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their faith, is so contrary to the whole strain of the Gospel,-a thing which Christ, in none of all his sermons and gracious speeches, ever willed an to rely on ;" when we find the whole scheme of redemption, as revealed from Genesis to Revelation, hinging upon
when we find, contrary to his direct and unguarded denial, our Saviour himself thus setting it forth : “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John iii. 14, 15).
To this citation might be added a multitude of others, particularly in the 6th chapter of the same Gospel, where our Lord's words are most pointed and conclusive. But what language can be stronger than his declaration to the woman who “stood at his feet, behind him, weeping ?” Jesus said to her,
Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace!" “By the works of the law”.
'-or by obedience (for they are synonymous terms)—“shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. ii. 16); while nothing can be clearer, from the testimony of Scripture, than the doctrine of justification by faith. The ritual observances of the Mosaic Dispensation were typical of this great doctrine. The wretched scheme of salvation which we have been considering, amounts, in plain terms, to this—that man is to obey the “ Inward Light” to the best of his ability; and then to depend upon the great Expiatory Sacrifice to make up his deficiency !
“ Some call him a Saviour in word,
But mix their own works with his plan;
When they have done all that they can.
“ If doings prove rather too light
(A little they own they may fail), They purpose to make up full weight,
By casting His Name in the scale.” That Dr. Hancock adopts Barclay's unscriptural view on this essential point, will be seen by the following citations from his “Defence," and also by the tendency of a variety of observations in that work, not immediately bearing on the doctrine. In p. 38 we have the following passage :
“ Hence it is necessary to shew
that justification by faith in the atoning sacrifice is incomplete without holiness, wrought by the Holy Spirit in the heart," &c.
Justification, according to the New Testament, is in itself complete, for “a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom. iii. 28), “ even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works” (Rom. iv. 6). But in the absence of holiness there is no justification at all ; for, since faith and holiness are inseparable, without holiness there can be no true faith. Thus the Apostle James says:
“I will shew thee my faith by my works.” Faith being an abstract principle in the heart, its existence can only be shewn by the evidence of good fruits. Thus
* This Apostle appears to have had the then Antinomian heresy in his eye, and his Epistle, rightly considered, greatly strengthens our argument, by following out the idea that no faith can be justifying but living faith; that no faith can be living which is not productive of its fruits; and that its fruits are the external evidences of its existence. Thus in ii. 14, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he bath faith, and have not works ? can faith save him ? " Can this spurious faith, this dead profession, save him ?
the Christian evidences his faith by his works, while it is faith alone which justifies him in the sight of God; “for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” For, however the Antinomian hypocrite may “lay the flattering unction to his soul,” faith can never exist without being evidenced by good works. “Let us not delude ourselves" (says Archbishop Leighton *); “if we find the love of sin and of the world work stronger in our hearts than the love of Christ, we are not as yet partakers of his redemption.” And the same author beautifully represents the Christian exclaiming “ His matchless love hath freed me from the miserable captivity of sin, and hath for ever fastened me to the sweet yoke of his obedience t.”
Again Dr. Hancock says (p. 57): “Supposing, then, that the atoning sacrifice were enough for the sinner, under circumstances of an unusual extension of Divine mercy, to justify him freely before God, is it to be concluded that it is in itself altogether sufficient for the saint?”
Can this sentence be correctly printed ? It is difficult to believe that any attentive reader of the New Testament could seriously ask such a question. That these sentiments of Dr. H. have no scriptural authority we may safely aver; and is it not almost
* Commentary on the 1st Epistle of Peter, i. 18, 19.
+ That venerable Christian, Rowland Hill, used to say : “ If we love God, we must necessarily love that holy law which is a transcript of his Divine mind and will. Some people will tell you, that, if you will gain Heaven, you must pass through a selfdenying course of the practice of virtue and obedience. They make religion house-of-correction work. No, no! I love the service of my God. Like the bird, I fly at liberty, on the wings of my obedience, to do His will."-(Sidney's Life of Rowland Hill.)
equally clear that they have been obtained from the writings of Barclay and Penn, or others holding similar opinions ?
The atoning sacrifice “ enough for the sinner!” and is it “altogether sufficient for the saint ?” Who is not a sinner ?—and who is a saint? According to our author, there are some, who before benefiting by the atoning sacrifice, are saints. If saints (holy), will he tell us why they require any atoning sacrifice? How distressing it is to read, from the pen of a professing Christian, such a question put hypothetically !
Supposing, then, that the atoning sacrifice were enough for the sinner!”—even this is not “taken for granted.” But Scripture says that the great atoning, expiatory sacrifice of the Son of God upon the cross, was sufficient for the sins of the whole world. “He is the propitiation for our sins : and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John ii. 2).
In page 58 of “ The Defence" we find the following passage :
“ Is the doctrine to be established, that all, in the congregations of Christians, as they are at present, are to be accounted as sinners, who are to be addressed as having 'put off their sins' by faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, but have not 'put on Christ,' and need not the clothing of his Spirit ? If this be the real state of the Christian church at present, how much, alas ! does it differ from that state in which it stood, when those who professed the religion of Christ in the early church could be addressed as saints,' who ' in every thing' were 'enriched by Christ, in all utterance, and in all knowledge.' Surely, it could never be
intended, that in any age men should so far leave the true foundation, as with mutual consent to adopt a standard so low as this, and to strive to consecrate it by their faith and practice.”
In this extremely obscure and involved passage, it would appear, so far as I am able to collect Dr. Hancock's meaning, that he objects to congregations being addressed as sinners : ” but it is clearly correct to do so, unless we acknowledge some as absolutely perfect : and that none are so, is evident; for the Apostle John says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John i. 8). We must, then, all be sinners in the sight of God. Therefore it is that Scripture speaks of fallen man as accepted in the Beloved.” Thus may believers be called “ saints" in Christ Jesus. And it may be said, further, in reply, that none but those who have “put off their sins" by faith in Christ, have “put on Christ," and are clothed with his Spirit.
The following extract from the “ Principles of Religion," by Henry Tuke, is added, because it not only expresses clearly his own views on the point of justification, but it may fairly be supposed to express also the opinions of an influential portion of the body, since his work was published under the sanction of the "Morning Meeting *." The edition before me, printed in 1827, is the ninth, which shews how widely the work has been circulated.
* The “ Morning Meeting” is a sort of Divinity Committee; and in the exercise of its functions it would render solid service to the cause of truth if it would take under review the Works of Barclay, Penn, Tuke, and others, and set forth their accordance, or non-accordance, with the word of God.