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§ 6. Faith and Love.

As to the relation between faith and love there are three different views: —

1. That love is the ground of faith; that men believe the truth because they love it. Faith is founded on feeling. This view has already been sufficiently discussed.

2. That love is the invariable and necessary attendant and consequent of saving faith. As no man can see and believe a thing to be morally good without the feeling of approbation; so no one can see and believe the glory of God as revealed in the Scriptures without adoring reverence being awakened in his soul; no one can believe unto salvation that Christ is the Son of God and the Son of Man; that He loved us and gave Himself for us, and makes us kings and priests unto God, without love and devotion, in proportion to the clearness and strength of this faith, filling the heart and controlling the life. Hence faith is said to work by love and to purify the heart. Romanists, indeed, render πίστις δι᾽ ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη in this passage (Gal. v. 6), “faith perfected or completed by love.” But this is contrary to the constant usage of the word ἐνεργεῖσθαι in the New Testament, which is always used in a middle sense, “vim suam exserere.” 94According to the Apostle’s teaching in Rom. vii. 4-6, love without faith, or anterior to it, is impossible. Until we believe, we are under the condemnation of the law. While under condemnation, we are at enmity with God. While at enmity with God, we bring forth fruit unto death. It is only when reconciled to God and united to Christ, that we bring forth fruit unto God. Believing that God loves us we love Him. Believing that Christ gave Himself for us, we devote our lives to Him. Believing that the fashion of this world passes away, that the things unseen are eternal, those who have that faith which is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, set their affections on things above where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. This necessary connection between faith and love, has already been sufficiently insisted upon.

Romanists make Love the Essence of Faith.

3. The third doctrinal view on this subject is that of the Romanists, who make love the essence of faith. In other words, love with them is the form (in the scholastic sense of the word) of faith; it is that which gives it being or character as a Christian virtue or grace. While on the one hand they teach, as we have seen with the Council of Trent, that faith is in itself mere intellectual assent, without any moral virtue, and which may be exercised by the unrenewed or by those in a state of mortal sin; on the other hand, they hold that there is such a Christian grace as faith; but in that case, faith is only another name for love. This is not the distinction between a living and dead faith which the Scriptures and all Evangelical Christians recognize. With Romanists the fides informis is true faith, and the fides formata is love. On this point, Peter Lombard123123Liber Sententiarum, III. xxiii. C. edit. 1472(?) says: “Fides qua dicitur [creditur?], si cum caritate sit, virtus est, quia caritas ut ait Ambrosius mater est omnium virtutum, quæ omnes informat, sine qua nulla vera virtus est.” Thomas Aquinas124124Summa, II. ii. quæst. iv. art. 3, edit. Cologne, 1640, p. 11, a, of third set. says: “Actus fidei ordinatur ad objectum voluntatis, quod est bonum, sicut ad finem. Hoc autem bonum quod est finis fidei, scilicet bonum divinum, est proprium objectum charitatis: et ideo charitas dicitur forma fidei, in quantum per charitatem actus fidei perficitur et formatur.” Bellarmin125125De Justificatione, lib. ii. cap. 4; Disputationes, edit. Paris, 1608, vol. iv. pp. 789, a, b, 790, c. says: “Quod si charitas est forma fidei, et fides non justificat formaliter, nisi ab ipsa caritate formata certe multo 95magis charitas ipsa justificat. . . . . Fides quæ agitur, ac movetur, formatur, et quasi animatur per dilectionem. . . . . Apostolus Paulus . . . . explicat dilectionem formam esse extrinsecam fidei non intrinsecam, quæ det illi, non ut sit, sed ut moveatur.” All this is intelligible and reasonable, provided we admit subjective justification, and the merit of good works. If justification is sanctification, then it may be admitted that love has more to do with making men holy, than faith considered as mere intellectual assent. And if it be conceded that we are accepted by God on the ground of our own virtue, then it may be granted that love is more valuable than any mere exercise of the intellect. Romanists argue, “Maxima virtus maxime justificat. Dilectio est maxima virtus. Ergo maxime justificat.” It was because this distinction between a “formed and unformed faith” was made in the interest of justification on the ground of our own character and merit, that Luther, with his usual vehement power, says: “Ipsi duplicem faciunt fidem, informem et formatam, hanc pestilentissimam et satanicam glossam non possum non vehementer detestari.” It is only as connected with false views of justification that this question has any real importance. For it is admitted by all Protestants that saving faith and love are inseparably connected; that faith without love, i.e., that a faith which does not produce love and good works, is dead. But Protestants are strenuous in denying that we are justified on account of love, which is the real meaning of the Romanists when they say “fides non justificat formaliter, nisi ab ipsa caritate formata.

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