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actually imputed or imparted to us, and we considered as vested with them, and partakers of them. For instance, can Christ be our righteousness, and we, notwithstanding, have no righteousness that will justify us before God, till we have wrought out a righteousness of our own, by a persevering course of sincere obedience ? Can he be our peace, and we not be at peace with God upon our faith in him, until, by a course of sincere obedience, we are justified and interested in the divine favour? The time would fail me should I particularly insist upon all the various representations of Christ's redemption in Scripture, and show they are all directly repugnant to this scheme of yours. I shall therefore mention but an instance or two more, and then submit it to your own serious reflection. We are said " to be justified by his blood, and reconciled to God by his death." But can we be justified by his blood, and yet justified by our own obedience ? Are we reconciled to God by the death of Christ, and yet not reconciled to God but by a continued progress of our own obedience ? Dare you, Sir, adventure to attribute that to your own obedience, which is attributed by the Spirit of God to the blood and death of Christ?
But perhaps you will make the same remarks upon
what I have now offered, as you did upon my last, and tell me, that “your author does indeed suppose some conditions of our interest in the benefits procured by Christ for us; and do not they, who are of the other side of the question, also suppose our interest therein to be conditional ? Do not they suppose faith to be the condition of our
You cannot be insensible, Sir, that this plea is utterly inconsistent with the evasions before offered. We are, therefore, now to hear no more of your former distinctions, that the apostle Paul refers to legal and not evangelical works, when he excludes all works from having any part in our justification. We are to hear no more of the Apostle's referring to the ceremonial law, when he opposes the law to grace, and tells us, " that if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” You now acknowledge, that the justification of which the apostle Paul speaks is by faith alone. All other pleas for this scheme, which I oppose, must consequently be given up, and it must be put upon this single issue.
I shall now, therefore, proceed to consider, whether this foundation will bear the weight which you are putting upon it.
It is worthy of consideration, that there is nothing of this new doctrine, of a first and secondary justification, to be found in the Scriptures. I look it as an arbitrary distinction, coined to serve a purpose, and to help out a tottering scheme, which could no other way be supported. The apostle Paul, it is true, speaks of our justification in one respect, and the apostle James in another, as I have formerly observed to you; but each of them retain one invariable view of their subject, and continue the same idea of the justification about which they treat. There is not a word spoken by either of them, of a first and second, of an original and additional justification. Indeed the Scriptures know nothing at all of this distinction. The children of God learn 10thing of it from their own experience. And you
I look upon
must pardon me, Sir, if I must demand some better foundation of my eternal hope, than the subtile inventions of such men, who would establish and vindicate their principles by new and unscriptural doctrines of religion, which have no foundation at all but their own teeming imagination. This is the common source of all the errors which obtain
among us. Men of learning and parts, sufficiently apprehensive of their own capacities, instead of an humble subjecting their reason to the wisdom of God in his word, are, first, for forming schemes which appear to them most reasonable—these they take for principles—and then they must force some construction or other upon the most opposite texts of Scripture, and invent some arbitrary distinctions, to obviate the difficulties that lie in their way. This is plainly the case before us. It does not look reasonable to the Papists, to the Socinians, to the Arminians, and to the Neonomians, that our obedience should be wholly excluded as a part in our justification. It is true, the Scripture does, in multitudes of most plain and familiar expression, in the most express and strongest language, utterly exclude it. But there must be one unnatural construction, or another, forced upon these texts of Scripture, to make them consistent with their scheme; which they take for a postulatum, whatever is said in the Scripture to the contrary. When this refuge fails, the present distinction is coined, to support the sinking cause.
It were a sufficient answer to all these pretences, to say, • The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
And he that seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
But I have this further objection against the distinction you mention, that it is not only a human device, without any appearance of Scripture warrant, but it is utterly inconsistent with the Scripture doctrine of justification. There is so much ascribed, in the Scripture, to what they call our first justification, as leaves no possible room for a second. I have observed something of this to you, upon another occasion, in a former letter'; and you must bear with me,
you here meet with some repetition, in order to set the present case in a true and proper light. By virtue of the righteousness imputed to us and received through faith, we have a free pardon all our sins.
“ To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 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, and whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”—By virtue of this justification we are freed from the wrath of God, and actually reconciled to him. “ Much more then being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son ; much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”—By this justification we are made righteous in the sight of God. “ By the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall
many be made righteous.”—By this justifica
not be truly holy, whose hearts and lives are conformable to the principles I am opposing. Not all their religious purposes, promises, resolutions, reformations not all their fastings, external mortifications, macerations of their bodies, vows, meditations, prayers, or other endeavours they may use, can be productive of holiness upon these principles. Men may, by such means, put some restraint upon their corruptions; they may, in a slavish manner, perform some hypocritical duties, and thereby may quiet their consciences, obtain a reputation among men, and entertain hopes of heaven; but they must yet remain strangers to any true love to God, delight in him, and conformity of heart and affections to him, wherein the essence of holiness consists. This will appear from such considerations as these :-It is an incontestable truth, that we cannot be holy, before we have a principle of holiness: that we cannot perform vital actions, without a source and principle of life. It is equally certain, that we naturally have not this principle of spiritual life; but “ the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth, only evil continually.” It is also certain, that faith in Christ is contemporary with (though, in order of nature, it flows from, and is successive to,) the first principle of spiritual life; and it is from our union to Christ by faith that we derive from him supplies of grace and strength, and that the whole progress of holiness is carried on in the soul. It is therefore necessary that we be first united to Christ, the head of all influences and fountain of all holiness, and so be habitually alive to God, before we can actually live to God, as I have observed before.