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seth.13 So also are all other elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word.14
The Holy Spirit usually works by means; and the word read or preached, is the ordinary means which he renders effectual to the salvation of sinners. But he has immediate access to the hearts of men, and can produce a saving change in them without the use of ordinary means. “As infants are not fit subjects of instruction, their regeneration must be effected without means, by the immediate agency of the Holy Spirit on their souls. There are adult persons, too, to whom the use of reason has been enied. It would be harsh and unwarrantable to suppose that they are, on this account, excluded from salvation; and to such of them as God has chosen, it may be applied in the same manner as to infants."*
Section IV.-Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the word,15 and may have some common operations of the Spirit ;16 yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved;17 much less can men not professing the Christian religion be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they ever so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess;18 and to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.19
13 Matt. xxii. 14.
18 Acts iv. 12. John xiv. 6. Eph. ii. 12.
John iv. 22; xvii. 3. 19 2 John 9-11. 1 Cor. xvi. 22. Gal. i.
The doctrines stated in this section are the following:
1. That though those who are not elected have the external call of the gospel addressed to them, in common with
* Dick's Lectures on Theology, vol. iii., p. 265.
those who are elected, yet “ they never truly come to Christ, and therefore cannot be saved.”
2. That there are “common operations of the Spirit,” which produce convictions of sin, by means of the law in the conscience; and joyous emotions, by means of the gospel, in the affections of men in their natural state; which do not issue in conversion.
3. That those cannot be saved who are totally destitute of revelation. Though the invitation which nature gives to seek God be sufficient to render them without excuse who do not comply with it (Rom. i. 20), yet it is not sufficient, even objectively for salvation; for it does not afford that lively hope which maketh not ashamed, for this is only revealed by the gospel ; whence the gentiles are said to have been without hope in the world. Eph. ii. 12. It does not show the true way to the enjoyment of God, which is no other than faith in Christ. It does not sufficiently instruct us about the manner in which we ought to worship and please God, and do what is acceptable to him. In short, this call by nature never did, nor is it even possible that it ever can, bring any to the saving knowledge of God: the gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth. Rom. i. 16. We are persuaded there is no salvation without Christ, (Acts iv. 12); no communion of adult persons with Christ, but by faith in him, (Eph. iii. 17); no faith in Christ without the knowledge of him, (John xvii. 3;) no knowledge but by the preaching of the gospel, (Rom. x. 14); no preaching of the gospel in the works of nature; for it is that mystery which was kept secret since the world began.” Rom. xvi. 25.*
Let us be thankful that we are favoured with the revelation and free offer of Christ in the gospel. Let us give all diligence to make sure our election, by making sure our calling; and if we have, indeed, been made “partakers of the heavenly calling," let us “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called,” and “worthy of God, who hath called us unto his kingdom and glory.
* Witsius's Economy of the Covenants, book iii., ch. 5, seet. 13, 14.
Section I.—Those whom God effectually calleth he also freely justifieth;' not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous: not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience, to them as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith: which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.3
Section II.-Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification;t yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.s
1 Rom, viii. 30; iii. 24.
iii. 22, 24, 25, 27, 28. Tilus iii. 5, 7.
3 Acts x. 44. Gal. ii. 16. Phil. iii. 9.
Acts xiii. 38, 39. Eph. ii. 7, 8. 4 John i. 12. Rom. iii. 28; v. I. James ii. 17, 22, 26. Gul. v. 6.
The doctrine of justification by faith holds a most important place in the Christian system. It was justly termed by Luther, articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiæ--the test of a standing or of a falling church. In the Church of Rome this doctrine was most grossly corrupted; and it was eminently through the preaching of the scriptural doctrine of justification that the reformation from Popery was effected. Even in the Protestant churches, however, pernicious errors in regard to this subject have been widely disseminated, and at different periods have produced much acrimonious controversy. In our Confession, the scriptural doctrine of justification is accurately discriminated from the various
forms of error; and in the progress of our exposition, we shall point out the errors to which the statements of the Confession are opposed.
1. Justification is a judicial act of God, and is not a change of nature, but a change of the sinner's state in relation to the law. The Church of Rome confounds justification with sanctification, and represents justification as a physical act, consisting in the insusion of righteousness into the souls of men, making them internally and personally just. But though justification and sanctification are inseparably connected, yet they are totally distinct, and the blending of them together perverts both the law and the gospel. Justification, according to the use of the word in Scripture, must be understood forensically; it is a law term, derived from human courts of judicature, and signifies, not the making of a person righteous, but the holding and declaring him to be righteous in law. The forensic sense of the word is manifest from its being frequently opposed to condemnation. Deut. xxv. 1; Prov. xvii. 15; Rom. v. 16; viii. 33, 34.
Condemnation lies not in infusing wickedness into a crimi. nal, or in making him guilty, but in judicially pronouncing sentence upon him according to his transgression of the law; so justification does not lie in infusing righteousness into a person, but in declaring him to be righteous on legal grounds; and, like the sentence of a judge, it is completed at once.
Socinians, and some others, represent justification as consisting only in the pardon of sin. In opposition to this, our Confession declares that God justifies those whom he effectually calls, not only by pardoning their sins," but also" by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous.” The pardon of sin is unquestionably one important part of justification. It consists in the removal of guilt, or the absolution of the sinner from the obligation to punishment which he lay under by virtue of the sentence of the violated law. The pardon which God bestows is full and complete. It in. cludes all sins, be they ever so numerous, and extends to all their aggravations, be they ever so enormous. Thus saith the Lord, “I will pardon all their iniquities whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.” Jer. xxxij. 8. All the sins of the believer are at once pardoned in his justification; his past sins are formally forgiven, and his future sins will not bc imputed, so that he
cannot come into condemnation. Ps. xxxii. 1, 2; John v. 24. But the pardon of sin alone would only restore the believer to such a state of probation as that from which Adam fell ; he would be under no legal charge of guilt, but still he would have no legal title to eternal life. But when God justifies a sinner, he does not merely absolve him from guilt, or from a liableness to eternal death; he also pronounces him righteous, and, as such, entitled to eternal life. Hence, it is called “ the justification of life;" and they who “receive the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” Rom. v. 17, 18.
II. No man can be justified before God, in whole or in part, on the ground of a personal righteousness of any kind. Romanists, Socinians, and Pelagians, maintain that we are justified either by a personal inherent righteousness, or by our own works.* In opposition to this, our Confession teaches that persons are not justified" for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone."
That we cannot be justified by an inherent righteousness, is manifest, 1. Because we can only be justified on the ground of a perfect righteousness, and our inherent righteousness is imperfect; for the Scripture saith, “ There is no man that sinneth not.” 1 Kings viii. 46. 2. Because the righteousness by which we are justified is not our own. Phil. iii. 9. 3. Because the sentence of justification must, in the order of nature, though not of time, precede the implantation of inherent holiness. 4. Because, if we were justified by an inherent righteousness, it could not be said ihat God justifieth the ungodly.” Rom. iv. 5.
That we cannot be justified by our own works is no less manifest.-1. Because our personal obedience falls far short of the requirements of the law. The law demands obedience in all respects perfect; but “in many things we offend all.” James iii. 2. 2. Because our obedience, though it were commensurate to the high demands of the law, could not satisfy for our past transgressions. The law requires not only the
* The Church of Rome pleads for a double justification. The first consisting in the remission of sin and the renovation of the inward man, is said to be by faith, in a sense, however, which does not ex. clude merit and predisposing qualifications; the second, whereby we are adjudged to everlasting life, is said to be by inherent righteous. ness and by works, performed by the aid of that grace which was infused in the first. Concil. Trident., sess. vi., De Justificatione.