Obadiah Sedgwick, a member of the Westminster Assembly of Divines and minister of God’s Word at Coggleshall, Essex, (later, 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.
The fourth cure that is suggested by Sedgwick is:
4. DISCHARGES IN JUSTIFICATION REACH NOT ONLY TO THE GUILT, BUT ALSO TO THE CONSEQUENCES OF GUILT; for it is a true rule justificatio tollet poenalia!
Therefore, said the apostle, Romans 8:1, “There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.”
You know that if the body falls, then the shadow which attends the body that falls too. If the debt is discharged, the prison is discharged. We have, by the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of our sins and, therefore, the remission of all satisfying punishments.
Why else does the apostle say, Galatians 3:13, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” He is made sin for us by taking upon Him the guilt of our sins, and He is made a curse for us by bearing that wrath and punishment which was due to us because of our sins.
Nay, let me speak a bold truth. To have sin remitted and yet to be exposed to punishment (I speak only of satisfying punishment) cannot stand with that unspotted justice of God; for no man is justly punished but by reason of unsatisfied guilt.
Now, if Christ has fully and perfectly satisfied for the guilt, then punishment has no ground, unless we will say that God will punish for that which is already satisfied, or that Christ’s satisfaction is not total but partial, (i.e.) He satisfied for a part and left some parts of satisfying punishment to us, which is the opinion of the papists for their human satisfactions.
But to draw up again, what a comfortable stay and support is this unto a distressed soul too see and find all in Christ: When a person, brought to the true sight and sense of sin, and loathing and forsaking of it, and to the giving of Himself up into Christ, shall behold his many forepast guilts, and see these charged upon Christ, nay, and discharged by Christ, nay, and so discharged that they shall never be charged upon him again, nay, and all the consequences of guilt removed so that Christ has set him at liberty. He has made him a free man, and that against all Satan’s accusations. He may hold out the blood of Christ which will answer all.
“I am a sinner, but Christ was made sin for me. I deserve damnation, but Christ was made a curse for me.”
If believers skilled the nature and extent and virtues of remission by the blood of Christ; if they knew and were possessed more with this part of justification, they would strengthen their faith and their comfort more, and their doubting and fears would sink more.
“Be of good comfort, thy sins are forgiven thee.”