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JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH.
In his Epistles, Paul treats at large of the faith that justifies, or of justification by faith, as being the cardinal doctrine of the gospel. Such we believe it to be.
The doctrine which it is his purpose to exhibit and to enforce on the Roman converts was one which stood opposed, not to good works or holiness, but to the Jewish idea of being saved by the law of Moses, - by a careful observance of the rites, sacrifices, and minutest ceremonial of that law, denominated the works of the law. That was no Christianity, Paul contends, but mere Judaism. The Christian is saved or justified, he contends, not by such works or observances, but by faith, - a faith, as all his Epistles show, not which is a mere barren act of the mind supernaturally originated, but one that in the only way possible) shows itself to be faith by its fruits. The Jew was, under Moses, justified by works; yet even he was not justified by works of the law alone. The Jewish religion was a system of morality, as well as of forms. To all his observance of the ritual, he must superadd virtue, or it was all as nothing. This everywhere appears in the Old Testament, and especially in our
Lord's discourses with his countrymen in the New. But to him the works or observances of the law were absolutely indispensable ; he could not, as a Jew, be justified before God, except he was faithful to the whole law, to the moral law indeed, but equally so to the Levitical.
Christianity superseded the law of Moses. The ceremonial law was now dead. It was now under Christ faith simply, without rites. There was under Judaism faith in God, in his providence, in his word, in the future world, — but there were the works of the law also, alike imperative. Now, under Christ, there was faith, but none of those works ; there was faith, as before, in God, his providence, his word, the future life, and in Jesus also, as the accredited messenger of God, and in the new forms of truth which he delivered. Justification, or salvation, now, under Christ, must come of this faith alone, without the works of the old law, - faith, I say, without those works ; not without works of obedience, for then it were no longer faith at all, but without the works of the Jewish law.
This principle of faith in Christ, to the exclusion of all reliance on the observances of the Jewish law, Paul maintains to be the great principle of Christianity, as under the old law it was faith, and the works of the law. also. Such we believe to be the great doctrine or fundamental truth or most comprehensive way of stating the Gospel. Justification, or salvation, by faith, — justification or salvation by belief in God and Christ, and acting and living accordingly, this we believe to be the sum of Christianity, - this, the Christian doctrine of justification by faith. It is the great natural principle of, as we