Robert Rollock on the Ground of Justification

It may be demanded, Had it not been sufficient for our good, and to the end he might redeem us, if he had only lived well and holily, and not also so to have suffered death for us? I answer, it had not sufficed. For all his most holy and righteous works had not satisfied the justice and wrath of God for our sins, nor merited the mercy of God, reconciliation, righteousness, and life eternal for us. The reason is, for that the justice of God did require for our breach of God’s covenant, that we should be punished with death eternal, according to the condition denounced and annexed to the promise of that covenant. Therefore, no good works of our own, or of any mediator for us, after the breach of that covenant of works, could have satisfied the justice of God, which of necessity after a sort required the punishment and death of the offender, or certainly of some mediator in his stead. If, then, all the good and holy works of the Mediator could not satisfy that wrath and justice of God for sin, it is clear they could not merit any new grace or mercy of God for us.

But you will say, that the good and holy works of Christ our Mediator have wrought some part at least of that satisfaction, whereby God’s justice was appeased for us, and some part of that merit whereby God’s favour was purchased for us? I answer, these works did serve properly for no part of satisfaction or merit for us: for that, to speak properly, the death of Christ and his passion only did satisfy God’s justice, and merited his mercy for us.

If any will yet farther demand, May we not divide the satisfaction and merit of Christ into his doings and sufferings, that we may speak on this manner, Christ by his death and passion hath satisfied God’s justice, and by his good and holy works he hath merited God’s mercy for us, that so satisfaction may be ascribed to his death, and merit to his works; that the righteousness wherewith we are justified before God may be partly the satisfaction which Christ performed by his death for us, partly the merits which he obtained by his works for us? I answer; to speak properly, the satisfaction and merit which is by the passion of Christ only, both was and is our righteousness, or the satisfactory and meritorious death of Christ, or the satisfaction which was by Christ’s death, or the merit of his death, or the obedience of Christ, as being obedient to his Father unto the death, the death also of the cross, to be short, that justice of Christ which he obtained when in his passion he satisfied his Father’s wrath- this is our righteousness. For we may say, that either the death of Christ, or his satisfaction, or his merit, or his obedience, or his righteousness, is imputed unto us for righteousness. For all these are taken for one and the same thing.

But here it may be replied, If the works of Christ cannot properly procure for us any satisfaction nor merit, nor any part of satisfaction or merit, then it may be demanded, What hath been, and what is the use of Christ’s works, or of his active obedience, or of the obedience of his life? I answer, that the holiness of the person of Christ, and of his natures, divine and human, and of his works, is the very ground or foundation of the satisfaction and merit which we have in the passion of Christ. That is, the excellency and worthiness of that person and of his works did cause that his passion was both satisfactory and meritorious: for if this person which suffered had not been so holy and excellent, as also his life so pure and godly, it is most certain that his passion could neither have satisfied God’s wrath nor merited mercy for us. For which cause the Apostle, (Heb. vii. 26,) speaking of this ground of his meritorious passion of Christ, saith that such an high priest it became us to have, which is holy, blameless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. And thus far of Christ, and how he may be said to be under the covenant of works.

~ A Treatise of God’s Effectual Calling pg. 53-55 in The Select Works of Robert Rollock Vol. 1 (Woodrow Society 1849)

Let us note that Rollock goes through both the aspects of Christ’s active and passive obedience and their relationship to providing satisfaction and merit.

He says:

A) The active obedience of Christ does not acquire merit.
B) To speak of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, merit, or obedience is the same as saying the imputation of his passive obedience.
C) The active obedience serves as the ground of the passive obedience.
D) The passion of Christ (his death/ passive obedience) is the satisfaction for sins and meritorious ground for our justification.


Muller on Dort and “L”

In a second chapter, the Canons treat of the problem of the relationship of Christ’s sacrifice to the salvation of the elect. Because the form of the Canons is so closely related to the forms of the Remonstrance it is incorrect to argue that the Synod derived a concept of limited Atonement from the decrees. The second chapter of the Canons follows logically not upon the first chapter but upon the second chapter of the Remonstrance. The Remonstrance stated that the universal sufficiency of Christ’s death was available to all those men who chose faith in Christ. Dort affirms the infinite value and sufficiency of Christ’s death. It affirms also the universality of the call of the Gospel. The benefits of Christ, however, are available only to those chosen by God in eternity. No man is able to accept the promise of the Gospel without the gift of God’s grace. The Remonstrants might have accepted these declarations had it not been for their concept of election. Arminian theology like Calvinist restricted the actual efficacy of Atonement to the faithful. It set the limit in man’s rejection of God’s grace: the elect are those foreseen by God as faithful. The Calvinists denied the doctrine that election was based on foreknown faith. They thereby placed the limit of the efficacy of the Atonement in the will of God. The underlying issue addressed by the Calvinist response is the sovereignty of God’s grace in the work of salvation.

~ Richard Muller Predestination and Christology in Sixteenth Century Reformed Thought pg. 424, 425

Note that it is election that is limited. The value and sufficiency of Christ’s death is infinite. The reception is conditioned upon faith, and the creation of that faith is limited in God’s plan. This arrangement is key because it allows for a true offer of the gospel to all and places the blame of damnation on man’s rejection of God.