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that the faith which is imputed to believers unto their justification, is not their own personal righteousness; and then endeavour to make it evident, that if your construction of those passages in Rom. iv. were granted, it would make nothing against the doctrine of our justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ.
I am, first, to show, that the faith which is imputed unto righteousness does not include obedience in the nature of it; considering faith in its reference to justification, or (as some express themselves) in its office of justifying. For, though a true and lively faith has its influence in purifying the hearts and lives of men, and producing obedience, yet it is of the very nature of faith to exclude all opinion of merit in ourselves, to respect the promise of God's mercy, and directly send us to Christ for justification and acceptance with God, through his merits and righteousness. So that justifying faith, as such, does not include in its nature works of obedience. I need not use many arguments to prove this, the Apostle having, in the plainest and strongest terms, declared it. It is the very scope and design of the Apostle's argument in this fourth chapter to the Romans, to prove that we are justified by faith without works. This was the argument of the preceding chapter; which is confirmed and illustrated in this, by the examples of Abraham and David.
" For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward reckoned, not of grace, but of debt.
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also described the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.”
The Apostle is here using a variety of unanswerable arguments against the doctrine I am now impleading. He argues, that if Abraham's faith had included works, or obedience in it, he would have had whereof to glory. All works, all acts of obedience whatsoever, are formally our own, being done by ourselves, and therefore may be gloried of as such: but Abraham had not whereof to glory before God; and therefore Abraham's faith did not include works of obedience in the nature of it, considering it as counted to him for righteousness. He next shows us, that if we had the benefit of justification as a reward, upon the account of any works, of any obedience whatsoever, the reward would not be of grace, but of debt. For by whatever law, whatever covenant transaction, a reward becomes due to any sort of works, or obedience, it is however become due; and may be claimed as a debt, upon the performance of such works, or obedience. Whence it follows, that no sort of obedience, either legal or evangelical, can be included in the nature of a justifying faith, as such, if we are justified of grace, and not of debt. He shows us, that where faith is imputed unto righteousness, it is imputed to him that worketh not that doeth no works of righteousness at all-dependeth upon none at all of his own doing, : in order to his justification; and, therefore, it cannot possibly be that such faith has any sort of works,
any sort of obedience, included in the nature of it, as it is a justifying faith. It justifies only as it receives a divine gift, freely offered ; or, in the Apostle's language, as it believeth on him who justifieth the ungodly.—Here is no room left for any evasion. After ever so many critical distinctions are made, him that worketh not is him that worketh not. He moreover shows us, that the faith under consideration is a believing on him that justifies the ungodly; and therefore cannot include evangelical obedience in the nature of it, unless evangelical obedience and ungodliness be the same thing. It is true that a person, when justified, or when exercising that faith through which he is justified, ceases to be in his state and habitual course ungodly; for he has a faith which not only sends him to Christ for justification, but for sanctification too; and which not only embraces the promise, but the precept too, and is a vital active principle of all obedience. But then there is no moment of time intervenes between his state of ungodliness and his justification. He further shows that God imputeth righteousness, for our jus. tification, without works : and therefore obedience cannot be included in the nature of justifying faith, as such, unless obedience be without works also. Here likewise the expressions are strong and plain. There is no room for shift or cavil. When all the most plausible pretences in the world are made to avoid the force of these expressions, without works is without works still.
How admirable does the pretence which I am opposing appear, when the Apostle does with his own pen, in as strong and pointed language as can
be used, obviate the pretence, reject it, and confute it; and that, too, in the very context upon which it is founded ! I need therefore offer no other arguments to clear this point; it is effectually done to my hand by the Apostle himself; and his reasoning ought to take place against all objections. Could we be justified by any sort of works or obedience personally performed by us, we should have whereof to glory. And were our justification a reward given on account of any works or obedience of ours, it would be of debt, and not of grace.
But both these things are inconsistent with God's gracious dispensation towards us. He imputeth righteousness to him that worketh not; he justifieth the ungodly; he imputeth righteousness without works; and, therefore, the faith which is imputed unto righteousness, does not, cannot, as such, include any sort of obedience in the nature of it.
I proceed now to prove to you, that the faith which is imputed to believers unto their justification, is not their own personal righteousness. This will evidently appear, if you duly consider these following arguments :: That righteousness by which a sinner is justified, is the righteousness of God. “The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. -We are made the righteousness of God in him.—The righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe.”
Now it cannot be true that the righteousness of God and our own inherent personal righteousness, are the same thing. If it be pretended that faith is the gift of God, and, as such, it is the righteousness of God; the answer
is easy. Faith, considered in itself as a principle, is ours subjectively, and considered in its exercise, it is ours formally, or our own personal act; and in that respect, so far as it is any righteousness at all, it is our own personal righteousness; and therefore, as it is our personal righteousness, it can no more properly be said to be the righteousness of God than our breath can be said to be the breath of God, our words to be the words of God, or our locomotion to be the motion of God.
For our power to breathe, to speak, or to move, is as truly the gift of God, as our power to believe. Besides, all pretences of this kind are utterly excluded by the quoted texts.
For if faith cannot with any propriety be said to be “revealed from faith to faith ;" if we cannot with any propriety say that faith is a righteousness by faith of Jesus Christ; then faith is not the righteousness of God, by which we are justified: and therefore we cannot be justified by faith, as it is our own inherent personal righteousness, and yet be justified by the righteousness of God.
Moreover, we are said to be “made righteous" by the obedience of Christ; and to be justified by si the blood of Christ.” But faith, as it is our per- sonal inherent righteousness, is, in no respect, the obedience of Christ, or the blood of Christ: and therefore faith, as it is our personal inherent righteousness, cau), in no respect, be that righteousness by which we are justified, or made righteous before God.
Furthermore, faith, as it is our personal inherent righteousness, is our own; but the righteousness by