William Beveridge (1637-1708): It is into the merit of Christ, that I resolve the whole work of my salvation

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This excerpt from the Private Thoughts upon Religion of the Reformed Anglican William Beveridge (1637-1708) is pure gold:

“[T]ho’ it is the death of Christ by which I believe my sins are pardoned, yet it is the life of Christ by which I believe my person is accepted. His passions GOD accounts as suffer’d by me, and therefore I shall not die for sin: his obedience GOD accounts as perform’d by me, and therefore I shall live with Him. Not as if I believed that Christ so performed  obedience for me, that I should be discharged from my duty to Him, but only that I should not be condemned by GOD in not discharging my duty to Him in so strict a manner as is requir’d. I believe the active obedience of Christ will stand me in no stead, unless I endeavour after sincere obedience in mine own person: his active as well as his passive obedience being imputed unto none but only to such as apply it to themselves by faith; which faith in Christ will certainly put such as are possess’d of it upon obedience unto GOD. This therefore is the righteousness, and the manner of justification, whereby I hope to stand before the judgment-seat of GOD; even by GOD’s imputing my sins to Christ, and Christ’s righteousness to me; looking upon me as one not to be punished for my sins, because Christ hath suffer’d, but to be receiv’d into the joys of glory, because Christ hath performed obedience for me, and does, by faith, through grace, impute it to me.

And thus it is into the merit of Christ, that I resolve the whole work of my salvation, and this not only as to that which is wrought without me, for the justification of my person, but likewise as to that which is wrought within me for the sanctification of my nature. As I cannot have a sin pardon’d without Christ, so neither can I have a sin subdued without Him; neither the fire of GOD’s wrath can be quenched, nor yet the filth of my sins washed away, but by the blood of Christ. So that I wonder as much at the doctrine that some men have advanc’d concerning free-will, as I do at that which others have broach’d in favour of good-works; and ’tis a mystery to me how any that ever had experience of GOD’s method in working out sin, and planting grace in our hearts, should think they can do it by themselves, or anything in order to it. Not that I do in the least question, but that every man may be saved that will (for this I believe is a real truth); but I do not believe that any man of himself can will to be saved. Wheresoever GOD enables a soul effectually to will salvation, He will certainly give salvation to that soul: but I believe it is impossible for any soul to will salvation of himself, as to enjoy salvation without GOD.”

– William Beveridge (1637-1708), Private Thoughts upon Religion, p. 90-93

Johannes Braun (1628-1708) on the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quem of sanctification

Johannes Braun

 

“Since sanctification is a certain change in man, and since every change consists of a motion, it is customary to consider in it a terminus a quo, and a terminus ad quem.* The terminus a quo is the corruption of the image of God. But the terminus ad quem is the restoration of that image. For the old [man] is to be cast off, and the new man is to be put on. (Eph. 4:24). Hence it is also called conversion, namely from evil to good. (Is. 1:16, 17; Ps. 34:14).** Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump (1 Cor. 5:7).”

– Johannes Braun (1628-1708), Doctrina Foederum, sive Systema Theologica Didacticae et Elencticae, Vol. I, Pars. III, Cap. X, 10.

* For the sake of clarity to readers who might be unfamiliar with the Latin terminology, a terminus a quo refers to the starting point of something, literally meaning “the point from which,” whereas a terminus ad quem refers to the end or finishing point of something, literally meaning “the point [or end] to which.” In other words, Braun says that sanctification starts with the image of God being in a state of corruption in man, and ends with the image of God fully restored, upon glorification.

** Braun, in the original, here cites Ps. 34:15 (as it appears in the Vulgate), which is Ps. 34:14 in modern English Bibles.

Carl Trueman on the Protestant use of tradition

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“Ask a thoughtful Protestant about where Protestantism and Catholicism most significantly diverge, and it is likely that he will mention the closely related areas of tradition and authority. Now, Protestants tend to be very suspicious of any talk of tradition as playing a role in theology, as it would seem to stand somewhat in tension with the Reformation’s view of Scripture alone as the authoritative basis for theological reflection. In fact, the Reformation itself represented a struggle over two types of tradition, that which scholars call T1, tradition based on Scripture as the sole source of revelation (the position of Protestants such as Luther and Calvin, and some pre-Tridentine Catholics), and that which they term T2, tradition based on two sources, namely, Scripture and an oral tradition mediated through the teaching magisterium of the church. This latter was arguably the position codified at the Council of Trent, although it would seem that the boundary between T1 and T2 is in practice often blurred, and very difficult to define in any formal or precise sense; nevertheless, as a heuristic device the distinction is useful, and it is really only as Protestants come to understand exactly what is the Catholic view of tradition (i.e., T1 plus T2) that they can come to properly understand how tradition (T1) does not subvert the notion of Scripture alone.

A moment’s reflection on Protestant practice should demonstrate the truth of this. Every time a Protestant minister takes a commentary off his shelf to help with sermon preparation, or opens a volume of systematic theology, or attends a lecture on a theological topic, he practically acknowledges the importance of T1, whether he cares to admit it or no. A belief in Scripture as a unique and all-sufficient cognitive foundation for theology does not, indeed, cannot, preclude the use of extrabiblical and thus traditional sources for help. Protestantism and Catholicism both value tradition; the difference lies in the source and authority of this tradition: Protestant tradition is justified by, and is ultimately only binding insofar as it represents a synthesis of the teaching of the one normative source of revelation, holy Scripture.”

– Carl Trueman, Fools Rush In where Monkeys Fear to Tread: Taking Aim at Everyone, p. 151-153

Thomas Watson (c. 1620-1686): Let not that be our joy which made Christ a man of sorrow

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“In the bloody sacrifice of Christ, see the horrid nature of sin: Sin (it is true) is odious as it banish’d Adam out of Paradise, and threw the Angels into Hell, but that which doth most of all make it appear horrid, is this, it made Christ veil his glory and lose his blood. We should look upon sin with indignation, and pursue it with an holy malice, and shed the blood of those sins [which] shed Christ’s blood. The sight of Caesar’s bloody robe incensed the Romans against them that slew him: The sight of Christ’s bleeding body should incense us against sin; let us not parley with it, let not that be our joy which made Christ a man of sorrow.”

– Thomas Watson (c. 1620-1686), A Body of Practical Divinity, p. 101

Samuel Maresius (1599-1673) on the end and use of the Lord’s Supper

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“[The Lord’s Supper was instituted] to signify our spiritual nourishment in Christ, for which it is necessary that with true faith we should eat his flesh and drink his blood, that is, as Augustine interprets it, that we should share in his passion and with holiness and utility keep in memory that for us his flesh was crucified and wounded, and therefore the Supper is called the communion of the body and blood of Christ, 1 Cor. 10:16. It further serves to signify and to promote the unity of the Church; Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread, 1 Cor. 10:17, For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, and we all were made to drink of one Spirit, for the body is not one member, but many, 1 Cor. 12:13-14. Moreover, to bind us more and more to God and to arouse in us the duties of godliness and gratitude; and also to strengthen, confirm, and, as it were, pour new oil into the lamp of our faith, to nourish and to promote it until we shall drink that new wine with Christ in his Father’s house, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, Matt. 8:11.”

– Samuel Maresius (1599-1673), Collegium Theologicum sive Systema Breve Universæ Theologiæ, XVIII.lxxiv.

Hugh of St. Victor (c. 1096-1141): The remedy of the sick heart

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“The first man was so created that if he had not sinned he would always have beheld in present contemplation his Creator’s face, and by always seeing him would have loved him always, and by loving would always have clung close to him, and by clinging to him who was eternal would have possessed life without end. Evidently the one true good of man was perfect knowledge of his Creator. But he was driven from the face of the Lord, since for his sin he was struck with the blindness of ignorance, and passed from that intimate light of contemplation; and he inclined his mind to earthly desires, as he began to forget the sweetness of the divine. Thus he was made a wanderer and fugitive over the earth. A wanderer indeed, because of disordered concupiscence; and a fugitive, through guilty conscience, which feels every man’s hand against it. For every temptation will overcome the man who has lost God’s aid.

So man’s heart which had been kept secure by divine love, and one by loving One, afterward began to flow here and there through earthly desires. For the mind which knows not to love its true good is never stable and never rests. Hence restlessness, and ceaseless labor, and disquiet, until the man turns and adheres to Him. The sick heart wavers and quivers; the cause of its disease is love of the world; the remedy, the love of God.”

– Hugh of St. Victor (c. 1096-1141), De Arca Noe Morali, Preface

John Brown of Wamphray (c. 1610-1679) on justifying faith

John Brown of Wamphray Life of Justification Opened

John Brown of Wamphray (c. 1610-1679) was a prominent Scottish Covenanter and minister in the village of Wamphray, Annandale, who, after the Restoration of King Charles II to the throne (1660) and the Act of Uniformity (1662), was forced by the authorities to flee his native Scotland due to his outspoken opposition to prelacy (i.e. Episcopal polity imposed on the Church of Scotland at the time). He went into exile for the rest of his life in the Netherlands (described by one author as “the asylum of the banished” at the time), where he settled in Rotterdam, industriously wrote in favour of the Covenanter cause, and produced a number of noteworthy theological works. One of Brown’s major works is his The Life of Justification Opened, published posthumously in 1695 with a preface written by the Utrecht professor Melchior Leydekker. In the excerpt below, the spelling and punctuation of which I have slightly edited for clarity, Brown discusses justifying faith:

“[F]aith is the man’s looking to Christ, as the stung Israelite in the wilderness did look unto the brazen serpent (Jn. 3:14, 15) and saying, as it is (Is. 45:24), ‘In the Lord have I righteousness’: and it is the believer’s putting-on of the Lord Jesus, that he may be found in Him, and clothed with His righteousness (Phil. 3:9). It is the man’s receiving of Christ (Jn. 1:12) and receiving of the atonement in Him, and through Him (Rom. 5:11) and of abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness (Rom. 5:17). Therefore it is called a ‘believing on His name’ (Jn. 1:12) and ‘on Him, whom the Father hath sent (Jn. 6:29; 7:35; 17:20; Acts 16:31; 19:25). And because faith laid hold on this righteousness of Christ, therefore is this righteousness called the ‘righteousness of faith’ (Rom. 4:11) and the ‘righteousness which is of faith’ (Rom. 9:30), and that, ‘which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith’ (Phil. 3:9) Now if this be the native work of justifying faith […] to receive Christ, and His righteousness, and consequently to carry the man out of himself, that he may find and partake of that all-sufficient righteousness of Christ, to the end he may with confidence stand before God, and expect pardon and acceptance, it cannot be said without destroying the native work of justifying faith, that faith is that Gospel-righteousness unto which they may lean, and upon the account of which they may expect justification.”

What Brown is noting in this last sentence, as he makes clear numerous times elsewhere in this work, is that believers are not justified on account of their faith, as if that constituted their “Gospel-righteousness”, but on account of the righteousness of Christ imputed to them through faith as a mere instrument. He continues:

“Faith, in this matter, is as the eye of the soul, that seeth not itself, but looketh out to another. Beside, this would overturn the whole nature of the covenant of grace, and is irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Apostle Paul about justification […] Therefore, all who would live the life of justification must betake themselves to Jesus Christ, and lean on Him and to His righteousness: for with the robe of His righteousness must they alone be clothed, and in Christ alone must they be found, and they must think of standing before God, having on His righteousness, that God imputeth to believers, and which they receive by faith, in order to their justification.”

– John Brown of Wamphray (c. 1610-1679), The Life of Justification Opened, p. 58

For previous posts on justifying faith, see these by Henricus Siccama, H.C.G. Moule, William Ames, and Thomas Chalmers.