The true doctrine of justification asserted and vindicated, from the errours of Papists, Arminians, Socinians, and more especially Antinomians in XXX lectures preached at Lawrence-Iury, London
Burgess, Anthony, d. 1664.

LECTURE XXIX.


ACTS 3.19.

Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.

THe Apostle Peter in this exhortatory discourse of his to the Jews, deals like a wise Physitian:

First, Discovering the danger of the disease.

Secondly, Applying an effectual remedy.

The disease is that hainous sin the Jews were guilty of, in kil∣ling of Christ, the Prince of life. Which sin is aggravated by a threefold antithesis:

1. They delivered up, and denied Christ in the presence of Pilate, when he would have acquitted him.

2. They denied him, though he was an holy and just One.

3. They desired a murtherer to be released rather then him. This is their sin.

In the next place, you have the remedy prescribed in two words, Repent and be converted. Repent, that denotes a change in the heart: and to be converted, an alteration in the outward conversation,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Howsoever it be generally received that Page  255〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 signifieth only true and godly sorrow, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that imperfect and unsound grief which is upon hypocrites, yet this is not universally true, for 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, is applied to true repen∣tance, Mat. 21.19. & 32. and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 to an outward repentance meeerly, Mat. 11.21. The other word is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which is to be understood reciprocally, Turn your selves, or be turned. This exhortation doth not suppose free-will in us, it only de∣noteth our duty, not our ability. Neither is Grotius his assertion better then Semipelagianisme, when he compareth the will of a man to the mother, and grace to the father, so that as children are named after the father, and not the mother: thus good actions are denominated from grace, not free-will: for in our conversion free-will is neither a totall or partiall cause preope∣rant or cooperant, but the passive subject recipient of that Vim gratiae vorticordiam, as Austin called it, the heart-changing pow∣er of grace. This duty of repentance is urged from the pro∣fitable consequent. Piscator cals it effectu utili, the effect of conversion, which is, that your sins may be blotted out. It is not an inference of causality, but of consequence. Blotting out, is (as you heard) from merchants that expunge their debts, or the Scribe that raceth out those letters which ought not to be in the paper, or the Painter that defaceth those lineaments, which should not be in the Picture.

In the next place, you have the time, when these sins shall be blotted out (that is) when the times of refreshing shall come, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, is used Exod. 8.15. Some do not understand this, nor that expression, The times of restitution of all things, vers. 21. of the day of judgement, but of that preservation the elect should have, when the destruction of Jerusalem should be. Hence it is, that they expound the day of the Lord so much spoken of in Peter, and other places, which is said to be com∣ing upon the beleevers, of that time when God came to destroy Jerusalem, but there is no cogent reason to go from the recei∣ved interpretation, which maketh the day of judgement to be the times of refreshing to the godly, for so indeed it is, because then they are eased from all those troubles and oppressions they lay under in this world. Hence our Saviour cals it, The day of our redemption, upon the coming whereof they are to lift up their heads.

Page  256The Observation is,

*That a compleat and full absolution from all sin, is not enjoyed till the day of judgement.

The Beleevers have not a full discharge till then: we are in this life continually subject to new sins, and so to new guilt, whereby arise new fears, so that the soul hath not a full rest from all, till that final absolution be pronounced at the day of judgement.

*Before we shew the grounds whereby it may appear, that the remission of our sins is not fully compleated till then: we must lay down some Propositions by way of a grand work.

First, The Scripture not only in this priviledge of remission of our sin, [ 1] but in others also, makes the complement and fulness of them to be at the day of judgement. Redemption is the totall summe, as it were, of all our mercies, and we are partakers of it in this life, Col. 1.14. Rom. 3.24. Yet the Scripture cals the day of judge∣ment, when we shall rise out of our graves in a peculiar and e∣minent manner, the day of redemption, Ephes. 1.7. Ephes. 4.30. because at that day, will be the utmost and last effects of our redemption. Adoption, that also is a priviledge we receive in this life; yea a learned man (Forbes in his book where he hand∣leth the order of Gods graces) makes adoption (as I take it) to be the first, and to go before justification, yet the Apostle, Rom. 8.23. calleth the last day, the day of adoption. Hence 1 Joh. 3.2. the Apostle, though he saith, We are now the sons of God, yet he saith it doth not appear what we shall be, because the glory God at the last day will put upon us, is so farre tran∣scendent and superlative to what now we are. Thus Mat. 19.28. the last day is also called the day of regeneration unto the people of God, yet in this life they partake of that grace, but because then is the full perfection and manifestation of it, there∣fore the Scripture cals it, the day of regeneration. Even as the Apostle, Act. 13.33▪ applieth that passage of the Psalm to Christs resurrection, This day have I begotten thee, because then was such a solemn and publique declaration, that he was the Son of God. No marvel then, if the Scripture do also call the day of judgement a time, when sins shall be blotted out, because then is the publique absolution of the godly; and according to phi∣losophy Page  257 motions receive their names from the term to which they tend.

Secondly, Howsoever Justification be said to consist in par∣don of sin, yet there is a great difference between the one and the other; for Justification besides the pardon of sin doth con∣note a state that the subject is put into, viz. A state of favour, being reconciled with God. Hence it is, that this state cannot be reiterated often, no more then a wife after that first entrance into the relation is frequently made a wife. In this sense, the Scripture alwaies speaks of it, as connoting a state or condition the subject is put into, as well as a peculiar priviledge vouch∣safed to such. It is true, There are indeed learned men, who think Justification may be reiterated, as you heard, Peter Mar∣tyr, and Bucer. Others call it a continued action, as conservati∣on. But although there is a continuance of Justification, and the godly are preserved in that estate, yet we cannot say, God doth renew Justification daily, as he doth pardon of sin. There are some that think the Scripture gives a ground for a second Justification, or the continuing and encreasing of it, and bring those places, Tit. 3.5, 6, 7. Rev. 22.11. The learned and excel∣lent Interpreter Ludovicus de Dieu, in Cap. 8. of the Romans, vers. 4. largely pleadeth for a two-fold Justification; The first he makes to be the imputing of Christs righteousness to us, re∣ceived by faith, which is altogether perfect, and is the cause of pardon of sins: The second he makes an effect of the former, whereby through the grace of God regenerating, we are con∣formable unto that love in part, and are day by day more and more justified, and shall be fully so when perfection comes: of which Justification he saith these texts speak, Jam. 2.21, 24. Revel. 22.11. Mat. 11.37. 1 King. 8.32. This two-fold Justifi∣cation he makes to differ toto coelo from the Papists, whose first is founded upon the merit of congruity, the second upon the merit of condignity. But the discussing of this will be more proper in the other part, viz. of imputed righteousness. Austin seemeth to hold Justification a frequent and continued act, lib. 2. contra Julianum, cap. 8. When we are heard in that prayer [For∣give us our sins] we need (saith he) such a remission daily, what progress soever we have made in our second Justification. He speaks Page  258 also of a Justification hujus vitae, which he cals minorem the les∣ser; and another plenam and perfectam, full and perfect, which belongs to the state of glory, Tract. 4. in Joannem lib. de spiritu & lit. cap. ultim. But the more exact handling of this will be in the place above-mentioned. It seemeth more consonant to Scri∣pture, if we say, That Justification is a state we were once put into, which is not repeated over and over, as often as sin is for∣given; neither can it admit of increase or decrease, so that a man should be more or less justified, for even David while he was in that state of suspension, was not less justified, though the effects of Justification were less upon him. It is true, in some sense learned men say, Justification may increase, viz. extensivè, not intensivè, as they express it, by way of extension, when more sins are pardoned, not intensively in its own nature. Even as the soul of a man in its information of the body, admits of no increase intensively, but it doth extensively, the more the parts of the body grow, the further doth its information extend. But of these things more in their proper place.

[ 3] Thirdly, Howsoever an absolution shall be compleated at the day of judgement, yet our justification shall not abide in such a way, as it is in this life. Now our Justification is by pardon of sin, and a righteousness without us imputed to us, which is instrumen∣tally applied by faith, but this way shall then cease; for having perfect righteousness inherent in our selves, we shall need no covering. It is true, the glory and honour of all this will re∣dound upon Christ, and he shall not be the less glorified, be∣cause he hath then brought us to the full end of all his suffer∣ings. I know some may doubt whether any righteousness, but that which is infinite can please God, and therefore as some think the Angels were accepted of God through Christ, though perfect: so it may of the Saints in heaven; but I see no ground for this. This seemeth to be undoubted, That the way of Ju∣stification by faith in Christ, ariseth because of our imperfecti∣on and sinfulness remaining in us, and therefore is justificatio viae, not patriae, a justification of us in our way, not when we come to our home.

Fourthly, Although pardon of sin be compleated at that great day, yet this is not to be understood, as if Gods pardon of Page  259 any sin were imperfect, and something of sinne did still remain to be done away. No, those expressions of forgivenes of sin in the Scri∣pture, denote such a full and plenary pardon, that a sin cannot be more remitted then it is. But because we commit new sinnes daily, and so need pardon daily, Therefore it is that we are not compleatly pardoned till then. As also because the perfect par∣don we have here, shall then solemnly and publikely be declared to all the world.

These things thus premised,* I come to shew the grounds or particulars, wherein our pardon of sinne is thus com∣pleated.

And first, In our sense and feeling: For howsoever God pardon a sinne perfectly, yet our faith which receiveth it, is weak. This Jewell is taken with a trembling and shaking hand.* Hence it is that we have not full faith and confidence in our spi∣rits. We may see this in David, though Nathan told him his sinnes were forgiven him, yet his faith was not so vigorous and powerfull, as wholly to apply this to his own soul; and therefore he had much anguish and trouble of heart afterwards; But now, at the last day, all these fears, diffidence and dark∣nesse, will be quite removed out of our hearts. There shall be no more disturbance in our souls, then there can be cor∣ruption in the highest heavens, we shall then have such a gourd as no worm can devour. Our souls shall not then know the meaning of sitting in darknesse, and wanting Gods favour. There will then be no complaints, Why hath the Lord forsa∣ken me? Well may Gods children be called upon to lift up their heads, when such a redemption draweth nigh; and well may that day be called the times of refreshment, seeing the people of God are so often scorched with the fiery darts of Satan.

Secondly, Pardon of sin will at that day be perfected.*Be∣cause all the effects of pardon, will then be accomplished, and not so much as any scars remain, the wound will be so fully healed. Al∣though God doth fully pardon sin, yet the effects of this are de∣laied, many chastisements and sad afflictions are to be under∣gone: howsoever, death it self, and the corruption in the grave must seize upon justified persons; now these are the fruit of sin, Page  260 and howsoever the sting of these be taken away, yet they are not wholly conquered, till that last day, Then therefore may we justly say, Sin is pardoned, when there shall be no more grave, no more death, no more corruption, but all shall be swallowed up in immortality and glory.

*Thirdly, Then, and not till then may we say, remission of sins will be compleated, because then shall no more iteration of pardon be. Here in this life, because the root of corruption a∣bideth in us; there are daily pullulant branches of sinnes, and so frequent guilt is contracted, whereby as we have daily sores, so we need daily plaisters. It is with originall corruption in us, as in that Tree in Dan. 4.14, 15. although the branches be cut off, yet the stump is still in the earth, and that sprouts out too fast by the temptations that are alwaies by it. Hence it is that we alwaies pray, Forgive us our sins, and because of thse failings the Apostle 2 Cor. 5.20. writeth to, and exhorteth the godly Corinthians, who were already reconciled to God, to be further reconciled to him. But then this Petition shall wholly cease, then there will be no serpent to sting us, nor will the eye of ju∣stifying faith to look upon the brazen serpent exalted be neces∣sary any more. The Lord will not only wipe away the tear of wordly grief, but also of godly sorrow at that time. Then, and not till then, will it be true, That God seeth no sin in his children. Then will the Church be without wrinkles, or any spot within her. In this respect it is, the Church of God paieth so earnestly for the Bridegrooms coming. For this it is, They look for, and ha∣sten in their praiers that day.

*Fourthly, At that day will pardon of sin only be compleat∣ed, if you consider the nature of justification. For what is that, but an overcoming the accusing adversary, and clearing of us a∣gainst every charge? Now this is most eminently and fully done in those last assizes. The Syriack word to justifie, is also to con∣quer and overcome, because when a man is justified, he overco∣meth all those bils and indictments which were brought in a∣gainst him; now this is manifestly done in the day of judge∣ment, when God shall before men and Angels acquit and ab∣solve his people: and if the Apostle say in this life, Rom. 6.7. of a godly man dead in Christ, he is justified from his sins, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Page  261 in respect of sanctification, that sin doth not conquer him, but he sinne, how much more will this be true at that day, when all the guilt and filth of sin shall be totally removed? Oh what a glorious conquest will that be over sin, hell and the devil, when the Judge of the whole world, shall pronounce them free from all sinne, and command them to enter into his glori∣ous rest!

Having thus cleared the Doctrine, one Question may be brie∣fly touched upon,

Whether the sins of Gods people shall be manifested at the day of judgement, and God for Christs sake then acquit them?*

There are learned men for the affirmative, They shall be pub∣lished; and there are learned men for the negative. Those that are for the affirmative, they say indeed godly mens sins shall not be examined for their ignominy or confusion, but only that the goodnesse and grace of God may be made the more illustrious, For this they urge these Arguments;

First, Those places of Scripture, which speak of the univer∣sality of the reall objects, and personal: Of the reall; as when it's said, A man must give an account of every idle word, Mat▪ 12.36. 2 Cor. 5.10. an account must be made for every thing done in the body. For the universality of the object personal, 2 Cor. 5. We must all appear before the Tribunall seat.

Again, They urge the opening of the book, which shall be at that day, and that is nothing, but the manifesting of the consci∣ences of men.

Furtther, Many wicked mens sins and godly mens are ming∣led together, and there cannot be a judgement of discussion pre∣ceding that of condemnation, unlesse godly mens sinnes also be produced.

In summe, They think this conduceth more to the setting up of Gods justice, the exaltation of his mercy; neither (say they) will this breed shame to the godly, for in heaven they shall re∣member their sins committed on earth, but without any grief or trouble, yea with joy and thankfulnesse to God, because deliver∣ed from them. Quando{que} laeti recordamur dolorum, said Gregory. We may with joy remember by-past grief.

But those that are for the negative, think this no waies sute∣able Page  262 to Gods goodnesse, that the sins of the godly should then be published, for these grounds following.

First, From the judicial processe, where Christ cals the blessed of his Father to inherit the Kingdom prepared for them; and then enumerateth only the good works they had done; no question they had many sins and failings, but God takes no notice of them.

Secondly, This agreeth best (they say) with those expressi∣ons of Scripture concerning pardon, viz. that God blotteth them out, that they are thrown into the bottom of the sea.

Thirdly, The godly are said not to come into judgement, and there is no condemnation to them, yea, they have already life everlasting.

Lastly, Christ is their bridegroom, their friend, their advo∣cate, and how ill becoming would it be one in such relations, to account or lay open their sins?

Which of these opinions is truest, is hard to say, neither of them have cogent arguments, and the Scripture doth not expre∣sly decide the question, yet the negative seems to have more pro∣bability on its side.

*The Use is, First, Of comfort and glad tidings to the children of God, howsoever in this life they have accusations from with∣in, and from without, yet the day is coming, when they shall have a glorious and publike justification from all objections: Then Satan can no more accuse Joshua for the noisome rags upon him; Then Joseph shall be brought out of the prison freed from all guilt and calumny, and exalted to great glory, and it may be therefore God suffereth thee to be exercised with much guilt and fear here, that thou maist the more long for those daies of refreshment. And as this truth is for their great consolation, so also it demonstrateth their happinesse; That that which is so ter∣rible and dreadfull to wicked men, should be such matter of re∣joycing unto them: when they through horrour should cry for the mountains and hils to cover them, these shall desire the graves and the earth to deliver up her dead, that they may enjoy their Bridegroom. Certainly beleevers are not beleevers in this point as they should be; what an heavenly contempt would it work in them of this present world, what earnest desires, that this Kingdom might at last come? This is their marriage-day, Page  263 the day of coronation. Then death, hell, grave, sin and Satan, are all conquered.

And if the joy and peace, which remission of sin produceth in this life be so exceeding glorious, what will that be when we shall have no more streams but that fountain?

2. Use by way of contrary, To terrifie and arouse wicked men,* for as the godly have but a glimmering, a little pittance in this life, in respect of that fulnesse of glory to be revealed hereafter, so the wicked feel not the least part of that guilt, torment, shame and confusion, which hereafter shall be poured upon them.

There are many mens sins lie asleep, keep no noise either in their own consciences, or before God; but then these lyons, these mastive dogs that lay tumbling at the door, will rise up in rage, and wholly devour: Do not therefore take Gods forbea∣rance for his gracious acquittance; oh do not imbolden thy self with false encouragements, and say, The worst is over; As the Apostle said, these light afflictions were nothing to that eternal weight of glory: so on the contrary may the wicked say; These pangs and wounds of consciences which are felt here, are no∣thing to that eternal weight of sin hereafter. Bernard said, de∣scendamus in infernum viventes, ne descendamus morienes, let us goe into hell while we are alive by a serious meditation, and holy consideration, that we may not go into it, when we be dead, by reall miseries. As the Apostle saith, we are the children of God, but it doth not yet appear what we shall be; there is more glory then they can conceive: so wicked men are now the chil∣dren of wrath, but it doth not yet appear what they shall be. Oh therefore that ungodly men were as wise as Jonah's mari∣ners, who in the midst of tempests, seeing their ship necessarily sinking, throw away the goods that were a burden, knowing they and their safety could not consist together. Thus are ye to do: throw away thy sins, those heavy burdens that put all into danger, and so maist thou safely arrive at last in heaven.