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DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION.
THE doctrinal points of regeneration and renovation have been lately brought upon the carpet; and I have, upon another occasion, taken the liberty to throw in some few thoughts upon them. Now the subject of justification being nearly allied to the former, and seeming also to want some farther illustrating, by way of appendage or supplement to the points before mentioned; my present design is to give you a summary view of it, by considering,
I. What the name imports.
II. What the thing contains.
III. How it stands distinguished from renovation and regeneration.
IV. What are the concurring causes on God's part, and on man's, to produce it, and to preserve it.
V. What are the common extremes which many have been apt to run into on this head, and how they may be avoided.
The first article is the name, which ought to be defined before the thing; and, in order thereto, must be first distinguished.
There appears to be sufficient ground in Scripture for distinguishing justification into active and passive: for as
the name regeneration, when denoting an act or grant of God, bears an active sense, and when denoting a privilege received by us, bears a passive sense; such also is the case with respect to the name justification. It means either God's grant, for it is God that justifies a; or it means our privilege, endowment, possession holden of Godb, as we are said to be justified by him. Justification always supposes two parties, one to give, and another to receive; whether without any act at all on the receptive side, as in the case of infants, or whether accompanied with receptive acts, as in the case of adults, who may be properly said to accept and assent to, as well as to receive or enjoy. God, the supreme Lawgiver, may be considered either as a Rector and Governor contracting with man, and laying down the terms of his covenant; or as a Judge, giving sentence according to the terms laid down. Correspondently, man may be considered either as accepting the terms upon his entering into covenant; or as pleading them afterwards at the bar of justice, at the Divine tribunal. There is no more difference between those two several views of the same thing, than there is between the issuing out a general grant for the benefit of all persons who shall duly and properly accept it; and the actual conferring the benefit of that grant upon the persons so accepting but some have chosen one view for the easier and apter explaining (as they conceived) the nature of justification; and some have preferred the other, for the like reasons c. The general way has been to understand justi
Rom. iii. 25, 26, 30. iv. 5. viii. 33. Gal. iii. 8. Tit. iii. 7. Rom. iv. 25. v. 18. N. B. In the two last texts, the word for justification is dixuíz815, which bears an active sense.
Axavn, which may as well be rendered justification as righteousness, appears to mean our righteousness, which we hold of God's grace by faith in Christ Jesus, in the following texts; Rom. i. 17. iii. 5, 21, 22. ix. 30, 31. x. 3. 1 Cor. i. 30. 2 Cor. v. 21. Philip. iii. 9. 2 Pet. i. 1. Matt. vi. 33.
"It is indeed to be granted, that justification importeth, not making of "6 a man righteous, but declaring him and accounting him righteous, treat"ing him and dealing with him as righteous: all this is true; and yet I "will not grant that it is so properly understood to be the act of God as
fication as a kind of law term, expressing a judicial transaction. Protestants of every denomination have set themselves to defend itd: and even Romanists also, many of them, have readily submitted to it. So that the word justification, in this view, and in the active sense, will signify God's pronouncing a person just, and his accepting him as such f; while, in the passive sense, it will signify man's being so declared, and thereupon accepted into new privileges, and his enjoying the benefits thereofs. So much for the name.
I am next to consider what the thing granted and received really is, or what it contains.
Here we are to observe, not barely what the word itself strictly and grammatically signifies, but what it stands for, and must stand for, as made use of in this particular case, or in such and such circumstances. The evangelical notion of it must be governed by evangelical principles : it is a complex notion, which takes in more ideas than the name would necessarily signify in different circumstances.
1. Remission of sins is most certainly one considerable part, or ingredient, of evangelical justification: not that the name, abstractedly considered, imports it, but the na
"sitting upon the throne of judgment, (whether according to mercy or jus"tice,) as the act of God contracting with man for everlasting life, upon "condition of submitting to the covenant of grace, and the terms of it." Thorndike, Epil. book ii. p. 40. Conf. Puffendorf. Jus Fecial. Divin. p. 144, 166, 172, 319, 349, 353.
a Bishop Andrews's Serm. p. 76. Field, p. 291. Bishop Bull, p. 411, &c. Frid. Spanhem. Fil. tom. iii. p. 276. Vitringa, Observat. Sacr. lib. iv. c. 10. sect. 6. &c. tom. i. p. 346. Buddæus, Instit. Theol. p. 951. Deylingius, Obs. Sacr. tom. iii. p. 561.
• Vid. Gul. Forbes, Consid. Modest. p. 98. edit. 2.
f Justificatio evangelica quæ Deum auctorem respicit, definiri potest, actio Dei qua pœnitentem absolvit, propter merita Christi viva fide accepta et applicata. Fogg. Theolog. Speculat. Schema, p. 427.
* Si consideretur (justificatio) cum respectu ad conditionem justificati, est mutatio status, quem resipiscens obtinet erga Deum, unde cessante reatu, propter merita Christi viva fide applicata, non est condemnationi obnoxius. Ibid. p. 427, 428.
ture of the thing, in this case, requires it. Had our first parents preserved their innocence entire, they would have been thereupon justified as inherently and perfectly just, needing no pardon: but men in a lapsed state, being all of them more or less sinners, cannot be accepted as persons who have had no sin, but as persons discharged from it. I need not here say, how, or upon what account; because that will be considered hereafter in its proper place: but in the mean time it is self-evident, that the justification of a sinner must include remission of sin. I may add, that such remission of sin properly signifies a discharge from the penalty due to it; not from the blame it carries with it; except it be in such a sense as Zacharias and Elisabeth were pronounced blameless h; for so all good Christians, living up to the Gospel terms, and persevering to the end, will be pronounced blameless at the last day: and so are they esteemed of here, in the mean season, by God, who searches the hearts i.
2. But, besides remission of sin, a right and title to life eternal, but founded only upon promise k, is included in the Gospel notion of justification: not that the bare force of the word requires it, (for a man might be properly said to be justified, who is acquitted from penalty, though not entitled to a reward,) but we know what the Scripture promises are; and that a discharge from penalty hath thereby a sure title to rewards connected with it: therefore evangelical justification comprehends, according to the full notion of it, not only a title to pardon, but a title to salvation also, a title to both for the time being'.
h Luke i. 6.
í Vid. Grab. in Annotatis ad Bulli Opp. p. 414. edit. ult.
* Debitor enim factus est [Deus] non aliquid a nobis accipiendo, sed quod ei placuit promittendo. Aliter enim dicimus homini debes mihi quiu dedi tibi; et aliter dicimus, debes mihi quia promisisti mihi.—Illo ergo modo possumus exigere dominum nostrum, ut dicamus, redde quod promisisti, quia fecimus quod jussisti: et hoc tu fecisti, quia laborantes juvisti. Augustin. serm. clviii. de verbis Apost. Rom. viii. p. 762. tom. v. edit. Bened.
Vid. Bull. Exam. Censur. ad Animadv. iii. p. 537, 538.