PRIMARY SENSE OF THE TERM JUSTIFICATION.
ENOUGH has now been said to make it appear that -" the controversy concerning Justification, agitated in these last centuries, mainly turns upon this question, whether Christians are or are not justified by observance of the Moral Law. I mean, this has been in matter of fact the point in dispute; whether, or how far, it has been a dispute of words, or went to the root of the question doctrinally, or ethically, are considerations which I do not now dwell upon, but mention by way of explaining my meaning. That in our natural state, and by our own strength, we are not and cannot be justified by obedience, is admitted on all hands, agreeably to St. Paul's forcible statements; and to deny it is the heresy of Pelagius. But it is a distinct question altogether, whether with the presence of God the Holy Ghost we can obey unto justification; and, while the received doctrine in all ages of the Church has been, that through the largeness and peculiarity of the gift of grace we can, it is the distinguishing tenet of the school of Luther, that through the incurable nature of our corruption we cannot. Or, what comes to the same thing, one side says that the righteousness in which God accepts us is inherent, wrought in us by the grace flowing from Christ's Atonement ; the other says that it is external, reputed, nominal, being Christ's own sacred and most perfect obedience on earth, viewed by aTnerciful God as if it were ours. And issue is joined on the following question, whether justification means in Scripture counting us righteous, or making us righteous ;—as regards, that is, our present condition; for that pardon of past sins is included under its meaning, both parties in the controversy allow.
2. Now, in the foregoing Lecture, in which I stated what I consider as in the main the true doctrine, two points were proposed for proof; first, that justification and sanctification were in fact substantially one and the same thing; next, that in the order of our ideas, viewed relatively to each other, justification followed upon sanctification The former of these statements seems to me entirely borne out by Scripture; I mean that justification and sanctification are there described as parts of one'gift, properties, qualities, or aspects of one; that renewal cannot exist without acceptance, or acceptance without renewal; that Faith, which is the symbol of the one, contains in it Love or Charity, which is the symbol of the other. So much concerning the former of the two statements ; but as to the latter, that justification follows upon sanctification, that we are first renewed, and then and therefore accepted, this doctrine, which Luther strenuously opposed, our Church seems to deny also. I believe it to be true in one sense, but not true in another, —unless indeed those different senses resolve themselves into a question of words. In the present Lecture, then, I propose to consider the exact relation of justification to sanctification theologically, in regard to which our Church would seem to consider Luther in the right: in the next Lecture I shall consider the relation of the one to the other, viewed popularly and as a practical matter, as Augustine and other Fathers set it forth: and in those which follow, returning to the subject which has already employed us, I shall show the real connection between the two doctrines, or rather their identity, in matter of fact, however we may vary our terms, or classify our ideas.
If it be asked how I venture, as I do, as regards any proposition which the doctrine of justification involves, to prefer Luther to St. Augustine, I answer, that I believe St. Augustine really would consider, that in the order of ideas sanctification followed upon justification, though he does so with less uniformity of expression than Luther, and no exaggeration, and a preference of practical to scientific statements. Nor is it in any way wonderful, supposing the two are really united together, and belong to one gift of grace committed to the heart, as its properties or qualities (as light and heat co-exist in the sun), that Augustine should not make a point of being logically correct, but should in familiar language speak of the Sun of righteousness, both as shining on us, in order to warm us, and as shining on us with his genial warmth, that is justifying unto renewal, and justifying by renewing.
In adopting the middle course I have thus prescribed to myself,—allowing Luther's statement, and maintaining St. Austin's doctrine,—I am but following our Articles; which, in one place, speak of justification as synonymous with our being " counted righteous before God," or as being in idea separate from sanctification, following, as I have said above, Luther: and in another as equivalent to " the grace of Christ and the inspiration of His Spirit," or as actually consisting in sanctification, following St. Austin and the other Fathers.
Now to proceed to the subject of the present Lecture, viz. that in logical order, or exactness of idea, Almighty God justifies before He sanctifies; or that, in rigid propriety of language, justification is counting righteous, not making.
I would explain the distinction I am drawing, thus; ,—to "justify" means in itself "counting righteous," but includes under its meaning "making righteous;" in other words, the sense of the term is "counting righteous," and the nature of the thing denoted by it is making righteous. In the abstract it is a counting righteous, in the concrete a making righteous. An illustration will clear my meaning. No one doubts what the word Psalmist means in Scripture; yet that one undeniable sense which it has, viewed in itself, is of course very far short of its full sense, when applied to this or that person. Then it stands for much more than this bare and abstract sense. A Psalmist is one who sings Psalms; but the Psalmist may be David, a given individual, living at a certain time and place, and with a certain history attached to him. The meaning of the name is one thing;
of the object another. If one said, "the Psalmist wept over his son Absalom," it would be absurd to maintain on the one hand that the word Psalmist meant "a Father," or on the other that the person signified by the word was merely " a singer of Psalms." So, again, a shepherd slew Goliath, but not as a shepherd ; and the " man after God's own heart" numbered the people, yet not as being after God's heart. In like manner, justification, in the mere meaning of the word, may be a counting or declaring righteous (as the 11th Article implies), yet the justification given under the Gospel, the concrete thing denoted by the word, may (as the 13th implies) be as much more than a mere external, reputed, conventional righteousness, as "the sweet Psalmist of Israel" was more than a Psalmist. It may be as true that it is in fact the giving of "the grace of Christ, and the inspiration of his Spirit," as that the Psalmist was also a king, the man after God's own heart, and a type of Christ. Justification, then, as such, is an imputation; but the actual Gospel gift called justification is more, it is renewal also.
Here I am to consider it, not as it is in fact, but as it is in idea: as an imputation of righteousness, or an accounting righteous; and I shall offer remarks in behalf of three positions, which arise out of what has been said; first, that justification is, in the proper meaning of the word, a declaration of righteousness; secondly, that it is distinct from renewal; thirdly, that it is the antecedent or efficient cause of renewal. "The Voice of the Lord," says the Psalm, "is mighty in operation; the Voice of the Lord is a glorious Voice." Justification then is the Voice of the Lord designating us ;—designating us what we are not at the time that it designates us; designating us what we then begin to be.
1. Justification is "the glorious Voice of the Lord" declaring us to be righteous. That it is a declaration, not a making, is sufficiently clear from this one argument, that it is the justification of a sinner, of one who has been a sinner; and the past cannot be reversed except by accounting it reversed. Nothing can bring back time bygone; nothing can undo what is done. Godtreats us as if that had not been which has been; that is, by a merciful economy or representation, He says of us, as to the past, what in fact is otherwise than what He-says it is. It is true that justification extends to the present as well as to the past; yet, if so, still in spite of this it must mean an imputation or declaration, or it would cease to have respect to the past. And if it be once granted to mean an imputation, it cannot mean anything else; for it cannot have two meanings at once. To account and to make are perfectly distinct ideas. The subject-matter may be double, but the act of justification is one; what it is as to the past, such must it be as to the present; it is a declaration about the past, it is a declaration about the present.
This being so clearly the case, it is scarcely necessaiy to quote passages from Scripture in proof; one or two shall be adduced by way of sanction. . For example; in the fourth chapter of his Epistle to the Eomans, St. Paul makes justification synonymous with "imputing righteousness," and quotes David's words concerning the blessedness of those "whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered," and " to whom the Lord will not impute sin." Eighteousness, then, is the name, character, or estimation of righteousness vouchsafed to the past, and extending from the past to the present as far as the present is affected by the past. It is the accounting a person not to have that present guilt, peril, odiousness, ill-repute, with which the past actually burdens him. If a wrong has been done you, and you forgive the offender, you count it as though it had not been, you pass it over. You view him as before he did it, and treat him as on his original footing. You consider him to have been what he has not been, fair and friendly towards you ; that is, you impute righteousness to him or justify him. When a parent forgives a child, it is on the same principle. He says, "I will think no more of it this time; I will forget what has happened; I will give you one more trial." In this sense it is all one to say that he forgives the child, or that he counts him to have been and to be a good child, and treats him as if he had not been disobedient. He declares him dutiful; and thereby indirectly forgives that past self, which lives in his present self, and makes it a debtor.
Again: In the eighth chapter of the same Epistle, St. Paul says, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth."1 Here justification is contrasted with accusation; accordingly it is a judicial word, and is, therefore, concerned with the past. It comes upon the past, and takes up man in his natural 1 Eom. viii. 33.
state, as found a sinner. Whatever blessings besides are intended for him, still it is the commencement of blessing, and if so, is necessarily, in the first place, a declaring, whatever it may do afterwards. It is, as being a judicial act, an act concerning the present as influenced by the past; they who have sinned are criminals, and they are justified from what they have done. Unless it can be shown, then, that courts of law make men innocent instead of declaring them so, justification is a declaration, not a making.
Again, in the fifth chapter: "The judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. .... As by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."1 Now here it is objected by members of the Church of Eome and others, that Adam's condemnation included an inward destitution, and therefore justification includes an inward gift. I grant it, but this is a further question; whatever condemnation or justification may or may not involve or imply, the point before us is, not this, but what the word means. A declaration on the part of God may in itself presuppose, or involve, or attend, or cause, or in any other way imply, the actual communication of the thing declared: still it does not thereby cease to be a declaration, and justification need not cease to be in itself an accounting, though it may involve a making righteous. Condemnation, in like manner, though it implies, surely does not mean making guilty, but what follows upon guilt; and so 1 Rom. v. 16-18.
justification does not mean cleansing, even though it turn out to be the antecedent or cause of it.
In like manner our Lord says to the Pharisees, "Ye are they which justify yourselves before men;" does this mean "make yourselves righteous," or merely "declare, profess yourselves" so?
These are one or two out of various passages from the New Testament, which show the sense in which the word justification is to be taken; indeed, but one passage can be produced where it is used for "making righteous," and there the reading is doubtful.1 I mean St. John's words at the end of the Apocalypse, "He that is righteous, let him be righteous still;" which in the Greek runs, "let him be justified still."
There are many collateral arguments leading us to' the same conclusion. For instance; St. James says "that Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God." No one can doubt that these phrases are synonymous with being justified; justification, then, is a "calling," that is, a declaring, accounting, treating as the friend of God. That he also was the friend of God, and wellpleasing to Him, is certain too; but his justification was his being declared so.
Again; the Jews considered they were justified by
the rites of the Law, such as circumcision, observing the
Sabbath, paying tithes, and the like; and St. Paul says,
"By the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified." Now, the Jews did not consider such works made them holy, but made them holy towards God, or recommended them to Him; and St. Paul condemns them for substituting them for holiness. The Apostle goes on to say, that the only true justification is the being made holy or renewed; does not this imply, from the very nature of the case, that renewal is not just the same thing as justification, but that in which God justifies men, instead of justifying in the observance of rites? What the Jews thought justification through ceremonies to be, that gospel justification really is, acceptableness; and as the word was attached to circumcision among the Jews without being synonymous with it, so it attaches to renewal now, without standing for it, or being an equivalent expression.
1 Hull, Harm. i. 1, § 6.
The same distinction is seen in passages where mention is made of being "counted worthy of eternal life :" —for instance, when our Lord speaks of those "which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead ;"J or bids us watch and pray that we "may be accounted worthy to escape all these things which shall come to pass;" and when St. Paul speaks of our " being counted worthy of the kingdom of God,"2 no one can deny two things ;—on the one hand, that those who are counted worthy, are worthy (for our Lord says in the Apocalypse, "They shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy;"3) on the other, that to be "counted worthy " does not, in the very sense of the words, mean to be worthy, though it implies it, but means a declaration of that which really is, though, or rather because, it is declared. In like manner, justification, as such, may properly be a declaration, though it involves in fact a gift of righteousness.
1 Luke xx. 35, and xxi. 36. 2 2 Thcs. i, 5. 3 Kev. iii. 4.
6. 2. And secondly, it not only declares, but in order of ideas it is distinct from the gift which it declares; it is the "Voice of the Lord," calling righteous what is not righteous till He calls it so. This will appear from examining what justification is, as a real and gracious act on God's part towards us sinners. Now, the doctrine of our justification not only implies, but derives its special force from our being by birth sinners and culprits. It supposes a judicial process, that is, an accuser, a judgment-seat, and a prisoner. Such is our condition by nature; the devil is our accuser, as of old time he accused Job; and the natural man, not being righteous as Job, has so much more cause for amazement and confusion. Yet even Job says, "Behold I am vile, what shall I answer Thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken, but I will not answer; yea twice, but I will proceed no further." Or as Ezra speaks, "We are ashamed and blush to lift up our faces to God, for our iniquities are increased over our heads, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens."1 If this be the case with holy men, what should it be with the world at large, when the heavy catalogue of their sins is spread out in the sight of Divine Holiness! Then, as St. Paul isays, "Every mouth is stopped, and all the world is guilty 1 Job xl. 4, 5. Ezra ix. 6.
before God." Under these circumstances, when there is no health or hope in us, when we hide our faces and are speechless, the All-merciful God, as we are taught in the Gospel, for Christ's sake, freely pardons and justifies us. He justifies instead of condemning; that is, He exalts us by how much we were overwhelmed and cast down, by a salvation as strange as the peril was imminent.
This correspondence between the depth of our misery and the fulness of our recovery will enable us to estimate the wonderful character of the latter. It is an act as signal, as great, as complete, as was the condemnation into which sin plunged us. Whether or not it involves renewal, it is evidently something of a more formal and august nature than renewal. Justification is a word of state and solemnity. Divine Mercy might have renewed us and kept it secret; this would have been an infinite and most unmerited grace, but He has done more. He justifies us; He not only makes, He declares, acknowledges, accepts us as holy. He recognises us as His own, and publicly repeals the sentence of wrath and the penal statutes which lie against us. He sanctifies us gradually; but justification is a perfect act,1 anticipating at at once in the sight of God what sanctification does but tend towards. In it, the whole course of sanctification is summed, reckoned, or imputed to us in its very beginning. Before man has done anything as specimen, or paid anything as instalment, except faith, nor even faith in the case of infants, he has the whole treasures of redemption put to his credit, as if he were and had done infinitely more than he ever can be or do. He is "declared" after the pattern of his Saviour, to be the adopted "Son of God with power, by a" spiritual "resurrection." His tears are wiped away; his fears, misgivings, remorse, shame, are changed for " righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost;" he is clad in white, and has his crown given him. Thus justification is at first what renewal could but be at last; and, therefore, is by no means a mere result or consequence of renewal, but a real, though not a separate act of God's" mercy. It is a great and august deed in the sight of heaven and hell; it is not done in a corner, but by Him who would show the world "what should be done unto those whom the King delighteth to honour." It is a pronouncing righteous while it proceeds to make righteous. As Almighty God in the beginning created the world solemnly and in form, speaking the word not to exclude, but to proclaim the deed,—as in the days of His flesh He made use of the creature and changed its properties not without a command; so does He newcreate the soul by the breath of His mouth, by the sacrament of His Voice. The declaration of our righteousness, while it contains pardon for the past, promises holiness for the future.
1 [i.e. Perfect in relation to the past, as being a simple reversal of the state of guilt, and a bringing into God's favour; but as God's favour towards us will grow as we become more holy, so, as we become more holy, we may receive a higher justification. The words in the text are inconsistent with an increase of justification, which Catholics hold.]
7. Such is the force of passages like the following :— "To show forth His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past—to show forth, I say, at this time His righteousness." "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? who is he that condemneth?" as if publicly challenging the world. "Having spoiled principalities and powers, St made a show of them openly, triumphing over them by" the Cross. Or let us consider the vision in the hook of Zechariah:—" He showed me Joshua the High Priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said to Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee; is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the Angel. And He answered and spake unto those that stood before Him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him; and unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee; and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments."1 The parable of the Prodigal Son would supply another illustration in point.
Hence, again, so much stress is laid upon taking our shame away, this being one characteristic benefit of justification as distinct from renewal Guilt makes us veil our eyes in the sight of God and His Angels; when God justifies, He clears us from reproach, from the suspicions of holy creatures and the accusations of the devil. The Psalmist, for instance, says, "They looked unto him, and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed." "All they that hope in Thee, shall not be 1 Rom. iii. viii. 33, 3i. Col. ii. 15. Zech. iii. 1-5.
ashamed!' And the Prophet, in like manner, "For your shame ye shall have double, and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion." "My people shall never be ashamed." And so again St. Paul, quoting Isaiah, Whosoever believeth in Him shall not be ashamed." In these, and similar passages, the great recovery or justification of the sinner in God's sight is not the silent bestowal of a gift, but an open display of His power and love.
This particular force, as belonging to the idea of justification, might be illustrated in other ways from the Psalms. I will but refer, as a specimen, to a verse of the 37th, as commented on by St. Athanasius. The Psalmist says, "He will bring forth thy righteousness as clear as the light, and thy just dealing as the noonday." Now in this particular case obedience goes before justification, so it is not an exact parallel of the justification of a sinner. I quote it then merely as illustrating what is meant by the word justification ; and with that view, add the words of the illustrious Father in question. "' Then will He bring forth,' that is, He will establish manifestly, and make clear in the sight of all; not suffering the beauty of holy living to lie hid. For thy righteousness shall be evident to all, shining forth as the light, the light of the noon-day. Not only doth He justify him who confesses, and apply to him a merciful judgment, but He bringeth his righteousness to the light; that is, He makes known to all that He hath justified him. So it was with the penitent thief, whose sentence Jesus, when on the Cross at mid-day, thus published at noontide; and the righteousness which was upon him He brought into the light, that is, to the knowledge of all. For when He said of him, 'Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with Me in paradise,' it became clear to the whole earth, or rather it became a light to the earth; an encouragement to all who were in a state of penitence. 'The brightness of righteousness,' says the Psalmist, 'shall not be hidden, as now; but shall be very manifest, as the sun at noonday,' or, in our Lord's words, 'Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.'" Our Lord's justification, as St. Paul terms it, which took place upon His resurrection, to which I referred just now, supplies another illustration. Christ differs from us in this, that He was the true and eternal Son, we sons only by adoption; He holy by nature, we made holy beyond nature; but He does not differ in His justification, which, simply considered, was what I have been showing ours to be, an open acknowledgment of Him by the Father as righteous and well beloved, yet not nominally such (God forbid) but really. St. Paul, who in one place says that Christ was "justified by the Spirit," explains himself elsewhere by saying that he was "declared1 to be the Son of God, with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." With this agree the words of the Psalm, "I will declare the decree; the Lord hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee." As then, Christ's justification did not supersede but implied His inherent righteousness, yet was in itself distinct from it, and a testimony to it, so is our justification God's announcement, concurrent with His own deed so announced; yet in our case, preceding, not following, His deed, because we are 1 bpurOivTos. Cf. Luke xxiii. 47.
but made righteous, and not as Christ, righteous from our birth.
8. 3. In His case, indeed, justification could be but a witness to what was true from everlasting; but in ours it is much more than a witness, nay more than an antecedent, as indeed has been already intimated. Our justification is not a mere declaration of a past fact, or a testimony to what is present, or an announcement of what is to come,—much less, as those who follow Luther say, a declaration of what neither has been, is, nor ever will be,—but it is the cause of that being which before was not, and henceforth is.1 Strange it is, but such is the opinion of one of the two schools of divinity which have all along been mentioned, that God's calling us righteous implies, not only that we have not been, but that we never shall be, righteous. Surely it is a strange paradox to say that a thing is not because He says it is; that the solemn averment of the Living and True God is inconsistent with the fact averred; this His accepting our obedience is a bar to His making it acceptable, and that the glory of His pronouncing us righteous lies in His leaving us unrighteous. Surely it is a paradox to maintain that the only safeguard of the doctrine of our being accepted freely and without price, is that of our hearts being left odious and offensive to God. How does it diminish the freedom of the gift that He does more? how does it exalt His grace, to say that He lets remain in the "filthy rags" of nature those whose obedience His omnipotence surely might make well-pleasing to Him, did He so will? We, indeed, can claim nothing; and if it be proved that Scripture promises no more, then it is presumptous to seek it; but it is very certain that Scripture, again and again, speaks of our hearts and bodies, our thoughts, words, and works, as righteous; so it is not for want of Scripture warrant that we shrink from believing this gracious truth, but we are determined that the word righteous, in such passages, shall not really mean righteous; we put a second sense upon the word, we explain away the sacred text, and deny a sacred doctrine, all because we have a notion that we are exalting the fulness and richness of God's mercy by circumscribing it.
1 Est differentia attendenda circa gratiam Dei et gratiam hominis; quia enim bonum creatune provenit ex voluntate divina, ideo ex dilectione Dei quse vult creatune bonum, profluit aliquod bonum in creatura. Voluntas autem hominis movetur ex bono praexistente in rebus, et inde est quod dilectio hominis non causat totaliter rei bonitatem, sed prresupponit ipsam vel in parte vel in toto.—S. Thom. Qurest. 110, 1.
Alas! it is an opinion too widely spread, too pertinaciously held, to need formal statement, that if God be supposed to impart any intrinsic acceptableness to our services, this must diminish our debt to Him; that the more He does for us, the less we must necessarily feel indebted to Him; and, though He give us all other graces, He cannot give humility with them. Far be from us notions as contrary to Scripture as they are disparaging to God's love; no, let us believe the comfortable truth, that the justifying grace of God effects what it declares. "The Voice of the Lord is mighty in operation, the Voice of the Lord is a glorious Voice." It is not like some idle sound, or a vague rumour coming at random, and tending no whither, but it is "the Word which goeth forth out of His mouth;" it has a sacramental power, being the instrument as well as the sign of His will. It never can "return unto Him void, but it accomplishes that which He pleases, and prospers in the thing whereto He sends it." Imputed righteousness is the coming in of actual righteousness. They whom God's sovereign voice pronounces just, forthwith become in their measure just. He declares a fact, and makes it a fact by declaring it. He imputes, not a name but a substantial Word, which, being "ingrafted" in our own hearts, "is able to save our souls."1
1 Quando Deus justificat impium, deelarando justum, facit etiam justum, quoniam judicium Dei secundum veritatem est.—Bellann. de Justif. ii. 3. Verbum Domini ejusque voluntas efficax est, et hoc ipso quod aliquem justum esse pronunciat, aut supponit justum eum esse, aut re ipsa justum facit, ne verbum ejus mendax sit.—Vasquez, Quaest. 112, Disp. 202, c. 5. Vid. also Ysambert de Grat. ad Quiest. 113, Disp. 1, Art. 2. Davenant, though a Calvinist, says Cum Deus ineffabili amore complectatur filios suos, necesse est ut notam seu characterem paterni sui amoris illis imprimat et insculpat. Hoc autem aliud non est. quam imago quaedam et similitudo sanctitatis suae.—De .Habit. Just. c. 3. Nay, Calvin himself, Fatemur ergo simul atque justificatur quispiam, necessario innovationem quoque sequi.—Antid. p. 324. But then he adds that it is only a necessary accident. Denique ubi de causd quaeritur, quorsum attinet accidens inscparabile obtrudi? Vid. also Chemnitz de Justif. p. 128, fin. This then it seems, after all, is the point at issue ; God speaks, and a new creation follows : is this new creation involved in the essence of the justifying act, or only joined as a necessary accident? [Cordis renovatio] justificationis obtentae non causa (no one says it is a "cause" except in the philosophical sense, that whiteness is the cause of a white wall, to take the common illustration) sed comes, simul tempore adveniens, sed ordine causalitatis subsequens. —Davenant de Habit. Justit. c. 24. Cf. Bitontinus's language at Trent, quoted below, in Appendix, § 14, also Ysambert de Gratia, Disp. iv. Art. 4.
9. God's word, I say, effects what it announces. This is its characteristic all through Scripture. He "calleth those things which be not, as though they are," and they are forthwith. Thus in the beginning He said, "Let there be light, and there was light."1 Word and deed went together in creation ;. and so again "in the regeneration," "The Lord gave the word, great was the company of the preachers." So again in His miracles, He called Lazarus from the grave, and the dead arose; He said, "Be thou cleansed," and the leprosy departed; He rebuked the wind and the waves, and they were still; He commanded the evil spirits, and they fled away ; He said to St. Peter and St. Andrew, St. John, St. James, and St. Matthew, "Follow Me," and they arose, for " His word was with power;" and so again in the Sacraments His word is the consecrating principle.2 As He "blessed" the loaves and fishes, and they multiplied, so He "blessed and brake," and the bread became His Body. Further, His voice is the instrument of destruction as well as of crea
Chamier de Sanct. x. 2, § 16, well states the case, " Quserebatur an homo, cum justificatur, acquirat justitiam et sanctitatem inhoerentem? Immo, inquam, illud cum justificatur sophisticum quia ambiguum; itaque ineptum constituendo statui controversial Potest enim significare conjunctionem lemporis, ut sensus sit, an simul ac justificatur homo, acquirat etiam illam sanctitatem, ut quum quis deambulans in sole simul calefit, et colorem mutat in fuscum. Potest etiam identitatem, ut ita loquar, rei; ac si dicam, utrum cum ambulat, moveatur homo." The latter alternative is the Roman, the former the Calvinistic; that in the text follows St. Chrysostom, who says, '0 y&v <rrai/pos Tt\v naripav (\vaev, r/ Si irioris Ttjk Suiaioavvrjv el<nfryayev, i/ Si SiKaioatiinj Too irceiip.aros Ttjv x&Piv ^TeaTrdaaTo.—In Gal. iii. 5.
1 The same illustration is made use of by Mr. Knox, Remains, vol. i. p. 265. a Vid. also Rom. iv. 17.
tion. As He "upholds all things by the word of His power," so "at the Voice of the Archangel, and at the trump of God," the visible world will dissolve; and as His "Voice" formerly "shook the earth," so once more "the Lord shall roar out of Zion, and utter His Voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shall shake."1
It would seem, then, in all cases, that God's word is the instrument of His deed. When, then, He solemnly utters the command, "Let the soul be just," it becomes inwardly just; by what medium or in what manner or degree, is a further question not now to be discussed.2 Here it will be more in place, in conclusion, to mention another instance of God's dealings with us, which is analogous to the process of justification as above considered; I mean, the mode in which prophecy is introduced in Scripture, and the purposes which it is made to answer in sacred history. It has been noticed before now,3 as a characteristic of Scripture prophecy, that it precedes and introduces into the world the great providences of God's mercy. When He would set apart a family or people for some extraordinary end, He reveals His purpose in the case of the first father of the line. He puts His word upon it in its origin, and seals up for it its destinies in that word, which, like some potent charm, works secretly towards the proposed end. Thus, when the chosen people were to be formed, Almighty God not only chose Abraham, but spoke over him the promises which in due time were to be accomplished. The twelve tribes had each its own character and history stamped on it from the first. When the royal line of the Messiah 1 Joel iii. 16. a Vid. Lecture VI. 3 Vid. Davison on Prophecy. was to be begun in Judah and renewed in David, on each patriarch in turn did Providence inscribe a prediction of what was to be. Such as this is justification as regards an individual. It is a sort of prophecy, recognizing God's hidden election, announcing His purposes before the event, and mysteriously working towards their fulfilment; even "the oath which He sware" to us, " more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel," "that we might have a strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." And in thus openly setting forth what is secretly in course of operation, it is an appointment especially characteristic of that supernatural system which we call Eevealed Eeligion. As God conducts His Scripture Dispensations by Prophecy, and anticipates Nature by Miracle, so does He in a parallel way infuse holiness into our hearts through justification.
10. On the whole then, from what has been said, it appears that justification is an announcement or fiat of Almighty God, which breaks upon the gloom of our natural state as the Creative Word upon Chaos; that it declares the soul righteous, and in that declaration, on the one hand, conveys pardon for its past sins, and on the other makes it actually righteous. 1 That it is a declaration, has been made evident from its including, as all allow, an amnesty for the past; for past sins are removable only by an imputation of righteousness. And that it involves an actual creation in righteousness has been argued from the analogy of Almighty God's doings in Scripture, in which we find His words were represented as effective. And its direct statements most abundantly establish both conclusions; the former, from its use of the word justification; the latter, from its ,use of the word just or righteous; showing, that in matter of fact, he who is justified becomes just, that he who is declared righteous is thereby actually made righteous.1 Lastly, as I have said, both doctrines are laid down in our Articles: the former in the eleventh Article, the latter in the thirteenth.
1 What is here called a declaration, Calvin calls an acceptation; with this verbal difference, the following passage from him, as far as it goes, expresses what is stated in the text ;—" Tota nostra disceptatio est de causa justificationis. Hanc Tridentini patres duplicem esse fingunt; ac si partim remissione peccatorum, partim spirituals regencratione justi
essemus Ego autem unicam et simplicem esse assero, qua?
tota continetur in gratuita acceptione."—Antid. p. 324.
1 Davenant's statement on the subject may be entirely received, though he was a Calvinist:—"Ex usu quotidiani sermonis, qualitas inhaerens, praesertim si praedominans sit, denominat subjectum, licet simul inhaereat aliquid contrariae qualitatis. Dicimus enim non modo nivem album, aut cygnum candidum esse, sed candida tecta vocamus et vestimenta candida, quibus tamen saepissime maculae aliquae offusae sunt, et aspersiones nigredinis. Sic etiam aquam calidam vocamus, non modo earn quae ebullit prae fervore, sed etiam quae acquisivit gradus aliquot caloris, frigore nondum totaliter expulso. Ex quibus patet, eadem ratione renatos omnes ab inhaerente justitia vere nominari et censeri justos, quamvis ea inchoata adhuc sit et imperfecta. Justos dico non justificatos, quia justi vocabulum, ut nunc loquimur de justo, nihil aliud designat quam praeditum infuso habitu seu inhaerente qualitate justitiae, et justificati vocabulum includit absolutionem ab omni peccato et acceptationem ad vitam aeternam."—De Habit. Just, c. 3, fin. It must be carefully kept in view, that the object proposed in these citations from divines of very various sentiments, is that of showing how they one and all converge and approximate to one main olear and consistent doctrine, whatever be the precise language of their respective schools.