‘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.’
James Buchanan (1804-1870) was born in Scotland in 1804 and ordained in 1827 in the Church of Scotland. In 1828 he commenced a very successful ministry at North Leith where he gained a great reputation as an earnest, eloquent, evangelical preacher. In 1845 he was appointed to the Chair of Apologetics at New College, Edinburgh, and in 1847 he succeeded Thomas Chalmers as Professor of Systematic Theology. He retired in 1868 and died two years later. Buchanan was a prolific and popular writer: his first book, Comfort in Affliction (1837), sold nearly 30,000 copies. His two most valuable works were The Office and Work of the Holy Spirit (1842), an exposition which still merits study, and The Doctrine of Justification, the Cunningham Lectures for 1866, reprinted here.
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