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SER M.and the Scripture largely and plainly affirms. But vii. let thus much suffice for the inquiry concerning the
genuine nature and notion of faith proper to this
I end with those good prayers of our Church :
us thy humble servants, that by thy holy inspiration
same, through our Lord Jesus Chrift. Amen. 14th Sun- Almighty and everlasting Lord, give unto us the inday after
crease of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain that which thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dof command, through Jesus Chrift our Lord. Amen.
sth Sunday after Eafter.
I Believe, &c.
Of Justification by Faith.
Rom. v. I.
Therefore being juftified by faith, we have peace with
God, through our Lord Jesus Chrift. In order to the understanding of these words, IS ER M. did formerly propound divers particulars to be con- vil. sidered and discussed : the first was, What that Faith is, by which Christians are said to be justified ? This I have dispatched : the next is, What Justification doth import? The which I shall now endeavour to explain ; and I am concerned to perform it with the more care and diligence, because the right notion of this term hath in latter times been canvaffed with so much vehemence of diffension and strife.
In former times, among the Fathers and the Schoolmen, there doth not appear to have been any difference or debate about it; because, as it seems, men commonly having the same apprehensions about the Meideboa matters, to which the word is applicable, did not so much examine or regard the strict propriety of ex-Naz
. pression concerning them : consenting in things, they
did not fall to cavil and contend about the exact SE R M. vii. meaning of words. They did indeed consider dif
tinctly no such point of doctrine as that of justification, looking upon that word as used incidentally in some places of Scripture, for expression of points more clearly expressed in other terms; wherefore they do not make much of the word, as some Divines now do.
But in the beginning of the Reformation, when the discovery of some great errors (from the corruption
and ignorance of former times) crept into vogue, Articulus rendered all things the subjects of contention, and Lentis Eccle- multiplied controversies, there did arise hot disputes fire. Luth. about this point ; and the right stating thereof seem
ed a matter of great importance ; nor scarce was any controversy prosecuted with greater zeal and earneftness : whereas yet (so far as I can discern) about the real points of doctrine, whereto this word, according to any sense pretended, may relate, there hardly doth appear any material difference ; and all the questions depending, chiefly seem to confift about the manner of expressing things, which all agree in ; or about the extent of the fignification of words capable of larger or stricter acception : whence the debates about this point, among all sober and intelligent persons, might, as I conceive, easily be resolved or appeased, if men had a mind to agree, and did not love to wrangle ; if at least a consent in believing the same things, although under fome difference of expression, would content them, so as to forbear strife.
To make good which observation, tending as well to the illustration of the whole matter, as to the ftating and decision of the controversies about it, let us consider the several divine acts, to which the term Justification is, according to any sense pretended, applicable : I say divine acts; for that the Justification we treat of is an act of God simple or compound (in some manner) respecting, or terminated upon man, is evident, and will not, I suppose, be contested; the
words of St. Paul in several places so clearly de-S ERM. claring it; as in that, Who shall lay any thing to the vil. charge of God's eleet? It is God that
justifieth ; and in that, To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that 33. iv. 5. justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteouf- ii. 26. nefs. Now according to the tenour of Christian doctrine such acts are these.
1. God (in regard to the obedience performed to his will by his beloved Son, and to his interceffion) is so reconciled to mankind, that unto every person, who doth fincerely believe the Gospel, and, repenting of his former bad life, doth seriously resolve thereafter to live according to it, he doth (upon the solemn obfignation of that faith, and profession of that resolution in baptism) entirely remit all past offences, accepting his person, receiving him into favour ; affuming him into the state of a loyal subject, a faithful servant, a dutiful son; and bestowing on him all the benefits and privileges suitable to such a ftate; according to those passages : It behoved Christ Luke xxiv. to suffer and that repentance and remision of fins 46, 47. Jould be preached in his name among all nations: Then Peter faid unto them, Repent, and be baptized every Ads ii. 38. one of you in the name of Jesus Chrif, for the remision "..31.: of fins; and, To him give all the Prophets witness, that Ads :. 43. through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remision of sins; and, God was in Chrift, recon- Kom. i. ciling the world unto himself, not imputing their fins ; 24, 25. and in other places innumerable.
2. As any person persisting in that sincere faith, and serious purpose of obedience, doth assuredly continue in that state of grace, and exemption from the guilt of fin; so in case that, out of human frailty, such a person doth fall into the commission of fin, God in regard to the same performances and interceffions of his Son) doth, upon the confeffion and repentance of such a perfon, remit his sin, and retain him in or restore him to favour ; according to those sayings of St. John, If we confess our fins, he is faith- 1 John i. 9. L 3
2 Cor. v. 19.
1 John ii. i,
14. Gal. iv. 6.
Tit. iii. 5.
SER m.ful and just to forgive us our fins, and to cleanse us from vii. all unrighteousness : and, If any man fin, we have an
advocate with the Father, Jejus Christ the righteous.
3. To each person sincerely embracing the Gospel, and continuing in steadfast adherence thereto, God doth afford his holy Spirit, as a principle productive
of all inward sanctity and virtuous dispositions in his Rom. viii. heart, enabling also and quickening him to discharge
the conditions of faith and obedience required from 1 Cor. ii. him, and undertaken by him ; that which is by
fome termed making a person juft, infufion into his Aas ii. 38. soul of righteousness, of grace, of virtuous habits ; Rom. viii. in the Scripture style it is called acting by the Spirit,
bestowing the gift of the holy Ghost, renovation of the (Eph. ii. holy Ghost, creation to good works, fanctification by the Eph. ii. 10. Spirit, &c. which phrases denote partly the colla
tion of a principle enabling to perform good works, partly the design of religion tending to that performance.
Now all these acts (as by the general consent of Christians, and according to the sense of the ancient Catholick Church, fo) by all considerable parties seeming to diffent, and so earnestly difputing about the point of justification, are acknowledged and afcribed unto God; but with which of them the act of justification is solely or chiefly coincident; whether it fignifieth barely some one of them, or extendeth to more of them, or comprehendeth them all, (according to the constant meaning of the word in Scripture,) are questions coming under debate, and so eagerly prosecuted: of which questions whatever the true resolution be, it cannot methinks be of so great consequence, as to cause any great anger or animosity in Dissenters one toward another, seeing they all conspire in avowing the acts, whatever they be, meant by the word Justification, although in other terms; seeing all the dispute is about the precise and adequate notion of the word Justification: whence those questions might well be waved as unnecessary