Edwards on Faith and Justification

Since Michael Bird’s books are still in transit, cross-checking with Piper’s Future of Justification, 24–25 n. 30 (PDF), that Bird’s post (“Justification – Publications and Conferences”) mentions, here is the relevant Jonathan Edwards quote to accompany the other excellent remarks in Bird’s post:

The design of the parable [of the Pharisee and the publican] is to show them, that the very publicans shall be justified, rather than they; as appears by the reflection Christ makes upon it, Luke xviii. 14. “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other;” that is, this and not the other. The fatal tendency of it might also be proved from its inconsistence with the nature of justifying faith, and with the nature of that humiliation that the Scripture often speaks of as absolutely necessary to salvation; but these scriptures are so express that it is needless to bring any further arguments.

How far a wonderful and mysterious agency of God’s Spirit may so influence some men’s hearts, that their practice in this regard may be contrary to their own principles, so that they shall not trust in their own righteousness, though they profess that men are justified by their own righteousness—or how far they may believe the doctrine of justification by men’s own righteousness in general, and yet not believe it in a particular application of it to themselves—or how far that error which they may have been led into by education, or cunning sophistry of others, may yet be indeed contrary to the prevailing disposition of their hearts, and contrary to their practice—or how far some may seem to maintain a doctrine contrary to this gospel-doctrine of justification, that really do not, but only express themselves differently from others; or seem to oppose it through their misunderstanding of our expressions, or we of theirs, when indeed our real sentiments are the same in the main—or may seem to differ more than they do, by using terms that are without a precisely fixed and determinate meaning—or to be wide in their sentiments from this doctrine, for want of a distinct understanding of it; whose hearts, at the same time, entirely agree with it, and if once it was clearly explained to their understandings, would immediately close with it, and embrace it:—how far these things may be, I will not determine; but am fully persuaded that great allowances are to be made on these and such like accounts, in innumerable instances; though it is manifest, from what has been said, that the teaching and propagating contrary doctrines and schemes, is of a pernicious and fatal tendency (Edwards 1:654).

Albeit in much shorter sentences, Herman Bavinck (HT: Michael Bird) and Alexander Campbell have also expressed some related sentiments.


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Works of Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards
John Piper
John Piper

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