Archibald Alexander on Justification by Faith

The hope of impunity for our sins is always founded on some unworthy conceptions of the divine attributes, unless it has respect to a sufficient atonement. But it is important that we should know as accurately as possible, what the principles are, on which we shall be dealt with by the Judge of all; or, in other words, it is infinitely important to know, how a sinner can appear with acceptance before God. These considerations are sufficient to show, that the doctrine of a sinner’s justification, in the sight of God, is fundamental. On some other points error may exist, and yet the state of the person entertaining it may notwithstanding be safe; he may still be in the right way to heaven. But a mistake, as to the method of acceptance with God, must be exceedingly dangerous: it must mislead the inquirer from the way of salvation. Let every man, then, as he regards his own eternal happiness, beware of embracing a false doctrine on this subject. But a sound view of this point is intimately connected with correct opinions on all other articles of primary importance; and an error here, cannot but vitiate the whole system of theology, of which it forms a part. This is a central and a cardinal point in theoretical, as well as practical religion; and the degree of error on other articles, may be inferred, from the degree of departure from the truth, in regard to this. The history of the Christian church, from the days of the apostles, confirms the statement now given. Was any heretic ever known to hold a sound doctrine on justification? Wherever, and whenever, justification by faith, has been given up, obscured, or neglected to be preached, then and there, other errors have come in like a flood, and true religion has declined. The history of most Protestant churches, for a hundred years past, will furnish a striking commentary on the statement now made. On the other hand, when a real reformation takes place, in any part of the church, the consequence is, a speedy and cordial return to the preaching of this doctrine. How dear it was to the hearts of the reformers is known to all.

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