossible that evangelical faith and evangelical works should be opposed one to the other in the effecting of our salvation. So that as it is to no purpose for christians to dispute whether we are justified by faith or the works of the law, that is, the covenant of works, without the help of faith and the auxiliaries and allowances of mercy on God's part, and repentance on ours; because no christian can pretend to this, so it is perfectly foolish to dispute whether christians are to be justified by faith, or the
4. If we can be saved without charity and keep-works of the gospel; for I shall make it appear that ing the commandments, what need we trouble ourselves for them? If we cannot be saved without them, then either faith without them does not justify; or if it does, we are never the better, for we may be damned for all that justification.
they are both the same thing. No man disparages faith but he that says, faith does not work righteousness; for he that says so, says indeed it cannot justify; for he says that faith is alone: it is "faith only," and the words of my text are plain: "You
The consequent of these observations is briefly see," saith St. James, that is, it is evident to your this:
1. That no man should fool himself by disputing about the philosophy of justification, and what causality faith hath in it, and whether it be the act of faith that justifies, or the habit? Whether faith as a good work, or faith as an instrument? Whether faith as it is obedience, or faith as it is an access to Christ? Whether as a hand, or as a heart? Whether by its own innate virtue, or by the efficacy of the object? Whether as a sign, or as a thing signified? Whether by introduction, or by perfection? Whether in the first beginnings, or in its last and best productions? Whether by inherent worthiness, or adventitious imputation? "Uberiùs ista, quæso, &c." (that I may use the words of Cicero,d) "hæc enim spinosiora, prius, ut confitear, me cogunt, quam ut assentiar:" these things are knotty, and too intricate to do any good; they may amuse us, but never instruct us; and they have already made men careless and confident, disputative and troublesome, proud and uncharitable, but neither wiser nor better. Let us, therefore, leave these weak ways of troubling ourselves or others, and directly look to the theology of it, the direct duty, the end of faith, and the work of faith, the conditions and the instruments of our salvation, the just foundation of our hopes, how our faith can destroy our sin, and how it can unite us unto God; how by it we can be made partakers of Christ's death, and imitators of his life. For since e 1 Cor. xiii. 2. d Tuscul. i.
sense, it is as clear as an ocular demonstration, "that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only."
My text hath in it these two propositions; a negative and an affirmative. The negative is this, 1. "By faith only" a man is not justified. The affirmative, 2. "By works also" a man is justified.
When I have briefly discoursed of these, I shall only add such practical considerations as shall make the doctrines useful, and tangible, and material.
1. By faith only a man is not justified. By faith only, here is meant, faith without obedience. For what do we think of those that detain the faith in unrighteousness? They have faith, they could not else keep it in so ill a cabinet: but yet the apostle reckons them amongst the reprobates; for the abominable, the reprobates, and the disobedient, are all one; and, therefore, such persons, for all their faith, shall have no part with faithful Abraham : for none are his children but they that do the works of Abraham. Abraham's faith, without Abraham's works, is nothing; for of him "that hath faith, and hath not works," St. James asks, "Can faith save him?"e meaning, that it is impossible. For what think we of those, that did miracles in Christ's name, and in his name cast out devils? Have not they faith? Yes," omnem fidem," "all faith," that is, alone, for "they could remove mountains:" but yet to many of them Christ will say, "Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity; I know
e Chap. ii. 14.