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Historical texts  >  Primitive Christianity Revived, William Penn  >  Chapter Eight

Primitive Christianity Revived

in the faith and practice of the people called Quakers.

by William Penn.


§ 1. The doctrines of satisfaction and justification owned and worded according to Scripture. § 2. What constructions we can't believe of them, and which is an abuse of them. § 3. Christ owned a Sacrifice and Mediator. § 4. Justification twofold, from the guilt of sin, and from the power and pollution of it. § 5. Exhortation to the reader upon the whole.

§ 1. THOUGH there be many good things said, how Christ appears and works in a soul, to awaken, convince and convert it; yet you seem not particular enough about the death and sufferings of Christ: and it is generally rumoured and charged upon you by your adversaries, that you have little reverence to the doctrine of Christ's satisfaction to God for our sins, and that you do not believe, that the active and passive obedience of Christ, when he was in the world, is the alone ground of a sinner's justification before God.

Answ. The doctrines of satisfaction and justification, truly understood, are placed in so strict an union, that the one is a necessary consequence of the other, and what we say of them, is what agrees with the suffrage of Scripture, and for the most part in the terms of it; always believing, that in points where there arises any difficulty, be it from the obscurity of expression, mis-translation, or the dust raised by the heats of partial writers, or nice critics, it is ever best to keep close to the text, and maintain charity in the rest. I shall first speak negatively, what we do not own, which perhaps hath given occasion to those who have been more hasty than wise, to judge us defective, in our belief of the efficacy of the death and sufferings of Christ to justification : as

§ 2. First, we cannot believe that Christ is the cause, but the effect of God's love, according to the testimony of the beloved disciple John, chap. iii.: God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son into the world, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Secondly, we cannot say, God could not have taken another way to have saved sinners, than by the death and sufferings of his Son, to satisfy his justice, or that Christ's death and sufferings were a strict and rigid satisfaction for that eternal death and misery due to man for sin and transgression: for such a notion were to make God's mercy little concerned in man's salvation ; and indeed we are at too great a distance from his infinite wisdom and power, to judge of the liberty or necessity of his actings.

Thirdly, we cannot say Jesus Christ was the greatest sinner in the world, (because he bore our sins on his cross, or because he was made sin for us, who knew no sin,) an expression of great levity and unsoundness, yet often said by great preachers and professors of religion.

Fourthly, we cannot believe that Christ's death and sufferings so satisfies God or justifies men, as that they are thereby accepted of God : they are indeed thereby put into a state capable of being accepted of God, and, through the obedience of faith and sanctification of the Spirit, are in a state of acceptance: for we can never think a man justified before God, while self-condemned: or that any man can be in Christ who is not a new creature, or that God looks upon men otherwise than they are. We think it a state of presumption and not of salvation, to call Jesus Lord, and not by the work of the Holy Ghost: Master, and he not yet master of their affections : Saviour, and they not saved by him from their sins: Redeemer, and yet they not redeemed by him from their passion, pride, covetousness, wantonness, vanity, vain honours, friendships, and glory of this world: which were to deceive themselves ; for God will not be mocked. Such as men sow, such they must reap. And though Christ did die for us, yet we must, by the assistance of his grace, work out our salvation with fear and trembling : as he died for sin, so we must die to sin, or we cannot be said to be saved by the death and sufferings of Christ, or thoroughly justified and accepted with God. Thus far negatively. Now, positively, what we own as to justification.

§ 3. We do believe that Jesus Christ was our holy sacrifice, atonement, and propitiation; that he bore our iniquities, and that by his stripes we were healed of the wounds Adam gave us in his fall; and that God is just in forgiving true penitents upon the credit of that holy offering Christ made of himself to God for us; and that what he did and suffered satisfied and pleased God, and was for the sake of fallen man, that had displeased God ; and that through the offering up of himself once for all, through the eternal Spirit, he hath forever perfected those (in all times) that were sanctified, who walked not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, Rom. viii. 1. Mark that.

§ 4. In short, justification consists of two parts, or hath a twofold consideration, viz., justification from the guilt of sin, and justification from the power and pollution of sin, and in this sense justification gives a man a full and clear acceptance before God. For want of this latter part it is, that so many souls, religiously inclined, are often under doubts, scruples, and despondencies, notwithstanding all that their teachers tell them of the extent and efficacy of the first part of justification. And it is too general an unhappiness among the professors of Christianity, that they are apt to cloak their own active and passive disobedience with the active and passive obedience of Christ. The first part of justification, we do reverently and humbly acknowledge, is only for the sake of the death and sufferings of Christ: nothing can we do, though by the operation of the Holy Spirit, being able to cancel old debts, or wipe out old scores: it is the power and efficacy of that propitiatory offering, upon faith and repentance, that justifies us from the sins that are past; and it is the power of Christ's Spirit in our hearts, that purifies and makes us acceptable before God. For till the heart of man is purged from sin, God will never accept of it. He reproves, rebukes and condemns those that entertain sin there, and therefore such cannot be said to be in a justified state ; condemnation and justification being contraries : so that they who hold themselves in a justified state by the active and passive obedience of Christ, while they are not actively and passively obedient to the Spirit of Christ Jesus, are under a strong and dangerous delusion; and for crying out against this sin-pleasing imagination, not to say doctrine, we are staged and reproached as deniers and despisers of the death and sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ. But be it known to such, they add to Christ's sufferings, and crucify to themselves afresh the Son of God, and trample the blood of the covenant under their feet, that walk unholily under a profession of justification: for God will not acquit the guilty, nor justify the disobedient and unfaithful.

Such deceive themselves, and at the great and final judgment their sentence will not be, Come, ye blessed, because it cannot be said to them, Well done good and faithful, for they cannot be so esteemed that live and die in a reprovable and condemnable state; but, Go ye cursed, &c.

§ 5. Wherefore, 0 my reader I rest not thyself wholly satisfied with what Christ has done for thee in his blessed person without thee, but press to know his power and kingdom within thee, that the strong man, that has too long kept thy house, may be bound, and his goods spoiled, his works destroyed, and sin ended, according to 1 John iii. 7: "Little children, let no man deceive you, he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous." "For which end," says that beloved disciple, "Christ was manifested, that all things may become new : new heavens and new earth, in which righteousness dwells." Thus thou wilt come to glorify God in thy body and in thy spirit, which are his, and live to him and not to thyself. Thy love, joy, worship and obedience; thy life, conversation, and practice; thy study, meditation, and devotion, will be spiritual: for the Father and the Son will make their abode with thee, and Christ will manifest himself to thee; for "the secrets of the Lord are with them that fear him:" and an holy unction or anointing have all those, which leads them into all truth, and they need not the teachings of men. They are better taught, being instructed by the divine oracle: no bare hearsay, or traditional Christians, but fresh and living witnesses: those that have seen with their own eyes, and heard with their own ears, and have handled with their own hands, the word of life, in the divers operations of it to their souls' salvation. In this they meet, in this they preach, and in this they pray and praise. Behold the new covenant fulfilled, the church and worship of Christ, the great Anointed of God, and the great anointing of God, in his holy high-priesthood, and offices in his church!

[Continued, Chapter IX.]