Sir:

     Kenneth Harris’ recommendation of Rutherford’s insistence on justification in time contradicts the Anglican Reformers who spoke of a three-fold manifestation of justification i.e. from eternity, in the conscience and at glorification. So, too, Presbyterian Reformers such as Witsius outlined justification in nine stages from eternity into time. Our Reformers accounted the elect just before God in union with Christ from eternity by having Christ’s righteousness first imputed to them and then made conscious in them through God-given faith. This Tyndale taught in Pathway to the Holy Scriptures and Prologue to Romans. The Anglican Homily on Justification stresses that “justification is the office of God alone, and is not a thing which we render unto Him, but which we receive of Him.” For Cranmer, faith acts on but not prior to justification given to believers before creation through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. This is based on Christ’s decision in eternity to ransom His people and give them faith to accept it (Annotations on the King’s Book; On Salvation). Latimer taught that justification is through redemption testified to by Christ’s faith given to His elect (Sermons). Hooper argued that the faith of the justified rests on Christ’s previous justification of them. Faith is the gift of acceptance of what has already been wrought out. Hooper quotes Paul as saying “We are justified by faith, that is, we are just through the confidence of mercy.” The whereby and wherefore of justification is Christ’s electing love and sacrifice and prevenient grace. (Declarations of Christ). Hooper is following Paul who stresses that justification comes to God’s ungodly enemies and not to the already faithful. Jewel explains that the faith which justifies is Christ’s not man’s and man receives the finished product. He quotes the Fathers showing that this has always been the orthodox faith. (Defence of Apology of the Church of England.) Hooker, Sandys, Pilkington, Whitgift, Whitaker and even Bancroft affirmed the same. It would be difficult to find an Anglican Reformer who disagreed!

     Rutherford, severely critical of Anglican and Congregationalist understanding of Scripture concerning church and law (Rex Lex), rejected Crisp’s Anglican orthodoxy expressed in Christian Liberty No Licentious Doctrine, which Presbyterian Twisse nevertheless defended as did also Anglican preachers of righteousness such as James Hervey. All this led Toplady in his The Church of England Vindicated and his diaries to argue that Justification from Eternity was true Anglican doctrine.