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trine of justification by faith only; he had maintained that good works were unnecessary, and had consequently denied the efficacy of the sacraments, the authority of priests, purgatory, the sacrifice of the mass, and all other remedies instituted by the church for the remission of sins. Such heresies must be destroyed ; such blasphemies must be condemned. But the task would not be easy; for whereas, in their late discussions, they had been so much assisted by the writings of the scholastic divines that help would now almost entirely fail them, as very few of those authors had treated of the subject of justification.*
Twenty-three propositions were exhibited, said to contain the errors of Luther, Zuinglius, and others, on the point in question, but consisting, in many instances, of expressions uttered in the heat of controversy, and sentences misconstrued or torn from their connexion : the real opinions of the reformers were very partially and unfairly represented.t On these propositions the subsequent debates were founded.
With regard to justification itself, the divines were pretty generally agreed that it means the translation of an individual from the state of an enemy to that of a friend and an adopted child of God, and that it consists in charity, or grace infused into the soul by the Divine Being; thus evidently confounding it with sanctification. Marinier maintained that the word is used in a forensic sense, as opposed to “ condemnation,” and that any other interpretation was contrary to the express language of the Apostle Paul; but this opinion found few supporters. The fathers at Trent understood the word “justify” to mean “ to make righteous,” not “to declare righteous:" they founded the acceptance of a sinner in the sight of God, partly, at least, on inherent grace, to which the work of the Lord Jesus Christ was supposed to impart efficacy; and they rejected the word “imputation,” which, it was said, the ancients had never used. Soto remarked, that he had always suspected that word, because of the evil consequences which the Lutherans derived from it: for instance, that the righteousness of Jesus Christ is sufficient, without inherent righteousness; that the sacraments do not confer grace; that
* Pallav. lib. viii. c. 2. Sarpi, lib. ii. s. 73.
f Le Plat, iii. 431.
the punishment as well as the guilt of sin is remitted; that there is no need of satisfaction, (that is, penance;) and that all are equal in grace, righteousness, and glory; whence followed the horrible blasphemy, that every righteous man is equal to the Virgin !*
Eight general congregations were held on this question, “ What is done by the ungodly man himself, when he attains faith, and thence grace ?” This was, in fact, the chief point at issue with the reformers, who zealously contended that all works done before faith, so far from being meritorious, are positively sinful. The Archbishop of Sienna ascribed all merit to Christ, none to man; and connected the reception of righteousness with faith only, without any other preparation. On the same side was the Bishop of Cava, who argued that hope and love are the companions of faith, but in no respect the cause of justification. Julius Contarenus, Bishop of Belluno, also ascribed everything to faith in the merits of the Saviour, and nothing to works, which he regarded as only evidences of faith and righteousness; and he maintained that whatever efficacy was attributed to them detracted from the merit of the Redeemer's blood.+ But these statements were much disapproved by the majority of the prelates :I for the divines agreed that works performed before justification have the merit of congruity,g and this notion met with general approbation. But Ambrose Catharine held, that without the special assistance of God no one can perform a truly good work, and that, consequently, all the actions of the unbeliever are sins. In support of this assertion he quoted Augustine, Ambrose, Anselm, apd other fathers, and dwelt much on such passages of Scripture as these, “an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit;" “make the tree good, and the fruit will be good ;” “ unto the unbelieving nothing is pure.” He said, that it was better to follow the fathers than the scholastic divines, who often contradicted one another; and that it was safer to build on Scripture, the foundation of true theology, than on the philosophical subtleties which had been too popular in the schools. Soto warmly opposed him, and treated his doctrine as heretical, and tending to the denial of free-will. Jerome Seripand, a Dominican, advanced the notion of two justifications; the first, internal, partly consisting of infused grace and the gift of adoption, conferred by the sacraments, and partly in virtuous actions and a just life; the second, external, by the imputation of the righteousness and merits of the Saviour, as if they were our own. In attaining grace and adoption he affirmed that works had no share, the mercy of God received by faith being the sole source. Neither did he consider works alone as sufficient for the justification of him who lives righteously, but represented faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ as required to supply the deficiency! The Bishop of the Canaries said, that though works done by man in his natural state do not merit grace, yet God may be moved by them to bestow it. The Franciscans contended fiercely for the merit of congruity against the Dominicans, who openly avowed their wish for the suppression of that dogma, which they said was never heard of in the early times of the church, and was unknown to Scripture.*
* Pallav. lib. viii. c. 4. Sarpi, lib. ii. s. 76.
† The scripture doctrine of justification, as held by these prelates, had been embraced by many eminent men, even in Italy. Its suppression in that country was not effected without much cost and pains.-See M‘Crie's “ Reformation in Italy,” p. 165—188.
| “Quæ sententiæ patribus malè audierunt”-“ Hæc sententia patrum aures offendit,”—“patribus odiosus obstrepuit” [Contarenus.] Pallav. ut sup.
§ “Merit de congruo, signifies a good work which is worthy of divine reward, not out of any obligation from justice, but out of a principle of fitness (or congruity) and from the free bounty of God.”—Preservative against Popery, vol. ii. tit. 8. p. 91.
With regard to works performed by those who are in a state of grace, there was no difference of opinion. All agreed that they are perfect, and merit eternal life: this is what is called, in Roman-catholic theology, the merit of condignity.
Great pains were taken to discuss thoroughly the assertion, that “man is justified by faith,” and to affix some determinate meaning to that expression : but the task was not easy, Some busied themselves in searching for the different senses in which the word “faith” is used in Scripture, which they made to amount to fifteen, but knew not in which it is employed when applied to justification. At length, after much
* Pallav. ut sup. c. 9. s. 5. Sarpi, ut sup
disputing, it was agreed that faith is the belief of all things which God has revealed, or the church has commanded to be believed. It was distinguished into two sorts : the one, said to exist even in sinners, and which was termed, unformed, barren, and dead; the other peculiar to the just, and working by charity, and thence called formed, efficacious, and living faith. Still, as Father Paul observes, “they touched not the principal point of the difficulty, which was, to ascertain whether a man is justified before he works righteousness, or whether he is justified by his works of righteousness."*
These disputes were frequently conducted with much heat, and sometimes ended in scenes very unbecoming the character of Christian prelates. The Bishop of Cava, it has been stated, advanced sentiments much more conformable to Scripture than those of the majority. As he left the meeting, the Bishop of Chiron told him that he would refute all he had said, and expose his ignorance and obstinacy. Incensed by such an insult, the poor bishop forgot his character and station, flew upon his opponent, and plucked his beard. The council was much scandalized at it, and directed the offender to be confined in the convent of St. Bernardine till the Pope's pleasure should be known. When directions arrived from Rome, he was sentenced to perpetual banishment, and ordered to repair to the holy father, who only could absolve him from the excommunication he had incurred. The Pope, however, permitted the legates to give him absolution, and he was sent home to his diocese.f
The session was to have been held July 28th, but so little progress had been made in preparing the decree that a postponement became necessary. There was some negotiation, about the same time, respecting a removal of the council to some other place. Many of the bishops were alarmed for their personal safety, on account of the vicinity of Trent to the seat of war. The legates were desirous of removing to Sienna, Lucca, or some city within the papal dominions; partly because De Monte and the Cardinal of Trent had recently quarrelled, partly because heresy was found to prevail to a considerable extent, even under their own eyes : they naturally wished to
* Pallav. and Sarpi, ut sup.
+ Pallav. lib. viii. c. 6.
be beyond the reach and observation of their opponents. But when the Emperor heard of it he was violently enraged, and threatened to throw Santa Croce into the Adige, if he persisted in urging the translation: the Pope found it needful to be on good terms with his ally, and directions were given to drop the project altogether.*
A decree, embracing as much of the subject as had been then considered, had been prepared by the Bishop of Bitonto, After some amendments it was put into the hands of Seripand to be revised. When it was again produced, long and intricate debates ensued, on the certainty of grace, the merit of congruity, the imputation of righteousness, the distinction between grace and charity, and other points; on all which there was great diversity of opinion. Some, for instance, thought it highly presumptuous in any man to pretend to assurance, and said, that a state of doubt and uncertainty is useful and even meritorious, since it is a species of suffering. On the other hand it was argued, that Jesus Christ frequently assured individuals that their sins were forgiven; that it could not be presumptuous in them to believe him; and that the doctrine of assurance is plainly taught in Scripture, in such passages as these: “ Know ye not that Jesus Christ is in you ?” “ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.”—(2 Cor. xiii. 5; Rom. viii. 16.) But this sentiment was deemed to savour of Lutheranism.t
In the course of these disputes, the question of free will having been incidentally mentioned, it was resolved to examine that subject. The alleged doctrines of the reformers were embodied in six propositions, and warm discussions again followed. Some were inclined to think that when the Lutherans said, “ that man is at liberty only to do evil, and is not free to do good," they were scarcely deserving censure, since it was universally admitted that without the grace of God nothing truly good can be accomplished : but this was heard with evident dissatisfaction. There was much disputing on the question, “ Whether man is at liberty to believe, or not to believe ?” The Franciscans held, that as demonstration produces
* Pallav. ut sup. c. 5, 8, 10. Sarpi, s. 78. + Pallav, ut sup. c. 12. Sarpi, s. 80.