Imágenes de páginas

any fair

SER M. 7. We might in fine add, that the word justificaVint. tion is very feldom or never used in that sense of

making persons righteous, or infusing righteousness into them. Bellarmine and Grotius, having searched with all possible diligence, do alledge three or four places, wherein (with some plausible appearance) they pretend it must be so understood : but as they are fo few, so are they not any of them thoroughly clear and certain ; but are capable to be otherwise interpreted without much straining; the clearest place, Dan. xii. 3. the LXX read opra, atè dixaiwv, which the Hebrew and sense will bear. Wherefore the other sense, which we have maintained, being undeniably common and current in the Scripture, and having so many particular reasons fhewing it agreeable to St. Paul's intent, seemeth rather to be embraced.

In St. Paul's Epistles I can only find three or four places, wherein the word justifying may

with probability be so extended as to signify an internal operation of God upon the soul of men ; they are these : And such were some of you ; but ye have been washed,

ye have been sanctifed, but we have been justified in &. the name of Christ Jesus, and * by the Spirit of our God;

where justification being performed by the Spirit of God, seemeth to imply a spiritual operation upon a

man's foul, as an ingredient thereof. Tit. iii. 5, 6, According to bis mercy he saved us, by the laver of

regeneration, and renewing of the holy Ghost ; which he poured on us richly by fesus Christ our Saviour ; that being justified by his grace, we may be made heirs, according to the hope of everlasting life : where God's justifying us by the grace of Christ seemeth to in

clude the renewing by the holy Ghoft. Rom. vi. 7. He that dieth, is justified from fin: where St. Paul

speaking about our obligation to lead a new life in holy obedience, upon account of our being dedi


1 Cor. vi. 11.

but ye

cated to Christ, and renouncing sin in baptism, may S ER M. be interpreted to mean a being really in our hearts viii. purified and freed from fin.

Whom be predestinated, those he called ; and whom Rom. viii. he called, those he justified; and whom he justified, those 30. he glorified; where the chief acts of God toward those who finally shall be saved, being in order purposely recited, and justification being immediately (without interposing fanctification) coupled to glorification, the word may seem to comprise fanctification.

If considering these places (which yet are not clearly prejudicial to the notion we have made good, but may well be interpreted so as to agree thereto) it shall seein to any, that St. Paul doth not ever so strictly adhere to that notion, as not sometime to extend the word to a larger sense, I shall not much contend about it': it is an ordinary thing for all writers to use their words fometimes in a larger, sometimes in a stricter fense; and it sufficeth to have shewn, that where St. Paul purposely treateth about the matter we discourse upon, the purport of his discourse argueth, that he useth it according to that notion which we have proposed.

8. I shall only add one small observation, or conjecture, favouring this notion; which is the probable occasion of all St. Paul's discourse and disputation about this point, which seemeth to have been this : That Christianity should (upon so flender a condition or performance as that of faith) tender unto all persons indifferently, however culpable or flagitious Vid. Cyrill

. their former lives had been, a plenary remission of Julian. fins and reception into God's favour, did seem an 248. where unreasonable and implausible thing to many : the

juftification Jews could not well conceive, or relish, that any man described. so easily should be translated into a state equal, or superior to that, which they took themselves peculiarly to enjoy: the Gentiles themselves (especially such as conceited well of their own wisdom and vir.







SER M. tue) could hardly digest it : Celsus in Origen could

not imagine or admit, that bare faith should work

such a miracle, as presently to turn a diffolute person for wisi. into a faint, beloved of God, and designed to hap


Zozimus faith of Constantine, that he chose Chriftianity as the only religion, that promised impunity and pardon for his enormous practices; intimating his dislike of that point in our religion. This prejudice against the Gospel St. Paul removeth, by Thewing that, because of all men's guilt and sinfulness, such an exhibition of mercy, such an overture of acceptance, such a remission of sin was necessary in order to salvation, so that without it no man could be exempted froin wrath and misery; and that confequently all other religions (as not exhibiting such a remission) were to be deemed in a main point defective : when therefore he useth the word justification to express this matter, it is reasonable to suppose, that he intendeth thereby to signify that remission, or dispensation of mercy.

It may be objected, that St. Austin and some others of the Fathers do use the word commonly according to the sense of the Tridentine Council. Í answer, that the point having never been discussed, and they never having thoroughly considered the sense of St. Paul, might unawares take the word as it sounded in Latin, especially the sense they affixed to it, signifying a matter very true and certain in Christianity. The like hath happened to other Fathers in other cases ; and might happen to them in this, not to speak accurately in points that never had been fifted by disputation. More, I think, we need not say in answer to their authority.

VI. So much may fuffice for a general explication of the notion ; but for a more full clearing of the point, it may be requisite to resolve a question concerning the time when this act is performed, or difpensed. It may be enquired, when God justifieth,



whether once, or at several times, or continually. To S ER M. which question I answer briefly :

1. That the justification which St. Paul discourseth of, seemeth in his meaning, only or especially to be that act of grace, which is dispensed to persons at their baptism, or at their entrance into the Church; when they openly professing their faith, and undertaking the practice of Christian duty, God most solemnly and formally doth absolve them from all guilt, and accepteth them into a state of favour with him : that St. Paul only or chiefly respecteth this act, considering his design, I am inclined to think, and many passages in his discourse seem to imply:

If his design were (as I conceive it probable) to vindicate the proceeding of God, peculiarly declared in the Gospel, in receiving the most notorious and heinous transgressors to grace in baptism, then especially must the justification he speaketh of relate to that; to confirm which supposition, we may consider, that,

1. In several places justification is coupled with baptismal regeneration and absolution : Such were 1 Cor. yi. some of you; but ye have been washed, ye have been fanctified, ye have been justified in the name of Christ Jesus : where, by the way, being sanctified and being justified seem equivalent terms; as in that place where Christ is said to have given himself for the Church, that Eph. V. 25, be might sanctify it, and cleanse it with the washing of Hcb. x. 29. water by the Word, sanctification, I conceive, importeth the same thing with justification. Again, He saved us by the laver of regeneration, that having Tit. iii. 5, 7. been justified by his grace, we may be made beirs of everlasting life.

2. St. Paul in expressing this act, as it respecteth the faithful, commonly doth use a tense referring to the past time: he faith not diraišusvos, being justified, Rom. v. I. but dixawwlévres, having been justified; not dixxixo9, fit. iii. 7. ye are justified, but dixar Inte, ye have been justified, 1 Cor. ví:

[ocr errors]

namely, 11.

Rom. vi.

Rom. iii, ago

SER M. namely, at some remarkable time, that is, at their VIII. entrance into Christianity. (Our translators do ren

der it according to the present time; but it should be rendered as I say, in our text, and in other places.)

3. St. Paul in the 6th to the Romans discourseth thus : Seeing we in baptisin are cleansed and disentangled from sin, are dead to it, and so justified from it, God forbid that we should return to live in the practice thereof, so abusing and evacuating the grace we have received ; which discourse seemeth plainly to signify, that he treateth about the justification conferred in baptisin.

4. He expresseth the justification he speaketh of by the words πάρεσης των προγεγονότων αμαρτημάτων, the palling over foregoing fins, which seemeth to respect that universal absolution, which is exhibited in baptism. Being, faith he, justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Chrift Hesus ; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in bis blood, to declare his righteousness, for the remision of fins that are past, through the forbearance of God.

The relation this justification hath to faith, being dispensed in regard thereto (or upon condition thereof), doth infer the same : Faith is nothing else but a hearty embracing Christianity, which first ex

erteth itself by open declaration and avowal in bapRom. x. 1o. tism (when we believe zeith our hearts to righteousness,

and confess with our mouth to salvation); to that time therefore the act of justification may be supposed especially to appertain : then, when the evangelical covenant is solemnly ratified, the grace thereof especially is conferred. Upon such considerations I con.' ceive that St. Paul's justification chiefly doth respect that act of grace, which God consigneth to us at our baptism. But farther,

2. The virtue and effect of that first justifying act doth continue (we abide in a justified itate) so long as we do perform the conditions imposed by God,


[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »