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and he has undertaken the laborious course of study referred to because it appeared to be the only satisfactory method left of ascertaining what are the essential doctrines of the system. He has satisfied himself; and having compared the system with the word of God, he is prepared to meet with cheerfulness whatever consequences may result from adopting for his text-book, the "Institutes" of the illustrious Calvin.
The doctrine of justification by faith, as we have already intimated, has ever been regarded by protestants as the great and distinctive doctrine of the Reformation. And if there be a doctrine on which the followers of Calvin and Luther in the present day, will unhesitatingly, concede that the views of the primitive reformers were sound-this is the doctrine. It was at the peril of their lives that they rescued this pillar in the temple of God's eternal truth from the rubbish which impious hands had been heaping upon it for ages. And while it is true that persons who have to a limited extent departed from their views of this doctrine, may still be regarded as sound, in the general, it must yet be admitted that those who entertain on this subject the views which they entertained cannot be regard ed by Calvinists as unsound. To this last canon all their professed followers will readily subscribe.
The topics which will form the subject of the present inves tigation it is our intention to take up and consider in the order of their announcement in the question at the head of this arti cle. We shall therefore commence with the doctrine of justification.
lenus, Syntag. De Predestinatione, Dr. Francis Gomar, Opp. Tom. II. p. 279, Dr. Amandus Polanus, Syntag. Lib. IV. c. 10. Thes. II, and IV., Dr. Twisse of England, etc. Their method of treating the subject shows that the principle was extensively, if not universally ac knowledged amongst them. We extract an instance from one of the last named divines, for the classical reader. Dr. Polanus is treating upon the efficient cause of reprobation; and he thus speaks: "Si decreti reprobationis causa efficiens est peccatum tum aut originale erit aut actuale. At originale peccatum decreti reprobationis causa non est, quia sic omnes homines naturaliter nascentes reprobati fuissent, quum omnes peccato originali sint infecti. Neque enim actuale peccatum est ejus causa, quia sic nulli infantes, etiam blasphemorum Judaeorum, Turcarum, et aliorum Gentilium, vel in utero materno vel paulo post nativitatem mortui essent a Deo reprobati. Ergo, etc." This, however, was only an excrescence, and not an essential feature of the system.
§ I. Views entertained by the Reformers on the doctrine of Justification.
It has been with unaccountable singularity maintained in our own time that the term justification is of recent coinage.* All the reformers, however, employ the term justificatio. Hence it must be at least upwards of three hundred years old. Not only this, but the schoolmen use it: e. g. Thomas Aquinas, who was born A. D. 1254. Nor is this all: for we find it of very frequent occurrence in an author who stands deservedly high in the estimation of all true Calvinists: We refer to Augustine, who was born fifteen hundred years ago. The term is likewise employed by Ambrose, Oecumenius, etc. etc.
But, as we have already remarked, it is foreign from our intention to mingle in the agitating controversies now pending in the American churches on this subject. Yet we hope to be pardoned, if, in treating this subject historically, we find it necessary to refer to some facts of recent occurrence in relation to these controversies. If in so doing we should give offence, it will be altogether unintentional, as our sole object by such reference is to place before our readers the views on this subject, which have been pronounced erroneous, as well as those which have been approved, and thus to enable them at once to compare such views with those entertained on the like points by the reformers themselves; whose views it is our intention to present as fully as the limits which are allowed us will permit.
The disputes referred to in a note on a preceding page, have excited the deepest interest in a large denomination of American Christians. The whole denomination appears to be nearly equally divided in relation to it. Learning and talent of the first order are found on either side. Those who are charged with maintaining that justification is synonymous with pardon, have been pronounced on that account sufficiently unsound in the faith to warrant their coerced separation from those who assume the opposite ground; and it is affirmed that their speculations and views seriously endanger, if they do not entirely subvert the doctrine of justification by faith alone; the great leading doctrine, and very pillar of the Reformation.†
* "Justification is a modern Latin word, coined to express a particular thought." "Dr. Junkin's Vindication," p. 134.
See "Trial of the Rev. Albert Barnes before the Synod of Philadelphia in Session at York, Pa. Oct. 1835." pp. 154-235.
On the contrary they who have been thus charged and their brethren who agree with them, maintain that they do not hold that justification, and pardon, or remission of sin, are one and the same thing. And further; that even if they had avowed. this belief, they would not thereby have materially departed from the doctrine of the Reformation, and that therefore they cannot consistently be pronounced heretical on this subject, unless the noble army who achieved the Reformation share a similar fate. As we are about to enter upon an investigation of the subject in controversy, may the Great Head of the church vouchsafe his blessing upon our feeble efforts, that, to some extent they may heal the dissensions of his blood-bought Zion, and tend to the restoration of confidence and peace within her borders.
The position which we expect to establish is that the reformers employed the terms pardon, or forgiveness, and justifi cation interchangeably, and really as synonymes. Our quotations will be brief, and such as, we doubt not, will prove satis factory to all who candidly regard them. By way of introduc tion to this part of the subject we shall furnish the reader with a specimen or two of the language employed with respect to this doctrine in the time of the great Augustine and later from which we shall pass on to the first centuries of the Re
Our translations are designed to be strictly accurate and as much condensed as practicable, while, for the satisfaction of the classical reader, we shall throw the originals of our excerpts into notes at the bottom of the page.
I. Let us then hear Augustine, the great defender of the doc trines of grace against Pelagius. He says, "Our sanctuary is the forgiveness of sins, which is to be justified by his blood. When God the Father is displeased with us, he considers the death of his Son in our behalf, and becomes reconciled. My entire hope is in the death of my Lord. His death is my merit, my refuge, my salvation, my life, and my resurrection."
If it should be objected that this writer appears sometimes to
Assylum nostrum remissio peccatorum: quid est justificari sanguine ipsius. Cum nobis irasceretur, Deus Pater videt mortem filii sui pro nobis, et placatus est nobis.-Tota spes mea in morte Domini est. Mors ejus meritum meum est, refugium meum, salus mea, vita et resurrectio mea. De Civitate Dei, Lib. II. cap. 2, and De Trinitate,
onfound sanctification with justification, we answer, that we dmit it. But let it be remembered that such an objection is 10 refutation of the argument from the above quotations.
II. Ambrose was undoubtedly the most correct, as a theologian, of any of his age. He was Augustine's contemporary. In 1 Cor. 1: 4, he remarks: "For thus is it ordained by God that he who believes in Christ shall be saved without the deeds of the law; freely receiving by faith alone the forgiveness of sins."
III. Oecumenius says: "How may we be justified? By forgiveness which is in Christ Jesus."+
IV. Bernard (whose testimony is the last that we shall cite) says that "Christ is made our righteousness by the pardon of sin."
We might adduce also the testimony of Justin Martyr, Origen, etc., but prefer to pass on to that of the reformers. first, we adduce
V. John Calvin. This writer employs the phrases" imputation of righteousness," and "justification" to mean the same thing; and he explains them both to signify simply "the pardon of sin." This will be manifest from the quotations which follow.
In his Institutes, he lays down the following as a formal definition of justification. "Justification in its plain and simple acceptation we understand to be that acceptance of us, by which God regards us, being received into favor, as righteous. And we affirm that it consists in the forgiveness of sins, and in the imputation of the righteousness of Christ." After which he goes on to explain himself, and unequivocally declares that justification is only to absolve from guilt or approve as innocent; and that "imputation of righteousness" is only other phraseolo
"Quia hoc constitutum est a Deo, ut qui credit in Christum, salvus sit sine opere. Sola fide gratis recipiens peccatorum remissio
+"Quomodo sit justificatio? per remissionem quam in Christo Jesu consequimur." In Manuali, cap. 22.
# "Christus factus est nobis justitia in absolutione peccatorum.' Ser. XXII, in Cant..
"Nos justificationem simpliciter interpretamur acceptionem, qua nos Deus in gratiam receptos pro justis habet. Eamque in peccatorum remissione ac justitiae Christi imputatione positam esse dicimus."
gy for "forgiveness of sins."* We adduce his own language.
"To justify therefore is nothing else than to absolve from guilt, (as having been approved innocent), him who had been adjudged guilty. When therefore God justifies us at the intercession of Christ, he absolves us, not by approving our own innocence but by the imputation of righteousness; that we may be accounted as righteous in Christ who are not so in ourselves. Thus, in the language of Paul in Acts 13: 38, "By this man forgiveness of sins is declared to you; and whosoever believeth in him is justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses.' Here you see that justification is placed after the remission of sins, as if exegetically; you see plainly that it means absolution; you perceive that it precludes works of law; that it is the mere favor of Christ, and that it is to be received by faith. And further you perceive that a satisfaction is interposed where it is said that we are jus tified from sin through Christ. So also when the publican is said to have descended from the temple we dare not say that his righteousness was obtained by any merit of works. This, therefore, is said, that after he obtained pardon of sin, he was accounted righteous before God. Righteousness therefore was not by an approval of works, but by the free forgiveness of God. Wherefore Ambrose elegantly denominates the confes sion of sins, legitimate justification. But omitting dispute about the word, if we enter upon consideration of the thing itself, as it is described to us, no doubt will remain. For Paul clearly designates justification by the name of acceptation, when he says in Eph. 1:5, We are predestinated unto the adoption through Christ, according to the good pleasure of God unto the praise of his glorious grace, by which he hath received us into great favor.' For this is that which he has elsewhere declared (Rom. 3: 24), that God justifies us freely. But in Rom. 4:6 -8, he calls it the imputation of righteousness, nor doubts that it consists in the forgiveness of sins. His words are, The man is said by David to be blessed whom God accepts, or to whom he imputes righteousness without works, as it is written, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, etc.' (Ps. 32: 1.)
* The apparent discrepancy in the language of Calvin on this subject, will be rendered perfectly intelligible by the subsequent quotations from Calvinistic divines; particularly Pareus, Tilenus, etc.