James 2: 14, &c. cleared and vindicated
††††††††† All, who have been of old, and are this day adversaries to the way of justification before God, which the Orthodox own from the Scriptures, have thought to shelter themselves, under the wings of some expressions of the Apostle James; and have therefore labored so to explain and stretch forth the same expressions, as they with their corrupt notions about justification may seem at least to have some countenance therefrom, yea and warrant to hold fast the same: And for this cause they have labored so much, and do still labor, so to expound the words of Paul, as that they may carry no seeming difference unto the words of James: for it is received as a known truth, and it is willingly granted, that there is no real contradiction betwixt the two Apostles, but whatever apparent or seeming disagreement there be betwixt their words; yet all that difficulty is removable; and their words, how contradictory soever they seem to be, are yet capable of such an interpretation, as shall manifest their harmonious agreement in the truth: so that James saying, (James 2: 24), Ye see then, how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only, does not contradict the Apostle Paul, who says and concludes, that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the Law, Romans 3: 28.
††††††††† But a question is here made, whether we should interpret James by the words of Paulís, or Paul by the words of James. Our adversaries are much for this latter, to wit, that we must interpret Paulís words by the words of James, because, they allege, Paul is obscure in his doctrine, and many were beginning to misinterpret and pervert the same and that therefore it was necessary for James to clear up that doctrine of justification, so as Paulís words might be better understood. But how unreasonable this is, the learned Dr. Owen hath lately manifested, and his grounds are indeed irrefragable; for (1.) It is a received way of interpreting Scriptures, that when two places seem to be repugnant unto one another, that place, which treats of the matter directly, designedly, expressly and largely, is to regulate our interpretation of the other place, where the matter is only touched obiter, on the bye, and upon some other occasion, and in order to some other ends. And that therefore accordingly, we
must interpret James by Paul, and not Paul by James; seeing it is undeniable, that Paul wrote of this subject of Justification, directly and on purpose to clear up the same, and that with all expressness and fullness, on several occasions, disputing the same, in a clear and formal manner, with all sorts of arguments, artificial and inartificial, and answers objections, that might be moved against the same, at large, and with a special accuracy: but on the other hand, it is as certain, that James hath not this for his scope to open up the nature of Justification; but only touches thereupon, in order to the other end, which he was prosecuting. (2.) There is no ground to suppose, that it was the design of James to explain the meaning of Paul, no footstep of any such purpose appears. For then his main business should be to explain and clear up the doctrine of justification, which neither is apparent from this part of the epistle, nor from any part of it at all; his design being quite another thing, as is obvious. (3.) Nor was there any necessity for James, to vindicate the doctrine of Paul, from such corrupt inferences, as adversaries suppose, were made therefrom: for as to any such, as might be made, to wit, as if he had given any countenance unto such, as were willing to lay aside good works, he himself did fully and sufficiently vindicate his own doctrine, by showing, on all occasions, the necessity of good works, and particularly when he is speaking of Justification, not only in his epistle to the Romans, and to the Galatians, where he largely and professedly treats of that matter, but even when he is but mentioning the same on other occasions; as we see Ephesians 2: 8, 9, 10, Philippians 3: 9, 10, 11, &c. and Titus 3: 5, 6, 7, 8. So that to imagine that James asserts another interest of works in our justification, than Paul does, and that to explain Paulís meaning, is not to reconcile these Apostles, but to set them at further variance and enmity. And it cannot comport with sobriety, to think or say, that James, to clear up the Apostle Paulís doctrine, and to vindicate it from objections, should speak to the same objections, which Paul himself had spoken to and fully removed, and that James should give such answers unto these objections, as Paul would not give, but rather rejected: And yet this must be said by our adversaries here.
††††††††† It will be of great use to us here, to understand aright, what is the plain scope and drift of the Apostle James; for as for the design and scope of Paul, in his discourse of Justification, it is so obviously manifest unto all that read the same, that no doubt can be made thereof, to wit. To clear up fully and plainly the nature and causes of this great privilege of justification, which is the hinge and ground work (as it were) of his doctrine of the Gospel, and to show how poor sinners, standing under the curse for sin, come to be justified before God; as in his epistle to the Romans: and to vindicate the same doctrine of the Gospel from the corrupt perversions of false teachers, as in his epistle to the Galatians; as also to commend the free grace of God, in that noble contrivance, both in the places mentioned, and Ephesians 2, Philippians 3, Titus 3, and elsewhere, when he mentions the same.
††††††††† Now as to the scope of the Apostle James, there is nothing to declare unto
us, that it was his intent, or design to explain and make known the way, how poor convinced sinners, standing under the sentence of the Law, come to be justified before God, and to receive pardon of their sins. He proposed no such question to be discussed; No such point of truth doth he lay down to be cleared, or vindicated. But his whole scope and drift is to press the real study of holiness, in several points particularly spoken to through the epistle. And in that second chapter from verse 14 and forward (as will appear more fully in the explication and vindication of several verses in particular) he is particularly obviating that gross mistake of some, who thought that a bare outward profession of the Gospel faith, or of Christian religion, was sufficient to save them, and evidence them to be in a justified state, and that therefore they needed not trouble themselves with any study of holiness: And therefore shows, that all such hopes of salvation were built on the sand, for they had no ground to suppose, that they were truly justified, and so were in any fair way unto salvation, so long as all their faith was no other, than a general assent unto the doctrine of the Gospel, and to truths revealed, and not that true lively faith, held forth in the Gospel, whereby sinners become justified before God.
††††††††† Mr. Baxter tells us that, Cath. Theol. part 2. n. 364, St. James, having to do with some, who thought that the bare profession of Christianity, was Christianity; and that faith was a mere assent to the truth; and that to believe that the Gospel is true, and trust to be justified by Christ was enough to justification, without holiness and fruitful lives; and that their sin and barrenness hindered not their justification: so that they thus believed (perhaps misunderstanding Paulís epistles) doth convince them, that they were mistaken; and that when God spoke of justification by faith, without works of the law, he never meant a faith that contained not a resolution to obey him in whom we believe, nor that is separated from actual obedience in the prosecution: But that as we must be justified by our faith against the charge of being infidels; so must we be justified by our Gospel personal holiness and sincere obedience, against the charge, that we are unholy and wicked, or impenitent, or hypocrites, or else we shall never be adjudged to salvation, that is justified by God.
††††††††† Answer: (1.) It is true, for it is manifest, and undeniable, that James had to do with some, who thought that the bare profession of Christianity was enough, and that an assent unto the truth, was that faith that would prove justifying and saving. But (2.) it is not so manifest that James had to do with such, as thought that to trust to be justified by Christ, was enough to justification without holiness and fruitful lives, and that their sin and barrenness hindered not their justification: for whatever Mr. Baxter imagines, we find not in Scripture, that justification follows lives, that is, that there is no justification, before this fruitfulness of life appears: And himself useth to say, that in order to the first justification, this holiness of life is not requisite: And besides this, which he calls the first, we know no other; unless he means glorification. But then (3.) as to glorification and final salvation, we grant, that James has to do with such, as thought a mere assent to the truth, without holiness, was sufficient hereunto; but that their believing
thus could flow from their misunderstanding of Paulís epistles, is not any way probable, seeing Paul in all his epistles, even where he speaks most of justification by faith without the deeds of the law, presses the necessity of holiness in order to salvation, so as no imaginable ground hereof can with the least of shows be pretended. (4.) That when Paul said, justification was by faith, without works of the law, he meant a true and lively faith, which only is to be found in that soul, in which the seed of grace is sown, and which is made partaker of the Holy Ghost, and of the divine nature, is true; but yet justifying faith, does not formally contain in it a resolution to obey him, in whom we believe, as was shown elsewhere. (5.) Then we see, that the faith, whereof James speaks, is not the same with that faith, whereby Paul said, we are justified: And seeing both do not speak of the same faith, there can be no appearance of discrepancy. (6.) When he says, we must be justified by our faith, against the charge of being infidels, I would know, what he means, by this charge of infidelity; if he means, the charge of not believing the Gospel, he knows that a mere assent to the truth, will justify from that charge. If he means the charge of not receiving and resting upon Christ, according to the Gospel, even that will be but a particular justification from that particular charge; and is not that justification from the sentence of the law, whereof Paul speaks. (7.) That we must be justified (as he says) by our Gospel personal holiness and sincere obedience, against the charge, that we are unholy and wicked, or impenitent and hypocrites, is true; but what can all this say, for a justification from the sentence of the law, under which we are all lying by nature; and of which the Apostle Paul speaks? And if James speaks of justification by works, in reference to this accusation, he speaks of no other kind of justification, than that which the most wicked wretch, yea and the devils are capable of, when, to wit, they are falsely accused of having done some evil, which they have not done. And how can Mr. Baxter infer from what James says, (if he speaks of no other kind of justification) that works are required unto our justification, as to state, or unto our general justification from the sentence of the law, adjudging us to death because of transgression? (8.) But he adds, or else we shall never be adjudged to salvation, that is, justified by God. Then the justification, that James speaks of, and that Mr. Baxter means, is final salvation: and we willingly grant, that there must be personal holiness and sincere obedience before this, and that no wicked or impenitent person, or hypocrite shall be adjudged to salvation. But the justification, which Paul treats of, is different from this, though it be the sure way to this, seeing all who are justified, shall be thus saved. Thus we see, that according to Mr. Baxter, the meaning of James is, the same with Paulís, when he says, Hebrews 12: 14, Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. And then, James speaks nothing of that justification, whereof Paul teaches, and this is what we say; whence it is manifest, that there is no appearance of contradiction betwixt the two holy writers.
††††††††† But that we may come to some further clearness in this matter, we must
see, whether Paul and James mean and speak of one and the same faith: for if it be found, that they speak of diverse faiths, all appearance of contradiction is removed. Now that the Apostle Paul means a true, lively, saving faith, which is a saving fruit of the Spirit of God and the special gift of God, is easily granted on all hands: All the question is of that faith, which James speaks of. Papists say, that it is true justifying that James speaks of: for justifying faith, with them, is nothing but a real assent unto the Catholic Doctrine, or to divine revelation: and indeed if justifying faith be nothing else, it cannot be well denied, that James means here a justifying faith. But the folly of this ground is obvious to all, that understand the Gospel: and we need not here insist in confuting the same. That which James here says of this faith, is enough to demonstrate of what nature it is; and the epithets he gives it, do sufficiently manifest, that it is not faith of the right stamp, nor that true and lively faith, by which Paul says, that we are justified: and the discovery of this will be enough to our purpose; and every verse of his discourse here anent will help us herein; For (1.) Verse 14, it is a profitless faith, which cannot be said of justifying faith, as the whole Scripture clears. (2.) Ibid. it is a faith, that hath no ground or reality, but a manís saying, nor other evidence, or proof, What doth it profit, my Brethren, though a man say, he hath faith? There is no other proof adducible but his say so; which cannot be justifying faith. (3.) Ibid, can faith save him; so that, it is a faith, that hath no sure connection with, nor tendency to salvation; which cannot be supposed of the true, lively justifying faith, as is known. (4.) Verse 15 and 16. It is no more true faith, than that is true charity, which says to the naked and destitute brother, depart in peace, be thou warmed and filled and notwithstanding gives not those things, which are needful to the body. (5.) Verse 17. It is expressly called a dead faith. But the precious faith of Godís elect is a lively faith. (6.) Ibid. It is a faith without works, having no connection therewith, nor being any ground thereunto; but the true faith, that justifies, worketh by love, and is a living principle, and flows from the infusion of life. (7.) So verse 18. It is a faith incapable of any true evidence, or demonstration, as to its being, from works of holiness; and so is not accompanied with any real change of soul: but it is not thus with true and saving faith. (8.) Verse 19. It is such a faith, as devils may have: but devils are not capable of justifying faith. (9.) Verse 20. It is the faith, that a vain man, never humbled in the sense of his own lost condition, nor driven out of himself to seek relief elsewhere, in the free mercy and grace of God, through Jesus Christ, may have: But that is not the faith of the humbled, heart broken man, that is fleeing to Christ for refuge. (10.) Verses 21, 22, 23. It is not such a faith, as Abraham had, that made him willing to offer up his son Isaac, when commanded, and so wrought up with and was evidenced and demonstrated by works. (11.) Verse 25. Nor is it like the faith of Rahab, which prompted her to receive the messengers, and send them out another way. (12.) Verse 26. It is such a faith, that is no better than a carcass without breath, which is no essential part of a living man. But the faith that
justifies, is a far other thing. By these particulars, it is manifest, that this faith, whereof James speaks so much, and which he opposes unto works, and denies justification and salvation unto, is not the precious faith that Paul speaks of.
††††††††† We have seen, that Paul and James speak not of one and the same faith, we shall now enquire, whether they speak of one and the same justification: And if it be found, that therein they differ, all ground of imaginable difference will be further removed. What that justification is, whereof Paul speaks, is manifest, and needs not here be declared, for it is plain, that he treats of that justification, whereby a poor sinner, convinced of his sin and misery, in lying under guilt, and under the curse of God because of sin, is absolved before God from the sentence of the law, and accepted of Him, and brought into an estate of favor and reconciliation, having a right unto salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ. Upon the other hand, it is as obvious and clear, that James is not treating of this justification, whereby a change of state is made in the man. But of a justification of a far other nature, even such a justification, whereby a manís faith, the reality of his Christianity, and his justification before God, is evidenced, or may be evidenced to himself, or to others. So that, whether we take justification here, as mentioned by James, for the evidence and demonstration of justification, and there only; so that what demonstrates the one, will demonstrate the other; and a justification, or manifestation of the one will be a justification of the other. Nor is this sense of the word justify, or justification alien from the Scriptures, as we see in Psalm 51: 4, and Romans 3: 4, for God cannot otherwise be justified, but by being declared, avowed, and proclaimed to be righteous. So Jeremiah 3: 11, Ezekiel 16: 51, 52, Matthew 11: 19, Luke 7: 35, 29, I Timothy 3: 16.
††††††††† Now that this is the justification, whereof James speaks, may be further cleared by these particulars. (1.) The scope, that James here levels at, being not to clear up the way and manner, how, or the causes by which, this change of relation and state is wrought and brought about, but to discover the groundlessness of the vain pretence of such, as supposed they were justified, and in a sure way to be saved, who had no more for their ground, but a loose and verbal outward profession of the preached truth, without any real fruit of godliness: So that his enquiry is, what can truly evidence a person to be justified indeed before God? And he shows that an empty, fruitless profession will not do it, but works of faith, or faith proving itself lively by works. (2.) The very instance of Abraham, which he adduces, clears this; for he says in verse 21, Was not Abraham our Father justified by works, when he offered his son upon the altar? Now twenty-five years, or as some compute, thirty years, or thereby before this time the Scriptures say that Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him unto righteousness, Genesis 15, and hence Paul proves in Romans 4 that he was justified by faith. Therefore if now he was justified, when he offered his son, he must have
been twice justified and that in the same sense, with the same kind of justification, which cannot be said. Nor will it avail to say, that in Genesis 15 he was justified by the first justification, which was by faith, of which Paul speaks in Romans 4. But in Genesis 22 he was justified with the second justification, which is by works; and of this James speaks: for this distinction of justification into first and second, is but a mere device of the Papists, having no ground in, nor countenance from the Scriptures: and besides, it would follow, that a mere historical, dead faith is sufficient unto the first justification, and that Paul understands such a faith only, when he said in Romans 4 that Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him unto righteousness, the contrary whereof is manifest. Nor will it serve here to say, that Paul speaks of justification as begun: but James speaks of justification as continued: for then it would follow, that justification at first, or as begun, is by a dead faith, and by such a kind of faith, as devils may have, and consequently, that of such a faith, as this, Paul speaks; because of such a faith James speaks, as we have seen: But this cannot be said, for it was a true and lively faith, that Abraham had, when he believed the promise of the Messiah, and a dead faith is not the faith, that justifies, first, or last. Yea because James makes an opposition betwixt faith and works, in reference to justification, in the sense, wherein he speaks of it, it will follow, that faith should not be requisite unto the continuance of justification. (3.) James said in verse 20 that faith without works was dead: and to confirm this, he adds in verse 21, was not Abraham our Father justified by works, &c. As if he had said, The faith by which Abraham was brought into an estate of justification and life, was a lively faith, having works of obedience attending it, and his obedience declared that his faith was lively, and that he was truly justified by faith. Ergo, a faith, that is lifeless, and wholly without works of obedience, is but dead, and can give no ground to conclude one justified, and in the way to life; So that what mention he makes of justification by works is but to prove the reality of lively faith; and by works true justification by faith is evidenced and demonstrated, and not by a bare, idle and vain fruitless profession. (4.) When Abraham was justified by his works, the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: as is manifest from verses 22 and 23. Now by this mentioned of Abraham in the Scripture Genesis 15: 6, Paul proves in Romans 4, that he was justified by faith. But if James were here speaking of the way of our becoming justified, before God, as Paul doth, there could be no connection here, yea the proof should contradict the thing to be proved; for to say, that Abraham was justified by faith, will not prove, that he was justified by works: nor could his being justified by works, be a fulfilling, a clearing, and confirming of that truth, that says, he was justified by faith; for faith and works, in the matter of justification, are inconsistent, and perfectly opposite, as Paul teaches us, and as here James also teaches us. But taking justification here for its declaration and manifestation, it can be by works, and a declaration of justification by works can be and is a very signal confirmation and clearing of that testimony, which says, that Abraham was justified by faith. (5.) By that
work of offering up his son, at a command of God, Abraham declared, that he was no hypocrite, but a true believer, and thus he was justified (as Mr. Baxter will have it, as we heard lately) from any such accusation. But a justification from this accusation, is but a justification of the truth and sincerity of faith, and so a confirmation and evidence of justification; or justification as evidenced and declared; and not justification as produced by its causes. (6.) When James says in verse 23, That the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith, Abraham believed God and it was imputed to him unto righteousness, when he was justified by offering up his son, verse 21, this fulfilling of the Scripture testimony was, either because at that time, when he offered up his son, righteousness was imputed unto him, and he was justified, or because it was then manifested, to be a truth, that he was justified indeed: But the former cannot be said, because righteousness was imputed unto him, and he was justified long before this. Therefore it can be only understood, as to its manifestation. (7.) This is also clear from what the Lord spoke at that time, Genesis 22: 12, Now I know, that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. No word here of imputing righteousness unto him, or of his being brought into a justified state; but only Godís solemn declaration, that he was a true fearer of God, and so one, that had true faith, and was really justified. (8.) In verse 22 he says, See thou, how faith wrought with his works and by works was faith made perfect. But how could this follow upon what he had said in verse 21? Justification by works (if justification be taken absolutely here and not for it declaration and manifestation,) will not prove faithís working with works. But if justification here be taken for justification declared and manifested, the sense is plain: for such works as do evidence and declare, that a person is justified, will manifestly prove, that faith is working with these works, because justification presupposes always a true and lively faith, that will work with works of obedience. (9.) Far less could it follow from justification (taken absolutely) by works, that faith was made perfect by works: but from such a work as will evidence a man to be justified, it is manifest to everyone, that that work is a clear evidence of a true and lively faith, and by it faith is perfected, that is declared, evidenced and demonstrated, to be faith indeed, as the word perfected is used in II Corinthians 12: 9, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. (10.) That other inference in verse 24, ye see then, how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only: will not follow from what went before, if justification be here taken absolutely: for the command to Abraham to offer up his son was no promise, and so did not call for faith, but for ready obedience, though upon another account he believed that God was able to raise him up from the dead, Hebrews 11: 17, 18, 19. But in Genesis 15, promises were made unto him, and he is said to have believed, and upon this righteousness was imputed unto him. So that in Genesis 15 he was justified by faith only, as the Apostle proves in Romans 4, for thereby he confirms his conclusion set down in Romans 3: 28, that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. And from that other place, Genesis 22, James could not infer, that justification is by faith and works together, for then he could not infer therefrom that the Scripture was fulfilled,
which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness, because Paul doth hence infer, Romans 4, that justification is by faith without works: and what is a ground for justification by faith without works, cannot also be a ground for justification by works and not by faith only; And thus the Apostles are made in plain terms to contradict one another: by inferring contrary or contradictory conclusions from the same premises: which ought not to be thought, much less said. But it will be said, that Paul speaks of the beginning of justification, which is by faith without works; but James speaks of justification, as continued, which is by works, and not by faith only. This cannot satisfy: for beside what is said, it must first be granted hereby, that this faith, which James mentions, when he says and not by faith only, must be the same faith, that Paul says we are justified by, without the deeds of the law: but this cannot be, for the faith, that James speaks of is, as we saw above, a dead, useless, fruitless carcass and no saving faith, as that is, whereof Paul speaks, and whereby we are justified. But now taking justification for its manifestation and declaration, the words of James are most clear, and carry no appearance of contradiction, unto what Paul taught; For his meaning is, ye see then how that by works, a man evidences, proves and declares his justification, or makes it manifest, that he is a justified person; and not by that faith only, which is but a naked fruitless, and dead profession. (11.) The same may be said of the other instance of Rahab, verse 25. She was justified by works, when she had received the messengers; not that she was brought into a justified state by that act; for she received the spies by faith, Hebrews 11: 31, and declared her faith unto them, Joshua 2: 10, 11. And so was a believer and consequently justified, before she received the spies, or they came to her. Yet by this deed, accompanied with so much hazard, unto herself and all her family, she proved and evidenced her faith and justification. (12.) The conclusion of his discourse, verse 26, for as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also, declares manifestly, what he would be at, to wit, to show, that works can only demonstrate true faith and consequently prove justification; for a naked profession of faith, that wants works, is dead, and like a body wanting breath and soul, which is but a dead carcass. This cannot be said of that faith, whereby Paul says and proves, that we are justified, for it is true and lively, flowing from the Spirit of life, although it be not as yet proved by outward works of obedience, whereof there may be, as yet, no opportunity or call.
††††††††† What is brought against this sense, of the word justify and justification, which we have now confirmed, by the Socinian author of the book, entitled Consensus Pauli & Jacobi &c. page 2, &c. and by the Remonstrants in their Apology Cap. 10. is of no great weight. When they say, That the proposition set down in verse 14 is subordinate to what is said in verse 12, where the judgment of God is spoken of, and therefore saving justification must be here understood. Answer: We grant, that it is saving justification, but yet it is justification that is distinct from final salvation. We grant, that James speaks here of saving justification; yet he handles not that question, how and by what causes
this justification is brought about; but how it is evidenced and proven to be true, and not a mere presumptuous conjecture. They say next, It is said, verse 25, that the Scripture was fulfilled; not, that it was shown to be fulfilled. Answer: That saying of Scripture was a truth before this time, even when Abraham first believed; which was before he was circumcised as we see in Genesis 15 compared with Genesis 17, and Romans 4: 9, 10, and 11. And therefore was not now first fulfilled, or verified. And to talk of the increase of imputation according to the increase of faith, and to measure the excellency of faith, by the excellency of that obedience which it produces, as that Socinian author doth, is to give us nothing but the Popish justification; for relations (of which nature we hold justification to be) are not intended and remitted in themselves, but only as to their evidence: We esteem it a Socinian dream, to say, that the first narration of faith and justification, which is Genesis 15, was but a rude draft of that, which was afterward, Genesis 22. Abrahamís faith was afterward said to be perfected by that special work, of offering up his son, not in itself, for he had a strong faith before, Romans 4: 19, 20, 21, but in its manifestation after that signal trial. It is said further, Manís justification cannot be here understood, for that is not necessary to salvation, nor universally true, seeing men may justify each other upon vain grounds. Answer: Nor do we understand any such justification pronounced by men here, but a true justification before God, yet as evidenced, proven and declared by effects, unto all, that will judge understandingly and spiritually, so that works here are mentioned as the effects, and yet as the causes of justification. But then they object further, as the Apostle from that faith, which the vain man boasted of, denies that man to be justified, so from works he proves justification, and that as antecedent. Answer: The Apostle shows, that the vain man, who had no more, but a vain, dead, empty faith, had no ground to conclude himself a justified man: for this is no cause or condition of justification: and hence it will not follow, that works, by which both the reality of saving faith, and of justification thereupon, may be evidenced, are antecedent causes, or conditions of justification. It is objected again by the foresaid Socinian author, that if the meaning of the words, the Scripture was fulfilled, be that the Scripture was shown to be fulfilled; then the meaning should be, that it was demonstrated to Abrahamís two servants, who went with him to the mountain, and by them to others; But then it must be supposed, that before this time, that which passed in Genesis 15 was known unto them: and it must be said, that by a work done long afterward, men may see, that the worker was justified. But that should not suit Jamesí scope, seeing by this means they might think to delay for a long time their good works, and yet suppose themselves presently justified. Answer: All this is but vain language; for it is all one to the scope of James, whether this come ton the actual knowledge of few, or of many, and who they were to whose knowledge it came; He is only showing, that such, as had but a dead faith, that brought forth no works of obedience, when called for, had no evidence, or clear ground to assert their own justification, seeing Abrahamís justification was thus declared by his signal obedience, to all that came or ever should come to the knowledge of that act of obedience of his, to the end of
the world: yea, had it been unknown to any, yet hereby he had a sure proof, to ascertain his own heart and conscience of his justification. But say the Arminians, Good works cannot be such a proof and demonstration, because it cannot be known to others, whether these good works proceed from faith, or not. Answer: Nor is any infallible judgment here necessary, or requisite; nor doth the scope of James require any such thing, who is only showing, that such as wrought not works of obedience, when called for, could not conclude themselves justified, and in a safe estate, notwithstanding of all their fair profession. Notwithstanding we cannot judge infallibly of principles, motives and ends of good works of others, yet by what may be seen of these, God may be glorified, Matthew 5: 16, I Peter 2: 12.
††††††††† Thus we have seen, that neither is that faith, whereof Paul speaks, when he says, We are justified by faith without deeds of the Law; and whereof James speaks, when he says, Ye see then, how a man is justified by works and not by faith only, is not one and the same. Nor is it the same justification, or justification in the same sense and consideration, that both the Apostles speak of. And therefore however, as to their words, they seem to speak contrary to one another: yet in their true sense and meaning, there is nothing but a sweet harmony and agreement. But now as to works, whereof both make mention, the question remains, whether they be one and the same. The forenamed Socinian author says, that both do not speak of the same works: and that Paul excludes from justification only legal works, and not evangelical. And consequently, that James must speak of evangelical works only: But sure we are, James cannot be supposed to speak of evangelical works, in their sense; seeing, they cannot say, that Abrahamís offering up of Isaac or Rahabís receiving and sending away the spies, were evangelical works. James speaks of works commanded by the Moral Law, which he mentions both in general, and in its particular commands, James 2: 9, 10,11. And all the duties, which he pressed them unto, and the sins, which he dissuaded them from, relate unto the Moral Law. And what these works are, whereof Paul speaks, we have seen before. Others think, that James by works here means a working faith: and so that his meaning, when he says, that by works a man is justified, is, that by a working faith, such as Abraham had, a man is justified. But though it be a truth, that justifying faith is a working lively faith, and that we are justified only by such a faith, as is lively, and prompts to obedience, in every duty called for; and though this truth will follow by consequence, from what the Apostle James here says, yet I judge, that both Paul and James understand the same thing by works, even duties of obedience, performed to the Law of God, and that by works here in James, is not meant a working faith, this not being the scope and design of James to clear up justification in its causes, or to show by what means it is brought about; but only to show, what way it is or may be evidenced, proved and demonstrated to ourselves or others, so as we may not be deceived there anent; And real works of obedience, as they evidence a true and lively faith, so they prove the reality of justification: and the Apostleís intention being, to show the vanity of that pretence, whereby many deceived themselves,
thinking that their profession of the truth of the Gospel was enough to secure their salvation, and to prove them to be in a justified, safe state, though they indulged themselves a liberty to walk loosely, according to the flesh; this acceptation of the word works, in a proper sense, is most contributive unto that design, and no other acceptation, how consonant soever unto the analogy of faith, doth so directly and clearly contribute assistance thereunto. Therefore he opposes faith and works, and denies that to faith, which he ascribed unto works: though by consequence he put hereby a difference betwixt a dead faith, and a working faith; yet his principal thesis, verse 14, is that by works, and not by a bare profession of the truth, we come to salvation. And the enquiry prosecuted is, whether we have that faith, that will indeed prove saving, and this can only be evidenced by works, as his whole following discourse evinces, especially when he says, verse 18, show me thy faith without works, and I will show my faith by my works. And, verse 20, when he says, faith without works is dead, and in verse 26, that it is as dead, as a body is without breath or spirit. And this he fully confirms by the following instances of Abraham and Rahab.
††††††††† From what is said, it is apparent, how little ground there is to think, that there is any real appearance of contradiction betwixt Paul and James; and how needless it is, in order to reconciliation, to say with Papists, that Paul speaks of a first justification, and James of a second: or with others, that Paul speaks of justification, as begun, and James of justification as continued, or with Socinians, that Paul denies justification by the works of the Law, James affirms justification by the works of the Gospel.