Honeycombe of Free Justification in Christ

John Eaton

Originally Printed In 1642

Posted On Jan. 31, 2017

Free Justification by Christ Alone - Collected out of the mere Authorities of Scripture, and common and unanimous consent of the faithful interpreters and dispensers of God’s Mysteries upon the same, especially as they express the excellency of Free Justification. Preached and delivered by JOHN EATON, Master of Arts, sometime Student in Trinity College in Oxford; and fifteen years Minister and Preacher at Wickham-Market in Suffolk.

John Eaton, a faithful minister of Christ, was born in Kent, in the year 1575, and educated in Trinity College, Oxford. For several years after he left the University, he preached in various places, including St. Catherine, Coleman Street, London, &c., and about 1604, became vicar of Wickham-Market in Suffolk, where he continued to the end of his days. The thrust of Eaton’s Gospel proclamation was pre-eminently Christ centered, to magnify that Grace which resided in Christ, to abase man, and to set forth the only ground of salvation, which is the Free Grace of God in Jesus Christ, directing our gaze entirely from ourselves, and everything else, to Christ alone. Eaton was a learned man, but above all a spiritual man, given a keen discernment of the essence of the Gospel, and faithfully proclaimed free justification by the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ alone, in staunch opposition to the Popish Arminianism and Puritanical Legalism which he believed prevailed in the church in his day, and for his faithfulness therein was treated with scorn, and removed as vicar at Wickham Market, Suffolk in April 1619, allegedly for being ‘an incorrigible divulger of errors and false opinions,’ for which he suffered imprisonment numerous times. It was said that in a few years the parish of which he presided was generally reformed, “insomuch that most of the children twelve years old were able to give good account of their knowledge in the grounds of religion.” None of his writings were allowed to be published during his lifetime; and in fact, when his widow, shortly after his death, attempted to have his writings published, she was imprisoned. His book, “the Honey Combe of Free Justification,” was not published until a number of years after his death, {1642,} as religious persecution began to wane in the wake of the Cromwellian era which would follow. Archdeacon Echard stated, that by means of his zeal, his exemplary patience, and his great piety, he was exceedingly admired in the neighborhood where he lived, and highly valued for many years after his death; he was, upon the whole, “a pattern of faith, holiness, and cheerfulness in his sufferings, to future generations.”

Two Excerpts: I here endeavored to lay forth, in this Treatise, this said excellency of Free Justification. For which, to perform some spark of faithfulness herein to God’s Church, our Kings, and to my Country, I have suffered much hurt; and have, by divers imprisonments, in some measure, approved my ministry in tumults, and in labors, by ill report and good report. II Cor.6:4-8. Because we ought not {gentle Reader} to content ourselves {as too many do} with the bare name of Free Justification, and know it {as they that are in the dead faith do} with a carnal knowledge only; whereby such do Popishly and Blasphemously think and say, that this only saving benefit opens the gate to all wickedness; neither must we content ourselves {as it is, Heb.6:4} with a mere taste only of this heavenly gift, as it is often called, which bare taste only makes us to lie in the fearful danger of falling away from it, Heb.6:4-5, worse than the Galatians did. Gal.1:6. But if we have one spark of spiritual life by the Gospel; we, but especially God’s Ministers, must labour {they by preaching, and you by hearing, reading, and meditating upon it} to get a true, lively, and rejoicing knowledge of it; for when it works joy, peace, and contentment with God in the heart, then hath a man the true and right knowledge of it; and when a man hath a true, and right saving knowledge and faith of it, then it hath brought him into the Kingdom of Heaven, Matt.11:11-12, and worketh in his heart peace, and great joy in the Holy Ghost, Rom.5:1-3, because the Kingdom of heaven is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, Rom.14:17, as it is further proved in the Treatise following. And this is Christ’s full satisfaction that is wrought fully in us, and upon us by Christ, which many talk of, but few understand, even as little, as they know what is meant by God’s forgiveness, for because God made man perfectly holy and righteous, at the first, and thereby a complete creature, his justice is not satisfied, until he sees his creature as perfectly holy and righteous in his sight, as he made him at the first, but none can undertake to bring this to pass but Christ; and therefore he undergoing for us, and overcoming that punishment of God’s justice, that we should have born, and conveying, by the power of his imputation, that justice and perfect righteousness that he fulfilled for us, to be in us, and upon us in God’s sight, hath thus by his death fully wrought by himself alone, whatsoever the perfect justice of God requires to be in us; and so hath fully satisfied the justice of God, by making us perfectly holy and righteous in the sight of God freely. And thus we being in Christ made, as the Apostle saith, complete in the sight of God, the justice of God is fully satisfied, so that although the death of Christ, satisfying for us, be without us in Christ; yet the virtue, fruit, and power of that satisfaction is in us, making us perfectly holy and righteous, and fully complete in the sight of God freely.

Unless the special Grace of Christ administers its life and dispense its light, tis impossible for flesh and blood to comprehend this mystical and joyful doctrine of Justification; so strange it is to carnal reason, so dark to the world, so many enemies it hath, that except the Spirit of God from above do reveal it, all will be a blank; for learning cannot reach it, wisdom is offended, nature is astounded, devils do not know it, men do persecute it; briefly, as there is no way to life so easy, so there is none so hard; easy to whom it is given from above; hard to the carnal sense not yet inspired; the ignorance whereof is the root of all the errors, sects, and divisions in the world. - Yea, I do therefore so much beat upon it, because I know that Satan goeth about nothing more, than that he may take away this knowledge from the sight and minds of men; for hitherto principally tend all the stirs which he raises up both publicly and privately, that men busying their heads in new disputations, should forget this article, for Satan feels the force and power of this article. For Justification, by which of unjust we are made just before God, is the strong Rock and Foundation of Christian Religion. For this doctrine advances and setteth forth the true glory of Christ, and suppresses the vain glory of man; this whosoever denies, is not to be reputed for a Christian man, nor for a setter forth of Christ’s glory, but for an Adversary to Christ and his Gospel. Now for use, let this suffice in this place, to stir up God’s children by these and the like reasons, to fortify their judgements in this main point of the Christian faith. The Article of Justification is the very sum of the Gospel; that once corrupted, there can be no soundness; that truly and thoroughly understood, and believed, and applied, arms against all assaults of Satan; so let us be exhorted, as to edify ourselves in all other points of our most holy faith; so specially in this; which who so holds not aright, surely he holds not the head, nor ever can be saved.