Of Man’s Justification Before God

Lucas Trelcatius (1542-1602)
A Brief Institution of the Common Places of Sacred Divinity.

Wherein the truth of every place is proved, and the sophisms of Bellarmine are reproved.
Translated by John Gawen in 1610.

II.ix Of Man’s Justification Before GOD.

The Confirming Part.

The second degree of application [of Redemption by Christ] which is here made on the behalf of God is Justification.

It is needful that the verity of this justification be declared two ways: by annotation of words, whereof there is use in the explication of this doctrine: as also by definition of the thing itself, according to all the causes.

Of the Words.

The words whose doubtful signification is to be taken away, lest they should in the doctrine itself breed any difficulty, are chiefly two: “justice” and “justification.

1. Justice.

Justice (which indeed is of the person), is two ways usually considered: one way, in the manner of quality, or Inherence; and it is the obedience of the Law, which we perform to it. The other, in manner of relation, or Imputation; and it is a gracious giving of another man’s obedience for us performed. That, is called the righteousness of the Law, or works: this, of the Gospel, or Faith. That, is in the person subjectively; this, of the person by Grace of Imputation. It is needful, that both be distinguished, because there is a diverse use of both. Of this, in the private, and inward court of the conscience before God: of that, in the public, and outward court of Christian profession before men.

2. Justification.

Justification generally considered, is the very application of righteousness: but specially, if we treat of righteousness inherent, it is the effecting of a certain habitual holiness in man, which signification is most unusual, and improper. If we treat of the righteousness of Imputation, it is a gracious imputation of another man’s righteousness by faith—and so an absolving of a man before God.

And this signification, as most proper, and usual, both the common custom of tongues, and the proper phrase of the holy Scriptures do confirm.

The common custom of tongues. For as with the Grecians, to justify hath two significations, besides (or without) the doctrine of Justification: The one, to judge and pronounce one just, by public judgement: the other, after the cause is judged, judiciously to punish one; so, that there is the same use of the word with the Hebrews. Two things do most evidently prove: First, the direct and most frequent use of that word in court, or public judgments, causes, and actions (2 Kin. 15.4; Deut. 25.1; Isa. 43.9). Secondly, the manifest opposition of condemnation, and justification, as being contraries (Pro. 17.15; Isa. 50.8; Rom. 8.33-34).

And in this signification the word to justify, commonly importeth three things: to absolve a person accused, to judge one for righteous, to give a testimony to one already justified; as also rewards, which are due to the just and innocent (Isa. 5.23; Ex. 23; Luke 7.29).

If you respect the proper phrase of the Scripture by judicial proceeding, it proposeth the whole doctrine of Justification: this the phrases of speaking (which the Scripture useth) as also that whole manner and course of our Salvation (which it describeth) do prove.

The phrases, which in this point the Scripture useth, do prove: Some by way of denial, that, he which is justified, is not condemned, not judged, and that sins are not imputed unto him. Some by way of affirmation do prove, that he is made just, is freed from the accusation, and condemnation of the Law, that righteousness is imputed unto him, etc. (Rom. 5.18 & 8.33).

The whole course and manner of our Salvation is fully performed, as it were, by two degrees: by the knowledge of our misery, and the trust of God’s mercy. Of our misery, there are three parts: the offence, the guilt, and the punishment. Of God’s mercy, there are three opposite parts: the forgiveness of the fault, the absolving from the guilt, and the freeing from the punishment. That whole course or proceeding, from our misery to God’s mercy, is called Justification, by a signification taken from common pleadings, or from the lawyers.

The Definition of Justification.

Justification therefore is properly a free judicial action of God, whereby he judgeth the elect—in themselves subject to the accusation and malediction of the Law—to be just by faith, through Christ by imputation of his righteousness, unto the praise of the glory of his grace, and their own salvation (Rom. 3.24-25).

The Causes of Justification.

That this definition might be rightly understood, it is needful that the causes, which are orderly noted in the same, be two ways considered, according as Justification is taken: either actively, in respect of God, who justifieth, or passively, in respect of man, who is justified. [cf. Causality: Five Metaphysical Distinctions]

Efficient Cause.

The Efficient Cause of Justification, taken actively, is God the Father, in the Son, by the Holy Ghost (2 Cor. 5.19; 2 Cor. 6.21). For it is in him to absolve (or acquit) the guilty person, by whose justice he is made guilty. It is in him to pronounce one just, whose will is a rule of justice. Lastly, it is in him to give judgement of life or death, who by nature, right, and office, is Supreme Judge (Isa. 59.1; Psal. [50].4; Isa. 43.21; Mark 2.7).

Of this Efficient [Cause], there is a double Impulsive Cause: Outward, and Inward.

The Inward is the only mercy of the Father (Rom. 3.23), both in regard of his good pleasure, which predestinated us into the adoption of sons (Eph. 1.5; Rom. 3.23), as also in regard of the disposing, and dispensation (Col. 1.12)—which both ordained the Son for this end, and applied the benefit obtained by the Son unto us. And this is the grace, which in Scripture is called “the grace of free gifts” [Rom. 5.15-18], in Schools, “the grace that maketh one acceptable,” and among the common sort, “the grace that freely giveth,” and is always opposed unto works—which are called “the gifts by grace,” or “of grace freely given,” because God took not the first cause of Justification from us, or our works, but in himself, and from himself, for the unsearchable riches of the glory of his grace.

Wherefore, there can be from us no disposition, and preparation, which of the Popelings is surmised to be necessary for the bringing in of the Form of Justification (Eph. 2.8-9; Tit. 3.5; Eph. 2.4). For albeit there be two special degrees of preparation, if not in time, at leastwise in nature, going before Justification—to wit, the feeling of our misery, and a confused knowledge of God’s mercy—yet none of these maketh for the Manner of the Efficient Cause, not only concerning the condign, but not so much as concerning the congruent.

The Outward Impulsive Cause is Christ, God-man, both in respect of his merit, as also of his efficacy and operation.

Of his merit, because both by obeying and suffering in his life and death, he purchased for us the benefit of Justification.

Of this efficacy, because he effectually applieth this purchased benefit both by offering the same by the preaching of the Word, and conferring it by the inward and effectual operation of his Spirit.


On man’s behalf, that, which is, and is called reductively the Efficient Cause of the passive Justification, is wholly Instrumental. And it is Faith, “by which,” not “for which” we are said to be justified, both in respect of her correlative, as also in respect of her contrary, the Law and good works.

Of her correlative, because the whole Form of Faith, as it is justifying, consisteth in relation: neither is it said to justify us as it is a quality, but as it is occupied relatively, in the applying of her correlative (Gal. 3.8; Heb. 2.4; Rom. 1.17).

Of her contrary, because the good works which are required in the person of him that is justified, are excluded from the merit of Justification; as in the place concerning faith and works shall be spoken more at large (Rom. 5.15; 11.6; Eph. 2.8-9).

Material Cause.

The Matter of Justification, which on God’s behalf is considered actively, is two-fold, according as there are two parts of Justification: the remission of sins, and the obedience of Christ.

For, because we procured unto ourselves both the bond of death, and the deprivation of righteousness and life, both were needful for our justification—that both our sin might be abolished by remission, that we might be freed from death, which is the wages of sin—and that righteousness might be communicated unto us, to the end we might attain unto life (Dan. 9.24; Gal. 3.13).

Remission of Sins.

By the name of remission of sins, we understand that gracious act of God, whereby he perfectly forgiveth and remitteth the fault, and the punishment, for the merit and satisfaction of Christ (2 Cor. 5.19; Rom. 8.1 & 4.7). The foundation hereof is the righteousness of Christ, not his essential and divine (Isa. 42.8), nor yet his habitual, which was his original righteousness opposite unto our original [un]righteousness, or spot of nature; but his actual righteousness, which is the effect of both: namely a most perfect obedience, performed to the Father, both by satisfaction for sin, and by fulfilling of the Law. For the obedience of Christ is two-fold—opposite to the double bond of man after his Fall—active, for the fault, passive, for the punishment; or both, for both.

The Obedience of Christ.

The Active Obedience is a perfect performance of God’s Law, which Christ fully and perfectly executed even to the utmost tittle of the Law (1 Cor. 1.30; Rom 5.19; 2 Cor. 5.21). The necessity hereof, in the work of our Redemption and Justification, three things do prove: the justice of God, the office of a Mediator, and our Salvation.

The justice of God: for if you either respect his nature, whereby he is infinitely just, he ought not to save man, but by the same manner of justice (Prov. 17; Ex. 20.5) either proper to us, or freely imputed—or (if we respect) his will revealed in the Law, which is an unmoveable [rule] of justice, he hath prescribed none other way unto life, than obedience.

The office of Christ the Mediator: for, whereas he, as our Surety, was bound by a voluntary dispensation, to undergo and perform those things which we ourselves were necessarily bound to undergo and perform—it was needful that he should not only suffer death for us, but also perform the Law, because we were bound unto both (Rom. 8.3; Gal. 4.4-5).

Our salvation: for, whereas two things are necessary for the same, a freeing from death, and a giving of life; it was needful, we should obtain the one by the purging of sin, and the other by the gift of righteousness (Rom. 10.4; Rom. 5.19-20).

Hence it is, that Christ is said to be “the end” and perfection “of the Law” unto salvation, “to every one that believeth” [Rom. 10.4]; and the actual obedience of Christ, whereby we are made just, is in the Scripture opposed to the actual disobedience of Adam, whereby we are made sinners (Heb. 10.14; Rom. 4.25; 1 Pet. 1.19; 1 John 1.7; Gal. 3.13).

Add further, that in the very Passive Obedience, the Active nevertheless doth of right challenge unto itself the chiefty [i.e. supremacy; chief place or degree]; for the suffering doth not simply justify, but as it is the suffering of Christ voluntarily presenting himself to God the Father, by his Eternal Spirit: whereupon the same Christ, by offering himself, as a sacrifice, suffered; as a Sacrificer, performed it.

Passive Obedience of Christ.

The Passive Obedience of Christ is the sacrificing, or suffering of Christ [and is] very necessary in respect of God, of Christ the Mediator, and of us. Of God, because his justice must have been satisfied by punishment. Of Christ, because he, being our Surety, ought to have paid our debt. Of us, because it was needful, that we should be freed from death by death (Num. 8.33).

The Subject of this righteousness, is Christ alone, in whom subjectively that habitual justice is inherent, and from whom, that both active, and passive obedience proceeded, which we called actual righteousness.


The Matter of Justification, which is considered passively, are men elect (Rom. 5.8-10; Tit. 3.3; Eph. 2.12-13). Of this Matter, there is commonly had a double notion: the one according to Nature, the other according to Grace supernatural. According to nature they are sinners, and therefore subject to the accusation and malediction of the Law (Rom. 8.30; Eph. 5.30; John 17.20)—according to grace supernatural, they are believers, or ingrafted by faith into Christ.

Formal Cause.

The Form of Justification, taken actively, is a free imputation of Christ’s actual righteousness, whereby the merits and obedience of Christ are applied unto us by virtue of that most straight communion, whereby he is in us, and we in him.

The Form therefore consisteth in Relation; in which the unity that ariseth thereout, hath between both bounds, the manner of a form: and consisteth rather in the issuing forth, and the habit, than in the inherence. Hence it is also, that Relation is said not to be his, but to be in respect of another (non esse eius, sed esse ad aliad). Now, it is received by right of the giving, and acceptance of the merits of Christ’s obedience: for this imputed righteousness is grace, and not nature. The communicating of a benefit, not a real, or habitual possession of the righteousness, or substance of Christ. Lastly, an Imputation, not a passible quality inherent in us.

In this Imputation we consider two things: the truth thereof in itself, and the manner of the truth thereof in us.

Of the truth in itself there are two bounds: righteousness and the imputation thereof. Between these there is a relation, because Christ hath perfect righteousness, for no other end than that he might impute it, nor imputeth any other thing than righteousness, nor is our righteousness any otherwise than by imputation.

The manner of the truth thereof in us, is in the Scripture two ways limited: whereof, the former teacheth us, that we are just, not in ourselves, nor in our own righteousness, but by the righteousness of Christ, which being out of us, is made ours, by right of giving. Hence we are said to be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5.21). The second teacheth us that we have righteousness, as Christ hath our sin—now he hath it, not subjectively, or inherent, but by imputation. Hence is that opposition made by the Apostle in the place already cited, to wit, of Christ, whom God made sin for us; and of us, who were made the righteousness of God in him.

And according to this Form of Justification, there is one and alike justification in all men, though in diverse according to the measure of him that apprehendeth, it be after a diverse manner modified.

The former therefore of Justification is not an habitual sanctity inherent in us. For, albeit Justification and Sanctification agree in the Efficient Causes—(as well God’s grace, as Christ’s merit): in the Instrumental (Cause) to wit, faith, by receiving that of the one, and by effecting that of the other; lastly, in the scope and End (for they tend to one end, save that the one is as the cause, the other, as the way)—yet they much differ, both as touching the Substance, and as touching the Adjuncts.

As touching the Substance; that is, as touching all the causes: for the Matter of Justification is the obedience of Christ; of Sanctification, our own obedience—the one perfect, the other unperfect. The Form thereof, that [i.e. Justification], is the Imputation of Christ’s obedience, but of this [i.e. Sanctification], the drawing back of our minds from impure, to pure qualities. Of Justification, there is no nearest, and inward Efficient Cause, but of this (Sanctification) the will of man is, being the beginning of human actions. The end of that [Justification] is the peace of conscience; but of this [Sanctification], an open testifying of the reconciling of ourselves with God.

As touching the Adjuncts, because they differ, first in the manner of effecting: for that [i.e. Justification] is effected by right of donation; this [i.e. Sanctification] by manner of alteration. Secondly by the effects: that [Justification] absolveth us in the judgement of God, this [Sanctification] doth not. Thirdly, and lastly, in continuance. For, that [Justification] shall have an end with this life; this [Sanctification] shall endure forever.


The Form of Justification, taken passively, is the application of Faith. Hence it is that we are said to be saved by faith, through faith, of faith (per fide, fide, ex fide); of which we have spoken in the cause Instrumental (Mark 5.39; Rom. 3.7; Gal. 1.16; Eph. 2.8-9; Tit 3.5).

Final Cause.

The End of Justification, taken actively, is the glory of God, in the wonderful tempering of his justice and mercy (Eph. 1.5-7; Rom. 3.26). Of his justice, that he would have his Son to satisfy it; of his mercy, that he would impute his Son’s satisfaction unto us (Rom. 5.1; Tit. 3.7).


The End of Justification taken passively, is peace of conscience, and eternal salvation.

The Confuting Part.

Distinctions in Defense of the Definition of the Name, or Word.


In the searching out of the interpretation of a word, the derivation and composition of the word is not simply to be looked unto, but the use and the propriety of the same.


The use of the word “justification” is usually two-fold: for either justification is taken properly, or in a signification translated from the special to the general, by an abuse of speech, it importeth all those things which follow justification.


There are two orders of testimonies concerning Justification: the one legal, the other evangelical. The testimonies of the legal justice do teach what manner of justice standeth before the tribunal of God. The testimonies of the justice of faith, or those which are evangelical, do, some pertain to the causes of Justification, some to the outward signs and testimonies of the person justified. Lastly, some to the comprobation [i.e. proof] of the work done by faith.

The places by which Bellarmine proveth, that “to justify,” signifieth “to make just.

Rom. 5.16-19. [1] Answer. First, there is a manifest opposition of condemnation and justification. Now, whereas things opposite are under the same kind, it must needs be that justification as well as condemnation, is a judicial act. Secondly, as condemnation is never taken out of that signification, which belongs to places of judgment, and pleading—so justification which is made before God, is never taken from the effect of infused grace. Thirdly, the judgment of God, is according to truth as well, when he pronounceth us just, for the imputed righteousness of Christ, as when he maketh us just by the power and virtue of his Spirit—both truly, though diversely, the one perfectly, the other unperfectly.

Dan. 12.3. Answer. Justification in the signification belonging to courts of pleading, is two-fold: the one immediate, the other mediate. Of this [mediate] speaketh the Prophet, whereby God by his Ministers absolveth sinners, as by the same he bindeth, and holdeth sinners—and it is a figure familiar in the Scripture to attribute that to the Instrument, which is proper to the [Efficient] Cause.

Isa. 53.11. Answer. First, the Hebrew word in the third conjugation, signifieth to pronounce one just, as in the first, it signifieth to be just positively. Secondly, the text hath not “in his knowledge,” but, “in the knowledge of himself,” whereby is declared not the Manner of Justification, but the Instrument, or faith expressed by a circumlocution (per periphrasm). Thirdly, it is one thing to treat of Christ’s righteousness, which in him is inherent subjectively, and another thing of that which by grace is imputed unto us. Fourthly, Christ’s satisfaction is the Meritorious Cause of Justification, which is become only ours by benefit of Imputation.

Apoc. 22.11. Answer. Justification, in the judicial signification, noteth out two things according as there is a two-fold court: the one of conscience before God, the other of holiness before men. For it importeth to be absolved either before God by the righteousness of faith, or before men by the righteousness of works. In the first signification, the sense is thus: he that is just, let him be justified still—to wit, by applying unto himself the continual remission of his sins and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. In the second, the sense is thus: he that is just, let him be justified still—that is, he that desireth to be just, let him be informed more and more unto justice and holiness. Either of both ways, the judicial (or law) signification remaineth.

1. Cor. 6.11. Answer. First, there is a fallacy of conjoining: for these three are not joined together as if they were of one signification (synonyma); but as subordinate, and opposite to the three-fold accusation going before: for to those corruptions, whereof he treated; he opposeth washing to defiling, or unrighteousness, fornication, covetousness; he opposeth Sanctification: but to Guilt, which he expresseth in these words: “They shall not inherit the kingdom of God:” he opposeth Justification. Secondly, he treateth of Justification, which is made in the name of Christ, and not of that, which is by a certain infusion, or inherent righteousness.

In Defense of the Efficient Cause of Passive Justification, or the Instrumental Cause of the Active, against Bellarmine.

That Faith alone doth not justify, Bellarmine proveth by five arguments. [2]

First Argument—Many Virtues have the Power to Justify.

First is, That the Fathers and Scriptures do attribute the power of justifying, not only to faith, but also to other virtues. Chap. 13.

Distinctions according to the rank of his Arguments.


Faith, in the Scriptures, and with the Fathers, is wont two ways to be considered: one way, properly, according to the Nature of Faith simply; the other way figuratively, that is, by a transumption (metaleptice), and correlatively, whereby faith apprehendeth her object. After the first manner, faith is said not to be alone, after the latter, it is said alone to justify.


Justification, which is the action of faith is considered two ways; either generally, for that whole misery of our reconciliation, with God; or particularly, for the principal, and special part thereof, which consisteth in the application and imputation of Christ’s righteousness. The ground of the one, is general; the instrument of the other, is particular.


Faith is considered one way in the person of him that is justified; another way in justification itself; and another way in the effect of justification. In the person of him that is justified; it is the root, and beginning of all virtues: In the act of justification, it is the instrument; in the effect, it is the door of life, the gate, and way into life.


The fear of the Lord, in the Scriptures, and with the Fathers, is taken equivocally: for it signifieth either the fore-goer, (or antecedent) of Faith, or faith itself, or the consequent of Faith. The Antecedent of Faith, because fear is the first degree of faith unto justification. First, not in time, but in order of nature: Faith itself, because the fear of God in Scriptures very often signifieth the whole worship of God, knowledge, and trust, that is Faith itself. The consequent of Faith, because the fear of God, or that desire to avoid sins, and to perform righteousness followeth faith, as the fruit, the good tree. Now, whatsoever things are attributed to the fear of God by the Fathers, or in the Scripture, they are attributed either in the second signification, by a synecdoche; or in the third by a metonymy.


The word (Hope) is sometimes taken for trust itself, according as the same verb signifieth, sometime to trust, sometime to hope. In which signification it is taken of the Fathers, and in the Scripture, in the places cited by Bellarmine: sometimes it is taken oppositely, so that faith is of things past, and present; hope, only of things to come.


True love, which in this world can never be perfect, is neither in time nor nature, before justification: seeing that it, being, as it were, the effect by issuing forth followeth faith, as the nearest cause. Neither do the places of Scripture which are alleged, point out the cause of the remission of sins, or of justification, but the adjunct and the necessary consequent thereof.


There is a two-fold repentance propounded in the Scriptures, a true and an hypocritical. Faith defines and limits the true, but the want of faith [defines] the hypocritical. And therefore those things which are attributed in the Scriptures and by the Fathers, to the true repentance, they are attributed, not in respect of itself simply, but in respect of faith after a sort (secundum quid). Add further, that by a frequent and usual metonymy in the Scripture, that is attributed to the Effect which is proper to the Cause.


The purpose and desire truly to receive the Sacrament, as also a purpose and desire of a new life, and obedience, are excluded from justification, but not from the person justified for the cause of justification is one thing, and the quality of the person justified, is an other thing: neither are the effects to be confounded with the causes, or the causes with their effects.

Second Argument—Faith Separated from Virtue.

[Bellarmine asserts:] If faith cannot be separated from love, and other virtues, then it alone cannot justify. Cap. 14.15.



It is one thing to treat of Faith, as it is considered absolutely, as a quality; but another thing, as it is considered relatively, as an Organ, and Instrument. Being absolutely considered, it cannot be separated from good works; but considered relatively, it justifieth without works—because it alone is the Instrument of justification, and not works—and so it is never alone, yet it alone worketh in the work of Justification.


And yet it followeth not, that faith justifieth with vices as it justifieth without works: because Faith only is considered exclusively without works, as it justifieth (quae, iustificans est), and not what it is justifying.


Wherefore that third point also, is in consequent, that faith if it be alone, shall also alone justify us, because as justification is never separated from faith, so neither is faith from works. As also, that is an inconsequent, if the eye alone seeth, therefore it shall see although it be alone.


But that which the Adversary proveth, that true faith may in very deed be separated from love and other virtues, leaneth upon no ground: and first, as touching the places in John. 15. there is speech of faith historical, in 1. Cor. 13. Of faith, of miracles. In James, 2. Of faith temporal, or hypocritical.

Secondly, as touching the argument taken from the state of the Church, he playeth with the doubtful signification in the word (Faithful), who in the places now cited, are so called, for the outward profession of faith, and the communion of the Churches, and not according to the inward truth, and formal manner of faith, and the Church.

Thirdly, as touching the argument, taken from the proper manner of faith, and love, it leaneth both upon a false consequent, and a false supposition: for this is a false consequent, in that albeit there be two virtues, yet they may mutually be separated the one from the other. This also is a false supposition, in that love springeth not necessarily from faith: for God hath given Faith, as the mother, and begetter of love.

Fourthly, as touching the absurdity, there is none. For Justification shall not therefore depend upon works, because it is not without works—whereas these are two diverse propositions: to be without works, and to justify without works.

Third Argument—Removal of the Causes of Sola Fide.

The third argument is taken from the removal of the causes whereof faith alone justifieth, which causes are of Bellarmine referred to three heads, Cap. 16.

The first is the authority of the Word, whereunto the Adversary answereth that it is nowhere taught in the Scripture that we are justified by faith only.

Answer. Though the particle “alone” be not expressed in the Scripture, yet the signification of that word is expressed by synonimal forms of speaking, which are these: 1.Without Works” [Rom. 3.28; 4.6]. 2.Of Grace” [Rom. 5.17; 11.5-6], “freely by Grace” [Rom. 3.24]. 3. The exclusive particles, which are two particulars, “but by faith” (Gal 2.16), “by believing only” (Luke 8.50)—by which forms of speaking, as all works as well Ceremonial, as Moral, are excluded. So faith alone is included, as the only instrument of Justification.

The second head is the will of God, who will have us justified with the alone condition of faith. The Adversary answereth; that it contradicteth the Scripture, which layeth down also the condition of repentance.

Answer. 1. Repentance is the condition of faith, and of the person justified, but not properly of Justification. 2. It is one thing to treat of the condition of Justification, but another thing of the [Efficient] Cause and Instrument thereof—for a Condition noteth a Consequent or Effect, but a Cause, the Antecedent or Efficient. 3. Neither is our Justification, with the condition of Faith, as Faith is a habit in us, but as it apprehendeth Christ out of us.

The third is the nature of Faith, which alone hath that property, that it apprehendeth justification. The Adversary answereth, that Faith doth not properly apprehend.

Answer. There is a double apprehension, the one of knowledge in the understanding, the other of trust in the will—both these Faith includeth, which in respect of the understanding and the will apprehendeth Christ. But the nature of the Sacraments is otherwise, which were instituted, not that they might justify, but that they might confirm the party justified in the feeling of his Justification.

Fourth Argument—Manner of Justifying.

The fourth argument is from the manner of justifying. For we affirm that faith justifieth not by the manner of cause, worthiness, or merit, but by relation only—which Bellarmine denieth, and proveth by three arguments, that faith justifieth by the manner of merit, and cause (Cap. 13).

The first is taken from testimonies which teach that faith is the cause of Justification.

Rom. 3; Rom. 5; Eph. 1. Answer. First, for faith is one thing, and by faith is another thing. The one is of the Cause, the other of the Instrument. Secondly, neither is the manner of works the same, with that of faith in opposition: because works have the nature of righteousness inherent in us, but faith the nature of righteousness imputed unto us. Thirdly, nor do the places which are alleged note the Cause of Justification, but either the Instrument thereof, or the quality and state of a man justified.

The second, is taken from those testimonies which testify that faith is the beginning of righteousness, and hereby the formal cause of Justification.

Rom. 4. First, there is a two-fold imputation, as in that very place the Apostle noteth—the one of debt, the other of grace—and the Apostle treateth of this, and not of that. Secondly, sith faith is the instrument, it is no strange thing if (as it is usually the manner of instruments) the name and the office of the thing—whereof it is but the instrument—be attributed unto it.

1 Cor. 3. First, A foundation is usually considered two ways: properly, or by a metalepsis. Properly, Christ is so, but by a metalepsis faith, which hath respect to Christ. For distinctions sake, the one may be called the first (primum), the other to the first (ad primum). Secondly, a foundation is either understood to be as a part of a building, or a ground of a building. Christ and Faith are said to be the foundation of the Church, not properly, as they are a part thereof, but as they are the ground and base of the same.

Acts 15. First, the hearts are justified by faith, not as the cause, but as the Instrument; not by effecting, but by affecting or applying. Secondly, the place itself doth manifestly distinguish Faith, which is only the inner instrumental cause, from the cause properly Efficient, to wit, the Father, in the Son, by the holy Ghost.

The third, is taken from those testimonies which teach that remission of sins is obtained by faith.

Luke. 7. Answer. First, men are said to be saved both properly of God, our only Saviour, and figuratively, by the means which it hath pleased God to use—either inward, as faith, or outward, as the voice of the Gospel, and the signs thereof. Secondly, the efficacy of faith wholly dependeth upon the object which it apprehendeth. And it is said to save, for that it is the effectual and necessary instrument of salvation, like as the Gospel is called the power to every one that believeth unto salvation [Rom. 1.16].

Rom. 4. Answer. First, the particle “wherefore” noteth not the cause of the Consequent, but of the Consequence. Secondly, it is there shewed, not what the habit of faith deserveth (sith faith and merits are opposites), but what is the use and effect of true and natural faith.

Rom. 10. Answer. First, the Apostle doth neither make preaching the cause of faith, nor faith the cause of invocation, and salvation; but teacheth, that, as that is the Instrument of the one, so this is of the other. Secondly, the degrees of Salvation are reckoned up by the Apostle, which are badly confounded with the causes thereof. Thirdly, those things which faith obtaineth by invocation, it obtaineth as an Instrument, and not as a Cause, because all the power of faith consisteth in relation.

Heb. 11. Answer. First, men please God by faith, not for faith. Secondly, whatsoever examples are cited, they note not the merit of faith, but the use and effect thereof.

Fifth Argument—Righteousness & Works.

The fifth argument is seen from two principles: the first whereof, is the Formal Cause of Justification, which the Adversary affirmeth to be righteousness inherent in us. The second is the merit and necessity of good works. Of the former, we shall treat in the explication of the Formal Cause, of the latter, in the place concerning good works.

Distinctions in Defense of the Material Cause.


There is one justice created, and another uncreated. The one is of God, and of Christ as he is God; the other of the creature, and of Christ as he is a creature.


The created righteousness is either of the person, or of the cause. By that, some person is judged just, by this, a righteousness of the Cause of some controversy is understood. The righteousness of the person, to speak properly, is in Christ.


Of the person, there is one inherent, another imputative. That was in Christ, this is in us, by the work of the Spirit, for Christ.


Inherent righteousness is either original or habitual, or else actual. Both of these were in Christ, yet properly, he imputeth this [i.e. actual righteousness] only.


Actual righteousness, is either perfect or imperfect. This [imperfect righteousness] is in us, that [perfect righteousness] in Christ.


Perfect actual righteousness of Christ consisteth in a double obedience—whereof the one is called the obedience of the Law, the other obedience unto death.


The obedience of the Law, which is truly and properly the effect of the person, being the Mediator, neither ought, nor can be called, either a part making the person, or a quality pertaining to the making of that person.


The places of Scripture which treat of Christ’s death, are not to be taken exclusively, or oppositely, but figuratively, or synecdochically, for the last accomplishment of the whole obedience.

Distinctions in Defense of the Formal Cause.

The arguments which Bellarmine bringeth against the truth of this [Formal] Cause are of two sorts. For first, he endeavoureth to prove by certain reasons that our inherent righteousness is the formal cause of our righteousness. Secondly, he impugneth the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.

The first he endeavoreth to perform by 8 Testimonies (Cap. 3. Lib. 2. De Justification). The first is in Rom. 5, of which we have treated in the explication of those places, which were alleged against the true nature of the name, or word.

The second, is in Rom. 3. Answer. First, the Grace of God is taken in Scripture equivocally: First, for the free and eternal favour of God, whereby he made us acceptable to himself, in his beloved Son—and this is the Grace that maketh acceptable. Secondly, for the gifts, by Grace, whether outward, or inward, whether general, or particular; and that, in the place cited, it is taken in that signification, and not in this, three things do prove. First, because the Apostle excludeth the righteousness of the Law, which is of works; to the end he might establish the righteousness of faith, the causes whereof, he reckoneth up [Rom. 3.21]. Secondly, because, what he called freely, he expounded by grace, that not only the works that go before, but also those that follow after faith might be excluded [Rom. 3.24]. Thirdly, because the Apostle opposeth the very same grace against Abraham’s works (Rom. 4.2-4), howsoever proceeding from the renewing of the Spirit. Secondly, neither in deed, doth the conjoining of those two words, “freely,” and “by grace” (sith the one expoundeth the other according to the Scriptural phrase of speaking): nor doth the force of the preposition “by,” which is not found in the original Text, and very often in the Scripture, noteth the efficient. Nor doth the efficacy of God’s grace, the effect whereof ought necessarily to be distinguished from the Cause. Nor lastly doth it, because love in Scripture is called any grace (whereas both the love of God towards us, is a grace making acceptable, and ours towards God is a grace freely given), any way infringe that interpretation.

The third, 1. Cor. 6. To this we have above answered.

The fourth. Titus 3. Answer. First, the Effect is badly confounded with the Cause—to wit Justification, with Regeneration and Renovation. For the matter of that [Justification] is the righteousness of Christ, but of this [Regeneration], our inherent righteousness. Secondly, neither doth the Apostle call Renovation, Justification, sith he expressly distinguisheth the one from the other. Thirdly, the Apostle sheweth not the cause, but the use of Renovation, or good works, when he saith that being justified by the grace of God, we might be heirs, according to the hope of everlasting life.

The fifth, Heb. 11: Answer. First, there is a two-fold righteousness, Imputed, and Inherent. By both they are called just (or righteous) but after a divers manner: by that [Imputed Righteousness], by way of Relation, and perfectly before God: by this [Inherent Righteousness], inchoatively, subjectively, and unperfectly. Secondly, the perfection, which is ascribed unto the faithful, in the Scripture, hath a three-fold respect: The first, of God’s counsel from everlasting: Secondly, of the foundation in Christ: Lastly, either of comparison and opposition unto other men’s unrighteousness, or of the end, or term of perfection, unto which it tendeth. Besides these respects, there is no perfection of the faithful in this world. Thirdly, the nearest cause, in deed of a righteous work, is inherent righteousness, but the chief and principal cause is the Spirit of Christ, imputing his righteousness to us, and by the power of that imputed righteousness, working this inherent righteousness in us.

The sixth, Rom. 8.1; Cor. 15. Answer. first, our conformity with the Image of Christ, whereof mention is made in the Scripture, is threefold: the one, unto the image of glory, being opposite to that which is unto the image of Christ’s afflictions—and of this the Apostle treateth in the cited places. The second, unto the image of Christ’s obedience, which, in deed, in this world, we perform unperfectly—but Christ applieth the same to us, as perfectly performed for us. The third, is of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Secondly, of Christ’s righteousness, there is a double use: the one principal of satisfaction and merit, the other exemplary, and of document. As touching satisfaction, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, as touching example, it is the rule of our inherent righteousness. Thirdly, the opposition, which is made between the image of the first Adam, and the second, according to the sense of the Apostle, in both places, hath respect unto the mortality, and immortality, the earthly, and heavenly qualities of the body—and not properly unto sin, and Christ’s imputed righteousness.

The seventh, Rom. 6. Answer. The word justification is taken two ways: properly, and improperly. Properly, when we are said to be justified by the cause. Improperly, when we are said to be justified by the effects. Secondly, the Apostle treateth of our Sanctification, and the two parts thereof: the mortifying of the old man, and the quickening of the new—of both which parts, he gives us an example in the death and resurrection of Christ. Thirdly, to be justified, signifieth to be freed, according to the proper phrase of the Hebrews, who comprehend the Consequent with the Antecedent.

The eighth, Rom 8. Answer: First, the degrees of our Salvation, Adoption, and Justification, are badly confounded together. Secondly, of Adoption, there are two considerations: the one, according to the truth, and foundation thereof, in the eternal counsel of our Election: the other, according to the fruition, and accomplishment thereof in the other life. In that signification, Adoption goeth before Justification: but in this, Adoption is the ground, and end of Justification. Thirdly, it is one thing to call Justification putative, and another imputative. That, as being false, is falsely also feigned unto us; this, is no less true, than if we ourselves had it subjectively, because of the truth’s sake, both of God’s promise, and our conjunction with Christ.

That the Formal Cause of our Justification is not the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness, Bellarmine proveth by ten arguments. [3]

To the FIRST.

It is false; for whereas there are two sorts of testimonies, some expressed, and some by consequent: the things that follow, prove, that both are found in the Scripture, and with the fathers, concerning the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. there are two express testimonies (among the rest) in Scripture (Rom. 4.6; 1 Cor. 1.30). And by Consequent, these are special: First, that the remission of sins—which is the second part of Justification—is expressed in Scripture by the name of not imputing (Rom. 4.7-8). Secondly, that the Apostle denieth any proper or inherent righteousness, to the end [that] he might establish that which is of imputation by faith (Phil. 3.8). Thirdly, because look what the manner of our sin is in Christ. The same is also the manner of Christ’s righteousness in us—to wit, in both by imputation (2 Cor. 5.21). The testimonies of the Fathers are also frequent.

To the SECOND.

First, whether you respect God’s truth, Imputation of righteousness is conjoined with the Remission of sins (Dan. 9.24; Rom. 4.6-7). Or whether you respect our Salvation, it was behoveful also, that the two parts of Justification should be opposed to a double evil, whereunto we were subject—to punishment: remission of sins, to offence: imputation of righteousness. Or lastly, whether you respect the satisfaction of the Law, two things were necessary: The first, that we might be freed from the punishment which the Law threateneth: Secondly, that we might fulfill the Law, and so might be made like unto Christ. Secondly, neither do the places which are cited, concerning the Remission of sins, take away the Imputation of Christ’s righteousness, sith the things which put themselves one with another, cannot duly be put one against another. Thirdly, the opposition which is made in Rom. 5 hath not respect to the manner of inherence or imputation, but to the causes, effects, and subjects of salvation and condemnation. The Causes of salvation being the obedience of the second Adam; but of Condemnation, the disobedience of the first. The Effects, that by the one, we are made just, by the other, sinners. The subjects, on both sides, there are many men found, to wit, in the cause of condemnation universally, but in the cause of Salvation generally.

To the THIRD.

First, there is a double use of the Imputation of Christ’s righteousness: the one is to absolve us before God; the other, to cover the imperfection of our righteousness. That [absolving] is primary, this [covering] secondary. Secondly, the perfection, which is attributed to faith, hope, and charity, is termed so equivocally, and is to be expounded according to that three-fold respect thereof—of which, we have before spoken.

To the FOURTH.

First, we are said to be formally just, either subjectively, or by relation. Subjectively, by righteousness inherent in us, which is unperfect. Relatively, by Christ’s righteousness, which is perfectly imputed unto us. Secondly, it is false that a thing should always have a name outwardly from the qualities which may be inwardly, sith even in natural things, the bodies of the stars shine not with their own, but with a borrowed (ascititio) light, that is, by the benefit of the Sun. Things subordinate, do not disagree, neither are they two contrary forms—to wit, the outward, and the inherent, sith that is both the fore-going, and forming cause of this.

To the FIFTH.

If you respect the truth of righteousness imputed unto us, we are accounted truly righteous before God, no less than Christ; but, if you respect the quantity and subject, Christ is more righteous than we—because he is so actually, we imputatively, he subjectively, we relatively in him, unto him—and therefore we cannot, nor ought to be accounted Redeemers, and Saviours. For that, of Christ’s actions there are two sorts, the one is of them, which being named in the abstract (or divided), do not so much signify the office of Christ as his benefit obtained for us—the other of them which in the concrete (or conjunction), do not so much note out to us, the benefit, as his personal office. The names of those [in the divided sense] are wont to be changed, but the names of these [in the concrete sense], are bounded in the person of Christ.

To the SIXTH.

Of the restoring of God’s image in us by Christ, there are two parts: the abolishing of the depraved image, and the renewal of the same. That is performed by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. This is by the benefit of sanctification, or inherent righteousness—and both we have of Christ.


First, there is a double consideration of Christ: the one as touching himself, the other as touching us—whose person he took upon him. In respect of the former, Christ is said to be just, holy, etc. In respect of the latter, he is said to be made sin, the curse etc. Secondly, albeit sin be called a sacrifice, according to the Hebrews’ proper form of speech, yet the manner of opposition in the cited place, requireth that he be rather said to be made sin, that is, a sinner—not in himself, but by the guilt of all our sins imputed unto him. A figure of which thing, the two he goats were, whereof mention is made [in] Leviticus 16.

To the EIGHTH.

First, there is a two-fold fairness of the Bride: The one, which she hath of her Spouse by perfect imputation; the other, which she hath in herself, by a beginning in this life. Secondly, the beauty of Christ and of his Church differ not in Form, but in the Subject, and manner of propriety. For, in Christ is fairness, by manner of inherence; in the Church, by manner of imputation. Thirdly, she is said to be fair among women, not opposed to Christ, but to other women [Song. 1.8; 5.9; 6.1].

To the NINTH.

First, the pureness wherewith we are prepared for the seeing of God, is, as well that which we have by Imputation, as that which is in us subjectively in this life. Secondly, neither is imputation a vain thing only, which may seem, or only be thought to be; for it is in very deed applied unto us. And whereas Relation is not an idle thing, but an application unto the bound thereof; it must needs be that this Imputation is some what, which wholly consisteth in Relation.

To the TENTH.

Heb. 9; Eph. 5; Titus 2; John 16. Answer. First, the word Sanctification, is of divers significations (homonyma). For it signifieth Justification itself, or the effect of Justification—and in the first signification it is taken in the cited places, but not in the second. Secondly, these words truly, and imputatively, are badly opposed the one to the other: sith those things also, which are imputed unto us, are as truly ours as if they were in us subjectively.

[1] Cap. 3, Lib. 2, De Justitia.

[2] Cap. 13-19, Lib. 1, De Justificatione.

[3] Cap. 7, Lib. 2, De Justificatione.


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