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Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Justification and Kindred Subjects: Chapter 4
Justification and Kindred Subjects: Chapter 4 PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.H. Oliphant   

Where a person is once involved in guilt, there is, perhaps, no way, in the usages of courts, and among men, whereby he can be made innocent and absolutely free from guilt.

To suffer the penalty would satisfy the statute and give him liberty among men as a free citizen; but still there is a sense in which moral guilt attaches to him, and no suffering of penalty on his part, or obedience to law can put away the stain. He may be pardoned and thus freed from the penalty due his crime, but pardon does not remove the guilt; it only removes the penalty, and he will still be guilty so far as the crime is concerned. The act of pardoning is an acknowledgment of guilt; when a man is charged with crime, and on trial found to be innocent, he is justified, that is, declared to be innocent. The judicial act of the court in justifying him does not make him to be innocent, but proclaims him to be so, to be conformable to the law, and as the law requires him to be. In human courts, a man cannot be justified and pardoned both, for the act of pardoning is an admission of guilt, and the act of justifying proclaims that pardon is not needed. When a criminal among men is exempted from penalty, the law requiring the penalty is injured, and dishonored. Some writers insist that there is no way, HUMAN or DIVINE, by which the guilty can be made innocent, and that those who finally reach heaven will not be really, and truly justified, but will only be treated as if they were just. The Bible teaches that God’s people will be really and properly made innocent and just, and therefore God, as the Great Judge, can and will justify them, declare them to be clean and stainless in the eye of the law.

A system of salvation that provides for the absolute justification of those stained and blackened by sin, could originate with God only. It may be difficult to see how we may be pardoned and justified both, but the gospel reveals both to be true. If I should forever be unable to explain how God both pardons and justifies sinners, or how these apparent opposites unite in the salvation of man, I say, if I never can explain how they both can exist in the sinners’ case, yet they are both taught in the Bible beyond dispute.

There are many things, both in nature and in grace, that we know to be true, which we cannot explain. Perhaps this is the case in the matter in hand, but in the pages following I think I will be enabled to show that God’s plan of Salvation does really clear of GUILT, not of the penalty only---that all who ever reach heaven will be made, in every way, free from sin and fit for heaven. Every Christian craves to be made free, not only from the penalty due sin, but free from guilt and sin itself. When David had been guilty of the darkest crime he said, "Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and clean me from my sin, purge me with hyssop and I shall be whiter than snow." It cannot be thought David simply desired to be freed from the just penalty due his sin, but he prayed to be made whiter than snow, that is, to be innocent and clear of all guilt.

In Exodus xxxiv 7, God proclaims himself, as "Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will, by no means, clear the guilty." A careful study of this text shows that God’s method of salvation not only secures the pardon of sin, but the removal of guilt. The words in Isaiah i. 18, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red, like crimson, they shall be as wool." These words denote more than the pardon of sin; they plainly show that sin itself is thoroughly removed. If sin is removed and washed away, then it is absent, and the absence of guilt and iniquity makes justification sure.

Christian readers, call to mind your own experience; when you craved the salvation of your soul more than all else, even then you "hungered and thirsted after righteousness." "Righteousness" is a term relating to law; it is from "right," and when one possesses righteousness he may be justified, in fact, the law itself, demands his justification. Now, if the whole family of God, saints of all ages, have longed to be cleansed from all sin, and made as white as snow, does not this argue that God designs to bring about this result? What Christian would desire to go to heaven with his guilt still resting on him and dwell forever in the presence of his Saviour stained with sin and black with crime? The Christian craves a perfect righteousness, one that is equal to the law, and equal to the society of heaven, and equal to the purity of that place, and in harmony with the eternal perfections of God. Perhaps we could not find a Christian who does not feel the need of being thoroughly washed from all his sins, or one who desires to go to heaven at the expense of the law, or against justice. The Christian adores every perfection of God, his justice, as well as his mercy, his law as well as his grace. While he craves salvation beyond all power of expression, yet he does not want it in a way to dishonor the justice of God, nor trail one of his perfections in dishonor.

In order to justification our sins must be removed FULLY, and we must be invested with purity of heart and soul; perfectly conformed to the law in our very nature. The first of these is effected by death and sufferings of our Saviour, and the second by the work of regeneration. The Savior’s death was designed to meet legal claims against us, to remove guilt, so far as law is concerned. By regeneration we are invested with purity of NATURE, fitted in heart and soul for the society of heaven. So that in heaven we will not be unsuitable or unworthy guests, but fitted in every way for the society of angels and our adorable Saviour.

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.