Lecture 2. Love considered as the Formal Cause of Justification

{30} I HAVE hitherto been employed upon a view of justification which happens to be very extensively professed in our Church at this day, either systematically or not; and has great influence, as a system, in consequence of the many religious men who hold it without system. I cannot for an instant believe that so many would adhere to it, if they understood what it really means when brought out as distinct from other views on the subject, and made consistent with itself. They profess it, because it is what is put into their hands, and they graft it upon a temper of mind in many cases far higher and holier than it.

Now I come to consider the opposite scheme of doctrine, which is not unsound or dangerous in itself, but in a certain degree incomplete,—truth, but not the whole truth; viz., that justification consists in love, or sanctity, or obedience, or "renewal of the Holy Ghost." [Note 1] In describing it then, I am describing not a perversion, {31} but what Saints and Martyrs have in substance held in every age, though not apart from other truths which serve to repress those tendencies to error, which it, in common with every other separate portion of the Scripture creed, contains, not in itself, but when exclusively cherished by the human mind. But in the Roman schools, it has often been thus detached and isolated [Note 2]; to use the technical language which even the Council of Trent has adopted, spiritual renewal is said to be the "unica formalis causa," the one and only true description of justification; and this seems to be the critical difference between those schools and such divines, whether of the Ancient Church or our own, as seem most nearly to agree with them.—Now, however, to describe it in itself, {32} that is, so far as it may be considered as common to the Fathers, the Romanists, and (to say the very least) the greater number of our own writers.


It is affirmed then, that since man fell, he has lain under one great need, in which all other needs are included, in supplying which all blessings are secured; and which, in proportion as he has understood his real state, he has ever desired, ever struggled after, in vain. He is by nature born in sin, and consequently the child of wrath; and he needs a new birth unto righteousness, that he may become the child of God. He needs a destruction of the old Adam, of the body of original death, and thereby a restoration to the light of God's countenance. What has made him hateful to Infinite Purity, what exposes him to death eternal, is disobedience; take away that disobedience, and you take away his guilt, peril, misery, all that needs taking away; and in proportion as you rid him of the one, you rid him of the other. This then is really our one burden; not merely a sense of guilt, or guilt itself, but that which is the cause both of guilt and the sense of guilt. Man did not become guilty except by becoming sinful; he does not become innocent except by becoming holy. God cannot, from His very nature, look with pleasure and favour upon an unholy creature, or justify or count righteous one who is not righteous. Cleanness of heart and spirit, obedience by word and deed, this alone in us can be acceptable to God; that is, this alone can constitute our justification. And as certain is it, we cannot {33} acquire it for ourselves; but, if it is to be ours, it must come from God only. The one thing we need is the ability to please God, or to be righteous; and it is God's gift. As His gift, good men have at all times sought it; as His gift, it was promised under the Law; and as His gift, it is possessed by the regenerate under the Gospel.

Till the Gospel came, with its manifold gifts of grace, there was a contrariety and enmity between the Divine Law and the heart of man: they confronted each other, the one all light, the other all corruption. They ran parallel to each other, not converging; the Law detecting, condemning, terrifying, not influencing except for the worse; the human heart secretly acquiescing, but not loving, not obeying. In consequence we were unable to please God by what we did, that is, we were unrighteous; for by righteousness is meant obedience such as to be acceptable. We needed then a justification, or making righteous; and this might be vouchsafed to us in two ways, either by our Maker's dispensing with that exact obedience which the Law required, or by His enabling us to fulfil it. In either, but in no other conceivable way, could our moral state, which by nature is displeasing, become pleasing to God, our unrighteousness become righteousness. Now, according to the doctrine I am engaged in expounding, the remedy lies in the latter alternative only; not in lowering the Law, much less in abolishing it, but in bringing up our hearts to it; in preserving, in raising its standard, and in refashioning them, and so (as it were) attuning them to its high harmonies. As regards the past indeed, since it cannot {34} literally be undone, a dispensation or pardon is all that can be given us; but for the present and future, if a gift is to be vouchsafed us, and we may anticipate what it should be, this is what we have to pray for,—not to have the Holy Law taken away, not to be merely accounted to do what we do not do, not a nominal change, a nominal righteousness [Note 3], an external blessing, but one penetrating inwards into our heart and spirit, joints and marrow, pervading us with a real efficacy, and wrapping us round in its fulness; not a change merely in God's dealings towards us, like the pale and wan sunshine of a winter's day, but (if we may seek it) the possession of Himself, of His substantial grace to touch and heal the root of the evil, the fountain of our misery, our bitter heart and its inbred corruption. As we can conceive God blessing nothing but what is holy, so all our notions of blessing centre in holiness as a necessary foundation. Holiness is the thing, the internal state, because of which blessing comes. He may bless, He may curse, according to His mercy or our deserts; but if He blesses, surely it is by making holy; if He counts righteous, it is by making righteous; if He justifies, it is by renewing; if He reconciles us to Himself, it is not by annihilating the Law, but by creating in us new wills and new powers for the observance of it [Note 4]. {35}


Nature then desires, whether it be granted or not, that that Law which we behold without us should be set up within us; that an inward power should be imparted to us, enabling us to please God or to be justified, and converting that which is by nature an occasion of condemnation into an instrument of acceptance. Of course, even though we did all that the Law commanded, we should after all be but unprofitable servants, and could claim nothing on the score of merit; but, since the Great Creator deigns to accept the service of his creatures, we should, as giving it, be pleasing Him by our obedience. In the same sense then in which it can be said that God is glorified by our obedience, though His perfection is infinitely above the need of it, so can it be said that we are justified by our obedience, though His favour is infinitely beyond the value of it. And this great blessing, it is affirmed, really is bestowed on us in the Gospel; which, by the gift of the Holy Ghost, works in us a new and spiritual life, such as at once glorifies God before His creatures, and justifies us before Himself [Note 5].

And that this will be the privilege of Saints hereafter, as of the Angels now, is, I suppose, allowed on all hands; the characteristic of the Schools of doctrine under review, as distinct from that of Luther, being that they conceive {36} that in the sense in which God's grace enables us to glorify God at present, in the same it enables us to please God or become righteous at present; for no obedience can honour Him in the sight of His creatures, except such as makes us pleasant or righteous in His own sight.

Justification, then, viewed relatively to the past is forgiveness of sin, for nothing more it can be; but considered as to the present and future it is more, it is renewal wrought in us by the Spirit of Him who by His merits completes what is defective in that renewal. And Faith is said to justify in two principal ways:—first, as continually pleading our Lord's merits before God, and secondly, as being the first recipient of the Spirit, the root, and therefore the earnest and anticipation of perfect obedience [Note 6].


Now for the truth of these representations we are referred to Scripture, and that not to one or two texts {37} only, detached from their context, as in the case of the Lutheran view of the subject, but to an extended survey of the inspired word in both Testaments. Scripture in its various portions conspires together as a whole to this simple doctrine. From first to last what Psalmists long after, and Prophets promise, and Apostles announce as given by Almighty God, is one and the same, the capacity of serving God acceptably, or the gift of righteousness, not a shadow but a substance, not a name but a power, not an imputation but an inward work.

1. First; appeal is made to the book of Psalms; which, whether in the way of aspiration, prayer, or prophecy, so clearly assigns to the Evangelical Covenant the gift of inwardly justifying, that we may as well maintain that that Covenant has not been made as that inward justification is not accorded. This actual inherent righteousness is the one main thought of the Psalms, not of course to the exclusion of other blessings, but as the centre and scope of them all. Let us take, for instance, the 119th Psalm, which may be considered as the standing prayer of the Church Militant in every age, as of old time for things longed for, so now for things pledged to it. Now one great gift is there contemplated again and again, in various forms, and that is nothing short of renovation of mind, the power to obey God, His quickening, illuminating, cleansing, comforting "Word" (as it is there called), or "Truth," or " Law," or "Judgments," or (as the Latin version speaks) "Justifications." "O that my ways were made so direct that I might keep Thy statutes! Thy words have I hid within my heart, that I should not sin against Thee. My soul cleaveth to the dust, O {38} quicken Thou me according to thy word. Quicken Thou me in Thy way; stablish Thy word in Thy servant, that I may fear Thee; quicken me in Thy righteousness: Thy word hath quickened me; my eyes long sore for Thy word, saying, O when wilt Thou comfort me? Thy word endureth for ever in heaven. I will never forget Thy commandments, for with them Thou hast quickened me; O how sweet are Thy words unto my throat; my eyes are wasted away with looking for Thy health, and for the word of Thy righteousness; when Thy word goeth forth, it giveth light and understanding unto the simple; I opened my mouth and drew in my breath, for my delight was in thy commandments. Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Thy law is the truth; my heart standeth in awe of Thy word." [Ps. cxix. 6, 11, 25, 37, 38, etc.]

In these passages "Righteousness" is sought after by name; in such as the following it is promised or anticipated; and still inward holiness is the heavenly gift which is spoken of. "Thou, Lord, wilt give Thy blessing unto the righteous, and with Thy favourable kindness wilt Thou defend him as with a shield." "The Lord alloweth the righteous." "The righteous Lord loveth righteousness; His countenance will behold the thing that is just." "God is in the generation of the righteous." "Who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle? even he that leadeth an uncorrupt life." "Be Thou my judge, O Lord, for I have walked innocently. Do well, O Lord, unto those who are good and true of heart." "Offer the sacrifice of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord." "Give sentence with me, O God, according to my righteousness, {39} and according to the innocency that is in me. O let the wickedness of the ungodly come to an end, but guide Thou the just. For the righteous God trieth the very hearts and reins." [Ps. iv 5; v. 13; vii. 8-10; xi. 6, 8; xiv. 9; xv. 1, 2; xxvi. 1; cxxv. 4.] The sacred writer is not satisfied with an external or nominal righteousness, but he feels a want within, and he prays for what he knows to be the very substance of religion.


If it be objected that such passages only show that obedience is necessary for God's favour, which no one denies, and that therefore an accumulation of them, however great, is nothing to the purpose, it may be replied, that on the contrary it is everything; that, as only one such text would show that obedience was a condition of God's favour, so these multiplied statements show that it is the one condition, the one thing in us which involves acceptance on God's part, that one requisite, in naming which all we need is named. It is usual at the present day to lay great stress on the distinction between deliverance from guilt and deliverance from sin; to lay down as a first principle that these are two coincident indeed and contemporary, but altogether independent benefits, to call them justification and renewal, and to consider that any confusion between them argues serious and alarming ignorance of Christian truth. Now, in opposition to this, it may surely be maintained that Scripture itself blends them together as intimately as any system of theology can do: and that {40} such a system is not thereby "dark" and "ignorant," unless Scripture is so also. In truth, Scripture speaks of but one gift, which it sometimes calls renewal, sometimes justification, according as it views it,—passing to and fro from one to the other so rapidly, so abruptly, as to force upon us irresistibly the inference, that they are really one, and but in idea two; that our righteousness is but a quality of our renewal. In other words, this distinction, so carefully made by many men at present, between being righteous and being holy, is not scriptural.

This might first be shown from the Psalms; for instance, the 51st. That this is an evangelical Psalm in the fullest sense no one can doubt. It is David's prayer for restoration to God's favour after his grievous fall. It contains in it the two ideas in question, of deliverance from guilt and deliverance from sin; but does it accurately distinguish between them? So far from it, as to make it impossible to doubt, that in the mind of the inspired writer the one benefit immediately involved the other as being a part of it, that renewal involved external justification or God's favour, and that God's favour was given through renewal. For instance, which of the two benefits does he speak of when he says, "Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness, and cleanse me from my sin"? If we judge by a subsequent verse, "Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean," we shall say that by "washing" he must mean renewal; but if so, observe how the foregoing verse connects with it—"Have mercy upon me, O God, ... do away mine offences, wash me." He says not, "Both have mercy and renew," contemplating {41} two gifts, but "show mercy by renewing me. Again, "Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow; Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness." What then? does joy follow from sanctification? The doctrine popular at present connects joy rigidly with justification; as if immediately upon justification, and before sanctification, "joy and peace in believing" ensued. I really do not understand how a man can read this most important Psalm without perceiving (though I know many do not perceive it), that we are forgiven by being, or while we are renewed, and that the present broad separation of justification and sanctification, as if they were two gifts, not in idea only two, but in fact, is technical and unscriptural.


2. Now let us proceed to the Prophets, who promise the blessings which the Psalms pray for. It is needless to observe that they name "Righteousness" continually as the great gift of the New Covenant, and the fruit of Christ's earthly ministry. What then is this Righteousness which is bestowed on us? a mere external gift, a nominal qualification for heaven? is it the virtue of Christ's incarnation and sufferings, not imparted to the soul, but imputed merely? Let us turn to a passage from the 51st chapter of Isaiah for an answer. "A Law shall proceed from Me, and I will make My judgment to rest for a Light of the people. My Righteousness is near, My salvation is gone forth, and Mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon Me, and on Mine arm shall they trust." Now the Righteousness or {42} salvation promised was to be a Law and a Light; how can the personal obedience which Christ wrought in the days of His flesh, by being counted as ours in God's sight, become a Law and a Light? but what follows makes this still clearer. "Hearken unto Me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My Law." Righteousness then is a Law in the heart, and those who think otherwise do not, in the Prophet's words, "know righteousness."

Again, the 35th chapter of the same Prophet might be quoted at length, as showing that the characteristic gift of the Gospel is more than the mere name of being what our Saviour really is, righteous. "Then," says the Prophet, "the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped ... An highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called, The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it." Again, in the 26th chapter, which also is a prophecy of the Christian Church, "The way of the just is uprightness; Thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just. Yea, in the way of Thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for Thee ... Lord, Thou wilt ordain peace for us, for Thou also hast wrought all our works in us." Peace is made to depend on an internal work.

If it be said that there is no lack of passages in the Psalms and Prophets which speak of forgiveness as the gift of the Gospel, as David's words, "Blessed is he whose unrighteousness is forgiven," and Isaiah's, "The Lord hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted," [Psalm xxxii. 1. Isaiah lxi. 1.] this may be freely granted. All that is here maintained {43} is, that forgiveness is but a part of that one gift; that the gift relates not only to the past but to the present, not only to what is without but to what is within; that in its fulness, in its essential character, it is not pardon merely but righteousness, not merely righteousness in name but in deed and truth.

What can be more emphatic than the passage in Jeremiah, which St. Paul singles out more than once as being, what it is in its very wording, the formal announcement, or (as it were) the charter of the New Covenant? "This is the Covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." [Note 7] It is plain from this passage, that the direct promise of the Gospel, the clear intelligible view which meets us here, as in Isaiah, is a renovation of our nature, in which pardon is involved as an essential part, but only a part, of the free gift.


3. Let us now, without leaving the Old Testament, turn to the Epistles of St. Paul, of whose doctrine the passage just referred to will prove to be but an ordinary specimen. St. Paul again and again speaks of our {44} justification as being not from without but from within; from God indeed as its origin, but through our own hearts and minds, wills and powers. He attributes it to the influences of the Spirit working in us, and enabling us to perform that obedience to the Law, towards which by ourselves we could not take a single step. For instance, he describes the natural man after David's manner, as "born in sin and shapen in iniquity," as "brought into captivity," as having "a law of sin in his members," and bearing about with him "a body of death." And then he thanks God that in Christ he is delivered from this bondage; but how? by "the law of the Spirit of life making him free from the law of sin and death." "For," he continues, "what the Law," that is the External law, "could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us," not independent of us, but in us, "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." [Rom. viii. 1-4.] Can words be stronger to prove that the righteousness of the Law is not abolished under the Gospel, is not fulfilled by Christ only, but by Him as the first-fruits of many brethren, by us in our degree after Him, that is, by Him in us, tending day by day towards that perfection which He manifested from the first? Can words more conclusively show that Gospel righteousness is obedience to the Law of God, wrought in us by the Holy Ghost? Can we desire a more exact counterpart to the language of the Psalms and Prophets already pointed out? Even if we {45} could otherwise interpret St. Paul's language, which we cannot fairly, shall we be inconsistent enough to give one meaning to the word "righteousness" in the prayer of the Saints, another in the answer to them? one meaning to it in the Prophecy, another in the fulfilment? Shall we explain away the Apostle's language, of which "prophets and kings" had fixed the interpretation beforehand, and make the Epistles say the less, and the Psalms say the more?

Again, to the Corinthians: "Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart." God "hath enabled us to be ministers of the New Covenant; not of the Letter, but of the Spirit; for the Letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth Life." [Note 8] Can words be clearer to show that, as the Letter or External Law is that which condemns us to death, so the Spirit, that is the Law written on the heart, or spiritual renovation, is that which justifies us?" [Note 9] Surely, if we may deny that the Spirit justifies, we may, for all St. Paul says, deny the Law condemns. But he continues more plainly: "But if the ministration of death" (or external Law) "was glorious ... how shall not the Ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious? for if the ministration of {46} condemnation be glory, much more doth the Ministration of Righteousness exceed in glory." Is it not almost too clear to insist upon, that what is first called the ministration of the Spirit, is next called the ministration of righteousness; or, in other words, that the Spirit ministers righteousness, that is, justifies? to say, as some do, that righteousness here means mere sanctification, is but a gratuitous statement to avoid a difficulty; and being so very gratuitous, shows how great the difficulty is.


But this passage leads to a further remark; in it allusion is made to the tables of the Decalogue. No one can doubt that the giving of the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai was the ministration of condemnation; the corresponding event then to this in the Gospel dispensation would seem to be the ministration of righteousness, or justification. Now what is it? What season in the history of the Gospel answers to the Feast of Weeks on which the giving of the Law was commemorated? The day of our Lord's Crucifixion? no; the day of Pentecost; but what was the great event at Pentecost? The coming of the Holy Ghost, to write the Divine Law in our hearts: that Law then so implanted is our justification [Note 10]. {47}

It accords with this view of the subject that justification, or the imparting of righteousness, is not unfrequently mentioned as an act depending on our Lord's Resurrection, and therefore, according to the analogy of faith, more naturally connected with the Holy Ghost. For instance: "who" (our Lord) "was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." [Rom. iv. 25; 1 Cor. xv. 17; Ps. lxxxv. 11; Hos. x. 12; Ps. lxviii. 18, 19, 35.] Again, in another Epistle, the Apostle says, "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain: ye are yet in your sins;" which surely implies that justification is through the Spirit; for how was Christ's resurrection our deliverance from sin or our justification, unless it was so, as issuing in the mission of the Holy Ghost? And so in the Psalms: "Truth shall flourish out of the earth," Christ shall be raised in His human nature, "and righteousness hath looked down from heaven," that is, the Spirit shall descend, as our Homily explains it [Note 11]. And in Hosea, "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy;"—here, even without going further, is the doctrine of justifying obedience; but in what follows the gift of the Spirit is more distinctly implied; "Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you." With which may be compared the words of the Psalmist, "Thou art gone up on high, Thou hast led captivity captive, and received gifts for men: yea, even for Thine enemies, that the Lord God might dwell among them. Praised be the Lord daily, even the God who helpeth us {48} and poureth His benefits upon us ... He will give strength and power unto His people; blessed be God." Is not justification a gift? therefore it must be comprised in this mission of the Spirit. With these texts let such passages of Scripture be compared as the Hymn of Zacharias, in which the inspired speaker blesses God for having "visited and redeemed His people, as He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began [Luke i. 63-77.]; to perform the mercy promised,"—"His holy covenant," and His "oath;" and then goes on to describe the benefit to consist in our "serving him without fear, in holiness and righteousness, before Him all the days of our life." Presently "the remission of sins" is mentioned, as if incidentally; which brings out still more strongly the meaning of the words which I have quoted, viz. that renovation is the real gift of the Gospel, and justification is implied or involved in it.


This correspondence between the giving of the Law on Sinai, and the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, has been mentioned as conducing to the proof of the Spirit being our justification, as the Law is our condemnation; a similar contrast is observed in Scripture between the rites of the Law and the influences of the Spirit [Note 12]. The Jews thought to be justified by circumcision; St. Paul replies, circumcision in the flesh is nothing, but spiritual circumcision or renewal of heart, is all in all. Does not {49} this imply that the renewal through the Spirit really effects what the Jewish rites attempted but in vain, justification? For instance, St. Paul says: "He is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." [Rom. ii. 28, 29.] What can God's praise mean but justification [Note 13]? To the same purport are the following passages: "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creature; and as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them and mercy" (and forgiveness, surely), and upon the Israel of God." [Gal. vi. 15; iv. 6. 1 Cor. vii. 19.] And the other two parallel texts, "In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love;" and, "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God."

To the same purport too is our Lord's warning; "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." No one can doubt that an inward righteousness is here intended; that it is such as to introduce us into the kingdom of heaven; that it is that in substance which the Pharisees had only in pretence. The same doctrine is implied also in St. Paul's avowal, that he stands, not having his own righteousness, {50} which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." [Matt. v. 20. Phil. iii. 9.] If legal righteousness is of a moral nature, why should not the righteousness of faith be moral also [Note 14]?

The same explanation applies to other passages of St. Paul, the force of which is often overlooked at the present day. For instance: "By the deeds of the Law," that is, by a conformity to the external Law, "there shall no flesh be justified in His sight; for by the Law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God" (that is the new righteousness, introduced and wrought upon the heart by the "ministration of the Spirit)," "without the Law is manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe ... whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, for the setting forth of His righteousness,"—a righteousness of His making, "on account of the remission of past sins ... that He might be just, and the justifier of Him which believeth in Jesus;" [Note 15] that is, that He who {51} is righteousness in Himself, may also be a source of righteousness in all who believe.

Again, he says, in another Epistle, "By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God," the great gift, even that of the Spirit; "not of works," done by your unaided strength, in conformity to the natural Law, "lest any man should boast; for we are His workmanship;" He has made us a new creation, "created in Christ Jesus unto good works." Here the difference is marked between the works of the Spirit, which are "good," and those of the Law, which are worthless.

Once more: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done;" for we have none such to produce; all our works done in the flesh are but worthless in God's sight; "but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." [Note 16] {52} And then, as before, the Apostle proceeds to speak of the necessity of those who have gained this mercy excelling in "good works."


Such is St. Paul's testimony to the life-giving and justifying nature of the New Law; which, unlike the External Law, is not only perfect in itself and a standard of truth, but influential also, creative as well as living, "powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword;" or, in David's words, "perfect, converting the soul;" [Heb. iv. 12. Ps. xix. 7. James i. 21.] or, as St. James calls it, "the word of truth" through which we are begotten, "the engrafted word, which is able to save our souls." Accordingly, the last-mentioned Apostle also calls it "a royal Law," and "a Law of Liberty;" by which he seems to mean, that it is not an outward yoke, but an inward principle, a brighter and better conscience, so far as we have succeeded in realizing our evangelical state; a law indeed, but in the same general sense in which we speak of its being a law of the mind to rejoice in, love, or desire certain objects. It is henceforth the nature of the mind to love God; the Law of God is not a master set over us; it is ourselves, it is our will. Hence St. Paul says, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;" and elsewhere he says, that "the Law is not made for a righteous man," not made for him, because he is the Law [Note 17]; he needs not a {53} law to force him externally, who has the Law in his heart, and acts "not by constraint, but willingly," "not grudgingly, or of necessity," but from love.

And hence, moreover, it is that love is said to be the fulfilling of the Law, or righteousness; because being the one inward principle of life, adequate, in its fulness, to meet and embrace the range of duties which externally confront it, it is, in fact, nothing else but the energy and the representative of the Spirit in our hearts. Accordingly, St. Paul, describing the course of sanctification, begins it in faith but finishes it in love; "Faith, hope, charity," he says, "these three." Again, "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given us." Again, "the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." [1 Cor. xiii. 13. Rom. v. 5. 1 Tim. i. 5. 1 John iv. 16.] And St. John, in like manner, "He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." Love, then, being the perfection of religion, and Love being the fulfilling of the Law, to fulfil the Law is the summit of evangelical blessedness [Note 18].


Again, justification, as all allow, and as has been here assumed throughout, is a state in which we are acceptable and pleasing to God; as then is the mode in {54} which we please God, so is the mode of our justification. Now it is plain, from St. Paul, that the regenerate please God, not merely by the imputation of Christ's obedience, but by their own obedience: by their obedience therefore are they justified. If they were justified only by imputation of Christ's obedience, they could only please him by virtue of that obedience; but so far as they are enabled to please Him by what they are and what they do, so far may they be said, through His secret grace, to justify themselves. For instance, St. Paul says, "The God of grace ... make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ;" he does not say, "imputing to you what is pleasing." Christ then does not keep the power of justification solely in His own hands, but by His Spirit dispenses it to us in due measure, through the medium of our own doings. He has imparted to us the capacity of pleasing Him; and to please Him is that in part, which justification is in fulness, and tends towards justification as its limit. That this power is the characteristic of the Gospel is evident from St. Paul's words elsewhere, "They that are in the flesh cannot please God; but ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit." [Heb. xiii. 21; Rom. viii. 8, 9.]

Parallel with such texts is that in the Epistle to the Philippians, on which much might be said: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Salvation is here described, as justification elsewhere, not as coming direct from God {55} upon us, but as coming to us through ourselves, through our sanctified wills and our religious doings; as wrought out for us by the power of God actively employed within us.

Texts which speak of our receiving a reward for our obedience enforce the same conclusion still more strongly. For what is the reward of a religious action, but God's favour, accorded to us in consequence of good things wrought in us by the Holy Spirit?


Lastly, a number of passages may be referred to, which have a peculiar cogency, as flowing spontaneously, as it would seem, from the Scripture speakers and writers, and so showing the genius of the evangelical system. As when our Lord says, "Rather give alms of such things as ye have; and behold all things are clean unto you." "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness." "This do," that is, the Commandments, "and thou shalt live." "Fear God, and keep His Commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." "Not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law shall be justified." "Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." "Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life." [Note 19] {56} "By works a man is justified, and not by faith only." And, above all, perhaps, our Lord's declaration that the righteousness wherein we must stand at the last day is not his own imputed obedience, but our good works.


Such is the doctrine concerning our justification, which has the testimony of the whole Christian Church in its favour, and which, I suppose, all sober minds would admit at once, except from some notion that it contradicts our Articles. What our Articles add to it, and in what respect it is incomplete though true, and how it may be unscripturally used, shall be considered in subsequent Lectures; here I will but say this, that at any rate it is what the rival doctrine is not, a real doctrine, and contains an intelligible, tangible, practical view which one can take and use. That the scheme of salvation should be one of names and understandings; that we should be but said to be just, said to have a righteousness, said to please God, said to earn a reward, said to be saved by works; that the great wounds of our nature should remain unstaunched; that Adam's old sinfulness should so pervade the regenerate that they cannot do anything in itself good and acceptable, even when it is sprinkled with Christ's blood,—all this would of course be matter of faith, if Scripture declared it; but when merely propounded fifteen centuries after Christ came, it has no claims upon us, and might be rejected, even if it were not so very alien as it is to the genius of the Evangelical Covenant. That Covenant is a substance; Judaism was the time of {57} shadows; it was Judaism which contained but the profession, the appearance of great things, exciting hopes which it could not gratify, and seeming to promise when it did but enforce the need. When, then, divines, however high in repute, come to me with their visionary system, an unreal righteousness and a real corruption, I answer that the Law is past, and that I will not be brought into bondage by shadows. "Shadows of religion," to use an expression of a holy Bishop [Note 20], these things fitly may be called; like the Jewish new-moons and sabbaths which the Judaizers were so loth to part with. Reputed justification was the gift of the Law; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Away then with this modern, this private, this arbitrary, this unscriptural system, which promising liberty conspires against it; which abolishes Christian Sacraments to introduce barren and dead ordinances; and for the real participation of the Son, and justification through the Spirit, would, at the very marriage feast, feed us on shells and husks, who hunger and thirst after righteousness. It is a new gospel, unless three hundred years stand for eighteen hundred; and if men are bent on seducing us from the ancient faith, let them provide a more specious error, a more alluring sophism, a more angelic tempter, than this. It is surely too bold an attempt to take from our hearts the power, the fulness, the mysterious presence of Christ's most holy death and resurrection, and to soothe us for our loss with the name of having it.{58}


Dismissing, however, a train of thought, which scarcely belongs to the present Lecture, I conclude by summing up the opposite characteristics of the two systems of doctrine, which have been under review, and of which Luther and St. Austin are the respective expounders.

The main point in dispute is this; whether or not the Moral Law can in its substance be obeyed and kept by the regenerate. Augustine says, that whereas we are by nature condemned by the Law, we are enabled by the grace of God to perform it unto our justification; Luther, that whereas we are condemned by the Law, Christ has Himself performed it unto our justification;—Augustine, that our righteousness is active; Luther, that it is passive [Note 21];—Augustine, that it is imparted; Luther, that it is only imputed;—Augustine that it consists in a change of heart; Luther, in a change of state. Luther maintains that God's commandments are impossible to man [Note 22]; Augustine adds, impossible without his grace [Note 23]; {59} —Luther, that the gospel consists of promises only [Note 24]; Augustine that is also a Law;—Luther, that our highest wisdom is, not to know the Law [Note 25]; Augustine says instead, to know and keep it;—Luther says, that the Law and Christ cannot dwell together in the heart [Note 26]; Augustine says, that the Law is Christ;—Luther denies, and Augustine maintains that obedience is a matter of conscience [Note 27];—Luther says, that a man is made a Christian not by working but by hearing [Note 28]; Augustine excludes those works only which are done before grace given;—Luther, that our best deeds are sins [Note 29]; Augustine, that they are really pleasing to God. Luther says, that faith is taken instead of righteousness; Augustine, in earnest of righteousness;—Luther, that faith is essential, because it is a substitute for holiness; Augustine, because it is the commencement of holiness;—Luther says, that faith, as such, renews the heart; Augustine says, a loving faith;—Luther would call faith the tree, and works the fruit; Augustine, rather, the inward life, or grace of God, or love [Note 30], the tree, and renewal the fruit. The school of {60} Luther accuse their opponents of self-righteousness; and they retort on them the charge of self-indulgence: the one say that directly aiming at good works fosters pride; the other that not doing so sanctions licentiousness.

Such are the two views of justification when placed in contrast with each other; and as so placed, I conceive it will be found that the former is false, and the latter is true, but that while the former is an utter perversion of the truth, the latter does in some respects come short of it. What is wanting to complete it we learn from other parts of St. Austin's writings, which supply what Luther, not finding perhaps in the theology in which he had been educated, expressed in his own way. I say this, lest I should appear to be setting up any private judgment of my own against a Father of the Church, or to speak of him as I might speak of Luther [Note 31]. St. Austin doubtless was but a fallible man, and, if in any point he opposed the voice of the Catholic Church, so far he is not to be followed; yet others may be more fallible than he; and when it is a question of difference of opinion between one mind and another, the holy Austin will weigh more, even with ordinarily humble men, than their own speculations. St. Austin contemplates the whole of Scripture, and harmonizes it into one consistent doctrine; {61} the Protestants, like the Arians, entrench themselves in a few favourite texts. Luther and the rest, men of original minds, spoke as no one spoke before them; St. Austin, with no less originality, was contented to minister to the promulgation of what he had received. They have been founders of sects; St. Austin is a Father in the Holy Apostolic Church.

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1. Tit. iii. 5. Hoc est Justitia Dei, quam non solum docet per Legis præceptum, verum etiam dat per Spiritus donum.—August. de Spir. et Lit. 56. Cum timore et tremore suam ipsorum salutem operentur; Deus est enim qui operator in eis et velle et operari pro bona voluntate. Hoc est justitia Dei, hoc est quod Deus donat homini, cum justificat impium. Hanc Dei justitiam ignorantes superbi Judæi, etc. August ad Honoratum, 53, 34, Ep. 140. Legimus justificari in Christo qui credunt, in eum propter occultam communicationem et inspirationem gratiæ spiritalis, qua quisquis hæret Domino, unus spiritus est.—August. de Peccat. Rem. i. 11.
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2. [This charge only comes to this, that when the Roman schools are treating of one point of theology, they are not treating of other points. When the Council of Trent is treating of man, it is not treating of God. Its enunciations are isolated and defective, taken one by one, of course. If we desire a warmer exhibition of Christian truth than a treatise on Justification admits, we may go to mystical writers such as Schram, whose doctrine on the Holy Eucharist, quoted above in the Advertisement to this edition, is the supplement to an account of formal causes. All theological definitions come short of concrete life. Science is not devotion or literature. If the Fathers are not cold, and the Schoolmen are, this is because the former write in their own persons, and the latter as logicians or disputants. St. Athanasius or St. Augustine has a life, which a system of theology has not. Yet dogmatic theology has its use and its importance notwithstanding.]
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3. Vide John Smith, Discourse of Justification, ch. v. fin. ed. 1673. pp. 321-324.
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4. Lex ergo data est, ut gratia quæreretur; gratia data est, ut lex impleretur. Neque enim suo vitio non implebatur lex, sed vitio prudentiæ carnis; quod vitium per legem demonstrandum, per gratiam sanandum fuit ... Propter veteris hominis noxam quæ per literam jubentem et minantem minime sanabatur, dicitur illiud testamentum vetus; hoc autem novum, propter novitatem spiritus quæ hominem novum sanat a vitio vetustatis ... August. de Spir. et Lit. 34, 35.
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5. Quæ [mandata] ut possit homo facere, Deus operatur in homine per fidem Jesu Christi, qui finis est ad justitiam omni credenti, id est, per Spiritum incorporatus factusque membrum ejus, potest quisque, illo incrementum intrinsecus dante, operari justitiam.—August. de Spir. et Lit. 50.
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6. Ideo quippe proponitur justitia legis, quod qui fecerit eam, vivet in illa, ut cum quisque infirmitatem suam cognoverit, non per suas vires, neque per literam ipsius legis, quod fieri non potest, sed per fidem concilians Justificatorem perveniat et (ut?) faciat et vivat in câ. Opus enim quod qui fecerit, vivet in eo, non fit nisi a justificato. Justificatio autem ex fide impetratur, de qua scriptum est, ''Ne dixeris in cordibus," etc. [Rom. x. 6]. In tantum justus, in quantum salvus ... Fide igitur Jesu Christi impetramur salutem et quantum nobis inchoatur in re, et quantum perficienda expectatur in spe … Per fidem confugiat [anima] ad misericordiam Dei, ut det quod jubet, atque inspirata gratiæ suavitate per Spiritum Sanctum faciat plus delectare quod præcipit quam delectat quod impedit. Ita multa multitudo dulcedinis ejus, hoc est, lex fidei, caritas ejus conscripta in cordibus atque diffusa, perficitur sperantibus in eum, ut anima sanata non timore pœnæ, sed amore justitiæ operetur bonum.—August de Spir. et Lit. 51.
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7. Heb. x. 16, 17.
Quid sunt ergo leges Dei ab ipso Deo scriptæ in cordibus nisi ipsa præsentia Spiritus sancti, qui est digitus Dei, quo præsente diffunditur caritas in cordibus nostris quæ plenitudo legis est et præcepti finis … Dicitur, "Dabo leges meas," etc., unde significavit eos non forinsecus terrentem legem formidaturos, sed intrinsecus habitantem ipsam legis justitiam dilecturos.—August. de Spir. et Lit. 36.
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8. 2 Cor. iii. 3-6. Lex Dei non ex omni parte deleta per injustitiam, profecto scribitur renovata per gratiam. Nec istam inscriptionem, quæ justificatio est, poterat efficere in Judæis lex in tabulis scripta, sed solum prævaricationem.—August. de Spir. et Lit. 48.
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9. Novi Testamenti, ministrationem Spiritus et ministrationem justitiæ dicit, quia per donum Spiritus operamur justitiam et a prævaricationis damnatione liberamur.—August de Spir. et Lit. 31.
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10. Ibi populus accedere ad locum ubi Lex dabatur, horrendo terrore prohibetur; hic autem in eos supervenit Spiritus sanctus, qui eum promissum expectantes in unum fuerant congregati. Ibi in tabulis lapideis digitus Dei operatus est; hic in cordibus hominum. Ibi ergo Lex extrinsecus posita est, qua injusti terrerentur; hic intrinsecus data est, qua justificarentur.—August. de Spir. et Lit. 29.
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11. Sermon of the Resurrection.
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12. August. Ep. ad Asell. 196. Serm. 169; vid. also Bull, Harm. ii. 14.
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13. Cf. 1 Cor. iv. 4 with 5; Luke xviii. 14, with Matt. xxv. 21; 1 Thess. ii. 4.
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14. Qui enim crediderit in eum, non habebit suam justitiam, quæ ex Lege est, quamvis sit bona Lex, sed implebit ipsam legem, non sua justitia sed data ex Deo. Ita enim non confundetur. Caritas enim est Legis plenitudo. Et unde ista caritas diffusa est in cordibus nostris? Non utique a nobis, sed per Spiritum Sanctum qui datus est nobis.—August. Serm. 169.
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15. Rom. iii. 20-26. "Justitia," inquit, "Dei manifestata est." Non dixit, justitia hominis, vel justitia propriæ voluntatis, sed "justitia Dei," non qua Deus justus est, sed qua induit hominem cum justificat impium. Hæc testificatur per Legem et Prophetas; huic quippe testimonium perhibent Lex et Prophetæ. Lex quidem hoc ipso quod jubendo et minando, et neminem justificando satis indicat, dono Dei justificari hominem per adjutorium Spiritus: Prophetæ autem, quia id quod prædixerunt, Christi implevit adventus ... Justitia Dei sine Lege est quam Deus per Spiritum gratiæ credenti confert sine adjutorio Legis, hoc est, non adjuto a Lege ... Voluntas nostra ostenditur infirma per Legem, ut sanet gratia voluntatem, et sanata voluntas impleat Legem, non constituta sub Lege, nec indigens Lege.—August. de Spir. et Lit. 15. It must be borne in mind all along that St. Austin is arguing with the Pelagians, who said we could be justified by the Law in our natural state. "No," he answers, "we are justified only by the Spirit enabling us to fulfil the Law." This consideration makes the argument derived from his statement stronger.
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16. Rom. iii. 20-26; Eph. ii. 8-10; Tit. iii. 5-8; Cf. Gal. v. 18, etc.
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17. Sub Lege … vivit, in quantum quisque peccator est; id est, in quantum a vetere homine non est mutatus. Sua enim vita vivet, et ideo Lex supra illum est; quia qui eam non implet, infra illam est. Nam justo Lex posita non est, id est imposita, ut supra illum sit; in illa est enim potius quam sub illa.—August. in Gal. ii. § 17.
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18. Caritas ergo, inchoata, inchoata justitia est; caritas provecta, provecta justitia est; caritas magna, magna justitia est; caritas perfecta, perfecta justitia est.—August de Nat. et Grat. 84.
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19. Luke xi. 41; xvi. 9; x. 27; Eccles. xii. 13; Rom. ii. 13; 1 Tim. vi.. 19; 1 John i. 7; Rev. xxii. 14; James ii. 24; Matt. xxv. 31, etc.
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20. Bishop Wilson.—Family Prayers.
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21. In Galat. Argum.
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22. Etsi igitur offenduntur viri politici, cum Lex Dei dicitur impossibilis, tamen id dictum verum est de hac corrupta natura … Ideo donat nobis Spiritum sanctum ut in tanta infirmitate tamen inchoetur Lex.—Melanchth. Loci Theol. de Lib. Arb. f. 169. Gerhard explains St. Austin's statements about grace enabling us to fulfil the Law, by understanding "grace" to mean forgiveness; or that we fulfil the Law, by God's mercy not imputing to us our non-fulfilment. Gerh. de Lege Dei, § 196.
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23. Eo quippe ipso quo firmissime creditur, "Deum justum et bonum impossibilia non potuisse præcipere," hinc admonemur, et in facilibus quid agamus et in difficilibus quid petamus. Omnia quippe fiunt facilia caritati, etc.—De Nat. et Grat. 83.
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24. Luther in Gal. iii. 11; f. 272. (2.) f. 274, f. 407. Bull, Harm. i. 3, § 3.
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25. In Gal. Argum.
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26. In Gal. v. 4. Discat igitur pius Legem et Christum duo contraria esse, prorsus incompatibilia.
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27. Debemus extra conscientiam facere ex ca [Lege] Deum; in conscientia vero est vere diabolus. Quia in minima tentatione non potest erigere et consolari conscientiam, etc. ... Nullo modo sinamus eam dominari in conscientia.—Luther in Gal. iv. 3.
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28. In Gal. iii. 2.
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29. He seems to have meant that they had sin in them; but his words are, Opus bonum optime factum est mortale peccatum secundum judicium Dei.—Gerhard. de Bon. Op. § 38.
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30. Non enim fructus est bonus, qui de caritatis radice non surgit.—De Spir. et Lit. 26. On the other hand, Luther says, "Qui volet fructus bonos habere, ab arbore incipiat, et hanc bonam plantabit; ita qui vult bona operare, non ab operando, sed a credendo incipiat.—De Libert. Christ. f. 8.
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31. It is but fair to Luther to say that he indirectly renounced the extravagant parts of his doctrine at the end of his life; (that is, the distinctive parts. Vid. above, p. 10, note). Laurence, Bampton Lectures, iv. note 14.
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