Turretin: Works Justify Faith

A twofold trial can be entered into by God with man: either by the law (inasmuch as he is viewed as guilty of violating the law by sin and thus comes under the accusation and condemnation of the law); or by the gospel (inasmuch as he is accused by Satan of having violated the gospel covenant and so is supposed to be an unbeliever and impenitent or a hypocrite, who has not testified by works the faith he has professed with his mouth). Now to this twofold trial a twofold justification ought to answer; not in the Romish sense, but in a very different sense. The first is that by which man is absolved from the guilt of sin on account of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us and apprehended by faith; the other is that by which he is freed from the charge of unbelief and hypocrisy and declared to be a true believer and child of God; one who has fulfilled the gospel covenant (if not perfectly as to degree, still sincerely as to parts) and answered to the divine call by the exercise of faith and piety. The first is justification properly so called; the other is only a declaration of it. That is justification of cause a priori; this is justification of sign or of effect a posteriori, declaratively. In that, faith alone can have a place because it alone apprehends the righteousness of Christ, by whose merit we are freed from the condemnation of the law; in this, works also are required as the effects and signs of faith, by which its truth and sincerity are declared against the accusation of unbelief and hypocrisy. For as faith justifies a person, so works justify faith.

Francis TurretinInstitutes of Elenctic Theology, ed. James T. Dennison Jr., trans. George Musgrave Giger, 3 vol. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992–97), 2.676.


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