Polhill on Double Justification

Edward Polhill had the advantage of writing late in the Puritan era. He is extremely well read and is able to cite a variety of previous doctors, as well as bring various positions together into harmony. He has much to say about double justification.

In his book A View of Some Divine Truths, he writes:

Thirdly, Obedience is necessary, though not to the first entrance into justification, yet to the continuance of it; not indeed as a cause, but as a condition. Thus Bishop Davenant, Bona opera sunt necessaria ad justificationis statum retinendum et conservandum; non ut causae, quae per se efficiant aut mereantur hanc conservationem; sed ut media seu conditiones, sine quibus Deus non vult justificationis gratiam in hominibus conservare. If a believer, who is instantly justified upon believing, would continue justified, he must sincerely obey God. Though his obedience in measure and degree reach not fully to the precept of the gospel; yet in truth and substance it comes up to the condition of it; else he cannot continue justified; this to me is very evident; we are at first justified by a living faith, such as virtually is obedience; and cannot continue justified by a dead one such as operates not at all. We are at first justified by a faith which accepts Christ as a Saviour and Lord; and cannot continue justified by such a faith as would divide Christ, taking his salvation from guilt, and by disobedience casting off his lordship; Continue reading

Ussher on the the Final Judgment

Though not calling it specifically “justification,” Ussher represents the “gracious law” position that we’ve seen espoused by Diodati and Pictet. The believer’s works will be judged by the gospel. Ussher states:

Shall there be no difference in the examination of the Elect and the Reprobate?

Yes. For, 1. The Elect shall not have their sins, for which Christ satisfied, but only their good works, remembered. Ezek. 18.22. Rev. 14.17.

2. Being in Christ, they and their works shall not undergo the strict trial of the Law simply in it self; but as the obedience thereof does prove them to be true partakers of the grace of the Gospel.

Body of Divinity 52nd Head

Sibbes on Justification at the Last Day

Richard Sibbes has a fairly unique position on final justification, as he is willing to discuss the various ways one is justified. He is justified individually by Christ’s sacrifice. Christ justifies the entire Church. The Spirit justifies Christ. We justify Christ. We justify ourselves. Sibbes discusses all of these realities. I will only quote a small portion of this.

Sibbes writes:

For our further instruction and comfort, let us consider, that in regard of God likewise, we shall be ‘justified’ from our sins in our consciences here and at the day of judgment, before angels and devils and men. As Christ was ‘justified’ from our sins himself, and he will justify every one of us by his Spirit, his Spirit shall witness to our souls that we are justified; and likewise his Spirit shall declare it at the day of judgment; it shall be openly declared that we are so indeed. There is a double degree of justification: one in our conscience now, another at the day of judgment. Then it shall appear that we have believed in Christ, and are cleansed from our sins. When we shall stand on the right hand of Christ, as all that cleave to Christ by faith [will do], then it shall appear that by him we are ‘justified’ from all our sins whatsoever.

~ The Fountain Opened in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes vol. 5 pg. 492-493

Sibbes goes on to say that we will justify Christ on the last day. We do this in four ways. We justify that he is God by relying on him as our rock of salvation. We justify him as prophet by our enlightened understandings. We justify him as priest by relying on him alone for mediation and intercession. We justify him as king by holy living and the practice of lovely religion.

Thomas Goodwin on Justification By Works

Goodwin asserts that we can affirm a justification by works on the last day, for to do so is not materially different than to say that the judgment is according to works or that it is noting the evidence of faith. Neither of these could serve as an excuse for the lack of works, however. He believes that faith was always meant to be perfected, and its perfection is good works. Goodwin’s position is a combination of earlier views, as he will speak of a living faith and a true justification made on one’s deeds. He writes:

And in relation to this outward judgment at the latter day, our sentence of salvation is termed expressly a justification; and this very thing is asserted by Christ himself: Mat. xii. 36,37, ‘I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment; for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.’ Neither is it anywhere said, that God will judge men according to their faith only; nor will it be a sufficient plea at the latter day to say, Lord, thou knowest I believed, and cast myself at thy grace. God will say, I am to judge thee so as to every one shall be able to judge my sentence righteous together with me: 1 Cor. iv. 5, ‘Therefore, shew me thy faith by thy works;’ let me know by them thou fearest me; for as I did judge Abraham, and gave thereupon a testimony of him, so I must proceed towards thee. And this God will do, to the end that all the sons of Israel, yea, the whole world, may know that he justified one that had true faith indeed. Continue reading

Turretin on a priori and a posteriori Justification

Francis Turretin does speak of varying senses of justification, though he is much less comfortable with affirming “double justification.” He indeed reconciles James and Paul, arguing that they are talking of different types of justification, but his interpretation is somewhat different from his fellow Genevans, Diodati and Pictet.

He writes:

XXII. Since Paul and James were inspired by the same Spirit, they cannot be said to oppose each other on the doctrine of justification, so that one should ascribe justification to faith alone and the other to works also. The reconciliation is not difficult, if the design of each be considered and the natures of faith and of justification (concerning which both treat) be attended. Continue reading