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vour of God, our persuasion of a state of safety will not influence him to treat us as his favourites; nor to consider that as true, which in its own nature is false. All therefore that is left for faith to do, according to them, is to give us ease and comfort in our own minds. And is this all we are to under. stand by our being justified by faith? Is this all we are to understand by the repeated declarations in holy Scripture, that the believer shall be saved; while the unbeliever shall be damned ? If lo, the gospel salvation is no more than merely the comfort flowing from a persuasion of the safety of our present state.-But I need not enlarge in opposi. tion to a doctrine so apparently repugnant to the whole design of the gospel, so manifestly unreason. able, and to directly subversive of all practical god. liness.-Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid ! yea, we establish the law, Rom. iii. 31.
Ic is infinitely your concern, Sir, to experience in
your own heart fomething more than a mere An. tinomian or Moravian faith. It is of infinite im. portance, that you receive the Lord Jesus Christ, and that you walk in him; that you experience the sanctifying efficacy of faith, and exemplify the obedi. ence of faith, in the exercise of all the graces and fruits of the holy Spirit ; and thereby evidence to yourself, at once, the sincerity of your faith, and. the reality of your justification before God.
Now, that the Lord may direct you safe in the way of truth and righteousness, to the kingdom of his glory, is the prayer of,
SIR, -Yours, &c.
LETTER XII. Wherein the Doctrine
of a Sinner's Justification, by the imputed righteousness of Christ, is explained and vindicated.
SIR, T is indeed, as you represent it, “ A matter of
“ the greatest consequence, to have a right “ view of the way and means by which God will o be reconciled to you, and by which you may have title to life ettrnal.” I am glad, that you
so kiridly accept the pains I have taken, to set the An. tinomian doctrine of justification in its proper co. lours. For though “ you did not give me that “ trouble (as you are pleased to express it) because “ you had any favourable opinion of their schemes, " but to know whether I was (as is pretended) of « their opinion; and to know how I could, con. “ listent with my declared sentiments, steer clear 66 of their wild notions :"
Yet I rejoice, that your desires are gratified, and that you “ set right in that matter."
But “ you yet are, as you have all along been, “ in great difficulties on the other side of the ques. « tion; and cannot see into the doctrine of a sin“ ner's justification by the imputed righteousness of " Chrift. You have been lately reading upon that “ subject; and find many arguments against it, that
you cannot get over. Your author represents « it as unscriptural, and unreasonable : You there. “ fore desire me to give you a right view of that doc. “ trine, and to answer your objections against it."
There is indeed, Sir, no cause for you to“ su. “ spect, that you shall wear out my patience." I gladly embrace the opportunity, to do any thing in
my power to give you satisfaction ; and to assist you in your greatest concern, which you have reason to be most solicitous about. I shall therefore, accord. ing to your desire, endeavour, in the first place, to give you a brief view of the doctrine of our justi. fication by the imputed righteousness of Chrif; be. fore I proceed to consider your objections against it.
I shall first consider what we are to understand by justification; and in what sense that expreffion is used in Scripture. Should I herein follow some of our wrangling disputants, I know not how many distinct meanings of the word justification I might fet before you. But this would be to darken coun. sel, by words without knowledge ; the term having one invariable meaning, throughout the whole Bible.--It always (as far as I have been able to observe) constantly signifies being esteemed, declared, manifested, or pronounced righteous. This is what the original word, both in the Old and New Testament, naturally signifies : And in this sense only it is always used. I need not therefore undertake to give instances of the use of the word in this sense, since in all instances it is used in this sense only. This, I believe, must be acknowledged by every one, that will thoroughly and impartially examine the case. I think, there can no text be found, where juftification is used for making us inherently righteous.
But though this word has one invariable signifi. cation, it is used in Scripture in a threefold respect; either for our present justification in the sight of God, for our justification before men and our own consciences, or for our justification at the tribunal of our Judge at the last day. It is the first of these that falls under our present consideration, which is to be considered as our acquittance from guilt, and our acceptance with God as righteous in his hight. It is to be considered as a sentence of absolution and
acceptation acceptation by the great Judge of the world. As justification therefore is always considered in Scrip. ture as a forensic or juridical sentence, it should be care. fully distinguished from the infusion of a principle of grace, or inherent righteousness.
Justification is u. sually in Scripture opposed to condemnation. As this latter therefore does not imply the rendering men wicked and guilty, but pronouncing them fo; even so the former likewise cannot mean rendering men righteous, but sententially declaring and pronouncing them fo. Were this duly attended to, many of the objections made against our doctrine of justification, by the righteousness of Christ, would vanish of course. You will be pleased therefore all along to carry this in your mind, that I am not considering how we should become inherently righteous, by a renovation of our nature ; but how we may be acquitted from guilt, and accepted as righteous, by the sentence of our glorious Judge.
I proceed to consider what we are to understand by the imputation of Christ's righteousness.
To impute, is to judge, or esteem any matter, character or quality, whether good or evil, to be. long to a person as his ; and may either refer to what was originally his, antecedently to such imputation ; or to what was not antecedently his, but becomes so by virtue of such imputation only. The Scriptures abound with instances of both these forts of imputation.
We have many instances in Scripture of imputing that to a person, which was originally his own, and perfornied by him antecedently to such imputation. Thus fin is said to be imputed to the finner, when he is judged or treated as an offender. Let not my Lord says Shimei) impute iniquity unto me, 2 Sam. xix. 19. And thus righteousness is imputed to the faint, when he is judged or acknowledged righteous
(in a qualified sense) with relation to a particular p fact, done in conformity to the preceptive part of
the divine law. Then stood up Phinehas, and execu, ted judgment, and it was imputed to him for righteousness, Pfalm. cvi. 31. But this is not the imputation now to be considered, which respects a juftia fication, that is proposed as the relief of a sinful perishing world, against the penalty of the condemn. ing law, and implies a change of the finner's ftate from guilt to grace, from death to life, in a relative sense.
I proceed then to observe, that also may be said to be imputed to a person, which was not his own originally or antecedently; but is judged and esteemed to belong to him, and is his on account of such imputation only. Thus, a debt is imputed to a surety; and the surety's payment of a debt is imputed to the principal debtor, and is pleadable by him in discharge from his creditor's demands. -If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, (says Paul of Onefimus), put that on my account, trūro qual imróye, impute it unto me. Thus our fins are im, puted unto Chrift, inasmuch as he, in the character of our furety, has undertaken to discharge those debts to the justice of God. And thus his righteousness is imputed unto us; it having been wrought out in our place and stead, and given to God in payment on our behalf.
These things being premised, we are to understand the imputation in question, to be God's gracious donation of the perfect righteousness of Christ to believers, and his acceptation of their persons as righteous, on the account thereof. Their fins be. ing imputed to him, and his obedience being im. puted to them, they are, in virtue hereof, both acquirted from guilt, and accepted as righteous bea fore God,