5 Cures for Doubts about Justification – Part #1
Obadiah Sedgwick, a member of the Westminster Assembly of Divines and minister of God’s Word at Coggleshall, Essex, (then at St. Paul's, Covent Garden, London), produced a series of messages that tackled the believer's battle with doubts and fears.
This book was called, 'A Puritan Treatise on Assurance,' and outlines the nature, kinds, springs and also the remedies for those doubts that affect a believer's walk with God.
He deals with 14 'springs of doubting' and then proceeds to explain cures relevant to each of these areas.
In this Reformation blog my chief interest is in tracing how Sedgwick treated the problem of doubt in the matter of justification. My aim is, over 5 consecutive Monday entries on this blog, to detail the five cures to doubt on this vital doctrine that are contained in this treatise. Though the language is C17th, the counsel is solid and very beneficial.
A ninth cause of doubting is the ignorance of the Doctrine of Justification.
When a person finds just cause of fears, many sins, undeniable sins, and looks all over himself and all abroad, and can find no comforter, no one able to step in between God and his soul, np peacemaker, no one to lay his burden upon, he must necessarily be perplexed with many doubts; for the cure and remedy of which, be pleased to consider some particular propositions, which I will lay down to unfold the business and comforts of justification unto believing penitents, for to these only I address my speech:
1. IN JUSTIFICATION, OUR DEBTS ARE CHARGED UPON CHRIST.
They go upon His accounts. You know that in sin there is the vicious and staining quality of it, and then there is the resulting guilt of it, which is the obligation of a sinner over to the judgment seat of God to answer for sin.
Now this guilt (in which lies our debt) is charged upon Christ; therefore (said the apostle) God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.
You know, in law, the wife’s debts are charged upon the husband and, if the debtor is disabled, then the creditor sues the surety; fidejussor, or surety, and debtor in law, are reputed as one person.
Now Christ is our Fidejussor; He is made sin for us, said the apostle, for us (i.e.) vice nostra, or loco nostro (i.e.) in our stead, a surety for us, one who put our scores on His accounts, our burden on His shoulders; so the prophet, Isaiah 53, He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.
How so? He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. (i.e.) He stood in our stead. He took upon Himself the answering of our sins, the satisfying of our debts, the clearing of our guilt, and therefore was it that He was so bruised.
You remember the scapegoat, Upon his head all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, were confessed and put, and the goat did bear upon him all their iniquities.
What is the meaning of this? Surely Jesus Christ, upon whom our sins were laid, and who alone died for the ungodly, bare our burdens away. Therefore, the believer, in the sense of guilt, should run unto Christ and offer up His blood unto the Father and say, “Lord, it is true, I owe Thee so much; yet, Father, forgive me. Remember that Thine own Son was my ransom. His blood was the price. He was my Surety and undertook to answer for my sins. I beseech Thee, accept His atonement, for He is my Surety, my redemption. Thou must be satisfied, but Christ has satisfied Thee. Not for Himself, for what sins had He of His own? But for me (gracious Father). They were my debts which He satisfied for; and look over Thy book and Thou shalt find it so, for Thou hast said, He was made sin for us, and that He was wounded for our transgressions.”
Now this is a great stay, a great comfort, that we ourselves are not to make up our accounts and reckonings, but that Christ has cleared between us and God. Therefore it is said, Ephesians 1:7, that in His blood we have redemption, even the forgiveness of sins.