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September 19, 2005

Ch. XXV. Q. 138. What is Justification?

JUSTIFICATION is both moral—our renovation and sanctification through mystical union with Christ; and forensic—our acceptance by God as heirs of the reward of everlasting life, because of our renovation and for Christ's sake. In short it signifies the imparting to us of Christ's righteousness and the imputation to us of what has been thus imparted.1

2. The only subjective cause of justification is a living faith, fides formata2, a necessary part and evidence of which is repentance and works worthy of repentance, springing irom charity the chief of Christian virtues. When our Articles say (Art. XI.) that "we are justified by faith only," they must be taken to mean (a.) by a living faith, such as above described—not by mere intellectual assent or assurance, as the Lutherans hold (cf. Art. XII): (b.) that such faith is the only subjective foundation and beginning of justification, as distinguished from the objective causes given below.3

3. The final cause of justification is "the glory of God and of Christ4 and eternal life"5. The efficient cause is "the merciful God,"Who freely cleanses and sanctifies, sealing and anointing with the Holy Spirit of promise, Who is the earnest of our inheritance''6 The meritorious cause is the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who merited justification for us by His obedience unto death and Sacrifice for the sins of men.7 The instrumental causes are the Sacrament of Baptism8 and the glorified humanity of Christ9, into which we are incorporated by Baptism10. The unique formal cause is "the justice of God11, not that whereby Himself is just, but that whereby He maketh us just, by the gift of which we are renewed in the spirit of our minds, and not only are reputed but are rightly called and are just, receiving justice in us, each according to his own measure, as the Holy Spirit divides to each as He wills, according to the proper disposition and cooperation of each.12

4. Eternal life is fittingly called the reward of those who die in a state of justification.13 The saints, therefore, in this sense at least, merit eternal life. Yet two truths must be remembered: (a.) The merits of the saints are not proportionate to the reward bestowed, and Holy Scripture describes eternal life as the "gift of God"14, since its value is greater than the deservings of the highest saints: (b.) The ability to merit in any sense or degree is the result of God's mercy and covenant. No man could have been in position to do works of meritorious value had not God sent His Son to die for him while he was yet a sinner, and provided for his sacramental participation in the merits of Christ through living faith in Him.15

5. That we are made just in the sight of God by Baptism does not signify that our sanctification is completed by means of that Sacrament, but that a new life is then imparted which possesses sanctifying virtue. The sanctification thus begun is progressive, and is subject to sacramental conditions and to those of justifying faith. In short, we are said to be truly just because we are in a state of justice (Q. 137. 5); in which, if we persevere, we shall become perfectly holy in the life to come.16

1 Rom. IV. 22, 24. Trid. Sess. VI. cap. VII: S. Thos. Sum. Th. I. II. 113: Forbes' N. Creed, 231-235: 39 Arts. XI, XII: Schouppe, IX. 35-46: 287-392, esp. 294,295: Moehler's Symbolism, §§ 10-27: Pusey's Second Letter to Newman,, pp. 57-69: Percival's Digest, 97-100: Pusey's Univ. Sermons, Vol. I. Ser. 5: Notes and Questions from Pusey, 29-32: Sadler's Justification of Life.

2 cf. Rom. III. 26 - IV. 25: Gal. II. 16: III. 8: Phil. III. 9 with S. James II. 14-26: Gal, V. 6

3 Trid. Sess. VI. cap VIII, IX, XI: Mason's Faith of the Gosp., X. 6-10: Schouppe, IX. 302-309, 318-3-28: Moehler, §§ 15-20: Elmendorf, Elem. Moral Theol. Pt. II. Chap. I: Sadler, II, III.

4 Rom. IX. 23: Ephes. 1.6-14; Phii. II. 10, 11

5 S. John III. 16, 17: Rom. VI. 22: Col. I. 27

6 Rom. VIII. 30, 33: I. Cor. VI. 11: Ephes. I. 13, 14: Tit. III. 5, 7

7 Jerem. XXIII. 6: Rom. III. 24: V. 19: II. Cor. V. 19-21: Phil. III. 9: Heb. X. 10, 14

8 Tit. III. 5

9 S. John VI. 49-58: II. Cor. V. 21: Col. I. 18-22: Heb. X. 14-20

10 Col. II. 12

11 Rom. III. 26

12 I. Cor. XII. 11. Forbes' 39 Arts. XI. pp. 176 et seq.: Sadler's Second Adam, 211-218: Thos. Strong, Manual of Theol., 324-331: Forbes' Considerations, Bk. II.

13 S. Matt. V. 12: XVI. 27: I. Cor. III. 8, 14: Heb. XI. 6: II. John 8: Rev. XXII. 12

14 S. Luke XVII. 10: Rom. V. 15-18: VI. 23: Ephes. II. 8-10

15 S. Thos. Sum. Th., I. II. 114: Forbes' 39 Arts. XII-XIV: Schouppe, IX. 351-392: Moehler, §§ 21-26: Blunt's Th. Dic., "Condignity," "Congruity": Percival's Digest,102-108:Hutchings on the Holy Ghost, 117-119: Forbes' Consid., Bk's. IV, V.

16 Acts II. 47: Ephes. IV. 12, 15: I. Cor. IX. 24-27: Phil. I. 6: II. 12, 13: III. 12-15: Heb. XII. 14, 23: I. Pet. II. 2-5: II. Pet. III. 18: I. John III. 2: Rev. XXII. 11. Mason's Faith of the Gosp., X. 10.

Posted by Trevor at September 19, 2005 09:29 AM