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Being justified Swpeav, so the LXX. render the Hebrew particle ; without price,' without merit, without cause; and sometimes it is used for without end,' that is, what is done in vain; as dopeàv is used by the apostle, Gal. ii. 21. without price or reward, Gen. xxix. 15. Exod. xxi. 22. 2 Kings 24, 25. without cause, or merit, or any means of procurement; 1 Sam. xix. 5. 2 Sam. xxiv. 24. Psal. lxix. 4. cii. In this sense it is rendered by Swpeàv, John xv. 25. The design of the word is to exclude all consideration of any thing in us that should be the cause or condition of our justification. Xápis, 'favour,' absolutely considered, may have respect unto somewhat in him towards whom it is shewed; so it is said that Joseph found grace or favour, xápiv, in the eyes of Potiphar, Gen. xxix. 4. but he found it not Swpeàv, without any consideration or cause; for he saw that the Lord was with him, and made all that he did to prosper in his hand; ver. 3. But no words can be found out to free our justification before God from all respect unto any thing in ourselves, but only what is added expressly as the means of its participation on our part, through faith in his blood, more emphatical than these here used by the apostle ; δωρεὰν τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι, freely by his grace.' And with whom this is not admitted as exclusive of all works or obedience of our own, of all conditions, preparations, and merit, I shall despair of ever expressing my conceptions about it intelligibly unto them.
Having asserted this righteousness of God as the cause and means of our justification before him in opposition unto all righteousness of our own; and declared the cause of the communication of it unto us on the part of God, to be mere free sovereign grace; the means on our part, whereby according unto the ordination of God, we do receive, or are really made partakers of that righteousness of God whereon we are justified, is by faith ; διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν αὐτοῦ αἵματι, that is, by faith alone. Nothing else is proposed, nothing else required unto this end. It is replied, that there is no intimation that it is by faith alone, or that faith is asserted to be the means of our justification exclusively unto other graces or works. But there is such an exclusion directly included in the description given of that faith whereby we are justified, with respect unto its especial object by faith in his blood. For faith respecting the blood of Christ, as that
whereby propitiation was made for sin, in which respect alone, the apostle affirms that we are justified through faith, admits of no association with any other graces or duties. Neither is it any part of their nature to fix on the blood of Christ, for justification before God: wherefore they are all here directly excluded. And those who think otherwise, may try how they can introduce them into this context without an evident corrupting of it, and perverting of its sense. Neither will the other evasion yield our adversaries the least relief; namely, that by faith, not the single grace of faith is intended, but the whole obedience required in the new covenant, faith and works together. For as all works whatever, as our works, are excluded in the declaration of the causes of our justification on the part of God Swpeàv ry avrov xáρırı 'freely by his grace,' by virtue of that great rule, Rom. xi. 6. 'If it be of grace, then no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.' So the determination of the object of faith in its act or duty whereon we are justified, namely, the blood of Christ, is absolutely exclusive of all works from an interest in that duty. For whatever looks unto the blood of Christ for justification, is faith, and nothing else. And as for the calling of it a single act or duty, I refer the reader unto our preceding discourse about the nature of justifying faith.
Three things the apostle inferreth from the declaration he had made of the nature and causes of our justification before God, all of them farther illustrating the meaning and sense of his words.
1. That boasting is excluded; ποῦ οὖν ἡ καύχησις; ἐξεKλtion, ver. 27. Apparent it is from hence, and from what he affirms concerning Abraham, chap. iv. 2. that a great part, at least, of the controversy he had about justification, was whether it did admit of any καύχησις or καύχημα in those that were justified. And it is known that the Jews placed all their hopes in those things whereof they thought they could boast, namely, their privileges and their righteousness. But from the declaration made of the nature and causes of justification, the apostle infers that all boasting whatever is utterly shut out of doors; EKλElon Boasting, in our language is the name of a vice; and is never used in a good sense. But καύχησις and καύχημα, the words used by the
apostle, are κ τv μlowv, of an indifferent signification, and as they are applied, may denote a virtue as well as a vice. So they do, Heb. iii. 6.
But always, and in all places, they respect something that is peculiar in or unto them, unto whom they are ascribed. Wherever any thing is ascribed unto one and not unto another, with respect unto any good end, there is fundamentum kavуhσεwę, a 'foundation for boasting.' All this, saith the apostle, in the matter of our justification is utterly excluded. But wherever respect is had unto any condition or qualification in one more than another, especially if it be of works, it giveth a ground of boasting, as he affirms, chap. iv. 2. And it appears from comparing that verse with this, that wherever there is any influence of our own works into our justification, there is a ground of boasting; but in evangelical justification, no such boasting in any kind can be admitted. Wherefore, there is no place for works in our justification before God; for if there were, it is impossible but that a κaúxηuа in one kind or other before God, or man must be admitted.
2. He infers a general conclusion, that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law;' ver. 28. What is meant by the law, and what by the works of the law, in this discourse of the apostle about our justification, hath been before declared. And if we are justified freely through faith in the blood of Christ, that faith, which hath the propitiation of Christ for its especial object, or as it hath so, can take no other grace nor duty into partnership with itself therein; and being so justified as that all such boasting is excluded as necessarily exults from any differencing graces or works in ourselves, wherein all the works of the law are excluded, it is certain that it is by faith alone in Christ that we are justified. All works are not only excluded, but the way unto their return is so shut up by the method of the apostle's discourse, that all the reinforcements which the wit of man can give unto them, will never introduce them into our justification before God.
3. He asserts from hence, that we do not make void the law through grace,' but establish it, ver. 31. which how it is done, and how alone it can be done, hath been before declared.
This is the substance of the resolution the apostle gives unto that great inquiry, how a guilty convinced sinner may come to be justified in the sight of God. The sovereign grace of God, the mediation of Christ, and faith in the blood of Christ, are all that he requireth thereunto. And whatever notions men may have about justification in other respects, it will not be safe to venture on any other resolution of this case and inquiry; nor are we wiser than the Holy Ghost.
Rom. chap. iv. In the beginning of the fourth chapter he confirms what he had before doctrinally declared, by a signal instance; and this was of the justification of Abraham, who being the father of the faithful, his justification is proposed as the pattern of ours, as he expressly declares, ver. 22-24. And some few things I shall observe on this instance in our passage unto the fifth verse; where I shall fix our discourse.
1. He denies that Abraham was justified by works, ver. 2. And, 1. These works were not those of the Jewish law, which alone some pretend to be excluded from our justification in this place. For they were the works he performed some hundreds of years before the giving of the law at Sinai : wherefore they are the works of his moral obedience unto God that are intended. 2. Those works must be understood which Abraham had then, when he is said to be justified in the testimony produced unto that purpose; but the works that Abraham then had, were works of righteousness, performed in faith and love to God, works of new obedience under the conduct and aids of the Spirit of God; works required in the covenant of grace. These are the works excluded from the justification of Abraham. And these things are plain, express, and evident, not to be eluded by any distinctions or evasions. All Abraham's evangelical works are expressly excluded from his justification before God.
2. He proves by the testimony of Scripture, declaring the nature and grounds of the justification of Abraham, that he was justified no other way, but that which he had before declared, namely, by grace through faith in Christ Jesus, ver. 3. Abraham believed God' (in the promise of Christ and his mediation) and it was counted unto him for righ
teousness;' ver. 3. He was justified by faith in the way before described (for other justification by faith there is none) in opposition unto all his own works, and personal righteousness thereby.
3. From the same testimony he declares, how he came to be partaker of that righteousness whereon he was justified before God, which was by imputation; it was counted or imputed unto him for righteousness. The nature of imputation hath been before declared.
4. The especial nature of this imputation, namely, that it is of grace without respect unto works, he asserts and proves, ver. 4. from what is contrary thereunto; 'Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.' Where works are of any consideration, there is no room for that kind of imputation whereby Abraham was jusfied, for it was a gracious imputation, and that is not of what is our own antecedently thereunto, but what is made our own by that imputation. For what is our own cannot be imputed unto us in a way of grace, but only reckoned ours in a way of debt. That which is our own, with all the effects of it, is due unto us. And therefore, they who plead that faith itself is imputed unto us, to give some countenance unto an imputation of grace, do say it is imputed not for what it is, for then it would be reckoned of debt, but for what it is not. So Socinus, 'Cum fides imputatur nobis pro justitia, ideo imputatur, quia nec ipsa fides justitia est, nec vere in se eam continet;' De Servat. part. 4. cap. 2. Which kind of imputation being indeed only a false imagination, we have before disproved. But all works are inconsistent with that imputation whereby Abraham was justified. It is otherwise with him that worketh, so as thereon to be justified, than it was with him. Yea, say some, all works that are meritorious, that are performed with an opinion of merit, that make the reward to be of debt, are excluded, but other works are not. This distinction is not learned from the apostle. For according unto him, if this be merit and meritorious, that the reward be reckoned of debt, then all works in justification are so. For without distinction or limitation he affirms, that 'unto him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned of grace, but of debt.' He doth not exclude some sort of works, or works in some sense, be