28 March, 2016

The Doctrine of Eternal Justification in light of the Westminster Tradition (Rev. John P. Marcus)

Rev. John P. Marcus

[The following is an amalgamation of two articles originally published in the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal – volume 38, number 1 (pp. 43-69) and number 2 (pp. 47-69)]


Eternal justification has had a controversial history almost from the time of the Reformation. Much of the confusion and controversy hinges on its definition. At the time of the Westminster Assembly, many theologians had entirely rejected the term "eternal justification" because of the confusion it caused and the ensuing abuse that resulted. Although the Westminster assembly generally set forth a broad Calvinism, the sentiment against eternal justification was so strong that wording of the Confession even explicitly rejected it.

That the controversy over eternal justification has not gone away is evident from the role it played in the GKN 'A' and 'B' churches, which came out of the Afscheiding and the Doleantie traditions. Among the handful of doctrines that threatened the unity of the churches in the early twentieth century, eternal justification was one. The Afscheiding churches generally rejected eternal justification and the Doleantie churches held to it. These differences in the GKN over eternal justification and other doctrines, however, were settled in 1905 by the Synod of Utrecht.

Although not as heated as was the case previously, eternal justification continues to be a matter of some controversy. This is especially the case as Reformed churches have contact with Presbyterian churches. It may be useful therefore to consider the doctrine of eternal justification in light of the history surrounding the writing of the Westminster Confession. Why did the Westminster assembly reject eternal justification? Was the rejection of eternal justification a result of Arminian influences? What role did Antinomianism play? What criticisms do some of the Westminster divines level against eternal justification? Are these criticisms valid? How must eternal justification be qualified? These are some of the questions that we seek to answer in this paper.

One way to examine the Westminster Confession's article rejecting eternal justification is to look at what some of the Westminster divines had to say about the doctrine of eternal justification. This we have been able to do to a limited extent in the writings of Anthony Burgess, Thomas Gataker, and Robert Baillie, all of whom were present at the Assembly. In addition, several other authors from that period and following show the general tenor of theological debates concerning the doctrine of eternal justification.

What is the doctrine of eternal justification?

Before we discuss the doctrine of eternal justification, it will be useful to give a working definition of eternal justification. Before we do that, however, we give a couple of definitions of justification itself. Hoeksema defines justification as...

that act of God's grace whereby He imputes to the sinner that is in himself guilty and condemned, but elect in Christ, the perfect righteousness of God in Christ, acquits him on the ground of Christ's merits of all guilt and punishment, and gives him a right to eternal life.1

To add one more definition of justification, Brakel says,

Justification is a gracious work of God whereby He, as righteous Judge, acquits the elect from guilt and punishment and declares them to be heirs of eternal life because of the righteousness of Christ the Surety, imputed to them by God, and received by them through faith.2

Others define the term similarly. Both of these definitions include a positive and a negative aspect. First, there is an acquittal from guilt (non-imputation of sin). Secondly, there is an imputation of righteousness and a granting of adoption as sons. Both definitions refer to the fact that it is God's work and that the elect in Christ are the subjects of this act. It is significant, however, that Brakel defines justification as something "received by them through faith." This is consistent with his rejection of eternal justification. Adding that justification is by faith to his definition, Brakel is not denying a decree of God in eternity; rather he simply wishes to stress the fact that justification is received by faith. The fact that Brakel does not deny God's decree in eternity is evident from the fact that he speaks of God acquitting the elect. But when he defines justification in this way, it is almost inevitable that he will deny "eternal justification." And yet, he does not deny God's decree of election.

Although Brakel's definition of justification is similar to Hoeksema's, there are significant differences. These differences, no doubt, affect how one will approach the doctrine of eternal justification. It appears that much of the controversy concerning eternal justification hinges on one's definition of justification and on the qualifications one puts on the doctrine. That there are varying definitions and qualifications among various theologians makes this controversy a difficult one with which to deal.

Eternal justification, on the face of it, places justification in eternity. But the case is not so simple: here again, much controversy surrounds one's definition of eternal justification. Does eternal justification place all of justification in eternity? Some theologians actually taught that. It is no wonder that men reacted strongly against eternal justification when all of it was placed in eternity; we would do the same if that is what eternal justification meant.

Other men simply taught that there is an eternal aspect to God's act of justification. If that is what is meant, then we heartily embrace the doctrine. Says Kersten,

No one who desires to adhere to the truth of God will deny that that which God works in time, both in nature and in grace, is decreed by Him from eternity. Thus the justification of the elect also lies in that decree.3

But Kersten and others mean to say more than simply that God decreed to justify the elect from eternity. This is why he refers to some theologians who "object to considering the decree itself as justification, and rather maintain that God decreed to justify the sinner in time by faith."4 Thus, the question also arises: Is the decree in eternity itself a decree that justifies; or, is it simply a decree to justify?

Turretin says,

The decree of justification is one thing; justification itself another—as the will to save and sanctify is one thing; salvation and sanctification itself another. The will or decree to justify certain persons is indeed eternal and precedes faith itself, but actual justification takes place in time and follows faith.5

Thus, it would appear that a justifying decree actually justifies the sinner in eternity, while a decree to justify leaves actual justification to be carried out in time and history by means of faith. But the case is not so simple: “actual justification" may mean different things to different theologians. Some take it to mean subjective justification, in which case such a justification could not possibly be in eternity. Others simply mean that there is an actual aspect of justification that occurs in eternity. Here is another instance of confusion due to terminology.

Kersten holds to a justifying decree; he says "not one who is Reformed can deny justification before faith. That is, from eternity in the decree of God."6 Again, he says, “…those who are predestined to eternal life are justified in God's decree…."7 Hoeksema also holds to a justifying decree. He says, "We are justified in the decree of election from before the foundation of the world.”8 David Engelsma says that eternal justification is not merely the decree of God in His eternal counsel, that He would justify all the members of Christ; but rather a decree forgiving sins, imputing righteousness, adopting as sons.9 But these definitions do not clarify whether all of our justification is accomplished in eternity or whether only an aspect of our justification occurs in eternity. It would be more proper to say we are justified in principle in eternity, but the full execution of our eternal justification will come in history.

We define eternal justification as an aspect of the believer's justification that actually takes place in God's decree. This definition does not reject the truth that there is also an actual objective justification that occurs at the cross and in the resurrection; nor does this definition of eternal justification deny that there is an actual subjective justification that occurs by faith. When we define eternal justification in this way, we can embrace it fully. However, when eternal justification is defined in such a way as to exclude the truth that there is a real justification that occurs by faith, then we reject it.

Furthermore, there is confusion in how we understand the decree that justifies and the decree to justify. Some would argue that the decree that justifies indicates that all of justification is accomplished in eternity; others would say that the decree that justifies simply roots our justification in eternity. Similarly, a difference of opinion exists regarding a decree to justify. Some would take it to mean that no part of our justification occurred in eternity and that God accomplished justification only in time by faith. Others would say that the decree to justify includes an actual aspect of justification, which aspect occurs in eternity. We are not convinced that it will help to define these two terms, because one may have a different understanding of one or both of the terms. We might define the decree that justifies as the eternal decree of God that fully accomplishes the justification of sinners in eternity. And we could define the decree to justify as the eternal decree of God that forms the foundation and source of God's act of justification in time. To use these definitions would seem to introduce too much bias into this paper in that we would ultimately come down against the decree that justifies, our rejection being based on the inclusion of the word "fully" in the definition. Of course, there is an aspect of our justification that is made ours in time by means of faith. On the other hand, the definition of a decree to justify might also be shaped to make it acceptable or unacceptable. The way we have defined it above, makes it an acceptable doctrine. Raising this issue concerning definitions, however, shows the confusion that surrounds the whole issue of eternal justification.

The Westminster Confession's alleged rejection of eternal justification

Much of the controversy surrounding the doctrine of eternal justification hinges on the distinction between a decree to justify and a decree that justifies. As mentioned above, the controversy also hinges on whether the decree that justifies is the full justification of which Scripture speaks. That there is a decree in eternity to justify the elect in time is not so much debated in Reformed circles. Presbyterians and Reformed alike hold that God decreed the entire salvation of the elect and executes that decree in time; thus, God also executes their justification in time. But the debate surrounds the issue of whether the elect are actually justified in God's act of making the decree. It seems that most Presbyterians and Reformed theologians reject the idea of a decree that justifies; at the very least they reject the idea that justification is fully in eternity.

The explicit rejection of a decree that justifies by Presbyterians goes back to the era in which the Westminster Confession was framed. In light of the fact that the Westminster Confession generally embraces a broad Calvinism, it is striking that it would explicitly reject a decree that justifies. It is true that some theologians have interpreted the Confession to embrace a decree that justifies; but the language of the Confession is far too specific to lead to such a conclusion. In fact, the Westminster boldly denies it. The article in question, found in chapter eleven section four, reads as follows:

God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect; and Christ did, in the fulness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification: nevertheless they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth in due time actually apply Christ unto them.10

The wording of the Westminster is very clear; God decreed to justify the elect. The Confession does not say that God actually justified the elect from all eternity, only that He decreed to do so. Secondly, after the article states what God decreed from all eternity, it then turns to discussing actual history: "Christ did, in the fulness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification...." To make matters even more explicit, the article spells out that although the above is true concerning a decree to justify, "nevertheless they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth in due time actually apply Christ unto them." The emphasis is on the fact that the elect are not justified until, in time, the Holy Spirit applies Christ to them. The article could hardly be more clear. It teaches in no uncertain terms that the elect are not justified in eternity.

Although not as explicit in rejecting a decree that justifies, the same idea is also found elsewhere in the Confession; namely, that there is an eternal decree to justify, but that justification itself is in time. This is the idea expressed in chapter three and section six, as well as in chapter eight and section one. Chapter three and section six of the Westminster Confession reads as follows:

As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ; are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.11

The idea that God has ordained the means implies that God will bring these things to pass in time. Indeed, the Confession says that the elect are "called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season." But the elect are not only called in due season, they are also "justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept...."

Similarly, chapter eight and section one of the Confession concerning Christ the Mediator says the following:

It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man; the Prophet, Priest, and King; the Head and Saviour of his Church; the Heir of all things; and Judge of the world; unto whom he did from all eternity give a people to be his seed, and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.

The confession speaks of an eternal purpose in which God chose and ordained the Lord Jesus to be the Mediator. God from all eternity gave a people to this Lord to be His seed. But these people were by Him redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified in time. It appears this section is teaching eternal justification in the sense that God gave a people to Christ from all eternity. This language is in line with Westminster's embrace of a decree to justify.

Some commentators' assessment of Westminster's decree to justify

Many commentators recognize that the Westminster only held to a decree to justify. Indeed, one is hard pressed to find any Presbyterian commentator who embraces the decree that justifies. For example, Robert Shaw says the following concerning Westminster's article:

This section is directed against the Antinomian error, that the elect were justified from eternity, or when the price of their redemption was paid by Christ. It is readily admitted that God, from eternity, decreed to justify the elect; but till the period of effectual calling they are in a state of wrath and condemnation—Eph. ii. 3; John iii. 18. The righteousness by which they are justified was perfected in Christ's death, and the perfection of it was declared by his resurrection, and they may be said to have been virtually justified when Christ was acquitted and discharged as their head and representative; nevertheless, they are not actually and formally justified until they are vitally united to Christ by faith.12

It is important to understand that the Antinomians held to a decree that justifies. What Westminster was actually rejecting was not so much that our justification has its foundation and source in God's eternal decree, but rather it was rejecting the idea that God's people were fully justified in eternity, which justification would leave no room for justification by faith in time. In fact, it would appear that many of the Antinomians of that era rejected justification by faith altogether. Thomas Edwards, for example, who lists a catalogue of the errors of the various sectarians of that day, asserts that one of the errors was that "persons justified, are not justified by faith, but are justified from all eternity."13 In addition, the many works against Antinomians, some of which will be mentioned later, stress that justification is by faith; this is consistent with their rejection of the Antinomian doctrine that held only to a justification in eternity and not to a justification by faith.

James Packer is another of many who assert that Westminster rejected the doctrine of eternal justification. Concerning the Puritan doctrine of justification, he says that Westminster was seeking to safeguard against two things: "The first is that justification is from eternity, i.e., before faith."14 The second misconception was "that God takes no notice of the sins of the justified."15 With regard to the second misconception with which Westminster was contending, Packer especially points to a reaction against Antinomianism. Many of the Antinomians of that day were very base indeed; they held to gross heresies and lived profligate lives. To counteract the Antinomian view that God took no notice of sins in His people, Westminster added section five to the chapter on justification.

Although rightly pointing out that chapter eleven section five was a reaction to Antinomian heresy, Packer does not mention that section four of chapter eleven, concerning eternal justification, was also directed against Antinomians. Instead, Packer seems to suggest that Westminster was reacting to William Twisse, who held the doctrine of eternal justification "as part of his case against Arminianism."16 We will seek to show that Westminster was indeed reacting against Antinomianism, though it may also be that it was a reaction against Arminian doctrine.

The Arminian rejection of a decree that justifies

Arminianism was certainly part of the mixture of ideas that pervaded the era of the Westminster Assembly. This is indicated by the many books against Arminian doctrine in that era and also by the fact that Dordt had just recently concluded their condemnation of the Arminians in 1619. Add to this the fact that some of the English representatives at Dordt had Arminian tendencies of their own, and one can readily see why men like Twisse saw Arminian doctrine as a great threat.

What did the Arminians teach about eternal justification? Clearly they were against it. This is evident from the opinions of the Remonstrants given at the Synod of Dordt and also from Episcopius' Arminian Confession, which he published after Dordt.17

It is no secret that the Remonstrants adamantly denied a decree that justifies. We read the following in the Remonstrant opinions:

Although Christ has merited reconciliation with God and the forgiveness of sins for all men and every man, nevertheless, according to the new covenant of grace, no one becomes an actual partaker of the benefits merited by the death of Christ except by faith; nor are sins forgiven to sinners before they actually and truly believe in Christ.18

The emphasis of the Arminians was that Christ merited reconciliation for all men and every man. Then, on the condition of faith, only some of them become actual partakers of the benefits. Similarly, they believed that sins were not forgiven men, that is, they were not justified, "before they actually and truly believe in Christ." Thus, the Arminians rejected any idea of justification before faith.

Episcopius' Arminian Confession of Faith was translated into English in 1684. This confession contains some significant material in its chapter on the work of redemption. As in the Remonstrant opinion cited above, Episcopius speaks of God, who through Christ "reconciled all Sinners unto himself' and "open[ed] the door of eternal Salvation and the way of Immortality to them...."19 In addition, he says that our Savior makes "his faithful Followers... through Faith really partakers of all those Benefits, which he by his Obedience hath purchased for them."20 Taken together, the two quotes above show that Arminians taught that Christ merited reconciliation for all men, of which benefits only some men partake through faith. Episcopius taught a universal atonement conditioned on man's activity of faith. But more than that, Episcopius was also willing to speak of God's purpose in eternity. Says he,

...it seemed good to the most Merciful God, in the end of the World, or in the fulness of time, in very deed to set upon and thoroughly to accomplish that most excellent Work, which he had foreknown or purposed in himself before the Foundations of the World....21

Of course, Episcopius' version of an "excellent work" is that God merely made salvation possible. The point we wish to make here, however, is that Episcopius held to a decree to justify, that is, an eternal (though not absolute) decree of God in which He purposed to act and upon which decree He did act in the fullness of time. In time, said Episcopius, God grants "sufficient, yea and superabundant Power and Ability, to cast off the Dominion of Sin, and to obey the Will of God with his whole Heart."22 But, ultimately, it is up to the sinner, acting in time, to become a partaker of Christ's benefits through faith. The idea is not unlike what the Westminster Confession says when it speaks of a "decree from all eternity to justify" and yet that the elect are only justified in due time. This certainly does not indicate that Westminster Confession chapter eleven and section four is Arminian, only that both the Westminster Confession and the Arminian Confession hold to an eternal decree to justify and to a justification in time. What distinguishes the two is how each doctrine is further qualified.

After spending nine articles defending the heretical idea of a universal atonement, the application of which is conditioned on faith, the Arminian Confession then "refutes" what it considers an error:

But those Men, who hold that there was both an absolute Election, and an absolute Reprobation of certain Persons (whether considered before the Fall, or only under or after the Fall, without Faith in Christ on the one hand, or Disobedience on the other hand) was in order first made and past, before Jesus Christ was designed of the Father as a Mediator for them, they enervate, nay do wholly and utterly overthrow the universal force and virtue of this same Merit, and the truth and reality of its Efficacy. Neither indeed was it necessary, that there should be made any true or real Expiation of Sins by the lutron, or Redemption of Christ for them, nay, nor indeed was it so much as possible (if Truth may be freely spoken) who were now long before by name peremptorily and absolutely destinated or appointed, part unto Life, part unto Death. For the Elect as they call them, or those who are predestinated unto Life, have no need of any such Expiation and Reconciliation; because upon the very account of their being precisely or absolutely elected unto Salvation, they are likewise upon the same account in actual Favour with God, and already necessarily beloved of him, with the highest and immutable Love, and such as is peculiar to those that are Sons and Heirs of God. And as for the Reprobate, as they call them, they themselves deny that there was, or is any Atonement truly made for them; and besides, the thing is absurd of itself, as that which implies a contradiction. For upon their being reprobated, according to these Men's Opinion, they are thereupon wholly and altogether excluded from the Atonement made by Christ. Because those, whom God hath by an immutable Decree once reprobated or excluded from Salvation, or devoted to eternal Destruction, he doth not seriously will, nor can will, that any thing savingly good should really be conferred upon them, much less that the said Atonement should be common to them with the Elect23

Although eternal justification is not mentioned explicitly, it is implied in the absolute election to which the Arminians refer. The Arminians believed that an absolute election would make unnecessary "any true or real Expiation of Sins by the lutron, or Redemption of Christ for them...." Even stronger, the Arminians said that such an expiation was not even possible because "the Elect ... have no need of any such Expiation and Reconciliation; because upon the very account of their being ... elected ... they are ... in actual Favour with God...." The expiation and reconciliation referred to by Episcopius, no doubt includes justification. Thus, the Arminians rejected an absolute election because it would negate the need for the expiatory sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, which sacrifice would serve as the basis for our justification in time. In other words, an absolute decree in eternity was seen by the
Arminians to include justification. Their argument is that eternal justification (i.e., a decree that justifies) would make the cross (and its objective justification) unnecessary.

Similarly, the Arminians claimed that justification before faith would make our subjective justification unnecessary. In its chapter on faith, the Arminian Confession describes faith, in part, as...

a fiducial and obedient assent: which also is called affiance or confidence: not indeed an absolute confidence of special Mercy, as already perceived or enjoyed: to wit, whereby my sins are already forgiven me ... but whereby I firmly conclude that it is impossible, that I should by any other means, than by Jesus Christ, and in any other way, than by that prescribed by him, escape eternal Death, and on the contrary obtain eternal Salvation.24

The key here is that the Arminian does not see faith as a confidence that "my sins are already forgiven me." Episcopius would have forgiveness to follow faith and thus would reject any justification before faith (i.e., either eternal justification or objective justification at the cross).

Although the Westminster Confession did not embrace Arminianism, the question may be asked, was the Assembly influenced by Arminianism? It is certainly true that the Calvinism espoused by Westminster was broad (i.e., not as sharp as it could have been). Nor can it be denied that some of the language in the Westminster Confession is weak. History has shown too that the Amyrauldians at the Assembly did sign the Confession when it was completed. Therefore the possibility remains that there was also influence by the Arminian camp in the Westminster Confession's rejection of a decree that justifies.

The Antinomian embrace of a decree that justifies

In order to understand the controversy regarding this distinction between the decree to justify and the decree that justifies, one must also understand that there was a very practical matter in the minds of the divines at Westminster—that is, the heresy of Antinomianism. Antinomians believe that we are not bound to keep the law of God. They preach grace, but they will not preach duty. Thus, when men wrote against eternal justification (i.e., the decree that justifies), they did so out of concern that this doctrine was inherently Antinomian. While it is true that the same charge of Antinomianism is wrongly made against the doctrine of election, the fact remains that there were many true Antinomians in that day who also embraced the doctrine of eternal justification. The consequences of their Antinomianism were disastrous. Much of the problem with the doctrine of eternal justification and the decree that justifies can thus be traced to an association with Antinomianism.

The Antinomian controversy was fiercely engaged in the 1600s, close to the time when the Westminster Confession of Faith was framed. Even before this time, there had been a great problem with Antinomian heretics. This is evidenced in the example of Anne Hutchinson, who left England for the colonies, arriving in Boston in 1634. She led a conventicle during the years 1636-1638 in which she argued against "legal" preachers. Although Hutchinson held that redemption was God's gift, she erred in, among other things, her teaching that the soul remained passive to the work of divine grace.25 Significantly, since the Holy Spirit was considered to be the only active agent in the believer, the justified saint was no longer bound by the law.26 The history concerning her shows that Antinomianism was alive and well in England from whence she came.

That Antinomianism was an enormous problem in England during that era is evident from the many works written against Antinomianism. Some of these works were anonymous, but many others were written by respected men who held positions in the Westminster Assembly. Most of those who wrote against Antinomianism also condemned the Antinomians for holding the doctrine of eternal justification.

Works against Antinomians indicate a prevalent sentiment

This controversy over Antinomianism continued for some time. This is evident from the fact that many men published significant works against Antinomians beginning around the time of the Westminster Assembly. Works against Antinomianism continued to be produced into the eighteenth century.

It is noteworthy that already in 1631 Henry Burton, who had a B.D. from Oxford and was rector of a church in London, published a work entitled,

The Law and the Gospell Reconciled.
The Evangelical Fayth, and the Morall Law how they stand
together in the state of grace.
A treatise shewing the perpetual use of the Morall Law under the Gospel to believers; in answer to a letter written by an Antinomi[an to] a faithful Christian. Also how the mora[lity] of the 4th Commandment is continued in the Lords day, proved the Christian Sabbath by divine institution.27

Burton points out that there were, in his day...

Spurious spawnes, and monstrous birthes of all kinds of heresies, among which this of the Antinomians, a most pestilent and pernicious fest, is not the least, which denyeth any further use of the Morall Law to believers, no not as a rule of conversation, as of duty to be conformed unto, and seeing also how many counterfeit Christians are ready, & and do daily intertaine this Libertine doctrine, which lets loosse the caines to all licentiousness, as both the Doctors and Disciples of this Antinomian heresie, the Sons of Belial, do evidently prove in their practise of their lawless and graceless life: & lastly waighing, how this Antinomian frye is, as an enemy to true fayth, and the power of religion, so a friend to all other heresies now on foot....28

There is no question that Antinomianism was a concern already in Burton's day.

In 1643, Thomas Bakewell, a Presbyterian who wrote elsewhere against the Anabaptists, wrote a work entitled,

A short View of the ANTINOMIAN ERROURS:
With a Brief and plaine Answer to them, As the Heads of them
lye in order in the next Page of this Booke.
Being a nest of cursed Errors hatched by Heretics, fed and nourished by their Proselires; being taken as they were flying abroad were brought as the Eagle doth her young ones to see if they could endure to look upon the Sun-beams of truth with fixed eyes, the which they could not; were presently adjudged to be a Bastardbrood, and their necks chopt off, and their carcasses thrown to the Dunghill.29

In 1646, Robert Baillie, a Westminster divine, published a book of one hundred seventy-nine pages entitled,

{Independency, Brownisme,} {Antinomy, Familisme,}
And the most of the other Errours, which for the time doe
trouble the Church of England, UNSEALED.30

It is significant that many of those writing against Antinomy, or Antinomianism, grouped it with Familism. Familists were said to have sprung from the Libertines. They believed in special revelations, denied the incarnation of Christ, and believed among other things that saints who were suffering were God manifested in the flesh.31

In 1648 Anthony Burgess, a Westminster divine, published a two hundred seventy-five page work entitled,

The True Doctrine of JUSTIFICATION
Asserted, and Vindicated,
especially ANTINOMIANS.
In XXX Lectures Preached at Lawrence-Iury, London.32

In 1648, Samuel Rutherford, a Westminster divine, published a work of over six hundred pages with the title,

A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist.
Opening the secrets of Familisme and Antinomianisme in the Antichristian Doctrine of John Saltmarsh and Will. Dell, the present preachers of the army now in England, and of Robert Town. Tob. Crisp. H. Denne. Ealon, and others. In which is revealed the rise and spring of Antinomians, Familists. Libertines. Swenckfeldians, Enthysiasts. etc. The minde of Luther a most professed opposer of Antinomians, is cleared, and diverse considerable points of the Law and the Gospel, of the Spirit and Letter, of the two Covenants, of the nature of free grace, exercise under temptations, mortification, justification, sanctification, are discovered.

In 1652, Thomas Gataker, another Westminster divine, published a short work of 43 pages entitled,

Antinomianism Discovered and Confuted:
And Free-Grace As it is held forth in God's Word:
As well by the Prophets in the Old Testament, as by the Apostles and Christ himself in the New, shewed to be other then is by the Antinomian party in these times maintained.33

And, around 1685, Herman Witsius also published a three hundred forty-four page work entitled,

on the controversies agitated in Britain, under the unhappy names of Antinomians and Neonomians.34

These are but a few of the many works available from that era that address the issue of Antinomianism. The fact that all these men, some of whom served on the Westminster Assembly, should write concerning the Antinomians indicates that these authors considered them to be a major problem. It was an issue on the minds of not a few theologians. Consider also the fact that large portions of even the larger works (e.g., Rutherford's and Burgess' books running into the hundreds of pages) treated the Antinomian ideas extensively. Burgess, in his book on the doctrine of justification, sees it especially important to vindicate the doctrine from the Antinomians; so he includes in his title the words "and more especially Antinomians." Clearly, Burgess had Antinomianism in his sights when he wrote about the doctrine of justification. Therefore, Antinomianism must have been an enormous issue in that era.

What the Antinomians practiced

The fact that so many reacted against Antinomianism makes one believe that they were quite a bad bunch. There is no question but that the Antinomians were roundly condemned. For example, Thomas Bakewell calls the Antinomian error "a cursed error suggested by the father of lies, into those that are led by him to believe lyes."35 He charges the Antinomians with a...

new Gospell, who have cast off all obedience to the law of God, who desire to live without rule like sonnes of Belial, that they may take their full swing in sinnne under their damnable presence, that they have gotten free grace that hath freed them from all obedience to the law of God.36

Robert BailIie sees a connection between the Anabaptists of that day and the Antinomians; hence the title of his book calling Anabaptism the fountain of Antinomy among other things.37 In his work, Baillie points out that the Antinomians carried their doctrine into practice. He says,

I should be glad that all the question here were onely about words and phrases, or methods of preaching, as some would make it: but experience proves the difference to be too too [sic] reall; for we see that their words, phrases and method of preaching does carry their hearers to the grossest crimes, without any remorse of conscience or thought of repentance. When some of them are catched in theft they scorn either to be grieved or ashamed for it; others encourage themselves to commit adultery upon their Doctrine; some of them do constantly work in their handy-trade every Sabbath day; others make all repentance and prayer for pardon of the grossest sins to be sinful, and a fruit of misbeleef: finally, if the report of those who pretend to be acquainted with their carriage hold good, too many who have been noted for strictness of life, have fallen evidently after the embracing of these Tenets into a loosenesse of converstation.38

Later, Baillie goes on to tell of some of the gross sins that were committed by the Antinomians and other heresies that they held to. Some rejected the resurrection of the dead, some claimed themselves to be very Christ, and others held that Scripture is a mere allegory.39

A long list could be made of all the terrible things that Antinomians practiced. In short, it can be said that many in that day turned the grace of God into lasciviousness. And, by the sounds of it, they were a great problem in that era.

Antinomians held to a decree that justifies

What did the Antinomians of that day believe? It is significant that many of those who wrote against the Antinomians place eternal justification at the top of the list of the Antinomian errors. For example, at the beginning of Bakewell's work (published in 1643), he lists five errors of the Antinomians. We give the other errors that Bakewell lists for the sake of completeness. Some of these are related to eternal justification and others not. It is significant that eternal justification is listed first on the list and is seen as the source of the other errors. Bakewell lists the errors as follows:

1. They hold that a man is justified as soon as he hath a being in the sight of God, before they have any faith or calling.
2. Then they say, God cannot see their sinne, for they are as perfectly righteous even as Christ himself, as soone as they have any being, and faith doth but declare to them what was done in them before they had it, even as soone as they were born.
3. This they know by revelation, or bare Testimony, or suggestion, they say, from the Spirit of God, when they deny the operation of the sanctifying worke of the Spirit of God, to be any meanes whereby they may come to know their justification; for so to doe, they say is the doctrine of our legall Teachers, which goe by markes and signes.
4. Then they being as righteous as Christ, they say, God doth not correct them for sinne, neither can he doe it, but onely to exercise their faith.
5. They are freed they say, by the free grace of Christ, from the commanding power of the law of God, and they are discharged from all duty or obedience to it, and now the law is no rule to them, but what they doe it onely out of love unrequired, not as any duty, for they are freed from all by their free grace.40

John Flavel, who wrote against what he considered Antinomian errors in 1691, lists ten errors of the Antinomians. As with Bakewell, Flavel lists eternal justification as the chief error. Following is Flavel's complete list:

1. That the Justification of Sinners is an immanent and eternal act of God, not only preceding all acts of sin; but the very existence of the sinner himself, and so perfectly abolishing sin in our persons, that we are as clean from sin as Christ himself, αναμαρτμτοι, as some of them have spoken.41
2. That Justification by Faith is no more but the manifestation to us of what was really and actually done before. Or a being persuaded more or less of Christ's love to us. And that when persons do believe that which was his before, doth then only appear to them.42
3. That Men ought not to doubt of their Faith, or question whether they believe or no. Nay, that they ought no more to question their Faith, than to question Christ.43
4. That Believers are not bound to confess their sins, or pray for the pardon of them; because their sins were pardoned before they were committed; and pardoned sin is not sin."44
5. That God sees no sin in Believers, whatsoever sins they commit; and seek a covert for this Error from Numb. 23:21 and Jer. 50:20.45
6. That God is not angry with the Elect, nor doth he smite them for their Sins; and to say that he doth so, is an injurious reflection upon the Justice of God, who hath received full satisfaction for all their Sins from the hand of Christ.46
7. That by God's laying our Iniquities upon Christ, he became as completely sinful as we, and we as completely righteous as Christ. That not only the guilt and punishment of sin was laid upon Christ; but simply the very faults that men commit, the transgression itself became the transgression of Christ: Iniquity itself, not in any figure, but plainly sin itself, was laid on Christ: and that Christ himself was not more righteous, than this Person is, and this Person is not more sinful than Christ was.47
8. That Believers need not fear their own sins, nor the sins of others; for as much as neither their own, or others sins can do them any hurt, nor must they do any duty for their own good, or salvation, or for eternal rewards.48
9. "They will not allow the New Covenant to be properly made with us, but with Christ for us. And Some of them affirm, That this Covenant is all of it a Promise, having no Condition upon our part. They acknowledge indeed Faith, Repentance and Obedience, to be Conditions, but say they are not Conditions on our part, but on Christ's; and consequently affirm, that he repented, believed, and obeyed for us. "49
10. "They deny Sanctification to be the evidence of Justification; and deridingly tell us, This is to light a Candle to the Sun; and the darker our Sanctification is, the brighter our Justification is."50

This list shows some of the errors Flavel thought were connected with eternal justification. On the one hand, we can understand why Flavel condemned the Antinomians for believing that they ought not seek forgiveness of sin (see number 4). The ninth error that Flavel lists also has some serious error in it, saying that Christ repented for us, etc. It is also understandable that Flavel should condemn those who do not see sanctification as an evidence of justification (see number 10). On the other hand, some of the statements sound rather orthodox. At the very least, some of them can be read with a right understanding. The list indicates that there is some confusion in Flavel's doctrine. However, we will not analyze each of Flavel's statements, since they are not the main topic of this paper. Still, both lists above evidence the fact that Flavel, Bakewell, and others were battling real Antinomians. Both lists attack the Antinomian error of denying the need to live a sanctified life (Bakewell 3 and Flavel 9 and 10).

What is striking is that both Bakewell and Flavel, as well as others, should place eternal justification as the first ranked error of the Antinomians. Flavel is especially clear in making the issue that of justification in eternity. Bakewell calls it an error to believe that "a man is justified as soon as he hath a being in the sight of God."51 It would appear that he is referring to eternity, for he says, "To this I answer, leaving the decrees and purposes of God to himselfe as secret things, not belonging to us till we have faith and calling...."52 Thus, it would appear that these theologians linked Antinomianism and eternal justification.

Other men did the same. In the Continental tradition, Brakel specifically mentions a sect that he calls the "Hebrews," so called because some of them fancied themselves Hebrew scholars. Says Brakel,

Some of them are disorderly people and have loose morals, who abuse the grace of God in order to commit fornication and ungodliness, and who abuse Christian liberty, using it as a pretext to indulge in the flesh.53

Brakel traces their Antinomian streak to their views on justification. Like Bakewell and Flavel, when Brakel speaks of the doctrine of the "Hebrews," he lists eternal justification as the first element:

They either hold to an unlimited election of all men who believe that Christ has died for them, or to an election limited to a certain number, who God from eternity views in Christ and thus from eternity justifies. Therefore, He has nothing against them from the very outset. At birth Adam's sin is thus not imputed to them, and the corruption of their nature is not sin to them, since they already are justified.54

It is significant that Brakel sees a wide scope of doctrines subsumed under the heading of eternal justification. Nevertheless, he sees a decree that justifies as the culprit. Secondly, the "Hebrews" held that all the sins of the elect had been paid for, even future sins, and that God had perfectly justified them. As a result, Brakel says, "nothing is sin to them anymore, in spite of the fact that they do all that is called sin."55 Thirdly, these people lived profligate lives, deeming that sanctification is simply "the cleaving of Christ's righteousness to them as their own personal righteousness."56 The heretics against whom Brakel writes thought it was enough merely to believe that Christ died for them. For them to pray for forgiveness would be to mock God, since he had forgiven them already.57 The bottom line as regards the connection of eternal justification to Antinomian practices of the "Hebrews" was that "the basis for all their abominable and carnal propositions is a misconception and abuse of the doctrine of justification."58

James Buchanan, in his work on justification, also points to the doctrine of eternal justification as playing a major role in the Antinomian scheme. He points out a number of ways in which the Antinomians differed from the Reformers. Among other things, Buchanan considered that Antinomians differed from the Reformers...

in regard to the time and manner of a sinner's Justification—confounding it sometimes with the eternal purpose of election—sometimes connecting it with the death, or with the resurrection, of Christ—as if there were no difference between a divine purpose in eternity, and its execution in time, or between the work of Christ in procuring, and that of the Holy Spirit in applying, the blessings of redemption."59

Buchanan says that the Antinomians also differed from the Reformers...

in regard to the nature and function of faith, which was represented, not as the means of obtaining pardon and acceptance with God, but rather as the evidence or declaration, merely, of our Justification, by which we obtain the assurance of it; as if it was equally true, but only not so manifest before we believed."60

By the very mention of these doctrinal differences, Buchanan is implying that these doctrines contributed to Antinomianism and its disregard for God's law. He says,

It may be safely affirmed that the whole spiritual character and experience of a believer who receives the doctrine of the Reformers, will differ from that of a man who is imbued with Antinomian opinions.61

Buchanan and others previously mentioned argue that holding to the doctrine of eternal justification, which they understand as the decree that justifies, has logical consequences for the life of the believer. One of those consequences is a tendency toward Antinomianism. Hence their rejection of the doctrine.

Reasons for the rejection of the decree that justifies

What are some of the reasons that Westminster and many Presbyterians after that era rejected the decree that justifies? No doubt the reasons are many and complex. We may categorize the reasons for rejecting the doctrine as follows: 1) the doctrine has been abused; 2) the doctrine is irrational; and, 3) the doctrine is unscriptural.

1) The doctrine has been abused

Based on the foregoing discussion, we may surmise that the Westminster Assembly rejected the doctrine of eternal justification in large part because of its close association with those who were Antinomian in doctrine and life. Flavel indicates that the doctrine of eternal justification is the "radical and most prolifique Error, from which most of the rest are spawned and procreated.'"62 It may be true that godless people take hold of the doctrine of eternal justification and from it hatch a whole brood of errors. However, that, in itself, does not prove it to be erroneous. The same thing has been argued with respect to the biblical doctrine of election.

On the other hand, not all who hold the doctrine of eternal justification are considered heretics by these Presbyterians. Both Flavel and Burgess indicate that there are orthodox men who hold to the doctrine of eternal justification. After describing the doctrine of eternal justification according to the orthodox theologians, along with the proper qualification that they hold with the doctrine, Flavel indicates that their proper qualifications of the doctrine have kept the orthodox out of trouble. Nevertheless, he says that…

the want of distinguishing, (as they [the orthodox holders of the doctrine of eternal justification, JPM] according to Scripture have distinguished) hath led the Antinomians into this first Error about Justification, and that Error hath led them into most of the other Errors.63

John Flavel is indicating that as long as there is a proper scriptural balance in setting forth the doctrine, the other errors of the Antinomians he considers will not naturally spring forth.

Anthony Burgess, like Flavel, sees that not all who hold to eternal justification have gone awry. He says that…

Some orthodox and learned Divines doe hold a justification of the elect in Christ their head, before they do believe, yet so, as they acknowledge also a necessity of a personall justification by faith, applying this righteousnesse to the person justified.64

Burgess is making a point not far off from Flavel's: there are orthodox men who hold to eternal justification. Burgess also raises the important point that it is necessary to hold to a personal justification by faith, which the orthodox in fact do. Many of the Antinomians did not hold to such a justification by faith. Flavel indicates that as a consequence of holding to eternal justification, the Antinomians held that “Believers are not bound to confess their Sins, or pray for the Pardon of them."65 The reasoning went, if all our sins are forgiven in eternity, then it is wrong to seek forgiveness for what is already forgiven.

It cannot be denied that the doctrine of a decree that justifies has been abused. This however should not ultimately determine whether a doctrine is rejected or not. The ungodly will abuse whatever doctrine suits their ungodly life. But the abuse of a doctrine ought to give some pause to theologians. The question ought to be asked, can this doctrine be made sharper in order to avoid its being abused? If not, so be it. Ultimately it is Scripture's presentation that must hold sway. But then we must strive to understand Scripture properly in light of its whole organism.

2) The doctrine is irrational

Another criticism leveled against eternal justification (i.e., the decree that justifies) is that the doctrine is irrational. In the first place, many theologians make the point that the doctrine of eternal justification confuses the will and purpose of God in eternity with its execution in time. These theologians would recognize the immutability of the decree; but, at the same time, they insist that a decree to justify is not itself the act of justification—that is, it is not a decree that justifies. For example, Brakel admits that God did have an eternal purpose to justify the elect; nevertheless, he maintains that "The purpose [to justify, JPM] is not the equivalent of justification, for a purpose differs from its execution...."66 Similarly, Turretin says,

the decree of justification is one thing; justification itself another—as the will to save and sanctify is one thing; salvation and sanctification itself another.67

The same assertion could be multiplied in theologians of times past and present.

Secondly, connected with the above, many of the theologians who charge the doctrine of eternal justification with being irrational contend that justification is not an immanent act with God, but rather a transient act. These men contend that justification must be a transient act because justification is a change in the state of the person that is a sinner, who is himself guilty before God. Some who contend for eternal justification make the point that, since justification is an immanent act of God, it must be eternal, since to say otherwise would make God changeable. In response to this idea, Anthony Burgess makes the following point about God's act of justification:

We must not therefore apprehend of God, as having a new will to doe a thing in time, which he had not from eternity...but his will was from all eternity, that such a thing be in time accomplished by his wisdome. As for example, in Creation, God did not then begin to have a will to create: but he had a will from all eternity, that the world should exist in time; and thus it is in justification and sanctification; not that these effects are from eternity, but Gods will is….68

So, God's willing to justify (that is, to change the state of man from guilty to innocent) in time does not change God's disposition or His eternal will. Rather, it is God's willing a change. So, Burgess says, "There is not change made in God, but the alteration is in the creature."69 In this regard, Burgess provides a significant definition and discussion of an immanent action in God; he says,

An immanent action is that which abides in God, so that it works no reall effect without: As when God doth merely know or understand a thing; but a transient action, is when a positive change is made thereby in a creature, as in Creation etc. So that we may conclude of all Gods actions which do relate to believers, only predestination is an immanent act of God, and all the rest, justification, regeneration, glorification, are transient acts; for predestination though it be an act of God choosing such an one to happiness, yet it doth not work any reall change or positive effect in a man, unless we understand it virtually, for it is the cause of all those transient actions that are wrought in time.70

Burgess continues with one more distinction between God's immanent and transient acts: "An immanent action is from eternity, as the same with Gods essence, but a transient action is the same with the effect produced."71 That being the case, Burgess says,

it is a perpetuall mistake in the Antinomian, to confound God’s decree and purpose to justifie, with justification, God's immanent action from all eternity, with that transient, which is done in time.72

In connection with this, Burgess points to the absurdity of one who would hold that other transient acts of God, such as sanctification and glorification, are also immanent.73

In connection with the justifying act of God, Brakel speaks of it as having both an active and a passive aspect. He understands justification as "the pronouncement of a sentence, not only concerning man, but also addressed to man."74 And if justification is a sentence addressed to the sinner, then it must occur in time. Because justification is a single act, he contends that "wherever there is active justification there will also be passive justification, and vice versa...."75 He appears to be saying that justification could not be in eternity because there were no passive recipients. Flavel argues similarly, saying that God's intention by itself "makes no change on our state, till that time come."76 He uses the analogy of a prince who has the intention to pardon, which intention is not carried out until some later point in time.77 The intention to pardon the criminal does not automatically acquit the criminal. The criminal does not change his legal status until the intention of the prince is carried out. Therefore, if justification is a change in our state then it must happen in time.

Thirdly, eternal justification is said to be irrational inasmuch as the person who is the subject of justification does not exist in eternity. Says Flavel,

It is Irrational to imagine that Men are actually justified, before they have a Being, by an immanent Act or decree of God.78

He continues by asserting,

That which is not, can neither be condemned nor justified: but before the Creation, or before Man's particular Conception, he was not, and therefore could not in his own person be the Subject of Justification.79

Flavel goes through a logical chain of reasoning to show that such is the case. He says that justification requires sin, but sin did not exist in eternity, and so on. Then, he concludes that one of two things must be true: "Either the Elect must exist from Eternity, or be justified in time."80 Brakel argues similarly. He says that actual justification "cannot occur unless man, having sinned, exists and believes in Christ."81 And, Turretin says,

The nature of the thing itself proves this. For since justification or remission of sins necessarily involves a deliverance from the obligation to punishment which sins deserved and no one can obtain it without faith and repentance, it is evident that such a justification could not have been made from eternity, but only in time—when the man actually believes and repents.82

Brakel also makes the point that God's purpose to justify is never said to be the act of justification.83 If the act of justification is in eternity, then why not sanctification, or creation for that matter?

All of our salvation truly springs from God's decree of election; but this does not mean that all the elect are currently saved. The same can be said of justification; all our justification has its source in God's loving election of us in Christ. But this does not mean that every elect person is justified from the moment of their conception. Some have not yet been regenerated.

3) The doctrine is unscriptural

While the arguments against eternal justification based on the abuse of the doctrine or the apparent irrationality of it have some weight, ultimately Scripture must be the deciding factor as to the truth or falsity of a doctrine. What then are the scriptural reasons for rejecting eternal justification? In general, the argument is that Scripture presents justification as occurring in time.

Firstly, those who reject eternal justification argue that, at times, justification is spoken of in Scripture as an act in the future. Flavel points to Romans 4:23-24 as one example:

23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

Brakel makes the same point and gives the example of 2 Chronicles 7:14, which says, "...then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin."84 The fact that Scripture speaks of something that God will accomplish in the future indicates that it is not already accomplished. This would seem to argue against eternal justification.

A second objection to eternal justification according to Scripture, related to the first objection, is the presentation of justification to come after repentance and turning. Says Burgess,

If the Scripture limits this priviledge of Justification and pardon only to those subjects that are so and so qualified, then till they be thus furnished, they cannot enjoy those priviledges.85

In this connection, Burgess points to the following passages:

Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The point is that sins were not blotted out before God had worked repentance. The reception of forgiveness and the cleansing from unrighteousness follow, in time, a turning from darkness and a confession of sins that God works in us.

A third objection to eternal justification from Scripture entails the contradiction of holding that elect unbelievers are under wrath and condemnation and yet justified at the same time. Regarding this objection, Burgess points out that "Scripture speaks of a state of wrath and condemnation that all are in before they be justified or pardoned."86 He concludes from this that believers were thus not justified from eternity. Burgess and Flavel both point to John 3:18 as proof that the elect were indeed under wrath and condemnation:

John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.87

While it might be argued that this passage is inconclusive as to whether the elect are included in it, Ephesians 2:3, 12, 13 is definitely talking about the elect:

3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 88

Burgess, Flavel, and Brakel all point to this text in Ephesians. Brakel also points to Romans 5:10:

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.89

The question that these men are getting at is, How can it be true that we are justified in God's sight and yet, at one and the same time, be also enemies of God, condemned, without Christ, and without God in the world?

In response to the above assertions regarding the end possibility of being justified and being without Christ at the same time, some who assert eternal justification bring an objection from Romans 8:33: "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth." The idea of this objection is, if none can charge God's elect, then it must be that God has already justified them and that in eternity. But Flavel answers,

God hath not actually discharged them as they are Elect, but as they are justified Elect: for so runs that Text, and clears itself in the very next words, It is God that justifieth. When God hath actually justified an Elect Person, none can charge him.90

Burgess also rejects the objection from Romans 8:33. He says,

The Apostle doth not speak here of election antecedenter, antecedently to his other graces, which flow from that in time, but executive, as it is executed and compleated in those that are elected. Therefore by the elect he meaneth those elect that believe, that are holy, that are conformable to the image of God, that do love him, as the context sheweth;91

He makes a good case that the elect being spoken of are those who are now experiencing the graces of God; those who have been called, justified, and have been glorified in principle. Therefore, Romans 8:33 does not argue that all the elect are justified before God in eternity.

A fourth objection to eternal justification according to Scripture lies in Romans 8:30.

Romans 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Burgess calls this the "adamantine chain" and says, "From this chain…is an infallible Argument against the Opponent."92 His reasons run as follows: Firstly, none are called from eternity; therefore the justification that follows calling is not in eternity. Secondly, if a man is justified from all eternity, then so is he glorified. But no one teaches eternal glorification, therefore the text is not teaching eternal justification. Thirdly, the text is teaching that all these graces flow out of predestination, which he calls the "maternall mercy" and the "fountain and head from which all others flow."93

Brakel also points to the place of justification in the order of salvation: whom he called, them he also justified (Rom 8:30).94 Thus, justification occurs after being called. Also, Turretin urges that the justification of which Romans 8:30 speaks is that which occurs by means of faith.95 Flavel says much the same as Brakel and Turretin.96

The rejection of eternal justification was due to a simple line of reasoning: The doctrine has been horribly abused. It does not make logical sense. And Scripture does not teach it. Therefore, these men would be done with it.

Our response to the rejection of eternal justification

1) The charge of abuse

Without considering all the arguments in favor of eternal justification, we might be tempted to dismiss the doctrine of eternal justification. Certainly there were those who abused the doctrine. This, however, is not a valid reason to reject a doctrine. No Reformed person would argue that we must reject the doctrine of election simply because some abused the doctrine and lived lascivious lives. Similarly, no one should reject eternal justification for that reason.

2) The charge of irrationality

Is the doctrine of eternal justification irrational? In the first place, it seems reasonable to distinguish God's decree in eternity from His accomplishing that decree in time. No one argues that God's decree to create is also a decree that creates. Neither is it argued that God's decree to sanctify and glorify is also a decree that sanctifies and glorifies. But then, why should the case be different with justification? It would seem more reasonable to make all of our salvation eternal and not simply election and justification.

Gill responds to the distinction of the decree and purpose in eternity versus the actual accomplishment in time. He does so by asserting that justification is wholly an immanent act of God, that is, it is not transient; sanctification and glorification, on the other hand, are transient acts. Says Gill,

[I]t may be answered, that as God's decree and will to elect men to everlasting life and salvation, is his election of them; and his will not to impute sin to them, is the non-imputation of it; and his will to impute the righteousness of Christ unto them, is the imputation of it to them; so his decree, or will to justify them, is the justification of them, as that is an immanent act in God; which has its complete essence in his will, as election has; is entirely within himself, and not transient on an external subject, producing any real, physical, inherent change in it, as sanctification is and does; and therefore the case is not alike: it is one thing for God to will to act an act of grace concerning men, another thing to will to work a work of grace in them; in the former case, the will of God is his act of justification; in the latter it is not his act of sanctification; wherefore, though the will of God to justify, is justification itself, that being a complete act in his eternal mind, without men; yet his will to sanctify, is not sanctification, because that is a work wrought in men, and not only requires the actual existence of them but an exertion of powerful and efficacious grace upon them: was justification, as the papists say, by an infusion of inherent righteousness in men, there would be some strength in the objection; but this is not the case, and therefore there is none in it.97

Gill says that sanctification does produce a "real, physical, inherent change," whereas justification does not. Rather, with regard to justification, he says that "the will of God to justify, is justification itself." But is not justification an act in time wrought in the consciences of believers? These kinds of questions are what make this subject confusing. Gill is not absolutely convincing on this point. Burgess' definition of an immanent act as "that which abides in God, so that it works no reall effect without"98 goes against Gill's assertion that justification is an immanent act; for justification does have a real effect in time in the conscience of the sinner.

The solution to this problem of immanent versus transient is to realize that justification in time and justification in eternity are distinct, though not separate, entities or aspects. Gill says as much. Speaking of justification by faith versus justification before faith, Gill says the following:

It is affirmed, that those various passages of scripture, where we are said to be justified through faith, and by faith, have no other tendency than to show that faith is something prerequisite to justification, which cannot be said if justification was from eternity. To which the answer is, that those scriptures which speak of justification, through and by faith, do not militate against, nor disprove justification before faith; for though justification by and before faith differ, yet they are not opposite and contradictory. They differ, the one being an immanent act in God; all which sort of acts are eternal, and so before faith; the other being a transient declarative act, terminating on the conscience of the believer; and so is by and through faith, and follows it. But then these do not contradict each other, the one being a declaration and manifestation of the other.99

Gill clearly distinguishes between justification by faith and justification before faith. He does not separate them, but he certainly distinguishes them. If we observe this distinction, much of the difficulty falls away. Justification by faith has its source in eternity and its basis in the satisfaction of Christ. Therefore, justification by faith flows out of the justification which is before faith. The problem of the Antinomians is that they did not distinguish justification by faith and justification before faith; they held only to a justification before faith, which justification was simply manifested in the course of time by faith. This lack of distinction is what led to other errors, such as the belief that sinners are not bound to confess their sins. The Antinomians taught that sins were already forgiven in eternity and, therefore, believers had no sin. If justification is a constant reality, as the Antinomians conceived of it, then logically it would be absurd to seek forgiveness. Thus, it appears that justification in eternity and justification in time ought to be distinguished but not separated. Justification by faith is the transient result of justification in eternity.

The above covers the contention that eternal justification is a confusion between God's will and its execution in time. As long as the distinction between justification in eternity (before faith) and justification by faith in time is maintained, we see no problem with asserting eternal justification; indeed we embrace it. However, if the distinction is erased, as it appears the Antinomians maintained, then there appears to be the danger of denying that we ought even to pray for the forgiveness of sins.

Another objection against the doctrine of eternal justification is that those who are the subjects of justification did not yet exist in eternity; therefore they could not have been justified in eternity. Again, the controversy here seems to hinge on the distinction between justification before faith and justification by faith. Of course, justification by faith cannot occur without subjects who are exercising their God-given faith. But as regards eternal justification, it is not strictly necessary for the elect to have a physical, actual being to be justified. Gill makes a significant point comparing election of those who do not yet exist with justification of those who do not yet exist. He says,

Election gives a being in Christ, a kind of subsistence in him; though not an "esse actu," an actual being, yet at least an "esse representativum," a representative being; even such an one as that they are capable of having grants of grace made to them in Christ, and of being blessed with all spiritual blessings in him, and that before the world began....

We agree with Gill's distinction, for this also agrees with Scripture, which indicates that we received grace before the world began:

2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.

This grace given to us in eternity included our justification in eternity. Gill's distinction between our esse actu and our esse representativum also applies to our justification in eternity. Since election concerned our esse representativum, so also does our justification in eternity concern our esse representativum. But if such is the case, then we are not eternally justified in our esse actu. Holding this distinction, we are back to Flavel's assertion that "It is Irrational to imagine that Men are actually justified, before they have a Being, by an immanent Act or decree of God."100 Considering Gill's distinction between the esse actu and the esse representativum, it seems most reasonable to hold to the position that we are not actually justified in eternity. In light of Gill's distinction, it is not surprising that he should say that he "carefully avoided calling justification, or union from eternity, actual. ..."101
This does not appear to be any different than the Westminster distinction between the decree to justify and actual justification in time.

3) The charge that eternal justification is unscriptural

In general, there is one objection drawn from Scripture against the doctrine of eternal justification, namely, that Scripture presents justification as occurring in time. As with the previous discussion, it would appear that much of the difficulty melts away if we distinguish between a justification in eternity and a justification by faith that occurs in time. The problem is that some of the Antinomians appeared to hold to a justification only in eternity. Against the Antinomian idea, we ought to maintain that justification has both eternal and temporal aspects.

In the first place, the examples in Scripture that are presented by the Presbyterians denying eternal justification generally refer to justification in time. We discussed the fact that Scripture refers to a justification that will happen in the future. Significantly, Flavel points to Romans 4:23-24, which speaks of the righteousness that "shall be imputed" to us. The tense is future and therefore indicates, not a justification that occurred in eternity, but one that would occur at a future time. These texts, however, pose no problem with regard to the doctrine of eternal justification, because eternal justification does not exclude the truth of a subjective justification in time.

Secondly, other passages to which opponents of eternal justification appeal refer to justification occurring after repentance
(e.g., Acts 3:19 "Repent...that your sins may be blotted out....") Of course, after does not mean because of or on the basis of. Nevertheless, after repentance does mean following repentance in time. But the orthodox who hold to eternal justification also embrace these passages and do not deny justification by faith in time. These opponents (of the decree that justifies) especially feared the denial of justification in time. This is why the opponents of eternal justification multiply passages that prove a justification in time. They are especially concerned to maintain justification by faith and in time. But the orthodox who hold to eternal justification do not deny justification in time. Therefore, those Scriptures that assert a justification in time and by faith do not pose any problem for us.

Thirdly, those who oppose eternal justification point to the passages that speak of a state of wrath and condemnation that the elect were under when they were outside of Christ. Burgess, Flavel, and Brakel all point to Ephesians 2:3, which teaches that we "were by nature children of wrath" at some point in time. Also Romans 5:10 teaches that "we were enemies" before we were reconciled to God. The argument against eternal justification is that it could not be possible to be at the same time both justified and under wrath. Therefore, say the opponents  of eternal justification, the doctrine cannot be correct. The objection amounts to this: we cannot be under wrath (not justified) and also justified at one and the same time. As was the case above, a proper distinction between eternal justification and justification by faith in time answers the quandary. As regards our situation in history, we were enemies to God and unjustified. But as regards God's purpose in eternity, we were eternally justified.

In the fourth place, those who object to eternal justification point to the order presented in Romans 8:29-30. What about those who use this text in support of the doctrine of eternal justification? Kersten, who espouses eternal justification, stresses the fact that the verbs are not future. He says,

We may not distort this text as if it said that God had decreed to justify by faith in time those whom He had predestinated. It is undeniable that Paul in these words is speaking of the benefits that the Father had given to His own in Christ from eternity. Surely, he did not write, "they shall be glorified," but, "Them He also glorified." Although the full glorification of the Church of God awaits the last day, yet it is already glorified in its Head Christ, and this has taken place before.102

The fact that the verbs are aorist as opposed to future would seem to give some weight to Kersten's argument. But Kersten does not discuss the part of the text that says "them he also called." The question that must be asked is this: Are all the elect already called? If this text is going to be used to support eternal justification, then this must be explained.

It may be said that if the text is speaking of eternal justification, then it is also speaking of eternal calling and eternal glorification. It is true that all our salvation has its source in God's immutable decree, and we would not object to speaking of all our salvation this way. But then, justification ought not be singled out as eternal and the other parts of our salvation not so referred to. That is to say, if justification is eternal, then so are calling and glorification.

However, as regards Romans 8:29-30, the aorist need not be taken as strictly a past tense. Although the indicative aorist often has a past tense meaning, such is not always the case.103 Rather, according to Daniel Wallace, the aorist…

normally views the action as a whole taking no interest in the internal workings of the action. It describes the action in summary fashion, without focusing on the beginning or end of the action specifically. This is by far the most common use of the aorist, especially with the indicative mood.104

Therefore, in Romans 8:29-30, we need not consider that the events spoken of are past events. Rather, the aorist simply refers to events as a whole, each of which is brought to pass in its entirety as a result of predestination. It will always be the case that those whom God predestines will end up glorified.

Lastly, the meaning of Romans 8:30 must be rooted in the context. Romans 8:28, as well as the context following Romans 8:30, is giving comfort to "those who are the called according to his purpose." The comfort for the believer is that if he is one of the called ones (κλητοỉ) then it is certain he will be justified, and ultimately glorified. That glorification is now ours in principle, but will certainly be complete because nothing shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.


Based on the foregoing discussion we may conclude the following. In the first place, the Westminster divines, in formulating their statement concerning eternal justification, may have been influenced by Arminian doctrine. This is evident from the fact that Arminian theology was definitely present in that day. Supporting the idea that the Presbyterian theology was muddied by Arminian doctrine, Bavinck indicates about Continental theology in general that,

Under the influence of Socinianism and Remonstrantism, Cartesianism and Amyraldianism, there developed the neonomian representation of the order of redemption which made forgiveness of sins and eternal life dependent on faith and obedience which man had to perform in accordance with the new law of the gospel. 105

Similarly, Bavinck says that...

under the influence of Remonstrantism and Salmurian theology, and of Pietism and Rationalism, the understanding of this actual justification gradually became that man had to believe and repent first, that thereafter God in heaven, in "the court of heaven," sitting in judgment, acquitted the believer because of his faith in Christ.106

Thus, according to Bavinck, the Arminians did have an influence on theology. This reaction would have taken place not only on the continent, but also in the Presbyterian stream of theology. This influence caused theologians to stress a gospel-law that required faith and obedience in order to obtain justification. In addition, this neonomian tendency stressed justification as something that occurred only in time. This would tend to minimize God's eternal decrees and put election out of the picture.

In the second place, the Westminster divines appear to be reacting against both Nomists and Antinomians. The Antinomians rejected a justification by faith in time and instead held that justification by faith was not a justification at all, but rather only a recognition of what was true in prior history. The worst Antinomians held to pantheistic ideas. Bavinck describes those Antinomians who said, "Faith is nothing but a renouncing of the error that God is angry and a realization that God is eternal love."107 Therefore, it is not surprising to find Westminster reacting against those who were truly heretics.

Sinclair Ferguson notes that the Westminster divines were more concerned about the thoroughgoing Antinomians than they were about men like Twisse.108 Twisse was especially concerned to resist Arminian tendencies. As a result, he tended to stress eternal justification, but not in the same way that the pantheistic Antinomians did. Bavinck refers to the development of Anti-neonomianism, which stressed that justification preceded faith; Twisse would fit this category.109 But even as there was an Anti-neonomian reaction against a gospel-law, there was also an Antinomian reaction to the same "legal" teachers; these would be the Anne Hutchinson types.

Thus, on the one hand, Arminian Nomists sought to minimize election and stressed justification, which was only by faith and in time. On the other hand, the Antinomians stressed that justification was exclusively eternal, to the exclusion of justification by faith. In the middle were those who sought to hold on to both an eternal aspect to justification and a justification in time. Bavinck says of this group that they...

saw in eternal justification only the beginning, the principle, and the ground of justification as it occurred in time; they were moved to acknowledge it only by their desire to keep the gospel of grace pure and to protect it against any blending with the law; therefore they only granted the terminology a subordinate place.110

The terminology was not the important thing. Rather, what is important is that justification is rooted in eternity; that is, in election. With this emphasis we agree. Although Bavinck asserts that the foundation of justification lies in election, nevertheless he does not consider this a proper reason to speak of "eternal justification or of a justification from eternity."111 The reasons Bavinck gives are not unlike those we have discussed previously. After giving his reasons, he asserts...

Reformed theologians were virtually unanimous in their opposition to it [i.e., justification in eternity, JPM], and distinguished the eternal decree of justification and the execution thereof in time.112

In light of the above discussion, it is evident that two extremes, that of Nomism and Antinomism, caused the Westminster divines to choose a middle way. So Westminster chose the way that stressed both the foundation of justification in the eternal decree and its execution in time in the subjective justification of the believer. Since it is difficult for us to distinguish between a decree to justify and a decree that justifies, we are content to let the language of the Westminster stand. However, if we are going to hold to a decree to justify, it is necessary to qualify it against Arminian doctrine. Because it is not difficult to qualify the doctrine of a decree to justify, we do not object to the language of Westminster. On the other hand, neither does the doctrine of a decree that justifies cause us concern, as long as it is properly qualified so as not to exclude justification in time and by faith. Admittedly, the danger today is the tendency from the Arminian camp to minimize the decrees of God, but the correct approach is not overreaction; rather the correct approach is to hold a right balance and to make proper distinctions and qualifications.

In the third place, in light of Gill's position concerning his avoidance of calling justification in eternity "actual," it would appear that he understood a decree to justify as being synonymous with a decree that justifies. This may also have been Hoeksema's understanding of the Westminster Confession. Hoeksema points to Chapter 11, Article 4 as teaching eternal justification. He says,

it is plain that, according to the Westminster Confession, justification is eternal, and also that believers are justified in Christ in the fulness of time through His death and resurrection. 113

Either Hoeksema grossly misunderstood this article in the Westminster Confession, or he thought that a decree to justify was virtually synonymous with a decree that justifies. We consider that, as long as our justification 1) has its source in the immutable and absolute decree of God, 2) has its objective basis in Christ's satisfaction on the cross, and 3) has its subjective realization in the elect by faith, we cannot see why any should object to the presentation of the doctrine as a decree to justify. While the various aspects of justification ought to be distinguished, they may not be separated. It must be maintained that the decree is irrevocable. If the decree is irrevocable, then those who are the subjects of each aspect of justification will be the same group of elect persons; that is, the subjects of God's decree to justify, the subjects of Christ's atoning work, those who enjoy justification in time, and those who will hear the declaration of that justification on the judgment day, will be one and the same group of people.

Although not repudiating the term "eternal justification," the Synod of Utrecht in 1905 also held that there were three aspects to our justification. The full decision of Utrecht reads as follows:

In regard to the second point, eternal justification, Synod declares:

that the term itself does not occur in our Confessional Standards but that it is not for this reason to be disapproved, any more than we would be justified in disapproving the term Covenant of Works and similar terms which have been adopted through theological usage;

that it is incorrect to say that our Confessional Standards know only of a justification by and through faith, since both God's Word (Rom. 4:25) and our Confession (Art. XX) speak explicitly of an objective justification sealed by the resurrection of Christ, which in point of time precedes the subjective justification;

that, moreover, as far as the matter itself is concerned, all our Churches sincerely believe and confess that Christ from eternity in the Counsel of Peace undertook to be the Surety of His people; taking their guilt upon Himself as also that afterward He by His suffering and death on Calvary actually paid the ransom for us, reconciling us to God while we were yet enemies; but that on the basis of God's Word and in harmony with our Confession it must be maintained with equal firmness that we personally become partakers of this benefit only by a sincere faith.114

The eternal suretyship of Christ treats of the decree to justify. The article also refers to an objective justification sealed by the resurrection of Christ. And it refers to the necessity of holding to a subjective justification by which we become partakers of this benefit by a sincere faith. We concur with Utrecht's declaration.

Lastly, some caution is in order when we speak of eternal justification. We must not interpret eternal justification as meaning that the elect are subjectively justified as soon as they are born. Nor must we take our objective justification at the cross to encompass our subjective justification. Both our objective and subjective justification arise out of our eternal justification; but each of these aspects must be distinguished. The mistake of the Antinomians was their belief that they were justified as soon as they had being.

If the various aspects of justification are not adequately distinguished; and if eternity is not viewed as being wholly separate from time, problems are likely to arise. Eternity ought to be understood as wholly separate from time. Eternity is not simply time prior to creation, including historical time, and extending beyond it. Rather, eternity is outside of time. Thus, we cannot say that since we were justified in eternity in God's decree, therefore we were justified at every point in the history of our lives. Such a misunderstanding could have repercussions in doctrine and practice. What we desire to guard against is the idea that we need not be justified in time because we were already justified either in eternity or at the cross. This were to slight the Scriptures that stress our subjective justification by faith in time.

Was all the debate in the Presbyterian tradition (as well as the Continental) simply over words? Undoubtedly there has been some talking past one another. This paper has sought to demonstrate that there were nevertheless important issues at stake in the use of various terminology regarding our justification. To speak of eternal justification is not wrong, but it must be qualified so that both the objective and subjective aspects of justification are maintained in proper balance with the eternal aspect. At the same time, it must be vigorously maintained that our justification has its source in eternity.

God's justification of us is wholly a work of grace. This grace began with God's election of us before the foundation of the world, and comes to us in time. This grace must ever be magnified.


1. Herman Hoeksema, Reformed Dogmatics, (Reformed Free Publishing Association, Grand Rapids, 1966), 493.

2. Wilhelmus a Brakel, The Christian's Reasonable Service, vol. 2, tr. Bart Elshout (Soli Deo Gloria Publications, Ligonier, PA, 1993), 347-348.

3. G. H. Kersten, Reformed Dogmatics, tr. J. R. Beeke and J. C. Weststrate (Eerdmans, copyright Netherlands Reformed Book and Publishing Committee, 1983), 416.

4. Kersten, 416.

5. Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 2, tr. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr. (P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ 1994), 683.

6. Kersten, 419.

7. Kersten, 421.

8. Hoeksema, 502.

9. David J. Engelsma, Dogmatics class notes, Protestant Reformed Seminary, Soteriology locus, Spring 2004.

10. Westminster Confession, Chapter 11, Section 4.

11. Westminster Confession, Chapter 3, Section 6.

12. Robert Shaw, An Exposition of the Confession of Faith (Philadelphia, 1847) in loco.

13. Thomas Edwards, Gangraena: Or a Catalogue and Discovery of many of the Errours, Heresies, Blasphemies and pernicious Practices of the Sectaries of this time, vented and acted in England in these four last years (London 1645): Electronic file: Gangraena 1-125.pdf in Puritan Bookshelf CD collection, Still Waters Revival Books. 25.

14. James I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: A Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Crossway books, Wheaton, IL 1990), 155.

15. Packer, 155.

16. Packer, 155.

17. The Dutch version he published in 1621 and the Latin in 1622.

18. The Remonstrant Opinions, I.5 in Homer C. Hoeksema, Voice of Our Fathers (RFPA, Grand Rapids 1980), 104.

19. Confession of Faith of those called Arminians, Or a declaration of the opinions and doctrines of the ministers and pastors, which in the united provinces are known by the name of Remonstrants concerning the chief points of Christian Religion. Translated out of the original. (London, Printed for Samuel Walsall 1684) Electronic file: Anon-Arminian Confession of Faith-C5791-1306 09-p1 to 138.pdf. Available through Early English Books Online. Ch. 8. Sect. 9.

20. Arminian Confession, Ch. 8, Sect. 9.

21. Arminian Confession, Ch. 8, Sect. I (emphasis mine, JPM).

22. Arminian Confession. Ch. 8, Sect. I.

23. Arminian Confession, Ch. 8, Sect. 10.

24. Arminian Confession. Ch. 11, Sect. 2 (emphasis mine).

25. Reader's Companion to American History, Anne Hutchinson,

26. "Preparation, Sanctification, and the Problem of Assurance in New England," available at http://beatl.barnard.columbia.edu/reacting/anne/print_problems.html

27. Henry Burton, The Law and the Gospell reconciled. Electronic file: Burton_Henry-The_law_and_the_Gospell_reconciled-STC-4152563_08-p1to58.pdf. Available through Early English Books Online.

28. Burton To the Reader.

29. Thomas Bakewell, A Short View of Antinomian Errors (London, 1643) Electronic file: Bakewell_Thomas-A_short_view_of_the_Antinomian-Wing-B537-1115_08-p1to20.pdf. Available through Early English Books Online.

30. Robert Baillie, Anabaptism, The True Fountain of {Independency, Brownisme,} {Antinomy, Familisme,} And the most of the other Errours, which for the time doe trouble the Church of England, Unsealed. Electronic file: Robert Ballie_I-118.pdf in Puritan Bookshelf CD collection, Still Waters Revival Books.

31. Samuel Rutherford, A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist, opening the secrets of familism and antinomianism in the antichristian doctrine of John Saltmarsh, and Will. Del, the present preachers of the army now in England, as well as others, in which is revealed the rise and spring of Antinomianism, Familists, Libertines, Swenck-feldians, Enthusiasts, etc. Also the mind of Luther, a most professed opposer of Antinomianism, is cleared and diverse considerable points of the Law and the Gospel, of the
Spirit and Letter, of the two covenants, of the nature of free grace, exercise under temptations, mortification, justification, & sanctification, are discovered. (London, 1648) Electronic file: Spiritual Antichrist_1-316.pdf in Puritan Bookshelf CD collection, Still Waters Revival Books.

32. Anthony Burgess, The True Doctrine of Justification asserted and vindicated from the errors of Papists, Arminians, Socinians, and more especially Antinomians. In 30 Lectures preached in London. (London, 1647) Electronic file: Anthony Burgess_1-153.pdf. in Puritan Bookshelf CD collection.

33. Thomas Gataker, Antinomianism Discovered and Confuted: And Free-grace as it is held forth in God’s Word: As well by the Prophets in the Old Testament, as by the Apostles and Christ himself in the New. shewed to be other then is by the Antinomian Party in these times maintained. (London, 1652) Electronic file: Thomas Gataker_I-24.pdf. in Puritan Bookshelf CD collection.

34. Herman Witsius, Animadversions. Translated out of the Latin and printed in 1807 in Glasgow. Available in the Baldwin Library collection in Toronto, Ontario.

35. Bakewell, 3.

36. Bakewell, To the Reader.

37. Baillie, title page.

38. Baillie, 96.

39. Baillie, 99.

40. Bakewell, preface.

41. John Flavel, Planelogia: A Succinct and Seasonable discourse of the Occasions, Causes, Nature, Rise, Growth and Remedies of MENTAL ERRORS. Written some Months since; and now made publick, both for the healing and prevention of the Sins and Calamities which have broken in this way upon the Churches of Christ, to the great scandal of Religion, hardening of the Wicked; and obstruction of Reformation.
Whereunto are subjoined by way of Appendix:
I. Vindiciarum Vindix: Being a Succinct, but Full Answer to Mr. Philip Cary's weak and impertinent Exceptions to my Vidiciae Legis & Foederis.
II. A Synopsis of Ancient and Modern Antinomian Errors: with Scripture Arguments and Reasons against them.
III. A SERMON composed for the preventing and healing of Rents and Divisions in the Churches of Christ.
Electronic File: Flavel_John-Planelogia_a_succinct_and_seasonable-Wing-F1175-889_15-p1to249.pdf. from Early English Books Online. 328.

42. Flavel, 340.

43. Flavel, 350.

44. Flavel, 354.

45. Flavel, 360.

46. Flavel, 365-366.

50. Flavel, 404.

51. Bakewell, 1.

52. Bakewell, 1.

53. Wilhelmus a Brakel, The Christian's Reasonable Service, vol. 2, tr. Bart Elshout (Soli Deo Gloria Publications, Ligonier, PA, 1993), 379.

54. Brakel, 379.

55. Brakel, 379.

56. Brakel, 379.

57. Brakel, 380.

58. Brakel, 380.

59. James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1961 reprint of 1867 original), 159.

60. Buchanan, 159.

61. Buchanan, 160.

62. Electronic file: (Flavel_John-Planelogia_a_succinct_and_seasonable-Wing-F1175-899_15-p1to249.pdf. from Early English Books
Online, 318.

63. Flavel, 332.

64. Electronic file: Anthony Burgess_1-153.pdf. in Puritan Bookshelf CD collection, 178.

65. Flavel, 355.

66. Wilhelmus a Brakel, The Christian's Reasonable Service, vol. 2, tr., Bart Elshout (Soli Deo Gloria Publications, Ligonier, PA, 1993), 376.

67. Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 2, tr. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr. (P&R Publishing,
Phillipsburg, NJ, 1994), 683.

68. Burgess, 167.

69. Burgess, 167.

70. Burgess, 167-168 (emphasis his).

71. Burgess, 168.

72. Burgess, 168 (emphasis his).

73. Burgess, 169.

74. Brakel, 376.

75. Brakel, 376.

76. Flavel, 334.

77. Flavel, 334.

78. Flavel, 332.

79. Flavel, 333.

80. Flavel, 333.

81. Brakel, 377.

82. Turretin, 683.

83. Brakel, 380.

84. Brakel, 382.

85. Burgess, 171.

86. Burgess, 170.

87. KJV, John 3:18, emphasis mine, JPM.

88. KJV, Ephesians 2:3, 12,13, emphasis mine, JPM.

89. KJV, Romans 5:10, emphasis mine, JPM.

90. Flavel, 337.

91. Burgess, 186.

92. Burgess, 187.

93. Burgess, 187.

94. Brakel, 380.

95. Turretin, 683.

96. Flavel, 337.

97. John Gill, A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, Book 2, chapter 5 Electronic Edition (The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc. 2000), 444.

98. Burgess, 167.

99. Gill, 445.

100. Flavel, 332.

101. Gill Sermon #8 "Truth Defended, being an Answer to an Anonymous pamphlet, entitled, 'Some Doctrines in the Supralapsarian Scheme impartially examined by the Word of God.' " Electronic Edition on CD (The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc. 2000), 29.

102. G. H. Kersten, Reformed Dogmatics, tr., J. R. Beeke and J.C. Westrate (Eerdmans, 1983), 419-420.

103. Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (Zondervan Publishing House Grand Rapids, MI, 1996), 555.

104. Wallace, 557.

105. H. Bavinck, "BAVINCK ON FAITH AND JUSTIFICATION," translator unknown, from Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, vol. IV (4th ed.; Kampen: J. H. Kok, 1930), Sect. 471, pp. 182-186.

106. Bavinck, sect. 475, pp. 198-207.

107. Bavinck, sect. 475.

108. Sinclair Ferguson, Notes from Lecture on Westminster Standards (Grand Rapids, MI May 23, 2003).

109. Bavinck, sect. 471.

110. Bavinck, sect. 471.

111. Bavinck, sect. 475.

112. Bavinck, sect. 475.

113. Herman Hoeksema, Reformed Dogmatics (Reformed Free Publishing Association, Grand Rapids, 1966), 499.

114. Conclusion of Utrecht 1905, in Acts of Synod of the CRC 1942, Supplement XVII, pp. 352-354.

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