(Owen, Justification. part 7)

thereof were criminal in no small degree, when themselves,
immediately in the declaration of their own judgment, make use of
such terms, distinctions, and expressions, as are so far from being
in the Scripture, as that it is odds they had never been in the
world, had they escaped Aristotle's mint, or that of the schools
deriving from him.
     And thus, although a sufficient answer has frequently enough (if
any thing can be so) been returned unto this objection in
Bellarmine, yet has one of late amongst ourselves made the
translation of it into English to be the substance of the first
chapter of a book about justification; though he needed not to have
given such an early intimation unto whom he is beholding for the
greatest part of his ensuing discourse, unless it be what is taken
up in despiteful revilings of other men. For take from him what is
not his own, on the one hand, and impertinent cavils at the words
and expressions of other men, with forged imputations on some of
them, on the other, and his whole book will disappear. But yet,
although he affirms that none of the Protestant writers, who speak
of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto us (which were
all of them, without exception, until of late), have precisely kept
to the form of wholesome words, but have rather swerved and varied
from the language of the Scripture; yet he will excuse them from
open error, if they intend no more thereby but that we are made
partakers of the benefits of the righteousness of Christ. But if
they intend that the righteousness of Christ itself imputed unto us
(that is, so as to be our righteousness before God, whereon we are
pardoned and accepted with him, or do receive the forgiveness of
sins, and a right to the heavenly inheritance), then are they guilty
of that error which makes us to be esteemed to do ourselves what
Christ did; and so on the other side, Christ to have done what we do
and did, chap.2,3. But these things are not so. For, if we are
esteemed to have done any thing in our own persons, it cannot be
imputed unto us as done for us by another; as it will appear when we
shall treat of these things afterwards. But the great and holy
persons intended, are as little concerned in the accusations or
apologies of some writers, as those writers seem to be acquainted
with that learning, wisdom, and judgment, wherein they did excel,
and the characters whereof are so eminently conspicuous in all their
But the judgment of most Protestants is not only candidly expressed,
but approved of also by Bellarmine himself in another place. "Non
esset", says he, "absurdum, si quis diceret nobis imputari Christi
justitiam et merita; cum nobis donentur et applicentur; ac si nos
ipsi Deo satisfecissemus". De Justif., lib.2, cap.10;--"It were not
absurd, if any one should say that the righteousness and merits of
Christ are imputed unto us, when they are given and applied unto us,
as if we ourselves had satisfied God." And this he confirms with
that saying of Bernard, Epist. ad Innocent. 190, "Nam 'si unus pro
omnibus mortuus est, ergo omnes mortui sunt,' ut videlicet
satisfactio unius omnibus imputetur, sicut omnium peccata unus ille
portavit". And those who will acknowledge no more in this matter,
but only a participation "quovis modo", one way or other, of the
benefits of the obedience and righteousness of Christ, wherein we
have the concurrence of the Socinians also, might do well, as I
suppose, plainly to deny all imputation of his righteousness unto us
in any sense, as they do, seeing the benefits of his righteousness
cannot be said to be imputed unto us, what way soever we are made
partakers of them. For to say that the righteousness of Christ is
imputed unto us, with respect unto the benefits of it, when neither
the righteousness itself is imputed unto us, nor can the benefits of
it be imputed unto us, as we shall see afterward, does minister
great occasion of much needless variance and contests. Neither do I
know any reason why men should seek countenance unto this doctrine
under such an expression as themselves reflect upon as unscriptural,
if they be contented that their minds and sense should be clearly
understood and apprehended;--for truth needs no subterfuge.
     The Socinians do now principally make use of this objection. For,
finding the whole church of God in the use of sundry expressions, in
the declaration of the most important truths of the gospel, that are
not literally contained in the Scripture, they hoped for an
advantage from thence in their opposition unto the things
themselves. Such are the terms of the Trinity, the incarnation,
satisfaction, and merit of Christ, as this also, of the imputation
of his righteousness. How little they have prevailed in the other
instances, has been sufficiently manifested by them with whom they
have had to do. But as unto that part of this objection which
concerns the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto,
believers, those by whom it is asserted do say,--
     (1.) That it is the thing alone intended which they plead for. If
that be not contained in the Scripture, if it be not plainly taught
and confirmed therein, they will speedily relinquish it. But if they
can prove that the doctrine which they intend in this expression,
and which is thereby plainly declared unto the understandings of
men, is a divine truth sufficiently witnessed unto in the Scripture;
then is this expression of it reductively scriptural, and the truth
itself so expressed a divine verity. To deny this, is to take away
all use of the interpretation of the Scripture, and to overthrow the
ministry of the church. This, therefore, is to be alone inquired
     (2.) They say, the same thing is taught and expressed in the
Scripture in phrases equipollent. For it affirms that "by the
obedience of one" (that is Christ), "many are made righteous",
Rom.5:19; and that we are made righteous by the imputation of
righteousness unto us, "Blessed is the man unto whom God imputeth
righteousness without works," chap.4:6. And if we are made righteous
by the imputation of righteousness unto us, that obedience or
righteousness whereby we are made righteous is imputed unto us. And
they will be content with this expression of this doctrine,--that
the obedience of Christ whereby we are made righteous, is the
righteousness that God imputes unto us. Wherefore, this objection is
of no force to disadvantage the truth pleaded for.
     2. Socinus objects, in particular, against this doctrine of
justification by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, and
of his satisfaction, that there is nothing said of it in the
"Evangelists", nor in the "report of the sermons of Christ unto the
people, nor yet in those of his private discourses with his
disciples"; and he urges it vehemently and at large against the
whole of the expiation of sin by his death, De Servator., par.4,
cap.9. And as it is easy "malis inventis pejora addere", this notion
of his is not only made use of and pressed at large by one among
ourselves, but improved also by a dangerous comparison between the
writings of the evangelists and the other writings of the New
Testament. For to enforce this argument, that the histories of the
gospel, wherein the sermons of Christ are recorded, do make no
mention of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ (as in his
judgment they do not), nor of his satisfaction, or merit, or
expiation of sin, or of redemption by his death (as they do not in
the judgment of Socinus), it is added by him, that for his part he
is "apt to admire our Saviour's sermons, who was the author of our
religion, before the writings of the apostles, though inspired men".
Whereunto many dangerous insinuations and reflections on the
writings of St Paul, contrary to the faith and sense of the church
in all ages, are subjoined. See pp.240,241.
     But this boldness is not only unwarrantable, but to be abhorred.
What place of Scripture, what ecclesiastical tradition, what single
precedent of any one sober Christian writer, what theological
reason, will countenance a man in making the comparison mentioned,
and so determining thereon? Such juvenile boldness, such want of a
due apprehension and understanding of the nature of divine
inspiration, with the order and design of the writings of the New
Testament, which are the springs of this precipitate censure, ought
to be reflected on. At present, to remove this pretence out of our
way, it may be observed,--
     (1.) That what the Lord Christ taught his disciples, in his
personal ministry on the earth, was suited unto that economy of the
church which was antecedent unto his death and resurrection. Nothing
did he withhold from them that was needful to their faith,
obedience, and consolation in that state. Many things he instructed
them in out of the Scripture, many new revelations he made unto
them, and many times did he occasionally instruct and rectify their
judgments; howbeit he made no clear, distinct revelation of those
sacred mysteries unto them which are peculiar unto the faith of the
New Testament, nor were to be distinctly apprehended before his
death and resurrection.
     (2.) What the Lord Christ revealed afterward by his Spirit unto
the apostles, was no less immediately from himself than was the
truth which he spoke unto them with his own mouth in the days of his
flesh. An apprehension to the contrary is destructive of Christian
religion. The epistles of the apostles are no less Christ's sermons
than that which he delivered on the mount. Wherefore--
     (3.) Neither in the things themselves, nor in the way of their
delivery or revelation, is there any advantage of the one sort of
writings above the other. The things written in the epistles proceed
from the same wisdom, the same grace, the same love, with the things
which he spoke with his own mouth in the days of his flesh, and are
of the same divine veracity, authority, and efficacy. The revelation
which he made by his Spirit is no less divine and immediate from
himself, than what he spoke unto his disciples on the earth. To
distinguish between these things, on any of these accounts, is
intolerable folly.
     (4.) The writings of the evangelists do not contain the whole of
all the instructions which the Lord Christ gave unto his disciples

personally on the earth. For he was seen of them after his
resurrection forty days, and spoke with them of "the things
pertaining to the kingdom of God," Acts 1:3; and yet nothing hereof
is recorded in their writings, but only some few occasional
speeches. Nor had he given before unto them a clear and distinct
understanding of those things which were delivered concerning his
death and resurrection in the Old Testament; as is plainly declared,
Luke 24:25-27. For it was not necessary for them, in that state
wherein they were. Wherefore,--
     (5.) As to the extent of divine revelations objectively those
which he granted, by his Spirit, unto his apostles after his
ascension, were beyond those which he personally taught them, so far
as they are recorded in the writings of the evangelists. For he told
them plainly, not long before hit death, that he had many things to
say unto them which "then they could not bear," John 16:12. And for
the knowledge of those things, he refers them to the coming of the
Spirit to make revelation of them from himself, in the next words,
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you
into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he
shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to
come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall
show it unto you," verses 13,14. And on this account he had told
them before, that it was expedient for them that he should go away,
that the Holy Spirit might come unto them, whom he would send from
the Father, verse 7. Hereunto he referred the full and clear
manifestation of the mysteries of the gospel. So false, as well as
dangerous and scandalous, are those insinuations of Socinus and his
     (6.) The writings of the evangelists are full unto their proper
ends and purposes. These were, to record the genealogy, conception,
birth, acts, miracles, and teachings of our Saviour, so far as to
evince him to be the true, only-promised Messiah. So he testifies
who wrote the last of them: "Many other signs truly did Jesus, which
are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might
believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God," John 22:30,31.
Unto this end every thing is recorded by them that is needful unto
the ingenerating and establishing of faith. Upon this confirmation,
all things declared in the Old Testament concerning him--all that
was taught in types and sacrifices--became the object of faith, in
that sense wherein they were interpreted in the accomplishment; and
that in them this doctrine was before revealed, shall be proved
afterward. It is, therefore, no wonder if some things, and those of
the highest importance, should be declared more fully in other
writings of the New Testament than they are in those of the
     (7.) The pretence itself is wholly false; for there are as many
pregnant testimonies given unto this truth in one alone of the
evangelists as in any other book of the New Testament,--namely, in
the book of John. I shall refer to some of them, which will be
pleaded in their proper place, chap.1:12,17; 3:14-18,36; 5:24.
     But we may pass this by, as one of those inventions concerning
which Socinus boasts, in his epistle to Michael Vajoditus, that his
writings were esteemed by many for the singularity of things
asserted in them.
     3. The difference that has been among Protestant writers about
this doctrine is pleaded in the prejudice of it. Osiander, in the
entrance of the reformation, fell into a vain imagination, that we
were justified or made righteous with the essential righteousness of
God, communicated unto us by Jesus Christ. And whereas he was
opposed herein with some severity by the most learned persons of
those days, to countenance himself in his singularity, he pretended
that there were "twenty different opinions amongst the Protestants
themselves about the formal cause of our justification before God".
This was quickly laid hold on by them of the Roman church, and is
urged as a prejudice against the whole doctrine, by Bellarmine,
Vasquez, and others. But the vanity of this pretence of his has been
sufficiently discovered; and Bellarmine himself could fancy but four
opinions among them that seemed to be different from one another,
reckoning that of Osiander for one, De Justificat., lib.2, cap.1.
But whereas he knew that the imagination of Osiander was exploded by
them all, the other three that he mentions are indeed but distinct
parts of the same entire doctrine. Wherefore, until of late it might
be truly said, that the faith and doctrine of all Protestants was in
this article entirely the same. For however they differed in the
way, manner, and methods of its declaration, and too many private
men were addicted unto definitions and descriptions of their own,
under pretence of logical accuracy in teaching, which gave an
appearance of some contradiction among them; yet in this they
generally agreed, that it is the righteousness of Christ, and not
our own, on the account whereof we receive the pardon of sin,
acceptance with God, are declared righteous by the gospel, and have
a right and title unto the heavenly inheritance. Hereon, I say, they
were generally agreed, first against the Papists, and afterwards
against the Socinians; and where this is granted, I will not contend
with any man about his way of declaring the doctrine of it.
     And that I may add it by the way, we have herein the concurrence
of the fathers of the primitive church. For although by
justification, following the etymology of the Latin word, they
understood the making us righteous with internal personal
righteousness,--at least some of them did so, as Austin in
particular,--yet that we are pardoned and accepted with God on any
other account but that of the righteousness of Christ, they believed
not. And whereas, especially in their controversy with the
Pelagians, after the rising of that heresy, they plead vehemently
that we are made righteous by the grace of God changing our hearts
and natures, and creating in us a principle of spiritual life and
holiness, and not by the endeavours of our own free will, or works
performed in the strength thereof, their words and expressions have
been abused, contrary to their intention and design.
     For we wholly concur with them, and subscribe unto all that they
dispute about the making of us personally righteous and holy by the
effectual grace of God, against all merit of works and operations of
our own free will (our sanctification being every way as much of
grace as our justification, properly so called); and that in
opposition unto the common doctrine of the Roman church about the
same matter: only they call this our being made inherently and
personally righteous by grace, sometimes by the name of
justification, which we do not. And this is laid hold on as an
advantage by those of the Roman church who do not concur with them
in the way and manner whereby we are so made righteous. But whereas
by our justification before God, we intend only that righteousness
whereon our sins are pardoned, wherewith we are made righteous in
his sight, or for which we are accepted as righteous before him, it
will be hard to find any of them assigning of it unto any other
causes than the Protestants do. So it is fallen out, that what they
design to prove, we entirely comply with them in; but the way and
manner whereby they prove it is made use of by the Papists unto
another end, which they intended not.
     But as to the way and manner of the declaration of this doctrine
among Protestants themselves, there ever was some variety and
difference in expressions; nor will it otherwise be whilst the
abilities and capacities of men, whether in the conceiving of things
of this nature, or in the expression of their conceptions, are so
various as they are. And it is acknowledged that these differences
of late have had by some as much weight laid upon them as the
substance of the doctrine generally agreed in. Hence some have
composed entire books, consisting almost of nothing but impertinent
cavils at other men's words and expressions. But these things
proceed from the weakness of some men, and other vicious habits of
their minds, and do not belong unto the cause itself. And such
persons, as for me, shall write as they do, and fight on until they
are weary. Neither has the multiplication of questions, and the
curious discussion of them in the handling of this doctrine, wherein
nothing ought to be diligently insisted on but what is directive of
our practice, been of much use unto the truth itself, though it has
not been directly opposed in them.
     That which is of real difference among persons who agree in the
substance of the doctrine, may be reduced unto a very few heads; as,-
-(1.) There is something of this kind about the nature of faith
whereby we are justified, with its proper object in justifying, and
its use in justification. And an instance we have herein, not only
of the weakness of our intellects in the apprehension of spiritual
things, but also of the remainders of confusion and disorder in our
minds; at least, how true it is that we know only in part, and
prophesy only in part, whilst we are in this life. For whereas this
faith is an act of our minds, put forth in the way of duty to God,
yet many by whom it is sincerely exercised, and that continually,
are not agreed either in the nature or proper object of it. Yet is
there no doubt but that some of them who differ amongst themselves
about these things, have delivered their minds free from the
prepossession of prejudices and notions derived from other
artificial seasonings imposed on them, and do really express their
own conceptions as to the best and utmost of their experience. And
notwithstanding this difference, they do yet all of them please God
in the exercise of faith, as it is their duty, and have that respect
unto its proper object as secures both their justification and
salvation. And if we cannot, on this consideration, bear with, and
forbear, one another in our different conceptions and expressions of
those conceptions about these things, it is a sign we have a great
mind to be contentious, and that our confidences are built on very
weak foundations. For my part, I had much rather my lot should be
found among them who do really believe with the heart unto
righteousness, though they are not able to give a tolerable
definition of faith unto others, than among them who can endlessly
dispute about it with seeming accuracy and skill, but are negligent
in the exercise of it as their own duty. Wherefore, some things
shall be briefly spoken of in this matter, to declare my own
apprehensions concerning the things mentioned, without the least
design to contradict or oppose the conceptions of others.
     (2.) There has been a controversy more directly stated among some
learned divines of the Reformed churches (for the Lutherans are
unanimous on the one side), about the righteousness of Christ that
is said to be imputed unto us. For some would have this to be only
his suffering of death, and the satisfaction which he made for sin
thereby, and others include therein the obedience of his life also.
The occasion, original, and progress of this controversy, the
persons by whom it has been managed, with the writings wherein it is
so, and the various ways that have been endeavoured for its
reconciliation, are sufficiently known unto all who have inquired
into these things. Neither shall I immix myself herein, in the way
of controversy, or in opposition unto others, though I shall freely
declare my own judgment in it, so far as the consideration of the
righteousness of Christ, under this distinction, is inseparable from
the substance of the truth itself which I plead for.
     (3.) Some difference there has been, also, whether the
righteousness of Christ imputed unto us, or the imputation of the
righteousness of Christ, may be said to be the formal cause of our
justification before God; wherein there appears some variety of
expression among learned men, who have handled this subject in the
way of controversy with the Papists. The true occasion of the
differences about this expression has been this, and no other: Those
of the Roman church do constantly assert, that the righteousness
whereby we are righteous before God is the formal cause of our
justification; and this righteousness, they say, is our own
inherent, personal righteousness, and not the righteousness of
Christ imputed unto us: wherefore they treat of this whole
controversy--namely, what is the righteousness on the account
whereof we are accepted with God, or justified--under the name of
the formal cause of justification; which is the subject of the
second book of Bellarmine concerning justification. In opposition
unto them, some Protestants, contending that the righteousness
wherewith we are esteemed righteous before God, and accepted with
him, is the righteousness of Christ imputed unto us, and not our own
inherent, imperfect, personal righteousness, have done it under this
inquiry,--namely, What is the formal cause of our justification?
Which some have said to be the imputation of the righteousness of
Christ, some, the righteousness of Christ imputed. But what they
designed herein was, not to resolve this controversy into a
philosophical inquiry about the nature of a formal cause, but only
to prove that that truly belonged unto the righteousness of Christ
in our justification which the Papists ascribed unto our own, under
that name. That there is a habitual, infused habit of grace, which
is the formal cause of our personal, inherent righteousness, they
grant: but they all deny that God pardons our sins, and justifies
our persons, with respect unto this righteousness, as the formal
cause thereof; nay, they deny that in the justification of a sinner
there either is, or can be, any inherent formal cause of it. And
what they mean by a formal cause in our justification, is only that
which gives the denomination unto the subject, as the imputation of
the righteousness of Christ does to a person that he is justified.
     Wherefore, notwithstanding the differences that have been among
some in the various expression of their conceptions, the substance
of the doctrine of the reformed churches is by them agreed upon and
retained entire. For they all agree that God justifies no sinner,--
absolves him not from guilt, nor declares him righteous, so as to
have a title unto the heavenly inheritance,--but with respect unto a
true and perfect righteousness; as also, that this righteousness is
truly the righteousness of him that is so justified; that this
righteousness becomes ours by God's free grace and donation,--the
way on our part whereby we come to be really and effectually
interested therein being faith alone; and that this is the perfect
obedience or righteousness of Christ imputed unto us: in these
things, as they shall be afterwards distinctly explained, is
contained the whole of that truth whose explanation and confirmation
is the design of the ensuing discourse. And because those by whom
this doctrine in the substance of it is of late impugned, derive
more from the Socinians than the Papists, and make a nearer approach
unto their principles, I shall chiefly insist on the examination of
those original authors by whom their notions were first coined, and
whose weapons they make use of in their defense.

Eighthly, Influence of the doctrine of justification into the first
Reformation--Advantages unto the world by that Reformation--State of
the consciences of men under the Papacy, with respect unto
justification before God--Alterations made therein by the light of
this doctrine, though not received--Alterations in the Pagan
unbelieving world by the introduction of Christianity--Design and
success of the first reformers herein--Attempts for reconciliation
with the Papists in this doctrine, and their success--Remainders of
the ignorance of the truth in the Roman church--Unavoidable
consequences of the corruption of this doctrine

     Eighthly. To close these previous discourses, it is worthy our
consideration what weight was laid on this doctrine of justification
at the first Reformation and what influence it had into the whole
work thereof. However the minds of men may be changed as unto sundry
doctrines of faith among us, yet none can justly own the name of
Protestant, but he must highly value the first Reformation: and they
cannot well do otherwise whose present even temporal advantages are
resolved thereinto. However, I intend none but such as own an
especial presence and guidance of God with them who were eminently
and successfully employed therein. Such persons cannot but grant
that their faith in this matter, and the concurrence of their
thoughts about its importance, are worthy consideration.
     Now it is known that the doctrine of justification gave the first
occasion to the whole work of reformation, and was the main thing
whereon it turned. This those mentioned declared to be "Articulus
stantis aut cadentis eccleseae", and that the vindication thereof
alone deserved all the pains that were taken in the whole endeavor
of reformation. But things are now, and that by virtue of their
doctrine herein, much changed in the world, though it be not so
understood or acknowledged. In general, no small benefit redounded
unto the world by the Reformation, even among them by whom it was
not, nor is received, though many bluster with contrary pretensions:
for all the evils which have accidentally ensued thereon, arising
most of them from the corrupt passions and interests of them by whom
it has been opposed, are usually ascribed unto it; and all the
light, liberty, and benefit of the minds of men which it has

introduced, are ascribed unto other causes. But this may be signally
observed with respect unto the doctrine of justification, with the
causes and effects of its discovery and vindication. For the first
reformers found their own, and the consciences of other men, so
immersed in darkness, so pressed and harassed with fears, terrors,
and disquietments under the power of it, and so destitute of any
steady guidance into the ways of peace with God, as that with all
diligence (like persons sensible that herein their spiritual and
eternal interest was concerned) they made their inquiries after the
truth in this matter; which they knew must be the only means of
their deliverance. All men in those days were either kept in bondage
under endless fears and anxieties of mind upon the convictions of
sin, or sent for relief unto indulgences, priestly pardons,
penances, pilgrimages, works satisfactory of their own, and
supererogatory of others, or kept under chains of darkness for
purgatory unto the last day. Now, he is no way able to compare
things past and present, who sees not how great an alteration is
made in these things even in the papal church. For before the
Reformation, whereby the light of the gospel, especially in this
doctrine of justification, was diffused among men, and shone even
into their minds who never comprehended nor received it, the whole
almost of religion among them was taken up with, and confined unto,
these things. And to instigate men unto an abounding sedulity in the
observation of them, their minds were stuffed with traditions and
stories of visions, apparitions, frightful spirits, and other
imaginations that poor mortals are apt to be amazed withal, and
which their restless disquitments gave countenance unto.
     "Somnia, terrores magici, miracula, sagae
     Nocturni lemures, portentaque Thessala,"--[Hor., Ep.2,2,209.]
were the principal objects of their creed, and matter of their
religious conversation. That very church itself comparatively at
ease from these things unto what it was before the Reformation;
though so much of them is still retained as to blind the eyes of men
from discerning the necessity as well as the truth of the
evangelical doctrine of justification.
     It is fallen out herein not much otherwise than it did at the
first entrance of Christianity into the world. For there was an
emanation of light and truth from the gospel which affected the
minds of men, by whom yet the whole of it, in its general design,
was opposed and persecuted. For from thence the very vulgar sort of
men became to have better apprehensions and notions of God and his
properties, or the original and rule of the universe, than they had
arrived unto in the midnight of their paganism. And a sort of
learned speculative men there were, who, by virtue of that light of
truth which sprung from the gospel, and was now diffused into the
minds of men, reformed and improved the old philosophy, discarding
many of those falsehoods and impertinencies wherewith it had been
encumbered. But when this was done, they still maintained their
cause on the old principles of the philosophers. And, indeed, their
opposition unto the gospel was far more plausible and pleadable than
it was before. For after they had discarded the gross conceptions of
the common sort about the divine nature and rule, and had blended
the light of truth which brake forth in Christian religion with
their own philosophical notions, they made a vigorous attempt for
the reinforcement of heathenism against the main design of the
gospel. And things have not, as I said, fallen out much otherwise in
the Reformation. For as by the light of truth which therein brake
forth, the consciences of even the vulgar sort are in some measure
freed from those childish affrightments which they were before in
bondage unto; so those who are learned have been enabled to reduce
the opinions and practices of their church into a more defensible
posture, and make their opposition unto the truths of the gospel
more plausible than they formerly were. Yea, that doctrine which, in
the way of its teaching and practice among them, as also in its
effects on the consciences of men, was so horrid as to drive
innumerable persons from their communion in that and other things
also, is now, in the new representation of it, with the artificial
covering provided for its former effects in practice, thought an
argument meet to be pleaded for a return unto its entire communion.
     But to root the superstitions mentioned out of the minds of men,
to communicate unto them the knowledge of the righteousness of God,
which is revealed from faith to faith, and thereby to deliver them
from their bondage, fears, and distress, directing convinced sinners
unto the only way of solid peace with God, did the first reformers
labour so diligently in the declaration and vindication of the
evangelical doctrine of justification; and God was with them. And it
is worth our consideration, whether we should, on every cavil and
sophism of men not so taught, not so employed, not so tried, not so
owned of God as they were, and in whose writings there are not
appearing such characters of wisdom, sound judgment, and deep
experience, as in theirs, easily part with that doctrine of truth
wherein alone they found peace unto their own souls, and whereby
they were instrumental to give liberty and peace with God unto the
souls and consciences of others innumerable, accompanied with the
visible effects of holiness of life, and fruitfulness in the works
of righteousness, unto the praise of God by Jesus Christ.
     In my judgment, Luther spake the truth when he said, "Amisso
articulo justificationis, simul amissa est tota doctrina
Christiana". And I wish he had not been a true prophet, when he
foretold that in the following ages the doctrine thereof would be
again obscured; the causes whereof I have elsewhere inquired into.
     Some late writers, indeed, among the Protestants have endeavoured
to reduce the controversy about justification with the Papist unto
an appearance of a far less real difference than is usually judged
to be in it. And a good work it is, no doubt, to pare off all
unnecessary occasions of debate and differences in religion,
provided we go not so near the quick as to let out any of its vital
spirits. The way taken herein is, to proceed upon some concessions

(continued in part 8...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: ownjs-07.txt