Justification Vindicated

 I recently finished Robert Traill’s (d. 1716) excellent treatise called Justification Vindicated (Carlisle: Banner of Truth, 2002)This was originally published in 1692 as a response to Arminian legalist errors (i.e. Richard Baxter) as well as those of the Antinomians (i.e. Tobias Crisp).  As a side note, Traill also made me go out and purchase Walter Marshall’s Gospel Mystery of Sanctification).  Here are a few outstanding quotes from Traill’s Justification Vindicated.

“A law condemned sinner is freely justified by God’s grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ; …he is justified only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to him by God of his free grace, and received by faith alone as an instrument, which faith is the gift of the same grace.”

“The plain old Protestant doctrine is that the place of faith in justification is only that of a hand or instrument, receiving the righteousness of Christ, for the sake of which alone we are justified.”

“…Never was any sinner qualified for Christ.  He is well qualified for us.”

“If a man trusts his own righteousness, he rejects Christ’s; if he trusts Christ’s righteousness, he rejects his own.”

“Let us carefully keep the boundaries between the law and the gospel clear….  Let us keep the law as far from the business of justification as we would keep condemnation, its contrary.”

This booklet is short – 77 pages total.  Some parts of it are quite dense because of older wording and allusions to the debates of the late 17th century; however, there are very clear parts which are amazing explanations of justification in relation to three solas: Christ alone, grace alone, and faith alone.  This book is certainly worth owning and reading if you’re a student of the doctrines of grace.

shane lems

4 Replies to “Justification Vindicated”

  1. “The most important of those mistakenly labeled ‘Antinomian’ was Tobias Crisp (1600-1643)… Crisp more than most of his time, strove to develop in greater fullness and clarity the precise sense in which the Mosaic Covenant had to be considered as a covenant of works.” The Westminster Theological Journal, Vol. 43, No. 1, (Fall, 1980), Page 27.

    – Mark Karlberg

    “Antinomianism was the term applied to the teaching of Dr. Tobias Crisp… He was called an Antinomian, but the term was misapplied.”

    – C. H. Spurgeon

    Does Trail call out Crisp as an antinomian in this book?

    I’ve under the impression from a post by Lee Irons (http://www.upper-register.com/blog/?p=45) that Trail was more or less defending Crisp?


    1. Thanks, Kyle, for the note. I’ve not read a lot about this part of church history (the English/Scottish Presbyterian and Independent era in the 17th century). I wrote the above based on the intro to Traill’s work and from Traill’s words. Here are the quotes, FYI. Others who are more schooled in this area of church history can comment.

      From the intro: “Traill’s treatise [Justification Vindicated] guarded the doctrine of justification by faith, on the one hand, from misappropriation by antinomians like Tobais Crisp.”

      From Traill’s own pen: “Let not Dr. Crisp’s book be looked upon as the standard of our doctrine. There are many good things in it, and also many expressions in it that we generally dislike.”

      Thanks for the comments,


  2. For what it’s worth, I’ve thought of this matter as somewhat similar to the Marrow Controversy. The Marrow Men were the ones defending grace, but they used some unfortunate terms. Crisp was defending grace, but on the whole is not as solid as others. Better to read Traill on justification or for someone more recent, J Fesko.


  3. Crisp was not an antinomian, you can read his works here for free: Grace-eBooks.com



    THE USE OF THE LAW (vol. 4), “Some, it may be, will object, that all this while it seems that Christ hath not freed us frown being under the law, whereas the apostle saith, “Ye are not under the law, but under grace.” I answer,

    1. That in respect of the rules of righteousness, or the matter of obedience, we are under the law still; or else we are lawless, to live every man as seems good in his own eyes, which I know no true christian dares so much as think; for Christ hath given no new law diverse from this, to order our conversation aright by; besides, we are under the law, to know what is transgression, and what is the desert of it.”


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