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sons in this life. This at present I shall not dispute about, because it seems to me to overthrow the whole gospel, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and all the comfort of believers, about which I hope we are not as yet called to contend.
Our inquiry is, how convinced sinners do on their believing obtain the remission of sins, acceptance with God, and a right unto eternal life. And if this can no other way be done, but by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto them, then thereby alone are they justified in the sight of God. And this assertion proceedeth on a supposition that there is a righteousness required unto the justification of any person whatever. For whereas God in the justification of any person, doth declare him to be acquitted from all crimes laid unto his charge, and to stand as righteous in his sight, it must be on the consideration of a righteousness, whereon any man is so acquitted and declared ; for the judgment of God is according unto truth. This we have sufficiently evidenced before in that juridical procedure wherein the Scripture represents unto us the justification of a believing sinner. And if there be no other righteousness whereby we may be thus justified, but only that of Christ imputed unto us, then thereby must we be justified or not at all. And if there be any such other righteousness, it must be our own, inherent in us, and wrought out by us. For these two kinds, inherent and imputed righteousness, our own and Christ's, divide the whole nature of righteousness, as to the end inquired after. And that there is no such inherent righteousness, no such righteousness of our own whereby we may be justified before God, I shall prove in the first place. And I shall do it, first from express testimonies of Scripture, and then from the consideration of the thing itself. And two things I shall premise hereunto.
1. That I shall not consider this righteousness of our own absolutely in itself, but as it may be conceived to be improved and advanced by its relation unto the satisfaction and merit of Christ; for many will grant that our inherent righteousness is not of itself sufficient to justify us in the sight of God. But take it as it hath value and worth communicated unto it from the merit of Christ, and so it is ac
cepted unto that end, and judged worthy of eternal life. We could not merit life and salvation, had not Christ merited that grace for us whereby we may do so; and merited also that our works should be of such a dignity with respect unto reward. We shall therefore allow what worth can be reasonably thought to be communicated unto this righteousness from its respect unto the merit of Christ.
2. Whereas persons of all sorts and parties do take various ways in the assignation of an interest in our justification unto our own righteousness, so as that no parties are agreed about it, nor many of the same mind among themselves, as might easily be manifested in the Papists, Socinians, and others, I shall, so far as it is possible in the ensuing arguments, have respect unto them all. For my design is to prove, that it hath no such interest in our justification before God, as that the righteousness of Christ should not be esteemed the only righteousness whereon we are justified. And first, we shall produce some of those many
testimonies which may be pleaded unto this purpose, Psal. cxxx. 3, 4. ' If thou Lord shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who should stand? But there is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared.' There is an inquiry included in these words, how a man, how any man may be justified before God; how he may stand, that is, in the presence of God, and be accepted with him; how he shall stand in judgment, as it is explained, Psal. i. 5. •The wicked shall not stand in the judgment,' shall not be acquitted on their trial. That which first offereth itself unto this end, is his own obedience. For this the law requires of him in the first place, and this his own conscience calls upon him for. But the psalmist plainly declares that no man can thence manage a plea for his justification with any success.
And the reason is, because notwithstanding the best of the obedience of the best of men, there are iniquities found with them against the Lord their God. And if men come to their trial before God whether they shall be justified or condemned, these also must be heard and taken into the account. But then no man can stand, no man can be justified, as it is elsewhere expressed. Wherefore, the wisest and safest course is, as unto our justification before God, utterly to forego this plea, and not to insist on our own obedience, lest our sins should appear also, and be heard. No reason can any man give on his own account, why they should not be so. Aud if they be so, the best of men will be cast in their trial, as the psalmist declares.
Two things are required in this trial, that a sinner may stand. 1. That his iniquities be not observed, for if they be so, he is lost for ever. 2. That a righteousness be produced and pleaded that will endure the trial. For justification is upon a justifying righteousness. For the first of these, the psalmist tells us it must be through pardon or forgiveness. But there is forgiveness with thee;' wherein lies our only relief against the condemnatory sentence of the law with respect unto our iniquities; that is, through the blood of Christ; for in him we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins ;' Eph. i. 7. The other cannot be our own obedience, because of our iniquities. Wherefore this the same psalmist directs us unto, Psal. lxxi. 16. ' I will go in the strength of the Lord God, I will make mention of thy righteousness, of thine only.' The righteousness of God, and not his own, yea in opposition unto his own, is the only plea that in this case he would insist upon.
If no man can stand a trial before God upon his own obedience, so as to be justified before him, because of his own personal iniquities; and if our only plea in that case be the righteousness of God, the righteousness of God only and not our own, then is there no personal inherent righteousness in any believers whereon they may be justified ;' which is that which is to be proved.
The same is again asserted by the same person, and that more plainly and directly, Psal. cxliii. 2. · Enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.' This testimony is the more to be considered, because as it is derived from the law, Exod. xxxiv. 7. so it is transferred into the gospel, and twice urged by the apostle unto the same purpose ; Rom. iii. 20. Gal. ii. 16.
The person who insists on this plea with God, professeth himself to be his servant. · Enter not into judgment with thy servant;' that is, one that loved him, feared him, yielded
all sincere obedience. He was not a hypocrite, not an unbeliever, not an unregenerate person, who had performed no works but such as were legal, such as the law required, and such as were done in the strength of the law only; such works as all will acknowledge to be excluded from our justification; and which as many judge, are only those which are so excluded. David it was, who was not only converted, a true believer, had the Spirit of God, and the aids of special grace in his obedience, but had this testimony unto his sincerity, that he was a man after God's own heart.' And this witness had he in his own conscience of his integrity, uprightness, and personal righteousness, so as that he frequently avows them, appeals unto God concerning the truth of them, and pleads them as a ground of judgment between him and his adversaries. We have therefore a case stated in the instance of a sincere and eminent believer, who excelled most in inherent personal righteousness.
This person under these circumstances, thus testified unto both by God and in his own conscience, as unto the sincerity, yea, as unto the eminency of his obedience; considers how he may 'stand before God,' and 'be justified in his sight.' Why doth he not now plead his own merits; and that if not 'ex condigno,' yet at least' ex congruo,' he deserved to be acquitted and justified. But he left this plea for that generation of men that were to come after, who would justify themselves, and despise others. But suppose he had no such confidence in the merit of his works as some have now attained unto, yet why doth he not freely enter into judgment with God, put it unto the trial, whether he should be justified or no, by pleading that he had fulfilled the condition of the new covenant, that everlasting covenant which God made with him, ordered in all things and sure? For upon a supposition of the procurement of that covenant, and the terms of it by Christ (for I suppose the virtue of that purchase he made of it, is allowed to extend unto the Old Testament), this was all that was required of him. Is it not to be feared that he was one of them who see no necessity, or leave none of personal holiness and righteousness, seeing he makes no mention of it, now it should stand him in the greatest stead? At least he might plead his faith as his own duty and work, to be imputed
unto him for righteousness. But whatever the reason be, he waves them all, and absolutely deprecates a trial upon them. “Come not,' saith he, O Lord, ‘into judgment with thy servant,' as it is promised that he who believes should ‘not come into judgment,' Joho v. 24.
And if this holy person renounce the whole consideration of all his personal inherent righteousness, in every kind, and will not insist upon it under any pretence, in any place, as unto any use in his justification before God, we may safely conclude there is no such righteousness in any whereby they may be justified. And if men would but leave those shades and coverts under which they hide themselves in their disputations, if they would forego those pretences and distinctions wherewith they delude themselves and others, and tell us plainly what plea they dare make in the presence of God, from their own righteousness and obedience, that they may be justified before him, we should better understand their minds than now we do. There is one, I confess, who speaks with some confidence unto this purpose, and that is Vasquez, the Jesuit; in 1. 2. Disp. 204. cap. 4. • Inhærens justitia ita reddit animam justam et sanctam, ac proinde filiam Dei, ut hoc ipso reddat eam heredem, et dignam æterna gloria ; imo ipse Deus efficere non potest ut hujusmodi justus dignus non sit æterna beatitudine.' Is it not sad, that David should discover so much ignorance of the worth of his inherent righteousness, and discover so much pusillanimity with respect unto his trial before God, whereas God himself could not otherwise order it, but that he was and must be worthy of eternal blessedness?
The reason the psalmist gives why he will not put it unto the trial, whether he should be acquitted or justified upon his own obedience, is this general axiom; ‘for in thy sight,' or before thee, shall no man living be justified.' This must be spoken absolutely or with respect unto some one way or cause of justification. If it be spoken absolutely, then this work ceaseth for ever, and there is indeed no such thing as justification before God. But this is contrary unto the whole Scripture, and destructive of the gospel. Wherefore, it is spoken with respect unto our own obedience and works. He doth not pray absolutely that he would not enter into judgment with him,' for this were to forego his