September 7, 1893
THE Christian doctrine of justification is, that it is by faith alone, with the faith itself the gift of God, so that it is wholly of the Lord in a free gift to man.
“WHATSOEVER is not of faith is sin.” Romans 14:23. Conversely, whatsoever is of faith is righteousness. Consequently righteousness is of faith only. And the faith being the gift of God the righteousness of faith is inevitably the righteousness of God. See Romans 3:22; Philippians 3:9.
IT is not by faith and works; it is by faith which works. The faith, being the gift of God, is a divine thing, bearing in it the divine virtue which conveys to every sinner who will receive it, the righteousness of God for remission of sins that are past; and in it also the divine power to keep the justified one in the way of righteousness.
FOR in the gospel of Christ “is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17. And “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love.” Galatians 5:6. “Abraham believed God and it [the faith] was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:3-5.
THE true Protestant doctrine of justification is just this Christian doctrine of justification, neither more nor less; while the Catholic doctrine of justification is directly the opposite of this.
THAT it may be seen how certainly this is so, we give here the Catholic statement of the case. In telling what was done in this respect, at the time of the “so-called” Reformation, the statement is as follows:—
To make up for this rejection [of the Catholic sacraments], and enable each individual to prescribe for himself, and procure for himself the pardon of sins, and divine grace, independently of the priests and of the sacraments, they invented an exclusive means, never known in the Church of God, and still rejected by all the Eastern churches and by the Roman Catholics throughout the world, by which the followers of Luther ventured to declare that each individual can secure pardon and justification for himself, independently of priests and sacraments.
They have framed a new dogma, not to be found in any of the creeds, or in the canons of any general council; I means the new dogma of justification by faith alone, or by faith only….
By adding the word alone, Protestants profess to exclude all exterior, ceremonial, pious, or charitable works, works of obedience or of penance, and good moral acts whatever, as means of apprehending justification, or as conditions to obtain it.—Catholic Belief, p. 366.
He [Luther] invented a thing which he called justifying faith, to be a sufficient substitute for all the above painful religious works; an invention which took off every responsibility from our shoulders, and laid all on the shoulders of Jesus Christ. —Doctrinal Catechism, p. 37.
To do these acts with a view of being justified, is, they [Protestants] say, like giving a penny to the Queen to obtain from her a royal gift. Come as you are, they add; you cannot be too bad for Jesus. Through faith alone in his promise, they assert, you can and should accept Christ’s merits, seize Christ’s redemption and his justice [righteousness]; appropriate Christ to yourself, believe that Jesus it [sic.] with you, is yours, that he pardons your sins—and all this without any preparation and without any doing on your part; in fact that however deficient you may be in all other dispositions which Catholics require, and however loaded with sins, if you only trust in Jesus that he will forgive your sins and save you, you are by that trust alone forgiven, personally redeemed, justified, and placed in a state of salvation.—Catholic Belief, p. 367. And the Italics are all in the book.
Bear in mind that this is the Catholic Church’s statement of the Protestant doctrine of justification. And bear in mind that the Catholic Church thus plainly declares that this doctrine was “never known to the Church of God,” is “not to be found in any of the creeds, or in the canons of any general council,” and that it “is still so regarded by Roman Catholics throughout the world.”
VERY good. That is correct. No true Protestant could ask for any better statement of the case. And this Protestant doctrine of justification, which is here so emphatically repudiated and opposed by Catholicism—this doctrine is the Christian doctrine of justification, as every one knows who has ever read the Bible for himself. Consequently no better evidence is needed to show that the Catholic doctrine of justification is certainly antichristian.
IT is true that that church holds what it calls faith; but instead of its being the gift of God and therefore divine, it is only the invention of men and is therefore wholly human. And being human it has neither virtue nor power of any kind or degree whatever in it for good. Here is the evidence: After citing some passages of scripture which speak of believing in Jesus, it is said:—
These texts, all of which refer to saving faith, prove beyond doubt that not trust in Christ for personal salvation, but the faith of the creed … is the faith availing for justification.
Thus “the church’s” idea of faith is only “the faith of the creed,” and man made the creed. Therefore as the “faith” held by the Catholic Church is only “the faith of the creed,” and as only man made the creed, it follows conclusively that what she calls faith and holds as faith, is only an invention of men, and is therefore wholly human. And being only human it is utterly impotent to bring to men any shadow of virtue or power for good, and so men are left to supply the lack by penances inflicted in punishments upon themselves, by themselves to save themselves from themselves. The “faith” which the Catholic Church holds, having in it neither virtue nor power, it is impossible for her to depend upon faith alone for justification. She must depend upon “faith” and something else. And this something else, is works and penances paid in punishments which not only pay for past sins but serve “as a check to prevent us from again falling into sin.” This, for those who voluntarily go or are caused to go, in that way of salvation. And for the rest she has recourse to the help of the law and State authority to secure conformity to her way and furnish the due measure of punishment to  pay for their past sins and to prevent their again falling into sin.
NOW, in the matter of Sunday legislation, and other too, have the professed Protestant churches of the United States remained loyal to the true Protestant, and Christian, doctrine of justification? or have they gone over bodily to the way and doctrine of the Catholic Church? Have they remained loyal to the true Protestant and Christian doctrine of justification by the faith of Christ alone? or have they gone in the way, and to the doctrine, of the Catholic Church of justification by “the faith of the creed,” with “recourse to the help of the law and State authority” to provide the necessary “fear of temporal punishment to act as a check to prevent” the American people from “falling again into sin”? Which of these have they done? Everybody knows, from these evidences, that they have forsaken the true Protestant and Christian way, and have gone in the Catholic and antichristian way.
AND that all may more fully see how complete is this their apostasy, we insert here Mr. Bryce’s scathing arraignment of false Protestantism everywhere, and which is as applicable to this as to all before it:—
The principles which had led the Protestants to sever themselves from the Roman Church, should have taught them to bear with the opinions of others, and warned them from the attempt to connect agreement in doctrine or manner of worship with the necessary forms of civil government. Still less ought they to have enforced that agreement by civil penalties; for faith, upon their own showing, had no value save when it was freely given. A church which does not claim to be infallible, is bound to allow that some part of the truth may possibly be with its adversaries; a church which permits or encourages human reason to apply itself to revelation, has no right first to argue with people and then to punish them if they are not convinced.
But whether it was that men only half saw what they had done, or that finding it hard enough to unrivet priestly fetters, they welcomed all the aid a temporal prince could give. The result was that religion, or rather, religious creed, began to be involved with politics more closely than had ever been the case before. Through the greater part of Christendom, wars of religion raged for a century or more, and down to our own days feelings of theological antipathy continue to affect the relations of the powers of Europe. In almost every country the form of doctrine which triumphed, associated itself with the State, and maintained the despotic system of the Middle Ages, while it forsook the grounds on which that system had been based.
It was thus that there arose national churches, which were to be to the several Protestant countries of Europe that which the Church Catholic had been to the world at large; churches, that is to say, each of which was to be co-extensive with its respective State, was to enjoy landed wealth and exclusive political privilege, and was to be armed with coercive powers against recusants. It was not altogether easy to find a set of theoretical principles on which such churches might be made to rest. For they could not, like the old church, point to the historical transmission of their doctrines; they could not claim to have in any one man or body of them an infallible organ of divine truth; they could not even fall back upon general councils, or the argument, whatever it may be worth. “Securus indicat orbis terrarium.”
But in practice these difficulties were soon got over, for the dominant party in each State, if it was not infallible, was at any rate quite sure that it was right, and could attribute the resistance of other sects to nothing but moral obliquity. The will of the sovereign, as in England, or the will of the majority, as in Holland, Scandinavia, and Scotland, imposed upon each country a peculiar form of worship, and kept up the practices of medieval intolerance without their justification.
Persecution, which might at least be excused in an infallible Catholic and Apostolic Church, was peculiarly odious when practised by those who were not Catholic, who were no more apostolic than their neighbors, and who had just revolted from the most ancient and venerable authority, in the name of rights which they now denied to others. If union with the visible church by participation in a material sacrament be necessary to eternal life, persecution may be held a duty, a kindness to perishing souls. But if the kingdom of heaven be in every sense a kingdom of the spirit, if saving faith be possible out of one visible body and under a diversity of external forms, persecution becomes at once a crime and a folly.
Therefore the intolerance of Protestants, if the forms it took were less cruel than those practiced by the Roman catholic, was also far less defensible; for it had seldom anything better to allege on its behalf than motives of political expediency, or more often the mere headstrong passion of a ruler or a faction, to silence the expression of any opinions but their own…. And hence it is not too much to say that the ideas … regarding the duty of the magistrate to compel uniformity in doctrine and worship by the civil arm, may all be traced to the relation which that theory established between the Roman Church and the Roman Empire; to the conception, in fact, of an Empire Church itself.—Holy Roman Empire, Chap. XVIII., par. 3.
THUS certain and thus complete by every count and in every sense, is the apostasy of the professed Protestant denominations of the United States, as such. By the persistent action of their ecclesiastical leaders, these denominations, as such, have been carried clear over into the antichristian way. They have thus become the harlot daughters of “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” And now the voice from heaven calls, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” Revelation 18:4, 5.
A. T. J.