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ADVERTISEMENT TO THE THIRD EDITION.
In sending another Edition of his Sermon to the Press, the Author cannot but express his hopes that much good may arise from the Discussion, in a friendly spirit, of the Points in Controversy between Roman Catholics and Protestants ;--good to both sides. Protestants need to be recalled to their first principles, and Romanists to be shown the scriptural grounds of the Reformation.
The doctrine of Justification by Faith is especially important. If we, as Protestants, would return to the piety and devotedness of the days of the Reformation, it must be by receiving, in its simplicity, this prominent doctrine of the Reformation :-if we wish to benefit the Romanists, we must declare to them, fully, that doctrine which, three centuries back, was God's main instrument for extricating us from errors similar to those in which they are now involved. It is the very hinge of the whole Controversy between us and the Roman Church : clear, distinct, and scriptural sentiments are here then, in every respect, of the utmost importance. The views of Romanists, in the present day, on this subject, may be farther seen in the following extract from a Sermon on Rom. v. 1, 2. in the Laity's Directory for 1828, signed by the Apostolic Vicar of the London District. In this Sermon, near the commencement, the Preacher states
“ The fundamental disposition by which man is prepared for the graces of justification is divine faith. Faith is the principle and the root of the other dispositions of hope, love, repentance, and obedience, by which the preparation of the soul for this supernatural effect is perfected. To those who are thus disposed and prepared by the operation of the Holy Ghost, the graces of justification are communicated through the channels of the sacraments instituted by Christ for that purpose."
It is a most erroneous and dangerous statement. On this plan, the grace of the gospel, and the freedom of the promise are really lost; and though the merits of Christ Jesus had been before mentioned, and the Holy Ghost is named, yet, in the place of Christ and his salvation, our own obedience is in truth substituted ; we are accepted for that, and not simply for the sake of Jesus Christ. We are not here justified by faith, but faith is preparatory to hope, love, repentance and obedience, by which we are not even then justified, but only prepared for the sacraments, in which justification is communicated. O miserable exposition of the text! O miserable doctrine extinguishing all the light and consolation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and removing far away from afflicted consciences the hope of justification! How manifestly erroneous that doctrine by which we are first to be made righteous by our works, and then the GRACE of justification is to be conferred upon us ! Rom. xi. 6. Where this doctrine prevails, it excludes and prevents real holiness and obedience, to which (so far from their being the cause of our acceptance or righteousness before God) we can never
attain till we are accepted in Christ, and accounted righteous through him. Ephes. ii. 8~-10. How contrary is this statement, to the full consolation, the simplicity, and plainness of the scriptural doctrine : and how can a burdened and distressed conscience here find its way to peace and joy? Let Protestants then with love, but with zeal and firmness, maintain and widely make known, th uable scriptural truths, the defence of which our martyred Reformers willingly gave their bodies to the flames : and may our God give abundant testimony to the word of his prace.
ROMANS III. 28.
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without
the deeds of the law.
(The Rhemish Version, revised and approved by Dr. Murray,
Titular Archbishop of Dublin, is as follows: For we account a man to be justified by faith without the works of the law.)
When requested to join my beloved brethren in the ministry, in the design of giving a Course of Sermons on the Points in Controversy between the Romish and Protestant Churches, I did not think it right, notwithstanding the labours of an arduous office, to decline taking a part in such a course. Bound by our ministerial vow, to be “ ready with all faithful diligence to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God's word,” we appear here in a day that specially calls for that diligence in pursuance of this most solemn vow.
The peculiar office which has been assigned to me, is to state and defend the doctrine of “ JUSTIFICATION BY Faith.” It is the very heart and core of our common Christianity, and justly called by Luther “ the article of a standing or falling church.” As it is held clearly and experimentally, true religion is in lively exercise -as it is obscured, superstition or worldliness abounds.
There are many subtle and metaphysical questions raised on this doctrine, to which I need not allude : I wish, rather, to keep to the broad line of distinction which separates the Roman and Protestant Churches. I must not enter upon the merit of good works, which is to be discussed on another evening.
I fear that the extent and importance of my subject
will compel me to trespass on your time, more than would be proper on ordinary occasions.
May the blessed Saviour, who has the fulness of all grace for his people, now send down the Holy Spirit upon us, to enable me clearly and distinctly to state the Scriptural truth, and to bless the statement to the good of his Church.
We will consider,
I. THE DOCTRINE OF THE ROMANISTS ON JUSTI
1. THE DOCTRINE THE ROMANISTS ON JUSTIFICATION.
There is some difficulty in stating their doctrine, from the want of an universally received standard in that Church: but it will be sufficient for our purpose to take their most generally approved writers, and their most generally received authorities, as the evidence of their doctrines.
God forbid that we should in the slightest degree attribute to them doctrines which they do not hold: we had infinitely rather find out, that, though under unscriptural expressions, they held nothing but the truth. It is not in the spirit of controversy, and angry disputation, but in the spirit of tender love and pity, that we desire to preach these sermons. We pity their errors, we love their souls, we pray for them, we long for their salvation-and on this account
are thus earnest to draw them from every false foundation of hope, and lead them with us to build entirely on the only true foundation, Christ Jesus.
Some of their writers have gone considerable lengths with the Protestant Church on this doctrine. Thus Bossuet, in his Exposition of the doctrine of the Catholic Church, says,
“ We believe, in the first place, that our sins are forgiven us gratuitously by the mercy of God, on account of Jesus Christ. These are the express words of the Council of Trent; which adds, that we
are said to be gratuitously justified, because none of these things which precede justification, whether faith or good works, can merit that grace.”
And when Dr. Wake in reply brought forward the contradictory declarations of that Council, the Vindicator of Bossuet's exposition says in answer to Wake, “ He imposes upon us as if we made our inward righteousness a part of justification, and so, by consequence, said that our justification itself is wrought also by our good works.”
But in fact Bossuet almost immediately after the words already quoted, makes sanctification a part of justification. He says, still treating of justification," the justice of Jesus Christ is not only imputed, but is actually communicated to his faithful, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, so that they are not only reputed, but are really made just by his grace.'
We have here very cautiously expressed, the elements of the doctrine of the Romish Church on justificationwhich is, that it includes two things, forgiveness of sins and sanctification--not only our being pardoned, but our being made holy. We will now bring further proofs that this is really their doctrine.
On my text, the Rhemish Testament, authorised by Dr. Murray, has this note. 66 The faith to which the apostle here attributes man's justification, is not a presumptuous assurance of our being justified, but a firm and lively belief of all that God has revealed or promised (Heb. xi.), a faith working through charity in Jesus Christ. (Gal. v. 16.)”_We agree to the statement thus far-we object to what then follows.“ In short, a faith which TAKES IN hope, love, repentance, and the use of the sacraments. And the works which he here excludes are only the works of the law, that is such as are done by the law of nature, or that of Moses antecedent to the faith of Christ, but by no means such as follow faith and proceed from it.”-We on the other hand say, lively faith produces, but does not include, works; and works after faith, as well as other works, are excluded from the office of justification.
See a Quarto Tract, published by Hills, printer to King James the Second, in 1686, intitled a Vindication of the Bishop of Condom's Exposition-published Permissu Superiorum.