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act may not be put for the object; the righteousness of faith, for righteousness by or through faith; and why faith may not be counted for righteousness obtained by believing. It is remarkable, that the apostle expressly speaks of faith in this view every where else besides this context; and, therefore, he ought to be here also understood in this sense, to made his doctrine consistent. In this sense, faith is our justifying righteousness, as a condemned malefactor's accepting his prince's pardon is his deliverance from execution, or as a beggar's accepting an alms is his preservative from starving. As in these cases it is not the act of receiving, but the benefit received, which is the vation ; so in that case it is not the act of receiving Christ, but the benefit received by faith, which is the believer's righteousness.
you cannot understand how faith's being imputed to us for righteousness can intend 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, notwithstanding, be set in such a view, as will secure the truth of the doctrine I am pleading for, if the text be considered as it is in the original. His faith was imputed unto righteousness; that is, as he was reckoned, judged, or esteemed of God to be a sound believer; so 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 acknowledgment of it as true, and sincere, and effectual to its proper purposes.
He was approved of God, as having a true and sound faith, a faith effectual, as an applying means unto righteousness, and thereby unto justification; a faith which interested him 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 expressed in ver. 6. According to this view of the case, imputation is considered in this context in both the senses before explained. Abraham was reckoned, or esteemed, a true believer ; in consequence whereof, a justifying righteousness was imputed to him, even the righteousness of God without the law.
I think I have, 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 righteousness 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 search and inquiry, 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 shown you how this doctrine, so plainly taught every where else, may be true in a full consistency 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 consideration ; 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, solemnly contemplate God's infinite justice, his infinite purity and holiness, his infinite abhorrence of sin and sinners, especially as to be seen in the glass of Christ's sufferings: also contemplate your own state and moral character, both by nature and practice. Contemplate the sinful 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 unbelief which accompanied the highest actings of faith you were capable of; the formality and hypocrisy which has mixed with your devoutest prayers; the desultory thoughts, and dead frames, which have accompanied you to the most sacred ordinances of God's house; the frequent violations of the most solemn resolutions and covenant obligations by which you have bound your soul to the Lord : and, in a word, contemplate the greatness of your sins, 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 consider what plea you have to make before this infinitely great, this absolutely just, this perfectly pure and holy God, for justification in his sight, 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 silence ! Will you plead your personal obedience, and works of righteousness that you have done ? Alas, how
vast amount of sin and unrighteousness cover and confound you! Will you plead your sincerity before God ? But what will you do with that frequent formality and hypocrisy, which your own
conscience will accuse and convince you of ! Will you not be forced at last to cry out with David, “ If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall stand ?” And with Job, “Behold, I am vile! What shall 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 you not then see your necessity of a more perfect righteousness, to plead before God, than any personal, inherent righteousness of your own, to cover your dreadful sinfulness and infinite defects; and to render you acceptable to God, notwithstanding 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 yourself in perishing necessity of Christ, and his righteousness, to recommend you to the Divine favour.
Dear sir, I entreat you to consider in season, what you must consider first or last; and let
and be now solemnly careful to lay our foundation sure, that we may meet with comfort at the great trial, and receive the approbation of our Judge, in that awful and great day; which is the prayer of,
WHEREIN IT IS CONSIDERED, WHETHER WE ARE JUSTIFIED
BY FAITH AND OBEDIENCE TO THE GOSPEL, AS A NEW LAW OF GRACE.
SIR, I can with greater encouragement use my endeavours to remove your difficulties, and to satisfy your desires, since "
do not throw difficulties either in your own way or in mine, out of any conceived prejudice, or from ostentation or a wrangling disposition; but from a sincere desire of building your hope upon the sure foundation laid in Zion." Would all men act from views so worthy of this great concern, it would be a likely means, not only to put an end to the prevailing confusions among us, but to give a triumphant progress to the truth, and to establish men in the faith once delivered to the saints.
“ You have,” you say, “ been so sensibly affected by my last, and are so fully convinced of the danger of mistaking your way, that you are the more solicitous to be set right, and to have your remaining difficulties removed : and therefore you entreat me to bear with you, while you propose your strongest objection against the doctrine I suppose to be of so great importance.
Your author,” you say, “ tells you, that our blessed Saviour has purchased for us new and easier conditions of life; and instead of the sinless obedience required by the moral law, he has now given us a new law of grace, which only requires faith, with sincere