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CHAP. had been sent by them. To this boasting Paul vigorously opposed himself, lest he should give place to falsehood, and suffer the truth to be oppressed in his person. Therefore he laboriously defends the authority of his apostleship against the calumnies of deceitful men. XIII. Having finished this business, he justified on- proceeds to the merits of the cause, about the ly by faith end of his second chapter, verse 15.; and he so prosecutes it, that even from the beginning, he useth general arguments, and almost the same which he had used in the Epistle to the Romans. Very unjustly, says he, is the observation of the ceremonies required as a part of righteousness from men converted to Christ, because righteousness consists in no works of whatever law, and therefore not in these of the ceremonial law, but only in the faith of Christ. Hence he tells us, that he said to Peter, "We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ; even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." The sense of which words is this, We who seem to excel others, and by the benefit of the covenant, were always near to God, yet we find no method of obtaining salvation but by believing in Christ: why should we prescribe.. another to the Gentiles? For if the law were
necessary, or could profit its observers unto CHAP. salvation, it would chiefly profit us, to whom it was given. But if forsaking it, we have fled to Christ, much less must the Gentiles be urged to receive it. We therefore who are Jews by nature, what have we done? We have believed in Christ, apprehended his righteousness by faith. What is the end of believing? That we might be justified by the faith of Christ. For what cause? Since we were convinced, that men cannot obtain righteousness by the works of the law. Here now, he is engaged in the chief question: yea, in this one proposition, almost the whole sum of the controversy is included, as Calvin, that most sagacious interpreter of the sacred scriptures, hath excellently observed.
led to the
XIV. And thus, if I am not mistaken, we Men recalhave clearly shown, that Paul's design in both righteousEpistles, is this, that he may recal Christians, ness of whether Jews or Gentiles, from all presump-lone. tion on their own righteousness, with which we are all puffed up by nature, to apprehend the righteousness of Christ alone by faith. Hence he concludes, that the zealots for the Pharisaical doctrine were deceived; who, not content with the righteousness of Christ, and faith only, urged the necessity of the Mosaic economy. But this controversy he handles chiefly in the Epistle to the Galatians, partly by those arguments which are common to works of whatever law, partly by those which are more specially referred to the ceremonial law.
I. The law of works.
Concerning the Law of Works, the Works of the Law, and Faith.
I. The law of works is that which prescribes works as the condition of a right to life. Given of old to Adam. II. Then repeated by Moses, as subservient to the covenant of grace. III. But misunderstood by the most of the Israelites, as a covenant of works. IV. The works of the law are the duties prescribed by the law. V. These which Paul excludes from justification, are not these which precede conversion. VI. Nor these which consist in the perfect observation of the whole law. VII. Faith in the matter of justification, signifies a certain human act. VIII. Which some define obedience to the commandments of Christ. IX. X. XI. But unjustly, contrary to Paul's intention. XII. Faith is a singular virtue, distinct from evangelical holiness. XIII. What the obedience of faith is. XIV. Paul does not teach, that faith, the new creature, and obedience to the commands of God, are entirely the same thing. XV. Neither does James call that works, which Paul calls faith. XVI. But James treats of one justification, Paul of another.
AND hence we must judge what Paul
understands by the law of works, what by the works of the law, and what by faith. The law of works is that which demands works to be done by man himself, as the condition of life, or the cause of claiming the reward: the tenor of which is this, The man who doeth these things shall live in them, Rom. x. 5. Such a law was given to Adam of old, who, if he had persevered in his integrity, would have obtained
a right to eternal life by his works of right- CHAP.
II. The same doctrine Moses repeated in II. Rehis ministry. For he also inculcated the same pealed by precepts upon which the covenant of works had been built: he both repeated the same solemn saying, He who doeth these things. shall live in them, Lev. xviii. 5. and also added another, Cursed be he who shall not perform the words of this law in doing them, Deut. xxvii. 26. That this is the curse of the law, as it stands opposed to the covenant of grace, Paul teacheth, Gal. iii. 10. which, however, is not so to be understood, as if God had intended, by the ministry of Moses, to make a new covenant of works with Israel, with a view to obtain righteousness and salvation by such a covenant. But that repetition of the covenant of works was designed to convince the Israelites of their sin and misery, to drive them out of themselves, to teach them the necessity of a satisfaction, and to compel them to cleave to Christ: and thus it was subservient to the covenant of grace, Rom. x. 4. [14.]
III. Meanwhile, the carnal Israelites, not attending to the purpose of God, mistook the understood by the Istrue sense of this covenant, embraced it as a raelites. covenant of works, and sought their righteousness by it. See Rom. ix. 31, 32. For the most part of them invited to the covenant of God,
CHAP. rashly bound themselves to observe all that he VIII. should say, neither considering rightly the spiritual perfection of the law, nor their own inability: thinking indeed, that both parties behoved to act equally by their own powers, that it might be an equal covenant; and that they would stand no less to their promises, than God to his. And thus they made the whole law of Moses a covenant of works to themselves; while, by an unwary promise, they bound themselves to obey it, that they might obtain the life promised by God.
IV. Having found therefore what the law of works is, it is easy to perceive what are the works of the law: viz, all the good deeds performed according to the prescription of the law, whether they consist in the duties of moral virtues, which are the works of righteousness that we have done, as Paul speaks, Tit. iii. 5. or in the performance of certain things which God enjoined, to obtain a certain typical expiation of sins; especially, if they be done with the opinion of obtaining life or pardon by these works.
V. I know not by what right the very these which learned man* takes it for granted, that by the precede conversion. works of the law, which Paul excludes from justification, are understood works before conversion, done without faith, by our own strength; which popish fiction the protestant champions have so often and so solidly.
IV. The works of the law
* Dr. Cave.