Images de page

esepcially considering the proneness of mankind to content themselves with a form of godliness, while denying the power. If at any time, again, it be taken, in popular language, for conversion, this also, it must be admitted, is a great change, resembling a birth. And is it not of incomparably greater moment, to convince men that without repentance, faith, and conversion, they cannot see the kingdom of God, than to convince them that without baptism they cannot be saved? Why should so much earnestness be used in urging a matter of such easy acquisition, nay, in urging the importance of what is already performed upon millions who are nevertheless "in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity?" In theological discussions the Calvinists sufficiently distinguish between the two great changes, regeneration, and conversion; and even if in popular addresses they were occasionally to confound them, a little inaccuracy in the rigid use of terms may surely be overlooked, where earnestness, zeal, and benevolent exertions, are employed in promoting the everlasting welfare of mankind.


The Bishop's avowed Sentiments on JUSTIFICATION,


1. Importance of the doctrine.

§ 2. His Lordship's view of Justification stated. § 3, 4. That it is conveyed by baptism examined. § 5. The Church of England supposes candidates for baptism to be in a justified state. 6. The Eleventh Article and Homily on Justification, against the Bishop.

§ 7. Justifying faith productive of good works. § 8. These justify our faith, as evidence. § 9-11. St. Paul's doctrine of Justification. 12-14. Also St. James's.

15-19. That Justification is lost and recovered successively, examined. 20-22. The true ground of the imputation of righteousness. § 23-25. What the condition of continuance in Justification. § 26. The difference between the Justification of a person, and that of his actions.

§ 1. THE doctrine of a sinner's justification before God, in the character of a holy and righteous judge, is of importance to men, in proportion as the knowledge of the way to happiness is conducive to its enjoyment: and to an intelligent being, who is required to "seek the Lord while he may be found"-to "come before the Lord" with a suitable offering-and to "work out his own salvation with fear and trembling"-it is, beyond al question, of the greatest moment to know the divinely appointed method of pardon and acceptance. Accordingly we find, that when any remarkable revival of real religion has

taken place in the Christian church, from its foundation to the present time, the minds of men have been powerfully impressed with the importance of this doctrine. It is a clear fact, that every extensive reformation has given it peculiar prominence, and that those who have opposed the work in a mass, have directed much of their opposition against the doctrine of justification by faith. Not to mention other instances, those of Paul and his inspired associates, and of LUTHER, with his ablest coadjutors in the reformation, are striking examples. St. Paul directs the full force of his holy reasoning and eloquence to establish the point of justification by grace, through faith, to the exclusion of every thing else, though careful to inculcate the necessity of good works and holy obedience on another ground: and LUTHER, who had entered far into the views and experience of the apostle, dwelt much on justification by faith to the exclusion of works, both from the pulpit and the press. As the former, again, was virulently opposed by the Jewish advocates for good works, so was the latter by the Popish hierarchy, who pretended great concern for the cause of religion and the purity of the Catholic faith. In a word, it was not without reason that LUTHER, speaking on the point of justification, termed it, Articulus stantis vel cadentis Ecclesiæ, a doctrine inti

mately connected with either the welfare or the ruin of the Christian church.

§ 2. The Bishop of Lincoln has published his views of this Christian doctrine in a manner sufficiently explicit, and I shall give him credit for not being displeased with a candid examination of those views. His Lordship maintains, that baptism conveys justification that faith without good works will not justify-that simply to profess faith in the Trinity, and to promise future obedience, is sufficient for justification. His assertions, on the first of these points, are:- Baptism, administered according 'to the appointed form to a true believer, would convey justification; or, in other words, the baptized person would receive remission of 'his past sins, would be reconciled to God, and 'be accounted just and righteous in his sight. Baptism would not only wash away the guilt ' of all his former sins, both original and actual, and procure to him acceptance with God, but 'it would also communicate a portion of divine grace, to counteract the depravity of his 'nature, and to strengthen his good resolutions. Baptism was invariably the instrument, or ' external form, by which justification was 'conveyed.* It is the doctrine of our church,

[ocr errors]


* Refut. pp. 132, 133.

'that baptism duly administered confers justifi 'cation."*

§ 3. The sentiment that baptism washes away the guilt of sin, and communicates grace, has been examined before. We have now to consider its efficacy to convey justification, The expression itself is remarkable, would convey justification.' Elsewhere his Lordship very properly observes, Justification is a 'forensic term-to be justified before God, 'signifies to be declared and accounted as just * and righteous in his sight.'t Justification then is an act or declaration of God respecting a person; for, as St. Paul observes, "It is God that justifieth," To baptize is an act of man; but how the act of man can convey a future act of God, it is difficult to conceive. The prophets and apostles 'conveyed' to the people, as a matter of testimony, what God had done, or was about to do; but when they performed miracles, or when miraculous effects followed certain acts or declarations of theirs, there would be, I conceive, no propriety in saying that the appointed sign conveyed the effect, Even supposing baptism were invariably followed by justification as a consequent, it would be an erroneous mode of expression to say, that the

* Refut. p. 147.

+ Ibid. p. 98.

« PrécédentContinuer »