The Charge of Antinomianism Misapplied

Written by Robert Traill
This article is taken from Justification Vindicated, 1692
This adaptations is from the Protestant Pulpit, by Timothy Williams

But if our brethren will not forbear their charge of Antinomianism, we intreat them that they will give it in justly.


  1. On them that say, that the sanction of the holy law of God is repealed; so that no man is now under it, either to be condemned for breaking it, or to be saved by keeping it; which to us is rank Antinomianism and Arminianism both: yea, that it doth not now require perfect holiness. But indeed what can it require? for it is no law, if its sanction be repealed.
  2. On them let the charge lie, that are ungodly under the name of Christianity. And both they and we know where to find such true Antinomians in great abundance, who yet are never called by that name. And is it not somewhat strange, that men who have so much zeal against an Antinomian principle, have so much kindness for true Antinomians in practice?
  3. Let him be called by this ugly name, that judgeth not the holy law and word of God written in the Old and New Testament to be a perfect rule of life to all believers, and saith not that all such should study conformity thereunto, Rom. 12:2.
  4. That encourageth himself in sin, and hardeneth himself in impenitence, by the doctrine of the gospel. No man that knows and believes the gospel, can do so. What some hypocrites may do, is nothing to us, who disown all such persons and practices: and own no principle that can really encourage the one, or influence the other.
  5. That thinketh holiness is not necessary to all that would be saved. We maintain, not only that it is necessary to, but that it is a great part of salvation.
  6. Whoever thinks, that when a believer comes short in obeying God’s law, he sins not; and that he ought not to mourn because of it as provoking to God, and hurtful to the new creation in him; and that he needs not renew the exercise of faith and repentance for repeated washing and pardoning.

Lastly, That say, that a sinner is actually justified before he be united to Christ by faith. It is strange, that such that are charged with this, of all men do most press on sinners to believe on Jesus Christ, and urge the damnation threatened in the gospel upon all unbelievers. That there is a decreed justification from eternity, particular and fixed as to all the elect, and a virtual perfect justification of all the redeemed, in and by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Isaiah 53:11, Rom. 4:25, Heb. 9:26 28 and 10:14 is not yet called in question by any amongst us; and more is not craved, but that a sinner, for his actual justification, must lay hold on and plead this redemption in Christ’s blood by faith.

Unjustly Charged with Antinomianism

But, on the other hand, we glory in any name of reproach (as the honourable reproach of Christ) that is cast upon us for asserting the absolute boundless freedom of the grace of God, which excludes all merit, and every thing like it; the absoluteness of the covenant of grace, (for the covenant of redemption was plainly and strictly a conditional one, and the noblest of all conditions was in it. The Son of God’s taking on him man’s nature, and offering it in sacrifice, was the strict condition of all the glory and reward promised to Christ and his seed Isaiah 53:10, 11.), wherein all things are freely promised, and that faith that is required for sealing a man’s interest in the covenant is promised in it, and wrought by the grace of it, Eph. 2:8.

That faith at first is wrought by, and acts upon a full and absolute offer of Christ, and of all his fulness; an offer that hath no condition in it, but that native one to all offers, acceptance; and in the very act of this acceptance, the accepter doth expressly disclaim all things in himself, but sinfulness and misery.

That faith in Jesus Christ doth justify (although by the way it is to be noted, that it is never written in the word, that faith justifieth actively, but always passively: that a man is justified by faith, and that God justifieth men by, and through faith; yet admitting the phrase) only as a mere instrument receiving that imputed righteousness of Christ, for which we are justified; and that this faith, in the office of justification, is neither condition nor qualification, nor our gospel-righteousness, but in its very act a renouncing of all such pretences.

We proclaim the market of grace to be free, Isa. 55:1, 2, 3. It is Christ’s last offer and lowest, Rev. 22:17. If there be any price or money spoke of, it is no price, no money. And where such are the terms and conditions, if we be forced to call them so, we must say, that they look liker a renouncing, than a boasting of any qualifications or conditions. Surely the terms of the gospel-bargain are, God’s free giving and our free taking and receiving.

We are not ashamed of teaching…

  1. The ineffectualness of the law, and all the works of it, to give life; either that of justification, or of regeneration and sanctification, or of eternal life.                                                                                                                                          
  2. That the law of God can only damn all sinners; that it only rebukes, and thereby irritates and increases sin; and that it can never subdue sin, till gospel grace comes with power upon the heart; and then when the law is written in the heart it is copied out in the life;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
  3. That we call men to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, in that condition the first Adam brought them to and left them in; in that condition that the law finds and leaves them in, guilty filthy, condemned; out of which condition they can only be delivered by Christ, and by believing on him;
  4. That we tell sinners that Jesus Christ will surely welcome all that come to him; and, as he will not cast them out for their sinfulness, in their nature and past life, so neither will he do so for their misery, in the want of such qualifications and graces as he alone can give;
  5. That we hold forth the propitiation in Christ’s blood, as the only thing to be in the eye of a man that would believe on Christ unto justification of life; and that by this faith alone a sinner is justified, and God is justified in doing so;
  6. That God justifies the ungodly (Rom. 4:5), neither by making him godly before he justifies him, nor by leaving him ungodly after he has justified him; but that the same grace that justifies him does immediately sanctify him;

If for such doctrine we are called Antinomians we are bold to say that there is some ignorance of, or prejudice against, the known Protestant doctrine in the hearts of the reproachers.


Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Robert Traill (1642-1716): Friend of William Guthrie of Fenwick, attendant of James Guthrie of Stirling on the scaffold, son of the Greyfriars Church manse where the 1638 Covenant was signed, Scot ordained in England, exile in Holland, prisoner on the Bass Rock, scholar, preacher and saint — Robert Traill lived to span the ripest period of the Puritan age. Distinguished in the classes at Edinburgh University, Traill early felt the inner constraint to preach Christ. Too intimate an association with the younger John Welsh drew the swift displeasure of the civil arm upon him. Denounced as a ‘Pentland Rebel’ he fled to join the bright galaxy of British divines weathering the storm of Stuart Absolutism in the Low Countries (1667).

Traill’s literary output began there. As assistant to Nethenus, professor at Utrecht, he prepared Samuel Rutherford’s Examination of Arminianism for the press. Back in London in 1692 he took up his pen, as Isaac Chancy (Owen’s successor) and the younger Thomas Goodwin were having to do, to defend the doctrine of Justification against the new Legalism. After serving Presbyterian charges in Kent and London he died at the age of 74.