Imágenes de páginas

obedience, evidencing himself to be the Son of God thereby, and destroying the work of the devil. So foolish and impious is it, to conceive that any absolute change of state or relation in him did ensue thereon.

That by the righteousness of God in this place, our own faith and obedience according to the gospel, as some would have it, are intended, is so alien from the scope of the place, and sense of the words, as that I shall not particularly examine it. The righteousness of God is revealed to faith, and received by faith, and is not therefore faith itself. And the force of the antithesis is quite perverted by this conceit. For where is it in this, that he was made sin by the imputation of our sin unto him, and we are made righteousness by the imputation of our own faith and obedience unto ourselves. But as Christ had no concern in sin, but as God made him sin, it was never in him inherently; so have we no interest in this righteousness, it is not in us inherently, but only is imputed unto us. Besides, the act of God in making us righteous, is his justifying of us. But this is not by the infusion of the habit of faith and obedience, as we have proved. And what act of God is intended by them, who affirm, that the righteousness of God which we are made, is our own righteousness, I know not. The constitution of the gospel law it cannot be; for that makes no man righteous. And the persons of believers are the object of this act of God, and that as they are considered in Christ.

Gal. ii. 16. The epistle of the same apostle unto the Galatians, is wholly designed unto the vindication of the doctrine of justification by Christ, without the works of the law, with the use and means of its improvement. The sum of his whole design is laid down in the repetition of his words unto the apostle Peter, on the occasion of his failure, there related, chap. ii. 16. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed on Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law, shall no flesh be justified.'

That which he doth here assert, was such a known, such a fundamental principle of truth among all believers, that

their conviction and knowledge of it, was the ground and occasion of their transition, and passing over from Judaism unto the gospel and faith in Jesus Christ thereby.

And in the words the apostle determines that great inquiry, how, or by what means a man is, or may be justified before God. The subject spoken of is expressed indefinitely; a man, that is, any man, a Jew, or a Gentile, a believer, or an unbeliever. The apostle that spake, and they to whom he spake; the Galatians to whom he wrote, who also for some time had believed and made profession of the gospel.

The answer given unto the question is both negative and positive, both asserted with the highest assurance, and as the common faith of all Christians, but only those who had been carried aside from it by seducers. He asserts, that this is not, this cannot be by the works of the law. What is intended by the law in these disputations of the apostle, hath been before declared and evinced. The law of Moses is sometimes signally intended; not absolutely, but as it was the present instance of men's cleaving unto the law of righteousness, and not submitting themselves thereon unto the righteousness of God. But that the consideration of the moral law, and the duties of it, is in this argument any where excepted by him, is a weak imagination; yea, it would except the ceremonial law itself; for the observation of it, whilst it was in force, was a duty of the moral law.

And the works of the law, are the works and duties of obedience which this law of God requires, performed in the manner that it prescribes, namely, in faith, and out of love unto God above all, as hath been proved. To say, that the apostle excludeth only works absolutely perfect, which none ever did, or could perform since the entrance of sin, is to suppose him to dispute with great earnestness, and many arguments against that which no man asserted, and which he doth not once mention in all his discourse. Nor can he be said to exclude only works that are looked on as meritorious, seeing he excludeth all works, that there may be no place for merit in our justification, as hath also been proved. Nor did these Galatians, whom he writes unto, and convinceth them of their error, look for justification from any works, but such as they performed then, when they were believers. So that all sorts of works are excluded from any interest in

our justification. And so much weight doth the apostle lay on this exclusion of works from our justification, as that he affirms, that the admittance of it overthrows the whole gospel, ver. 21. For,' saith he,' if righteousness be by the law, then Christ is dead in vain;' and it is dangerous ventur ing on so sharp a fence.

Not this, or that sort of works; not this, or that manner of the performance of them; not this, or that kind of interest in our justification; but all works of what sort soever, and however performed, are excluded from any kind of consideration in our justification, as our works or duties of obedience. For these Galatians whom the apostle reproves, desired no more, but that in the justification of a believer, works of the law, or duties of obedience, might be admitted into a conjunction or copartnership with faith in Christ Jesus. For that they would exclude faith in him, and assign justification unto works without it, nothing is intimated, and it is a foolish imagination. In opposition hereunto he positively ascribes our justification unto faith in Christ alone: not by works but by faith, is by faith alone. That the particles lav un are not exceptive, but adversative, hath -not only been undeniably proved by Protestant divines, but is acknowledged by those of the Roman church, who pretend unto any modesty in this controversy. The words of Estius on this place deserve to be transcribed, Nisi per fidem Jesu, Christi sententiam reddit obscuram particula nisi' (so the Vulgar Latin renders táv un, instead of 'sed' or 'sed tantum') 'quæ si proprie ut Latinis auribus sonat accipiatur, exceptionem facit ab eo quod præcedit, ut sensus sit hominem non justificari ex operibus Legis, nisi fides in Christum ad ea opera accedat, quæ si accesserit justificari eum per legis opera. Sed cum hic sensus justificationem dividat, partim eam tribuens operibus legis, partim fidei Christi, quod est contra definitam et absolutam apostoli sententiam, manifestum est, interpretationem illam tanquam apostolico sensui et scopo contrariam omnino repudiandam esse. Verum constat voculam (nisi) frequentur in Scripturis adversative sumi, ut idem valeat quod sed tantum.' So he according to his usual candour and ingenuity.


It is not probable that we shall have an end of contending in this world, when men will not acquiesce in such plain

[ocr errors]

determinations of controversies given by the Holy Ghost himself,

The interpretation of this place, given as the meaning of the apostle, that men cannot be justified by those works which they cannot perform, that is, works absolutely perfect; but may be so, and are so, by those which they can, and do perform, if not in their own strength, yet by the aid of grace; and that faith in Christ Jesus which the apostle opposeth absolutely unto all works whatever, doth include in it all those works which he excludes, and that with respect unto that end or effect with respect whereunto they are excluded, cannot well be supposed to be suitable unto the mind of the Holy Ghost.

Eph. ii. 8-10. For by grace ye are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath fore-ordained that we should walk in them.'

Unless it had seemed good unto the Holy Ghost to have expressed beforehand all the evasions and subterfuges, which the wit of man in after ages could invent, to pervert the doctrine of our justification before God, and to have rejected them, it is impossible they could have been more plainly prevented than they are in this context. If we may take a little unprejudiced consideration of it, I suppose what is affirmed will be evident.

It cannot be denied, but that the design of the apostle from the beginning of this chapter, unto the end of ver. 11. is to declare the way whereby lost and condemned sinners come to be delivered, and translated out of that condition into an estate of acceptance with God, and eternal salvation thereon. And therefore in the first place, he fully describeth their natural state, with their being obnoxious unto the wrath of God thereby. For such was the method of this apostle, unto the declaration of the grace of God in any kind, he did usually, yea, constantly premise the consideration of our sin, misery, and ruin. Others now like not this method so well. Howbeit this hinders not, but that it was his. Unto this purpose he declares unto the Ephesians, That they were dead in trespasses and sins,' expressing the power that sin had on their souls, as unto spiritual life, and all the

[ocr errors]

actions of it; but withal that they lived and walked in sin, and on all accounts were the children of wrath, or subject and liable unto eternal condemnation, ver. 1-3. What such persons can do towards their own deliverance, there are many terms found out to express, all passing my understanding, seeing the entire design of the apostle is to prove, that they can do nothing at all. But another cause, or other causes of it, he finds out, and that in direct express opposition unto any thing that may be done by ourselves unto that end. Ὁ δὲ θεὸς πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει, ver. 4. It is not a work for us to undertake; it is not what we can contribute any thing unto: but God, who is rich in mercy.' The adversative includes an opposition unto every thing on our part, and encloseth the whole work to God. Would men have rested on this divine revelation, the church of God had been free from many of those perverse opinions and wrangling disputes, which it hath been pestered withal. But they will not so easily part with thoughts of some kind of interest in being the authors of their own happiness. Wherefore, two things we may observe in the apostle's assignation of the causes of our deliverance from a state of sin, and acceptance with God.

1. That he assigns the whole of this work absolutely unto grace, love, and mercy, and that with an exclusion of the consideration of any thing on our part, as we shall see immediately, ver. 5. 8.


2. He magnifies this grace in a marvellous manner. For, 1. He expresseth it by all names and titles whereby it is signified, as ἔλεος, ἀγάπη, χάρις, χρηστότης, ‘mercy, 4 love,’ ' grace,' and 'kindness.' For he would have us to look only unto grace herein. 2. He ascribes such adjuncts, and gives such epithets unto that divine mercy and grace which is the sole cause of our deliverance in and by Jesus Christ, as render it singular, and herein solely to be adored. Пovσios v ἐλέει· διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην—ὑπερβάλλων πλοῦτος τῆς χάριτος. 'Rich in mercy.' Great love wherewith he loved us.' The exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness;' ver. 4-7. It cannot reasonably be denied, but that the apostle doth design deeply to affect the mind and heart of believers with a sense of the grace and love of God in Christ, as the only cause of their justification before God. I think no words


[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »