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and in the law he pronounceth every one accursed who continueth not in all things required by it, and as they are therein required. But it is said, that this righteousness is no otherwise to be considered, but as the condition of the new covenant whereon we obtain remission of sins on the sole account of the satisfaction of Christ, wherein our justification doth consist.
Ans. 1. Some indeed do say so, but not all, not the most, not the most learned, with whom in this controversy we have to do. And in our pleas for what we believe to be the truth, we cannot always have respect unto every private opinion whereby it is opposed. 2. That justification consists only in the pardon of sin, is so contrary to the signification of the word, the constant use of it in the Scripture, the common notion of it amongst mankind, the sense of men in their own consciences who find themselves under an obligation unto duty, and express testimonies of the Scripture, as that I somewhat wonder, how it can be pretended. But it shall be spoken unto elsewhere. 3. If this righteousness be the fulfilling of the condition of the new covenant whereon we are justified, it must be in itself such as exactly answereth some rule or law of righteousness and so be perfect, which it doth not; and therefore cannot bear the place of a righteousness in our justification. 4. That this righteousness is the condition of our justification before God, or of that interest in the righteousness, of Christ whereby we are justified, is not proved, nor ever will be.
I shall briefly add two or three considerations excluding this personal righteousness from its pretended interest in our justification, and close this argument.
1. That righteousness which neither answereth the law of God, nor the end of God in our justification by the gospel, is not that whereon we are justified. But such is this inherent righteousness of believers, even of the best of them. 1. That it answereth not the law of God, hath been proved from its imperfection. Nor will any sober person pretend that it exactly and perfectly fulfils the law of our creation. And this law cannot be disannulled whilst the relation of creator and rewarder on the one hand, and of creatures capable of obedience and rewards on the other, between God and us doth continue. Wherefore, that which answereth
not this law will not justify us. For God will not abrogate that law, that the trangressors of it may be justified. 'Do we,' saith the apostle, by the doctrine of justification by faith without works, make void the law? God forbid : yea, we establish it;' Rom. iii. 31. 2. That we should be justified with respect unto it, answereth not the end of God in our justification by the gospel. For this is to take away all glorying in ourselves, and all occasion of it, every thing that might give countenance unto it, so as that the whole might be to the praise of his own grace by Christ; Rom. iii. 27. 1 Cor. i. 29-31. How it is faith alone that gives glory to God herein, hath been declared in the description of its nature. But it is evident that no man hath, or can have possibly any other, any greater occasion of boasting in himself, with respect unto his justification, than that he is justified on his performance of that condition of it, which consists in his own personal righteousness.
2. No man was ever justified by it in his own conscience, much less can he be justified by it in the sight of God. 'For God is greater than our hearts and knoweth all things.' There is no man so righteous, so holy in the whole world, nor ever was, but his own conscience would charge him in many things with his coming short of the obedience required of him, in matter or manner, in the kind or degrees of perfection. For there is no man that liveth and sinneth not. Absolutely, 'Nemo absolvitur se judice.' Let any man be put unto a trial in himself whether he can be justified in his own conscience, by his own righteousness, and he will be cast in the trial at his own judgment-seat. And he that doth not thereon conclude, that there must be another righteousness whereby he must be justified, that originally and inherently is not his own, will be at a loss for peace with God. But it will be said, that men may be justified in their consciences, that they have performed the condition of the new covenant, which is all that is pleaded with respect unto this righteousness. And I no way doubt but that men may have a comfortable persuasion of their own sincerity in obedience, and satisfaction in the acceptance of it with God. But it is when they try it, as an effect of faith, whereby they are justified, and not as the condition of their justification. Let it be thus stated in their minds that God requireth a personal righte
ousness in order unto their justification, whereon their determination must be, this is my righteousness which I present unto God that I may be justified, and they will find difficulty in arriving at it, if I be not much mistaken.
3. None of the holy men of old whose faith and experience are recorded in the Scripture, did ever plead their own personal righteousness under any notion of it, either as to the merit of their works, or as unto their complete performance of what was required of them as the condition of the covenant, in order unto their justification before God. This hath been spoken unto before.
The nature of the obedience that God requireth of us. The eternal obligation of the law thereunto.
OUR second argument shall be taken from the nature of that obedience or righteousness which God requireth of us, that we may be accepted of him and approved by him. This being a large subject if fully to be handled, I shall reduce what is of our present concernment in it, unto some special heads or observations.
1. God being a most perfect, and therefore a most free agent, all his actings towards mankind, all his dealings with them, all his constitutions and laws concerning them, are to be resolved into his own sovereign will and pleasure. No other reason can be given of the original, of the whole system of them. This the Scripture testifieth unto, Psal. cxv. 3. cxxxv. 6. Prov. xvi. 4. Eph. i. 9. 11. Rev. iv. 11. The being, existence, and natural circumstances of all creatures, being an effect of the free counsel and pleasure of God, all that belongs unto them must be ultimately resolved thereinto.
2. Upon a supposition of some free acts of the will of God, and the execution of them, constituting an order in the things that outwardly are of him, and their mutual respect unto one another, some things may become necessary in this relative state, whose being was not absolutely necessary
in its own nature. The order of all things, and their mutual respect unto one another, depends on God's free constitution, no less than their being absolutely. But upon a supposition of that constitution, things have in that order a necessary relation one to another, and all of them unto God. Wherefore,
3. It was a free sovereign act of God's will to create, effect, or produce such a creature as man is; that is, of a nature intelligent, rational, capable of moral obedience with rewards and punishments. But on a supposition hereof, man so freely made, could not be governed any other ways but by a moral instrument of law or rule, influencing the rational faculties of his soul unto obedience, and guiding him therein. He could not in that constitution be contained under the rule of God, by a mere physical influence, as are all irrational or brute creatures. To suppose it, is to deny, or destroy, the essential faculty and powers wherewith he was created. Wherefore, on the supposition of his being, it was necessary that a law or rule of obedience should be prescribed unto him, and be the instrument of God's government towards him.
4. This necessary law, so far forth as it was necessary, did immediately and unavoidably ensue upon the constitution of our natures in relation unto God. Supposing the nature, being, and properties of God, with the works of creation on the one hand; and suppose the being, existence, and the nature of man, with his necessary relation unto God on the other, and the law whereof we speak is nothing but the rule of that relation, which can neither be, nor be preserved without it. Hence is this law eternal, indispensable, admitting of no other variation than doth the relation between God and man, which is a necessary exurgence from their distinct natures and properties.
5. The substance of this law was, that man adhering unto God, absolutely, universally, unchangeably, uninterruptedly in trust, love, and fear, as the chiefest good, the first author of his being, of all the present and future advantages whereof it was capable, should yield obedience unto him, with respect unto his infinite wisdom, righteousness, and almighty power, to protect, reward, and punish, in all things known to be his will and pleasure, either by the light of his
own mind, or especial revelation made unto him. And it is evident that no more is required unto the constitution and establishment of this law, but that God be God, and man be man, with the necessary relation that must thereon ensue between them. Wherefore,
6. This law doth eternally and unchangeably oblige all men unto obedience to God; even that obedience which it requires, and in the manner wherein it requires it. For both the substance of what it requires, and the manner of the performance of it, as unto measures and degrees, are equally necessary and unalterable, upon the suppositions laid down. For God cannot deny himself, nor is the nature of man changed as unto the essence of it whereunto alone respect is had in this law, by any thing that can fall out. And although God might superadd unto the original obligations of this law, what arbitrary commands he pleased, such as did not necessarily proceed or arise from the relation between him and us, which might be, and be continued without them; yet would they be resolved into that principle of this law, that God in all things was absolutely to be trusted and obeyed.
7. Known unto God are all his works from the foundation of the world.' In the constitution of this order of things he made it possible, and foresaw it would be future, that man would rebel against the preceptive power of this law, and disturb that order of things wherein he was placed under his moral rule. This gave occasion unto that effect of infinite, divine righteousness, in constituting the punishment that man should fall under, upon his transgression of this law. Neither was this an effect of arbitrary will and pleasure, any more than the law itself was. Upon the supposition of the creation of man, the law mentioned was neces sary from all the divine properties of the nature of God; and upon a supposition that man would transgress the law, God being now considered as his ruler and governor, the constitution of the punishment due unto his sin and transgression of it, was a necessary effect of divine righteousness. This it would not have been, had the law itself been arbitrary. But that being necessary, so was the penalty of its transgression. Wherefore, the constitution of this penalty is liable to no more change, alteration, or abrogation, than