Of the Life of Justification, as to its continuance
††††††††† When it is said, that the just shall live by faith, there is a state pointed forth, and a condition intimated, that is not momentary, and of short continuance, but such a condition, or change of state is held forth, as is of a lasting nature; not only because Life doth connote some permanency, for a longer, or for a shorter time; but chiefly because this chief axiom says, especially as elsewhere applied by the Spirit of the Lord, that the just, or justified man, hath thru faith a life, in the worst of times, and that he is made partaker of that privilege of life, which shall prove lasting and continuing, to the end, a life, that is kept in, fed and nourished by faith. Having spoken therefore of this life of justification, as begun; that we may more fully explain the nature of it, we must speak a little of it also, as continued.
††††††††† But first, we must permit some things to show, what that justification is, of the continuance of which we here speak; and what we do not hereby understand, when we speak of the continuance of the Life of Justification.
††††††††† 1. We do not speak here of justification, which Antinomians tell us, is from eternity; for that can be nothing, but Godís eternal purpose to justify; and which cannot more be called justification, than his eternal purpose to condemn the reprobate, and to save the elect, can be called condemnation and salvation: and we can no more say, that there was a justification of any man from eternity, than that there was a condemnation, or salvation of men from eternity; we must distinguish between Godís purpose, and the effects, which he has purposed: His purposes are indeed eternal: but the effects or events purposed, have their being in time, according to the season, mean or method, when and whereby God has purposed to effectuate them. And we are sure, that justification, whereof the Scripture speaks, is a relative change wrought in man, in time, when and not before, he lays hold on Christ by faith, according to the tenor of the Gospel.
††††††††† 2. Nor do we mean here, that justification, which the same Antinomians, call only declarative in this life: for the true Gospel Justification is a real relative change, whereby the believer is brought out of a state of wrath and judgment: where they were lying under the curse of the Law, and the sentence thereof, unreconciled to God, and enemies to him, having their sins lying upon them, according to the sentence of the Law, and therefore strangers to Godís favor and countenance, and so without God and without Christ; and brought into a new state of peace, pardon, reconciliation, and friendship with God, of which we spoke above, chapter 5. We
cannot then look upon the justification, mentioned and explained in the Scriptures, and of which we have hitherto spoken, as a mere declaration to the believerís conscience of what God did from eternity; as if the admittance into favor, and pardoning of sins, were nothing but his declaration to their consciences, that they were accepted from eternity, and had pardon from eternity: a notion, sure, that hath no footing or foundation in the Scriptures.
††††††††† 3. We do not here speak of that, which some call Baptismal Justification, and whereby they say, all infants baptized are justified; and which they must yield to be such as can and does meet with a final and total intercision, yea and amission, as to many; and so be quite of another nature, from that which adult believers partake of, from which there is no final or total apostasy to be granted, according to the Scriptures. But we own no such justification of all baptized infants.
††††††††† 4. Nor yet do we here speak of that, which others, being more wary, must own, as consequentially following upon their opinion of Baptismal Regeneration of all baptized elect infants, to wit, a baptismal justification of all baptized elect infants, it being certain, that there can be no regeneration, without a corresponding justification: for as such regeneration is not clearly revealed in the Scriptures, so, were it granted, no actual justification, but only a seminal and potential justification could be hence inferred; because such as the regeneration is said to be, by such as maintain this opinion, such must the justification be; but this regeneration, which is thus owned, is only said to be initial, seminal, or potential, and is distinguished from actual regeneration. (See D. Burgess of Baptismal Regeneration, page 14, 15.) As concerning the justification of infants, though we cannot say, that there is no such thing, yet, as the knowledge of the way of the Lordís effectuating it, does not much concern us; so the Scriptures are sparing in speaking of that subject; Sure, the Lord has a way of uniting their hearts to Christ, and of justifying, regenerating and saving such of them, as die in their infancy, and belong to the election of grace; though we cannot directly understand, and determinately explain the matter of how. It is more of our concernment to enquire after and know the way, how adult persons come to partake of these privileges.
††††††††† 5. We do not here speak of that Justification, which some call a Justification of the cause, and distinguish from that, which they call, a justification of the person: for that is but the justification of a person falsely accused, as to some particular, as David was frequently accused of many things, by his adversaries, of which he was innocent, laying to his charge crimes, he knew not, about which he was in case (as we find he did several times in his Psalms) to appeal unto God, the righteous Judge, being conscious to himself of no guilt in the particulars alleged, and knowing his own innocence, in the sight of God, who knew all things: Such was the matter of that question, concerning Jobís sincerity so much agitated betwixt him, and his friends, in the book of Job, and at length decided in Jobís favors, by God himself; for though this was not, concerning one or a few particular acts
but concerning his whole deportment, and concerning his state before God, upon the account of his deportment, and the Lordís dispensations with him; yet it was a justification of his cause, rather than of his person; for in the justification of our persons, we have to do immediately with God, and not with man; and the question was properly about a matter of fact, to wit, whether he had been a real believer, or a hypocrite, though such a matter of fact, as merely concerned his whole state.
††††††††† 6. Nor do we here speak of that justification, even as to our state, which is before men, or in the judgment of men, which oft proceeds upon mistakes and unsure grounds; as the now mentioned instance of Jobís friends evidences: and so varies, according to the various judgments and apprehensions of men, yea and of the same Man, at several times, according as the grounds, whereupon he judges, are to him clear, or dark: Neither is this sentence or judgment of men, who are but fallible, and judge by outward appearance, not being able to see into the heart, and judge how matters are there, always according to truth; even though according to that judgment of charity, which the Law of God requires: Nor is it constant and equable.
††††††††† 7. Nor do we speak of that justification, whereof the Apostle James speaks, chapter 2, which is not the justification before God, whereof the Apostle Paul speaks in his epistles; but the evidencing, proving and demonstrating thereof, by effects and works obvious to the eyes of others and demonstrative of the cause; those I grant will oft admit of an intercision, through temptation, and the prevalence of corruption, and so the cause or true justification may, as to this manifestation, be eclipsed, though not in itself.
††††††††† 8. Far less do we here speak, of a groundless, fancied and supposed justification, whether in the apprehension of deluded persons themselves, or of others: for this is no true justification, but a mere delusion, as to themselves, and a conjecture, as to others: and the sooner this be quite cast away and renounced, the better.
††††††††† 9. Nor do we here speak of that justification, which is in the court of manís own conscience, or as it is there, and opposed to that justification, which is in Godís court; for it is certain, this justification, which is said to be in the court of conscience, is but a manifestation of the other unto the manís conscience, and is sometimes had, and sometimes missed; sometimes it is more clear, sometimes more dark, and therefore can be oft repeated and reiterated, and intended and remitted; yea and some may for a long time, if not their whole lifetime, be wholly without it, walking in darkness without all light, as to this; some may once get a clear sight thereof, and never see more of it, till nigh the landing in eternity, and yet all this while, the justification, which is in the court of God, remains fixed, invariable, and without any interruption.
††††††††† 10. By justification here, we mean not that, which some call a particular justification, and do distinguish it from a universal justification: by this understanding a universal pardon of all sins past and committed, and
by the other understanding a particular pardon of this or that sin, that is committed, after the man has been universally pardoned and accepted of God; and now pardoned after a new act of faith in Christ: though it be needless to debate, whether this particular pardon can be called a justification, or not; yet it is certain, it is not that justification, whereof Paul speaks so much, and explains, in all its causes, in his epistles; nor that justification, which connotes a change of state before God, and the translation of a person out of an estate of enmity into an estate of favor and friendship, in reference to which there must be a juridical sentence, passed in the favors of the man, through the imputed righteousness of Christ, received by faith: while as this posterior act of pardon of a particular transgression, is rather a Fatherly act of pardoning the failing of his son and receiving him again into his Fatherly embracements.
††††††††† 11. Nor finally, do we here speak of that sentence of Absolution, that shall be pronounced, at the last day; for, howbeit that may be called a justification; yet it is not that justification, whereof we are now speaking, and it does not make such a change in the state of such, as are thereby absolved, as this does; and therefore, in respect of this, it is rather a public declaration and manifestation, before Angels and Men, of their justification, or being in a justified state, who shall be adjudged unto eternal life; than any justification connoting a change of state, seeing none in that day will be justified but such as have been here partakers of this justification, whereof we speak, they who have been in heaven will need none; and none of the living, who have not by faith laid hold on Christ, will hear any other sentence, then, depart from me, ye cursed.
††††††††† 12. The justification then, whereof we here speak, is that change of state before God, which such are made partakers of, as lay hold on Christ by faith, through the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, whereby they are brought into an estate of favor and reconciliation with God, who were before under His wrath and curse; and upon which they have all their iniquities, whereof they are guilty, actually pardoned; are accepted of, as righteous, and pronounced such through the surety righteousness of Christ imputed to them; and freed from the sentence and curse of the Law, under which they were lying.
††††††††† That we may clear the nature of this life of justification, as to its continuance, we shall lay down these few propositions.
††††††††† Proposition 1. Justification denotes a state, wherein the believer is brought, a real change, as to state: as a man accused of some crime, and kept in prison till he be tried, and examined by an assize (court), is really changed, as to his law state, when cleared by an assize, and pronounced not guilty, and so absolved as to that, whereof he was accused, and set at liberty, he is now a free man, in Law: much more is there a great change in a manís law-state, when before he was guilty of death, lying bound in fetters, kept unto the day of execution, and now gets a free remission of all, when of a Man of death he is made a free liege, as there is a change in a manís
state, and relation, when he is made an adopted son, so is there a new state, wherein the sinner is brought, when he is absolved from the sentence of the Law, and declared a righteous man. Sanctification, regeneration, and glorification, do all of them hold forth a new real state, whereinto he is brought, who is made partaker thereof; so justification with adoption held forth a new relative state, which is also real as real, is opposed to what is false, or imaginary. Hence is it, that a believer is justified even while he is sleeping and not acting faith; as a person remains in a married state, though not actually consenting unto the match, the consent once granted instates the person in that new relation.
††††††††† Proposition 2. This new state of justification is continuing and permanent; not in this sense, that God renews and frequently reiterates the instating of them into this new relative state; but in this sense, that once justified always justified; they are fixed and preserved in that state: as adoption is a permanent state, because once adopted always a child of God. Hence it is called a grace, wherein we stand, Romans 5: 2. It is a state of reconciliation and peace wherein we stand. It is no fluctuating state, wherein one may be today and be out of it tomorrow, and again brought into it. The ground of this sentence is fixed, lasting and permanent, to wit, the imputation of the righteousness of Christ: once clothed therewith, never naked or spoiled thereof again; the gifts and calling of God being without repentance, Romans . The soulís union with Christ through faith, is lasting and abiding: once in Him, always in Him, once a member of his mystical body, and married to him, as his spouse, and always so, for he must finally present all such holy and without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, Ephesians . Faith whereby the knot is made, and the marriage consent is given, remains, as to its root and habit, Christ prayed, that it fail not, Luke 22: 32. They are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, I Peter 1: 5. All arguments proving perseverance of the saints, which we cannot here sum-up, do confirm this.
††††††††† Proposition 3. Hence Justification is a state, that is not interrupted and broken off, and renewed and reiterated again: as it cannot be quite taken away and annulled: so neither can it be broken off for a time, so as for that time, they should be in a non-justified state: the marriage once made is not broken; the sentence once pronounced is not recalled; sins once pardoned by God, are not laid again to his charge. The Spirit that once spoke peace and said, Son be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee, will not be again, a Spirit of bondage unto fear, Romans 8: 15. If justification could at anytime be thus interrupted, adoption behoved to be interrupted with it, and so a child of God behoved to be for that time a child of the devil. The Scripture speaks not of any such relapse into the state of nature and sin. And such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God, I Corinthians 6: 11, once brought out of nature never reduced into that state again: No more new justification, than new adoption; once quickened, never again brought into a state of death in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2: 1, 5, for such are then
brought into a safe state, being quickened together with Christ; as Christ being raised from the death, dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over him, Romans 6: 9, so they, who are planted with him, in the likeness of his death and resurrection, may always reckon themselves dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ, verses 4, 5, 11. Hence there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8: 1. They are not under the Law, but under grace, Romans 6: 14. And this holds true, notwithstanding of after-sins; for if after-sins, and remnant sins and corruption, could break of this relation, and make an alteration in this state, no man should be said to be one day in a justified state: for the best of men falls seven times a day in sin, and no man can say, that he is free of sin: there being no perfection here, there could be no state of justification, and consequently no state of adoption, and reconciliation: if after sins could break of this relation, or relative state, a believer could not be said to be partaker of any of the privileges attending this state, for one day to end. New sins indeed call for new remissions, but these new remissions are fatherly pardons, and not such a sentence of absolution, as the person had at first, when translated out of the state of death into life, for then the person was not a reconciled son: but now he stands in a state of reconciliation and Sonship, and his new pardons are the pardons of a Father, granted to a Son, as we see Psalm 89: 30 Ė 34. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes: nevertheless my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail: my covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing, that is gone of my lips. So I John 1: 8, 9, If we say, that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and 2: 1, 2, My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not: and if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins. Psalm 103: 3, 8, 9, 12, 13. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy: he will not always chide, neither will he keep his anger forever, as far as the East is from the West, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us: like as a Father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. So this state remains firm and unbroken, not withstanding of the various changes, which are in their apprehensions concerning it; these may alter many a time in one day, but the Lordís thoughts are not as our thoughts: nor are His ways as our ways, Isaiah 55: 8, 9. His sentence and judgment remain the same, how alterable so ever ours be He is in one mind, though we be in many.
††††††††† Proposal 4. Hence also it is manifest, that justification is an instantaneous act; that is, it is not a work, that is carried on by degrees; but a sentence pronounced by the Lord, the Righteous Judge, once for all: Though hereafter they still need renewed pardons, and so, may have more sins pardoned this year, than they had the last year; yet justification, as relating to their state, is no progressive work: We hear not of a growth in justification,
as we hear of a growth in sanctification; for as for that word, Revelation 22: 11, he that is righteous, let him be righteous still, or, let him be justified still, dikaiw qh&tw will not import a growth or progress in justification, but a continuance in that state: beside that others read dikaiosu&nhn poi hsa&tw: So Ar. Mont., the complut edition, as also the Syriac and Arabic versions. This relative change that is made in justification, is like the relative change that is made in adoption; now the act of adoption is an instantaneous act, and not a work that is carried on by degrees, nor doth it admit of a growth, so that an adopted child of God cannot be more the adopted child of God this year, than they were the last year; though the sense and clear perception of the one and of the other may and doth admit of degrees, and is not so full and clear always at the first, as it may be afterwards.
†††††††† Proposition 5. Hence it follows, that justification is equal in all; that is, that all who are justified, are alike justified; none more than others; as none are more adopted than others, speaking of these, who are made partakers of the privilege: none can be said to be more a son, than another; so none can be said to be more justified, than another, who is also justified; the Lordís sentence absolves all equally from their sins, who believe; and admits them all equally into a state of favor and reconciliation; They equally pass from death unto life, they have equally peace with God, they have all an equal imputation of the righteousness of Christ, or a share therein, none more or less than others, though the faith, which lays hold on the righteousness of Christ, be not a like strong, in all; for it is faith in the same kind in all, and the promise is to the kind, and not to the measure or degree of faith. It is no where said, that we are justified by a faith of such measure or degree; but by faith; importing that how weak so ever faith be, if it be faith of the right kind, it interesses a soul in Christ, and in his righteousness, whereupon he is justified. It is true, one may have many more sins pardoned, than another. Yet both being pardoned and justified, they are equally absolved from all, that could be laid to their charge; he that was the greater sinner, is not more liable to the law, than he who was the least offender; for the sentence of pardon or absolution doth equally free both from all hazard of condemnation; as when two persons are pardoned, the one whereof hath committed many crimes worthy of death, the other but one, they are both equally pardoned, freed from prison, and from the sentence, and set at liberty: So also when two persons are pardoned, the one whereof hath a greater debt remitted, the other a lesser, they are equally pardoned, the one is not more discharged, though discharged more, than the other, but both are alike discharged of all their debt, and freed from all trouble of the law upon the account of their debt. So in justification, all who are justified, how great so ever be the difference among them, as to the sins, whereof they were guilty, are alike justified, because alike freed from the accusation and curse of the Law; and alike made partakers of the privileges of persons pardoned; have alike interest in the favor of God, and right to glory. As to what difficulty may arise from the consideration of after sins, we shall speak to that afterward.
††††††††† Proposition 6. The state of justification is perfect at the
first, or justification is perfect and complete to all ends and uses, this is
clear from what is already said: for if justification be not an act and
privilege that admits of degrees, or of increase, and does not grow more and
more daily, it must be perfect at first, or adequate to all ends and purposes,
for which it is appointed, or have that perfection that is competent to it. It
is true, it is not so perfect, as that it can never be out of sight; or as if
the sense and feeling of it might not grow or become greater; nor yet is it so
perfect and complete, as if thereby the justified person were freed from all
sin, or all the consequences of sin in this life, for it is not hereunto
appointed, nor granted for these ends. But in these respects, and for these
ends, it may be said to be perfect: (1.) That all their former sins are
pardoned, how many and how heinous so ever they have been, for then all
their sins are cast into the depths of the sea, Micah 7: 19, and are not
found, Jeremiah 50: 20. In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the
they have peace with God, Romans 5: 1. Once they were
enemies but now they are reconciled, verse 10. By Christ they have now received
the atonement, verse 11, once alienated and enemies in their minds by wicked
works, but now reconciled Colossians 1: 11, once a far off but now made near,
Ephesians 2: 13, the enmity being slain, verse 16. No more strangers or
foreigners now, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of
God, verse 19. Then is the Lord pacified toward them, for all that they have
done, Ezekiel 16: 63. (5.) They are completely translated, into a new covenant
state, not half the children of Satan, and half the children of God; not half
in nature and half in the state of grace, not half translated and half not,
Ephesians 2: 13, 19, Colossians 1: 21, not half quickened with Christ, and half
not, Ephesians 2: 5. They are not now half without Christ, or aliens from the
††††††††† Proposition 7. By what is said, it is manifest, how and in what respects this life of justification differs from the life of sanctification. (1.) Sanctification makes a real physical change: Justification makes a relative change. And thereby they come to have a new state or relation, unto the Law, and unto God the judge. (2.) Sanctification is a continuing work, wherein believers are more and more built up daily. Justification is an act of God, or a juridical sentence, absolving a sinner, and pronouncing him free of the charge, brought in against him, and not liable to the penalty. (3.) Sanctification is a growing and increasing work, and admits of many degrees; and is usually weak, and small at the beginning: Justification does not grow, neither doth it admit of degrees; but is full and complete and adequate unto all ends here. (4.) Sanctification is ever growing here, and never comes to full perfection before death: Justification is perfect and adequate unto all ends; as we showed. (5.) Sanctification is not alike in all; but some are more, some are less
sanctified: But justification is equal in all; none being more justified than others. (6.) Some measures and degrees of sanctification, which have been attained, may be lost again: but nothing of justification can really be lost; for we are not here speaking of the sense and feeling of justification, which frequently may be lost; but of justification itself. (7.) Sanctification is a progressive work; justification is instantaneous, as was shown. (8.) Sanctification respects the being, power and dominion of sin in the believer, and kills, subdues and mortifies it: Justification respects it guilt and demerit, and takes away guilt and the obligation to punishment, or obnoxiousness to the paying of the penalty. (9.) In justification, a man is accepted upon the account of the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, and received by faith: But in sanctification, grace is infused, and the Spirit given to perfect holiness in the fear of God. (10.) In justification, there is a right had unto life, and unto the rich recompense of reward, upon the account of the righteousness of Christ imputed, whence they are said to have passed from death to life: But in sanctification they are made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. (11.) Unto justification nothing is required but faith in Christ, whereby the soul may become united to Him, and have right to His benefits: But unto sanctification, all the graces of the Spirit are requisite, and all the exercises of the same; all diligence is required, and an adding of virtue to faith, of knowledge to virtue, of temperance to knowledge, of patience to temperance, of godliness to patience, of brotherly kindness to godliness, and of charity to brotherly kindness, II Peter 1: 5, 6, 7.
††††††††† Proposition 8. Hence it follows also, that there is no ground to assert a first and second justification, as Papists do, meaning by the first an infusion of an inward principle or habit of grace, which is no justification, nor part thereof, but the beginning of sanctification: and by the second, another justification, which with them is an effect or consequent of the former, having good works, which flow from the foresaid infused principle of grace and love, for its proper and formal cause. This justification, they say, is by works, whereas the former is by faith; and yet this second, they make to be an incrementum, an increase of the first; and for this they say, the church prays, when she says, Lord increase our faith, hope and charity, Council Trid. Sess 6. cap 10, whereby we see, this justification, whereof they say James speaks, chapter 2, is manifestly nothing else, but the very growth of sanctification: and so they know no justification at all, distinct from sanctification: wherefore we need say no more against the same, it being justification, formerly explained, which we treat of, and not of sanctification, whereof they seem only to speak, when they mention justification; and indeed this their justification, which is true sanctification, admits of various and different degrees; and of this, they imagine not only a first and second, but according to the various degrees thereof a third and a fourth, yea a tenth and twentieth, if they please. The Scripture, it is true, makes mention of a two-fold justification, one by the works of the Law, and another by faith: but it asserts with all, that these are inconsistent, and
that no man living can be justified the first way, by the works of the law. Mr. Baxter, besides the difference he makes, between justification as begun, and as continued, in reference to the different conditions, required to the one, and to the other, imagines a two-fold justification, or two justifications, or (as he says against D. Tullie, page 167,) rather two parts of one, yet in his last reply to Mr. Cartwright page 46, he makes them as distinct, as are the two laws he speaks of, and the first, he says, is by God the Creator, the second by Christ the redeemer and in order to the vindication and clearing of this, he speaks much of a two-fold righteousness in his writings against Mr. Cartwright page 70, giving us several (to the number of thirteen) differences, between them; making the one to consist in our non-obligation to punishment by the Law of works, because of its dissolution upon satisfaction made by Christ: to be without us, in the merit and satisfaction of Christ; to be in substance the same with pardon; to be opposite to that guilt, which sin in general procures; to be but the tantundem of what the Law required, to justify us from a true accusation, that we by sin deserve death &c. And the other to consist in our non-obligation to the far greater punishment; to be within us and done by us, to consist in innocence or not-guiltiness; to be opposite of that guilt, which one particular sin procures; to be the idem required in the new Law; to justify us from a false accusation, that we have not performed the conditions of the new Covenant &c. all which to examine is not my present purpose: only I shall say, as to this twofold justification, that it is an explication of the matter, which we have not in Scripture, which, I judge, should only regulate our conceptions and expressions, in this affair: and whatever pleasure men may take, to give way to their luxuriant fancies; yet it will be safest for us to follow the thread of the Word, and to speak of this mystery, according to revelation, and not according to our apprehensions: And of†† all men, I judge, Mr. Baxter should be most averse from creating new terms, words and expressions, in these divine things, who expresses himself so angry-like (especially in his later writings) in words, which to some may seem to savor little of sobriety or of modesty, against such as contend about words; when it may be, they are but defending the received orthodox† doctrine from his new notions and expressions, as being censorious, dividers, word-soldiers, and I know not what. But, as to the matter in hand; and in particular, as to this second justification, or rather first (for it is supposed to be first in order of nature, if not in time also) which is founded upon our innocence, or performance of the conditions of the new Covenant, faith, repentance and new obedience and so is a declaring of us righteous because of our inherent righteousness, I shall only say these few things. 1. That I find not this new justification explained, expressed, nor so much as hinted by the Apostle, in all his discourses and disputes about this subject, though he hath spoken very much of justification, and on all occasions did vindicate and clear up the Gospel truth there anent. If it be said, that all this is sufficiently hinted, and more than hinted by the Apostle, when he tells that faith is imputed unto righteousness, I answer: What the proper
meaning of this expression is, shall be shown hereafter, where it shall also be manifested, that the faith here said to be imputed, is not our act of faith, but Christ, and his righteousness laid hold on by faith, or the object of faith held forth in the Gospel, and received by faith. And for answer to this, I judge it sufficient to say, that the Apostle is manifestly there speaking of that other justification, which we own, for the only justification, held forth in the Gospel, whereby remission of sins is had, and peace with God, through a righteousness without, and of that justification, which takes away all glorying, both before God and man, and wherein God is held forth to be and laid hold on by faith as one, that justifies the ungodly, and of that justification, which is from the accusation of the law; by all which and many other particulars, observable in the Apostleís discourse there, it is undeniable, that he is speaking of that other justification, which we assert. If it be said, that all this is sufficiently imported, when faith is made the condition of justification, and we are said to be justified by faith, I answer: What way faith is a condition of justification, and is so to be called, shall be seen afterward: only I say, that what the Scripture speaks of this, can give no ground for a new and distinct justification, because this new justification is rather a justification of faith, or of the believer because of his faith, and purely on the account of his faith; for it is a sentence of judgment, pronouncing the man to be a believer, because he is so; and his faith to be right faith, because it is so; than any justification of him by faith. Not to mention this, that together with faith, as the condition, repentance and new obedience is joined; and then there must be a justification of works, or of the man by, yea and because of works, which cannot be imported by being justified by faith, because that is always opposed to justification by works. Besides, that even in menís courts these are not two distinct sentences of the judge, required in deciding of a controversy, depending upon the clearing of a condition; one anent to truth of the condition, and the other anent the thing depending upon that condition; but the condition being instructed to be performed, the one sentence is given out; much less is this requisite here, where we have to do with God, who knows whether the condition be performed, or not; and needs not, that we instruct the same against the accusation of Satan, or of the world in order to his information. Moreover, there is but one accusation here brought in against the man, from the law, and from the righteous Judge, to wit, óthat he is a sinner, and therefore a son of death: and therefore there is but one sentence requisite. For as for that accusation, that the person hath not performed the condition of the new covenant, neither will the Law-giver, or judge, nor can the Law bring it in against a believer: and what Satan, the accuser of the brethren, or what the blind or prejudged world, or what a manís own blind and deceitful heart shall or can herein do, is of no consideration, in reference to a justification, which is before God, and in his sight. But 2. against this twofold justification I would say, that all that is mentioned, concerning Gospel justification, in Scripture, agrees but to one, and the very contrary thereof must be attributed
to the other new-coined justification, according to his own explication thereof: the one is by faith, the other is for faith; the one is by faith alone, without works, the other is because of faith and works too; the one is an act of Godís free grace, the other is an act of pure justice; the one is of a sinner, and of an ungodly person, the other is of a righteous man, as such, and because such; the one takes away all boasting and all gloriation even before men; the other not; the one makes the reward of free grace, the other of due debt; the one is because of a righteousness without us, the other because of a personal, inherent righteousness. The publicanís language, God be merciful to me a sinner suit the one best. The Phariseeís language or something like it, God, I thank thee, I am a believer &c. suits the other best. In the one the man can plead no innocence, in the other he can and must plead himself not guilty. In the one, the sinner must say with David, Psalm 143: 2, enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. Other things of this nature might be mentioned, but these are sufficient. 3. This new justification must of necessity be a justification of conscience, or in it, or terminated in it; because it is not before God, or in his sight, where the world, or the deceived heart the chief accusers here, do not compeer to accuse, and Satanís accusing them before God can cause no trouble to them, until he come, as an accuser, before conscience, and give in false summons there. And therefore it is not the justification by faith, treated of in Scripture: as he himself proves in his Confession, chapter 8, page 189, &c. 4. This will make way for more justifications, than two; for as faith must be justified so must repentance, so must also works, and perseverance in them to the end: If it be said, that all these make but one complete condition, and therefore give ground but to one sentence, I answer: Then no man can have this sentence pronounced upon him, to wit, to be one, that hath performed the condition, until he hath persevered unto the end, and finished his course, and this being the first justification, at least in order of nature before the other, a man must be dead before he be justified from the Law, yea or with this justification: and yet we hear of justification in this life. Further, this will make way for more justifications, upon this account, that it is a declaration of the man to be what he is indeed, and to have what he hath indeed; and so, as hereby the man who hath true saving faith, must be justified upon that account, so the man, that hath but a historical faith, must be justified in so far, in comparison of him, that is a mere infidel, and may plead his own cause, so far, even before Godís tribunal; so may the man, that hath but a legal repentance, in respect of him, that hath none at all; and the man, that performs works materially good, though not in a right manner, in comparison of him, that doth not so much, and he himself tells us, page 8, against Cartwright, of a three fold accusation, 1. that we are not believers, 2. that we are not true believers, 3. that we are selifidians; and that accordingly, there must be several ways of justification. 5. This will lay the ground for Godís multiplying, or frequently reiterating †
of one and the same justification; for justification presupposes always an accusation, and seeing neither God, nor the Law, will ever accuse a believer of being no believer, only Satan, and the world, and his own misguided conscience thus accuse; now, if the accusation of these or of Satan alone (as he seems to insinuate p. 81, and elsewhere, against Mr. Cartwright) be enough to lay the foundation of such a justification, then as oft, as this accusation is renewed, (and how oft that may be, who can tell?) must the Lord reiterate his sentence of justification, and pronounce the man a true believer: and it will not be sufficient to say, that it will suffice if the Lord manifest to the manís conscience, that he is a believer; for why shall that be sufficient now, more than at the first? and if this take away the necessity †of reiterating the sentence, it will also say, that there was no necessity for pronouncing the sentence of his being a believer at the first. None need to say, that this same may be alleged against our justification before God; for the justification we only own, is in reference to the accusation of the Law, and of justice and of God the righteous Judge, under whose curse the sinner lies, until he be justified, and when he is once justified through faith in Christ, he is no more troubled with their accusations; for neither God, nor Law, nor Gospel accuse a believer of being an unbeliever and under the curse again, whatever Satan, and his own misguided conscience, or others may do. 6. He grounds his twofold justification p. 93 and 94, upon a twofold covenant with distinct conditions and a twofold accusation for non-performance of the one, and of the other. But thus, as he shall make us to be justified by the old covenant of works, and that by the principal justification, an absurdity, that he frequently loads our opinion with; so he makes all the justification which is according to the new Covenant to be upon and because of our own personal righteousness; which is also repugnant to the whole Gospel. We do not perform the conditions of the first covenant, and all the liberation from the curse of that covenant, under which we are by nature, is through the surety-righteousness of Christ, imputed to us, and received by faith: and the Gospel or new Covenant reveals no other way of justification to us. As for the distinct accusations, we have said enough already. Neither the Lord, nor his law do ever accuse a believer of not being a believer, and as for Satanís or othersí accusations of this kind, a well informed conscience from the light of the word and of the Spirit, clearing up the work of faith, in the soul, and the true and real works of a lively faith, will be sufficient to quiet the believer, and stop the mouth of all these accusers; without the fiction of a new and distinct justification, whereof the Scripture is silent.
††††††††† But Mr. Baxter in his last reply to Mr. Cartwright explains, the matter far otherwise, telling us page 46 and forward, that the first justification is of God, as Rector, only by the pure law works, as Creator: the other by God in Christ, as Redeemer and Rector of the redeemed world. The first is conditionally past upon the whole condemned world and that without any condition in man, whether faith or works: and so it is both absolute and conditional. In the first the Father first condemned his Son, as it were (see
page 52) and after satisfaction given justified first him, as Sponsor, and then the world for his sake: thus God forgave those all the debt, who yet perish by taking their fellow servant by the throat. Here is a justification both absolute and conditional; Here is pardon and no pardon: Here is a justification of all the reprobate: Here is a justification of persons not in being and prior to and without all faith. This therefore is not the justification, whereof the Scriptures speak, as he himself proves, in his Confession.