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and to what purpose should the apostle exclude evil works and hypocritical, from our justification? Whoever imagined that any could be justified with respect unto them? There might have been some pretence for this gloss, had the apostle said his own works; but whereas he rejects his own righteousness, to restrain it unto such works as are not righteous, as will denominate none righteous, as are no righteousness at all, is most absurd. 3. Works wrought in faith, if applied unto our justification, do give occasion unto, or include boasting, more than any others, as being better and more praiseworthy than they. 4. The apostle elsewhere excludes from justification the works that Abraham had done when he had been a believer many years; and the works of David when he described the blessedness of a man by the forgiveness of sins. 5. The state of the question which he handles in his Epistle unto the Galatians, was expressly about the works of them that did believe. For he doth not dispute against the Jews, who would not be pressed in the least with his arguments, namely, that if the inheritance were by the law, then the promise was of none effect; and if righteousness were by the law, then did Christ die in vain for these things they would readily grant. But he speaks unto them that were believers, with respect unto those works which they would have joined with Christ and the gospel, in order unto justification. 6. If this were the mind of the apostle, that he would exclude one sort of works, and assert the necessity of another unto the same end, why did he not once say so, especially considering how necessary it was that so he should do, to answer those objections against his doctrine which he himself takes notice of, and returns answer unto on other grounds, without the least intimation of any such distinction.
Bellarmine considereth this testimony in three places, lib. i. cap. 18. lib. i. cap. 19. lib. v. cap. 5. De Justificat. And he returns three answers unto it, which contain the substance of all that is pleaded by others unto the same purpose. 1. He saith, That the righteousness which is by the law, and which is opposed unto the righteousness which is by faith, is not the righteousness written in the law, or which the law requires, but a righteousness wrought without the aid of grace, by the knowledge of the law alone.' 2. That
the righteousness which is by the faith of Christ, are 'opera nostra justa facta ex fide,' our own righteous works wrought in faith, which others call our evangelical works.' 3. That it is blasphemous to call the duties of inherent righteousness nuíav Kaì σKúẞaλa loss and dung.' But he labours in the fire with all his sophistry. For as to the first, 1. That by the righteousness which is by the law, the righteousness which the law requires, is not intended, is a bold assertion, and expressly contradictory unto the apostle, Rom. ix. 31. x. 5. In both places he declares the righteousness of the law to be the righteousness that the law requires. 2. The works which he excludes, he calls 'the works of righteousness that we have done,' Tit. iii. 5. which are the works that the law requires. Unto the second, I say, 1. That the substance of it is, that the apostle should profess that I desire to be found in Christ, not having my own righteousness, but having my own righteousness;' for evangelical inherent righteousness was properly his own. And I am sorry that some should apprehend that the apostle in these words did desire to be found in his own righteousness in the presence of God, in order unto his justification. For nothing can be more contrary, not only unto the perpetual tenor and design of all his discourses on this subject, but also unto the testimony of all other holy men in the Scripture, to the same purpose, as we have proved before. And I suppose there are very few true believers at present, whom they will find to comply and join with them in this desire of being found in their own personal evangelical righteousness, or the works of righteousness which they have done, in their trial before God, as unto their justification. We should do well to read our own hearts, as well as the books of others in this matter. 2. The righteousness which is of God by faith,' is not our own obedience or righteousness, but that which is opposed unto it: that which God imputes unto us, Rom. iv. 6. That which we receive by way of gift, chap. v. 17. 3. That by the righteousness which is by the faith of Christ Jesus our own inherent righteousness is not intended, is evident from hence, that the apostle excludes all his own righteousness, as, and when he was found in Christ, that is, whatever he had done as a believer. And if there be not an opposition in these words, between a righ
and to w and hypo that any mighth stle sai righteo righteo
, and that which is not our own, I it can be expressed. Unto the Both not, nor do we say that he ...ceousness dung, but only that he eth not account it so absolutely, rom, but only in comparison with esteem it so in itself, but only as 1 respect unto one especial ei ---- Sefore God. 4. The prophet Isanh. rms our righteousness filthy rags is an expression of as much
works are excluded as meritorious of vation, but not as the condition of ear e God. But, 1. Whatever the apostle exsolutely, and with all respects, because geise in opposition unto it. 2. There Any such distinction in this place: for quires unto our justification is, 1. That
30t in ourselves. 2. That we have 1 led, not our own. 3. That we be Hogteousness by faith, which is the
upon them, unless they had received some new enforcement, which of late they have not done. That which for the most part we have now to do withal, are rather sophistical cavils from supposed absurd consequences, than real theological arguments. And some of those who would walk with most wariness between the imputation of the righteousness of Christ and justification by our own works, either are in such a slippery place, that they seem sometimes to be on the one side, sometimes on the other, or else to express themselves with so much caution as it is very difficult to apprehend their minds. I shall not therefore for the future dare to say, that this or that is any man's opinion, though it appear unto me so to be as clear and evident as words can express it, but that this or that opinion, let it be maintained by whom it will, I approve or disapprove, this I shall dare to say. And I will say also, that the declination that hath been from the common doctrine of justification before God, on the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, doth daily proceed towards a direct assertion of justification by works. Nor indeed hath it where to rest, until it comes unto that bottom. And this is more clearly seen in the objections which they make against the truth, than in what they plead in defence of their own opinions. For herein they speak as yet warily, and with a pretence of accuracy in avoiding extremes: but in the other, or their objections, they make use of none but what are easily resolved into a supposition of justification by works in the grossest sense of it. To insist on all particulars were endless, and as was said, most of those of any importance have already occasionally been spoken unto. There are therefore only two things which are generally pleaded by all sorts of persons, Papists, Socinians, and others, with whom here we have to do, that I shall take notice of. The first and fountain of all other is, that the doctrine of justification by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ doth render our personal righteousness needless, and overthrows all necessity of a holy life. The other is, that the apostle James, in his Epistle, doth plainly ascribe our justification unto works, and what he affirms there, is inconsistent with that sense of those many other testimonies of Scripture which we plead for.
For the first of these, although those who oppose the
teousness that is our own, and that which is not our own, I know not in what words it can be expressed. Unto the third I say, 1. The apostle doth not, nor do we say that he doth, call our inherent righteousness dung, but only that he accounts it so. 2. He doth not account it so absolutely, which he is most remote from, but only in comparison with Christ. 3. He doth not esteem it so in itself, but only as unto his trust in it, with respect unto one especial end, namely, our justification before God. 4. The prophet Isaiah, in the same respect, terms all our righteousness filthy rags, chap. lxiv. 6. Andy is an expression of as much contempt, as σκύβαλα.
5. Some say all works are excluded as meritorious of grace, life, and salvation, but not as the condition of our justification before God. But, 1. Whatever the apostle excludes, he doth it absolutely, and with all respects, because he sets up something else in opposition unto it. 2. There is no ground left for any such distinction in this place: for all that the apostle requires unto our justification is, I. That we be found in Christ, not in ourselves. 2. That we have the righteousness of God, not our own. 3. That we be made partakers of this righteousness by faith, which is the substance of what we plead for.
Objections against the doctrine of justification by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. Personal holiness and obedience not obstructed, but furthered by it.
THAT which remaineth to put an issue to this discourse, is the consideration of some things, that in general are laid in objection against the truth pleaded for. Many things of that nature we have occasionally met withal, and already removed. Yea, the principal of those which at present are most insisted on. The testimonies of Scripture urged by those of the Roman church for justification by works, have all of them so fully and frequently been answered by Protestant divines, that it is altogether needless to insist again