From the Author’s Introduction
It may be thought by some that the subject of justification is trite and exhausted; that, as one of the commonplaces of theology, it was conclusively determined and settled at the era of the Reformation; and that nothing new or interesting can now be introduced into the
discussion of it.
But … may it not be said that, to a large class of minds in the present age, nothing could well be more new than the old theology of the Reformation? The gospel is older than Luther; but to every succeeding generation it is still new good news from God as fresh now as when
It first sprung from the fountain of Inspiration.
…The doctrine of justification, by grace, through faith in Christ, is the old doctrine of the Reformation, and the still older doctrine of the gospel; yet the vivid apprehension of its meaning and the cordial reception of its truth must be a new thing in the experience of everyone when he is first enabled to realize and to believe it.
‘The doctrine of justification by faith is like Atlas: it bears a world: it bears a world on its shoulders, the entire evangelical knowledge of saving grace. The doctrines of election, of effectual calling, regeneration, and repentance, of adoption, of prayer, of the church, the ministry, and the sacraments, have all to be interpreted and understood in the light of justification by faith. When justification falls, all true knowledge of the grace of God in human life falls with it, and then as Luther said, the church itself falls.
The value of Buchanan’s book today is that it will help us to understand this message better, and so to preach it in the full and comprehensive way in which the modern world needs to hear it.’ —J.I. Packer
‘There is a reason why James Buchanan’s treatment of the Doctrine of Justification is a Christian classic. It puts to rest forever the notion that the magisterial reformers of the 16th Century introduced a novelty in their declaration that justification is by faith alone. Buchanan’s careful and comprehensive survey of church history shows clearly that the doctrine is the historic and Biblical doctrine.’ —R.C. Sproul
‘James Buchanan’s The Doctrine of Justification remains the single most important work on justification by faith alone since the Reformation itself. Now, 150 years after the great work was first published, it remains the essential text on the central evangelical doctrine. I am very thankful for this new edition and I encourage a new generation of Christians to read this book, study it carefully, and teach its truth boldly.’
— Al Mohler
‘James Buchanan was a distinguished member of one of the greatest faculties of theology ever assembled in the English-speaking world. In keeping with that this work is a classic treatment of a doctrine which, as Calvin noted, is ‘the main hinge on which religion turns.’ Justification is an absolute must read especially for students and ministers of the gospel.’
— Sinclair Ferguson
‘Buchanan’s treatment of justification is the classic nineteenth century statement of the Reformed doctrine that lies at the heart of the Protestant understanding of the gospel. It lays out clearly all of the key concepts: the covenant of works and of grace; the imputation of Christ’s righteousness; and the instrumentality of faith. It is an excellent distillation of the Reformed faith s wisdom on the topic.’
— Carl Trueman
‘Let no one say that the doctrine of justification is a trifle of divisive theological debate. On the contrary, justification by faith in Christ alone is the bread and honey of our souls. Buchanan s classic work on justification is a honeycomb of sweet doctrine gathered from the fair flowers of Reformation theology that sprang from the Word of Christ. Like Jonathan ‘s staff, this book brightens the eyes and strengthens weary souls in our spiritual combat against the accuser of the brethren.’
— Joel Beeke
‘This masterful work by James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification, is the gold standard on the doctrine of justification. Towering over the centuries, this treatise has earned its rightful place in the pantheon of defenses of this cardinal doctrine. Here is the definitive treatment of this cornerstone truth at every level: historically, biblically, theologically, and polemically.’
— Steve Lawson
‘James Buchanan on Justification is as wise and profound in its biblical, historical, and theological analyses today as it was 150 years ago. Indeed it may be more valuable and necessary for Christians and churches now than even it was then.’ —Robert Godfrey
About the Author
Although James Buchanan became known to posterity as a theologian mainly through two of his books, ‘The Office and Work of the Holy Spirit’ and ‘The Doctrine of Justification’ (both re-published by the Banner of Truth Trust) it was as a preacher of unusual power and ability that he first made his name.
He studied theology under Dr. Thomas Chalmers in Edinburgh, and in 1827, at the age of 23, was ordained to the ministry at Roslin, near Edinburgh. A year later he was translated to a large church at North Leith which he soon filled to overflowing, his preaching being noted for its fulness and clarity as well as for its flights of impassioned oratory. One of his hearers, who had been to India, thought that his preaching was of the same stamp as that of Henry Martyn.
Buchanan was a pastor to the end and his great work on Justification, published in 1866, was written to combat the opposition to the doctrine both by rationalists and ritualists, and to establish true believers in a well-grounded assurance. It was his last work. In 1868, afflicted by deafness and increasing infirmity he retired from the chair of Theology. He died in 1870.