Plain Words to Ritualists on their way to Rome.

No. 3.
Justification:
the Council of Trent tested by the Word of God.
C. Stanley.

We have in tract No. 1, described our visit to the Dark Chamber of Idolatry in Cambridge of the “Holy Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament,” and the popish books used there by its members. It is remarkable we found no Bible there, but only books of the full Romish stamp. In tract, No. 2, we went at once to the fountain-head of Ritualism, the doctrines of Rome as taught in the decrees of the Council of Trent. In that tract we examined the doctrine of “Baptismal Regeneration,” this being declared by Rome to be the instrumental cause of “justification.” (Page 34.) We found the decrees of the Council on Baptismal Regeneration utter confusion, and in direct contradiction of the word of God. And to every Ritualist we say, Remember, these are the doctrines of that church to which you are doing your utmost to lead all you can influence.

We will now examine the decree of the Council of Trent on Justification, and test it by the word of God. (Chap. 7, page 33.) It admits indeed that the meritorious cause of justification is “His most beloved only-begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies, for the great charity wherewith He loved us, merited justification for us, by His most holy passion on the wood of the cross, and for us made satisfaction unto God the Father.” But then it goes on to say, that the “instrumental cause, moreover, is the Sacrament of Baptism;” and that, “Lastly, the sole formal cause is the justice of God; not that by which He Himself is just, but that by which He maketh us just, that to wit, with which we, being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and we are not only reputed but are truly called, and are just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost divides to every man severally as He will, and according to each one’s proper disposition and cooperation.”

We suppose the Council allows us to turn to the scriptures to examine these statements; otherwise, why do they give us so many scriptures as footnotes for proof? Here we would notice that these references to scripture are most deceptive. In this way, passages or texts are constantly quoted, that, have no connection with the subject whatever: so, much so, that these Fathers must have been in the greatest ignorance of the purpose and scope of scripture. For instance, in this very quotation above, they refer to Ephesians 4:23, only they also misquote it as usual. It is “and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” (Douay.) They say “are renewed in the spirit of our mind.” The text is the aim of a Christian in his life (one who has been justified). The other makes it a state because of which if you have it God can justify you. But the fact is, this text refers to the Ephesians who were justified and had redemption through the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins (as in chapter 2, “By grace ye are saved);” so that to quote chapter 4:23 for justification is a perversion of scripture.

It is a mistake something like this: A nobleman takes a poor boy, gives him a large estate, and places him in full possession. Then he informs him that he must conduct himself in a manner becoming his position, and wear clothes &c., according to his new rank. “Ah,” says a third party, “your new manners and clothes are the sole formal cause of the nobleman’s gift of the estate.” What a blunder! This is the exact mistake of the Fathers.

Will you read this epistle to the Ephesian Christians? God had taken them from the lowest depths of sin, and given them the highest estate in the heavens, Jesus Christ the Lord taking possession as their head, and they blest with Him in the heavenlies. “Now,” says the Holy Ghost, “let your manners and clothing become your high calling.” What a blunder to say this is the sole cause of their justification!

Now let us take the very next scripture: — 1 Corinthians 12:11 is misquoted as scripture to prove that justice, or righteousness, is within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost divides to every man severally as He will, &c.

Now let us turn and examine this passage. The scripture, thus wrested, is on a totally different subject — the gifts of Christ as used by the Spirit for the edification of the body of Christ. But this consists of all Christians. “The church of God that is at Corinth, to them that* are sanctified in Christ Jesus.” — “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and justice, and sanctification, and redemption.” (Chap. 1:2, 30.) What then has the manifestation of the Spirit, or the distribution of the gifts in the church, to do with the question of justification? Clearly nothing whatever. It is simply a blind quotation, leading the poor Romanists into uncertainty and perplexity. This very chapter shows the constitution of the church of God; whilst chapter 14 also describes those gifts in exercise. Chapter 13 shows that, whatever gifts or knowledge, if there be not love or charity, all is vain. But they are for the edification of the body of Christ.

{*I understand that, as the article is wanting here, the sentence should rather run, “to men sanctified,” &c. in opposition to the church or assembly in Corinth just spoken of; but this does not affect the argument.}

And mark the meaning of the apostle in that often misquoted text, the last verse. “And now there remain, faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greater of these is charity.” Charity is the greatest: but for what? The apostle is speaking of ministry and edification; not a thought in these three chapters about justification or salvation. He begins that as a new subject in chapter 15.

The Fathers on the contrary, wrest this text from its plain meaning, and quote it as their great text for justification. They tell us faith without hope and charity cannot bestow life everlasting. Of course it cannot, if for that purpose charity is greater than faith. What does this blunder involve? Why this — that my love or charity is greater than Christ’s work. I stand before God for justification. Faith is one hand, that rests on the person and work of Christ. Charity is the other hand, that rests on myself — my love, my charity! And in this sense the Council tells me, greater is my love than Christ’s work for me on the cross. Soul-destroying delusion! Quite true in the scriptural sense, that I might have all faith and knowledge to remove mountains of difficulty in this tract; but if there is not charity, real love to these deluded Ritualists, the tract will not be worth a straw. Oh, for more of the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, and the love of Christ flowing out in all our preachings and writings! But, remember, this has nothing to do with the question of justification. I am not aware of a single instance where a Romanist has quoted this text intelligently, according to its context.

One would have thought that every person who ever read the word of God must know that faith is the gift of God. (Eph. 2:8.) The Fathers however treat this as a mistake. The anxious soul or catechumen begs this faith of the church. “Whence also do they straightway hear that word of Christ: If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Page 34.) This is surely one of two things, using the word of God either ignorantly or craftily. Little children had been brought unto Christ, and He had announced that new and startling fact, that “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” A little child receives a gift and does nothing for it. This was the very opposite of the ministry of the law, yet most true, as explained by the Holy Ghost after redemption was accomplished, and Christ was risen from the dead. Eternal life is now the gift of God to those who, like a little child, do nothing for it: otherwise it would not be a gift. After the announcement of this new fact, a certain ruler puts a question, which lies at the root of this announcement. He asks, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” And the Lord at once tests him on his own ground, as under law. And mark He does not apply the law as to his duty to God, but the lowest test-duty to his neighbour. He says, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” “Which?” says the ruler. “Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness; honour thy father and mother; and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Well, the young man declares he has kept all these; and evidently he thinks so. But if so, where is grace? Where the Christ-announced doctrine of the little child? Oh, mark the divine wisdom of Christ! He takes the very last — “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” and only applies this to the heart of a sincere Jew, under the administration of the law. Just, and holy, and good in itself, but the ministration of it to this young man is found to be death. He says, as it were “You have property; the poor, whom you say you love as yourself, need that property; sell it and give to the poor.” Ah, he failed at once, not only to his neighbour, but in departing from God speaking to him in love. And thus was the truth not overthrown, but established; that the kingdom of God must be received as by a little child and not a commandment-doing man. Was it not very crafty of the Fathers to misapply such a text as this? Surely they ought to have known that “if righteousness came by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Gal. 2:21.) And “if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” (Gal. 3:21.)

This is a long digression; but as these are texts most relied on for the doctrine of Rome, it is of all importance fairly to examine their contexts. After this is done, you will find it difficult to believe that the Council were so ignorant of the just meaning and use of scriptures. One can only compare them to a number of men blindfolded, seeking a certain place, but uncertain as to whether they are on the right road, and therefore catching at anything in the dark. I ask every Ritualist or Romanist, Is it not so? Are you not utterly uncertain whether you have eternal life or not? and whether you are on the road that will surely end in glory, or not? Or whether you are, after all, in your sins, or justified from them? My fellow-believer, if thou hast got into the wrong road, if thou art blindfolded, following the blind guides, let me lead thee to the scriptures that were written “that ye may know that ye have eternal life.”

Let us then look at the subject of “justification,” not as a matter of controversy, but one of eternal importance. If there are only two roads, one leading to endless perdition, the other to endless bliss, in the unclouded presence of God, is it of no importance on which of the roads you are found? There are only two principles of justification, or righteousness — that of faith, or that of works — of God or of man. Is it a matter of indifference which? The one is what man is to God, and what he can do for God, righteousness in man before God — perfect consistency before God, meeting all the claims of God. This had been fairly tested in the Jews for fifteen centuries. And, as we have seen in that amiable ruler, he could not bear the test of a single commandment.

Let it be distinctly understood the Council of Trent takes one of these roads, and defends one of these principles — the one we have been describing — that which has to do with what man is to God. Man by baptism makes his fellow man pure, immaculate, and harmless! This is his best robe, and this must be kept spotless by keeping the commandments. The whole principle is what man is, and what he must do. The Jew was brought into that position by circumcision; the Romanist and Ritualist by baptism: but the principle is precisely the same; it is what man is to God. And whilst the Council quotes texts which have no reference to the subject, they almost entirely overlook the scriptures which speak explicitly on the subject.

Is it not remarkable that the Epistle sent to Rome should be occupied, say eight chapters at least, with this very subject — the justification of the sinner — and yet the Council do not seem to have known this? If they had read this Epistle, they certainly took great pains to contradict it. How is this? God gives the church at Rome a full inspired explanation of justification, and the Council of Trent takes no notice of it, but invents a doctrine of justification, the very opposite to that of the gospel, as set forth in Romans 1-8.

With the scripture it is what God is to man in the death and resurrection of Christ. With the Council it is what man is to God, made righteous by baptism. If of faith, it is what God is; if of works, it is what man is — the righteousness of God, or the righteousness of man, that is the question. The Council first, in baptism, forgives the sins of an infant, never committed. But if the baptized man should commit sins after baptism, he does not know what to do with them. They see God cannot possibly justify sins; and yet the baptized, who, as they pretend, are by that sacrament made innocent, pure, immaculate, and harmless, how are they then to be justified if they sin? Clearly Rome cannot say. And they do sin. And thus there is no justification for them worth a straw. Having been justified, have they peace with God? Nay, instead of this, ages of untold torments in purgatory. Purgatory declares Rome’s doctrine of justification utterly worthless. It were all well, if baptism did make them pure and innocent, and every thing truly sin washed away, and then the baptized kept the commandments without spot. If we were thus righteous, then certainly God must justify righteousness.

Is there such a thought in scripture, or in facts? Millions of us were baptized when infants. We bear the name of Christians. Is there one amongst these millions innocent and pure? Is there one that has not a sinful nature — a nature ever prone to sin against God? Do you not mourn over that sinful nature? And how terrible its fruits! Let us not then trust in a false justification. Oh, where shall we turn, to know with certainty that our sins are forgiven, and that we are justified from all things? Let us turn to the scriptures; there alone shall we find certainty for our souls.

Let us read the Epistle to the Romans, as God speaking to us on this very subject. Here then we have the two principles of righteousness fully revealed. The righteousness of God is the principal subject of the glad tidings: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith or on the principle of faith to faith.” (Chap. 1:17.) The propitiation of Christ is set forth of God “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Chap. 3:26.)

The Council denies this point blank: “The sole formal cause is the justice of God; not that by which He Himself is just, but that by which He maketh us just.” (Page 34.) Thus the Council distinctly denies that which is specially revealed in the gospel — the righteousness of God — that by which He Himself is just in justifying the believer. Nothing could be more opposed than the Council of Trent and the word of God. The Council maintains the righteousness of man: what be is, and what he does. The scripture reveals the righteousness of God: how He is righteous in justifying the sinner who believes on Him.

First, however, scripture fully examines the question of the righteousness of man. This was needed, as the Jew then (like the Romanist now) went about to establish his own righteousness, refusing to submit to the righteousness of God. (Rom. 10.) In chapter 1 then God examines the heathen world, and, instead of righteousness, He finds all unrighteousness and wickedness — the most debasing wickedness. The very judges who condemned the fearful iniquity were no better, but did the same things. We know history everywhere corroborates the statement of this scripture. But what of the chosen nation, with all its privileges, circumcision, and the oracles of God? Are not they found righteous? No, not one! all are proved under sin. Every mouth is stopped, and all the world guilty before God. Read the description God gives of them. (Chap. 3:9-19.) On the principle then of what man is to God, when even tested for centuries, no righteousness is to be found: all are guilty, all have sinned. Considering their privileges, the Jews were worse than the Gentiles, and showed more intense hatred to God, when Christ came on earth.

And may we not ask, What is the judgment of God on baptized Christendom? Let anyone read the history, say of Baronius, the Romanist. Could there be worse wickedness than this? And could man show more intense hatred against God, than has been shown, by Rome, in the murder of the saints of God? If, then, considering their privileges, the Jews, were worse than the heathen; may we not say that baptized Christendom, whilst maintaining the righteousness of man on the principle of works, has been more wicked than both put together? and more, let the reader, or the writer of this paper be brought into the all-searching presence of God: ah, it is not then how bad the heathen were, or how bad the Jews, or how bad the professing church has been; but how bad, how vile, am I? What a world of iniquity is in my own heart! If I look back, oh, what cause for self-abhorrence! Tell me, reader, is it not so? Where then is righteousness of man? Is it not, as God says, There is none on the principle of what man is to God? “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Baptism or circumcision, law of Moses or law of church so called, on this principle of law of what man is, or can do for God, all are sinners and righteousness there is none. It is quite true, that on this ground, no man can know that he is justified. All are guilty, under condemnation and death.

But now the righteousness of God (the very thing denied by the Council; the very thing manifested in the scripture, witnessed by law, and prophets), “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe.” Yes, that by which He Himself is just, and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. What is that by which God is righteous in justifying us? Do the scriptures, like the Council, say it is righteousness in us, each one according to his measure? No such thing. No, it is exclusively what He has done, “Whom God hath set forth a propitiation through faith in his blood to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” And not only is it so with believers in the past, before He died, but that same propitiation on the cross is “To declare, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.” (Chap. 3:20-26.)

Thus the scripture points us to the death of Jesus, the propitiation for our sins, as that by which God is just in justifying us. So it was the bitten, Israelite, owning his sins, looked upon the brazen serpent lifted it. “Even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life.” They were not told to look within for healing from the dreadful bite, but to look without, even at the brazen serpent lifted up, and all that looked lived. Do the bidding of Rome, look for righteousness within, and death is your certain portion. God give you faith to look at Jesus on the cross, for all that look shall live. Now what do I see there? By faith I see the Son of God bruised for my iniquities; taking my place; the Just for the unjust, to bring me to God; bearing my sins in His own body on the tree. Oh precious, infinite sacrifice, that for ever puts away sins! Oh precious Substitute bearing Thy people’s sins! Jehovah laid on Thee the iniquities of us all. In our stead it pleased Jehovah to bruise Thee. Thy love to me! thy death for me. Deep was the hatred of man, and dreadful Thy sufferings from his hands, smitten, buffeted, spit upon, mocked, scourged, nailed, pierced. But ah, my Lord, what was all this to that deeper suffering — the horror, the darkness, when Thy soul was made an offering for sin; forsaken of God and all for me, for me? Oh, watch Him there, and now hear that last cry, “It is finished; and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” Oh, my soul, God sets this before thee, as that by which He is just in justifying thee. That holy body cold in death was taken from the cross, and buried according to the scriptures. He, came to bear my sins, to glorify God on that cross. Did He fail? Is He still in the grave? “If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.”

Let us look carefully at two facts, the two facts overlooked by Rome; but the very facts of our justification. They are very clearly stated thus. Yea, righteousness is reckoned to us believing God about these two facts, “If we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from among the dead, who was delivered for our offences and was raised again for our justification.” (Rom. 4:24.) Here is a justification suited to lost, helpless, guilty sinners. All is of God, who delivered Him to bear our sins on the cross. And there He glorified God; there God’s love to the sinner and hatred to sin was proved to the utmost. But if my Substitute glorified God in His atoning death for my sins, then must not God in righteousness raise my Substitute from among the dead, and give Him glory? This is exactly what God did: He raised Jesus our Substitute from the dead for the very purpose of our justification.

At present it is the question of justification from sins, not sin; that we will look at afterwards. How is God righteous in justifying us from our sins? He sets before us the atoning death of Jesus our Substitute, and He says we are justified by His blood. (Chap. 5:9.) But how are we to know that we are justified from our sins which Jesus our Substitute bore on the cross? How? why Jesus was raised from the dead for this very purpose. Who raised Him? God the Justifier. Thus God reveals to my soul how He Himself is righteous in justifying me. How can I doubt Him? But then believing Him I am accounted righteous, that is to say, I am justified, and “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Would it be righteous to reckon the person guilty when the Substitute has put away that guilt? Would it be just to charge a debt when a bondsman has paid it? The resurrection of Jesus our bondsman is the believer’s everlasting discharge from sins. The scripture asks, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”

All this is indeed opposed to Rome, which directs the soul to innocence and purity by baptism, to receiving justice within us, and keeping the commandments of God and the church; which sees nothing beyond what man is and can do for God. On the other hand, the scriptures reveal what God is to us in perfect righteousness; what He has done in the gift of His Son, in the atoning death of Jesus for us, raised from the dead for our justification; we justified by His blood, He our Justifier. Are you, my reader, with the Jews, the Ritualist and the Romanist, going about to establish thus a righteousness of your own, or have you submitted to the righteousness of God?

if it be a question of looking within, could any person say there is now nothing to condemn? But since God laid all our sins on Jesus, it is most true that “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.”

First then God is righteous, He Himself is just as revealed in the propitiation, or mercy-seat. Rome only leads you unto hope, trusting that God will be propitious for Christ’s sake. This is to deny that Christ has come in the flesh. The type of the great day of atonement has surely been fulfilled. The blood is sprinkled on the mercy-seat. Through that blood God now freely forgives and is just in justifying. And this free forgiveness is presented to all. God is righteous, consistent with all His attributes. We cannot hope He will be propitious. Freely He meets the sinner at that mercy-seat, and there without money and without price freely forgives. Guilty sinner, God has set forth that mercy-seat; His righteousness is there declared. Sin has been punished, and judged to the utmost. Therefore the sinner that meets God at that mercy-seat, in righteousness is freely forgiven.

Secondly, what is the fact as to those who do receive the free mercy of God? They are those who believe God, who in self-abhorrence before God own they are lost guilty sinners, who believe (not that God will be propitious, but) that He has sent His Son, that He has been offered on the cross, the propitiation for sins. They believe the proclamation of God from that mercy-seat. “Be it known therefore to you, men and brethren, that through him forgiveness of sins is preached to you, from all the things from the which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. In him every one that believeth is justified.” (Acts 13:38, Rhemish.) I say what is the fact as to those who believe God? May we conclude that such a man is justified, or may he only hope to be? The scripture says, “For we account a man to be justified by faith without the works of the law.” (Rom. 3:28, Rhemish.) Oh, what a blessed fact, “being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Chap. 3:24.)

Pursue this fact a little farther, that all who believe are justified. You will find in chapter 4 Abraham and David believed God, and faith was accounted unto them for righteousness. Believing God they were accounted righteous. If this was true of them, before Christ died, is it not also true of the believer now since the death of Jesus? Yes, but mark, now I have faith, believing God, it is not merely propitiation but actual substitution. Thus righteousness is reckoned to us, we are as believers accounted righteous, “If we believe in him who raised up Jesus Christ our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up for our sins, and rose again for our justification.” (Chap. 4:21, Rhemish.) Therefore being — not hoping to be, but — “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The righteousness of God, and the sinner’s need are both met on the cross. If you will compare the two goats in Leviticus 16, you will find the one to be Jehovah’s, and sets forth propitiation, the blood sprinkled on the mercy-seat. Thus the judgment throne becomes the mercy-seat. But the other goat, the people’s, shows in type substitution — all the sins of the people actually laid on, or transferred to, the head of the goat. So this scripture presents Jesus as the believer’s Substitute delivered for our offences. What a fact all my sins transferred to Jesus on the cross! My blessed loving Substitute taking the whole guilt of my sins, bearing their full penalty! Deep reality! Oh, believer, our Substitute raised from the dead for our justification! And He, our representative, so justified from our sins, that He is seated in the unclouded glory of God. Yes, the glory of God shines in the face of the very One who once bore our sins and curse on the cross. Ah, such is the eternal efficacy of His death, that God says of all believers “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Now souls believing God, see the end of their sins in the death of their Substitute. The certainty of this is seen by the resurrection of that Substitute from among the dead. If God has raised Him from the dead for our justification, then the risen Christ is the full everlasting discharge from all our sins. “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins.” (1 Cor. 15:17.)

It is very striking, that in all the ramblings of unbelief, the Fathers never once, name this all-important cardinal fact that God has raised up, from among the dead, the Lord Jesus for our justification. Just like some learned person trying to show how a man is discharged from his debts when paid by another, but forgets the receipts; or like the case of two manufacturers, reckoning the cost of a piece of cloth, but forgetting the wool, the principal thing. So these Fathers forgot, or never knew, the principal evidence of the believer’s justification.

This is not the worst. Does not God in His word, in the passages above, distinctly tell the believer that he is justified — that he has peace with Him? Does He not point to the risen Christ as the proof of it? These ignorant Fathers have the daring wickedness to brand as vain confidence the faith that believes God. (Page 35.) Jesus declares that he that heareth His word, and believeth God that sent Him, hath life everlasting, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life. God declares that through Jesus is preached the forgiveness of sins, and all that believe are justified from all things. I believe Jesus; I believe God. God is true; and as surely as God speaks truth, I believing have eternal life; I am justified; and he that does not believe God is judged already. And yet the Council tells us this confidence is remote from all piety! Instead of this “joy in God,” they would give us to “have fear and apprehension concerning His own grace; inasmuch as no one can know with a certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to mistake, that he has obtained the grace of God.”

The scriptures point me to the cross, the expression of the grace of God to me. The Fathers point me to my own grace, and tell me to have fear and apprehension. Here we have the result of the two systems clearly brought out. The Holy Ghost by the scriptures gives the certainty of faith. Every believer, in the church of God as found in scripture, had this certainty. No member of the church of Rome dare enjoy this certainty on pain of anathema. God sets before the believer the Lord Jesus Christ as his Substitute, delivered for his offences and raised again for his justification. By this, God is righteous in Himself in accounting the believer righteous before Him in his Substitute. So that confessing our sins God is, yea must be, faithful to His Son — must be just in forgiving us our sins, and in cleansing us from all unrighteousness. This is the simple question. Once my sins were charged against my Substitute, God entered into judgment on Him, Jesus bearing them on the cross. All my sins were transferred to Him. In divine love He took the entire responsibility. Is there one sin yet to be charged against Him? Who shall lay that charge? On one side I have God the Justifier; who is on the other side to charge or to condemn? And mark, it is not concerning my own grace. It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again. All Fathers, popes, and Councils cannot rob my soul of this divine certainty of faith. If it be myself, God entering into judgment with me for my sins, there is not a shadow of a hope. I must be condemned; but the full wrath and judgment of God passed over the soul of Jesus, my Substitute, on the cross. That work is accomplished. “It is finished,” never to be repeated. You say, How do you know? Because God, who laid my sins on Jesus, has raised Him from the dead without them. Is it vain confidence then, to say with the beloved John, “Unto him that loveth us, and hath washed us from our sins in his own blood?” Oh, begone, dark unbelief of Rome! It is pleasing to God that we rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

If any man could have stood on the ground of what he was to God, the young Jew of Tarsus was the man. He says, “Touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless.” Does he trust in this, and the merits of Christ as a make-weight? No, he utterly rejects the whole ground and principle of what he was to God. He says he “counted them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” (Phil. 3:8, 2.) Thus he gives up as dung the whole basis that the Council seeks to establish, and accepts that which the Council repudiates — the righteousness of God — that by which He Himself is righteous in justifying us from all sins.

There is much more in this scripture; but we must now turn to the second part of the subject of justification — the question not of sins but of sin. We have already seen how God has justified the believer from sins, and that by which He is righteous in thus justifying, and how the believer is brought into the enjoyment of peace with God as to his sins. All this forms the subject of Romans to chapter 5:11. From chapter 5:12, the apostle treats of sin. We pointed out in tract number 2, that the Council teaches that all that which has the true and proper nature of sin is taken away by baptism. Surely this is too monstrous for any man to entertain with the history of baptized Christendom before him. But what saith the scripture on this question of sin — the root? Romans 5:12 to the end of chapter 8 is the answer, Sin entered by Adam, and death by sin, and so passed upon all men. The whole race is involved — not only transgression in the case of Adam and the Jews to whom God gave the law, but, for so long a period when there was no formal law, death proved that sin was there. But far and wide as the stream of sin abounded flowing from its fountain head, Adam, another stream much more abounds in grace and justification of life flowing from the obedient One, the other head, Christ. And where by the presence of the law, the offence did abound, grace did still much more abound: “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign, through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.”

This is not our Adam nature improved or restored, but an entirely new head, Christ; not old life in Adam, but new resurrection life in Christ. True, we have lost all in Adam, but in Christ we have infinitely more than we lost. But you say, Is not that old sinful Adam nature still in the believer? Yes, indeed it is. Then how can he be justified as to that? Can God justify an evil nature? Certainly not; but He has judged it, as we read, “God, sending his own Son in thee likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin [or by a sacrifice for sin], condemned sin in the flesh.” (Rom. 8:3.) Not only was He delivered as our Substitute to bear our sins, the Just for the unjust; but sin, the root of all sins, was also for ever judged by His sacrifice for sin, was also for ever judged by His sacrifice for sin as surely as He bare our iniquities, so also He was made sin. Thus sin was judged to the utmost that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Read carefully 2 Corinthians 5:21.

This is very precious to a soul, knowing that not only his sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, but that he, the sinner, is reckoned dead, crucified, judged with Christ. As we have seen, baptism is a wonderful type of this — dead and buried with Christ (Rom. 6), and also risen with Him. (Col. 2.) Now the scripture assures me of this completeness — justified from sins by the blood of Jesus, justified in the sense of complete deliverance from sin by being dead and risen with Christ. Thus the scripture says, “Ye are complete in him.” (Col. 2.)

“No,” says the Council, “no such thing. Your justification in Christ is not complete, is not perfect.” Rome can never admit that the one sacrifice of Christ for ever perfects. Stoutly does she deny this in face of these scriptures of truth. She says, (chap. 10, page 36), “Having, therefore, been thus justified, &c., they, through the observance of the commandments of God and of the church, faith co-operating with good works, increase in the justice [or righteousness], received through the grace of Christ, and are still more justified.” Then scriptures are misquoted in proof; such as Revelation 22:11, James 2:24: “And this increase of justification the holy church begs when she prays, Give us, O Lord, increase of faith, hope, and Charity.” Thus our observance of the commandments of God and the church, and an increase of faith, hope, and charity add something to the justification of the believer by the death and resurrection of Christ. Our works are of more value than His death. According to the Fathers we are not in a completely justified state as dead and risen with Christ. Our good works increase this state of justification. Universal has been the influence of this lie of Satan. “Yea,” hath God said “you are completely justified by Christ?” Just as he insinuated a doubt in the garden, so has he insinuated doubts, until at last this Council plainly declares against complete justification in Christ, and looks at the works of man to complete the work of Christ. Had they ever read these words? “Christ is become of no effect unto you; whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace.” (Gal. 5:4.)

Now if God’s righteousness is revealed and set forth in the one infinite sacrifice propitiation of Christ, that very thing by which He is righteous in Himself in justifying us; and if the Fathers deny that it is infinite, by teaching that our works and observing the commandments can increase it, or add to it, inasmuch as this infinite propitiation is the very foundation of the whole gospel to man, it follows that the Council denies the foundation of the gospel of God to lost sinners.

But then I grant this is not limited to Rome. Let me test every reader of these lines. How is it with your soul and God in this matter? We will look at keeping the commandments in its place shortly; but to keep close to the subject of justification before God, Do you accept the testimony of God simply and truly as to your own utterly lost guilty condition? Secondly, do you believe God laid your sins on Jesus, that He bore them on the cross? Surely our works have nothing to say to this. And do you believe the testimony of God in raising Jesus from among the dead for your very justification; just as you would believe a person giving you a receipt for a paid bill? Do you believe that your very nature as a child of Adam is sin; but that this and all that you are, as a child of Adam, has been judged in Jesus on the cross? That He died for your sins, that they are gone from the sight of God, to be remembered no more? And more that you are reckoned dead with Christ, crucified with Him, risen with Him, and thus completely justified from sin? (Rom. 6.)

How works could add to this is hard to say. But do you really believe the wondrous fact, that by faith in God, through Jesus Christ you are complete in Him without works at all, as justified even now, as complete as to your position in that risen Christ, as you will be when in the glory? Justified from sins and sin, and possessed of a justified life — the life of the risen Christ? And yet all this is simply the faith once delivered to the saints, alas! long since almost lost. There can be no difference between the justification of the head and the members. “As he is, so are we in this world.” Being thus justified, we have the same peace in the unclouded presence of God, and with God according to all that He is, as our Substitute, Jesus Christ the Lord. But oh, how few enjoy this completeness in Christ! Do you, my reader? How common and how sad, to say as it were, We are barely saved by Christ, now we must increase our justification by good works! This is the inward feeling of thousands, who do not speak out their unbelief honestly like the Council of Trent. My judgment of the Council is that they were in complete ignorance of the true doctrine of justification — of that by which God is just, righteous in Himself, in justifying us. Had they known it, they never could have thus set it aside and groped in darkness after baptism, commandments, faith, hope, charity, anything but what it is — the accomplished work of Christ, God’s righteousness submitted to by faith, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be taken away.

I would ask every Ritualist and Romanist, Is not this a most serious error, to teach that our good works can add to the value of the atoning work of Christ for an increase of our justification? Was it not the very heresy deceivers sought to introduce into the assemblies of Galatia? Nay, was it not the very error for which Paul had to withstand Peter? There were Gentile believers justified by Christ alone through faith. There were Jewish believers not only justified by Christ, but also they observed the law. Peter dissembled, as though the latter were more justified than the former. This could not be without making Christ the minister of sin, and Paul withstood him to the face. Read Galatians 1, 2, and see if this is not so. Now the Council teaches the very same thing. You may be justified by faith in Christ, but still more justified by works of law. This is that different gospel which is not another, for there is really none other gospel or good news to a lost sinner, but the righteousness of God as revealed in the accomplished work of Christ; the believer in which is justified freely, for Christ’s sake. But be it marked, the Council teaches that other gospel, in direct contrast to the gospel of Paul, concerning which he says, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8.)

The true gospel is the death and resurrection of Christ, that by which God is righteous in justifying us from all things. The false gospel is that by which we pretend that God has made us just in ourselves by baptism, and our keeping the commandments of God and the church. This other false gospel is the distinct teaching of the Council of Trent. The true gospel is what God is to us in Christ; the false is what we are to God by sacraments and works.

The two men in the temple exactly illustrate these two principles. The one thanked God that He had made him righteous by good works in himself. The other had nothing but sin to bring and confess to God; and he needed God to be propitious to him a sinner. The Council takes the exact ground of the Pharisee. The believer in the word of God takes the ground of the publican; only he has not now to pray thus afar off, but to believe that God has met all his need in the propitiation of Christ. And it is the Son of God that says, “I tell you this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.” (Luke 18:13.)

As surely then as God has spoken the truth to us in His word, so surely has the Council of Trent brought to one hundred and eighty millions of people the most false soul-destroying error. And equally certain is it, that more than two thousand six hundred clergymen are leading giddy thoughtless England to the darkness of Rome.

Some unacquainted with scripture might be misled by the scriptures quoted by the Council in defence of justification by works; by which, and the grace of Christ in them, as they say “we must needs believe that to be justified nothing farther is wanting, but that they be accounted to have, by those very works which have been done in God, fully satisfied the divine law according to the state of this life, and truly to have merited eternal life to be obtained also in its due time” (page 41), with very, very much of the same sad sort. Now let a person be placed on such ground as this. He must keep the holy precepts of the word of God, so as to fully satisfy the divine law, truly thus to merit eternal life.

In contrast with all this, the Lord Jesus assures our hearts, the moment we believe that we have eternal life. “Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me hath life everlasting.” (John 6:47, Rhemish.) The Council tells us to keep all these commandments diligently, in order that we may be justified, and still more justified. On the contrary, all the precepts of the inspired Epistles are addressed to those who are justified. “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs, according to hope of life everlasting;” and to those who do believe God and are justified, “That they which believe in God be careful to excel in good works.” (Tit. 3:7, 8, Douay.)

And let it be distinctly understood, that the gospel, applied by the power of God to such as even never heard it before, gives, when believed, the immediate certainty of justification, without one question as to works first. See the apostle’s first proclamation of the gospel at Antioch in Pisidia. “Be it known therefore to you, men brethren, that through him forgiveness of sins is preached to you, from all the things from the which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. In him every one that believeth is justified.” (Acts 13:38, 39, Rhemish.) Let me beg of every sincere Romanist to ponder this well. Oh, return to the word of God. Do not put that justification at the end which God puts at the beginning. Nay, instead of this immediate justification from all things on the certainty of the very word of God, do you not make justification utterly impossible? Oh, where is the man that has satisfied the claims of the divine law? Where but that Blessed One at God’s right hand? And if you, could satisfy the demands of a holy God, where would be the need of the death and resurrection of Christ?

Test these teachings of vain men by the word of God, and you will find them utterly false. Can anything be more certain than the above statements of the word of God that he that believeth is justified? God says it. I believe God, and God says I am justified. The Council says, If I assuredly believe for certain and without any hesitation that I am justified and my sins forgiven, I am accursed. (See Canons 12, 13, 14.) Shall I believe God, or man? Which is it with you, my reader? Certainly the scriptures teach us that good works are the fruits and signs before the world of justification before God by faith. But if I believe this, the Council will again curse me. (Canon 29.)

Here are thirty-three canons and curses: dreadful work would it be to go through these. Truth there is mixed up with it; but as a system of doctrine, nothing could be more opposed to the glad tidings of God. As Satan once led the world, its priests and Pharisees, to reject and kill the Prince of life; so now behold him leading that vast gathering of priests, bishops, and Ritualists, to reject the gospel and openly set aside the authority of the word of God. “They being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” (Rom. 10:3.) The sole object of the Council was to establish their own righteousness, so that by their own righteousness God might be just in justifying them. This is the plain principle; be it by baptism, sacraments, or keeping of commandments, they entirely set aside the great truth of the righteousness of God. Christ in the glory of His person, and the everlasting value of His work, His death, and resurrection, is that by which God is righteous, just in Himself in justifying us. Can anything please Satan more than thus to set aside Christ, and thus to exalt poor sinful man?

And now, my reader, will you, with the Bible in your hands, join the ranks of these Confraternities? Will you deliberately and wickedly refuse to hear God speaking in the Son? Will you sin against the Holy Ghost, and refuse to hear Him in the inspired epistles speaking of Christ as the end of the law for righteousness? Will you reject the free pardon of sins proclaimed to you through Jesus Christ? Dare you deny the truth of God that all who believe are justified from all things? True, you might not believe if all the waters of the Atlantic had been rolled over you in baptism; but “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth from all sin.” Oh, will you turn from that precious blood? from the very testimony of God? From God Himself, the Justifier, to vain presumptuous man? Can God who freely gave His beloved Son possibly deceive you? Will you say, I will not believe Him, I will not read what He says to me in the word; unless the priest says it is so? Would a child treat His father thus? would he say I will not believe what my father says, unless the servants say it is true? Will you exalt the Council, or the priest above God? Do you honestly say I will not hear God, I will only hear man?

Oh turn to the scriptures and hear God speaking to your soul. You must either know Him now as Justifier; or a day is fast approaching when you must know Him as Judge. Then every sin must be brought to light. Oh, what will sacraments and idolatry do for you in that day? Will you say in that day I preferred my own way, my own righteousness to the great and free salvation of God? How blest every child of God! “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Romanist, or Ritualist can never say so. The most he can have is, not peace, but an armistice. With Him the great question of peace will not be settled until the assembled congress, before the great white throne of judgment. Then it will be for ever too late. If we stand before the Judge to be judged for our sins, then shall no flesh living be justified. One thing is clear, God cannot be both my Justifier and my Judge. He was both to my holy Substitute, in whom I have been judged, and now can only be justified. The infinite claims of my holy Substitute demand my everlasting justification. Oh, blessed God, Thy righteousness denies the possibility of judging me for the sins, which have been laid on Jesus; on Him, once judged, never can they be judged again. I bow my head, and worship in the unclouded peace with Thee, my holy holy, holy God. Thy majesty, righteousness, and grace, Thine every attribute, in perfect harmony. And I have peace, peace with Thee. Thou, my precious Jesus hast made peace by Thy blood, Thou art that peace to me. Gone, gone every barrier to Thine everlasting love: now to serve Thee be my only delight.

Oh, fellow believer, wide open is the way into the holiest! The fatted calf is killed; all things are ready. The Father says, “let us eat, and be merry.” The veil is rent in twain. The precious blood gives boldness. Satan is leading men to stitch up that vail, to shut man outside again in beggarly ritualism, in gloomy misery, afar off from God, with priests between.

What a moment, a nation going back from the profession of Christianity to papal idolatry! And shall we look on with supine indifference? How is it that Christians can remain silent, yea, even linked and thus identified with all this grievous insult to God, and denial of His truth? “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” Ritualism is a vast effort of Satan to extinguish the light of the gospel. But “Christ shall give thee light.” Let us have faith in God. Greater is He that is for us than all they that be against us. And if God be for us, who are they that are against us? C. S.

The prayers of all Christians are asked for the blessing of God on these tracts.