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pleased to call a good life shall save him, without due sense of the atonement wrought by Jesus Christ ;-what shall such person answer to such texts as these ? “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die'. “ The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, “neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the “son; the righteousness of the righteous shall “ be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked “shall be upon him P.” Or, again ; “God will “ render to every man according to his deeds; ...., “ for he is no respecter of persons 9.” Or again ; “ We must all appear before the judgment seat of “ Christ, that every one may receive the things “ done in his body, according to that he hath done, “whether it be good or bad'.” What, I say, shall any person, who may choose to think that a good life shall save him, answer to such texts as these? Admit, for supposition's sake, that the pretension which he calls “a good life” would save him ; (which, again I say, without the reconciliation made by the Redeemer it will not ; but supposing that it would,) he must, at all events, perceive most clearly, that such good life must be most strictly, singly, and entirely his own. There can be no dispute, that it must positively be a good life, in the first instance, and then, that it must be his own good life. If any righteousness shall be on such a man, it must be, of an absolute necessity, his own righteousness; not any measure or degree of righteousness either like his neighbour's, or different from his neighbour's, or beyond his neighbour's, but his own personal righteousness, established on and proved through an obedience to the divine law. I cannot conceive any thing more certainly implied than all these texts imply, that we shall all be judged singly and separately, on our separate and single accounts. Wherefore if any Christian, though his error would in such case be held against the very basis of the Gospel, will still presume to risk the venture of his strong hope upon “ deeds “ done in the flesh ;" what double blindness must it be, to think that those deeds ever can be judged by any standard of comparison with other men, his fellow-creatures ! to dream, that he could ever be rewarded not, after all, for being really good, but only for not having been so bad (or possibly as good) as another !
• Ezek. xviii. 20.
p If it be objected that this, which is perhaps the most pointed and specific of the three texts here quoted, is taken from the Old Testament, 1 answer once for all, that I am not among the number (if any such there really be) who would, either avowedly or virtually, annul the earlier Scriptures. But see, on this head, Sermon VI. pp. 122, 3.
Rom. ii. 6, 11. * 2 Cor. v. 10.
Reflect on this, and you will see comparisons in their true light and colours.
§. 2. But let us take the other case. Suppose a Christian to have built his hope on faith alone; whether with more or less degree of error from the just interpretation of this “ most wholesome “ doctrine.” What will the Scripture say to him ? “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and " thou shalt be saved s.” - To him that be“ lieveth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his “ faith is counted for righteousness t.” “ Hast " thou faith? have it to thyself before God.” Will this man any more persuade himself than the former, that any warrant is to be derived from Scripture for the course of measuring himself by the condition of others ? Are texts like these just cited to be reconciled with any such vain notion ? will he thrive any better by comparisons than one who reckons on the power of his good life? Most surely not, unless the invisible things of the heart—things of which God alone can judge—can be brought forth to light, and grasped, and measured. For faith is al
s Acts xvi. 31.
"Rom. xiv. 22.
together a work of the inner man, a principle, a disposition ; moreover it is, of all things, among the most entirely personal. Who can believe for another? The question almost seems ridiculous, the answer is so plain. If any man be saved by faith, that faith must be his own. · But besides this, what (let us ask, upon another ground) could comparisons avail in a particular, where every thing depends upon the truth and quality of any man's belief, and not on its amount and quantity ? (I mean its truth and quality, as known to “ him that seeth in secret.") As to mere quantity of faith, it may be very true, and is true, that one Christian may believe, in some respects, more than another. Some people have a softer heart than others, and a readier confidence; some have an inclination to believe, and some to ask for more and further “ signs” to satisfy them. And therefore it is very sure that, in whatever subject brought before them, some will find fewer doubts that shall disquiet them, or fewer difficulties at which to be offended.
But what of this? This is not the faith that shall save a man. A saving faith is something that defies comparison. It is something whole and perfect in itself. Wherever it is found, it must both be of the right sort, and also be enough
to make a man a true Christian; enough, to meet acceptance with our Judge. And if it be not this, then whether it may have been more or less than this man's, or than that man's, or than the faith of all the world, appears to be a point of no more final consequence than whether a man's share of stature, or of strength, was greater than his neighbour's; or in a word) than any trivial and indifferent thing, which is of no eternal consequence at all.
Here therefore, again, it can avail us nothing, although it may most surely ruin us, to measure ourselves among ourselves, and to compare ourselves one with another. If we can hardly help perceiving of thoroughly profane or worldly people, that they have no true faith at all, still this can be no comfort to ourselves. If we have not as much and as sincere belief as God requires of us, and as may truly bring us unto Jesus Christ, I do not know on what ground we may expect to find an entrance into his heavenly kingdom any more than they!
So that the conclusion to be drawn comes round in every case to this; that be our notion of the way of being saved what it may, we must perceive and grant, that to work out his own