« PreviousContinue »
JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
Imputed Righteousness of Christ
Explained, Confirmed and Defended.
BY JOHN OWEN, D. D.
A NEW EDITION,
Very carefully Abridged, without the omission of any material Argument or Observation
The importance of the doctrine of Justification in the Christian system---the connexion of all wellfounded hope with the knowledge of it; and the abundant peace which arises in the soul of a conscious sinner, from a distinct and full apprehension of its proper grounds and consequences, are reasons which sanction every attempt to state and vindicate it:---and in the hope of benefiting the church and people of God, the following Abridgement of the celebrated Treatise of Dr. Owen upon the subject was undertaken. May the gracious Head of the church bless it to their instruction and edification.
On slight and general observations it is evident that many whose sincerity as professors of Christianity stands unquestioned, have but an inadequate, and in many respects an inaccurate conception of this doctrine. Their spiritual enjoyments in consequence thereof, are commonly rather fancied than Scriptural---fickle, not lasting. The feelings which form their religious experience, fluctuate with the changing circumstances of their earthly state, and that experience is characterized by the uncertainties of doubt, or a gloomy dejection, in some instances, approaching to despondency; rather than by the cheerful hope which distinguishes the enlightened believer, who from a thorough knowledge of that justification of the ungodly, which is “ freely by grace through the redemption chat is in Christ Je
sus,” looks beyond himself for the springs of his comfort, and blends with the acknowledgment of his sin the assertion of his saiety, declaring with the Apostle, “ I am carnal, sold under sin ; and with the church" Surely in the Lord, Jehovah Jesus, have I righteousness."---Besides, ignorance or mistake in this article of truth, is not more prejudicial to spiritual enjoyment, than it is destructive of genuine evangelical obedience. There are but few subjects, on which the judgments of men are more unwarranted, than on the nature of Christian duty; for while they find the rule of it in Scripture precepts, and abide by it, they overlook the principle and substitute mere legalismi, for gospel practice.--But the obedience of believers originates in the grace which leads the soul to a settled persuasion of free justification in Christ, without the deeds of the law; and they radically err, who presume on the acceptance of their obedience, whose duties are performed from any other principle. Were this duły considered, it would repress the expectations of thousands, who yet are studying to have a conscience void of offence both towards God and towards man.---They would suspect the soundness of their hopes, as they would find reason to conclude that their godliness is but a form without the power.
One principle cause of these defects in the experience and obedience of professed Christians, is, unquestionably, the suppression, in the ministry of the word, of the doctrine of a sinner's justification freely by grace.---This evil demands consideration and correction; as the interests of pure and undefiled religion are intimately connected with that correction. If in the ministry a distinctness and emphasis are not given to this doctrine, in vain shall we look for that spirituality of character and devotedness to
God ---that service which flows from newness of spirit, which mark the separation of believers from men who are living according to the beggarly elements of the world. Moral precepts may be urged under inotives the most solemn---the necessity of regencration may be argued and the total inability of man to effect it may be proved ;---holiness or heart and lite, and other subjects of importance may be insisted on, but these modes of instruction will be adopted to little purpose, apart from the doctrine of the free justification of the ungodly who believe. This assertion is not the conjecture of theory: matter of fact, the best of all arguments, proves it. The history of the church combines with the plan and design of the gospei to evince, that the faithful declaration of this doctrine is the only standard and eficient means of promoting true godliness.
The worthy and revered Dr. Owen well knew the worth of this doctrine and how to defend it: and living at a period when its vindication became necessary, he entered upon that vindication with a mind richly furnished for the work and prosecuted it with the elaborateness which usually distinguish his excellent writings. He startled at none of the objections urged against it by iis opponents, but fairly investigated and refuted them. lle did not stagger upon the ground which he had assumed but finding himself supported by the concurrent evicience of reason, Scripture and the experience of the faithiul, he conducted his argument with firmness till he established the conclusion ;---that a sinner, erclusive of works either legal or evangelical, is justified before God through the righteousness of Christ imputed to him by an act of sovereign grace, and receveut by aith. Nor did he suppose that in establishing this conclusion, he was the abettor of a doctrine, licentious in its