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doth minister great occasion of much needless variance and contests. Neither do I know any reason why men should seek countenance unto this doctrine under such an expression, as themselves reflect upon as unscriptural, if they be contented that their minds and sense should be clearly understood and apprehended. For truth needs no subterfuge.
The Socinians do now principally make use of this objection. For finding the whole church of God in the use of sundry expressions, in the declaration of the most important truths of the gospel, that are not literally contained in the Scripture, they hoped for an advantage from thence in their opposition unto the things themselves. Such are the terms of the Trinity, the incarnation, satisfaction, and merit of Christ, as this also of the imputation of his righteousness. How little they have prevailed in the other instances, hath been sufficiently manifested by them with whom they have had to do. But as unto that part of this objection which concerns the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto believers, those by whom it is asserted do say,
1. That it is the thing alone intended which they plead for. If that be not contained in the Scripture, if it be not plainly taught and confirmed therein, they will speedily relinquish it. But if they can prove that the doctrine which they intend in this expression, and which is thereby plainly declared unto the understandings of men, is a divine truth sufficiently witnessed unto in the Scripture, then is this expression of it reductively scriptural, and the truth itself so expressed a divine verity. To deny this, is to take away all use of the interpretation of the Scripture; and to overthrow the ministry of the church. This, therefore, is to be alone inquired into.
2. They say, the same thing is taught and expressed in the Scripture, in phrases æquipollent. For it affirms that 'by the obedience of one' (that is Christ), ' many are made righteous;' Rom. v. 18. and that we are made righteous by the imputation of righteousness unto us. 'Blessed is the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works;' chap. iv. 6. And if we are made righteous by the imputation of righteousness unto us, that obedience or righteousness whereby we are made righteous, is imputed unto And they will be content with this expression of this
doctrine, that the obedience of Christ whereby we are made righteous, is the righteousness that God imputeth unto us. Wherefore, this objection is of no force to disadvantage the truth pleaded for.
2. Socinus objects in particular against this doctrine of justification by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, and of his satisfaction, that there is nothing said of it in the Evangelists, nor in the report of the sermons of Christ unto the people, nor yet in those of his private discourses with his disciples. And he urgeth it vehemently and at large, against the whole of the expiation of sin by his death; De Servator. par. 4. cap. 9. And as it is easy, malis inventis pejora addere;' this notion of his is not only made use of and pressed at large by one among ourselves, but improved also by a dangerous comparison between the writings of the evangelists and the other writings of the New Testament. For to enforce this argument, that the histories of the gospel, wherein the sermons of Christ are recorded, do make no mention of the imputation of the righeousness of Christ, as in his judgment they do not, nor of his satisfaction, or merit, or expiation of sin, or of redemption by his death; as they do not in the judgment of Socinus, it is added by him, that for his part he is apt to admire our Saviour's sermons, who was the author of our religion, before the writings of the apostles, though inspired men. Whereunto many dangerous insinuations and reflections on the writings of St. Paul, contrary to the faith and sense of the church in all subjoined. See pp. 240, 241.
But this boldness is not only unwarrantable, but to be abhorred. What place of Scripture, what ecclesiastical tradition, what single president of any one sober Christian writer, what theological reason will countenance a man in making the comparison mentioned, and so determining thereon? Such juvenile boldness, such want of a due apprehension and understanding of the nature of divine inspirations, with the order and design of the writing of the New Testament, which are the springs of this precipitate censure, ought to be reflected on. At present to remove this pretence out of our way, it may be observed,
1. That what the Lord Christ taught his disciples in his personal ministry on the earth, was suited unto that economy
of the church which was antecedent unto his death and resurrection. Nothing did he withhold from them, that was needful to their faith, obedience, and consolation in that state. Many things he instructed them in out of the Scripture, many new revelations he made unto them, and many times did he occasionally instruct and rectify their judgments. Howbeit he made no clear distinct revelation of those sacred mysteries unto them, which are peculiar unto the faith of the New Testament, nor were to be distinctly apprehended before his death and resurrection.
2. What the Lord Christ revealed afterward by his Spirit unto the apostles, was no less immediately from himself, than was the truth which he spoke unto them with his own mouth in the days of his flesh. An apprehension to the contrary is destructive of Christian religion. The epistles of the apostles are no less Christ's sermons, than that which he delivered on the mount. Wherefore,
3. Neither in the things themselves, nor in the way of their delivery or revelation, is there any advantage of the one sort of writings above the other. The things written in the epistles proceed from the same wisdom, the same grace, the same love, with the things which he spoke with his own mouth in the days of his flesh, and are of the same divine veracity, authority, and efficacy. The revelation which he made by his Spirit, is no less divine, and immediate from himself, than what he spoke unto his disciples on the earth. To distinguish between these things on any of these accounts, is intolerable folly.
4. The writings of the evangelists do not contain the whole of all the instructions which the Lord Christ gave unto his disciples personally on the earth. For he was seen of them after his resurrection forty days, and spoke with them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God;' Acts i. 3. And yet nothing hereof is recorded in their writings, but only some few occasional speeches. Nor had he given before unto them a clear and distinct understanding of those things, which were delivered concerning his death and resurrection in the Old Testament, as is plainly declared, Luke xxiv. 25-27. For it was not necessary for them in that state wherein they were. Wherefore,
5. As to the extent of divine revelations objectively,
those which he granted by his Spirit unto his apostles after his ascension, were beyond those which he personally taught them, so far as they are recorded in the writings of the evangelists. For he told them plainly not long before his death, that he had many things to say unto them which then they could not bear ;' John xvi. 12. And for the knowledge of those things, he refers them to the coming of the Spirit to make revelation of them from himself, in the next words; 'howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak; and he will shew you things He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine and shew it unto you;' ver. 13, 14. And on this account he had told them before, that it was expedient for them that he should go away, that the Holy Spirit might come unto them, whom he would send from the Father, ver. 7. Hereunto he referred the full and clear manifestation of the mysteries of the gospel. So false, as well as dangerous and scandalous, are those insinuations of Socinus and his followers.
2. The writings of the evangelists are full unto their proper ends and purposes. These were to record the genealogy, conception, birth, acts, miracles, and teachings, of our Saviour, so far as to evince him to be the true only promised Messias. So he testifieth who wrote the last of them: Many other signs truly did Jesus, which are not written in this book; but these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God;' John xx. 30, 31. Unto this end every thing is recorded by them that is needful unto the ingenerating and establishing of faith. Upon this confirmation, all things declared in the Old Testament concerning him, all that was taught in types and sacrifices, became the object of faith in that sense wherein they were interpreted in the accomplishment; and that in them this doctrine was before revealed, shall be proved afterward. It is therefore no wonder if some things, and those of the highest importance, should be declared more fully in other writings of the New Testament, than they are in those of the evangelists.
3. The pretence itself is wholly false. For there are as many pregnant testimonies given unto this truth in
one alone of the evangelists, as in any other book of the New Testament; namely, in the book of John. I shall refer to some of them which will be pleaded in their proper place, chap. i. 12. 17. 19. iii. 14-18. 36. v. 24.
But we may pass this by, as one of those inventions concerning which Socinus boasts in his epistle to Michael Vajoditus, that his writings were esteemed by many for the singularity of things asserted in them.
4. The difference that hath been among Protestant writers about this doctrine is pleaded in the prejudice of it. Osiander, in the entrance of the reformation, fell into a vain imagination, that we were justified or made righteous with the essential righteousness of God, communicated unto us by Jesus Christ. And whereas he was opposed herein with some severity by the most learned persons of those days, to countenance himself in his singularity, he pretended that there were twenty different opinions amongst the Protestants themselves, about the formal cause of our justification before God. This was quickly laid hold on by them of the Roman church, and is urged as a prejudice against the whole doctrine, by Bellarmine, Vasquez, and others. But the vanity of this pretence of his hath been sufficiently discovered; and Bellarmine himself could fancy but four opinions among them, that seemed to be different from one another, reckoning that of Osiander for one; De Justificat. lib. ii. cap. 1. But whereas he knew that the imagination of Osiander was exploded by them all, the other three that he mentions are indeed but distinct parts of the same entire doctrine. Wherefore, until of late it might be truly said, that the faith and doctrine of all Protestants was in this article entirely the same. For however they differed in the way, manner, and methods of its declaration, and too many private men were addicted unto definitions and descriptions of their own, under pretence of logical accuracy in teaching, which gave an appearance of some contradiction among them, yet in this they generally agreed, that it is the righteousness of Christ, and not our own, on the account whereof we receive the pardon of sin, acceptance with God, are declared righteous by the gospel, and have a right and title unto the heavenly inheritance. Hereon, I say, they were generally agreed, first against the Papists,