How Faith is, and may be called and Instrument in Justification
††††††††† Concerning the instrumentality of faith in justification, much needs not be said, howbeit too much hath been written about it, and that to very little edification; so I judge: I am sure, to little use, as to their clearing up of that concerning point of justification, and the true interest of faith therein.
††††††††† We heard, in the beginning of the proceeding chapter, how both Socinians and Arminians did disown faith being an instrument, and Papists also before them did plead against it. On the other hand, the orthodox, writing against Papists, Socinians, and Arminians, did unanimously assert faith to be an instrument, or to be considered an instrument, in the matter of justification. And few, or none, can be instanced of those, who hold with the orthodox, in all chief controversies about justification, that did impugn, or so much as deny faith to be an instrument, in justification; Yea John Goodwine, in his book of justification, doth expressly call it an instrument in justification.
††††††††† It is true, the Scripture no where calls faith an instrument; and the same being no Scripture expression, there needs not be much strife about it, nor will there be, among such, as are unanimous, in the main and principal questions about justification; or to that, which is only designed and intended by that expression. And though the Scripture doth not use that expression, in terminis, yet no man can hence infer, that all use of it, and of the like should be laid aside, nor can such be supposed to add to the Scripture, (as Mr. Baxter hints, Apol. against Mr. Blake, p. 40) who call faith an instrument; more than he can suppose that he himself adds to the Scripture, when he calls faith a condition, or a causa sine qua non, for these ar as little to be found expressly, in the Scriptures, as the other. Nor do they, who say faith is an instrument, so much plead for the name, as for the thing intended thereby: All expressions, that are not in Scripture, must not be laid aside, in our speaking of divine things: for then we must lay aside the word Trinity, Sacrament, Satisfaction, and several others: far less must the truth, which we conceive can be intelligently and usefully expressed by those borrowed words and terms, be laid aside, because the term itself, by which we express our conceptions of the truth, is not in so many letters and syllables to be found in Scripture, if so indeed, we had quickly lost a fundamental point of our religion, and yielded the cause unto the Socinians. If the Scripture may be explained, we may make use of such expression,
term, and sentences, as will, according to their usual acceptation, contribute to make the truths revealed in Scripture intelligible to such, as hear us. And when some terms have been innocently used in theology, for explication of truths, whether to the more learned, or to the more unlearned, and have passed among the orthodox without control, or contradiction, beyond the ordinary time of prescriptions, it cannot but give ground of suspicion for any, now to remove these old landmarks, especially when it is attempted to be done, by such means and arguments, as will equally enforce a rejection of many Scriptural expression: for should all the metaphorical expressions and sentences, which are in nature, be so canvassed, and rejected, because everything agreeing properly to them when used, in their own native soil, doth not quadrate with them, as used in the Scriptures, in things divine, where should we land? If these divine mysteries had been expressed to us only in terms, adequately corresponding with and suiting the matter; how should we have understood the same? Therefore we find the Lord condescending in the Scriptures, to our low capacities, and expressing sublime and high mysteries, by low and borrowed expressions, to the end, we might be in case to understand so much thereof, as may prove, through the Lordís blessing, saving unto us: And thereby hath allowed such, as would explain these matters unto the capacity of others, to use such ordinary expressions, as may contribute some light and understanding to them, in the truths themselves.
††††††††† Now when the orthodox have, according to their allowed liberty, made use of the word instrument in this matter, and maintained that faith was, and was nothing more than an instrument in justification, it is not fair to reject it altogether, because improper, though fit enough to signify what they did intend thereby; and because all the properties, that agree to proper physical, or artificial instruments, do not agree to it; and because if the same be strictly examined, according to the rules of philosophy, concerning instrumental causes, it will be found to differ from them. Mr. Baxter himself, writing against Mr. Kendal. ß 47, tells us that the thing, which he denies, is that faith is an instrument, in the strict logical sense, that is, an instrumental efficient cause of our justification; and that he expressly disclaims contending de nomine, or contradicting any, that only use the word instrument, in an improper large sense, as mechanics and rhetoricians do: So that the question (says he), is de re, whether it efficiently causes our justification, as an instrument? But it may be conceived to have some efficient influence, in our justification, not as that is taken simply & strictly for Godís act justifying, but as taken largely, comprehending the whole benefit: as actively coming from God, and as passively received by or terminated on us, and that as an instrument, though not in that proper sense, that logicians or metaphysicians take instrumental causes, and explain them, in order to physical and natural effects. We know, that justification is a supernatural work and effect; and therefore, though in explaining of it in its causes, we may make use of such terms, as are used about the expressing of the causes of natural, or artificial works and effects; yet no law can force us, to understand by these
borrowed expressions, the same proper, and formal efficacy, efficiency, and influence, which are imported by these expressions, when used about natural causes and effects.
††††††††† But Mr. Baxter against Mr. Blake ß 5. tells us what great reasons he had to move him to quarrel with this calling of faith an instrument viz. he found that many learned divines did not only assert this instrumentality, but they laid so great a stress upon it, as if the main difference betwixt us and the Papists lay here. And yet any might think, that they had reason so to do, when Papists on the other hand, laid as great a stress upon the denying of faithís instrumentality. He tells us moreover, that our divines judged Papists to err in justification fundamentally, in these points: 1. About the formal cause, which is the formal righteousness of Christ, as suffering and perfectly obeying for us. 2. About the way of our participation herein, which as to Godís act is imputation, and that in this sense, that legaliter we are esteemed to have fulfilled the law in Christ. 3. About the nature of that faith, which justifies. 4. About the formal reason of faithís interest in justification, which is as the instrument thereof.† I doubt not (says Mr. Baxter) but that all these four are great errors. But we neither may, nor can call all errors, which Mr. Baxter calls errors. We have seen above how necessary truths the first two are, and have explained, in part, the third, wherein I confess, too many (yet not all) of the foreign divines have, as to that expression, missed the explication of true justifying faith and it may be, it was not their design to describe it so, as it might agree to the faith of every sincere, though weak believer: but rather to show its true nature, grounds and tendency, when at its best; and yet what Papists hold, on the contrary, is more false and absurd. But as to this fourth, it seems, that it hath a necessary dependence upon the foregoing; and this to me seems to be the main reason, why our divines did own and plead for faithís instrumentality, in the matter of justification, viz. because the righteousness, which they called the formal, or others the material cause thereof, was not any righteousness inherent in us, as Papists said; but the Surety-Righteousness of the Cautioner Christ, without us: and therefore they behooved to look on faith, in this matter, otherwise than Papists did, and not account it a part of our formal righteousness, but only look upon it, as a hand to lay hold on and bring in the Surety righteousness of Jesus Christ; and therefore judged it most fit to call it only an instrumental cause. And how ever Mr. Baxter may exaggerate this matter, as complying with Papists in condemning us, as to all these controversies, and think it no wonder, they judge the whole Protestant cause naught, because we err in these, and yet make this the main part of the Protestant cause; yet we must not be scared from these truths; yea, because this point hath such a connection with the other, concerning that righteousness, upon the account of which we are to be justified in the sight of God, we are called to contend also for this, and that so much the rather, that though Papists do utterly mistake the nature of justification, and confound it with sanctification; yet Mr. Baxter hath more rational apprehensions there about, and yet will not have Christís righteousness to be that formal
righteousness, upon the account of which we are justified.
†††††††† Yet notwithstanding, we need not own it for such an instrument, or such an instrumental cause, as philosophers largely treat of, in logic and metaphysics, knowing that the effect here wrought is no natural effect, brought about by natural efficient and instrumental causes; only we say, the Scripture affirming, that we are justified pistei, e0k pi/stewj and dia\ pistewj, gives us ground to call faith (if we will use such terms, to express our mind) an instrument, seeing these expressions point forth, some special interest and influence, that faith hath in justification, and no other influence or causation can be allowed to it, conform to the Scriptures; but that, which we express in our ordinary discourse, not in a strict philosophical sense, by an instrument. And that so much the rather, that hereby is pointed forth that which is the main ground and design of using this term, viz. the application of the righteousness of Christ, which is made by faith, as a means laying hold upon without which we cannot be justified, according to the Gospel; and though in these borrowed expressions from causes, metaphysical accuracy be not intended, yet the true meaning and intent of the users of these terms being obvious, it is but vanity to raise too much dust thereabout; unless differences about other more principal questions, in the matter of Justification enforce it, as indeed all such as place the Formal Cause or reason of our justification before God in our own inherent righteousness, and not in the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith, must of necessity deny all interest of faith here, as an instrument, or as anything like it; because, having all their righteousness within them, they have no use for faith to lay hold on and bring in one from without.
††††††††† These things may satisfy us, as grounds of this denomination.
††††††††† 1. That in justification, we are said to be receivers, and do receive something from the Lord; not only the passive justification itself expressed by our being justified, but of something in order thereunto, as of Christ himself, the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, the atonement, the word of promise, yea everything that concurs unto justification, or accompanies it, we are said to receive. John 1: 12, Colossians 2: 6, Romans 5: 11, 17, Acts 2: 41, 10: 43, 26: 18, Hebrews 9: 15.
††††††††† 2. That the only grace, whereby we are said to receive these things, is faith: receiving is explained to be believing, John 1: 12, Acts 2: 41 compared with verse 44. We receive forgiveness of sins by faith, Acts 26: 18.
††††††††† 3. That the Surety-Righteousness of Christ, is that only righteousness, upon the account of which we are justified before God, and not any inherent righteousness within ourselves, has been evinced above.
††††††††† 4. That this righteousness of the Surety must be imputed unto such, as are to be justified, or reckoned upon their score; has also been evinced.
††††††††† 5. That this Surety-Righteousness of Christ must be laid hold on by us, in order to our justification, has been shown; and must be granted by all that acknowledge it to be the righteousness, upon the account of which we are justified.
††††††††† 6. That the Scripture says expressly, that God justifies e0k pi/stewj and dia\ pistewj, by faith and through faith, and pistei by faith, Romans 3: 24, 25, 28, 30, Galatians 3: 8 and 2: 16, and that even when justification is denied to be by works; so that faith must have a far other interest in; and must otherwise concur unto our justification, than any other works or graces; and therefore must be looked upon as having some peculiarity of interest and influence here, and this peculiarity of interest cannot be otherwise better expressed, so as the matter shall be cleared, than by calling it an instrument. Not as if it did concur to the producing of the effect of justification by any physical operation, as physical instruments do; but as a medium and mean required of us, in order to justification, according to the free pleasure of God, who disposes the order and method of his bestowing of his favors upon us, and the relation and respect that one hath unto another, as he sees most for his own glory, and for our good; and that such a mean, as concurs therein, and thereunto, according to what is said, in such a way, as we can best understand by calling it an instrument; for we cannot allow it to be called any way meritorious, or any formal disposition of the soul or preparation unto the introduction of an inherent formal cause of justification, as Papists say; nor can we allow it to be called such a proper and potestative condition, as some would have it to be, as we saw in the foregoing chapter.
††††††††† 7. That no real inconvenience can follow upon the owning of faith for an instrument in justification; for justification is not here taken simply and strictly for that which is properly Godís act, but more largely and complexly, including other things requisite unto justification, such as the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, which faith, as the instrument or hand of the soul, lays hold on, and brings in, for this end, that the man being clothed therewith, may be acquitted before the tribunal of God, pardoned, and accepted of as righteous. And howbeit be God, that justifies, and as to this act of God justifying, faith has no real interest or influence; yet the Scripture saying that God justifies by faith, and through faith, we must acknowledge some interest, that faith has, in the work and effect; as when the Scripture says, that He purifieth the heart by faith, Acts 15: 9, the purifying of the heart is Godís work, and yet it is said to be done by faith, which is our work. It is said in Hebrews 11: 11 that through faith Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and in verses 33 and 34 that some through faith subdued kingdoms, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, &c. all which were the works of God, and yet while they are said to be done by faith, faith must have had some interest and influence in these effects. So in working faith in the soul, which is Godís work alone, the Lord uses the preaching of the Gospel, and ministers, and the peopleís hearkening and listening to what is preached, as means thereunto; though preaching and hearing be menís work, yet God uses them for his ends; and as he sends preachers to preach, and moves persons to hear, that thereby he may, according to his own will and pleasure, work faith in them; so he works faith in souls, that he may, thereby justify them. Nor is it of any weight to say, that if faith be an instrument, it must work as an efficient cause, because the instrumental
cause belongs to the efficient; for neither do all philosophers agree to this, some holding instruments to be a <?> kind of cause; nor are we obliged to stand to their prescriptions and rules, especially in these things, that are no natural causes or effects; no man says that faith has the same kind and measure of efficiency in and towards the effect, justification, that all instrumental causes, or instrumental causes so called, have in the effects, which they concur to the producing of; what efficiency hath an exemplary cause, which some philosophers reduce to the efficient, viz. Keckerkan: But that faith hath some influence, is manifest from the Scripture, not of itself, it is true, but by the gracious appointment of God; and that this influence cannot be better and more safely expressed, than by the name of an instrument, appears to us clear; hereby nothing of the glory due to God, or unto Jesus Christ, and to his righteousness, is ascribed unto man, nor is any more hereby granted unto man, than to a beggar, as to the enriching of himself, when it is said, his hand made him rich, by receiving the purse of gold that was given unto him: yea hereby is Christ and his righteousness more fixedly established, in their due place, because faith is considered not as a righteousness of itself, nor as a part of righteousness; but purely and simply as an instrument of the soul laying hold on the righteousness of Christ, and pleading the same, as the only formal ground of his justification before God. If it be said, that it were safer to call it a causa sine qua non, we must first know, what is properly signified thereby, and whether it will help us more, to understand the just and true import of the Scripture expressions about faith in justification; for no terms ought to be used, that attain not this end, or have not a direct tendency thereunto; such terms, however we may please ourselves in the invention of their application unto the business in hand, and think we are in case to defend the same against opponents; yet if they do not contribute manifestly to the clearing and explaining of the matter, according to the Scriptures, can only darken the matter: And no reason can enforce us to embrace them, with the arbitrary explications and limitations of the authors, and to reject or lay aside such, as do more obviously explain the matter, unto all such, as have orthodox apprehensions of the matter; and have given offense to none, nor have been excepted against by any, but such as were not orthodox in the point of justification; and whose erroneous principles led them to deny, or except against the same. And what for a cause shall we take that, causa sine qua non to be? (which cannot be so explained in our language, as that everyone that hears it, shall be in case to understand what it means.) Such as speak of it, call it causa fatua, and refer to it external occasions, time and place, and such like things, without which the action cannot proceed, as the place wherein we stand, and the time wherein we do anything, which have no more interest in, or relation to one action, than another, for all must be done by us in some time, and in some place. And shall we say, that faith hath no other interest or influence in justification, than the hour of the day when, or the place wherein, a minister preaches, hath unto his preaching? Shall we have so mean and low an account of the ordinances and appointments of
God, in reference to spiritual ends? Seeing the Lord hath appointed faith, in order to justification, we must not look upon it as a causa fatua, or as a mere circumstance, but as having some kindly influence in the effect, by virtue of the appointment of God, and such a connection therewith, that it no sooner exists, but as soon justification follows. Faith then cannot be called a mere causa sine qua non. Historical faith and several other antecedents, may be a conditio or causa sine qua non; for no man of age can be justified without it; yet we may not say, that we are justified by it, as by saving faith; the same may be said of conviction, of legal repentance, and of desire of pardon, and of peace, which yet may be, and oft are without justification. And it may also seem strange, how this causa sine qua non, can be called a potestative condition; or how that, which is said to be a proper Potestative Condition, ex cujus praestatione constituitur jus actuale ad beneficium, can be called a mere conditio or causa sine qua non, seeing it hath such a considerable moral influence in the effect?
††††††††† But says Mr. Baxter against Mr. Blake, ß 27, faith cannot justify both as a condition, and as an instrument of justification; for either of them imports the proximam and causalem rationem of faith, as to the effect; and it is utterly inconsistent with its nature, to have two such different causal interests. Answer: When we speak of faith justifying as an instrument, we consider the physical, or quasi-physical way of its operation, and denote only its kindly acting on Jesus Christ, and on his righteousness which it lays hold on, applies, apprehends, and puts on. And when we say it justifies as a condition, we consider it as appointed of God unto that end, and as placed by him, in that state and relation unto justification, which now it has: And either of these can be called the proxima ratio causalis †of faith, according to its different consideration: if justification, (meaning not Godís act only, but the complex relative change) be considered in genere Physico, or quasi physico, then the nearest causal interest of faith, is its instrumentality: but if it be considered in genere morali, or legali, then its nearest causal interest is, that it is a condition. As when a rich man bestows a purse of gold on a beggar, and requires that he, in order to the possessing of it, stretch forth his hand and take it, considering this act of enriching him in genere physico, his hand acts herein, as an instrument, apprehending the purse, and taking it to himself: considering this, in genere legali or morali, the stretching forth od his hand, and apprehending the purse is a condition; for so the donor hath determined to give the riches, after such a manner and method, for his own ends, according to his good pleasure. Thus we see, how faith can, in its way, produce one and the same effect of justification, both as an instrument, and as a condition, taking these terms, in a large sense, according to the matter in hand.
††††††††† Mr. Baxter says, Confess. p. 89. he denies that faith is an instrument of justification, because he dare not give so much of Christís honor to man, or any act of man, as to be an efficient cause of pardoning himself. Answer: And he knows, that the orthodox do of purpose, call faith an instrument in justification, in opposition to the Papists, that Christ may wear the honor alone, and
man may be abased: and if they have been unhappy, in falling upon the medium to that end; yet their intention was honest. But when faith is called an instrument in justification, justification is not taken for an act of accepting and pardoning alone; for they knew, that it was God only that accepts and pardons, and that it is he only who justifies; but they took justification in a more comprehensive sense, as including Christís righteousness, the only formal ground of justification, in reference to which, faith is said to act as an instrument receiving. And this may satisfy such, as will not have the mysteries of God cast in a pure philosophical mold, because some such terms are used for explicationís sake.
††††††††† Mr. Baxter, Confess. p. 95, says, Such as say, faith justifies qua instrumentum, do most certainly make it to justify as an action. And in his postscript to Mr. Cartwright, Those that make faith to justify as an instrument, or as apprehensio Christi, do set up the to\ credere, which they cry down; for that, which they call instrumentality, is the apprehensive act, and apprehendere and credere are here all one. They contradict themselves in saying, that Paul excludes all works, because faith (say they) justifies not as a work: for to justify qua instrumentum, or qua apprehensio Christi, is to justify as a work, or as this work. And so this doctrine sets up justification by works and that in an unlawful sense; for it makes the formal reason of faithís justifying to be its apprehension, that is, that it is such an action; or its instrumentality, which is an operation. Answer: This is no new objection; for Schlichtingius the Socinian Cont. Meisnerum p. 130, did object the same upon the matter. It is true, when we say faith justifies as an instrument, we make it to justify as an action, taking qua specificative; as he himself must also do, when he says it justifies as a condition potestative, for a potestative condition is some action performed, and he himself, as we heard, called it action voluntaria de futuro. But he knows, that when it is said that faith justifies, as an instrument, the meaning is but more emphatically to show, that it is the righteousness of Christ, which faith apprehends, by which we are justified, and that they, who cry up the to\ credere, make that the righteousness, by which we are justified: so that the to\ credere in their sense, who will have it imputed to us for righteousness, respects immediately the benefit, to wit, pardon, acceptation, &c. Faith as an instrument, or apprehension, in our sense, respects Christ and his righteousness immediately, which it receives as an instrument, in order to the benefit, which is had upon the account of Christ and his righteousness, made ours. In our sense, faith is no more, but as the hand receiving bread, and as the mouth eating it, in order to food and nourishment thereby. In their sense, faith is made the very food and nourishment, or meat itself that nourishes. When we say that faith justifies as an instrument, it is as if we said, man lives by his hand taking meat, and by his mouth eating it. When they say that faith justifies as a work, and that the to\ credere is imputed for righteousness, it is as if they had said, the hand and mouth are the very food, or meat itself, by which we live and are nourished. We, looking upon faith as an instrument, as upon the hand and mouth as instruments of nourishment,
ascribe all the virtue of nourishment unto the meat. They, denying the hand and mouth to be considered here as instruments, and saying that we live and are nourished by the hand and the mouth, (just as they do, when they make the to\ credere our righteousness, in reference to justification) ascribe all the virtue of nourishment unto the hand and the mouth, and so set up the hand and the mouth, in the place that is due unto the meat, and rob the meat, of that power and virtue that is only proper to it. Yet withal, when we say, that hand and mouth nourish us as instruments, we do not deny, but in a general sense, our receiving of meat with our hands, and eating of it with our mouth, are conditions of nourishment, importing hereby, that the wise God hath appointed this order and method, giving us hands to receive meat, and mouths to eat it, and a stomach to digest it, in order o the living, and receiving thereby nourishment; only we do not say, they are such conditions, as have all the virtue of nourishment in them. This is but a similitude, and so must halt in some things, as all similitudes do; yet it serves to illustrate the matter, and to show the difference betwixt our expressions, and the expressions of our adversaries, in this matter; and how little ground there is for this objection, and particularly how, when we say faith justifies as an instrument, we do not withal say, it justifies as a work, in our adversariesí sense; And how when we say, faith is a condition, we do not withal say, that it justifies as a potestative proper condition, in our adversariesí sense. As also, how we cannot admit, that faith shall be called no more than a causa sine qua non; seeing it is so manifest, that eating and digesting of meat hath another influence into nourishment by food, than a mere causa sine qua non hath unto any effect.
††††††††† Mr. Baxter, Confess. p. 95, 96 I must therefore profess, that after long consideration I know no one term that properly expresses this nearest and formal interest of faith in justification, but only the term condition, as that is usually taken for the condition of a free gift, and when the Scripture tells us, how faith justifies, it is in such terms as these, if thou confess with thy mouth &c., he that believeth shall be saved &c. In all which, if the condition if, and the conditional form of the promise, express not a condition, I despair of ever understanding in this life. Answer: As for the nearest and formal interest of faith in justification, if all other questions touching that fundamental truth of justification were satisfyingly determined, and put to an end, there needed not be much controversy; but when as we have seen, the decision of this hath such an interest in the decision of more substantial points, or necessarily attends the same, enquiry with sobriety after the truth, even in these lesser things, cannot be condemned. And on the contrary, receding from, and condemning received terms and expressions, which have an obvious, plain and sound meaning, being taken, as they have been constantly used, because they do not quadrate in every way with menís new philosophical and too metaphysical apprehensions and notions, in this matter, cannot but be displeasing. And too much philosophical accuracy in the clearing up of these mysteries, is not the most edifying and safe way of explication. 2. We are not against the use of the term Condition in this matter, knowing that faith
may well be called a condition, but the question is in what sense we must take the word, condition. And to say that it is taken as commonly used for the condition of a free gift, will not satisfy in our case, because though the gift which we expect by faith, is to us indeed free; yet it is a purchased free gift; and such a free gift, as those who get it, have all the legal title and right thereunto, through the Cautionerís purchase and payment, and only come to the possession of it through faith, according to the wise method and connection made by the sovereign Lord. Adamís perfect obedience might have been called the condition of a free gift: and we cannot give the same place and power to faith in the New Covenant, that perfect obedience had in the Old; for if Adam had perfectly obeyed, he had gotten his reward without any intervention of a price by a Mediator purchasing it, but we must hold all our reward solely of Christ, that he may have the glory of all. 3. As (If) can denote a condition, so (by, dia\) can denote an instrumental cause. He himself tells us somewhere in his Confut. of Ludom. Colvinns, alias Ludou. Molinaus, that dia\ denotes an efficient cause and we read, that we are justified by faith, dia\ pistewj. And further, though these passages, which he cites, and the conditional if, and the conditional form of the promise, do indeed express a condition, yet they do not say, or prove that the term condition is the only one term that properly expresses the nearest and formal interest of faith in justification, or that the term of an instrument is no way fit to express this near and formal interest of faith in justification, seeing to be justified by faith, or thru faith, pistei, e0k pi/stewj and dia\ pistewj, (all which the Scripture uses) is as expressive of an instrumental interest as if thou believe &c. is expressive of a condition.
††††††††† He says, ibid., Conclus. 10. That the difference betwixt him and others, is not that he gives any more to works than they, but that they give more to faith, than he, and consequently to man: and if he be guilty of equaling faith and obedience too much, it is not by bringing works up to high (to be instruments of justification, as they make faith) but in taking down faith too much, and consequently, in too much abasing all acts of man. Answer: If he bring up works to faith, in our justification, and gives a like interest to both, he gives more to works than the orthodox will do: and when we call faith an instrument in justification, we give not so much to it as they do, who call it conditio potestativa, and give it the same place in the New Covenant, that perfect obedience had in the old, as was seen above: and whoever says this, is so far from debasing man and his actions, that they give him, as much ground of glorying and boasting, as ever Adam would have had, if he had fulfilled the condition, and given full and perfect obedience: and he cannot but know, that the term instrument was of purpose applied to faith in this matter, to depress man, and to keep the crown upon the head of Christ, as it is apt enough to do, if it be but candidly understood, and taken as it is applied, and no further, nor vexed with metaphysical niceties, a way, that might render every borrowed term, whether from arts or sciences, how expressive so ever of our meaning, and explicative of the matter intended, utterly useless. It is true, when he calls faith only a causa sine qua non, he seems to give less to
faith, than we do, if that term be taken in its strict sense, as it is by philosophers taken, who will not have it called a cause at all, but rather conditio sine qua non: But thus he depresses it below that place and interest, which is due to all the institutions and appointments of God, as such; for none of them can rightly be called conditio sine qua non, and no more, in reference to that effect and end for which they are appointed of him; and far less can faith be said to be only conditio sine qua non, in reference to justification, seeing by the unalterable appointment of the Sovereign Lord, justification so depends upon and is connected with faith, that whoever believes (to wit, savingly, or with that faith which here we only understand) whensoever he believes, doth immediately pass from death unto life, and is justified. But no man will say, that the effect doth so much depend upon, or is connected with that, which is but a conditio sine qua non, as was before shown inseveral instances. And where then is his Conditio Potestativa? is that but a causa fatua.
††††††††† But ibid. Conclus., he tells us that one main reason, which constrained him to deny that faith is an instrument in justification, is because he dare not give so much of Christís honor to man, or any act of man, as to be an efficient cause of pardoning himself. Answer: When we make faith an instrument in justification, we make it not an instrument of the act of pardoning, which is solely the Lordís act; but taking justification largely as including the righteousness of Christ, the only ground thereof, we say, that in reference to Christ, and this Surety-Righteousness of his which is imputed, in order to the Lordís justifying and pardoning of us, faith acts as an instrument, apprehending Christ and his righteousness, and upon that account is to be considered as an instrument in the matter of justification: And he himself, Concl.11, ibid., says that he ever held, that it is only faith, that is the receiving of Christ, and that faith being the only receiving grace (wherein no mere moral duty or grace doth participate of its honor or nature) it was therefore by God peculiarly destinated or appointed to the office of justifying, as fittest to the glory of free grace, and of God Redeemer therein. And if this be the all (as to the substance) of what we say, or the most of that which we mean, when we call faith an instrument, what ground was there of differing from his brethren? What ground was there to fear that Christís honor should have been wronged thereby? Surely, while faith is called an instrument, as receiving Christ and his righteousness, in order to justification, Christ is more honored in that affair, than when our faith is made our Gospel righteousness, and called a perfect righteousness, and so our whole righteousness (as some) a chief part of it (as others) upon the account of which we are justified.