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quired unto their application unto us, whereby we receive the atonement; Rom. v. 11. Christ calls unto him all those that are weary and heavy laden;' Matt. xi. 28. The weight that is upon the consciences of men, wherewith they are laden, is the burden of sin. So the psalmist complains that his sins were a burden too heavy for him;' Psal. xxxviii. 4. Such was Cain's apprehension of his guilt; Gen. iv. 13. This burden Christ bare when it was laid on him by divine estimation. For so it is said, hay Isa. liii. 11. He shall bear their sins' on him as a burden. And this he did when God made to meet upon him 'the iniquity of us all;' ver. 6. In the application of this unto our own souls, as it is required that we be sensible of the weight and burden of our sins, and how it is heavier than we can bear, so the Lord Christ calls us unto him with it, that we may be eased. This he doth in the preachings of the gospel, wherein he is evidently crucified before our eyes;' Gal. iii. 1. In the view which faith hath of Christ crucified, (for faith is a' looking unto him;' Isa. xlv. 22. lxv. 1. answering their looking unto the brazen serpent who were stung with fiery serpents; John iii. 14, 15.) and under a sense of his invitation (for faith is our coming unto him upon his call and invitation), to come unto him with our burdens, a believer considereth that God hath laid all our iniquities upon him, yea, that he hath done so, is an especial object whereon faith is to act itself, which is faith in his blood. Hereon doth the soul approve of, and embrace the righteousness and grace of God, with the infinite condescension and love of Christ himself. It gives its consent that what is thus done, is what becomes the infinite wisdom and grace of God, and therein it rests. Such a person seeks no more to establish his own righteousness, but submits to the righteousness of God. Herein by faith doth he leave that burden on Christ, which he called him to bring with him, and complies with the wisdom and righteousness of God in laying it upon him. And here withal doth he receive the everlasting righteousness, which the Lord Christ brought in when he made an end of sin, and reconciliation for transgressors.
The reader may be pleased to observe, that I am not debating these things argumentatively, in such propriety of expressions as are required in a scholastic disputation,
which shall be done afterward, so far as I judge it necessary. But I am doing that which indeed is better and of more importance, namely, declaring the experience of faith in the expressions of the Scripture, or such as are analogous unto them. And I had rather be instrumental in the communication of light and knowledge unto the meanest believer, than to have the clearest success against prejudiced disputers. Wherefore, by faith thus acting are we justified and have peace with God. Other foundation in this matter can no man lay that will endure the trial.
Nor are we to be moved, that men who are unacquainted with these things in their reality and power, do reject the whole work of faith herein, as an easy effort of fancy or imagination. For the preaching of the cross is foolishness unto the best of the natural wisdom of men; neither can any understand them but by the Spirit of God. Those who know the terror of the Lord, who have been really convinced and made sensible of the guilt of their apostacy from God, and of their actual sins in that state, and what a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God, seeking thereon after a real solid foundation whereon they may be accepted with him, have other thoughts of these things, and do find believing a thing to be quite of another nature than such men suppose. It is not a work of fancy or imagination unto men to deny and abhor themselves, to subscribe unto the righteousness of God in denouncing death as due to their sins, to renounce all hopes and expectations of relief from any righteousness of their own, to mix the word and promise of God concerning Christ and righteousness by him with faith, so as to receive the atonement, and therewithal to give up themselves unto a universal obedience unto God. And as for them unto whom, through pride and self-conceit on the one hand, or ignorance on the other, it is so; we have in this matter no concernment with them. For unto whom these things are only the work of fancy, the gospel is a fable.
Something unto this purpose I had written long since in a practical discourse concerning communion with God. And whereas some men of an inferior condition, have found it useful for the strengthening themselves in their dependences on some of their superiors, or in compliance with
their own inclinations, to cavil at my writings and revile their author; that book hath been principally singled out to exercise their faculty and good intentions upon. This course is steered of late by one Mr. Hotchkisse, in a book about justification, wherein in particular he falls very severely on that doctrine, which, for the substance of it, is here again proposed, p. 81. And were it not that I hope it may be somewhat useful unto him to be a little warned of his immoralities in that discourse, I should not in the least have taken notice of his other impertinences. The good man, I perceive, can be angry with persons whom he never saw, and about things which he cannot or will not understand, so far as to revile them with most opprobrious language. For my part, although I have never written any thing designedly on this subject, or the doctrine of justification, before now; yet he could not but discern, by what was occasionally delivered in that discourse, that I maintain no other doctrine herein, but what is the common faith of the most learned men in all Protestant churches. And the reasons why I am singled out for the object of his petulancy and spleen, are too manifest to need repetition. But I shall yet inform him of what perhaps he is ignorant; namely, that I esteem it no small honour that the reproaches wherewith the doctrine opposed by him is reproached, do fall upon me. And the same I say concerning all the reviling and contemptuous expressions that his ensuing pages are filled withal. But as to the present occasion, I beg his excuse if I believe him not, that the reading of the passages which he mentions out of my book, filled him with horror and indignation, as he pretends. For whereas he acknowledgeth that my words may have a sense which he approves of (and which therefore must of necessity be good and sound), what honest and sober person would not rather take them in that sense, than wrest them unto another, so to cast himself under the disquietment of a fit of horrible indignation? In this fit I suppose it was, if such a fit indeed did befall him (as one evil begets another), that he thought he might insinuate something of my denial of the necessity of our own personal repentance and obedience. For no man who had read that book only of all my writings, could, with the least regard to conscience or honesty, give
countenance unto such a surmise, unless his mind was much discomposed by the unexpected invasion of a fit of horror. But such is his dealing with me from first to last; nor do I know where to fix on any one instance of his exceptions against me, wherein I can suppose he had escaped his pretended fit, and was returned unto himself, that is, unto honest and ingenuous thoughts, wherewith I hope he is mostly conversant. But though I cannot miss in the justification of this charge, by considering any instance of his reflections, yet I shall at present take that which he insists longest upon, and filleth his discourse about it with most scurrility of expressions. And this is in the 164th page of his book, and those that follow. For there he disputeth fiercely against me for making this to be an undue end of our serving God, namely, that we may flee from the wrath to come. And who would not take this for an inexpiable crime in any, especially in him who hath written so much of the nature and use of threatenings under the gospel, and the fear that ought to be ingenerated by them in the hearts of men, as I have done? Wherefore, so great a crime being the object of them, all his revilings seem not only to be excused, but allowed. But what if all this should prove a wilful prevarication, not becoming a good man, much less a minister of the gospel? My words, as reported and transcribed by himself, are these: Some there are that do the service of the house of God as the drudgery of their lives; the principle they yield obedience upon is a spirit of bondage unto fear; the rule they do it by is the law in its dread and rigour; exacting it of them to the utmost without mercy or mitigation; the end they do it for is to fly from the wrath to come, to pacify conscience, and to seek for righteousness as it were by the works of the law.' What follow unto the same purpose he omits, and what he adds as my words are not so, but his own; ubi pudor, ubi fides? That which I affirmed to be a part of an evil end, when and as it makes up one entire end, by being mixed with sundry other things expressly mentioned, is singled out, as if I had denied that in any sense it might be a part of a good end in our obedience, which I never thought, I never said, I have spoken and written much to the contrary. And yet to countenance himself in this disingenuous pro
cedure, besides many other untrue reflections, he adds that I insinuate, that those whom I describe are Christians that seek righteousness by faith in Christ, p. 167. I must needs tell this author that my faith in this matter is, that such works as these will have no influence in his justification; and that the principal reason why I suppose I shall not, in my progress in this discourse, take any particular notice of his exceptions, either against the truth or me, next unto this consideration, that they are all trite and obsolete, and as to what seemeth to be of any force in them will occur unto me in other authors from whom they are derived, is, that I may not have a continual occasion to declare how forgetful he hath been of all the rules of ingenuity, yea, and of common honesty, in his dealing with me. For that which gave the occasion unto this present unpleasing digression, it being no more as to the substance of it, but that our sins were imputed unto Christ, and that his righteousness is imputed unto us, it is that in the faith whereof I am assured I shall live and die, though he should write twenty as learned books against it, as those which he hath already published; and in what sense I do believe these things, shall be afterward declared. And although I judge no men upon the expressions that fall from him in polemical writings, wherein on many occasions they do affront their own experience, and contradict their own prayers, yet, as to those who understand not that blessed commutation of sins and righteousness as to the substance of it, which I have pleaded for, and the actings of our faith with respect thereunto, I shall be bold to say, that if the gospel be hid, it is hid to them that perish.'
Sixthly, We can never state our thoughts aright in this matter, unless we have a clear apprehension of, and satisfaction in, the introduction of grace by Jesus Christ into the whole of our relation unto God, with its respect unto all parts of our obedience. There was no such thing, nothing of that nature or kind, in the first constitution of that relation and obedience by the law of our creation. We were made in a state of immediate relation unto God in our own persons, as our creator, preserver, and rewarder. There was no mystery of grace in the covenant of works. No more was required unto the consummation of that state, but what was