ENOUGH has now been said to make it appear that the controversy concerning Justification, agitated in these last centuries, mainly turns upon this question, whether Christians are or are not justified by observance of the Moral Law. I mean, this has been in matter of fact the point in dispute; whether, or how far, it has been a dispute of words, or went to the root of the question doctrinally, or ethically, are considerations which I do not now dwell upon, but mention by way of explaining my meaning. That in our natural state, and by our own strength, we are not and cannot be justified by obedience, is admitted on all hands, agreeably to St. Paul's forcible statements; and to deny it is the heresy of Pelagius. But it is a distinct question altogether, whether with the presence of God the Holy Ghost we can obey unto justification; and, while the received doctrine in all ages of the Church has been, that through the largeness and peculiarity of the gift of grace we can, it is the distinguishing tenet of the school of Luther, that through the incurable nature of our corruption we cannot. Or, what comes to the same thing, one side says that the righteousness in which God accepts us is inherent, wrought in us by the grace flowing from Christ's Atonement; the other says that it is external, reputed, nominal, being Christ's own sacred and most perfect obedience on earth, viewed by a merciful God as if it were ours. And issue is joined on the following question, whether justification means in Scripture counting us righteous, or making us righteous;—as regards, that is, our present condition; for that pardon of past sins is included under its meaning, both parties in the controversy allow.
Now, in the foregoing Lecture, in which I stated what I consider as in the main the true doctrine, two points were proposed for proof; first, that justification and sanctification were in fact substantially one and the same thing; next, that in the order of our ideas, viewed relatively to each other, justification followed upon sanctification. The former of these statements seems to me entirely borne out by Scripture; I mean that justification and sanctification are there described as parts of one gift, properties, qualities, or aspects of one; that renewal cannot exist without acceptance, or acceptance without renewal; that Faith, which is the symbol of the one, contains in it Love or Charity, which is the symbol of the other. So much concerning the former of the two statements; but as to the latter, that justification follows upon sanctification, that we are first renewed, and then and therefore accepted, this doctrine, which Luther strenuously opposed, our Church seems to deny also. I believe it to be true in one sense, but not true in another,—unless indeed those different senses resolve themselves into a question of words. In the present Lecture, then, I propose to consider the exact relation of justification to sanctification theologically, in regard to which our Church would seem to consider Luther in the right: in the next Lecture I shall consider the relation of the one to the other, viewed popularly and as a practical matter, as Augustine and other Fathers set it forth: and in those which follow, returning to the subject which has already employed us, I shall show the real connection between the two doctrines, or rather their identity, in matter of fact, however we may vary our terms, or classify our ideas.
If it be asked how I venture, as I do, as regards any proposition which the doctrine of justification involves, to prefer Luther to St. Augustine, I answer, that I believe St. Augustine really would consider, that in the order of ideas sanctification followed upon justification, though he does so with less uniformity of expression than Luther, and no exaggeration, and a preference of practical to scientific statements. Nor is it in any way wonderful, supposing the two are really united together, and belong to one gift of grace committed to the heart, as its properties or qualities (as light and heat coexist in the sun), that Augustine should not make a point of being logically correct, but should in familiar language speak of the Sun of righteousness, both as shining on us, in order to warm us, and as shining on us with his genial warmth, that is justifying unto renewal, and justifying by renewing.
In adopting the middle course I have thus prescribed to myself,—allowing Luther's statement, and maintaining St. Austin's doctrine,—I am but following our Articles; which, in one place, speak of justification as synonymous with our being "counted righteous before God," or as being in idea separate from sanctification, following, as I have said above, Luther: and in another as equivalent to "the grace of Christ and the inspiration of His Spirit," or as actually consisting in sanctification, following St. Austin and the other Fathers.