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Where it is plain that faith fignifies the SERM.
christian religion. It is to this therefore VI.
that the apostle attributes such efficacy to
the justification of men.

But it by no means follows, that St.
Paul's intention is to attribute our acceptance
with God to any peculiar virtue in faith, as
separated from those works, and obedience,
which are the genuine fruits of it. The
faith, by which he says we are justified, is
that which worketh by love, which pro-
duces a fincere love to God and men, with
the proper expressions of it, in the practice
of true piety and virtue. Besides, we find
him as much as any of the sacred writers,
pressing strict holiness and conformity to the
will of God, and laying as great a stress up-
on it. The four last chapters of his epistle
to the Romans, are wholly taken up in re-
commending the virtues of private and so-
cial christian life : And many exhortations
of the same kind are to be met with in his
epistles to the Galatians. Indeed, if we con-
fider christianity as a divine law enforced
with

proper sanctions; and it is in this light the apostles and evangelifts always set it; they represent it as the grace of God, which hath appeared unto men bringing salvation,

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SERM.but it does not terminate wholly in their de-
VI. liverance from punishment, nor is the design

answered on their part by bare believing,
for it teaches us, that denying all ungodliness

,
and worldly lufts, we should live soberly,
righteously and godly: And this as the only
foundation, upon which we can look for the
blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the
great God and our Saviour Jesus Chrift: No
man can read the New Testament with

any degree of attention, without being convinced that its principal scope is, to teach and urge men to goodness, righteousness, temperance, and patience, by the strongest motives, and particularly by the hope of acquittal in the day of judgment, and of obtaining eternal life; if, I fay, we consider it in this light, there can remain no doubt but that, tho' by the works of the law, as set against faith, a man cannot be justified, yet that, the works and obedience of which faith is the great animating principle, are, in conjunction with it, the condition of our acceptance. All this is farther confirmed by the example of Abraham, and the method of his justification, which St. Paul represents as a precedent to all after ages, and argues from it. He afferts that Abraham was accounted

righteous

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righteous before God, while circumcision Serm.
was not yet instituted, nor any of the legal VI.
ceremonies. In this chapter he asks, what
shall we say then, that Abraham our father,
as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? for
if Abraham were justified by works, he hatb
whereof to glory, but not before God: That
is, there is no such thing as his having any
thing whereof to glory before God. For
he adds, what saith the scripture ? Abraham
believed God, and it was counted to him for
righteousness. Now, to 'him that worketh,
is the reward reckoned not of grace, but of
debt. But to him that worketh not, but be-
lieveth on him who justifieth the ungodly, his
faith is counted to him for righteousness.
Thus the religion of Abraham was sufficient;
a religion without ceremonies, which after- I
wards were in so high esteem, and accounted
so necessary among the Jews ; a principle of
faith, or of confidence in the goodness, and the
promise of God, producing intire resignation
to his providence, and sincere obedience to
his commandments. It was so before the
giving of the law: Whynot after its abolition?
Christianity is the religion of Abraham re-
stor’d : A plain, unceremonious form of
divine service, animated by that faith, which

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SERM. sees him who is invisible, is the substance of VI. things hoped for, and the evidence of things

not seen, and worketh by love.

Farther, St. Paul argues not from the example of Abraham only, but from the tenor of the declarations which were made to him. The promise was given him, that he should be the heir of the world, the father of many nations, and have a numerous Jeed : Which the apostle interprets, not of his natural offspring, tho' they were as the stars of Heaven for multitude, for these were not all heirs of the promise in the spiritual sense: But so as to extend to all who should walk in his steps; that is, imitate his faith, and his virtue. Now the promise was made to him while he was yet uncircumcised, and therefore, as the text says, is sure to all the seed: Not to that only which is of the law, but to that also, which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all. And more fully at the roth ver. How was it. (righteousness) then reckoned? When he was in circumcifion, or in uncircumcison? not in circumcifion, but in uncircumcison. And be received the sign of circumcifion, a seal of the righteousness of the faith, which he had being yet uncircumcised: That he might be.

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the father of all them that believe, though SERM. they be uncircumcised ; that righteousness VI.

. might be imputed to them also. From all which it is apparent, what law it is the apostle intends to exclude from a share in our justification : It is that law, which was added because of transgression, denouncing wrath for every disobedience, and binding men over to punishment for the least failure, which therefore could not give life. And the Jews mistook its nature and design, if they expected life by it: For it was intended only as a schoolmaster, to lead them, by its severe discipline, to Christ the promised seed, who declared righteousness by faith, or upon the more favourable and gracious terms of a sincere, tho' imperfect obedience to the gospel. This, I say, is the law which the apostle excludes from a share in our justification: Not the eternal, unchangeable law of fobriety, righteousness, godliness, and charity, which christianity, or the grace that brings falvation, teaches, and in the strongest manner enforces, making our obedience to it indispensably necessary to our obtaining the reward it promises.

Thus the seeming contradiction between the apostles St. Paul and St. James is very VOL. I.

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