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P. 57: “By this view of the doctrine of justification, we conceive the apparently different sentiments of the Apostles Paul and James are reconciled. Neither of them say, that faith alone, or works alone, are the cause of our being justified; but as one of them asserts the necessity of faith, and the other of works, for effecting this great object, a clear and convincing proof is afforded that both contribute to our justification ; and that faith without works, and works without faith, are equally dead."
I have already candidly expressed my fears, that the views unfolded in this extract continue to be held by many Friends ; but I rejoice in the belief that there is a large, and rapidly increasing, number, who entertain totally different opinions on this fundamental point. It is refreshing to turn from such a cold and depressing theory, to the humbling yet animating view presented to us in the Scriptures, and which is clearly and beautifully expressed by an eminent author of our own community
“ Man by nature is the child of wrath, labouring under the curse of the law-the awful sentence of eternal death. What then can be conceived more adapted to his need, than justification—a plenary remission of all his sins through the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and a free acceptance of him as righteous for the sake of a righteous Saviour? Here he finds reconciliation with a God of justice, deliverance from condemnation and eternal punishment, and a wellfounded hope of immortal bliss. The utmost claims
* “ Hints on the portable Evidence of Christianity, by Joseph John Gurney," p. 138.
of the law are satisfied; the holiness of the Creator is more than ever manifested ; and the brokenhearted sinner reposes in peace on the bosom of infinite mercy. In himself, indeed, as a transgressor from his birth, he is vile and polluted, but, by the blood of Jesus sprinkled on his heart, his conscience is purged from every dead work; and having obtained an interest in the Saviour of men, he wears a robe of righteousness in which there is no spot. God accepts him in the Beloved; and adopts him as a child of grace, and as an heir of glory."
May it not be safely asserted, that the erroneous views on justification which we have been considering, originate in part in a low and inadequate conception of the law of God? Did we sufficiently contemplate its perfect holiness, we should see that no human being ever does fulfil its authoritative requirements. “Whosoever offends in one point, he is guilty of all: " none, therefore, but a sinless being, can ever obtain eternal life on the ground of obedience. To speak, then, of being justified by works, is to speak ignorantly of the perfect holiness of God and his law. “ Eternal life is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” It is a free gift, not a payment. It is only through Jesus Christ, through faith in his atoning blood, that we can attain the eternal possession, purchased for us thereby. Where, then, is our merit? Why simply that of being “unprofitable servants"-of having only done that which it was our duty to do ; « for if every duty were performed, there could be no merit -merit never begins till duty is surpassed *."
* See “ An Appeal to Scripture, on the Doctrine of Jus.
Now to take one example. God says,
« Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark xii. 30). Is there any man who can so far deceive himself as to believe that he does at all times love God supremely? If not, if our own heart do not acquit us, “ God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things "' (1 John iii. 20) -He seeth us as we really are. What unregenerate man, thus contemplating the perfect holiness of the law of God, can say, Oh, how love I thy law !” (Ps. cxix. 97.) Can he love that law by which his conscience tells him he stands a condemned criminal in the sight of God? Can he look with complacency on his own death-warrant ? Never will he be able to comprehend the perfect holiness, as well as entire fitness, of this law, until he is awakened and enlightened by the blessed influence of the Holy Spirit : nor, until this take place, will he be able to appreciate the inexpressible, illimitable love of God; or be enabled to exclaim, “ Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins ” (1 John iv. 10)-loved us when we were dead in trespasses and sins; when not only aliens, but even in open rebellion against him and his law; for, “ We will not have this man to reign over us (Luke xix. 14) is the secret language of the heart of fallen man. But when, under the enlightening influences of the Holy Spirit, man is brought to see tification, and on the Duty of Studying the Bible, by a Member of the Society of Friends.” (Hamilton, Adams, and Co.; and E. Fry.) An excellent and Scriptural Tract.
his lost condition—the bent and tendency of his own heart, and the depth of its depravity; to see also the perfect holiness and perfect equity of God's law, and his own utter inability to fulfil it ;-it is then that he will rejoice to find unfolded in the blessed Gospel the glad tidings of a way of reconciliation, by which “God may be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus (Rom. iii. 26); “ who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness" (1 Pet. ii. 24);-to learn that “ He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities ; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed " (Isa. liii. 5); that “the Lord hath laid on Him” (as upon the head of the scape-goat, Lev. xvi. 10) iniquity of us all ;” that “ He hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. v. 21)in and through whom we can alone stand accepted in the Divine sight; for he suffered for us,
“ the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God; he died that we might live, redeemed from the “ dominion" of sin—not “in sin that grace may abound, God forbid !” for “how shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein ?" but that, “being justified by faith, we might have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. v. 1).
In searching into Ecclesiastical History, do we not find that every successful attempt to evade the doctrine of Justification by Faith in the Atonement, has been mainly supported by the introduction of some rule for the conscience, rather than the pure
words of the Spirit of God? The Roman Catholics depend upon the traditions of the church, whereby alms-giving and voluntary humiliations are declared to be meritorious, and the necessity for purity of heart is overlooked. Notwithstanding the doctrinal soundness of the Church of England on all essential points, the celebrated controversy on “ Baptismal Regeneration” shews the construction put upon her formularies by no inconsiderable portion of her clergy, who appear to consider themselves as exclusively entitled to the character of “ orthodox.” The Socinians presume to legislate for God, and satisfy themselves that it perfectly accords with his merciful nature to accept of sincere intentions and benevolence of action, as the befitting homage from creatures to their gracious Creator ; and too many Friends with wonderful adroitness profess to honour the Spirit, whilst they evade his laws. The doctrine of acceptance by obedience to inward light, hardens the heart against repentance; and men thoroughly instructed in this school, how much soever they may desire to be spiritually-minded, go on in a course of alternate gloom and self-complacency: they seek to be preserved, rather than try themselves whether they have been converted, so as that Christ dwells in their hearts by faith.
The objection usually urged against that great doctrine of the Reformation, “Justification by Faith” in our Lord Jesus Christ, is, that it has a tendency to lessen the obligations to personal holi
But do not our actions spring from principles ? Let us, then, examine which will be the most operative in the regulation of these principles,