Henricus Siccama (1692-1746) on the role of faith in justification

Henricus Siccama

Question 35. What is now the means by which a sinner becomes partaker in the righteousness of Christ and therefore becomes immediately justified before God?

Answer: That is alone a sincere and unfeigned faith in Christ Jesus. Hab. 2:4 the just shall live by his faith’; Rom 3:22, 28; 4:5; 5:1; Gal. 2:16 ‘Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law.’

Question 36. But how are we justified by faith?

Answer: Not because of the worthiness of our faith, as if God justifies us because of it, as the Remonstrants would have it, and [as if] faith is here reckoned as a virtue and a remarkable good work, and therefore as the meritorious cause of the same [i.e. of justification].

Question 37. Does this [i.e. faith as a meritorious act] not run against Scripture?

Answer: Yes, because 1) We are nowhere told that we are justified because of our faith, but rather through and out of faith. Rom 3:30 it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.’ 2) If we are justified because of our faith, how can we then be told that we are justified because of the obedience of Christ and out of grace? 3) That faith here not be reckoned as a work, is apparent because the Scriptures set faith and works against each other. Rom. 4:5.

Question 38. How should faith here then be understood?

Answer: As a hand or instrument, whereby we grab and take hold of the righteousness of the Redeemer, hence the sayings ‘take hold of God’s strength’ Is. 27:5; ‘receiving Jesus’ Jn. 1:12; ‘receiving the gift of righteousness’ Rom 5:17 and Acts 26:18.

Question 39. By which analogy do you clear this up?

Answer: Of the beggar who would receive alms of the generosity of a rich man, to which he must stretch out the hand, in which case it [i.e. the hand] deserves nothing, but is only the means by which he receives the gift; or alternatively, of one who in the navigation of the sea capsizes and sees a plank, grabs hold of it, and hauls himself onto it, thereby to be spared.”

– Henricus Siccama (1692-1746), Kort Begrip der Waare Godtgeleertheit, Chapter XVI (On Justification)

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