Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

Christ, and justification, were subsequently very extensively adopted. The following is a specimen of his language : “Although the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of obedience cr of a perfect righteousness are united by an undivided connection, and from the former the latter can be rightly inferred, yet, it ought not to be confounded with it." *

The concluding sentence of the treatise above referred to is the following: “And thus far we have labored to illustrate the truth in relation to the forgiveness of sins. And we have proved, that when understood without synecdoche, it is not the whole of our justification before God; but only a part of it, even absolution from the punishment of eternal deathi due to our sins, for the sake of the satisfaction of Christ. But understood by synecdoche it embraces at the same time the imputation of righteousness to eternal life.” † And on p. 541, when answering objections, he says: “ The fourth objection is that the Scriptures put forgiveness of sins and justification for the same, and defines the latter by the former, Rom. iv. But I answer, that this is done by synecdoche: because the forgiveness of sins is the prior member of justification, which embraces the imputation of Christ's righteousness, by the grace of God united with it by an indissoluble connection, although distinct in reality." I Gomar, however, because he departed only thus far from the received doctrine on these topics, was long regarded by many strict Calvinists with distrust, and as an innovator.

Before we leave the present topic for the purpose of taking up the subject of Faith, we hope to be excused for adverting to

* “ Ac quamvis individuo nexu remissio peccatorum, et imputatio obedientiae seu perfectae justitiae sint conjuncta : ideoque ex priori alterum recte concludi possit: cum eo tainen confundi non debet.” Opp. I. 38. col. 2.

† “ Atque hactenus de remissione peccatorum, ad veritatis illustrationem egimus: eamque sine synecdoche acceptam, non esse totam corain Deo justificationem probavimus : sed tantum partem illius ; nempe a poena mortis aeternae, peccatis nostris debitae propter Christi satisfactionem absolutionem : per synecdochen vero acceptam, etiam justitiae imputationem ad vitam aeternam simul complecti."

*" Quarto objectio est : Scriptura remissionem peccatorum, et justificationem, pro eodem ponit, et hanc per illam definit, Rom. iv. Respondelur, hoc fieri synecdochice: quia remissio peccatorum est prius justificationis membrum, quod ex gratia Dei, individuo nexu, sibi conjunctam habet justitiae Christi imputationem ; quamvis re distinctam."

[ocr errors]

two or three things that have lately grown out of the discussions on Justification in the American churches. We shall reser to them as briefly as is possible.

1. The definition which has recently been given of the term pardon is the very definition which the later reformers give of justification, and yet it has been maintained, and still is by prosessedly strong Calvinists, that pardon and justification are so essentially different as to constitute a breaking point of communion. See e. g. Polanus. He says: Proprie loquendo justificatio peccatoris non est remissio ipsa peccatorum, sed absolutio a condemnatione." Wendeline, Cloppenburg, etc. use the same language in relation to it. Yet the definition of pardon referred to, is actually a literal rendering into English of their definition of justification : viz. “ Pardon is a release from obligation to suffer punishment." *

2. It has also been thought exceedingly erroneous to deny that “the righteousness” of God our Saviour really and properly becomes ours. But the following is the unvaried language of the reformers in relation to it: “ Nothing therefore is more impious than to assert that the essential righteousness of the Creator is the righteousness of creatures. For from thence it would follow that we possessed the righteousness of God himself, yea, the essence of God, and that we are Gods." This passage is from Ursinus. I

3. But there are other instances of departure from the views of the Reformation, on the topic before us, which it is proper notice. Views have been maintained as Calvinistic, which are a much more serious departure from the theology originally pronounced Calvinistic, and the opposites of which agree surprisingly with the venerable men whose testimony we have adduced.

One of these views is, that innocence and righteousness are not the same thing. We do not recollect, however, a single

* See Dr. Junkin's Vindication, p. 133.

+ Mr. Barnes “ denies that the righteousness becomes ours — this is again plain and positive." Vindication, p. 133.

† “ Nibil igitur magis est impium, quam dicere, essentialem justitiam Creatoris esse justitiam creaturarum. Inde enim sequeretur, nos habere ipsius Dei justitiam, imo Dei essentiam, et Deos esse !" Erplic. Cat. ad Quaest. 64. p. 354.

§ “ My third remark is, that in the very · Defence," he [Mr. Barnes) gives evidence of the truth of the charge (in relation to justification). writer among the primitive reformers, who did not strenuously maintain the converse of this proposition. The reader, by referring to the preceding quotations, will perceive the justice of this reinark, at least to some extent. Abundance of other instances could be easily produced, if necessary, from the divines before Dr. Gomar, who, I believe, wrote his commentaries about A. D. 1625, or later. We cannot conceal our surprise that this doctrine has now been repudiated so unceremoniously, especially since it met with no opposition from the Calvinistic churches even so late as the time of the first President Edwards. In his treatise on Original Sin, (Works, Vol. II. p. 411) written against Dr. Taylor of Norwich, that illustrious divine remarks as follows: "In a moral agent, subject to moral obligations, it is the same thing to be perfectly innocent as to be perfectly righteous. It must be the same, because there can be no more any medium between sin and righteousness, or between being right and being wrong in a moral sense, than there can be a medium between straight and crooked in a natural sense.” In fact, this very illustration was employed by some of the older Calvioists. And yet those brethren who complain of this view as beretical, profess to entertain on all topics in dispute the very doctrine of the Reformation; and they are very much alarmed lest that doctrine should be subverted by those who, it now appears, with the greatest strictness and accuracy maintain it.

[graphic]

4. The following strikes us as a much more alarming deviation from the principles of primitive Calvinism, than any yet referred to. The sentiment has been advanced, and has been, like the preceding, very extensively endorsed, that Adam was not created righteous. This has been openly and without contradiction (as yet), conceded to Pelagians and Socinians, that Adam was not righteous.” *

And we regret to be compelled, by our impartiality as a historian, to say that this sentiment is attempted to be justified by the same mode of reasoning resorted to by Dr. Taylor of Norwich in maintenance of the same principle. That this may be fully manifest to the reader, The very concluding sentence proves it: 'In the very passages adduced by the prosecutor on this charge, I have taught that God admits the sinner to favor, and treats him as if he had not sinned, or were righteous.' Here is a reiteration (says Dr. Juukin) of the very error charged, that not sinning and righteousness are the same thing." Vindication, p. 135.

• See “Vindication,” p. 135.

we give the language referred to, and place in juxtaposition it that of Dr. Taylor.

1. The language of Dr. Junkin. 2. The language of Dr. Joka Tande

“ Now innocence is freedom from " Adam could not be originally the guilt,--the state and condition of a ated in righteousness and true bob moral being who has not transgressed. ness, because habits of holiness (eIt is rather a negative than a positive | not be created, without our knowleda, quality or condition. Adam, the concurrence, or consent; for haliness, moment of his creation, was innocent, in its nature, implies the choice est Righteousness implies positive quality, consent of a moral ageri, aithe activity in compliance with law; and which it cannot be holiness." if the law prescribed a course, and proposed a reward, the compliance must cover the whole course, the obedience must be entire and positive, in order to its being entitled to the reward. Adam had rectitude of nature and was innocent, but he was not righteous.

It was against this tenet that Edwards directed the powers of his mighty mind. See Orig. Sin, Part II. Chap. I. Sect. I. Works, Vol. II. p. 406—417. Even John Wesley, in his

Original Sin," and Richard Watson, in his “ Theological Institutes," not only refute it, but speak of the principle with the utmost abhorrence. These men, though Arminians, viewed the principle as opposed not so much to any particular system, as in direct contravention of the gospel itself.

The earlier history, also, of this sentiment, is sufficient to stamp it with suspicion in the minds of Calvinists. Just as it is expressed in the foregoing quotations, it is almost the ipsissina verba of the Polish Socinians, who flourished contemporaneously with the Reformers. They were the most strenuous as well as the ablest opponents of Calvinistic theology that its advocates have ever had to contend with. In proof of the identity of their language with that above quoted, we cite the Confession of Faith approved by their churches. It is entitled Compendiolum Socinianismi. The title of Chapter II. is De statu prini hominis ante lapsum, that is, of man's primitive state before the fall : and Section I. thus reads: “Our churches teach that Adam was created truly good, and without sin, Gen. i. Ecles. vii. Yet not with any original righteousness; seeing that this is perfectly voluntary, and not natural. It is what the

• " Vindication,” ut sup.

† "Original Sin."

[graphic]

nan might have obtained by obedience if he had wished it, yet the thing itself he had not.” *

The reader cannot but be forcibly impressed with the striking contrast between the preceding quotations and the pointed condemnation of both their sentiment and phraseology by the reformers. We will add only one brief specimen of the kind, from the admirable Syntagma of one of the most celebrated of the Calvinistic reformers. His words are : Damnamus Osiandrum, qui primum hominem ex creatione justum, neque injustum fuisse asseruit: that is, “ We condemn Osiander, who asserts that the first man was neither righteous nor unrighteous by creation.” Syntag. Tileni. Soc. 33. Thes. 44. p. 211. Osiander's doctrines were expressly written against by Calvin, Ursinus, and all their celebrated orthodox contemporaries.

[The remaining two sections of this Article, viz. The Views of the Reformers on Faith and the Active Obedience of Christ, are deferred for the want of room in the present No. of the Repository. They have been prepared with much labor and research, and contain a portion of dogmatic history, which is well suited to exert a corrective influence in some parts of the American churches at the present time.—EDITOR.]

“Ecclesiae] Docent illum (scil. Adamum] fuisse creatum a Deo bonum quidem et absque vitiis, Gen. i. Eccl. vii. Non tamen cum aliqua originali justitia: cum haec sit perfectio voluntaria, non naturalis, quam bomo poterat quidem si voluisset, obediendo comparare sed reipsâ tamen non habebat.”

[blocks in formation]
« VorigeDoorgaan »