Monday, June 27, 2011
LAYMAN'S GUIDE TO THE THIRTY-NINE ARTICLES
We have come to Article XI, "Of the Justification of Man," the fulcrum, pivot-point and hinge on which the other articles hang. This is the only article which cites one of the homilies for full discussion of the issue. Therefore we are presenting the full text of this critical document before we present our own explication of Article XI itself. To show mercy on the reader, this homily will be presented in three installments, as the homily itself was divided.
HOMILY ON THE SALVATION OF MANKIND
by only Christ our Savior from sin and death everlasting.
Because all men be sinners and offenders against GOD, and breakers of his law and commandments, therefore can no man by his own acts, works, & deeds (seem they never so good) be justified, and made righteous before GOD: but every man of necessity is constrained to seek for another righteousness or justification, to be received at GOD'S own hands, that is to say, the forgiveness of his sins and trespasses, in such things as he hath offended. And this justification or righteousness, which we so receive of GOD'S mercy and Christ's merits. embraced by faith, is taken, accepted and allowed of GOD, for our perfect and full justification. For the more full understanding hereof, it is our parts and duties ever to remember the great mercy of GOD, how that (all the world being wrapped in sin by breaking of the Law) GOD sent his only son our Savior Christ into this world, to fulfill the Law for us, and by shedding of his most precious blood, to make a sacrifice and satisfaction, or (as it may be called) amends to his Father for our sins, to assuage his wrath and indignation conceived against us for the same.
The efficacy of Christ's passion & oblation. In so much that infants, being baptized and dying in their infancy, are by this sacrifice washed from their sins, brought to GODS favor, and made his children, and inheritors of his kingdom of heaven. And they which in act or deed do sin after their baptism, when they turn again to GOD unfeignedly, they are likewise washed by this sacrifice from their sins, in such sort, that there remains not any spot of sin, that shall be imputed to their damnation. This is that justification or righteousness which S. Paul speaks of, when hee saith, No man is justified by the works of the Law, but freely by faith in Jesus Christ. And again he saith, We believe in Jesus Christ, that we be justified freely by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the Law, Because that no man shall be justified by the works of the Law (Galatians 2.16). And although this justification be free unto us, yet it cometh not so freely unto us, that there is no ransom paid therefore at all.
Objection. But here may mans reason be astonied, reasoning after this fashion. If a ransom be paid for our redemption, then is it not given us freely. For a prisoner that payed his ransom, is not let go freely, for if he go freely, then he goes without ransom: for what is it else to go freely, then to be set at liberty without paying of ransom?
Answer. This reason is satisfied by the great wisdom of GOD in this mystery of our redemption, who hath so tempered his justice & mercy together, that he would neither by his justice condemn us unto the everlasting captivity of the devil, & his prison of Hell, remediless for ever without mercy, nor by his mercy deliver us clearly, without justice or payment of a just ransom: but with his endless mercy he joined his most upright and equal justice. His great mercy he showed unto us in delivering us from our former captivity, without requiring of any ransom to be paid, or amends to be made upon our parts, which thing by us had been impossible to be done. And where as it lay not in us that to do, he provided a ransom for us, that was, the most precious body and blood of his own most dear and best beloved Son Jesus Christ, who besides this ransom, fulfilled the law for us perfectly. And so the justice of GOD & his mercy did embrace together, & fulfilled the mystery of our redemption. And of this justice and mercy of GOD knit together, speaks S. Paul in the third Chap. to the Romans, All have offended, & have need of the glory of GOD, but are justified freely by his grace, by redemption which is in Jesus Christ, whom GOD hath sent forth to us for a reconciler & peace maker, through faith in his blood, to shew his righteousness (Romans 3.23-25). And in the tenth Chap. Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness, to every man that believeth (Romans 10.4). And in the 8. Chap. That which was impossible by the law, in as much as it was weak by the flesh, GOD sending his own Son, in the similitude of sinful flesh, by sin damned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, which walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit (Romans 8.3-4).
Three things must go together in our justification. In these aforesaid places, the Apostle touches specially three things, which must go together in our justification. Upon GODS part, his great mercy and grace: upon Christ's part, justice, that is, the satisfaction of GODS justice, or the price of our redemption, by the offering of his body, and shedding of his blood, with fulfilling of the law perfectly & throughly; and upon our part true & lively faith in the merits of Jesus Christ, which yet is not ours, but by GODS working in us: so that in our justification, is not only Gods mercy & grace, but also his justice, which the Apostle calls the justice of GOD, & it consists in paying our ransom, & fulfilling of the law: & so the grace of God doth not shut out the justice of God in our justification, but only shuts out the justice of, that is to say, the justice of our works, as to be merits of deserving our justification. And therefore S. Paul declares here nothing upon the behalf of man, concerning his justification, but only a true & lively faith, which nevertheless is the gift of GOD, and not mans only work, without GOD: And yet that faith doth not shut out repentance, hope, love, dread, & the fear of God, to be joined with faith in every man that is justified, but it shuts them out fro the office of justifying.
How it is to be understood, justifies without works. So that although they be all present together in him that is justified, yet they justify not all together: Nor the faith also does not shut out the justice of our good works, necessarily to be done afterwards of duty towards GOD (for we are most bounden to serve GOD, in doing good deeds, commanded by him in his holy Scripture, all the days of our life:) But it excludes them, so that we may not do them to this intent, to be made good by doing of them. For all the good works that we can do, be imperfect, and therefore not able to deserve our justification: but our justification doth come freely by the mere mercy of GOD, and of so great and free mercy, that whereas all the world was not able of their selves to pay any part towards their ransom, it pleased our heavenly Father of his infinite mercy, without any our desert or deserving, to prepare for us the most precious jewels of Christ's body and blood, whereby our ransom might be fully paid, the law fulfilled, and his justice fully satisfied. So that Christ is now the righteousness of all them that truly do believe in him. Hee for them paid their ransom by his death. Hee for them fulfilled the Law in his life. So that now in him, and by him, every true Christian man may be called a fulfiller of the Law, forasmuch as that which their infirmity lacked, Christ's justice hath supplied.