The Abuse of Justification - by Robert Traill (1642-1716)Articles on Justification by Faith Alone
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Objection 1: Is there not a great decay amongst professors in real practical godliness? Are we like the old Protestants or the old Puritans? I answer, That the decay and degeneracy is great and heavily to be bewailed. But what is the cause and what will be its cure? Is it because the doctrine of morality, virtue, and good works is not enough preached? This cannot be: for there hath been for many years a public ministry in the nation that make these their constant themes. Yet the land is become as Sodom for all lewdness; and the tree of profaneness is so grown that the sword of the magistrate hath not yet been able to lop off any of its branches. Is it because men have too much faith in Christ? Or too little? Or none at all? Would not faith in Christ increase holiness? Did it not always so? And will it not still do it? Was not the holiness of the first Protestants eminent and shining? The certain spring of this prevailing wickedness in the land, is people’s ignorance and unbelief of the gospel of Christ; and that grows by many prophets that speak lies to them in the name of the Lord.
Objection 2: But do not some abuse the grace of the gospel and turn it into wantonness? Answer: Yes; some do, ever did, and still will do so. But it is only the ill-understood and not believed doctrine of grace that they abuse. The grace itself no man can abuse, for its power prevents its abuse. Let us see how Paul, that blessed herald of this grace, dealeth with this objection (Rom 6:1, &c). What doth he to prevent this abuse? Is it by extenuating what he had said (Rom 5:20) that grace abounds much more, where sin had abounded? Is it by mincing grace smaller, that men may not choke upon it or surfeit by it? Is it by mixing something of the law with it to make it more wholesome? No: but only by plain asserting the power and influence of this grace, wherever it really is. This grace is all treasured up in Christ Jesus, offered to all men in the gospel, poured forth by our Lord in the working of faith, and drunk in by the elect in the exercise of faith. [It] becomes in them a living spring, which will and must break out and spring up in all holy conversation. He exhorts them to drink in more and more of this grace by faith. And as for such as pretend to grace and live ungodly, the Spirit of God declares they are void of grace, which is always fruitful in good works (2Pe 2 & Jude’s epistle). The apostle orders the churches to cast such out (1Co 5; 2Ti 3:5); and to declare to them, as Peter did to a professor that they have no part nor portion in this matter, for their heart is not right in the sight of God; though the doctrine be right, that they hypocritically profess(Act 8:20, 21).
Taken from Vindication of the Protestant Doctrine Concerning Justification.