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Yea, it must be allowed, in some sense, by all that hold our inherent righteousness to be the cause of, or to have any influence into, our justification before God. For they do allow of a justification which in order of nature is antecedent unto works truly gracious and evangelical. But consequential unto such works, there is a justification differing at least in degree, if not in nature and kind, upon the difference of its formal cause, which is our new obedience, from the former. . But they mostly say, it is only the continuation of our justification and the increase of it as to degrees, that they intend by it. And if they may be allowed to turn sanctification into justification, and to make a progress therein, or an increase thereof, either in the root or fruit, to be a new justification, they may make twenty justifications as well as two for aught I know. For therein the inward man is renewed day by day;' 2 Cor iv. 16. and believers
go from strength to strength, are changed from glory to glory ;' 2 Cor. iii. 18. by the addition of one grace unto another in their exercise ; 2 Pet. i. 5—8. and increasing with
the increase of God,'Col. ii. 19. do in all things grow up into him who is the head; Eph. iv. 15. And if their justification consist herein, they are justified anew every day. I shall therefore do these two things : 1. Shew that this distinction is both unscriptural and irrational. 2. Declare what is the continuation of our justification, and whereon it doth depend.
Justification by faith in the blood of Christ, may be considered either as to the nature and essence of it, or as unto its manifestation and declaration. The manifestation of it is twofold: 1. Initial in this life. 2. Solemn and complete at the day of judgment, whereof we shall treat afterward. The manifestation of it in this life respects either, the souls and consciences of them that are justified, or others, that is, the church and the world. And each of these have the name of justification assigned unto them, though our real justification before God be always one and the same. But a man may be really justified before God, and yet not have the evidence or assurance of it in his own mind. Wherefore, that evidence or assurance is not of the nature or essence of that faith whereby we are justified, nor doth necessarily accompany our justification. But this manifestation of a man's own justification unto himself, although it depend on many especial causes, which are not necessary unto his justification absolutely before God, is not a second justification when it is attained; but only the application of the former unto his conscience by the Holy Ghost. There is also a manifestation of it with respect unto others, which in like manner depends on other causes than doth our justification before God absolutely; yet is it not a second justification. For it depends wholly on the visible effects of that faith whereby we are justified, as the apostle James instructs us; yet is it only our single justification before God, evidenced and declared, unto his glory, the benefit of others, and increase of our own reward.
There is also a twofold justification before God men-, tioned in the Scripture. 1. By the works of the law;' Rom. ii. 13. X. 5. Matt. xix. 15-19. Hereunto is required an absolute conformity unto the whole law of God in our natures, all the faculties of our souls, all the principles of our moral operations, with perfect actual obedience unto all its commands, in all instances of duty, both for matter and manner. For he is cursed who continueth not in all things that are written in the law to do them. And he that breaks any one commandment is guilty of the breach of the whole law. Hence the apostle concludes, that none can be justified by the law, because all have sinned. 2. There is a justification by grace through faith in the blood of Christ, whereof we treat. And these ways of justification are contrary, proceeding on terms directly contradictory, and cannot be made consistent with, or subservient one to the other. But as we shall manifest afterward the confounding of them both, by mixing them together, is that which is aimed at in this distinction of a first and second justification. But whatever respects it may have, that justification which we have before God, in his sight through Jesus Christ, is but one, and at once full and complete, and this distinction is a vain and fond invention : for,
1. As it is explained by the Papists, it is exceedingly derogatory to the merit of Christ. For it leaves it no effect towards us, but only the infusion of a habit of charity. When that is done, all that remains with respect unto our salvation is to be wrought by ourselves. Christ hath only
merited the first grace for us, that we therewith, and thereby, may merit life eternal. The merit of Christ being confided in its effect unto the first justification, it hath no immediate influence into any grace, privilege, mercy, or glory that follow thereon ; but they are all effects of that second justification which is purely by works. But this is openly contrary unto the whole tenor of the Scripture. For although there be an order of God's appointment, wherein we are to be made partakers of evangelical privileges in grace and glory, one before another, yet are they all of them the immediate effects of the death and obedience of Christ; who hath 'obtained for us eternal redemption,' Heb. ix. 12. and is the author of eternal salvation unto all that do obey bim; chap. v. 9. `Having by one offering for ever perfected them that are sanctified.' And those who allow of a secondary, if not of a second justification by our own inherent personal righteousnesses, are also guilty hereof, though not in the same degree with them. For whereas they ascribe unto it our acquitment from all charge of sin after the first justification, and a righteousness accepted in judgment, in the judgment of God, as if it were complete and perfect, whereon depends our final absolution and reward, it is evident that the immediate efficacy of the satisfaction and merit of Christ, hath its bounds assigned unto it in the first justification ; which, whether it be taught in the Scripture or no, we shall afterward inquire.
2. More by this distinction is ascribed unto ourselves, working by virtue of inherent grace, as unto the merit and procurement of spiritual and eternal good, than unto the blood of Christ. For that only procures the first grace and justification for us. Thereof alone it is the meritorious cause; or as others express it, we are made partakers of the effects of it in the pardon of sins past. But by virtue of this grace, we do ourselves obtain, procure, or merit another, a second, a complete, justification, the continuance of the favour of God, and all the fruits of it, with life eternal and glory. So do our works at least perfect and complete the merit of Christ, without which it is imperfect. And those who assign the continuation of our justification, wherein all the effects of divine favour and grace are contained, unto our own personal righteousness, as also final justification before God as the pleadable cause of it, do follow their steps unto the best of my understanding. But such things as these, may be disputed ; in debates of which kind it is incredible almost what influence on the minds of men, traditions, prejudices, subtlety of invention and arguing do obtain, to divert them from real thoughts of the things about which they contend, with respect unto themselves and their own condition. If by any means such persons can be called home unto themselves, and find leisure to think how, and by what means they shall come to appear before the high God, to be freed from the sentence of the law, and the curse due to sin, to have a pleadable righteousness at the judgment-seat of God before which they stand, especially if a real sense of these things be implanted on their minds by the convincing power of the Holy Ghost, all their subtle arguments and pleas for the mighty efficacy of their own personal righteousness, will sink in their minds like water at the return of the tide, and leave nothing but mud and defilement behind them.
3. This distinction of two justifications as used and improved by those of the Roman church, leaves us indeed do justification at all. Something there is in the branches of it, of sanetification, but of justification nothing at all. Their first justification in the infusion of a habit or principle of grace, unto the expulsion of all habits of sin, is sanctification and nothing else. And we never did contend that our justification in such a sense, if any will take it in such a sense, doth consist in the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. And this justification, if any will needs call it so, is capable of degrees, both of increase in itself, and of exercise in its fruits, as was newly declared. But not only to call this our justification, with a general respect unto the notion of the word, as a making of us personally and inherently righteous, but to plead that this is the justification through faith in the blood of Christ, declared in the Scripture, is to exclude the only true evangelical justification from any place in religion. The second branch of the distinction hath much in it like unto justification by the law, but nothing of that which is declared in the gospel. So that this distinction instead of coining us two justifications according to the gospel, hath left us none at all. For,
4. There is no countenance given unto this distinction in the Scripture. There is indeed mention therein, as we observed before, of a double jutification; the one by the law, the other according unto the gospel. But that either of these should on any account be sub-distinguished into a first and second of the same kind, that is, either according unto the law or the gospel, there is nothing in the Scripture to intimate. For this second justification is no way applicable unto what the apostle James discourseth on that subject. He treats of justification ; but speaks not one word of an increase of it, or addition unto it, of a first or second. Besides, he speaks expressly of him that boasts of faith, which being without works is a dead faith. But he who hath the first justification by the confession of our adversaries, hath a true living faith, formed and enlivened by charity. And he useth the same testimony concerning the justification of Abraham that Paul doth, and therefore doth not intend another but the same, though in a diverse respect. Nor doth any believer learn the least of it in his own experience; uor without a design to serve a farther turn, would it ever have entered the minds of sober men on the reading of the Scripture. · And it is the bane of spiritual truth, for men in the pretended declaration of it, to coin arbitrary distinctions without Scripture ground for them, and obtrude them as belonging unto the doctrine they treat of. They serve unto no other end or purpose, but only to lead the minds of men from the substance of what they ought to attend unto, and to engage all sorts of persons in endless strifes and contentions. If the authors of this distinction would but go over the places in the Scripture where mention is made of our justification before God, and make a distribution of them unto the respective parts of their distinction, they would quickly find themselves at an unrelievable loss.
5. There is that in the Scripture ascribed unto our first justification, if they will needs call it so, as leaves no room for their second feigned justification. For the sole foundation and pretence of this distinction, is a denial of those things to belong unto our justification by the blood of Christ, which the Scripture expressly assigns unto it. Let us take out some instances of what belongs unto the first, and we shall quickly see how little it is, yea, that there is nothing