Lecture 1. Faith Considered as the Instrument of Justification

{1} TWO main views concerning the mode of our justification are found in the writings of English divines; on the one hand, that this great gift of our Lord's passion is vouchsafed to those who are moved by God's grace to claim it,—on the other, to those who by the same grace are moved to do their duty. These separate doctrines, justification by faith, and justification by obedience, thus simply stated, are not at all inconsistent with one another; and by religious men, especially if not divines, will be held both at once, or either the one or the other indifferently, as circumstances may determine. Yet, though so compatible in themselves, the case is altogether altered when one or other is made the elementary principle of the gospel system,—when professed exclusively, developed consistently, and accurately carried out to its limits. Then what seemed at first but two modes of stating the same truth, will be found, the one to be the symbol of what goes by the name of Romanism, the other of what is commonly called Protestantism.

It shall be my endeavour in these Lectures to take such a view of Justification, as may approve itself to {2} those among us who hold whether the one or the other doctrine in an unsystematic way, yet falls in with neither of them, when they are adopted as the foundation or "leading idea" of a theology. Justification by faith only, thus treated, is an erroneous, and justification by obedience is a defective, view of Christian doctrine. The former is beside, the latter short of the truth. The former legitimately tends to the creed of the rigid Lutherans who opposed Melanchthon; the latter to that of Vasquez, Caietan, and other extreme writers of the Roman school. That we are absolutely saved by obedience, that is, by what we are, has introduced the proper merit [Note 1] of good works; that we are absolutely saved by faith, or by what Christ is, the notion that good works are not conditions of our salvation.

In this and the following Lecture I propose to set down some chief characteristics of the Lutheran and Roman schemes of justification; and first, of the Lutheran.


The point at which it separates from the doctrine of our Liturgy and Articles is very evident. Our formularies {3} speak of faith as in many ways essential to our justification, but not as the instrument of originally gaining it [Note 2]. This peculiar instrumentality of faith is the Lutheran tenet here to be discussed; and is plainly the consequence of what has been already adverted to, the attaching an exclusive importance to the doctrine of justification by faith only. Those who hold that this doctrine declares only one out of several truths relating to the mode of our justification, even though they express themselves like the strict Lutherans, may really agree with our Church; but it is far otherwise with those who hold it as comprehending all that is told us about that mode.

This then is peculiarly the Lutheran view, viz. that faith is the proper instrument of justification [Note 3]. That justification is the application of Christ's merits to the individual [Note 4], or (as it is sometimes expressed) the imparting a saving interest in Him, will not be denied by English divines. Moreover, it will be agreed that His merits are not communicated, or a saving interest secured, except through an instrument divinely appointed. Such an instrument there must be, if man is to take part in the application supposed; and it must be divinely appointed, since it is to convey what God Himself, {4} and He alone, dispenses. It is then a means appointed by God and used by man, and is almost necessarily involved in the notion of justification. All parties seem to agree as far as this; but when we go on to inquire what it is which God has made His instrument, then, as I have said, we find ourselves upon the main subject of dispute between ourselves and the strict followers of the German Reformer. Our Church considers it to be the Sacrament of Baptism [Note 5]; they consider it to be Faith.

These two views indeed need not be, and have not always been, opposed to one another [Note 6]. Baptism may be considered the instrument on God's part, Faith on ours; Faith may receive what Baptism conveys. But if the word instrument be taken to mean in the strictest sense the immediate means by which the gift passes from the giver to the receiver, there can be but one instrument; and either Baptism will be considered to convey it (whether conditionally or not, which is a further question), or Faith to seize, or, as it is expressed, to apprehend it,—either Faith will become a subordinate means, condition, or qualification, or Baptism a mere sign, pledge, or ratification of a gift which is really independent of it. And this is the alternative in which the question has practically issued at all times.

I am in this Lecture to consider the system of doctrine arising out of the belief that Faith, not Baptism, {5} is the instrument of justification. What I think of that system may be gathered from what I say as I proceed. I have tried to delineate it fairly; at the same time I am sensible that I shall seem not to have pursued the subject to its limits. Yet I think I have reached the limits of the meaning of those who have brought it into discussion; and if I am obscure, it is because I have to use their language.


Its advocates then suppose that Faith is the one principle which God's grace makes use of for restoring us to His favour and image. Born in sin, and the heir of misery, the soul needs an utter change of what it is by nature, both within and without, both in itself and in God's sight. The change in God's sight is called justification, the inward change is regeneration; and faith is the one appointed means of both at once. It is awakened in us by the secret influences of the Holy Spirit, generally co-operating with some external means, as the written word; and, as embracing the news of salvation through Christ, it thereby also appropriates salvation, becoming at the same time the element and guarantee of subsequent renewal. As leading the soul to rest on Christ as its own Saviour, and as the propitiation of its own sins in particular, it imparts peace to the conscience, and the comfortable hope of heaven; and, as being living, spiritual, and inseparable from gratitude towards Christ, it abounds in fruit, that is in good works of every kind.

Such is the first general sketch which may be given of this doctrine, according to which justification means a {6} change in God's dealings with us and faith means trust. Our Article too so understands the word justification; so we need not stop to consider it here. Let us rather confine ourselves to the examination of what is meant by faith or trust, to which such great effects are ascribed.

It is commonly found the most ready answer to this inquiry to enlarge upon what it is not. Accordingly, it is not unusual to explain that faith is not mere belief in the being of a God, nor in the historical fact that Christ has come on earth, suffered and ascended. Nor is it the submission of the reason to mysteries, nor the sort of trust which is required for exercising the gift of miracles. Nor, again, is it the knowledge and acceptance of the sacred truths of the New Testament, even the Atonement, however accurate that knowledge, however implicit that acceptance. It is neither the faith of Judas who healed diseases, nor of Simon Magus who submitted to baptism, nor of Demas who might be orthodox in his creed, nor of devils who "believe and tremble." All such kinds of faith are put aside as fictitious, as not deserving the name, and as having no connection whatever, except in the accident of an homonymous term, with that faith which justifies.

Such justifying faith or trust is supposed to be, considered negatively: when a more direct account of it is demanded, answer is made as follows;—that it is a spiritual principle, altogether different from anything we have by nature, endued with a divine life and efficacy, and producing a radical change in the soul: or more precisely, that it is a trust in Christ's merits and in them alone for salvation. It is regarded as that very feeling {7} exercised towards our Almighty Benefactor, which we are on the contrary warned against, when directed towards anything earthly, as riches, or an arm of flesh. It is the feeling under which we flee in any great temporal danger to some place or means of refuge; the feeling under which the servant in the parable asked forgiveness of his debt, with a simple admission that it lay solely and entirely with his lord to grant it. It consists then in a firm reliance on Christ's mercifulness towards even the worst of sinners who come to Him,—an experimental conviction that the soul needs a Saviour, and a full assurance that He can and will be such to it,—a thankful acceptance of His perfect work,—an exaltation and preference of Him above all things,—a surrender of the whole man to Him,—a submission to His will,—a perception and approval of spiritual things,—a feeling of the desirableness of God's service,—a hatred of sin,—a confession of utter unworthiness,—a self-abhorrence of what is past,—and a resolution, in dependence on God's grace, to do better in future. Some such description is often given of it; or, in a word, it is spoken of as being, or implying all at once, love, gratitude, devotion, belief, holiness, repentance, hope, dutifulness, and all other graces.


This description however, it is obvious, includes too much, as the former said too little. Let us then dismiss such popular accounts as meet us in every quarter on first opening the subject, and endeavour to fix our minds on it more steadily. What then are we to say that justifying faith really is? The Lutheran divines define {8} it to be a "fiduciary apprehension" [Note 7] of gospel mercy,—a belief, not only that Christ has died for the sins of the world, but that He has died specially for the individual so believing, and a sense of confident trust in consequence [Note 8], a claiming as one's own, with full persuasion of its efficacy, what He has done and suffered for all. This is an intelligible account of it certainly; but it is not at all sufficient for the purpose, for this plain reason; that justifying faith is always supposed in the Lutheran scheme to be lively or to lead to good works, but such a "fiduciary apprehension," or confident persuasion, may exist without any fruit following to warrant it. Trusting faith is not necessarily living faith. The servant in the parable knew he owed his master a large sum; he knew his master only could remit the debt. He applied to him; he appropriated to himself his mercy, in the only way he could, by falling down and throwing himself upon it. He did not in any degree trust in himself or in anything else; he discovered no pride, no self-righteousness; his trust was absolute,—unless we choose to say that his promise for the future interfered with it. Yet he went away and sinned; trust then is not necessarily lively faith.

Shall we then define the justifying faith of the Lutherans to be faith which is lively? This is a more adequate account of it, but a less consistent one. For what is meant by lively? is it to be explained as {9} merely that, which in the event is fruitful, without having in itself anything discriminating or characteristic? But surely that which results in good works must have some principle in it which is the cause of that result; and this is confessed by calling it lively. What then is the life of faith? What is that which makes it what it is? What is that, not on account of which it is acceptable (for we all acknowledge that Christ is the only meritorious cause of our acceptance), but what is that property in it which makes it (for Christ's sake) acceptable? What is the formal quality of justifying faith? Let us but ascertain this, and we shall be able to understand what the Lutherans mean when they treat of it.

Many divines accordingly, of various schools, consider this life of faith to be love; and it must he confessed that even the strict followers of the German Reformer speak in a way to sanction the notion. Thus at all times they have indulged in descriptions of faith as an adhering to Christ, a delighting and rejoicing in Him, and a giving oneself up to Him; all which seem to be nothing more or less than properties of love. Luther, however, himself, as we shall presently find, opposed himself most earnestly and vehemently to such a doctrine, under the notion that to say that love made faith living was to deny the innate life and power of faith as such, and to associate another principle with it as a joint instrument in justification [Note 9]. Let us for argument's sake grant that love is not the life of justifying {10} faith; but, if so, the question recurs, what is the faith that justifies?

Considering how important its office is, considering what exclusive stress is laid upon it in the School of doctrine under review, considering what severe protests {11} are raised by that School against anything but faith, whether virtue or good work, being assigned a share in our justification, considering that the knowledge of our possessing true faith is made a characteristic of the healthy state of that true faith [Note 10], surely we may fairly demand in the outset, what faith is; what that is, as separate from everything else, which exclusively of everything else is the instrument of so great a work. Surely it is fair to ask whither we are being led, before we consent to move a foot. They who are vehement in maintaining that faith only justifies, are bound to speak only and distinctly of faith.


In answer to this objection, it is usual in the first place to prohibit the consideration of it. We are told that such inquiries are an undue exaltation of human reason, or at least an unseasonable exercise of it: that to contemplate and dwell upon faith at all, or to ask any questions about it, is a fundamental mistake, considering we should fix our eyes and rest our hearts on the Divine Object of it only. Faith, it appears, is to be defined, not by its nature, but by its office; not by what it is, but by what it does. It is trust in Christ, and it differs from all other kinds of faith in That towards which it reaches forward and on which it rests. Thus it differs from historical faith, or intellectual knowledge, in that it is a taking Christ for our portion, and (to use a familiar phrase) closing with His offers of mercy. It consists, as has been already said, in this "fiduciary apprehension" {12} of the merits of Christ, in a willingness, most opposite to the bent of our proud nature, to be saved fully and freely with an everlasting salvation, "without money and without price," without merit, or labour, or pain, or sacrifice, or works of any kind on our part.

Or to put the subject in another point of view;—the gospel mercy is proclaimed openly and universally to all who will accept it. No special state of mind is necessary for appropriating it; a person has not to ask himself if he is fit; his warrant for making it his is the freeness of the proclamation—"Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely;" if a man feels his need of being justified, and desires it, he has but to ask, he has but to look at the great work of Redemption, and it is his own in all the fulness of its benefits. Faith then as little admits of a definition as putting out the hand or receiving alms; it has as little of a permanent form or shape as running or kneeling; it is a momentary act or motion rather than a moral virtue or grace, though it is the work of the Spirit, and productive of all virtues,—or at least it must not be regarded as a virtue. It is the reaching forward of the heart towards Christ, determining and resting in the thought of Him, as its limit, and thus deriving its character, and, as it may be called, its form from Him [Note 11].

This is the first answer made to the dilemma I have {13} been stating, by those whom it is directed against. It is urged on them that either faith is more than personal trust, and if so, that addition, whatever it is, is a joint instrument with it in our justification; or that it is nothing more, and then it is not necessarily living and operative faith. And they answer, as if by way of escaping from the dilemma, that to inquire what it is in faith which makes it justifying, as distinct from all other kinds of faith, is all one with asking what it is in faith on account of which faith justifies; that the discriminating mark is the same as the meritorious cause; and therefore that Christ Himself and He alone, the Object of the faith, is that which makes the faith what it is,—and to name, to hint, to look for what it is in faith which makes it lively, is to open the door to what Luther calls "the cursed gloss of Sophists." [Note 12] However, such a reply is evidently no real explanation of the difficulty. Accordingly, when brought fairly to consider it, they seem frankly to confess that it is a difficulty, and that it must be left to itself. They seem to allow that faith is in itself something more than trust, though man may be unable to say what it is more. "What is not really faith may doubtless," they say, "appear to be faith; of course there must ever be false brethren in the church; yet there may be true, there must, there will be true nevertheless. If any men {14} pretend to faith or trust, and do not go on to obey, then they have not real trust. This is a proper inference, not that trust can exist without obedience [Note 13]. Still it may be true, that the only way of becoming righteous in God's sight, the only way of becoming really fruitful in well-doing, is thus to embrace and appropriate Christ's atoning power as ours in the first instance, without standing still to speculate whether our trust is as it should be, whether we embrace and appropriate that mercy as we ought. This is God's way, and we may safely leave the difficulty to him who has imposed it on us. We may be unskilled, if it so happen, in definitions and distinctions; we may be unable to determine how true and false faith differ; seeds which are essentially distinct may baffle the discrimination of mortal eye; yet after all we are told, simply to look at Christ and to believe that we are justified, in order to our being so; and this is all that concerns us."

Moreover, this supposed difficulty of distinguishing between true and false faith is not, it may be urged, in reality so great as it appears in controversy. It does not follow that faith may not admit of being ascertained, because we cannot define it in the language of human {15} science. If there be such a thing as a real apprehension of Christ, it must necessarily be beyond explanation. It is a feeling, a spiritual taste, perception, sight, known only to him who has the blessedness to experience it. It is something beyond and above nature. It is a state of mind for which no terms have been invented. We cannot explain what sight is to the blind; in like manner, before the mind is enlightened by God's grace, it cannot discern those tokens which are to the true believer plain demonstration that he does believe and is under no delusion. If words be attempted, they must be used in new senses, unintelligible to the world at large. Hence this doctrine, however true, will never appear to advantage, or be described with justice, in controversy, which employs the language of the unregenerate. It is true its maintainers have attempted to argue and refute their opponents; but to do so was a mistake; they ought not to argue where they cannot refute; for from the nature of the case they will always appear, to all but themselves and those who agree with them, defective in their definitions and illogical in their reasonings. Yet all the while it may be true, that those who are savingly converted are converted by means of this simple trust, which the self-deceived and carnal misuse, and which controversialists stumble at.


I have been endeavouring to represent the Lutheran, or extreme Protestant idea of justifying faith in its internal consistence; to examine how its parts hang together, and how it disposes of objections which arise, {16} apart from the arguments on which it rests. What these are, will come next to be considered, but the above seems to be the doctrine which they will be required to prove, viz.—Faith, an act or motion of the mind produced indeed by Divine Grace, but still utterly worthless, applies to the soul the merits of Him on whom it looks, gaining at the same time His sanctifying aid, and developing itself in good works; which works are the only evidence we can have of its being true. It justifies then, not as being lively or fruitful, though this is an inseparable property of it, but as apprehending Christ, which is its essence [Note 14].

The alleged ground of this doctrine, which of course is the principal point to be considered, is twofold,—Scripture and the reason of the thing. As to Scripture, all those many texts which speak of the freeness of salvation, one of which was just now cited, are brought in behalf of the principle that confident trust is the sole qualification for being justified. "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall he opened unto you; for every one that seeketh findeth;"—"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters;"—"What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." [Matt. vii. 7. Is. lv. 1. Mark xi. 24.] No words, it is urged, can express more strongly the title of every one who hears of the great gift of God, to make it his own; and his immediate possession of it, without any {17} intermediate channel or instrument of gaining it, if he does but believe he has it.

To these must be added the more distinct announcements of St. Paul about faith in particular; which, though they do not go to the extent of teaching we are justified by faith only, yet, as no one can deny, speak of the connection of faith with justification in a very remarkable way. I mean such texts as these:—"Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood;" and again, "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;" and again, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law;" [Rom. iii. 24, 25, 28; v. 1.] —texts which certainly do speak of our being justified by faith in some very especial sense, and without the aid of deeds of the law, and therefore (it is urged) without the aid of any instrument, condition, or qualification at all, whether Christian grace or good work.

Scripture then, by telling us to come for the gifts of grace and that we shall at once receive them, is supposed to imply that they are dispensed without any intermediate channel between God and the soul; on the ground that they would not be freely given, if given through any of God's servants or ministers, Angel or Apostle, Prophet or Priest.


Such is the Scripture evidence adduced for this view of justification;—however, it is considered, instead of needing evidence from Scripture, rather to be itself an {18} evidence of the inspiration of Scripture. Other systems (it seems) have attempted to melt the heart and restore our corrupt nature by severity, threats, or motives of expediency; but the gospel alone has dared to trust itself to the principle of free and unconditional favour, yet with success as signal as has been the failure of all other methods; for the mere preaching of reconciliation with God, the doctrine of pardon, the command to take and enjoy the blessings of redemption, has been found to act upon the soul in a remarkable way for its conversion and renewal. This argument has sometimes been practically considered as a substitute for elaborate Scripture evidence, as if it approved itself to men's minds at once, as a short and easy proof of the truth of the doctrine;—for though numberless conversions have been made through a long course of ages without the doctrine (utter revolutions indeed in the principles and framework of society, the laws of nations, and the habits both of barbarian and educated minds), still (it is said) these conversions were but outward, as not being attended by an enlightened and heartfelt perception of the free grace of the gospel, and of its abolition of all rites and ordinances; and though doubtless, since this instrument has been used, multitudes have abused it to their everlasting ruin, yet all this does not interfere with the blessedness of its effects, wherever it has operated on a truly penitent heart, and been used for its legitimate purposes with meditation, prayer, watchfulness, godly fear, and a conscientious walk.

This is a practical argument in behalf of the sole instrumentality of Faith in our justification; and it is {19} supported by another of an abstract character, derived from (what is called) the apprehensive power of faith [Note 15]. Faith alone of all the fruits of the Spirit, and not love, fear, or resignation, contemplates the expiatory sacrifice of Christ; and, as having it for its Object, it must be believed to have it for its possession. It is the instrument of appropriating the gift, for the very reason that it is the means by which the mind receives the news of it. Faith, it is argued, sees the purchased redemption, and therefore must be able to take and apply it. It is the eye, and therefore of course it is the hand. Or, in a word, it apprehends Christ; a suitable, or rather convenient term as vaguely including both ideas, of accepting the message and receiving the gift, without marking the distinction between them.


This however is but a portion of the argument derived from the apprehensive power of Faith. It is not {20} only considered to justify correlatively [Note 16], (to use the controversial expression), from the supposed fitness that the principle through which the soul desires and owns God's mercy should ipso facto be the instrument of obtaining it; but besides, something is alleged from the very nature of faith, as well as from its function, in proof of its being the sole justifying principle. For, as being the mere turning and adhering of the soul to Christ, it may be said by a figure of speech to live in Him in whose image it rests. Other graces are complete in themselves; or at least have something in themselves excellent and praiseworthy. Thus they do not necessarily lead to Christ, but remain within their own limits, contented (as it were) with themselves, and sufficient for their own enjoyment. But faith has no such inward principle on which to depend; it looks out of doors for that in which it centres, and is altogether animated and absorbed by its divine Object. It depends upon, it holds of the thought of Him; it is alive only as the thought of Him pervades and informs it. Since then the thought of Him is ever present in it, therefore He may be said to be ever present in it, or (what is supposed to be the same thing) He is spiritually present in it; and if He is present, His merits are present in it, and are in this way conveyed to the soul which exercises it. In this sense Luther seems to speak as if Christ were the forma fidei [Note 17], or that which makes faith what it {21} is, justifying; for Christ being the One true Justifier, and the thought of Him being (as it were) He himself, and Faith being filled with the thought of Him, a justifying power is imparted to faith which in itself it has not. On the other hand his opponents, whether of the Roman or Anglican school, are accustomed to urge that the thought of Christ may be possessed by those who have not Christ, and therefore that it is in no sense the form or characteristic principle of justifying faith; rather that love, as I noticed above, is the true form, the discriminating mark and moulding principle under which belief is converted into Faith and made justifying. This doctrine, however, Luther rejects with great abhorrence, from the notion that it makes our thoughts centre on ourselves, cuts off the communication between earth and heaven, fixes our faith on that love with which it is supposed to be instinct, instead of its mounting up worthless, rude, and unformed, to receive subsistence, fashion, and acceptableness in Christ. By way of protest against the doctrine, which he calls "a most pestilent and Satanical gloss," he declares, very differently from the language of our Homilies, that faith justifies before and without love [Note 18]. {22}

It follows that, by a strong figure, Faith may be said to claim the promised blessings, as if it were meritorious, that is, by virtue of the intimate correspondence and sympathy between it and Christ. Hence we may be said to be justified, not only by or through faith (as our Article words it), but on account of faith; for faith is {23} absorbed into its Object, of which it is but the outward receptacle, and consequently the symbol and representative. And in this sense faith is considered by Luther and his followers as imputed to us for righteousness, by a mode of speech; Christ really, who is spiritually present in the faith, and not the faith itself, being our sole and true Righteousness, in which our acceptance with God consists [Note 19]. And here additional light is thrown upon the statement, as used by them, that we are justified by faith only, faith not thereby excluding the necessity of works, nor becoming meritorious, but the formula "by faith only, not by works," meaning simply this, "by the merit of Christ only, not of works, nor even of faith."


This is an outline of a scheme of doctrine which, with more or less of system, is very prevalent at this day, and which has been usually associated with the name of Luther. The reasons which led to his insisting upon it were chiefly the two following, both arising from his opposition to the Roman doctrine concerning good works;—first, his wish to extirpate all notions of human merit; next, to give peace and satisfaction to the troubled conscience [Note 20]. {24}

In effecting these objects, however, he also adopted another tenet, which in his system is the counterpart of the sole instrumentality of Faith. He taught that the Moral Law is not binding on the conscience of the Christian; that Christ has fulfilled it by His own obedience; that He is our Righteousness, in the sense of His obedience being the substitute for ours in the sight of God's justice; and that Faith is the instrument by which that Righteousness becomes ours. Such a view of the gospel covenant met both the alleged evils against which it was provided. For if Christ has obeyed the Law instead of us, it follows, that every believer has at once a perfect righteousness, yet not his own; that it is not his own, precludes all boasting, that it is perfect precludes all anxiety. The conscience is unladen, without becoming puffed up. With a few remarks under each of these heads I shall conclude.

1. First then, as to the proper merit of works; it is urged by the school of Luther, that that doctrine is not banished from theology, so long as works are allowed to have any share whatever in our justification, in spite of St James's affirming that they have. While they have any share in it, it is possible to rest in our works—they do not imply or remind of Christ's all-sufficiency; but we cannot lean upon our faith, for in fact (as I have said) it has no real substance or strength of its own, nothing to support us; it does but give way and carry us back and throw us on the thought of Christ, in whom it lives. To this argument it may be replied, that since no good works can be done but through the grace of God, those works are but evidence that that grace is with the doer; {25} so that to view them as sharing in our justification tends to elate us, neither more nor less than the knowledge that we are under divine influences is elating. But they answer, that we are not concerned here with formal admissions and distinctions, but with practical impressions; that to say, that Christ is but the remote source of justification, and that our own doings, though through His grace, are the proximate cause, is in fact to fix the mind on ourselves, not on Him; whereas to teach that He actually in His own person has obeyed the Law for each of us is a most efficacious means of deterring us from thinking about our own obedience to it at all, and faith again, however much insisted on, has so little in it to recommend it or to rest in, so little in it holy, precious, or praiseworthy, that it cannot seduce us to self-gratulation or spiritual pride or pharisaical exclusiveness, seeing our best doings in the Spirit are neither better nor more acceptable to the Divine Majesty than those natural righteousnesses, which Scripture calls "filthy rags," and "an unclean thing." On the other hand, this doctrine does not tend, they say, to widen the way which Christ has pronounced to be narrow; for, though faith is so worthless, and therefore so safe a feeling, yet it is not easy to acquire. The pride of man resists this way of salvation from its very easiness, and is not subdued without much inward conflict [Note 21]. In proportion, however, as faith takes {26} the place of pride, its Divine Object is contemplated by the mind,—presented, not intercepted by that which is the medium of the mind's possessing it.

Another similar use of these doctrines is to secure us against self-contemplation. Prayer, alms, fasting, and the like, which are but modes of approaching God, will be dwelt on as ends, as objects for self-complacency, and sources of those spiritual benefits which in profession are but sought through them, unless Christ's righteousness be insisted on as that in which immediately our justification lies, and faith that by which it is gained [Note 22].

It follows moreover, from what has been observed, that though, according to the system before us, it may be scripturally said that Faith is taken for righteousness, yet it will be safer, as well as more correct, for us to say that Christ is our righteousness; lest we should think that our justification lies in anything of ours, and not in Christ.


2. Reliance then on self in whatever shape, is one of the two evils which it is supposed are destroyed by the doctrine of faith as the instrument, and Christ's righteousness as the form, of justification; the other is the state of doubt about our justification which must ever attend the belief that it depends on our graces and works, though produced by divine influences. It is urged that the great end of the gospel is to give peace to the troubled conscience, to take from it the fear of eternal death, and to assure it of pardon and acceptance with God. Without the certainty of salvation,—(at least so far as to {27} know that, were we to die at the present moment we should be secure of heaven [Note 23], whatever may be our chance of losing it in time to come),—but at least without an assurance that we are at present accounted sinless and unreproveable in God's sight for Christ's sake, that no charge lies against us, that all our past sins up to this hour are absolutely forgiven, and that no future judgment on them need be dreaded,—without all this, the gospel has hardly done its work, but leaves us, as far as our peace is concerned, under the bond of the Law [Note 24]. Now if this certainty of our present salvation be a part of our Christian privileges, evidently it can never be attained by works [Note 25], because we can never know when we have done enough; whereas Faith is a principle which a person may easily satisfy himself that he has, which is naturally adapted to be its own evidence, and which moreover inspires its possessor with this peculiar comfort, that he has nothing more to do to secure his salvation, and need but hold on as he is, looking at Christ's perfect work, and appropriating it to himself. Christ has fulfilled the Law for us; faith makes that fulfilment ours; and places us above the Law. In observing the Law, though we shall observe it, we are not performing a duty; we are merely stooping from that heavenly state in which {28} Christ has placed us, and condescending to take part in things of this earth [Note 26]. To allow we are under it, is (it is urged) necessarily polluting our conscience with a sense of guilt; for, since we all sin continually, while we subject our conscience to the Law, we can as little enjoy the assurance of our salvation, as we can exercise implicit faith in the all-sufficiency of Christ's merits. Nor must it be hence inferred that the Christian is not in fact fruitful in good works, but only that they flow naturally from such a simple trust as has been described; nor that he is at liberty to violate the Law, but only that it is not a matter of conscience to him to keep it [Note 27]; nor {29} that he will not labour to grow in grace, but only that he is not more acceptable to God, if he does [Note 28]; nor that he will not be watchful against falling away, but only that he is sure (unless his faith is weak [Note 29]) that he has salvation at present.

And now perhaps enough has been said in explanation of a theology familiar to all ears at present, which differs from our own in these two main points among others;—in considering that Faith and not Baptism is the primary instrument of justification, and that this Faith which justifies exercises its gift without the exercise or even the presence of love.

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1. [Catholics hold that our good works, as proceeding from the grace of the Holy Ghost, cannot be worthless, but have a real and proper value; on the other hand, that the great reward of eternal life is due to them only in consequence of the promise of God. Good works have on this ground a claim on God's faithfulness to His promises, and thereby a claim on His justice, for it would be unjust to promise and not fulfil. The Council of Trent says: ''Vita ęterna est et tanquam gratia misericorditer promissa, et tanquam merces ex ipsius Dei promissione fideliter reddenda. Again: "Quę justitia nostra dicitur, illa eadem Dei est, quia ą Deo nobis infunditur per Christi meritum." Sess. vi. cap. 16.]
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2. The passage in the Homily on the Passion will be explained in Lecture X.
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3. Fides non justificat vel meritorie, vel per modum dispositionis, ut volunt Pontificii, sed organice et per modum apprehensionis, quatenus meritum Christi in verbo Evangelii oblatum complectitur.—Gerhard. de Justif. § 153.
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4. Beneficia Christi ... in quorum applicatione modus ac forma justificationis consistit.—Gerhard. de Justif. § 148.
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5. Baptismus ... est signum regenerationis, per quod, tanquam per instrumentum, recte Baptismum suscipientes, Ecclesię inseruntur, etc.—Artic. XXVII.
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6. Gerhard. de Justif. §§ 64, 153. Vid. Baxter, Life of Faith, iii. 8, error 20.
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7. Propria et specifica fidei justificantis foma est fiducialis apprehensio Christi Mediatoris ac beneficiorum ejus, quę in verbo Evangelii nobis offeruntur.—Gerhard. de Justif. § 117.
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8. Gerhard. de Justif. § 127, et seq.
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9. Non enim dicit [Paulus], Charitas est efficax, sed, Fides est efficax; non, Charitas operatur, sed, Fides operatur. Charitatem vero facit fidei velut instrumentum, per quod operatur.—In Gal. v. 6. (f. 407). Illa charitas, vel sequentia opera, nec informant meam fidem, nec ornant; sed fides mea informat et ornat charitatem.—In Gal. ii. 19 (f. 316). Quisquis spiritualis vitę particeps factus per fidem, is eandem exerit per charitatem, sicut per externas operationes vita hominis naturalis manifestatur.—Gerhard. de Justif. § 153. Yet Melanchthon and Calvin take the sober tone of our Homilies in denying that justifying faith can for a moment exist without love, contrary to Luther and his school. "Fides significat fiduciam; in fiducia inest dilectio, ergo etiam dilectione sumus justi." Concedo in fiducia inesse dilectionem, et hanc virtutem et plerasque alias adesse oportere; sed cum dicimus, Fiducia sumus justi, non intelligatur nos propter virtutis istius dignitatem, sed per misericordiam recipi propter Mediatorem quem tamen oportet fide apprehendi. Ergo hoc dicimus correlativč—Melanchth. Loc. Com. f. 213. Vid. Calv. Justific. iii. 11, n. 6. But what Melanchthon gains in reasonableness, he surely loses in the controversy with Rome. For what is the real difference between saying with him that faith is not justifying unless love or holiness be with it; or with Bellarmine, that it is not so, unless love be in it?—What is the distinction between the metaphors conveyed by in and with? Nay, the approximation is nearer still, for, while Melanchthon grants that love "inest," is in faith, Bellarmine grants that the love which makes faith living is not part of faith, but external to it. He says, "Apostolus Paulus explicat dilectionem formam esse extrinsecam fidei, non intrinsecam, et quę det illi, non ut sit, sed ut moveatur."—In Justif. ii. 4. And on the other hand the Lutheran Gerhard: "Fides a dilectione sejuncta non justificat, quia non potest a dilectione nisi [noematikos] sejungi; et si a dilectione sejungatur, non est vera fides."—§ 175. The sole question then is, whether love, which on all hands is allowed to be a sine quā non, communicates to faith its justifying power. But what is meant by communicates? Luther's doctrine, on the other hand, that justifying faith is without love when it justifies, is plain enough, and no matter of words.
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10. Gerhard. de Justif. § 88.
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11. Ego soleo, ut hanc rem melius captem, sic imaginari, quasi nulla sit in corde meo qualitas, quę fides vel charitas vocetur, sed in loco ipsarum pono ipsum Christum, et dico, hęc est justitia mea, ipse est qualitas et formalis, ut vocant, Justitia mea, ut sic me liberem ab interitu legis et operum.—Luther. ad Brentium Ep. apud Gerh. de Justif. § 163.
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12. Pereant itaque sophistę cum sua maledicta glossa, et damnetur vox illa fides formata; et dicamus constanter ista vocabula, fides formata, informis, acquisita, etc., diaboli esse portenta, nata in perniciem doctrinę et fidei Christianę.—In Gal. iii. 12. (f. 347). Bp. Bull, on the contrary, holds the doctrine of fides formata. So does Bp. Davenant in Col. i. p. 28, saying that faith precedes love naturā, not in fact.
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13. Non est in arbitrio aut potestate nostra situm hanc libertatem, per Evangelium jam invulgatam, celare homines aut revocare, quia Christus eam nobis donavit, ac suā morte peperit. Neque possumus illos porcos, qui toto impetu ruunt in licentiam carnis, cogere ut corpore et rebus suis serviant aliis. Ideo quod possumus, facimus; hoc est, admonemus diligenter eos debere hoc pręstare. Si his monitis nostris nihil efficimus, committimus rem Deo ... Interim tamen hoc nos solatur, quod labor et dilgentia nostra non est inanis apud pios.—Luther in Gal. v. 13. Vid. also Calvin. Institut. iii. 2, n. 11, 12.
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14. Gerhard. de Justif, § 179. Calvin. Institut. iii. 18, n. 10. This doctrine has sometimes been thus expressed by its defenders: "Fides, fœta bonis operibus, justificat ante partum.'' Vid. Bull, Harm. i. 6, § 2.
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15. Si fides, antequam sequantur opera, Christum apprehendit, verum esse oportet, solam fidem redemptionem sibi applicare, id quod est justificari.—Luther. Libell. ad Ed. August. Vid. also in Gal. iii. 13 (f. 351). Fides justificat apprehendendo Christum; eadem vero justificans fides hanc habet proprietatem, quod Deo summum obsequium pręstet et gloriam veritatis ei tribuat; est ergo unicum illa medium, per quod promissionibus divinis de remissione peccatorum invitemur, et hac ratione bonorum in illa oblatorum participes reddimur.—Gerhard. de Justif. § 156. Nec aliud volunt nostri cum dicunt sola fide justificamur, quam quod jam dixi, gratis fide propter Christum consequimur remissionem peccatorum, non propter nostram dignitatem … Suntque correlativč intelligendę hę sententię, Fide, id est, fiducia Christi sumus justi, hoc est propter Christum sumus justi.—Melanchthon. Loci Theol. de vocab. Gratię. (Op. vol. i. f. 202.) Vid. also Apol. Conf. Augustan. (f. 64). Loc. Theol. in voc. Fidei (f. 197, 199).
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16. Gerhard. de Justif. § 163, etc. etc.
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17. Christus in me vivit: is est mea forma, ornans fidem meam, ut color vel lux parietem ornat.—Luther. in Gal. ii. 20 (f. 318). Fides justificans non caret debita forma, quę est fiducialis apprehensio Christi.—Gerhard. de Justif. § 120. Vid. also § 71 (col. 505). Vid. Calvin. Institut. iii. 11, 20.
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18. Fides ... quando in proprio suo officio est, nullum prorsus objectum habet, quam Jesum Christum, Filium Dei, traditum pro peccatis totius mundi. Non respicit charitatem; non dicit, Quid fui? quid merui? sed quid fuit Christus? ... Quare quę sophistę docuerunt de fide justificante, si sit charitate formata, mera verborum portenta sunt. Ea enim fides, quę apprehendit Christum Filium Dei, et eo ornatur, non quę includit charitatem, justificat. Nam fidem, si certa et firma esse debet, nihil apprehendere oportet, quam solum Christum, etc. … Quare, qui Christum fide apprehendit, quantumvis lege perterrefiat, etc. … gloriari potest se justum esse. Quomodo aut per quid? per gemmam Christum, quem fide possidet. Hoc adversarii non intelligunt; ideo abjiciunt gemmam Christum, et in locum ejus reponunt charitatem quam dicunt gemmam esse. Luther. in Gal. ii. 4, 5 (f. 296, 7). Hic nihil te moveat impia glossa sophistarum, qui dicunt, fidem tum demum justificare si accesserit charitas et bona opera. Ista pestilenti glossa, hanc et similes sententias in Paulo, quibus diserte tribuit justificationem fidei, obscurarunt et depravarunt sophistę ... Et pro hac sua perniciosa et pestilenti glossa comprobanda, allegant adversarii locum, 1 Cor. xiii. Si linguis hominum, etc. … Vitanda est ut venenum infernale, concludendumque cum Paulo, sola fide non fide formata charitate nos justificari; quare non isti formę gratificanti tribuenda est vis justificandi, sed fidei, quę apprehendit et possidet in corde ipsum Christum Salvatorem. Hęc fides sine et ante charitatem justificat.—In Gal. ii. 16, (f. 309, 310). Vid. also in iii. 12. Si formatam fidem distinguerent contra falsam seu fictam fidem, nihil me offenderet ista illorum distinctio. Sed ... faciunt ... duplicem fidem, informem et formatam. Hanc pestilentissimam et Satanicam glossam non possum non vehementer detestari ... Juxta hoc pestilens figmentum sophistarum, fides illa misera virtus erit quoddam informe chaos, nullius operis, efficacię, et vitę, sed tantum passiva materia. Ista omnia blasphema in Deum et Satanica sunt ... nam si charitas est forma fidei, ut ipsi nugantur, statim cogor sentire ipsam charitatem esse principalem et maximam partem Christianę religionis; et sic amitto Christum, sanguinem, vulnera, et omnia beneficia ejus, at inhęreo charitati, et diligo ac venio in facere morale, ut Papa, Gentilis philosophus, aut Turca.—In Gal. iii. 11 (f. 346). Vid. also ff. 312 (1 and 2), 316 (1 and 2), 318 (2), 347 (2). Vid. also Melanchthon. Apol. Conf. August. (f. 67). Calvin. Institut. iii. 2, n. 8, 41, etc.
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19. Gerhard. de Justif. § 163. For the imputation of faith, vid. Luther. in Gal. f. 335 (2), f. 417. For propter fidem vid. (e.g.) in Gal. ii. 16 (f. 308), f. 347 (2). Est Christiana justitia imputatio divina pro justitia vel ad justitiam, propter fidem in Christum, vel propter Christum.—In Gal. iii. 6 (f. 336). Vid. the whole passage. In this sense he calls faith formalis justitia, in Gal. ii. 16 (f. 308). See also a very eloquent passage on the same subject in f. 334, "Paulus his verbis, etc." Also Melanchth. Apol. (f. 70).
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20. These two points are treated of by Calvin, Institut. iii. 13.
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21. Luther. in Gal. iii. 2 (f. 331). It would seem, however, as if the stricter Lutherans, who maintained that faith justified before and without love, made much more of the dignity of faith than the school of Melanchthon, who considered it to be inseparable from love, and to justify correlativč. Vid. Bellarm. de Justif. i. 12. Gerhard. de Justif. § 163.
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22. Luther. in Gal. ii. 20 (f. 318).
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23. Gerhard. de Justif. § 81, etc.
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24. Is [Christus] solus dominetur in justitia, securitate, lętitia, et vita, ut conscientia lęta obdormiat in Christo, sine ullo sensu legis peccati, et mortis.—Luther. in Gal. iv. 3 (f. 373).
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25. Equidem si ab operibus ęstimandum sit qualiter affectus sit erga nos Dominus, id ne tenui quidem conjectura possemus assequi fateor; sed quum simplici et gratuitę promissioni respondere fides debet, nullus ambigendi locus relinquitur.—Calvin. Institut. iii. 2, n. 38.
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26. Dicimus autem supra quod lex in Christiano non debeat excedere limites suos, sed tantum habere dominium in carnem, quę et ei subjecta sit et sub ea maneat; hoc ubi fit, consistit lex intra limites suos. Si vero vult occupare conscientiam, et hic dominari, vide ut tum sis bonus dialecticus, recte dividas, et legi non plus tribuas quam ei tribuendum est; sed dicas, Lex, tu vis ascendere in regnum conscientię, et ibi dominari, et eam arguere peccati, et gandium cordis tollere, quod habeo ex fide in Christum, et me in desperationem adigere, ut desperem et peream. Hoc pręter officium tuum facis, consiste intra limites tuos, et exerce dominium in carnem. Conscientiam autem ne attingas mihi; sum enim baptizatus, et per Evangelium vocatus ad communionem justitię et vitę ęternę, ad Regnum Christi, in quo acquiescit conscientia mea, ubi nulla est lex, etc. ... Hanc [justitiam Christi] cum intus habeo, descendo de cœlo, tanquam pluvia fœcundans terram, hoc est, prodeo foras in aliud regnum et facio bona opera quœcunque mihi occurrent, etc. ... Quicunque certo novit Christum esse justitiam suam, is non solum ex animo et cum gaudio bene operatur in vocatione sua, sed subjicit se quoque per charitatem magistratibus, etc. … quia scit Deum hoc velle et placere hanc obedientiam.—Luther. Argum. in Gal. (f. 274). Perhaps it is a happy thing that all of Luther's followers are not "boni dialectici" enough to carry out his principles to this length.
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27. Quamquam sic liber est [Christianus] ab omnibus operibus, debet tamen rursus se exinanire hac in libertate, formam servi accipere, in similitudinem hominum fieri, etc.—Luther. de Lib. Christ. f. 9 (2).
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28. Episcopus sacer, templum consecrans, pueros confirmans, aut aliud quippiam officii sui faciens, non consecratur iis ipsis operibus in Episcopum, etc. ... ita Christianus per fidem suam consecratus bona facit opera, sed non per hœc magis sacer aut Christianus efficitur; hœc enim solius fidei est, etc.—Luther. de Lib. Christ. (f. 8).
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29. Si ... adest conscientiœ pavor, signum est hanc justitiam ablatam, gratiam amissam esse ą conspectu, et Christum obscuratum non videri.—Luther. Argum. in Gal. (f. 273).
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