Thursday, June 02, 2011
Justification (taken from the Works of James Arminius, Vol II, Private Disputations (48))
I. The spiritual benefits which believers enjoy in the present life, from their union with Christ through communion with his death and life, may be properly referred to that of justification and sanctification, as in those two is comprehended the whole promise of the new covenant, in which God promises that he will pardon sins, and will write his laws in the hearts of believers, who have entered into covenant with him.
II. Justification is a just and gracious act of God as a judge, by which, from the throne of his grace and mercy, he absolves from his sins, man, a sinner, but who is a believer, on account of Christ, and the obedience and righteousness of Christ, and considers him righteous, to the salvation of the justified person, and to the glory of divine righteousness and grace.
III. We say that "it is the act of God as a judge," who though as the supreme legislator he could have issued regulations concerning his law, and actually did issue them, yet has not administered this direction through the absolute plenitude of infinite power, but contained himself within the bounds of justice which he demonstrated by two methods, First, because God would not justify, except as justification was preceded by reconciliation and satisfaction made through Christ in his blood; Secondly, because he would not justify any except those who acknowledged their sins and believed in Christ.
IV. We say that "it is a gracious and merciful act; "not with respect to Christ, as if the Father, through grace as distinguished from strict and rigid justice, had accepted the obedience of Christ for righteousness, but with respect to us, both because God, through his gracious mercy towards us, has made Christ to be sin for us, and righteousness to us, that we might be the righteousness of God in him, and because he has placed communion with Christ in the faith of the gospel, and has set forth Christ as a propitiation through faith.
V. The meritorious cause of justification is Christ through his obedience and righteousness, who may, therefore, be justly called the principal or outwardly moving cause. In his obedience and righteousness, Christ is also the material cause of our justification, so far as God bestows Christ on us for righteousness, and imputes his righteousness and obedience to us. In regard to this two-fold cause, that is, the meritorious and the material, we are said to be constituted righteous through the obedience of Christ.
VI. The object of justification is man, a sinner, acknowledging himself, with sorrow, to be such an one, and a believer, that is, believing in God who justifies the ungodly, and in Christ as having been delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification. As a sinner, man needs justification through grace, and, as a believer, he obtains justification through grace.
VII. Faith is the instrumental cause, or act, by which we apprehend Christ proposed to us by God for a propitiation and for righteousness, according to the command and promise of the gospel, in which it is said, "He who believes shall be justified and saved, and he who believeth not shall be damned."
VIII. The form is the gracious reckoning of God, by which he imputes to us the righteousness of Christ, and imputes faith to us for righteousness; that is, he remits our sins to us who are believers, on account of Christ apprehended by faith, and accounts us righteous in him. This estimation or reckoning, has, joined with it, adoption into sons, and the conferring of a right to the inheritance of life eternal.
IX. The end, for the sake of which is the salvation of the justified person; for that act is performed for the good of the man himself who is justified. The end which flows from justification without any advantage to God who justifies, is the glorious demonstration of divine justice and grace.
X. The most excellent effects of this justification are peace with God and tranquillity of conscience, rejoicing under afflictions in hope of the glory of God and in God himself, and an assured expectation of life eternal.
XI. The external seal of justification is baptism; the internal seal is the Holy Spirit, testifying together with our spirits that we are the children of God, and crying in our hearts, Abba, Father!
XII. But we have yet to consider justification, both about the beginning of conversion, when all preceding sins are for, given, and through the whole life, because God has promised remission of sins to believers, those who have entered into covenant with him, as often as they repent and flee by true faith to Christ their propitiator and expiator. But the end and completion of justification will be at the close of life, when God will grant to those who end their days in the faith of Christ, to find his mercy, absolving them from all the sins which had been perpetrated through the whole of their lives. The declaration and manifestation of justification will be in the future general judgment.
XIII. The opposite to justification is condemnation, and this by an immediate contrariety, so that between these two no medium can be imagined.
I. That faith and works concur together to justification, is a thing impossible.
II. Faith is not correctly denominated the formal cause of justification; and when it receives that appellation from some divines of our profession, it is then improperly so called.
III. Christ has not obtained by his merits that we should be justified by the worthiness and merit of faith, and much less that we should be justified by the merit of works: But the merit of Christ is opposed to justification by works; and, in the Scriptures, faith and merit are placed in opposition to each other.