Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
Strictly speaking, is one who acts according to or consistent with the law; but in general the term is made use of to denote one who expects salvation by his own works. We may farther consider a legalist as one who has no proper conviction of the evil of sin; who, although he pretends to abide by the law, yet has not a just idea of its spirituality and demands. He is ignorant of the grand scheme of salvation by free grace: proud of his own fancied righteousness, he submits not to the righteousness of God; he derogates from the honour of Christ, by mixing his own works with his; and, in fact, denies the necessity of the work of the Spirit, by supposing that he has ability in himself to perform all those duties which God has required. Such is the character of the legalist; a character diametrically opposite to that of the true Christian, whose sentiment corresponds with that of the apostle, who justly observes, "By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 .
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Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Legalist'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/l/legalist.html. 1802.