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between Austin and Pelagius afterward. But it hath now passed through so many forms and dresses of words, as that it can scarce be known to be what it was. Many at this day will condemn both Pelagius and the doctrine that he taught, in the words wherein he taught it, and yet embrace and approve of the things themselves which he intended. The introduction of every change in philosophical learning, gives an appearance of a change in the controversies which are managed thereby. But take off the covering of philosophical expressions, distinctions, metaphysical notions, and futilous terms of art, which some of the ancient schoolmen and later disputants have cast upon it, and the difference about grace and nature is amongst us all, the same that it was of old, and as it is allowed by the Socinians.
Thus the apostle, treating of our justification before God, doth it in these terms which are both expressive of the thing itself, and were well understood by them with whom he had to do; such as the Ho.y Spirit in their revelation had consecrated unto their
Thus on the one hand he expressly excludes the law, our own works, our own righteousness from any interest therein; and in opposition unto, and as inconsistent with them in the matter of justification, he ascribes it wholly unto the righteousness of God, righteousness imputed unto us, the obedience of Christ, Christ made righteousness unto us, the blood of Christ as a propitiation, faith, receiving Christ and the atonement. There is no awakened conscience guided by the least beam of spiritual illumination, but in itself, plainly understands these things, and what is intended in them. But through the admission of exotic learning, with philosophical terms and notions, into the way of teaching spiritual things in religion, a new face and appearance is put on the whole matter; and a composition made between those things which the apostle directly opposeth as contrary and inconsistent. Hence are all our discourses about preparations, dispositions, conditions, merits,' de congruo et condigno,' with such a train of distinctions, as that if some bounds be not fixed unto the inventing and coining of them (which being a facile work grows on us every day), we shall not ere long be able to look through them, so as to discover the things intended or rightly to understand one another. For as one said of lies,
so it may be said of arbitrary distinctions, they must be continually new thatched over, or it will rain through. But the best way is to cast off all these coverings, and we shall then quickly see, that the real difference about the justification of a sinner before God is the same and no other, as it was in the days of the apostle Paul between him and the Jews. And all those things which men are pleased now to plead for, with respect unto a causality in our justification before God, under the names of preparations, conditions, dispositions, merit, with respect unto a first or second justification, are as effectually excluded by the apostle, as if he had expressly named them every one.
For in them all, there is a management according unto our conceptions, and the terms of the learning passant in the present age, of the plea for our own personal righteousness which the Jews maintained against the apostle. And the true understanding of what he intends by the law, the works and righteousness thereof, would be sufficient to determine this controversy, but that men are grown very skilful in the art of endless wrangling
The truth which we plead hath two parts. 1. That the righteousness of God imputed to us, unto the justification of life, is the righteousness of Christ, by whose obedience we are made righteous. 2. That it is faith alone, which on our part is required to interest us in that righteousness, or whereby we comply with God's grant and communication of it, or receive it unto our use and benefit. For although this faith is in itself the radical principle of all obedience, and whatever is not so, which cannot, which doth not, on all occasions evidence, prove, shew, or manifest itself by works, is not of the same kind with it, yet as we are justified by it, its act and duty is such, or of that nature, as that no other grace, duty, or work, can be associated with it, or be of any consideration. And both these are evidently confirmed in
that description which is given us in the Scripture of the nature of faith and believing unto the justification of life.
I know that many expressions used in the declaration of the nature and work of faith herein, are metaphorical, at least are generally esteemed so to be. But they are such as the Holy Ghost, in his infinite wisdom, thought meet to make use of, for the instruction and edification of the church. And I cannot but say, that those who understand not how effectually the light of knowledge is communicated unto the minds of them that believe by them, and a sense of the things intended unto their spiritual experience, seem not to have taken a due consideration of them. Neither whatever skill we pretend unto, do we know always what expressions of spiritual things are metaphorical. Those oftentimes may seem so to be, which are most proper. However it is most safe for us to adhere unto the expressions of the Holy Spirit, and not to embrace such senses of things as are inconsistent with them, and opposite unto them. Wherefore,
1. That faith whereby we are justified, is most frequently in the New Testament expressed by receiving. This notion of faith hath been before spoken unto, in our general inquiry into the use of it in our justification. It shall not therefore be here much again insisted on. Two things we may observe concerning it. 1. That it is so expressed with respect unto the whole object of faith, or unto all that doth any way concur unto our justification. For 1. We are said to receive Christ himself. 'Unto as many as have received him, he gave power to become the sons of God ;' John i. 12. ' As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord;' Col. i. 6. In opposition hereunto unbelief is expressed by not receiving of him, John xi. 1. iii. 11. xii. 48. xiv. 17. And it is a receiving of Christ, as he is the Lord our righteousness, as of God he is made righteousness unto us. And as no grace, no duty can have any co-operation with faith herein, this reception of Christ not belonging unto their nature, nor comprised in their exercise ; so it excludes any other righteousness from our justification but that of Christ alone. For we are justified by faith ; faith alone receiveth Christ, and what it receives is the cause of our justification, whereon we become the sons of God. So we receive the atonement, made by the blood of Christ; Rom. v. 11. For God hath set him forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.' And this receiving of the atonement, includeth the soul's approbation of the way of salvation by the blood of Christ, and the appropriation of the atonement made thereby unto our own souls. For thereby also we receive the forgiveness of sins; That they may receive the forgiveness of sin through the faith that is in me;' Acts xxvi. 18. In receiving Christ we receive the atonement, and in the atonement we receive the forgiveness of sins. But moreover, the grace of God, and righteousness itself, as the efficient and material cause of our justification are received also; even the 'abundance of grace, and the gift of righteousness;' Rom. v. 17. So that faith, with the respect unto all the causes of justification, is expressed by receiving. For it also receiveth the promise, the instrumental cause on the part of God thereof; Acts ii. 41. Heb. ix. 15. 2. That the nature of faith and its acting with respect untò all the causes of justification consisting in receiving, that which is the object of it must be offered, tendered, and given unto us, as that which is not our own, but is made our own by that giving and receiving. This is evident in the general nature of receiving. And herein, as was observed, as no other grace or duty can concur with it, so the righteousness whereby we are justified can be none of our own, antecedent unto this reception, nor at any time inherent in us. Hence we argue, That if the work of faith in our justification be receiving of what is freely granted, given, communicated, and imputed unto us, that is, of Christ, of the atonement, of the gift of righteousness, of the forgiveness of sins, then have our other graces, our obedience, duties, works, no influence into our justification, nor are any causes or conditions thereof. For they are neither that which doth receive, nor that which is received, which alone concur thereunto.
2. Faith is expressed by looking. Look unto me and be saved; Isa. xlv. 22. A man shall look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect unto the Holy One of Israel ;' chap. xvii. 1. They shall look on me whom they have pierced ;' Zech. xii. 10. See Psal. cxxiii. 2. The nature hereof is expressed, John iii. 14, 15. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have eternal life.' For so was he to be lifted up on the cross in his death ; John viii. 28. chap. xii. 32. The story is recorded Numb. xxi. 8,9. I suppose none doubt but that the stinging of the people by fiery serpents, and the death that ensued thereon, were types of the guilt of sin, and the sentence of the fiery law thereon. For these things happened unto them in types; 1 Cor. x. 11. When any was so stung or bitten, if he betook himself unto any other remedies, he died and perished. Only they that looked unto the brazen serpent that was lifted up, were healed and lived. For this was the ordinance of God, this way of healing alone had he appointed. And their healing was a type of the pardon of sin with everlasting life. So by their looking, is the nature of faith expressed, as our Saviour plainly expounds it in this place. 'So must the Son of man be lifted up, that he that believeth on him,' that is, as the Israelites looked unto the serpent in the wilderness. And although this expression of the great mystery of the gospel by Christ himself, hath been by some derided, or as they call it exposed, yet is it really as instructive of the nature of faith, justification, and salvation by Christ, as any passage in the Scripture. Now if faith whereby we are justified, and in that exercise of it wherein we are so, be a looking unto Christ, under a sense of the guilt of sin and our lost condition thereby, for all, for our only help and relief, for deliverance, righteousness, and life, then is it therein exclusive of all other graces and duties whatever; for by them we neither look, nor are they the things which we look after. But so is the nature and exercise of faith expressed by the Holy Ghost. And they who do believe, understand his mind. For whatever may be pretended of metaphor in the expression, faith is that act of the soul whereby they who are hopeless, helpless, and lost in themselves, do in a way of expectancy and trust seek for all help and relief in Christ alone, or there is not-truth in it. And this also sufficiently evinceth the nature of our justification by Christ.