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reckoned, is the same that in the other verses is rendered imputed, and counted; and it is as much as if the apostle had said, “ As to him that works, there is no need of any gracious reckoning or counting it for righteousness, and causing the reward to follow as if it were a righteousness; for if he has works, he has that which is a righteousness in itself, to which the reward properly belongs.” This is further evident by the words that follow, verse 6. 6 Even as David also described the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” What can here be meant by imputing righteousness without works, but imputing righteousness to him
that has none of his own? verse 7, 8,“ Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered : blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” How are these words of David to the apostle's purpose ? or how do they prove any such thing, as that righteousness is imputed without works, unless it be becanse the word imputed is used, and the subject of the imputation is mentioned as a sinner, and consequently destitute of a moral righteousness ? For David says no such thing, as that he is forgiven without the works of the ceremonial law; there is no hint of the ceremonial law, or reference to it, in the words.- I will therefore venture to infer this doctrine from the words, for the subject of my present discourse, viz.
That we are justified only by faith in Christ, and not by any manner of virtue or goodness of our own.
Such an assertion as this, I am sensible, many would be ready to call absurd, as betraying a great deal of ignorance, and containing much inconsistence; but I desire every one's patience till I have done.
In handling this doctrine, I would,
I. Explain the meaning of it, and shew how I would be understood by such an assertion.
II. Proceed to the consideration of the evidence of the truth of it.
III. Shew how evangelical obedience is concerned in this affair.
IV. Answer objections.
I. I would explain the meaning of the doctrine, or shew in what sense I assert it, and would endeavour to evince the truth of it; which may be done in answer to these two inquiries, viz. 1. What is meant by being justified ? What is meant when it is said, that this is, “ by faith alone, without any manner of virtue or goodness of our own?"
First, I would shew what justification is, or wbat I suppose is meant in scripture by being justified.
A person is said to be justified, when lie is approved of God as free from the guilt ot sin and its deserved punishment, and as having that righteousness belonging to bim that entitles to the reward of life. That we should take the word in such a sense, and understand it as the judge's accepting a person as having both a negative and positive righteousness belonging to him, and looking on him therefore as not only free from any obligation to punislıment, but also as just and righteous, and so entitled to a positive reward, is not only most agrecable to the etymology and natural import of the word, which signifies to pass one for righteous in judgment, but also manifestly agreeable to the force of the word as used in scripture.
Some suppose that nothing more is intended in scripture by justification, than barely the remission of sins. Jf so, it is very strange, if we consider the nature of the case; for it is most evident, and none will deny, that it is with respect to the rule or law of God we are under, that we are said in scripture to be either justified or condemned. Now what is it to justify a person as the subject of a law or rule, but to judge him as standing right with respect to that rule? To justify a person in a particular case, is to approve of him as standing right, as subject to the law in that case; and to justify in general is to pass him in judgment, as standing right in a state correspondent to the law or rule in general: but certainly, in order to a person's being looked on as standing right with respect to the rule in general, or in a state corresponding with the law of God, more is needful than not having the guilt of sin; for whatever that law is, whether a new or an old one, doubtless something positive is needed in order to its being answered. We are no more justified by the voice of the law, or of him that judges according to it, by a mere pardon of sin, than Adam, our first surety, was justificd by the law, at the first point of his existence, before he had fulfilled the obedience of the law, or had so much as any trial whether he would fulfil it
If Adam had finished his course of perfect obedience, he would have been justified: and certainly his justification would have implied something more than what is merely negative; he would bave been approved of, as having fulfilled the righteousness of the law, and accordingly would have been adjudged to the reward' of it. So Christ, our second surety, (in whose justification all whose surety he is, are virtually justified,) was not justified till he bad done the work the Father had appointed him, and kept the Father's commandments through all trials; and then in his resurrection be was justified. When he had been put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, 1 Pet. iii. 18. then he that was manifest in the flesh
was justified in the Spirit, 1 Tim. iii. 16; but God, when he justified him in raising him from the dead, did not only release him from his humiliation for sin, and acquit him from any further suffering or abasement for it, but admitted him to that eternal and immortal life, and to the beginning of that exal. tation that was the reward of what he had done. And indeed the justification of a believer is no other than his being admitted to communion in the justification of this head and surety of alt believers; for as Christ suffered the punishment of sin, not as a private person, but as our surety; so when after this suffering he was raised from the dead, he was therein justified, not as a private person, but as the surety and reprensentative of all that should believe in him. So that he was raised again not only for his own, but also for our justification, according to the apostle, Rom. iv. 25. “ Who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification.” And therefore it is that the apostle says, as he does in Rom. viii. 34. 66 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again."
But that a believer's justification implies not only remission of sins, or acquittance from the wrath due to it, but also an admittance to a title to that glory which is the reward of righteousness, is more directly taught in the scriptures, particularly in Rom. v. 1, 2. where the apostle mentions both these as joint benefits implied in justification : “ Therefore being justified by faith, we bave peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” So remission of sin, and inheritance among them that are sanc. tified, are mentioned together as what are jointly obtained by faith in Christ, Acts xxvi. 18. “ That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified through faith that is in me.” Both these are without doubt implied in that passing from death to life, which Cbrist speaks of as the fruit of faith, and which he opposes to condemnation, Jobn v. 24. “Verily I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation ; but is passed from death unto life.” I proceed now,
Secondly, To shew what is meant when it is said, that this justification is by faith only, and not by any virtue or goodness of our own.
This inquiry may be subdivided into two, viz.
1. How it is by faith. 2. How it is by faith alone, without any manner of goodness of ours.
1. How justification is by faith.-Here the great difficulty has been about the import and force of the particle by, or what
is that influence that faith bas in the affair of justification that is expressed in scripture by being justified by faith.
Here, if I may humbly express what seems evident to me, though faith be indeed the condition of justification so as nothing else is, yet this matter is not clearly and sufficiently explained by saying that faith is the condition of justification ; and that because the word seems ambiguous, both in common use, and also as used in divinity. In one sense, Christ alone performs the condition of our justification and salvation; in another sense, faith is the condition of justification: in another sense, other qualifications and acts are conditions of salvation and justification too. There seems to be a great deal of ambiguity in such expressions as are commonly used, (which yet we are forced to use,) such as condition of salvation, what is required in order to salvation or justification, the terms of the covenant, and the like; and I believe they are understood in very different senses by different persons. And besides, as the word condition is very often understood in the common use of language, faith is not the only thing in us that is the condition of justification ; for by the word condition, as it is very often (and perhaps most commonly) used, we mean any thing that may have the place of a condition in a conditional proposition, and as such is truly connected with the consequent, especially if the proposition holds both in the affirmative and negative, as the condition is either affirmed or denied. If it be that with which, or which being supposed, a thing shall be, without which, or it being denied, a thing shall not be, we in such a case call it a condition of that thing. But in this sense faith is not the only condition of salvation and justification; for there are many things that accompany and flow from faith, with which justification shall be, and without which it will not be, and therefore are found to be put in scripture in conditional propositions with justification and salvation, in multitudes of places; such are love to God, and love to our brethren, forgiving men their trespasses, and many other good qualifications and acts. And there are many other things besides faith, which are directly proposed to us, to be pursued or performed by us, in order to eternal life, which if they are done, or obtained, we shall have eternal life, and if not done, or not obtained, we shall surely perish. And if faith was the only condition of justification in this sense, I do not apprehend that to say faith was the condition of justification, would express the sense of that phrase of scripture, of being justified by faith. There is a difference between being justified by a thing, and that thing universally, necessarily, and inseparably attending justification ; for so do a great many things that we are not said to be justified by. It is not the inseparable connection
with justification that the Holy Ghost would signify (or that is naturally signified) by such a phrase, but some particular influence that faith bas in the affair, or some certain dependence that effect has on its influence.
Some, aware of this, have supposed, that the influence or dependence might well be expressed by faith's being the instrument of our justification; which has been misunderstood, and injuriously represented, and ridiculed by those that have denied the doctrine of justification by faith alone, as though they had supposed faith was used as an instrument in the hand of God, whereby he performed and brought to pass that act of his, viz. approving and justifying the believer. Whereas it was not intended that faith was the instrument wherewith God justifies, but the instrument wherewith we receive justification; not the instrument where with the justifier acts in justifying, but wherewith the receiver of justification acts in accepting justification. But yet, it must be owned, this is an obscure way of speaking, and there must certainly be some impropriety in calling it, an instrument wherewith we receive or accept justification ; for the very persons who thus explain the matter, speak of faith as being the reception or acceptance itself; and if so, how can it be the instrument of reception or acceptance? Certainly there is a difference between the act and the instrument. Besides, by their own descriptions of faith, Christ, the mediator by whom, and his righteousness by which we are justified, is more directly the object of this acceptance and justification, which is the benefit arising therefrom more indirectly; and therefore, if faith be an instrument, it is more properly the instrument by which we receive Christ, than the instrument by which we receive justification.
But I humbly conceive we have been ready to look too far to find out what that influence of faith in our justification is, or what is that dependence of this effect on faith, signified by the expression of being justified by faith, overlooking that which is most obviously pointed forth in the expression, viz. that, (there being a mediator that has purchased justification,) faith in this mediator is that which renders it a meet and suitable thing, in the sight of God, that the believer, rather than others, should have this purchased benefit assigned to him.There is this benefit purchased, which God sees it to be a more meet and suitable thing that it should be assigned to some rather than others, because he sees them differently qualified; that qualification wherein the meetness to this benefit, as the case stands, consists, is that in us by which we are justified. If Christ had not come into the world and died, &c. to purchase justification, no qualification whatever in us could render it a meet or fit thing that we should be justified. But the case being as it now stands, vis. that Christ has actually purchased