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effectually distinct. As, 1. The perfect sinless obedience was required in the first covenant; but in the new, that which is imperfect and accompanied with many sins and failings, is accepted. Ans. This is gratis dictum,' and begs the question. No righteousness unto justification before God, is or can be accepted, but what is perfect. 2. Grace is the original fountain and cause of all our acceptation before God in the new covenant.
Ans. It was so also in the old. The creation of man in original righteousness was an effect of divine grace, benignity, and goodness. And the reward of eternal life in the enjoyment of God, was of mere sovereign grace; yet what was then of works, was not of grace, no more is it at present. 3. There would then have been merit of works, which is now excluded. Ans. Such a merit as ariseth from an equality and proportion between works and reward, by the rule of commutative justice, would not have been in the works of the first covenant; and in no other sense is it now rejected by them that oppose the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. 4. All is now resolved into the merit of Christ, upon the account whereof alone, our own personal righteousness is accepted before God unto our justification. Ans. The question is not on what account, nor for what reason it is so accepted, but whether it be or no; seeing its so being is effectually constitutive of a covenant of works.
The exclusion of all sorts of works from an interest in justification. What
intended by the law, and the works of it, in the epistles of Paul.
We shall take our fourth argument from the express exclusion of all works of what sort soever from our justification before God. For this alone is that which we plead; namely, that no acts or works of our own, are the causes or conditions of our justification; but that the whole of it is resolved into the free grace of God, through Jesus Christ, as the mediator and surety of the covenant. To this pur
pose the Scripture speaks expressly, Rom. iii. 28. Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith, without the works of the law. Rom. iv. 5. But unto him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Rom. xi. 6. • If it be of grace, then is it not of works. Gal. ii. 16.
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law, shall no flesh be justified.' Eph. ii. 8, 9. “For by grace are ye saved through faith. Not of works, lest any man should boast.' Tit. iii. 5. ' Not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according unto his mercy he hath saved us."
These and the like testimonies are express, and in positive terms assert all that we contend for. And I am persuaded, that no unprejudiced person, whose mind is not prepossessed with notions and distinctions, whereof not the least title is offered unto them from the texts mentioned nor elsewhere, can but judge that the law in every sense of it, and all sorts of works whatever, that at any time, or by any means sinners or believers, do or can perform, are not in this or that sense, but every way and in all senses, excluded from our justification before God. And if it be so, it is the righteousness of Christ alone that we must betake ourselves unto or this matter must cease for ever. ând this inference the apostle himself makes from one of the testimonies before-mentioned, namely, that of Gal. ii. 16. for he adds upon it; 'I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then is Christ dead in vain.'
Our adversaries are extremely divided amongst themselves, and can come unto no consistency, as to the sense and meaning of the apostle in these assertions ; for what is proper and obvious unto the understanding of all men, especially from the opposition that is made between the law
and works on the one hand, and faith, grace, and Christ on the other (which are opposed as inconsistent in this matter of our justification), they will not allow, nor can do so without the ruin of the opinions they plead for. Wherefore, their various conjectures shall be examined, as well to shew their inconsistency among themselves, by whom the truth is opposed, as to confirm our present argument.
1. Some say it is the ceremonial law alone, and the works of it that are intended ; or the law as given unto Moses on mount Sinai, containing that entire covenant that was afterward to be abolished. This was of old the common opinion of the schoolmen, though it be now generally exploded. And the opinion lately contended for, that the apostle Paul excludes justification from the works of the law, not because no man can yield that perfect obedience which the law requires, or excludes works absolutely perfect, and sinless obedience; but because the law itself, which he intends, could not justify any by the observation of it, is nothing but the renovation of this obsolete notion, that it is the ceremon nial law only, or which upon the matter is all one, the law given on mount Sinai, abstracted from the grace of the promise, which could not justify any, in the observation of its rites and commands. But of all other conjectures, this is the most impertinent and contradictory unto the design of the apostle, and is therefore rejected by Bellarmine himself. For the apostle treats of that law whose doers shall be justified; chap. ii. 13. And the authors of this opinion would have it to be a law that can justify none of them that do it. That law he intends whereby is the knowledge of sin; for he gives this reason, why we cannot be justified by the works of it, namely, because by it, is the knowledge of sin;' chap. ñi. 20. And by what law is the knowledge of sin, he expressly declares, where he affirms, that he had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet,' chap. vii. 7. which is the moral law alone. That law he designs, which stops the mouth of all sinners, and makes all the world obnoxious unto the judgment of God; chap. iii. 19. Which none can do but the law written in the heart of men at their creation ; chap. ii. 14, 15. That law which if a man ‘do the works of it, he shall live in them ;' Gal. iii. 12. Rom. x. 5. and which brings all men under the curse for sin ; Gal. iii. 10. The law that is established by faith and not made void, Rom. jii. 31. which the ceremonial law is not, nor the covenant of Sinai. The law whose righteousness is ‘to be fulfilled in us;' Rom. viii. 4. And the instance which the apostle gives of justification without the works of that law which he intends, namely, that of Abraham, was some hundreds of years before the giving of the ceremonial law. Neither yet do I say that the ceremonial law and the works of it are excluded from the intention of the apostle ; for when that law was given, the observation of it was an especial instance of that obedience we owed unto the first table of the decalogue; and the exclusion of the works thereof from our justification; inasmuch as the performance of them was part of that moral obedience which we owed unto God, is exclusive of all other works also. But that it is alone here intended, or that law which could never justify any by its observation, although it was observed in due manner, is a fond imagination, and contradictory to the express assertion of the apostle. And whatever is pretended to the contrary, this opinion is expressly rejected by Augustine, lib. de Spirit. et liter. cap. 8. 'Ne quisquam putaret hic apostolum dixisse ea lege neminem justificari, quæ in sacramentis veteribus multa continet figurata præcepta, unde etiam est ista circumcisio carnis, continuo subjungit, quam dixerit legem et addit; per legem cognitio peccati.' And to the same purpose he speaks again, Epist. 200. Non solum illa opera legis quæ sunt in veteribus sacramentis, et nunc revelato testamento novo non observantur a Christianis, sicut est circumcisio præputii, et sabbati carnalis vacatio; et a quibusdam escis abstinentia, et pecorum in sacrificiis immolatio, et neomenia et azymum, et cætera hujusmodi, verum etiam illud quod in lege dictum est, non concupisces, quod ubique et Christianus nullus ambigit esse dicendum, non justificat hominem, nisi per fidem Jesu Christi, et gratiam Dei per Jesum Christum dominum nostrum.'
2. Some say the apostle only excludes the perfect works required by the law of innocency, which is a sense diametrically opposite unto that foregoing. But this best pleaseth the Socinians, Paulus agit de operibus et perfectis in hoc dicto, ideo enim adjecit, sine operibus, legis, ut indicaretur
loqui eum de operibus a lege requisitis, et sic de perpetua et perfectissima divinorum præceptorum obedientia sicut lex requirit. Cum autem talem obedientiam qualem lex requirit nemo præstare possit, ideo subjecit apostolus nos justificari fide, id est, fiducia et obedientia ea quantum quisque præstare potest, et quotidie quam maximum præstare studet, et connititur. Sine operibus legis, id est, etsi interim perfecte totam legem sicut debebat complere nequit;' saith Socinus himself. But, 1. We have herein the whole granted of what we plead for; namely, that it is the moral indispensable law of God that is intended by the apostle ; and that by the works of it no man can be justified, yea, that all the works of it are excluded from our justification ; for it is, saith the apostle,' without works. The works of this law being performed according unto it, will justify them that perform them, as he affirms, chap. ii. 13. and the Scripture elsewhere witnesseth that he that doth them, shall live in them.' But because this can never be done by any sinner, therefore all consideration of them is excluded from our justification. 2. It is a wild imagination that the dispute of the apostle is to this purpose; that the perfect works of the law will not justify us, but imperfect works, which answer not the law, will do so. 3. Granting the law intended to be the moral law of God, the law of our creation, there is no such distinction intimated in the least by the apostle, that we are not justified by the perfect works of it which we cannot perform, but by some imperfect works that we can perform, and labour so to do. Nothing is more foreign unto the design and express words of his whole discourse. 4. The evasion which they betake themselves unto, that the apostle opposeth justification by faith unto that of works which he excludes, is altogether vain in this sense.
For they would have this faith to be our obedience unto the divine commands in that imperfect manner which we can attain unto. For when the apostle hath excluded all such justification by the law and the works thereof, he doth not advance in opposition unto them and in their room, our own faith and obedience; but adds,“ being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ : whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.'