Dec 30, 2009

Thoughts upon the date of Justification - Part 2 by Job Hupton

The numbering, bold lettering, and additional paragraph forming have been added as a help for the reader.

1. Justification is a simple act of the divine eternal mind, or the absolute determination of God not to impute sin to his people, and to place the righteousness of Christ to their account. Deny the eternity of this determination, and where is the immutability of deity? Can it be said, with truth, that new resolutions are formed in the mind of God, and yet that he is unchangeable ? Surely not, for in that very moment in which he forms a new design, mutability attaches to his character, and his glory is tarnished. Let us then be careful, not to maintain a favourite notion at the expense of our Maker's glory. He is the Lord; he changes not. His thoughts, his counsels, his purposes and decrees, are, like the perfections of his nature, without the shadow of a change.

2. Eternal justification has been termed eternal nonsense. But why this odious epithet ? Is it thought absurd that a person should be justified before the commencement of his existence ? Why then not think it absurd, that a person should be elected prior to his existence ? There is no more absurdity in the former than there is in the latter : that as well as this, being a pure act of the divine will.

3. Sanctification, indeed, requires the real existence of the person to be sanctified; because that is a work performed in him by an act of Almighty power ; but justification, being an act of the divine will passed in a man's favour, and concerning his eternal state, it no more requires his existence when it is passed, than that act of the same sovereign will which appointed Cyrus to release the captive Jews required his existence, when he was ordained to that work : it is, therefore, audacious impudence to call it eternal nonsense.

4. The apostle Paul speaks of justification and election as in the closest connexion. "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect ? It is God that justifieth." Here he represents the elect as justified ; does he speak of all the elect, or only a part of them ? Doubtless of the whole ; for had he spoken of a part only, he would certainly have specified the part intended. He does not say, who shall lay anything to the charge of a part of the elect, or those of the elect who believe ? It is God that justifieth them ; though that would have been a truth; but who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect; without either limitation or distinction ; intimating that all the elect are justified, and that they are justified as persons elected. Now if they are justified as God's elect, their justification must be eternal ; because they were his elect in eternity. It will be difficult to find a justified person who is not elected, and it will be no less difficult to find an elect person who is not justified in the sight, and in the account of God.

5. The same wise and holy apostle informs us, that "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." Now when was he in Christ doing this ? Perhaps, some will reply, when Christ was suspended upon the cross; when he poured out his soul unto death; and when he made atonement for sin; then the Father was in him reconciling the world of his people to himself. What, not before ? Pray what was he doing when he set up his Son from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was ; when he laid help upon him, who is mighty to save ; when the council of peace was between him and that Mighty One; and when he made the everlasting covenant of grace with him? Was he not then reconciling his chosen to himself? Did he not then appoint his beloved Son to bear all the sins, which they should in time commit; and to be the Lord their righteousness ? Did he not then transfer the sins of his people, from them to him ; and impute his righteousness to them ?

6. If it be said that he then purposed to do these things, but did not actually do them ; it will be said in reply, that purposing and doing are the same with God, when a simple act of his will only is concerned, and an operation of his might is not employed. The non-imputation of sin and the imputation of righteousness, are not acts of his power, but merely of his will ; therefore, his purpose not to impute sin, is the non-imputation of it; and his determination to impute righteousness, is the imputation of it. If then God was in Christ in eternity, purposing, decreeing, or determining, never to impute the sins of his people to them, but to charge them upon Jesus, and always to impute his righteousness to them, it must follow that their sins were never imputed to them, but always stood to the account of the Mediator ; and that his righteousness was eternally imputed to them; unless repentance were found in the Almighty, and he relinquished his purpose, and nullified his decree : things utterly incompatible with a mind infinitely remote from the shadow of a change.

7. Again, we read, that-Jesus was made the surety of a better testament. By the better testament, the apostle means the covenant of grace. Of this Jesus is called the surety. But why the surety of it ? Because when it was made between him and his Father in eternity, he engaged his heart to draw nigh unto the Father, to offer himself to him as the surety of his people, to bear their transgressions, and fulfil all righteousness in their stead: which perfectly corresponded with the Father's will, and met his highest approbation. Being accepted by the Father as surety for all the elect, and bound by his own voluntary engagement to be responsible for all their iniquities, and to perform that obedience which the divine law required of them ; and thus, at once, to give the most ample satisfaction to divine justice, magnify the law, and make it honourable, and rear everlasting honours to every divine perfection, all their crimes became his, and his obedience became theirs. Nor are these views of the subject at all inconsistent with reason; for it is well known by almost every one, that if a person, possessing ability, offers to become surety for one who is insolvent, proposing to pay out of his own personal estate, the whole of his debt, and to give his creditor full satisfaction ; if the creditor accepts him for the debtor, and receives from him a legal bond, there is a real transference of the debt, from the debtor to the surety ; and to the debtor there is a transference, equally real, of the payment to be made by the surety; so that the surety absolutely stands debtor to the creditor, as really as if he had himself contracted the whole debt; and the debtor is fully discharged from the imputation of the debt, and from all obligation to payment, or to suffer for non-payment: he is completely exonerated, all his obligations devolve upon his surety, and to him only the creditor looks for satisfaction. We must, therefore, relinquish every just idea of the eternal suretyship engagement of Christ, and conclude that the apostle, when he called him the surety of the better testament, made use of words which were foreign to his ideas, if we deny eternal justification.

8. Moreover, it is written, "God hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither bath he seen perverseness in Israel." Though these words were uttered by a wicked man, yet God put them into his mouth ; therefore there is a sense in which they are strictly and literally true. That there is, and always was, iniquity in the people of God, cannot be denied; and that he, with the eyes of his omniscience, always beheld it, must be confessed. How then bath he not seen it in them? Let us view them as eternally chosen in Christ, and standing in him from everlasting; let us consider their sins as imputed to him, and his righteousness as imputed to them, when he became their surety ; let us consider the divine Father as beholding them in their covenant head, and spotless representative before the worlds were made ; and then we shall not be at a loss for a true comment upon this surprising portion of the holy writ; but we shall clearly see how it is strictly true, that God bath not, at any time, seen with the eyes of his holiness and justice, iniquity in Jacob, nor perverseness in Israel. Eternal justification is the only key to this text; none beside can open it without depreciating its excellency, and eclipsing its glory, and rendering its verity doubtful.

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