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no ground to stand upon; and such, the author assures himself, will be the case, when the authorities of Scripture are duly examined.
The author's first intention was only to have endeavoured to correct, what he has always conceived a great error in theology, that of justification, either primarily or finally, taking place in this life; but in the prosecution of such intention he found the principle or tenet of justification by faith only, or alone, so closely connected, and as it were interwoven into the subject of justification, particularly in this life, that it necessarily required the two principles or tenets should be fully discussed together, there being such a mutuality in their bearings and purposes as almost to have a dependence upon each other; and as a definition of justifying faith became necessary, and which has a close connexion with the tenets of justification by faith only, it was thereupon deemed adviseable to discuss the latter subject under that head. And as a further and most irresistible inducement for doing this, the author has lately seen, for the purpose of furthering and propagating the tenet of justification by faith only, widely and profusely disseminated principles, tending, as he conceives, to the subversion of all moral actions, of virtuous and religious feeling, and has even heard from the pulpit of the Church of England expressions, in the plainest language and most unqualified manner, to the following effect, that “ no act or work of man would aid or contribute in the remotest degree, or have any
effect with God in his justification; and that his righteous deeds would avail or profit him nothing with respect to Christ.
Such language must be negatively a condemnation of all good and righteous works, and the discouragement thereby necessarily produced must obstruct and prevent their execution. Can
any man, with the least common feeling of Christianity and religion in his soul, resist, and not embrace every opportunity to stem the torrent of such most alarming, dangerous, mischievous, and fatal principles, which strike at the root of all goodness, virtue, and religion, and undermine the most consoling, comforting, and cheering feeling which the
performance of holy and righteous deeds, and good and virtuous actions, must move and inspire in the soul of every living human being who has any love or fear of God in his heart, or is endued with any of those glorious, lovely, heavenly, and divine principles, which the holy religion of God and Christ so strongly and earnestly inculcate ?
The author now having shewn, as he is impressed, a good and justifiable ground for the task he has engaged in, will proceed to give a short outline of the reasons for, and method he has proposed to pursue in the following sheets.
Justification before God in the Christian dispensation being the end and object of all true believers, wherein man is so immediately and seriously concerned as to his future prospect of eternal happiness or misery, must create the deepest interest, and necessarily requires, that all difficulties or doubts, as far as the same can be done, should be cleared up or removed. The chief object for attainment is to learn in what way, by and through what means justification is to be obtained : point, it
and in our endeavours for this
there arises a most necessary and essential matter which should also engage our attention, namely, when justification is expected to be received by man, according to the words of Scripture, and until we have arrived at this
be said, there is not a plain, direct course for us to take in obtaining the object sought after; when this is acquired, many very apparent and almost insurmountable impediments and stumbling-blocks which obstruct and lie in the way, in the execution of this great work, will be removed. That there are three opinions, at least, very generally entertained on this point, is most certain, and which for the sake of distinction, may be called the three great divisions.
The first, that justification takes place in this life; and here we may see this first division branches out into different parts, such as one man holds, that justification takes place at baptism, another at the time of repentance, another at the time of embracing faith, and another when faith and good works are united and co-operate.
The second division, that justification itself is divided into parts, that the first or primary justification takes place in this life, and ultimately or finally perfected at the day of judgment. This division requires the same observations as the first, that it branches out into different parts, as to the time when the first justification takes place, whether at baptism, repentance, embracing faith, or when faith and good works are united and cooperate.
The third division is, that justification takes place at the day of judgment.
These various opinions must tend greatly to bring a cloud and mist upon the whole work; and it would be most apparent, if the latter opinion can be fully and satisfactorily proved from the authority of Scripture, to be the time when justification takes place, the other conflicting opinions must vanish. And upon the establishment of the last opinion, another great and momentous object will be obtained, that many doubts and difficulties necessarily arising from the division of opi