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men. Here man's sin and misery, are the field in which the riches of God's grace in Christ are displayed. Here the sinner is made righteous by the righteousness of another, and obtains justification through this righteousness, though he pays and gives nothing for it. God declarés him righteous, or justifies him freely; and yet he is well paid for it by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Rom. iii. 24, 25, 26. It is an act of justice and mercy both, when God justifies a be. liever on Jesus Christ. And must there not then be a great mystery in it? is not every believer daily admiring the depth of this way of God? This mystery is, usually, rather darkened, than illustrated, by logical terms used in the handling of it. The only defence that good and learned men have for the use of them, is (and it hath great weight), that the craft of adversaries doth constrain them to use such terms, to find them out, or hedge them in. It is certain, that this mystery is as plainly revealed in the word, as the Holy Ghost thought fit to do in teaching the heirs of this grace; and it were well if men did contain themselves within these bounds.
3. It is certain, that this doctrine of justification proposed in the word, hath been very differently understood and expressed by men, that profess that God's word is the only rule of their thoughts and words about the things of the Spirit of God. It hath been, and will be still a stone of stumbling; as our Lord Jesus Christ himself was, and is, Rom. ix, 32, 33. 1 Pet. ii. 7, 8.
4. That whatever variety and differences there be in mens notions and opinions and there is a great deal) about justifi. cation, they are all certainly relucible to two; one of which is every man's opinion. And they are, That the justification of a sinner before God, is either on the account of a righteousness in and of ourselves; or on the account, of a righteousness in another, eren Jesus Christ, who is Jehovah our righteousness. Law and gospel, faith and works, Christ's righteousness and our own, grace and debt, do equally divide all in this matter. Crafty men may endearour to blend and mix these things together in justification; but it is a vain at. tempt. It is not only most express's rejected in the gospel, which peremptoriiy determines the contrariety, inconsistency, . and incompatibility betwixt these two; but the nature of the
things in themselves, and the sense and conscience of every serious person, do witness to the same, that our own righteousness, and Christ's righteousness, do comprehend all the pleas of men to justification (one or other of them every man in the world stands upon); and that they are inconsistent with, and destructive one of another, in justification. If a man trusts to his own righteousness, he rejects Christ's : if he trusts to Christ's righteousness, he rejects his own. If he will not reject his own righteousness, as too good to be renounced; if he will not venture on Christ's righteousness, as not sufficient alone to bear him out, and bring him safe off at God's bar, he is in both a convicted unbeliever. And if he endeavour to patch up a righteousness before God, made up of both, he is still under the law, and a despiser of gospelgrace, Gal. ii. 21. That righteousness that justifies a sinner, consists in aliquo indivisibili: and this every man finds when the case is his own, and he serious about it.
5. These diferent sentiments about justification, have been at all times managed with a special acrimony. They that are for the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ, look upon it as the only foundation of all their hopes for eternity, and therefore cannot but be zealous for it. And the contrary side are as hot for their own righteousness, the most admired and adored Diana of proud mankind, as if it were an image fallen down from Jupiter; when it is indeed the idol that was cast out of heaven with the devil, and which he hath ever since been so diligent to set up before sinful men to be worshipped, that he might bring them into the same condemnation with himself: for by true sin, and false righteousness, he hath deceived the whole world, Rev. xii. 9.
6. As the Holy Ghost speaking in the scriptures, is the supreme and infallible judge and determiner of all truth; so where he doth particularly, and on purpose, deliver any truth, there we are specially to attend and learn. And though, in most points of truth, he usually teacheth us by a bare authoritative narration; yet in some points, which his infinite wisdom foresaw special opposition to, he doth not only declare, but debate and determine the truth. And the instances are
two especially. One is about the divinity of Christ's person, and dignity of his priesthood; reasoned, argued, and determined, in the epistle to the Hebrews. The other is about justification by faith; exactly handled in the epistles to the Romans, and to the Galatians. In the former of these two, the doctrine of free justification is taught us most formally and accurately. And though we find no charge against that church, in Paul's time, or in' his epistle for their departing from the truth in this point; yet the wisdom of the Holy Ghost is remarkable in this, that this doctrine should be so plainly asserted, and strongly proved, in an epistle to that church, the pretended, successors whereof have apostatized from that faith, and proved the main assertors of that damnable error, of justification by works.' That to the Galatians is plainly written, to cure a begun, and obviate a full apostasy, from the purity of the gospel, in the point of justification by faith, without the works of the law. And from these two epistles, if we be wise, we must learn the truth of this doctrine, and expound all other scriptures, in a harmony with what is there so setly determined, as in fora contradictorio.
7. Lastly, It is not to be denied, or concealed, that on each side, some have run into extremes, which the generality do not own, but are usually loaded with. The Papists run high for justification by works; yet even some of them, in the council of Trent, discoursed very favourably of justification by faith. The Arminians have qualified a little the grossness of the Popish doctrine in this article : and some since have essayed to qualify that of the Arminians, and to plead the same cause more finely. Again, some have run into the other extreme, as appeared in Germany a little after the reformation: and some such there have been always, and in all places, where the gospel hath shined ; and these were called Antingmians. But how unjustly this hateful name is charged upon the orthodox preachers and sincere believers of the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith only, who keep the gospelmidst betwixt these two rocks, is the design of this paper to discover. What we plead for, is in sum, That Jesus Christ cur Saviour is the fountain opened in the house of David, for sin
and for uncleanness, wherein only men can be washed, in justification and sanctification; and that there is no other fountain of man's devising, nor of God's declaring, for washing a sinner first, so as to make him fit and meet to come to this, to wash, and to be clean.
As for inherent holiness, is it not sufficiently secured by the Spirit of Christ received by faith, the certain spring and cause of it; by the word of God, the plain and perfect rule of it; by the declared necessity of it to all them that look to be saved, and to justify the sincerity of a man's faith; unless we bring it in to justification, and thereby make our own pitiful holiness sit on the throne of judgment, with the precious blood of the Lamb of God?
Though I expect that a more able hand will undertake an examination of the new divinity; yet, to fill up a little room, I would speak somewhat to their Achillean argument, that is so much boasted of, and so frequently insisted on by them, . as their shield and spear. Their argument is this: That Christ's righteousness is our legal righteousness; but our own is our evangelical righteousness: that is, When a sinner is charged with sin against the holy law of God, he may oppose Christ's righteousness as his legal defence ; but against the charge of the gospel, especially for unbelief, he must produce his faith, as his defence or righteousness, against that charge.
With a great deference to such worthy divines as have looked on this as an argument of weight, I shall, in a few words, essay to manifest, that this is either a saying the same in other odd words, that is commonly taught by us; or a sophism; or a departing from the Protestant doctrine about justification.
1. This argument concerns not at all the justification of a sinner before God. For this end, no more is needful, than to consider, what this charge is, against whom it is given, and by whom. The charge is said to be given in by God; and a charge of unbelief, or disobeying the gospel. But against whom? Is it against a believer or unbeliever? and these two divide all mankind. If it be against a believer, it is a false charge, and can never be given in by the God of truth. For the believer is justified already by faith, and as to this charge
he is innocent. And innocence is defence enough to a man falsely charged, before a righteous judge. Is this charge given in against an unbeliever? We allow it is a righteous charge. Ay, but say they, “ Will Christ's righteousness justify a man « from this charge of gospel-unbelief?” The answer is plain.' No, it will not; nor yet from any other charge whatsoever, either from law or gospel; for he hath nothing to do with Christ's righteousness while an unbeliever. What then doth this arguing reprove ? Is it, that no man's faith in Christ's righteousness can be justified in its sincerity before men, and in a man's own conscience, but in and by the fruits of a true lively faith? In this they have no opposers that I know of. Or is it, that a man may have Christ's righteousness for his legal righteousness, and yet be a rebel to the gospel, and a stranger to true holiness ? Who ever affirmed it? Or is it, that this gospel-holiness is that that a man must not only have, (for that we grant), but also may venture to stand in, and to be found in before God, and to venture into judgment with God upon, in his claim to eternal life? Then we must oppose them that think so, as we know their own consciences will when in any lively exercise. These plain principles of gospel-truth, while they remain, (and remain they will on their own foundation, when we are all in our
and our foola ish contentions are buried), do overthrow this prétended charge. 1. That Christ's righteousness is the only plea and answer of a sinner arraigned at God's bar for life and death. 2. This righteousness is imputed to no man but a believer. 3. When it is imputed by grace, and applied by faith, it immediately and eternally becomes the man's righteousness, before God, angels, men, and devils, Rom. viii. 33, 35, 38, 39. It is a righteousness that is never lost, never taken away, never ineffectual; answereth all charges, and is attended with all graces.
2. I would ask, What is that righteousness that justifies a man from the sin of unbelief? We have rejected the imaginary charge ; let us now consider the real sin. Unbelief is the greatest sin against both law and gospel; more remotely against the law, which binds all men to believe God speaking, say what he will; more directly against the gospel, which