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V. This subject opens an easy and plain way, and perhaps the only satisfactory and true way, to reconcile the two apostles, Paul and James, in what they fay of that by which finners are justified. $t. Paul has said, “ Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law ; knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ,” St. James has faid, “ Ye fce then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." It has been rafhly thought by fome that the apostles in these words expressly contradict each other ; but their perfect consistence and agreement with each other will appear only by observing the different sense in which they use the word works, which is evident by all they fay on the point.
Paul expressly defines the works which he excludes from the law of faith, and sets in opposition to it. They are the works of the law, the same with the law of works, meaning works done in order to recommend to favour, as a price offered to purchase and merit acceptance and justification of God, as has been represented and explained. By works James means Christian holiness and obedience, which is the same with the law of faith, which has been explained. By works James means that love, in all its operations and fruits, which he says is the life and foul of faith, and without which there cannot be any true faith. His words are, “ For as the body without the Spirit is dead, fo faith without works is dead also. Seelt thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect ?" How could he more strongly assert the holiness of saving faith, when he says that holy love, the root and essence of all Christian obe. dience and good works, is as much the life and active nature of a living, faving faith, as the spirit is the life and activity of the body? How contrary is this to saying, as many have done, that holy love, which implies and comprehends all the obedience and good works of a. Christian, is the effect and consequence of faith, and produced by faith, as the cause produces the effect !
· Paul agrees with James perfectly in his description of saving faith. He fays, “ Faith worketh by love," that is, Love, which is the essence of all Christian obedience, and implies all good works, is the foul and active life of faith, by which it operates, or acts and works, as the fpirit is the life of the body, by which it moves and acts.
VI. This subject may be improved by those who have attended to it, as affording matter by which they may examine themselves, whether their conversion and consequent religion be true and genuine, or false and fpurious.
Have you been effectually cured of a disposition to trust to your own righteousness, and renounced and become dead to the law of works, under a clear conviction that you were cursed by it, notwithstanding any thing you could do, and that you should be justly accursed forever, unless you obtained relief by the law of faith, trusting in the merit and righteousness of Christ for pardon and justification ?
And have you been led to understand and cordially to embrace the law of faith, in which you highly approved of the character of Christ, and the way of falvation by him, condemning yourself as being so far from having or doing any thing to recommend you to God, or render you deserving, that you were infinitely guilty and ill-deserving ?
Have you felt and experienced this law of faith, suited to destroy your pride, and set you at the greatest distance from boasting, and the more you understood and cordially embraced this way of salvation, the more disposed you have been to humble yourself in the fight of the Lord ? Do you
know that your heart was naturally as much opposed to the gospel, as it was to the holy law of God, and that, had not God given you a new heart by regeneration, you should have continued an enemy to Christ? that the law of faith is a holy law, and that it cannot be complied with by a heart unfriendly to God
and holiness ? that the more you attend to and are pleased with the law of faith, the greater is
your averfion from fing and the more you long to be holy, and hunger and thirst after righteousness?
Are you defiring and looking for that evidence that you are justified and shall be faved, which arises from z consciousness that you do embrace the gospel, and have those holy exercises which imply this, or are implied in conforming to the law of faith? and do you defire no other evidence but this, that your juftification may be proved only by good evidence that you are fanctified ?
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1789.
Eccl. iii. 14. I know that whatsoever God doth, it shall be
forever : nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken fromx it; and God doth it, that men should fear before bim.
E may be sure that the Infinitely Great, Eter.
nal, Omniscent Being, who is the First and the Last, the Almighty, does nothing for an end, or with a view to accomplish any design, which is temporary, and thall wholly cease and come to nothing, so that every thing which remains shall, in all respects, be just as it would have been had he not done it. For this would be infinitely unworthy of such a Being, infinitely beneath him, and unbecoming his character : it would be really more unbecoming and trifling, than for a man to do all he does through life for no end at all, were this poffible ; or for the greatest monarch on earth to spend his life in action for no higher and more important ends than those which children have in what they do. That which ceases to exist in all its effects and consequences, so that
the univerfe is in no respect better or otherwise than if it had not been, is of infinitely lefs worth and importance, than that of which the consequence and good effect, or the end of which, is without end, or forever. Therefore the Infinitely Great, Wise and Good Being will do nothing but that which fhall anfwer an end which never shall cease, so that the consequence and good effect of it shall exist forever.
If this visible world were to cease to exist, and every effect and consequence of its having existed were to cease forever, so that no end were to be answered by it but what took place during the existence of it ; and no existence, or circumstance of existence, should be in any respect otherwise than if it had not exifted ; it would have been created, and preserved during the existence of it, in a great measure, if not altogether, in vain. It is certain no end would be answered worthy of the Infinite Creator. There would really nothing be gained by such a work, all would be loft.
Therefore we may. be sure that none of the works of GOD are of this kind, but every thing that he does, will, in the effect and consequence of it, exist forever, or the end to be answered by it will never cease.
The natural world which we behold, with all the works of man in it, is to come to an end, at least as to the form in which it now exifts, when the end of the existence of it is answered, but that end which was designed to be accomplished by the creation and continuation of the existence of it will remain forever. The natural world, the sun, moon and stars, with this earth, and all the creatures and things contained in them, which are not capable of moral agency, and moral government-the natural world was created, and is upheld, for the sake of the moral world, and those creatures which are capable of moral government, and of conformity to God in moral exercises ; as a houfe is built, not for its own lake, but for the sake of those who are to live in it. And when this world, having answered the end with respect to the moral world for which it was made and preserv.
ed, shall be burnt up, the moral world, and all moral agents, will continue forever, with all the effects and consequences of the natural world, respecting the moral world, which were designed to be produced by creation and providence.
Hence it is demonstrably certain that moral agents, at leait some of them ; and if some why not all? will exist without end; for they cannot answer the end of their existence, and the end of all those works of God which he has done for their fake, if they should cease to exist : they must therefore exist forever.
It will appear evident and certain, no doubt, if duly considered, that moral government cannot be perfectly or properly exercised, unless it be endless, and consea quently, unless moral agents, the only subjects of this government, continue to exist forever. This is evident from the text we are considering, and what has been observed upon it.
it. But the evidence of this arises from another view of this point. Moral government cannot be exercised without a law pointing out and requiring the duty of moral agents, and fixing the penalty of disobedience, and maintaining and executing this law, agreeable to the requirements and fanctions of it. The punishment which a transgression of the divine law deserves is endless evil or suffering; and therefore this must be the penalty of the law of God, and must be executed on the transgreilor, unless something can take place to answer the fame end ; therefore he upon whom this penalty is executed, must exist forever, in order to suffer the penalty of the law. And although it be not essential to the law of God, that there should be an express promise of endless life to the obedient, yet the threatening of evil to the transgreffor seems to imply favor to the obedient, and is inconsistent with putting an end to their existence, and depriving them of endless happiness, which in their view, and in reality, would be an infinite negative evil; and therefore must be inconsistent with the wisdom and goodness of God, yeas with his distributive justice ; for they deserve no evil,