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is, by imputation, and in God's esteem, it must be by the imputation of guilt. For none can in any sense be denominated a sinner from mere suffering. None indeed do say, thatChrist was made sin by the imputation of punishment unto him, which hath no proper sense; but they say, sin was imputed unto him as unto punishment, which is indeed to say, that the guilt of sin was imputed unto him. For the guilt of sin, is its respect unto punishment, or the obligation unto punishment which attends it. And that any one should be punished for sin without the imputation of the guilt of it unto him, is impossible ; and were it possible, would be unjust. For it is not possible that any one should be punished for sin properly, and yet that sin be none of his. And if it be not his by inhesion, it can be his no other way but by imputation. One may suffer on the occasion of the sin of another, that is, no way made his, but he cannot be punished for it ; for punishment is the recompense of sin on the account of its guilt. And were it possible, where is the righteousness of punishing any one for that which no way belongs unto him? Besides, imputation of sin, and punishing, are distinct acts, the one preceding the other, and therefore, the former is only of the guilt of sin; wherefore, the Lord Christ was made sin for us, by the imputation of the guilt of our sins unto him.
But it is said, that if the guilt of sin were imputed unto Christ, he is excluded from all possibility of merit, for he suffered but what was his due ; and so the whole work of Christ's satisfaction is subverted. This must be so, if God in judgment did reckon him guilty and a sinner. But there is an ambiguity in these expressions. If it be meant that God in judgment did reckon him guilty and a sinner inherently in his own person, no such thing is intended. But God laid all our sins on him, and in judgment spared him not, as unto what was due unto them. And so he suffered not what was his due upon his own account, but what was due unto our sin, which is impiety to deny; for if it were not so, he died in vain, and we are still in our sins. And as his satisfaction consists herein, nor could be without it, so doth it not in the least derogate from his merit. For supposing the infinite dignity of his person, and his voluntary susception of our sin to answer for it, which altered not his state and condition, his obedience therein was highly meritorious.
In answer hereunto, and by virtue hereof, we are made 'the righteousness of God in him.' This was the end of his being made sin for us. And by whom are we so made ? It is God himself, for it is God that justifieth ;' Rom. viii. 33. It is God who “imputeth righteousness ;' chap. iv. 6. Wherefore it is the act of God in our justification that is intended. And to be made the righteousness of God, is to be made righteous before God, though emphatically expressed by the abstract for the concrete, to answer what was said before of Christ being made sin for us. To be made the righteousness of God, is to be justified; and to be made it so in him, as he was made sin for us, is to be justified by the imputation of his righteousness unto us, as our sin was imputed unto him.
No man can assign any other way whereby he was made sin, especially his being made so by God, but by God's laying all our iniquities upon him, that is, imputing our sin unto him. How then are we made the righteousness of God in him? By the infusion of a habit of grace, say the Papists generally; then by the rule of the antithesis, he must be made sin for us, by the infusion of a habit of sin, which would be a blasphemous imagination. By his meriting, procuring, and purchasing righteousness for us, say others : so possibly we might be made righteous by him; but so we cannot be made righteous in him. This can only be by his righteousness, as we are in him, or united unto him. To be righteous in him is to be righteous with his righteousness, as we are one mystical person with him. Wherefore,
To be made the righteousness of God in Christ as he was made sin for us, and because he was so, can be no other but to be made righteous by the imputation of his righteousness unto us, as we are in him or united unto him. All other expositions of these words are both jejune and forced, leading the mind from the first, plain, obvious sense of them.
Bellarmine excepts unto this interpretation, and it is his first argument against the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, lib. ii. cap. 7, De Justificatione. 'Quinto refellitur
quoniam si vere nobis imputetur justitia Christi ut per eam justi habeamur ac censeremur, ac si proprie nostra esset intrinseca formalisque justitia, profecto non minus justi haberi et censeri deberemus quam ipse Christus : proinde deberemus dici atque haberi redemptores, et salvatores mundi, quod est absurdissimum.' So full an answer hath been returned hereunto, and that so frequently, by Protestant divines, as that I would not have mentioned it, but that divers among ourselves are pleased to borrow it from him, and make use of it. For,' say they, ‘if the righteousness of Christ be imputed unto us so as thereby to be made ours, then are we as righteous as Christ himself, because we are righteous with his righteousness.' Ans. 1. These things are plainly affirmed in the Scripture, that as unto ourselves, and in ourselves,' we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy rags ;' Isa. Ixiv. 6. on the one hand, and that, 'in the Lord we have righteousness and strength, in the Lord we are justified and do glory;' Isa. xlv. 24, 25. on the other, that if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves;' and yet that we are the righteousness of God in Christ. Wherefore these things are consistent, whatever cavils the wit of men can raise against them; and so they must be esteemed, unless we will comply with Socinus's role of interpretation; namely, that where any thing seems repugnant unto our reason, though it be never so expressly affirmed in the Scripture, we are not to admit of it, but find out some interpretation though never so forced, to bring the sense of the words unto our reason. Wherefore, 2. Notwithstanding the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto us, and our being made righteous therewith, we are sinners in ourselves (the Lord knows greatly so, the best of us), and so cannot be said to be as righteous as Christ, but only to be made righteous in him who are sinners in ourselves. 3. To say, that we are as righteous as Christ, is to make a comparison between the personal righteousness of Christ, and our personal righteousness, if the comparison be of things of the same kind. But this is foolish and impious; for notwithstanding all our personal righteousness, we are sinful, he knew no sin. And if the comparison be between Christ's personal inherent righteousness, and righteousness imputed unto us, inhesion and imputation being things of diverse kinds, it is fond and of no consequence. Christ was actively righteous, we are passively so. When our sin was imputed unto him, he did not thereby become a sinner as we are, actively and inherently a sinner, but passively only, and in God's estimation. As he was made sin, yet knew no sin, so we are made righteous, yet are sinful in ourselves. 4. The righteousness of Christ as it was his personally, was the righteousness of the Son of God; in which respect it had in itself an infinite perfection and value; but it is imputed unto us only with respect unto our personal want, not as it was satisfactory for all; but as our souls stand in need of it, and are made partakers of it. There is therefore no ground for any such comparison. 5. As unto what is added by Bellarmine, that we may hereon be said to be redeemers and saviours of the world, the absurdity of the assertion falls upon himself, we are not concerned in it. For he affirms directly, lib. i. De Purgator. cap. 14. That'a man may be rightly called his own redeemer and saviour,' which he endeavours to prove from Dan. iv. And some of his church affirms that the saints may be called the redeemers of others, though improperly. But we are not concerned in these things; seeing from the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, it follows only that those unto whom it is imputed are redeemed and saved, not at all that they are redeemers and saviours. It belongs also unto the vindication of this testimony, to shew the vanity of his seventh argument in the same case, because that also is made use of by some among ourselves, and it is this : If by the righteousness of Christ imputed unto us, we may be truly said to be righteous and the sons of God, then may Christ by the imputation of our unrighteousness be said to be a sinner and a child of the devil.' Ans. 1. That which the Scripture affirms concerning the imputation of our sins unto Christ is, that he was made sin for us. This the Greek expositors, Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Oecumenius, with many others, take for a sinner. But all affirm, that denomination to be taken from imputation only; he had sin imputed unto him, and underwent the punishment due unto it, as we have righteousness imputed unto us, and enjoy the benefit of it. 2. The imputation of sin unto Christ, did not carry along with it any thing of the pollution or filth of
sin to be communicated unto him by transfusion, a thing impossible; so that no denomination can thence arise which should include in it, any respect unto them; a thought hereof is impious and dishonourable unto the Son of God. But his being made sin through the imputation of the guilt of sin, is his honour and glory. 3. The imputation of the sin of fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, &c. such as the Corinthians were before their conversion unto Christ, doth not on any ground bring him under a denomination from those sins. For they were so in themselves actively, inherently, subjectively, and thence were so called. But that he who knew no sin, voluntarily taking on him to answer for the guilt of those sins, which in him was an act of righteousness and the highest obedience unto God, should be said to be an idolater, &c. is a fond imagination. The denomination of a sinner from sin inherent, actually committed, defiling the soul, is a reproach, and significative of the utmost unworthiness; but even the denomination of a sinner, by the imputation of sin, without the least personal guilt or defilement, being undergone by him unto whom it is imputed, in an act of the highest obedience, and tending unto the greatest glory of God, is highly honourable and glorious. But, 4. The imputation of sin unto Christ, was antecedent unto any real union between him and sinners, whereon he took their sin on him, as he would, and for what ends he would. But the imputation of his righteousness unto believers, is consequential in order of nature unto their union with him, whereby it becomes theirs in a peculiar manner; so as that there is not a parity of reason that he should be esteemed a sinner, as that they should be accounted righteous. And, 5. We acquiesce in this, that on the imputation of sin unto Christ, it is said that God made him to be sin for us, which he could not be, but thereby; and he was so by an act transient in its effects for a time only, that time wherein he underwent the punishment due unto it. But on the imputation of his righteousness unto us, we are made the righteousness of God with an everlasting righteousness that abides ours always. 6. To be a child of the devil by sin, is to do the works of the devil; John viii. 44. But the Lord Christ in taking our sins upon him, when imputed unto him, did the work of God in the highest act of holy