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of receiving Christ, but the benefit received by faith, that is the believer's righteousness.
But you cannot understand how faith's being im. puted to us for righteousnefs, can incend that Christ's • righteousness is imputed to us.' Well then, let it be even supposed, that faith is here taken subjectively; and that it was Abraham's faith itself, considered as an act of his own, that was imputed to him. It may notwithItanding be set in such a view, as will fecure the truth of the doctrine I am pleading for, if the text be condered, as it is in the original
. His faith was imputed UNTO righteousness, that is, as he was reckoned, judg. ed or esteemed of God to be a sound believer, fo the faith which was imputed or reckoned to him, was unto righteousness; was instrumental to his attaining of righteousness; was the means, that by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon him, unto justification of life; or, in other words, was the means of his interest in that righteousness of Christ, by which he was justified. In this sense, the imputation respects his faith: and intends an approbation and acknowledgement of it as true and sincere, and effectual to its proper purposes. He was approved of God, as having a true and found faith, a faith effectual, as an applying means, unto righteoufnefs, and thereby unto justification: a faith, which interested bim in Christ and his righteousness, and thereby entitled him unto acceptance with God, and eternal life. He was judged to be such a believer as to have a right, according to the terms of the covenant of grace, to have righteousness imputed to him, without works, as it is ex. pressed in ver. 6th. According to this view of the cafe, imputation is considered in this context in both the senfes, before explained. Abraham was reckoned or es. teemed a true believer: in consequence whereof, a juí. tifying righteousness was imputed to him, even the righ. tecufnets of God without the law.
I think, I liave before sufficiently proved to you, that we are justified by the righteousness of Christ received by faith, and cannot be justified by any personal inherent righteoulness of our own. This has been illustrated from the nature of things, and confirmed by full and plain scripture testimony: and this upon an impartial fearch
and enquiry, I think, would appear to you to be the whole scope and design of the gospel of Christ. I have now removed your great difficulty out of the way, and shewn you how this doctrine to plainly taught every where else, may be true in a full confiftency with those texts, which in your apprehension seemed to make against it. I would now propose one method more, to confirm you in the important truth under confideration : and that, if duly attended to, cannot fail.
Allow me, Sir, the freedom to 'advise you, that you place yourself in the presence of the infinitely great and glorious God, and give yourself to meditation, on such subjects particularly, as may tend to enlighten and establish you in the present truth. With this view folemnly contemplate God's infinite justice, his infinite purity and holiness, his infinite abhorrence of fin and sinners, especially as to be seen in the glass of Chrilt's sufferings : also contemplate your own state and moral character, both by nature and practice. Contemplate the finful defects of the best works of righteousness that ever you have done, the pollutions mingled with the best duties that ever you performed. Contemplate the unbeliet, which accompanied the highest actings of faith you were capable of; the formality and hypocrisy, which has mixed with your devouteft prayers; the deíultory thoughts and dead frames, which have accompanied you to the most sacred ordinances of God's houfe ; the frequent violations of the most folemn resolutions and covenant obligations by which you have bound your soul to the Lord. And in a word, contemplate the greatness of your fins, their vast number and dreadful aggravations ; with the nothingness of your best performances and highest attainments in religion ; how much you have done against God, and how little for him. And then confider, what plea you have to make before this infinitely great, this absolutely just, this perfectly pure and holy God, for justification in his fight, and acceptance with him. Will you plead your acting of faith in him and his promises ? Alas, how will your prevailing unbelief fly in your face, and put you to lilence ! Will you plead your personal obedience, and works of righte
ousness, that you have done ? Alas, how will a vast de. gree of sin and unrighteousness cover and confound you! Will you plead your fincerity before God? But what will you do with that prevalent formality and hypocrisy, which your own conscience will accuse and convince you of! Will not you be forced at lalt to cry out with David. If thou, Lord, Mouldst mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall
stand ! and with Job, Behold, I am vile ! What skall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken : but I will not answer ; yea twice, but I will proceed no further. Will not you then fee your neceffity of a more perfect righteousness, to plead before God, than any personal inherent righteousness of your own, to cover your dreadful sinfulness and infipite defects; and to render you acceptable to God, not. withstanding all the challenges, which the justice, the holiness, and the law of God, together with your own conscience, have against you ? Surely on due reflection, you must see yourfelf in perishing necessity of Christ, and his righteousness, to recommend you to the divine favour.
Dear Sir, I intreat you to consider in season, what you must consider first or last: and let
and I be now folemnly careful to lay our foundation sure, that we may meet with comfort at the great trial, and receive the Euge of our Judge, in that awful and great day: which is the prayer of
LETTER XIII. Wherein it is considered, whe
ther we are JUSTIFIED by faith and obedience to the GOSPEL, as a New Law of GRACE.
CAN with greater encouragement use my endea
vours to remove your difficulties; and to satisfy your defires, fince you do not throw difficulties either in
your own way or in mine, out of any conceived preju« dice, or from oftentation or wrangling dispoGtion:
lincere delire of building your hope upon
the sure foundation laid in Zion. Would all men act from views fo worthy of this great concern, it would be a likely means, not only to put an end to the prevail. ing confusions among us : but to give a triumphart progress to the truth ; and to establish nien in the faith delivered to the saints.
You have (you fay) been fo fenfibly affected by my last; and are fo fully convinced of the danger of mis* taking your way, that you are the more folicitous to be set right; and to have your remaining difficulties removed : and therefore you intreat me to bear with you, while you propose your strongest objection against the doctrine, I suppose to be of fo great impor
tance. Your author (vou say) tells you, that our bles• fed Saviour has purchased for us new and easier con. * ditions of life; and instead of the finless obedience re
quired by the moral-law, he has now given us a new • law of grace, which only requires faith, with fincere
obedience to the gospel, as the condition of our juilj. 'fication and acceptance with God. Whence it is a ' neceffary conséquence, that our justification, or title
to eternal life, depends not upon Christ's righteousness ' imputed to us : but upon our faith, including fincere
obedience to the gospel, as the condition to which it
is promised, and that as our obedience is imperfect, • fo our state of justification is imperfect allo; and we ' shall not be perfectly justified, till our obedience be
That I may distinctly consider this case, I shall endeavour in the first place, to make some proper inquiries and reflections upon this scheme; and offer some objections against it; and then take notice of the argu. ments which you have brought to support it.
I would first enquire, where you find any thing in scripture of our Saviour's purchaling this new law of grace, whereby faith and fincere obedience are made the conditions of our justification ; perhaps your author is filent
upon that bead: and for my part, I do not know that I have ever read any thing at all about it, in the word of God. We read often, of our. blessed Saviour's giving himself a ransom for us ; of his being a propitia. tion for our fins : of his being the Lord our righteousness i
of his having brought in everlasting righteousness ; of his being the end of the law for righteousness, unto every one that believeth; and of his being of God made unto us wifdom, and righteousness, and fanclification, and redemption ; with many other like representations of his procuring a justifying righteousness for us. But of his purchasing this new law of grace, not one word is to be found in the scriptures. May we not justly suppose, that if this scheme were right, we should have it plainly represen. ted to us in the oracles of God; and not be left to grope in the dark, and to find out by far-fetcht consequences, what is the foundation of our practice and hope? How valt is the difference, between the one and the other side of this question ! On the one side, we have (or at least we think we have) verv numerous, plain, express scripture authorities, for our justification by the righteousness of Christ. On the other side, there is a deep filence throughout the whole word of God, about any purchase of a new law, such a law of favourable terms; and about trofe new conditions of our justification, those easier terms of our faith and sincere obedience. This scheme therefore may be presumed to be at least but of human invention.
I would further enquire, whether in the nature of things there can be any justification at all, upon such conditions as you speak of? I have thewn you, that juftification is always to be understood of our being efteemed, declared, manifested, or pronounced righteous. Now then, if our evangelical obedience be imperfect, we are ftill unrighteous, by our remaining fin and difobedience againit this imaginary) new law of grace; and consequentiy God cannot judge and declare us righteous.by virtue of our obedience. For his judgment is according to truth, as I observed to you in my last let. ter. Certain it is, that no man upon earth is or can be perfectly fincere, perfectly believing, or perfectly obe. dient to the gospel. His defects will be greater than his attainments, and his ditobedience will be greater than his obedience, under his highest improvements, as long as he lives. He knows nothing of himself, that does not know this to be fact. He must therefore ever be more unrighteous, than righteous, as long as he lives :