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ousness;' Isa. xlv. 24. which is expounded of Christ by the apostle, Rom. xiv. 11. mpm only in the Lord are my righteousnesses; which two places the apostle expresseth, Phil. iii. 9. That I may win Christ and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law' (in this case as filthy rags) but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.' Hence it is added, 'In the Lord shall the seed of Israel be justified,' ver. 25. namely, because he is, in what he is, in what he was, and did, as given unto and for us, 'our righteousness,' and our righteousness is all in him; which totally excludes our own personal inherent righteousness from any interest in our justification, and ascribes it wholly unto the righteousness of Christ. And thus is that emphatical expression of the psalmist, I will go in the strength of the Lord God' (for as unto holiness and obedience, all our spiritual strength is from him alone); ' and I will make mention' Psal. lxxi. 16. of thy righteousness, of thine only.' The redoubling of the affix excludes all confidence and trusting in any thing but the righteousness of God alone. For this the apostle affirms to be the design of God, in making Christ to be righteousness unto us, namely, that no flesh should glory in his presence, but that he that glorieth, should glory in the Lord; 1 Cor. i. 29-31. For it is by faith alone making mention, as unto our justification, of the righteousness of God, of his righteousness only, that excludes all boasting; Rom. iii. 27. And, besides what shall be farther pleaded from particular testimonies, the Scripture doth eminently declare how he is the Lord our righteousness, namely, in that 'he makes an end of sin and reconciliation for iniquity, and brings in everlasting righteousness;' Dan. ix. 24. For by these things is our justification completed; namely, in satisfaction made for sin, the pardon of it in our reconciliation unto God, and the providing for us an everlasting righteousness. Therefore is he 'the Lord our righteousness,' and so rightly called. Wherefore, seeing we had lost original righteousness, and had none of our own remaining, and stood in need of a perfect, complete righteousness to procure our acceptance with God, and such a one as might exclude all occasion of boasting of any thing in ourselves, the Lord Christ being given and made unto us, the Lord our
righteousness, in whom we have all our righteousness, our own, as it is ours, being as filthy rags in the sight of God, and this by making an end of sin, and reconciliation for iniquity, and bringing in everlasting righteousness: it is by his righteousness, by his only, that we are justified in the sight of God, and do glory. This is the substance of what, in this case, we plead for; and thus it is delivered in Scripture, in a way bringing more light and spiritual sense into the minds of believers, than those philosophical expressions and distinctions, which vaunt themselves with a pretence of propriety and accuracy.
Testimonies out of the evangelists, considered.
THE reasons why the doctrine of justification, by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, is more fully and clearly delivered in the following writings of the New Testament, than it is in those of the Evangelists who wrote the history of the life and death of Christ, have been before declared. But yet in them also it is sufficiently attested, as unto the state of the church before the death and resurrection of Christ, which is represented in them. Some few of the many testimonies which may be pleaded out of their writings unto that purpose, I shall consider.
1. The principal design of our blessed Saviour's sermon especially that part of it which is recorded Matt. v. is to declare the true nature of righteousness before God. The Scribes and Pharisees, from a bondage unto whose doctrines he designed to vindicate the consciences of those that heard him, placed all our righteousness before God in the works of the law, or men's own obedience thereunto. This they taught the people, and hereon they justified themselves, as he chargeth them, Luke xvi. 15. Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts, for that which is highly esteemed amongst men, is abomination in the sight of God;' as in this sermon he makes it evident. 2 B
And all those who were under their conduct, did seek to establish their own righteousness, as it were by the works of the law;' Rom. ix. 33. x. 3. But yet were they convinced in their own consciences, that they could not attain unto the law of righteousness; or unto that perfection of obedience which the law did require. Yet would they not forego their proud, fond imagination of justification by their own righteousness, but, as the manner of all men is in the same case, sought out other inventions to relieve them against their convictions. For unto this end, they corrupted the whole law by their false glosses and interpretations, to bring down and debase the sense of it, unto what they boasted in themselves to perform. So doth he in whom our Saviour gives an instance of the principle and practice of the whole society, by way of a parable, Luke xviii. 10-12. And so the young man affirmed, that he had kept the whole law from his youth, namely, in their sense, Matt. xix. 20.
To root out this pernicious error out of the church, our Lord Jesus Christ in many instances, gives the true, spiritual sense and intention of the law, manifesting what the righteousness is, which the law requires, and on what terms a man may be justified thereby. And among sundry others to the same purpose, two things he evidently declares. 1. That the law in its precepts and prohibitions had regard unto the regulation of the heart, with all its first motions and actings. For he asserts, that the inmost thoughts of the heart, and the first motions of concupiscence therein, though not consented unto, much less actually accomplished in the outward deeds of sin, and all the occasions leading unto them, are directly forbidden in the law. This he doth in his holy exposition of the seventh commandment, ver. 27— 30. 2. He declares the penalty of the law, on the least sin, to be hell-fire, in his assertion of causeless anger to be forbidden in the sixth commandment. If men would but try themselves by these rules and others, there given by our Saviour, it would, it may be, take them off from boasting in their own righteousness and justification thereby. But as it was then, so is it now also; the most of them who would maintain a justification by works, do attempt to corrupt the sense of the law, and accommodate it unto their own prac
tice. The reader may see an eminent demonstration hereof, in a late excellent treatise, whose title is, "The practical Divinity of the Papists discovered to be destructive of Christianity and men's souls.' The spirituality of the law, with the severity of its sanction, extending itself unto the least, and most imperceptible motions of sin in the heart, are not believed or not aright considered by them who plead for justification by works in any sense. Wherefore, the principal design of the sermon of our Saviour is, as to declare what is the nature of that obedience which God requireth by the law, so to prepare the minds of his disciples to seek after another righteousness, which in the cause and means of it, was not yet plainly to be declared, although many of them being prepared by the ministry of John, did hunger and thirst after it.
But he sufficiently intimates wherein it did consist, in that he affirms of himself, that he came to fulfil the law;' ver. 17. What he came for, that he was sent for; for as he was sent, and not for himself, he was born to us, given unto us.' This was to fulfil the law, that so the righteousness of it might be fulfilled in us. And if we ourselves cannot fulfil the law in the proper sense of its commands, which yet is not to be abolished but established, as our Saviour declares; if we cannot avoid the curse and penalty of it upon its transgression; and if he came to fulfil it for us, all which are declared by himself, then is his righteousness, even which he wrought for us in fulfilling the law, the righteousness wherewith we are justified before God. And whereas here is a twofold righteousness proposed unto us, one in the fulfilling of the law by Christ; the other in our own perfect obedience unto the law, as the sense of it is by him declared; and other middle righteousness between them there is none; it is left unto the consciences of convinced sinners, whether of these they will adhere and trust unto. And their direction herein, is the principal design we ought to have in the declaration of this doctrine.
I shall pass by all those places wherein the foundations of this doctrine are surely laid, because it is not expressly mentioned in them. But such they are as in their proper interpretation do necessarily infer it. Of this kind are they all, wherein the Lord Christ is said to die for us, or in our
stead, to lay down his life a ransom for us, or in our stead, and the like; but I shall pass them by, because I will not digress at all from the present argument.
But the representation made by our Saviour himself, of and means whereon and whereby men come to be justified before God, in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, is a guide unto all men who have the same design with them. Luke xviii. 9—14. And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up unto the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself; God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful unto me a sinner. I tell you, that this man went down unto his house justified rather than the other for every one that exalteth himself, shall be abased; and every one that humbleth himself shall be exalted.'
That the design of our Saviour herein, was to represent the way of our justification before God, is evident, 1. From the description given of the persons whom he reflected on, ver. 9. They were such as trusted in themselves, that they were righteous; or, that they had a personal righteousness of their own before God. 2. From the general rule wherewith he confirms the judgment he had given concerning the persons described; Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that abaseth himself, shall be exalted;' ver. 14. As this is applied unto the Pharisee, and the prayer that is ascribed unto him, it declares plainly, that every plea of our own works, as unto our justification before God, under any consideration, is a self-exaltation which God despiseth; and as applied unto the publican, that a sense of sin is the only preparation on our part, for acceptance with him on believing.
Wherefore, both the persons are represented as seeking to be justified, for so our Saviour expresseth the issue of their address unto God for that purpose; the one was justified, the other was not.