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Justification is an act of God's free grace, whereby he clears his people from sin, discharges them from condemnation, and reckons and accounts them righteous for the sake of Christ's righteousness, which he has accepted of, and imputes to them.
Some very excellent divines have distinguished justification into active and passive. Active justification is God's act-it is God that justifieth: passive justification is the same act, terminating on the conscience of the believer: active justification is strictly and properly justification; passive justification is improperly so: active justification precedes faith; passive justification is by faith.
Dr. Gill's Sermons. Justification is a man's being interested in all Christ's righteousness, And if any thing is to be longed for, sure that is, to be interested in all Christ's righteousness. Dr. Lightfoot.
Since you insist upon a similitude, the word of God, which always speaks with consummate propriety, will furnish us with one. Zechariah illustrates the doctrine of justification. He represents the sinner by a person arrayed in filthy garments. His pardon is described by taking away the sordid apparel; by which benefit he ceases to be defiled; yet is he not hereby clothed; yet is he not hereby justified. This is an additional blessing, signified by put ting on change of raiment, (chap. iii. 3-5.) and wearing beautiful robes. Here the circumstances tally. The two constituent parts of justification are severally displayed and strongly marked. Here we have the removal of filth and the accession of beauty; that which frees us from being abhorred, and that which renders us ac cepted; which, though distinguishable in themselves, and distinguished by the sacred writer, are always united in the divine doua
After all, I readily acknowledge that the clemency of an earthly sovereign, the proceedings of an earthly tribunal, or the generosity of an earthly benefactor, are but partial and inadequate representations of this wonderful affair; because, in the case of justifying a sinner, all is absolutely free, yet all is strictly due with regard to the merits of Christ. Hervey's Dialogues.
Let us see what cause of support and encouragement faith may fetch from Christ's death for justification; and surely that which hath long ago satisfied God for the sins of many thousands now in heaven, may very well serve to satisfy the heart and conscience of any sinner now upon earth, in any doubts in respect of the guilt of sin that can arise.
The apostle, after that large discourse of justification by Christ's righteousness, in the former part of the epistle to the Romans, and having showed how every way it abounds, sits down, as it were, like a man over-convinced. "What, then, shall we say to these things?" He speaks as one satisfied, and even astonished, with abundance of evidence, having nothing to say, but only to admire God and Christ in this work; and therefore presently throws down the gauntlet, and challengeth a dispute with all comers. Let con science, carnal reason, law, sin, hell, and devils, bring all their strength.
"Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? Who shall condemn ?" Paul dares to answer them all, and carries it with these few words-" It is God that justifieth: it is Christ that died." Dr. Goodwin. Whensoever thou hast to do in the matter of justification, and disputest with thyself how God is to be found that justifieth and accepteth sinners, where and in what sort he is to be sought: then know thou, that there is no other God but the man Christ Jesus. Embrace him, and cleave to him with thy whole heart; setting aside all curious speculations of the Divine Majesty. For he that is a searcher of God's majesty shall be overwhelmed of his glory. I know, by experience what I say. Christ himself saith, “ I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John xiv. 6. Therefore, besides this way, Christ, thou shalt find no other way to the Father, but wandering; no truth, but bypocrisy; no life, but eternal death. Wherefore, mark this well, in the matter of justification, that when any of us shall have to wrestle with the law, sin, death, and all other evils, we must look upon no other God, but only this God, incarnate and clothed with Luther.
Though we are not justified by any works of our own, but only on account of the perfect righteousness and full satisfaction of Christ; yet, without our own inherent righteousness we can have no evidence of our own justification, nor well-grounded hope of salvation. However we exclude works from the act of justifying, yet we necessarily require them in the person justified: whilst we disclaim a righteousness of works, we establish the works of rightDr. Gouge.
The scheme of salvation through Jesus Christ supposes that all are sinners, exposed to condemnation, and unable to make satisfaction for their offences, or merit the divine favour, by any thing they can do or suffer; and represents the Lord Jesus as substituting himself in the place of the guilty, bearing the punishment due to their sin, and obeying the law of God in their stead; and it represents our injured Sovereign as willing to be reconciled to his guilty creatures on this account; but then, in order to enjoy the blessings of righteousness, they must, as guilty, helpless sinners, place their whole dependance upon it, and plead it as the only ground of their justification; and though they must abound in good works, yet they must not make them in the least the ground of their hopes of their pardon and acceptance. This is the substance of the testimony of God in the gospel.
If you have believed with a justifying faith, you have yielded a full assent to this testimony; you are thoroughly convinced and deeply sensible that these things are true, and you can cheerfully venture your eternal all upon the truth of them; you are convinced that this Jesus is indeed the only Saviour, that his righteousness is alone sufficient, aud to the entire exclusion of every other righteousness in point of justification. President Davis.
The justification of a sinner under the gospel consists in the following things: pardoning his sins, acquitting him from the pu nishment which they deserved, and entitling him to the rewards or blessings due by the law to perfect obedience. Dr. Dwight The plain scriptural notion of justification is, pardon, the forgiveness of sins. It is that act of God the Father, whereby, for
the sake of the propitiation made by the blood of his Son, he “showeth forth his righteousness (or mercy) by the remission of sins that are past." This is the easy, natural account of it given by St. Paul, throughout this whole Epistle [to the Romans]. So he explains it himself, in this, and in the following chapters, iii. iv. Thus, in the next verses but one to the text, "Blessed are they," saith he“ whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered : blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." To him that is justified or forgiven, God "will not impute sin" to his condemnation. He will not condemn him on that account, either in
this world, or in that which is to come. His sins, all his past sins, in thought, word, and deed, are covered, are blotted out, shall not be remembered or mentioned against him, any more than if they had not been. God will not inflict on that sinner what he deserved to suffer, because the Son of his love hath suffered for him. And from the time we are "accepted through the Beloved," "reconciled to God through his blood," he loves, and blesses, and watches over us for good, even as if we had never sinned.
Justification is another word for Pardon. It is the forgiveness of all our sins; and what is necessarily implied therein, our acceptance with God. The price whereby this faith hath been procured for us (commonly termed the meritorious cause of our justification), is the blood and righteousness of Christ; or, to express it a little more clearly, all that Christ hath done and suffered for us, till he "poured out his soul for the transgressors." The immediate 66 of God, a peace peace that passeth all understanding,” and a " rejoicing in hope of the glory of God, with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
effects of justification are, the
Wesley's Sermons, vol. i. p. 51 & 544. Antiquarians set such an inestimable value on uniques, i. e. on such curiosities of which there is but one of a sort in the world. Justification is in the number of the believer's uniques. There is but one justification (properly so called) in the whole universe; and it equally belongs, through grace, to all the children of God; and the Christian wishes to be viewing it every moment. Toplady.
The souls of the elect were saved upon trust for four thousand years. The Father gave credit to Christ, and glorified bis saints on the footing of a sacrifice not then offered up, and of a righteousness not then wrought. Christ, also, in the days of his flesh, went ou credit with his Father every time he said to a sinner, Thy sins are forgiven, previous to his offering himself on the cross. Ryland.
The word "to justify" doth not in this place signify to make just, by infusing a perfect righteousness into our natures; (that comes under the head of sanctification, begun here in this life, which, being finished, is glorification in heaven ;) but here the word signi fieth-to pronounce just, to quit and discharge from guilt and pu nishment; and so it is a judicial sentence opposed to condemnation; Rom. viii. 34, 35. "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is be that condemueth?" Now as to condemn is not the putting any evil into the nature of the party condemued, but the pronouncing of his person guilty, and the binding him over unto punishment; so justifying is the judge's pronouncing the law to be satisfied, and the man discharged and quitted from guilt and judgment. Thus God, imputing the righteousness of Christ to a sinner, doth not account his sins unto him, but puts him in a state of as full and perfect freedom and acceptance, as if he had never sinned, or had himself fully satisfied. Archbp. Usher's Body of Divinity 1650.
Justification is a judicial act of God, but free, whereby an elect believing sinner is absolved from the guilt of his sins, and a right adjudged to him of eternal life, for and because of the obedience of Christ received by faith.
Justification by the free grace of God, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, was the doctrine taught among Christians in the earliest and purest ages of the Church. And their departure from it was the prelude to that universal corruption of faith and worship, that relaxation of discipline, and dissolution of manners, which took place in the ages following. It is also very remarkable, that this doctrine was always fully and distinctly taught in those churches which never submitted to the tyranny, or received the corruptions