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justification, nor the condition of our acceptance with God. Whence we may conclude with the Apostle, that “ Christ Jesus is set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood;" that "his righteousness might be declared, for the remission of our sins, in order that God might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
Here can therefore be no room for that pretence, that the obedience of Christ has purchased for us a dispensing act of grace, that our sincere obedience shall, on his account, be accepted instead of the perfect obedience demanded by the law of nature; and that we are accordingly justified by our evangelical obedience, our faith and repentance, and our sincere endeavours after a conformity to the will of God. For by whatever price these terms of our justification are procured for us, that obedience, immediately by which (according to that notion) we are justified, is our own righteousness; and therefore cannot entitle us to any justification before God, mentioned in Scripture. Not to that respected by the law; for that is only proposed on condition of perfect obedience. Not to that respected by the Gospel; for that is the “justification of the ungodly,” by a “not imputing their iniquity,” but “imputing to them righteousness without works.” Whereas, according to this imagination, it must be by a vindication of our own sincerity, and in virtue of our own evangelical righteousness; which must therefore be proportioned to the demands of justice, or leave us open to the curses of the law. How much safer, therefore, would it be (with the Apostle) to disclaim all our own righteousness, that we may be vested with
that “righteousness which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”
Besides, how can our sincere obedience justify us, when we can have no gracious sincerity, and therefore no true obedience, until the moment in which we are justified ?. I think, all must allow, that he who is united to Christ by faith, is, at the same time, justified in the sight of God.
For we are " accepted in the Beloved: there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." And it is most certain, that we can have no gracious sincerity, before we are united to Christ by faith unfeigned. 66 As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
He that abideth in me, and I in him, bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing." From whence it is evident, that no man can exercise gracious sincerity in performing any good works until he be in a justified state; and, consequently, sincere obedience, either to the law or Gospel, cannot be the condition of our justification before God. The first exercise of saving faith unites us to Christ; and is the immediate foundation, both of our justification and of our sincere obedience. There is not a moment of time passes between the first act of true faith and our justifica. tion; and, consequently, not a moment of time for the practice of sincere obedience, before we are united to Christ, and thereby justified in the sight of God. Now, it is impossible that our sincere obedience should be both the condition and the consequence of our justification.
I might add to this, that if the Scriptures ascribe
all the spiritual benefits we are partakers of, either in this world or that to come, to the righteousness of Christ only, then our obedience, either to the law or Gospel, can have no hand in our justification before God. If all saving mercy flow to us from that fountain only, there can none flow to us from
And it appears plainly the whole design and tenor of the Gospel, to illustrate this blessed truth to us. Though I cannot now enlarge upon this head, I will just mention a few instances to exemplify it. It is from Christ's righteousness alone that we receive the complete forgiveness of
6. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” By this alone we are made righteous : “ By the obedience of one shall
many be made righteous.” By this alone we are acquitted from guilt, and freed from condemnation : " There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” By this we are reconciled to God: “ For all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ.” By this we have peace with God, access into his gracious presence, and joyful hopes of eternal glory: “ Therefore being justified by faith, we have 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." By this we are heirs of eternal life: “ That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign
through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.” The blessed hope we are looking for, is therefore called “ the hope of righteousness.”
I will only add, that, if the Scriptures do expressly exclude all our own righteousness, and all our own works, from any hand in our justification, we also should renounce them all, and depend upon the righteousness of Christ only. For this, see Tit. iii. 5. “ Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his merey he saved
Roni. iv, 5. 5 To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” · These things are so plainly and evidently the scope and design of the whole New Testament, that all the artful evasions of those who would "go about to establish their own righteousness," and rob Christ of the honour of their justification and salvation, should be rejected with abhorrence. In fine, let me entreat you, Sir, always to remember, that 6 both the law and the prophets witness the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, anto all and upon all them that believe.” That “ Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." And that “ being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him."
You will pardon me, that I have so long delayed your expectations. I thought it necessary, not only to clear the way
you may see in what sense I oppose the Antinomian dreams, and Moravian dotages; but also to offer some precautions, that you may not fall upon Scylla, while you avoid
Charybdis, but steer your way safe between the two extremes.
By all that I have now said, you may perceive that the question between us and the Moravians, or Antinomians, is not, Whether believers may have, and should seek to have, a comfortable persuasion of their interest in Christ? To doubt of this, would be at once to contradict the strongest attestations thereto in the word of God, and the happy experience of his children. Nor is it the question, Whether we are justified by any attainments of our own?
To suppose this, were to counteract the whole design of the Gospel, and to bring the greatest contempt upon the Redeemer's merits and righteous
But the question is, Whether a true saving faith consists in a persuasion of our personal actual interest in Christ, and that he will bestow his eternal salvation upon us in particular? Whether there may not be a strong persuasion of a justified state, without any true saving faith, and a true saving faith without this particular persuasion of a justified state ? If this be so—if men may have this persuasion while in a state of guilt and condemnation, and if God's own dear children may be in doubts and darkness with respect to their state, it necessarily follows, that this Moravian and Antinomian doctrine is a most dangerous mistake and delusion. This matter, therefore, deserves to be particularly considered.
That men may be strongly persuaded of the safety of their state, while remaining under guilt and condemnation, appears from such considerations as