Witsius: Justification And Salvation Sola Fide Are Fundamental Doctrines

It must not be omitted, that if any article is stated as necessary to be known, which cannot be understood, unless some other article shall have been previously understood and believed; that other article must also rank among those which are necessary. For example; it is necessary to know that we are saved only by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; for the Apostle Paul says, “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” But this can be neither understood nor believed, unless we know that sin has plunged us into so deep an abyss of misery, that our deliverance surpassed our own power, and even the united exertions of all creatures. Thus, from the necessity of the article respecting our deliverance, we strongly infer the necessity of the article respecting our misery.
…When any thing, in fine, the necessity of which must have been more doubtful, is expressly represented as necessary to be known; it follows, that a doctrine will also be necessary, the necessity of which we should have been less, or at least not more, disposed to question. To give an instance of this: the Apostle teaches that the article regarding justification by faith in Christ without the works of the law, is necessary, when he asserts that they who are “ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.” The necessity of this article being thus demonstrated; it unavoidably follows, that it is necessary for us to know also, that, considered in ourselves, we are obnoxious to condemnation and wrath: for this last article is much more evident than the former, and more obvious to every one that is willing to examine himself; nor, without the knowledge of it, can we be induced to seek that righteousness which is in Christ.

—Herman Witsius, Sacred Dissertations On The Apostles’ Creed, trans. Donald Fraser vol. 1 (Edinburgh: A. Fullarton & Co., 1823), 25–26.

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