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James ii. 26.
FOR AS THE BODY WITHOUT THE SPIRIT IS DEAD, SO FAITH
WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD ALSO.”
The Scripture doctrines respecting Faith and Works have appeared to some superficial readers as not easily reconcilable together; and, accordingly, we find that various persons have attached themselves to one of these doctrines, refusing to have its nature explained or its extension limited, by a reference to the other. Difficulties of this kind frequently originate in the spirit in which the Holy Scriptures are consulted. It is much too general a custom to apply ourselves to the study of them, not in a teachable spirit, which prompts us to seek the wisdom they contain for our own edification, but in a spirit which makes us search the Scriptures as a book of reference, in which we seek authorities in favour of opinions previously derived not
perhaps from the word of God, but from our own vain imaginations.
All those who consult the sacred writings in this arrogant spirit, may certainly be struck with what they will term a discrepancy between what should be considered two parts of the same doctrine. When they find, in various parts of the Scripture, that life and happiness depend altogether upon true faith in our Saviour Christ, and hear it, in others, as unequivocally asserted, that we shall be judged according to our works—when they hear St. Paul so strongly urge upon the mind the doctrine, that it is by faith the just shall live, and St. James, with equal urgenoy, assert the importance of actions, they are disposed to conclude, that there is a discrepancy which cannot be explained away, and, accordingly, addict themselves to whatever favours their own preconceived notions, confining themselves to a part, rather than endeavouring to comprehend the whole, and attaching themselves to a doctrine which is false, because it is exclusive. It is to be hoped that errors like this will not be of long continuance. The seeming contradictions are now so fully shewn to be only seeming, that it is in every man's power to set his mind' at rest, as to any difficulties upon
St. Paul, we are given to understand, speaks of faith out of which good works proceed, and St. James of the works which spring out of a true faith. St. Paul speaks of the works of the ceremonial law, and St. James of the works of the Christian covenant. St. Paul writes to persons who relied upon ceremonial works, so implicitly as to imagine the performance of them actually and indispensably requisite for salvation—and the writings of St. James should preserve us from any so erroneous notion, as that St. Paul had not inculcated the necessity of the Christian virtues.
This is the view which our Church has taken of the subject, as it is explained in the articles. We are accounted righteous through faith—but works spring necessarily out of the faith through which we are saved. It is to the illustration of this entire doctrine that I request your attention.
We observed, upon last Sunday, the fitness there was, in allotting to the principle of faith so important an office in the Christian religion. A consideration of man's nature and destiny was sufficient to shew, that it was by the exercise of faith the purposes of God respecting him were to be accomplished. These great purposes are, that we should be made meet to enter into that Heaven which has been