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Of justification and faith.
This chapter, for the title and subject of it, would require a large and serious consideration; but by Mr Biddle’s loose procedure in this business (whom only I shall now attend), we are absolved from any strict inquiry into the whole doctrine that is concerned herein. Some brief animadversions upon his questions and suiting of answers to them will be’ all that I shall go forth unto. His first is:—
Ques. How many sorts of justification or righteousness are there?
This question supposeth righteousness and justification to be the same, which is a gross notion for a Master of Arts. Righteousness is that which God requires of us; justification is his act concerning man considered as vested or endued with that righteousness which he requires. 562Righteousness is the qualification of the person to be justified; justification, the act of him that justifies. A man’s legal honesty in his trial is not the sentence of the judge pronouncing him so to be, to all ends and purposes of that honesty. But to his question Mr B. answers from Rom. x. 5, “The righteousness which is of the law;” and Phil. iii. 9, “The righteousness which is of God by faith.”
It is true, there is this twofold righteousness that men may be partakers of, — a righteousness consisting in exact, perfect, and complete obedience yielded to the law, which God required of man under the covenant of works; and the righteousness which is of God by faith, of which afterward. Answerable hereunto there is, hath been, or may be, a twofold justification; — the one consisting in God’s declaration of him who performs all that he requires in the law to be just and righteous, and his acceptation of him according to the promise of life which he annexed to the obedience which of man he did require; and the other answers that righteousness which shall afterward be described. Now, though these two righteousnesses agree in their general end, which is acceptation with God, and a reward from him according to his promise, yet in their own natures, causes, and manner of attaining, they are altogether inconsistent and destructive of each other, so that it is utterly impossible they should ever meet in and upon the same person.
For the description of the first, Mr B. gives it in answer to this question:—
Q. How is the righteousness which is of the law described?
A. Rom. x. 5, “Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doeth those things shall live by them.”
This description is full and complete. “The doing of the things of the law,” or all the things the law requireth, to this end, that a man may “live by them,” or a “keeping of the commandments” that we may “enter into life,” makes up this righteousness of the law; and whatsoever any man doth or may do that is required by the law of God (as believing, trusting in him, and the like), to this end, that he may live thereby, that it may be his righteousness towards God, that thereupon he may be justified, it belongs to this righteousness of the law here described by Moses. I say, whatever is performed by man in obedience to any law of God, to this end, that a man may live thereby, and that it may be the matter of his righteousness, it belongs to the righteousness here described. And of this we may have some use in the consideration of Mr B.’s ensuing queries. He adds:—
Q. What speaketh the righteousness which is of faith?
A. Rom. x. 8, 9, “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
563The object of justifying faith, namely, Jesus Christ as dying and rising again from the dead, to the obtaining of eternal redemption and bringing in everlasting righteousness, is in these words described. And this is that which the righteousness of faith is said to speak, because Christ dying and rising is our righteousness He is made so to us of God, and being under the consideration of his death and resurrection received of us by faith, we are justified.
His next question is:—
Q. In the justification of a believer, is the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, or is his onto faith counted for righteousness?
A. Rom. iv. 5, “His faith is counted for righteousness.”
What Mr B. intends by faith, and what by accounting of it for righteousness, we know full well. The justification he intends by these expressions is the plain old pharisaical justification, and no other, as shall elsewhere be abundantly manifested. For the present, I shall only say that Mr B. doth most ignorantly oppose the imputing of the righteousness of Christ to us, and the accounting of our faith for righteousness, as inconsistent. It is the accounting of our faith for righteousness and the righteousness of works that is opposed by the apostle. The righteousness of faith and the righteousness of Christ are every way one and the same; — the one denoting that whereby we receive it and are made partakers of it; the other, that which is received and whereby we are justified. And, indeed, there is a perfect inconsistency between the apostle’s intention in this expression, “To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness,” taken with his explication of it, that we are made partakers of the righteousness of Christ by faith, and therein he is made righteousness to them that believe, and Mr B.’s interpretation of it, which is (as shall be farther manifested), “To him that worketh, and believes on him that justifies the righteous, his obedience is his righteousness” But of this elsewhere.
The next question and answer are about Abraham and his justification; which being but an instance exemplifying what was spoken before, I shall not need to insist thereon. Of his believing on God only, our believing on Christ, which is also mentioned, I have spoken already, and shall not trouble the reader with repetition thereof.
But he farther argues:—
Q. Doth not God justify men because of the full price Christ paid to him in their stead, so that he abated nothing of his right, in that one drop of Christ’s blood was sufficient to satisfy for a thousand worlds? If not, how are they saved it?
That Christ did pay a full price or ransom for us, that he did stand in our stead, that he was not abated any jot of the penalty of the law that was due to sinners, that on this account we are fully 564acquitted, and that the forgiveness of our sins is by the redemption that is in his blood, have been already fully and at large evinced. Let Mr B., if he please, attempt to evert what hath been spoken to that purpose.
The expression about “one drop of Christ’s blood” is a fancy or imagination of idle monks, men ignorant of the righteousness of God and of the whole nature of the mediation which our blessed Saviour undertook, wherein they have not the least communion. The close of the chapter is, —
Q. Did not Christ merit eternal life and purchase the kingdom of heaven, for us?
Eternal life is the gift of God, in opposition to any merit of ours, and in respect of his designation of him who is eternal life to be our mediator and purchaser of it; yet that Christ did not therefore obtain by his blood for us eternal redemption, Heb. ix. 12, that he did not purchase us to himself, Tit. ii. 14, or that the merit of Christ for us and the free grace of God unto us are inconsistent, our catechist attempts not to prove. Of the reconciliation of God’s purpose and good pleasure, mentioned Luke xii. 32, with the satisfaction and merit of the Mediator, I have spoken also at large already.
I have thus briefly passed through this chapter, although it treateth of one of the most important heads of our religion, because (the Lord assisting) I intend the full handling of the doctrine opposed in it in a treatise just to that purpose, [vol. v.]
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