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ETERNAL JUSTIFICATION?

DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - I see that you have copied into the SIGNS OF THE TIMES from the WORLD, the communication signed T.J.K. on the subject of justification. The sentiment advocated by this writer, relative to the elect having been justified in eternity, is one which has generally been received by our Predestinarian Brethren, and is certainly ably handled by him. Although I am a predestinarian in sentiment, and classed with those, whom the law-gospel religionists call by way of reproach Antinomians, yet the arguments of T.J.K. has left my mind, as they found it, possessed of what appears to me strong objections to this sentiment. As T.J.K. appears to be intimately conversant with the subject, and as capable perhaps as any other of removing these objections, if they can be consistently answered, I beg leave through the medium of your Paper to propose some of them for his examination; hoping that, not for my sake only, but that there may be a correct understanding of this important subject by all those who are desirous of being established in the truth as it is in Jesus, he will enter into a candid discussion of the subject. Before stating my objections, I would remark that none of those objections raised by the popular religionists against this sentiment, and which grew out of a denial of the eternal union of Christ and his Church, find any place in my mind. But I object to the sentiment that the elect were justified before the foundation of the world.

First, because the Scriptures, no where as I can find, declare this to be the case, or directly imply it. Now to us Waldensis, this is a weighty objection; for being an inhabitant of the valley, and not having our residence on the hill of Theological Science, we have never learned to receive as revealed truth, those notions which are only found by drawing inferences from the major and minor propositions of the logicians. We are plain men, and require plain and direct Scriptural proofs for what we receive as articles of our faith. Thus eternal & personal election we find plainly stated or necessarily involved in the declarations of Scripture; the everlasting love of God to his people is also clearly revealed, and the eternal union of Christ and his Church, and the individual members thereof, is also evidently declared in such texts as these, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,” and necessarily involved in the doctrine of the headship of Christ. So of the other particulars of the doctrine of the everlasting Gospel.

Second, I object to it, because to defend the sentiment its advocates uniformly find it necessary to make it an essential pre-requisite to the everlasting love of God. T.J.K. does not say this in so many words, but he seems to think it inconsistent to suppose that God would choose his people in Christ, without considering them as justified, which amounts to the same thing. But the Scriptures, I think, as uniformly represent the love of God to his people to be the moving cause of his making the necessary provision; that is, giving his Son that they might be justified. If so, I do not see how we can get rid of acknowledging it the primary cause of their justification; which is exactly reversing the subject.

Third, I object to the notion of eternal justification, because that in supporting it, its advocates seem necessarily to blend the law under which Adam was created, with the everlasting Covenant under which Christ, and his posterity were set up, and the relation of the elect to Adam, with their relation to Christ. For justification, I believe is uniformly admitted to be a law term, and to effect man’s standing as existing under the law; so I think the Scriptures speak of it. This being the case, I cannot conceive how justification can entitle us to heaven and eternal happiness, unless the inheritance come by the law; but the Apostle tells us, “For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise.” Gal.3:18. Neither can I comprehend how they could be justified {justification being a clearance from a charge of guilt,} whilst they had no being, but as they existed in Christ, unless they existed in him as under the law; nor can I understand how that which was alone necessary to the elect, as existing in their relation to Adam, could be necessary to effect their standing in Christ, if their relations to the two Adam’s be as distinct as are their two headships.

Last, I object to this notion, because, as justification relates wholly to the requirements of the law, the idea of eternal justification must involve in it the existence of the law from everlasting. But how could a law exist without subjects? And who were the subjects of law before the creation of the world, if we admit that Christ, and his people in him, were wholly set up under another Covenant?

A WALDENSIS.
Valley of Achor, Dec.21st, 1832.

Elder Samuel Trott