(Owen, Justification. part 11)

unto him that believes. In the first sense, especial mercy is the
object of faith as justifying; for no more is intended by it but the
grace of God setting forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith
in his blood, Rom.3:23,24. And faith in this especial mercy is that
which the apostle calls our "receiving of the atonement," Rom.5:11;-
-that is, our approbation of it, and adherence unto it, as the great
effect of divine wisdom, goodness, faithfulness, love, and grace;
which will, therefore, never fail to them who put their trust in it.
In the latter sense, it is looked on as the pardon of our own sins
in particular, the especial mercy of God unto our souls. That this
is the object of justifying faith, that a man is bound to believe
this in order of nature antecedent unto his justification, I do
deny; neither yet do I know of any testimony or safe experience
whereby it may be confirmed. But yet, for any to deny that an
undeceiving belief hereof is to be attained in this life, or that it
is our duty to believe the pardon of our own sins and the especial
love of God in Christ, in the order and method of our duty and
privileges, limited and determined in the gospel, so as to come to
the full assurance of them (though I will not deny but that peace
with God, which is inseparable from justification, may be without
them); [is to] seem not to be much acquainted with the design of God
in the gospel, the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ, the nature
and work of faith, or their own duty, nor the professed experience
of believers recorded in the Scripture. See Rom.5:1-5;
Heb.10:2,10,19-22; Ps.46:1,2; 138:7,8; etc. Yet it is granted that
all these things are rather fruits or effects of faith, as under
exercise and improvement, than of the essence of it, as it is the
instrument in our justification.
     And the trust before mentioned, which is either essential to
justifying faith, or inseparable from its is excellently expressed
by Bernard, Dom. 6 post Pentec., Ser. 3, "Tria considero in quibus
tota spes mea consistit, charitatem adoptionis, veritatem
promissionis, potestatem redditionis. Murmuret jam quantum voluerit
insipiens cogitatio mea, dicens: Quis enim es tu, et quanta est illa
gloria, quibusve meritis hanc obtinere speras? Et ego fiducialiter
respondebo: Scio cui credidi, missione, quia potens in exhibitione:
licet enim ei facere quod voluerit. Hic est funiculus triplex qui
difficile rumpitur, quem nobis a patria nostra in hunc carcerem
usque dimissum firmiter, obsecro, teneamus: ut ipse nos sublevet,
ipse nos trahat et pertrahat usque ad conspectum gloriae magni Dei:
qui est benedictus in saecula. Amen".
     Concerning this faith and trust, it is earnestly pleaded by many
that obedience is included in it; but as to the way and manner
thereof, they variously express themselves. Socinus, and those who
follow him absolutely, do make obedience to be the essential form of
faith; which is denied by Episcopius. The Papists distinguish
between faith in-formed and faith formed by charity: which comes to
the same purpose, for both are built on this supposition,--that
there may be true evangelical faith (that which is required as our
duty, and consequently is accepted of God, that may contain all in
it which is comprised in the name and duty of faith) that may be
without charity or obedience, and so be useless; for the Socinians
do not make obedience to be the essence of faith absolutely, but as
it justifies. And so they plead unto this purpose, that "faith
without works is dead". But to suppose that a dead faith, or that
faith which is dead, it that faith which is required of us in the
gospel in the way of duty, is a monstrous imagination. Others plead
for obedience, charity, the love of God, to be included in the
nature of faith; but plead not directly that this obedience is the
form of faith, but that which belongs unto the perfection of it, as
it is justifying. Neither yet do they say that by this obedience, a
continued course of works and obedience, as though that were
necessary unto our first justification, is required; but only a
sincere active purpose of obedience: and thereon, as the manner of
our days is, load them with reproaches who are otherwise minded, if
they knew who they were. For how impossible it is, according unto
their principles who believe justification by faith alone, that
justifying faith should be without a sincere purpose of heart to
obey God in all things, I shall briefly declare. For, First, They
believe that faith is "not of ourselves, it is the gift of God";
yea, that it is a grace wrought in the hearts of men by the
exceeding greatness of his power. And to suppose such a grace dead,
inactive, unfruitful, not operative unto the great end of the glory
of God, and the transforming of the souls of them that receive it
into his image, is a reflection on the wisdom, goodness, and love of
God himself. Secondly, That this grace is in them a principle of
spiritual life, which in the habit of it, as resident in the heart,
is not really distinguished from that of all other grace whereby we
live to God. So, that there should be faith habitually in the heart,-
-I mean that evangelical faith we inquire after,--or actually
exercised, where there is not a habit of all other graces, is
utterly impossible. Neither is it possible that there should be any
exercise of this faith unto justification, but where the mind is
prepared, disposed, and determined unto universal obedience. And
therefore, Thirdly, It is denied that any faith, trust, or
confidence, which may be imagined, so as to be absolutely separable
from, and have its whole nature consistent with, the absence of all
other graces, is that faith which is the especial gift of God, and
which in the gospel is required of us in a way of duty. And whereas
some have said, that "men may believe, and place their firm trust in
Christ for life and salvation, and yet not be justified;"--it is a
position so destructive unto the gospel, and so full of scandal unto
all pious souls, and contains such an express denial of the record
that God has given concerning his Son Jesus Christ, as I wonder that
any person of sobriety and learning should be surprised into it. And
whereas they plead the experience of multitudes who profess this
firm faith and confidence in Christ, and yet are not justified,--it
is true, indeed, but nothing unto their purpose; for whatever they
profess, not only not one of them does so in the sight and judgment
of God, where this matter is to be tried, but it is no difficult
matter to evict them of the folly and falseness of this profession,
by the light and rule of the gospel, even in their own consciences,
if they would attend unto instruction.
     Wherefore we say, the faith whereby we are justified, is such as
is not found in any but those who are made-partakers of the Holy
Ghost, and by him united unto Christ, whose nature is renewed, and
in whom there is a principle of all grace, and purpose of obedience.
Only we say, it is not any other grace, as charity and the like, nor
any obedience, that gives life and form unto this faith; but it is
this faith that gives life and efficacy unto all other graces, and
form unto all evangelical obedience. Neither does any thing hence
accrue unto our adversaries, who would have all those graces which
are, in their root and principle, at least, present in all that are
to be justified, to have the same influence unto our justification
as faith has: or that we are said to be justified by faith alone;
and in explication of it, in answer unto the reproaches of the
Romanists, do say we are justified by faith alone, but not by that
faith which is alone; that we intend by faith all other graces and
obedience also. For besides that, the nature of no other grace is
capable of that office which is assigned unto faith in our
justification, nor can be assumed into a society in operation with
it,--namely, to receive Christ, and the promises of life by him, and
to give glory unto God on their account; so when they can give us
any testimony of Scripture assigning our justification unto any
other grace, or all graces together, or all the fruits of them, so
as it is assigned unto faith, they shall be attended unto.
     And this, in particular, is to be affirmed of repentance;
concerning which it is most vehemently urged, that it is of the same
necessity unto our justification as faith is. For this they say is
easily proved, from testimonies of Scripture innumerable, which call
all men to repentance that will be saved; especially those two
eminent places are insisted on, Acts 2:38,39; 3:19. But that which
they have to prove, is not that it is of the same necessity with
faith unto them that are to be justified, but that it is of the same
use with faith in their justification. Baptism in that place of the
apostle, Acts 2:38,39, is joined with faith no less than repentance;
and in other places it is expressly put into the same condition.
Hence, most of the ancients concluded that it was no less necessary
unto salvation than faith or repentance itself. Yet never did any of
them assign it the same use in justification with faith But it is
pleaded, whatever is a necessary condition of the new covenant, is
also a necessary condition of justification; for otherwise a man
might be justified, and continuing in his justified estate, not be
saved, for want of that necessary condition: for by a necessary
condition of the new covenant, they understand that without which a
man cannot be saved. But of this nature is repentance as well as
faith, and so is equally a condition of our justification. The
ambiguity of the signification of the word "condition" does cast
much disorder on the present inquiry, in the discourses of some men.
But to pass it by at present, I say, final perseverance is a
necessary condition of the new covenant; wherefore, by this rule, it
is also of justification. They say, some things are conditions
absolutely; such as are faith and repentance, and a purpose of
obedience: some are so on some supposition only,--namely, that a
man's life be continued in this world; such is a course in obedience
and good works, and perseverance unto the end. Wherefore I so
position that a man lives in this world, perseverance unto the end
is a necessary condition of his justification. And if so, no
justified whilst he is in this world; for a condition does suspend
that whereof it is a condition from existence until it be
accomplished. It is, then, to no purpose to dispute any longer about
justification, if indeed no man is, nor can be, justified in this
life. But how contrary this is to Scripture and experience is known.
     If it be said, that final perseverance, which is so express a
condition of salvation in the new covenant, is not indeed the
condition of our first justification, but it is the condition of the
continuation of our justification; then they yield up their grand
position, that whatever is a necessary condition of the new covenant
is a necessary condition of justification: for it is that which they
call the first justification alone which we treat about. And that
the continuation of our justification depends solely on the same
causes with our justification itself, shall be afterwards declared.
But it is not yet proved, nor ever will be, that whatever is
required in them that are to be justified, is a condition whereon
their justification is immediately suspended. We allow that alone to
be a condition of justification which has an influence of causality
thereunto, though it be but the causality of an instrument. This we
ascribe unto faith alone. And because we do so, it is pleaded that
we ascribe more in our justification unto ourselves than they do by
whom we are opposed. For we ascribe the efficiency of an instrument
herein unto our own faith, when they say one that it is a condition,
or "causa sine qua non," of our justification. But I judge that
grave and wise men ought not to give so much to the defense of the
cause they have undertaken, seeing they cannot but know indeed the
contrary. For after they have given the specious name of a
condition, and a "causa sine qua non," unto faith, they immediately
take all other graces and works of obedience into the same state
with it, and the same use in justification; and after this seeming
gold has been cast for a while into the fire of disputation, there
comes out the calf of a personal, inherent righteousness, whereby
men are justified before God, "virtute foederis evangelici;" for as
for the righteousness of Christ to be imputed unto us, it is gone
into heaven, and they know not what is become of it.
     Having given this brief declaration of the nature of justifying
faith, and the acts of it (as I suppose, sufficient unto my present
design), I shall not trouble myself to give an accurate definition
of it. What are my thoughts concerning it, will be better understood
by what has been spoken, than by any precise definition I can give.
And the truth is, definitions of justifying faith have been so
multiplied by learned men, and in so great variety, and [there is]
such a manifest inconsistency among some of them, that they have
been of no advantage unto the truth, but occasions of new
controversies and divisions, whilst every one has laboured to defend
the accuracy of his own definition, when yet it may be difficult for
a true believer to find any thing compliant with his own experience
in them; which kind of definitions in these things I have no esteem
for. I know no man that has laboured in this argument about the
nature of faith more than Dr Jackson; yet, when he has done all, he
gives us a definition of justifying faith which I know few that will
subscribe unto: yet is it, in the main scope of it, both pious and
sound. For he tells us, "Here at length, we may define the faith by
which the just live, to be a firm and constant adherence unto the
mercies and the loving-kindness of Lord; or, generally, unto the
spiritual food exhibited in his sacred word, as much better than
this life itself, and all the contentments it is capable of;
grounded on a taste or relish of their sweetness, wrought in the
soul or heart of a man by the Spirit of Christ". Whereunto he adds,
"The terms for the most part are the prophet David's; not
metaphorical, as some may fancy, much less equivocal, but proper and
homogeneal to the subject defined," tom. 1 book 4 chap.9. For the
lively scriptural expressions of faith, by receiving on Christ,
leaning on him, rolling ourselves or our burden on him, tasting how
gracious the Lord is, and the like, which of late have been
reproached, yea, blasphemed, by many, I may have occasion to speak
of them afterwards; as also to manifest that they convey a better
understanding of the nature, work, and object of justifying faith,
unto the minds of men spiritually enlightened, than the most
accurate definitions that many pretend unto; some whereof are
destructive and exclusive of them all.

III. The use of faith in justification; its especial object farther

Use of faith in justification; various conceptions about it--By whom
asserted as the instrument of it; by whom denied--In what sense it
is affirmed so to be--The expressions of the Scripture concerning
the use of faith in justification; what they are, and how they are
best explained by an instrumental cause--Faith, how the instrument
of God in justification--How the instrument of them that do believe-
-The use of faith expressed in the Scripture by apprehending,
receiving; declared by an instrument--Faith, in what sense the
condition of our justification--Signification of that term, whence
to be learned

The description before given of justifying faith does sufficiently
manifest of what use it is in justification; nor shall I in general
add much unto what may be thence observed unto that purpose. But
whereas this use of it has been expressed with some variety, and
several ways of it asserted inconsistent with one another, they must
be considered in our passage. And I shall do it with all brevity
possible; for these things lead not in any part of the controversy
about the nature of justification, but are merely subservient unto
other conceptions concerning it. When men have fixed their
apprehensions about the principal matters in controversy, they
express what concerns the use of faith in an accommodation
thereunto. Supposing such to be the nature of justification as they
assert, it must be granted that the use of faith therein must be
what they plead for. And if what is peculiar unto any in the
substance of the doctrine be disproved, they cannot deny but that
their notions about the use of faith do fall unto the ground. Thus
is it with all who affirm faith to be either the instrument, or the
condition, or the "causa sine qua non," or the preparation and
disposition of the subject, or a meritorious cause, by way of
condecency or congruity, in and of our justification. For all these
notions of the use of faith are suited and accommodated unto the
opinions of men concerning the nature and principal causes of
justification. Neither can any trial or determination be made as
unto their truth and propriety, but upon a previous judgment
concerning those causes, and the whole nature of justification
itself. Whereas, therefore, it were vain and endless to plead the
principal matter in controversy upon every thing that occasionally
belongs unto it,--and so by the title unto the whole inheritance of
every cottage that is built on the premises,--I shall briefly speak
unto these various conceptions about the use of faith in our
justification, rather to find out and give an understanding of what
is intended by them, than to argue about their truth and propriety,
which depend on that wherein the substance of the controversy does
     Protestant divines, until of late, have unanimously affirmed faith
to be the instrumental cause of our justification. So it is
expressed to be in many of the public confessions of their churches.
This notion of theirs concerning the nature and use of faith was
from the first opposed by those of the Roman church. Afterward it
was denied also by the Socinians, as either false or improper.
Socin. Miscellan. Smalcius adv. Frantz. disput. 4; Schlichting.
adver. Meisner. de Justificat. And of late this expression is
disliked by some among ourselves; wherein they follow Episcopius,
Curcellaeus, and others of that way. Those who are sober and
moderate do rather decline this notion and expression as improper,
than reject them as untrue. And our safest course, in these cases,
is to consider what is the thing or matter intended. If that be
agreed upon, he deserves best of truth who parts with strife about
propriety of expressions, before it be meddled with. Tenacious
pleading about them will surely render our contentions endless; and
none will ever want an appearance of probability to give them
countenance in what they pretend. If our design in teaching be the
same with that of the Scripture,--namely, to inform the minds of
believers, and convey the light of the knowledge of God in Christ
unto them, we must be contented sometimes to make use of such
expressions as will scarce pass the ordeal of arbitrary rules and
distinctions, through the whole compass of notional and artificial
sciences. And those who, without more ado, reject the
instrumentality of faith in our justification, as an unscriptural
notion, as though it were easy for them with one breath to blow away
the reasons and arguments of so many learned men as have pleaded for
it, may not, I think, do amiss to review the grounds of their
confidence. For the question being only concerning what is intended
by it, it is not enough that the term or word itself, of an
instrument, is not found unto this purpose in the Scripture; for on
the same ground we may reject a trinity of persons in the divine
essence, without an acknowledgment whereof, not one line of the
Scripture can be rightly understood.
     Those who assert faith to be as the instrumental cause in our
justification, do it with respect unto two ends. For, first, they
design thereby to declare the meaning of those expressions in the
Scripture wherein we are said to be justified "pistei", absolutely;
which must denote, either "instrumentum, aut formam, aut modum
actionis". "Logidzometha oun pistei kikaiousthai anthroopon",
Rom.3:28;--"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith."
So, "Dia pisteoos", verse 22; "Ek pisteoos", Rom.1:17; Gal.3:8; "Dia
tes pisteoos", Eph.2:8; "Ek pisteoos, kai dia tes pisteoos",
Rom.3:30;--that is "Fide, ex fide, per fidem"; which we can express
only, by faith, or through faith. "Propter fidem", or "dia pistin",
for our faith, we are nowhere said to be justified. The inquiry is,
What is the most proper, lightsome, and convenient way of declaring
the meaning of these expressions? This the generality of Protestants
do judge to be by an instrumental cause: for some kind of causality
they do plainly intimate, whereof the lowest and meanest is that
which is instrumental; for they are used of faith in our
justification before God, and of no other grace of duty whatever.
Wherefore, the proper work or office of faith in our justification
is intended by them. And "dia" is nowhere used in the whole New
Testament with a genitive case (nor in any other good author), but
it denotes an instrumental efficiency at least. In the divine works
of the holy Trinity, the operation of the second person, who is in
them a principal efficient, yet is sometimes expressed thereby; it
may be to denote the order of operation in the holy Trinity
answering the order of subsistence, though it be applied unto God
absolutely or the Father: Rom.11:36, "Di autou"--"By him are all
things". Again, "ex ergoon vomou" and "ex akoes pisteoos" are
directly opposed, Gal.3:2. But when it is said that a man is not
justified "ex ergoon nomou",--"by the works of the law,"--it is
acknowledged by all that the meaning of the expression is to exclude
all efficiency, in every kind of such works, from our justification.
Is follows, therefore, that where, in opposition hereunto, we are
said to be justified "ek pisteoos",--"by faith,"--an instrumental
efficiency is intended. Yet will I not, therefore, make it my
controversy with any, that faith is properly an instrument, or the
instrumental cause in or of our justification; and so divert into an
impertinent contest about the nature and kinds of instruments and
instrumental causes, as they are metaphysically hunted with a
confused cry of futilous terms and distinctions. But this I judge,
that among all those notions of things which may be taken from
common use and understanding, to represent unto our minds the
meaning and intention of the scriptural expressions so often used,
"pistei, ek pisteoos, dia pisteoos", there is none so proper as this
of an instrument or instrumental cause, seeing a causality is
included in them, and that of any other kind certainly excluded; nor
has it any of its own.
     But it may be said, that if faith be the instrumental cause of
justification, it is either the instrument of God, or the instrument
of believers themselves. That it is not the instrument of God is
plain, in that it is a duty which he prescribes unto us: it is an
act of our own; and it is we that believe, not God; nor can any act
of ours be the instrument of his work. And if it be our instrument,
seeing an efficiency is ascribed unto it, then are we the efficient
causes of our own justification in some sense, and may be said to
justify ourselves; which is derogatory to the grace of God and the
blood of Christ.
     I confess that I lay not much weight on exceptions of this nature.
For, First, Notwithstanding what is said herein, the Scripture is
express, that "God justifieth us by faith." "It is one God which
shall justify the circumcision no "ek pisteoos", (by faith,) "and
the uncircumcision "dia tes pisteoos", (through or by faith),
Rom.3:30. "The Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the
heathen through faith," Gal.3:8. As he "purifieth the hearts of men
by faith," Acts 15:9, wherefore faith, in some sense, may be said to
be the instrument of God in our justification, both as it is the
means and way ordained and appointed by him on our part whereby we
shall be justified; as also, because he bestows it on us, and works
it in us unto this end, that we may be justified: for "by grace we
are saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift
of God," Eph.2:8. If any one shall now say, that on these accounts,
or with respect unto divine ordination and operation concurring unto
our justification, faith is the instrument of God, in its place and
way, (as the gospel also is, Rom.1:16; and the ministers of it, 2
Cor.5:18; 1 Tim.4:6; and the sacraments also, Rom.4:11; Tit.3:5, in
their several places and kinds), unto our justification, it may be
he will contribute unto a right conception of the work of God
herein, as much as those shall by whom it is denied.
     But that which is principally intended is, that it is the
instrument of them that do believe. Neither yet are they said hereon
to justify themselves. For whereas it does neither really produce
the effect of justification by a physical operation, nor can do so,
it being a pure sovereign act of God; nor is morally any way
meritorious thereof; nor does dispose the subject wherein it is unto
the introduction of an inherent formal cause of justification, there
being no such thing in "rerum natura"; nor has any other physical or
moral respect unto the effect of justifications but what arises
merely from the constitution and appointment of God; there is no
colour of reason, from the instrumentality of faith asserted, to
ascribe the effect of justification unto any but unto the principal
efficient cause, which is God alone, and from whom it proceeds in a
way of free and sovereign grace, disposing the order of things and
the relation of them one unto another as seems good unto him.
"Dikaioumenoi doorean tei autou chariti", Rom.3:24; "Dia tes
pisteoos en tooi autou haimati", verse 25. It is, therefore, the
ordinance of God prescribing our duty, that we may be justified
freely by his grace, having its use and operation towards that end,
after the manner of an instrument; as we shall see farther
immediately. Wherefore, so far as I can discern, they contribute
nothing unto the real understanding of this truth, who deny faith to
be the instrumental cause of our justification; and, on other
grounds, assert it to be the condition thereof, unless they can
prove this is a more natural exposition of these expressions,
"pistei, ek pisteoos, dia tes pisteoos", which is the first thing to
be inquired after. For all that we do in this matter is but to
endeavour a right understanding of Scripture propositions and
expressions, unless we intend to wander "extra pleas," and lose
ourselves in a maze of uncertain conjectures.
     Secondly. They designed to declare the use of faith in
justification, expressed in the Scripture by apprehending and
receiving of Christ or his righteousness, and remission of sins
thereby. The words whereby this use of faith in our justification is
expressed, are, "lamthanoo, paralamthanoo", and "katalamthanoo". And
the constant use of them in the Scripture is, to take or receive
what is offered, tendered, given or granted unto us; or to apprehend
and lay hold of any thing thereby to make it our own: as
"epilamthanomai" is also used in the same sense, Heb.2:16. So we are
said by faith to "receive Christ", John 1:12; Col.2:6;--the
"abundance of grace, and the gift of righteousness", Rom.5:17;--the
"word of promise," Acts 2:41;--the "word of God," Acts 8:14; 1
Thess.1:6; 2:13;--the "atonement made by the blood of Christ,"
Rom.5:11;--the "forgiveness of sins", Acts 10:43; 26:18;--the
"promise of the Spirit," Gal.3:14;--the "promises", Heb.9:15. There
is, therefore, nothing that concurs unto our justification, but we
receive it by faith. And unbelief is expressed by "not receiving,"
John 1:11; 3:11; 12:48; 14:17. Wherefore, the object of faith in our
justification, that whereby we are justified, is tendered, granted,
and given unto us of God; the use of faith being to lay hold upon
it, to receive it, so as that it may be our own. What we receive of
outward things that are so given unto us, we do it by our hand;
which, therefore, is the instrument of that reception, that whereby
we apprehend or lay hold of any thing to appropriate it unto
ourselves, and that, because this is the peculiar office which, by
nature, it is assigned unto among all the members of the body. Other
uses it has, and other members, on other accounts, may be as useful
unto the body as it; but it alone is the instrument of receiving and
apprehending that which, being given, is to be made our own, and to
abide with us. Whereas, therefore, the righteousness wherewith we
are justified is the gift of God, which is tendered unto us in the
promise of the gospel; the use and office of faith being to receive,
apprehend, or lay hold of and appropriate, this righteousness, I
know not how it can be better expressed than by an instrument, nor
by what notion of it more light of understanding may be conveyed
unto our minds. Some may suppose other notions are meet to express
it by on other accounts; and it may be so with respect unto other
uses of it: but the sole present inquiry is, how it shall be
declared, as that which receives Christ, the atonement, the gift of
righteousness; which shall prove its only use in our justification.
He that can better express this than by an instrument ordained of
God unto this end, all whose use depends on that ordination of God,
will deserve well of the truth. It is true, that all those who place
the formal cause or reason of our justification in ourselves, or our
inherent righteousness, and so, either directly or by just
consequence, deny all imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto
our justification, are not capable of admitting faith to be an
instrument in this work, nor are pressed with this consideration;
for they acknowledge not that we receive a righteousness which is
not our own, by way of gift, whereby we are justified, and so cannot
allow of any instrument whereby it should be received. The
righteousness itself being, as they phrase it, putative, imaginary,
a chimera, a fiction, it can have no real accidents,--nothing that
can be really predicated concerning it. Wherefore, as was said at
the entrance of this discourse, the truth and propriety of this
declaration of the use of faith in our justification by an
instrumental cause, depends on the substance of the doctrine itself
concerning the nature and principal causes of it, with which they
must stand or fall. If we are justified through the imputation of
the righteousness of Christ, which faith alone apprehends and
receives, it will not be denied but that it is rightly enough placed
as the instrumental cause of our justification. And if we are
justified by an inherent, evangelical righteousness of our own,
faith may be the condition of its imputation, or a disposition for
its introduction, or a congruous merit of it, but an instrument it
cannot be. But yet, for the present, it has this double advantage:--
First, That it best and most appositely answers what is affirmed of
the use of faith in our justification in the Scripture, as the
instances given do manifest. Secondly, That no other notion of it
can be so stated, but that it must be apprehended in order of time
to be previous unto justification; which justifying faith cannot be,
unless a man may be a true believer with justifying faith, and yet
not be justified.
     Some do plead that faith is the condition of our justification,
and that otherwise it is not to be conceived of. As I said before,
so I say again, I shall not contend with any man about words, terms,
or expressions, so long as what is intended by them is agreed upon.
And there is an obvious sense wherein faith may he called the
condition of our justification; for no more may be intended thereby,
but that it is the duty on our part which God requires, that we may
be justified. And this the whole Scripture bears witness unto. Yet
this hinders not but that, as unto its use, it may be the instrument
whereby we apprehend or receive Christ and his righteousness. But to
assert it the condition of our justification, or that we are
justified by it as the condition of the new covenant, so as, from a
preconceived signification of that word, to give it another use in
justification, exclusive of that pleaded for, as the instrumental
cause thereof, is not easily to be admitted; because it supposes an
alteration in the substance of the doctrine itself.
     The word is nowhere used in the Scripture in this matter; which I
argue no farther, but that we have no certain rule or standard to
try and measure its signification by. Wherefore, it cannot first be
introduced in what sense men please, and then that sense turned into
argument for other ends. For thus, on a supposed concession that it
is the condition of our justification, some heighten it into a
subordinate righteousness, imputed unto us antecedently, as I
suppose, unto the imputation of the righteousness of Christ in any
sense, whereof it is the condition. And some, who pretend to lessen
its efficiency or dignity in the use of it in our justification, say
it is only "causa sine qua non;" which leaves us at as great an
uncertainty as to the nature and efficacy of this condition as we
were before. Nor is the true sense of things at all illustrated, but
rather darkened, by such notions.
     If we may introduce words into religion nowhere used in the
Scripture (as we may and must, if we design to bring light, and
communicate proper apprehensions of the things contained [in it]
unto the minds of men), yet are we not to take along with them
arbitrary, preconceived senses, forged either among lawyers or in
the peripatetic school. The use of them in the most approved authors
of the language whereunto they do belong, and their common vulgar
acceptation among ourselves, must determine their sense and meaning.
It is known what confusion in the minds of men, the introduction of
words into ecclesiastical doctrines, of whose signification there
has not been a certain determinate rule agreed on, has produced. So
the word "merit" was introduced by some of the ancients (as is plain

(continued in part 12...)

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