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to be holy or just, and treats him, as it respects a future state, as though he had never sinned. (a)
What is the difference between legal and evangelical justification?
A. Legal justification is justification according to the strict demands of the law. Holy angels are justified upon strict legal principles. So might mankind be, had they never sinned. But, being sinful, they can never be justified by deeds or works of law, ceremonial, judicial, or moral. Every attempt, therefore, at justification by law, is fruitless, and an attempt to detract from the grace of God, and the honor of Christ, to exalt man and annihilate the salvation of the Gospel. Evangelical justification is acceptance with God, not on account of personal inherent righteousness, but on account of the righteousness or merit of Christ, which has commonly been called imputed righteousness. Man under the Gospel is justified as ungodly-as sinful, though not as impenitent or unbelieving, for repentance and faith are indispensable conditions of forgiveness.(b)
Q. 3. In what way is the sinner justified?
A. By grace through faith. Grace provided the plan of justification, and revealed it in the Gospel; grace absolves the sinner, and reckons him righteous. But this is done not for, but through faith. Faith is that by which a sinner receives justification. Faith accepts
(a) Eph. i. 6, 7. To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved. In whom we have redemption, through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. Rom. v. 9. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.-Acts xiii. 38, 39. Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
(b) Rom. iv. 3-7. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works; saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.-Rom. iii. 20. 28. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by
faith, without the deeds of the law,
Christ, or His atonement, or righteousness, and is thus counted for righteousness. Thus the grace of God is the source, the righteousness or atonement of Christ the ground, and faith the recipient, of justification. (c)
Q. 4. At what time is the sinner justified?
A. He is justified upon the first act of true evangelical faith-his past sins are all forgiven, and the covenant, in which he has now become personally interested, secures his voluntary application by faith to the blood of Christ for the pardon of his future sins, which will be forgiven when he so applies, and not before.
Q. 5. In what light are good works to be viewed in justification?
A. They are to be viewed only as an expression of true faith, and an evidence of justification. Mankind are not justified by works, nor partly by works and partly by faith, but wholly by faith.(d)
Q. 6. Is there any discordance between the sentiments of Paul and James, respecting the doctrine of justification?
A. No; they perfectly agree. Paul wrote against those who held to justification by works or deeds of law, and who objected to justification by faith; and James wrote against those who believed in justification by a faith that was merely speculative, or by an assent of the understanding which was not attended with the consent
(c) Gal. ii. 16. 21. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.-Rom. iii. 24. Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.Rom. v. 1. Therefore being justified, by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.-Rom. iii. 22. Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.-Phil. iii. 9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.-Gal. iii. 11. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident; for the just shall live by faith.
(d) Rom. iii. 20. 28. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law.
of the heart, and with good works. Hence Paul taught, that a man was justified not by works, but by faith, meaning that faith which works by love, and constrains to obedience; and hence James taught that a man was not justified by faith, meaning a mere speculative faith, but by works, and by these only as evidence of that operative faith which is the sole condition, or instrumental cause of justification.(e)
Q. 7. Does the method of justification by faith make void the law, and tend to licentiousness?
A. Most certainly not. But it establishes the law, by presenting the highest motives to love and obedience, and opposes all antinomian or licentious sentiments and practices. Faith in its nature is holy, and is productive of practical godliness; and justification by it excludes all boasting, and exalts free grace; while justification by works fosters a spirit of pride and vain glory.(f)
Q. 8. Who is the author of justification?
A. God. The Father appoints the way, and gives His Son to prepare it. The Son sustains the law by enduring its curse, and thus provides a righteousness. The Holy Spirit makes known the way, and induces the sinner to comply with it. And then God wholly absolves the believing sinner from punishment in a future state, and treats him as though he had never sinned.
Q. 9. What are the effects of justification upon those who are justified?
(e) Rom. iii. 26, 27, 28. 30, 31. To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay; but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law. Seeing it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.-James ii. 20-24. wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar! Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
(f) Rom. iii. 31. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.
A. Peace and happiness from God, acceptable approaches to Him in religious duties, and a hope of everlasting life. And the enjoyment of these is presumptive evidence of the believer's justified state.
Q. 10. Is the doctrine of justification by faith to be viewed as important?
A. It should be considered as all important. It was clearly taught and maintained by the primitive Christians, and by the Reformers, as vital to the system of religion once delivered to the saints. It affects more or less all the doctrines, experience, and practice of Christians. Paul says to the Galatians, that those who denied it taught another gospel, and he pronounced a wo upon them.(g)
Q. 1. saints?
What is meant by the perseverance of the
A. I. By it is meant, negatively, 1. Not that none who profess religion will fall away and perish. Hypocrites may, and unless prevented by the influences of the Holy Spirit will, apostatize, as did Alexander, Hymeneus, Philetus, and Judas: 2. Not that saints never fall into sin. They sin daily, and, sometimes, most awfully, as did David, Solomon, and Peter, and thereby fall under God's fatherly displeasure: 3. Not that saints in themselves or of themselves will persist in holiness. The best believers, if left to themselves, would certainly apostatize and perish. There is nothing in the nature of regeneration or holiness to prevent it: 4. Not that saints will uniformly increase in holiness, and enjoy the consolations and hopes of religion. Christians sometimes are stationary, sometimes
(g) Gal. ii. 16. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.-Gal. i. 8. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
backslide, and sometimes lose the comforts of religion, and sink into the depths of despondency: 5. Not that those who are once justified will be saved, whether they continue in holiness through life or not. None will be saved
Not that saints will
but those who endure to the end: 6. persevere in godliness without their own exertions. Perseverance is theirs, and every exercise of heart and action of life is theirs: But, II. By the perseverance of saints is meant, positively, that all who are truly regenerated by the Spirit of God, will be preserved from total and final apostasy from the state of grace, and will persevere in holiness unto the end of life, and be saved. They will continue in a state of grace till they arrive at a state of glory. God will preserve them through faith unto salvation. There is an inseparable connection between the first exercise of true faith and eternal life. This is what is meant by the perseverance of the saints.
Q. 2. How does it appear that the doctrine of the saints' perseverance is true?
A. From the Sacred Scriptures. The Bible nowhere asserts, that any saints will totally and finally apostatize. It does not mention a single instance of a real saint's apostatizing. But it teaches the doctrine, that the saints will persevere, by passages which expressly declare it or imply it. In fact, all the other doctrines of grace imply the truth of this.(a)
(a) 1 John ii. 19. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that they were not all of us.-Matt. vii. 22, 23. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.-Heb. vii. 25. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for him.-Rom. viii. 38, 39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.-John xiv. 16, 17. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.-1 John iii. 9. Whatsoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.--Eph. iv. 30.