« FöregåendeFortsätt »
the powerful, though invisible, operation of his spirit: “ The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit (r).” The joint agency of God and man, in the work of human salvation, is pointed out in the following passage:
« Let us work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure (s);” and therefore we may assure ourselves that free-will and grace are not incompatible, though the mode and degree of their co-operation be utterly inexplicable.
The doctrine of this Article has been the subject of much dispute among Christians; some sects contend for the irresistible impulses of grace, and others reject the idea of any influence of the divine spirit upon the human mind. The former opinion seems irreconcileable with the freeagency of man, and the latter contradicts the authority of Scripture ; “ And therefore, let us neither ascribe nothing to free-will, nor too much; let us not with the defenders of irresistible grace, deny free-will, or make it of no effect, not only before, but even under, grace; nor let us suffer the efficacy of saving grace, on the other hand, to be swallowed up in the strength and freedom of our wills ; but allowing the government or superiority to the grace of God, let the will of man be admitted to be its handmaid, but such an one as is free, and freely obeys; by which, when it is freely excited by the admoni tions of preventing grace, when it is prepared as to its affections, strengthened and assisted as to its powers and faculties, a man freely and willingly co-operates with God, that the grace of God be not received in vain (t).”—“ All men are also to be admonished, and chiefly preachers, that in this high matter, they, looking on both sides, so temper and moderate themselves, that they neither so preach the grace of God that they take away thereby free-will, nor on the other side so extol free will, that injury be done to the grace of God (u)."" Thus do the doctrine of divine grace, and the doctrine of free-will or human liberty, unite and conspire, in a friendly manner, to our everlasting good. The first is adapted to excite in us gratitude, faith, and humility; the second to awaken our caution and quicken our diligence (x).”
and (r) John, c. 3. v. 8. (s) Phil. c. 2. v. 12 & 13.
ARTICLE THE ELEVENTH.
Of the Justification of Man.
WE ARE ACCOUNTED RIGHTEOUS BEFORE GOD,
ONLY FOR THE MERIT OF OUR LORD AND
SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST, BY FAITH, AND
MILY OF JUSTIFICATION.
Justification, in the language of Scripture, signifies the being accounted just or righteous in the sight of God; or the being placed in a state of salvation. “ When God justifies a man,' says Mr. Veneer, “ it is by forgiving him his trespasses, and accepting, esteeming, and rewarding him as a righteous person, although he is not really and strictly such. To justify, in the common spiritual notion of it, is to absolve from guilt, to discharge from punishment.”
The word justification, or justify, when applied to Christians in the New Testament, always refers to the present life, as in this passage,
“ Being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him (a);" here Justification is spoken of as having already taken place, but Salvation is mentioned as being future; that is, Justification is in this world, Salvation in the next. Justification is the remission of sins here on earth; Salvation is the attainment of happiness in heaven. In this article it is said, “ We are accounted righteous,” and “ We are justified,” which are synonymous expressions, both in the present tense, and referring to the present life. And the following article speaks of “ Works which follow after Justification,” which still more clearly shews that justification refers to the present life.
wrath nostra (a) Rom. c. 5. v. 9.
This article was directed against the Popish doctrine of Human Merit, which our Reformers, with reason, considered as inconsistent with the whole scheme of Redemption through Christ alone, and in particular as striking at the very root of the Christian duty of humility. Let us attend to the words in the Latin, which is much clearer than the English ; Tantum propter meritum Domini ac Servatoris nostri Jesu Christi, per Fidem, non propter opera et merita nostra, justi coram Deo reputamur. Observe, that Faith is not opposed to Works, but the merit of Christ is opposed to the merit of our Works--propter meritum Christi-non propter opera et merita nostra---and it is per Fidem, not propter Fidem (b). It is here asserted that WE ARE ACCOUNTED RIGHTEOUS BEFORE GOD, ONLY FOR THE MERIT, that is, on account of the merit, OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST, BY FAITH, that is, through our faith, AND NOT FOR, that is, not on account of, OUR OWN WORKS OR DESERVINGS.
Our works never can have any merit towards procuring pardon of our sins, from their own intrinsic worth; they cannot justify, or tend to justify us. Nor has our faith any merit of this kind; we are not said to be justified propter meritum Fidei or propter Fidem, but per Fidem. The blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the meritorious cause of our justification ; but it operates through our faith, faith being the means or condition upon which it has pleased our Almighty Father to offer to his sinful creatures forgiveness of their past offences. And this is the express declaration of Scripture : “The
(b) Wherever the justification or salvation of man by faith is mentioned in Scripture, the expression is τίσει, εκ πίσεως, διά πίσεως or δια της πίσεως, but never δια πίσιν or dià tño misw. Vide Rom. c. 1. v. 17.c. 3. v. 22. 28, and 30. Gal.c. 3. v. 3. Eph. c. 2. v. 8. It is well known that dià when it governs a genitive case signifies per, and when it governs an accusative case it signifies propter; that is, in the former case it indicates the means, in the latter the cause.