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in ourselves, or in any merit of ours, relying and resting upon the obedience of Christ crucified alone, which becomes ours when we believe in him ; this is sufficient to cover all our iniquities, and to give us confidence, in approaching to God; freeing the conscience of fear, terror and dread, without following the example of our first father, Adam, who, trembling, attempted to cover himself with fig leaves."
We omit to make quotations from any others, for reasons already intimated. In passing however we remark, that the first reformers, without a solitary exception, (I speak only of the eminent ones; I have read "none others), entertained on the subject before us, views similar to those advanced in the fifteen foregoing references. Luther, Zuinglius, Wolfgang Musculus, Oecolampadius, Bullinger, Peter Martyr, Hyperius, etc., etc., received with one consent, as the doctrine of God's word, that we are justified by the death of Christ, when on account of it, (propter eam, is the uniform expression), we have received the forgiveness of sins. This position, we believe, may be tained in the fullest and most satisfactory manner.
The question whether pardon and justification are one and the same never was agitated until the latter end of the sixteenth century ; at which time it was started by some obscure individuals in the following form : “ Is the forgiveness of sins the whole, or only a part of our justification ? (Sitne remissio peccatorum tota, an dimidia nostra justificatio ?) And sor some time after it was started, (with a host of kindred questions), it attracted but little attention.
When however the subject was ultimately brought up fully before the theological world for discussion, the Calvinistic church almost entirely, at the first, took the ground that pardon was the whole of justification. Some however, with Molinaeus, (a divine, who is deservedly held in the very first rank of excellence), took the opposite ground, and the controversy was long and exciting. Piscator, a man who is still admired and quoted by our learned Calvinistic theologians, became the chief antagonist of the views of Molinaeus, and maintained the position, that “ the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of righteousness, are not two parts of justification.” That Piscator was a strict Calvinist, no one will hesitate to acknowledge, who has read his works, or who is aware of the estimation in which he was held by his contemporaries. If we do not greatly misVol. XI. No. 30
take, the adoption of the opposite principle characterized the followers of Luther long before it did those of Calvin.
By degrees however, the Calvinistic reformers, as well as the Lutheran, were led to make a distinction between forgiveness and justification when they treated upon the subject. They nevertheless still used the terms interchangeably, and asserted that either term might be employed for the other with perfect propriety. That this may be apparent we will present the language of one or two eminent divines who admitted the distinction. Our first is Dr. Amandus Polanus, a great favorite with Dr. Gomar, (whose approbation of an author as sound, is a pretty fair proof that he is orthodox) who styles him “ that eminent theologian,” (egregius theologus). He wrote A. D. 1609. On pp. 1460, and 1461, of his celebrated System of Christian Theology, he thus remarks: “ To justify, solve from death, not to condemn. But it is not the same thing, properly speaking, as to forgive sins. Because beings may be justified concerning whom there exists no necessity for forgiveness ; beings who have no sin, and never committed any, having perfectly fulfilled the law of God. Thus man would have been justified without the pardon of sins, if he had not sinned, but had persisted in rendering obedience to the law. Thus in a forensic judgment the judge absolves the accused who is truly innocent although he does not forgive him any sin. The justification of the sinner is nothing less than the forgiveness of sins, figuratively, that is metonymically speaking, because the forgiveness of sins is the formai cause of the justification of the sinner, etc. But properly speaking the justification of the sinner is not forgiveness itself, but absolution from condemnation. Neither are absolution from condemnation, and forgiveness of sins simply the same, because forgiveness embraces far more than such release. A person may be absolved from condemnation who is innocent, and has not sinned, and who needs not the forgiveness of sins. To be declared that any one is absolved from condemnation, and has a right to eternal life, is common alike to legal justification and evangelical. For, as in human judgments debtors are not only justified by an intervening surety, that is, absolved by the judge and not cast into prison ; but even those who have been accused innocently are absolved, and truly they ought to be absolved. So likewise before God: sinners are not only absolved on account of Christ, but even the innocent, as holy angels. Man also, if he had ful
filled the law and had not sinned, would have been justified, that is, absolved from condemnation and freed from eternal death. Rom. 2: 13.” *
And on page 1497, we have the following: “Forgiveness of sins is truly a part of our justification before God. Yet by synecdoche it is often put for the whole of justification: So that it is rightly said that the justification of the sinner before God consists alone in the forgiveness of sins. For the forgiveness of sins does not exclude the imputation of Christ's righteousness, but necessarily presupposes it. Because God forgives sins to no one unless he im putes to him the satisfaction and righteousness of Christ. Truly it excludes our merits and our satisfactions, and whatever modes of justifying before God, have been thought out by men. So also on the contrary it is rightly affirmed that justification before God consists in the alone imputation of the righteousness of Christ; for the imputation of the righteousenss of Christ does not exclude the forgiveness of
Justificare est absolvere a morte, non condemnare. Id autem non est idem proprie loquendo quod remittere peccata : quia justificari possunt, quibus nulla opus est remissione peccatorum, ut qui nullum habent, nullumque commisserunt peccatum, sed perfecte lege Dei impleverunt. Sic justificatus homo absque remissione peccatorum, si non pecasset, sed in obsequio legis perstitisset: ut dicta de justificatione legali paulo ante citate ostendunt. Ita in judicio forensi judex absolvit accusatum, qui vere innocens est, sic ut peccatum ei non remittat. Justificatio peccatoris nihilominus est remissio peccatorum figurate nimirum metonymice loquendo, quia remissio peccatorum est causa formalis justificationis peccatoris: proprie autem loquendo justificatio peccatoris non est remissio ipsa peccatorum, sed absolutio a condemnatione ; Sicut anima rationalis non est proprie loquendo homo, sed causa formalis seu forma hominis. Neque simpliciter idem sunt absolutio a condemnatione et remissio peccatorum quia illa latius patet. Potest enim absolvi a condemnatione qui est innocens et non peccavit, quique remissione peccatorum non eget. Declarari, quod quis absolutus sit a morte aeternae, et jus habeat vitae aeternae, commune est justificationi legali cum justificatione evangelica. Nam ut in judiciis humanis non tantum debitores interveniente sponsore justificantur, id est, absolvuntur a judice ne in carcerem conjiciantur, sed etiam insontes absolvuntur, et vero absolvi debent: ita etiain coram Deo non tantum peccatores absolvuntur, sed etiam insontes, ut Angeli sancti : item homo si legem implevisset et non peccasset fuisset justificatus, id est, absolutus a condemnatione atque immunis a morte aeterna, Rom. 2: 13, qui legem praestant, justificabuntur. Vide Syntag. Chris. Theolog. Lib. VI. cap. 36.
sins, but necessarily infers it. For to any one to whom God imputes the righteousness and satisfaction of Christ, to him assuredly he remits sins. Because he forgives those from bis mere mercy and free love towards us, for the sake of the intercession and satisfaction of Christ the Mediator applied to us by faith. 1 John 1: 7. Col. 1: 20–22. Rom. 3: 25, etc." *
One more instance will be quite sufficient, and that one is itself a host. I mean Dr. Francis Gomar,-a name synonymous with all that is fervently pious, able, learned, and accomplished. Any one who will read his writings must admit that it is no wonder that Arminius shrunk into his appropriate dimensions under his withering glance. In the folio edition of his Works, Vol. I. p. 175, col. 1, he discusses the question “Whether the forgiveness of sins is the entire justification of the faithful before God, for obtaining eternal life," + in which discussion he affirms not only that the first reformers employed the terms pardon and justification interchangeably, but also that these terms are thus ernployed in the word of God: though he explains it by synecdoche.
Gomar refined more on the theology of the Reformation than probably any other of his time. He is perpetually distinguishing, and yet you can almost always see some reason for the refinement. His followers were exceedingly numerous, in fact the whole body of Calvinists were called after him for many years,) and his refinements with respect to the obedience of Christ, and justification, were subsequently very extensively adopted. The following is a specimen of his language: “Although the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of obedience or of a perfect righteousness are united by an undivided connection, and from the former the latter can be rightly inferred, yet, it ought not to be confounded with it." *
* Est (remissio peccatorum] quidem pars justificationis nostræ coram Deo: Synecdochice tamen frequent
enter pro tota justificatione ponitur, ita ut recte dicatur justificationem peccatoris corain Deo in sola remissione peccatorum consistere. Nam remissio peccatorum non excludit imputationem justitiae Christi sed necessario ponit ; quia nemini Deus remittit peccata, nisi cui justitianı et satisfactionem Christi imputavit: Veruin excludit tantuin merita nostra, satisfactiones nostras et quoscunque modos justificandi coram Deo ab hominibus excogitatos. Sicut vicissim recte affirmatur, justificationem coram Deo consistere in sola imputatione justitiae Christi : nam iniputatione justitiae Christi non excludit remissionem peccatorum, sed necessario infert. Nam cuicunque Deus imputat justitiain et satisfactionem Christi, eidem certe renittit peccata : quia remittit illa esse inera misericordia et gratuito aniore erga nos, propter intercessionem et satisfactionem Christi mediatoris nostri nobis applicatam per fidem. 1 John 1: 7. Col. 1: 20, 21, 22. Rom. 3: 25. Eph. 1: 7. Heb. 9: 22, et
Vide ut supra, p. 1497, D. E. † “Au remissio peccatorum sic tota fidelium, coram Deo, justifica. rio, ad vitam aeternam obtinendam.
cap. 12, 24.
The concluding sentence of the treatise above referred to is the following: “And thus far we have labored to illustrate the truth in relation to the forgiveness of sins. And we have proved, that when understood without synecdoche, it is not the whole of our justification before God; but only a part of it, even absolution from the punishment of eternal death due to our sins, for the sake of the satisfaction of Christ. But understood by synecdoche it embraces at the same time the imputation of righteousness to eternal life.”+ And on p. 541, when answering objections, he says: “ The fourth objection is that the Scriptures put forgiveness of sins and justification for the same, and defines the latter by the former, Rom. iv. But I answer, that this is done by synecdoche: because the forgiveness of sins is the prior member of justification, which embraces the imputation of Christ's righteousness, by the grace of God united with it by an indissoluble connection, although distinct in reality." I Gomar, however, because he departed only thus far from the received doctrine on these topics, was long regarded by many strict Calvinists with distrust, and as an innovator.
Before we leave the present topic for the purpose of taking up the subject of Faith, we hope to be excused for adverting to
** Ac quamvis individuo nexu remissio peccatorum, et imputatio obedientiae seu perfectae justitiae sint conjuncta: ideoque ex priori alterum recte concludi possit : cum eo tamen confundi non debet." Opp. I. 38. col. 2.
f "Atque hactenus de remissione peccatorum, ad veritatis illustrationem egimus: eamque sine synecdoche acceptam, non esse totam corain Deo justificationem probavimus : sed tantum partem illius ; nempe a poena mortis aeternae, peccatis nostris debitae propter Christi satisfactionem absolutionem: per synecdochen vero acceptam, etiarn justitiae imputationem ad vitam aeternam simul complecti.”
† “ Quarto objeclio est : Scriptura remissionem peccatorum, et justificationem, pro eodem ponit, et hanc per illam definit, Rom. iv. Respondelur, hoc fieri synecdochice: quia remissio peccatorum est prius justificationis membrum, quod ex gratia Dei, individuo nexu, sibi conjunctam habet justitiae Christi imputationem ; quamvis re distinctam."