Nov 2, 2010

James 2:14-26 - William Huntington

James shewed his faith by such works as these
"Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works."
James still pursues this prating fool. Before this man is
represented as saying, "I have faith;" and this report,
conveyed by sounding his own trumpet, goes abroad, and
another circulates it, and says, "Thou hast faith;" then says
James, "I have works." But "shew me thy faith without thy
works:" which is what no man can do; for faith is as a grain of
mustard seed in the heart, which is hid from all but God, and
the possessors of it. "I will shew thee my faith by my works,"
says James. Faith overcomes the world, and separates us
from it, insomuch that our old companions can see it, "and
wonder that we run not with them to the same excess of riot,
speaking evil of us." Faith centres in Christ. "We all meet in
the unity of the faith," that is, in our covenant Head; and the
believer abides in him, and abides by him, both in faith and
affection, while others despise him. Faith obtains promises,
and mixes itself with the word, which may be known by sound
doctrine, sound words, sound speech that cannot be
condemned, and by the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus
Christ, spoken in faith and love. Faith is attended with the light
of life, "for he that believeth in Christ shall not abide in
darkness, but shall have the light of life;" and this light is to
shine before men, and is attended with good works, such as
holding the mystery of faith in a pure conscience, a
willingness to live honestly, not walking in craftiness, nor
handling the word of God deceitfully; which are some of the
blackest of all crimes: by manifestation of the truth, setting it
forth in all its freeness and fullness, appealing to every man's
conscience in the sight of God; dealing faithfully with souls,
and setting light by the world; abhorring covetousness, and
willing to relieve the poor of the flock; watching over each
other for good, seeking the welfare of their souls, guarding
them against all those who lie in wait to deceive, especially
the free-willers, who hold the "leaven of the Pharisees, which
is hypocrisy;" and by a warm attachment to Christ, and a
steady adherence to truth; not like the "simple, that believeth
every word," but like a "wise man, that looks well to his way."
James shewed his faith by such works as these." -William Huntington

A bare assent of the natural mind
"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well." This is
a bare assent of the natural mind, founded upon divine
history, which is what none but a heathen will deny. But true
faith exceeds this assent, and confession too; "it sees him that
is invisible" to the eye of the body, and to the light of nature; it
gives credit to God's word, and flies to him as to the great
rewarder of all that diligently seek him; and receives the
blessings of life, and peace, love, and comfort, that are in him,
and views him as the greatest of all treasure; such "are rich in
faith, and rich towards God." -William Huntington

Such acts are far enough above the reach of nature
"But wilt thou know, vain man, that faith without works is
dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he
had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?"
Was not this act of obedience by Abraham a full proof that
Abraham's faith was of divine origin, a faith that is of the
operation of the Spirit of God? and which always gives credit
to God's word, and yields the obedience of faith? For could
the faith of nature, or the false confidence of the most refined
hypocrite, which is nothing else but a carnal assent, ever give
credit to this, that a man's murdering his own child could be
pleasing to God, when this law was gone forth into the hearts
of the children of men ever since Cain's slaughter of Abel,
"that he that sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be
shed?" But this deed is the highest act of obedience that ever
Abraham's faith produced. This faith is of the same kind as
Jonah's was, who told the mariners that he was a Hebrew,
and one that feared God that made the sea and the dry land;
and that he had fled from his presence, and on his account
the singular storm fell upon them; and that the only remedy,
the only way to appease God, and obtain a calm, was to
drown him; which is what no natural man in his senses would
ever believe, and they themselves could not; therefore they
rowed hard; and, when all was in vain, and they were brought
to this strait, either to sink him or sink themselves, they were
obliged to cry to God, whom they had never known, not to lay
innocent blood to their charge: and they were so astonished to
see the storm and the prophet both sink together, that they did
that which they never had done before; they sacrificed to God,
and made vows. Some people talk of rational religion; they
may as well talk of human divinity; for sure I am that such a
faith as this is not the produce of nature, and such acts are far
enough above the reach of nature." -William Huntington

Abraham was manifested to be a righteous person
"And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed
God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness;" the
scriptures having before asserted that, when God promised to
Abraham that his seed should be as the stars of heaven, he
believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness.
This testimony went long before; and, when the long looked
for and much expected seed came, he was bid to offer it up to
God; which he did; and by this his obedience it was proved,
upon trial, that the former testimony to Abraham's faith was
true, and it was fulfilled hereby, for Abraham was manifested
to be a righteous person, that yielded the real obedience of
faith. "And he is called the friend of God," being justified by
faith, he had peace with God; and, receiving by faith the
promisedMediator, his natural enmity was slain, reconciliation
took place, communion and fellowship with God followed;
peace, harmony, and friendship, succeeded, and ever
subsisted between Abraham and his God." -William Huntington

Justified freely through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
"Moreover, to shew us that we are justified freely from all
things; if the suggestions of Satan, and the workings of
unbelief, should terrify us, that we have no screen from the
future curse of the law, and terrify us with the terrible
expectations of wrath to come, we are said to be "justified
freely through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Christ
endured the curse of the law, and the wrath of God, and
redeemed and ransomed us from both. And "God is faithful
and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness;" and, as a righteous judge, to "give us the
crown of righteousness in that day." Now this ransom-price,
which Christ paid for us, is to redeem us from the pit, and from
all future demands of law and justice; hence we are said to be
"justified by his blood, and saved from wrath through him."
Faith is an eye which apprehends this righteousness.
Abraham, who was "justified by faith, saw the promised seed
at a distance," and by the hand of faith "embraced him;" and
faith has this honour of putting this robe on the sinner; it is
"revealed from faith to faith," and "is unto all and upon all that
believe;" therefore, instrumentally or applicatory,
"We are justified by faith." -William Huntington

Justified by words
"In the next place, we are "justified by words." "For by thy
words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be
condemned." A man is justified by words, when the words of
his mouth agree with the oracles of God and with God's testimony
of man, and when his heart and mouth go both together.
For instance: the publican in the temple dares not lift up his
eyes to heaven, conscious of his guilt, shame, and confusion
of face; he feels his guilt, and smites upon his breast, where
the wound lay; he confesses honestly his true state and case,
and has nothing to look to, hope in, or sue for, but the sure
mercies of David, which are in Christ; not one good work or
good word does he plead, but guilty he pleads before God.
And what was the consequence! Why he went home to his
house justified. Justified by his words, for he had confessed
the truth; and justified in his hungry soul by the imputation of
the righteousness of Christ to him." -William Huntington

Justified in Christ
"We are also said to be justified in Christ; "for in him shall all
the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory." Christ is our
covenant head, in whom we are all chosen, and in whom we
are all accepted; and to the fellowship of whom we are all
called in one hope of our calling: to this "Shiloh the gathering
of the people is to be;" and by him, and in him, the whole
family of heaven and earth are called.
And, as we all find pardon in his blood, rest in the satisfaction
he has made, and peace with God through the blood of his
cross, so in him all God's elect are to confess that "in the Lord
have I righteousness and strength," and to him shall all men
come; that is, for justification towards God, and for
acceptance with him. In this sense it is that "all the seed of
God's Israelites indeed are justified in God's sight, and in him
they shall all glory." -William Huntington

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