Faith is not the instrument of Justification.
IN THE enunciation of this article is given another proof of desperate and finished negligence. What man is so utterly senseless as universally to deny, that Faith can be called |an instrument,| since it receives and apprehends the promises which God has given, and does also in this way concur to justification, But who, on the other hand, will venture to say, that, in the business of justification, faith has no other relation than that of an instrument? It should therefore be explained, how faith is an instrument, and how, as an instrument, it concurs to justification.
It is, at least, not the instrument of God; not that which He uses to justify us. Yet this is the meaning first intended to be conveyed by these words, when rigidly taken. For God is the primary cause of justification. But since justification is an estimate of the mind, although made at the command of the will, it is not performed by an instrument. For it is when God wills and acts by his power, that He employs instruments. Then, in these words, |Believe in Christ, and thy sins shall be forgiven thee,| or, which is the same thing, |and thou shalt be justified;| I say, that faith is the requirement of God, and the act of the believer when he answers the requirement. But they will say, |that it is the act of apprehending and accepting, and that therefore, this faith bears relation to an instrument?' I reply, faith as a quality has in that passage relation to the mode of an instrument; but the acceptance or apprehension itself is an act, and indeed one of obedience, yielded to the gospel. Let that phrase likewise which is so often used by the Apostle in Romans 6, be seriously considered, |Faith is imputed for righteousness.| Is this faith as an instrument, or as an act? St. Paul resolves the question, by a quotation from the book of Genesis, when he says, |Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness.| The thing itself, as it is explained by our brethren, also solves the question. |Faith is imputed for righteousness on account of Christ, the object which it apprehends.| Let this be granted. Yet the apprehending of Christ is nearer than the instrument which apprehends, or by which He is apprehended. But apprehending is an act; therefore, faith, not as it is an instrument, but as it is an act, is imputed for righteousness, although such imputation be made on account of Him whom it apprehends. In brief, the capability or the quality by which any thing is apprehended, and the apprehension itself, have each relation to the object which is to be apprehended, the former a mediate relation, the latter an immediate. The latter, therefore, is a more modest metonymy, as being derived from that which is nearer; even when it is granted that this phrase, |it is imputed for righteousness| -- must be explained by a metonymy. The man, then, who says, |the act of faith is imputed for righteousness, does not deny that faith as an instrument concurs to justification. It is evident, therefore, from this answer, that our brethren fabricate and |get up| articles of this kind without the least care or solicitude, and charge me with them. This, I think, will be acknowledged even by themselves, if they examine how they manufactured those nine questions which, two years ago, by the consent of their Lordships the Curators of our University, they endeavoured to offer to the Professors of Divinity, that they might obtain their reply to them. Gravity and sobriety are highly becoming in Divines, and serious solicitude is required to the completion of such great matters as these.