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unto the present argument be disproved by just
JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH,
General considerations previously necessary unto the explanation of the
doctrine of justification,
That we may treat of the doctrine of justification usefully unto its proper ends, which are the glory of God in Christ, with the peace and furtherance of the obedience of believers, some things are previously to be considered, which we must have respect unto in the whole process of our discourse. And among others that might be insisted on to the same purpose, these that ensue are not to be omitted.
The first inquiry in this matter, in a way of duty, is after the proper relief of the conscience of a sinner, pressed and perplexed with a sense of the guilt of sin. For justification is the way and means, whereby, sima, a person doth obtain acceptance before God, with a right and title unto a heavenly inheritance. And nothing is pleadable in this cause, but what a man would speak unto his own conscience in that state, or into the conscience of another, when he is anxious under that inquiry. Wherefore, the person under consideration, that is, who is to be justified, is one who in himself is doeßris, Rom. iv. 5. ungodly; and thereon, ÚTÓỒIKOS to Ow, chap. iii. 19. guilty before God;' that is, obnoxious, subject, liable, ta dikatómari tou sou, chap. i. 32. to the righteous sentential judgment of God; that he who committeth sin,' who is any way guilty of it, is 'worthy of death.' Hereupon such a person finds himself úmò katápav, Gal. iii. 10. under the curse,' and 'the wrath of God' therein abiding on him ;' John iii. 18. 36. In this condition he is ávarodóyntos; without plea, without excuse, by any thing in and from himself, for his own relief; his mouth is stopped;' Rom. iii. 19. For he is in the judgment of God
declared in the Scripture συγκληθείς υφ' αμαρτίαν, Gal. ii. 22. every way 'shut up under sin' and all the consequents of it. Many evils in this condition are men subject unto, which may be reduced unto those two of our first parents, wherein they were represented. For first, they thought foolishly to hide themselves from God; and then more foolishly would have charged him as the cause of their sin. And such naturally are the thoughts of men under their convictions. But whoever is the subject of the justification inquired after, is by various means brought into his apprehensions, who cried, Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?
2. With respect unto this state and condition of men, or men in this state and condition, the inquiry is, what that is, upon the account whereof, God pardoneth all their sins, receiveth them into his favour, declareth or pronounceth them righteous, and acquitted from all guilt, removes the curse, and turneth away all his wrath from them, giving them right and title unto a blessed immortality or life eternal. This is that alone wherein the consciences of sinners in this estate are concerned. Nor do they inquire after any thing, but what they may have to oppose unto, or answer, the justice of God in the commands and curse of the law, and what they may betake themselves unto, for the obtaining acceptance with him unto life and salvation.
That the apostle doth thus and no otherwise state this whole matter, and in an answer unto this inquiry, declare the nature of justification and all the causes of it, in the third and fourth chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, and elsewhere, shall be afterward declared and proved. And we shall also manifest that the apostle James, in the second chapter of his Epistle, doth not speak unto this inquiry, nor give an answer unto it; but it is of justification in another sense, and to another purpose whereof he treateth. And whereas we cannot either safely or usefully treat of this doctrine, but with respect unto the same ends for which it is declared, and whereunto it is applied, in the Scripture, we should not, by any pretences, be turned aside from attending unto this case and its resolution, in all our discourses on this subject. For it is the direction, satisfaction, and peace of the consciences of men, and not the curiosity of notions or subtlety of disputations, which it is our duty to design.
And therefore I shall, as much as I possibly may, avoid all those philosophical terms and distinctions wherewith this evangelical doctrine hath been perplexed rather than illustrated. For more weight is to be put on the steady guidance of the mind and conscience of one believer, really exercised about the foundation of his peace and acceptance with God, than on the confutation of ten wrangling disputers.
3. Now the inquiry, on what account, or for what cause and reason a man may be so acquitted or discharged of sin, and accepted with God as before declared, doth necessarily issue in this; whether it be any thing in ourselves, as our faith, and repentance, the renovation of our natures, inherent habits of grace, and actual works of righteousness which we have done, or may do; or whether it be the obedience, righteousness, satisfaction, and merit of the Son of God our Mediator and surety of the covenant, imputed unto us. One of these it must be, namely, something that is our own, which, whatever may be the influence of the grace of God unto it, or causality of it, because wrought in and by us, is inherently our own in a proper sense; or something, which being not our own, not inherent in us, not wrought by us, is yet imputed unto us, for the pardon of our sins, and the acceptation of our persons as righteous; or the making of us righteous in the sight of God. Neither are these things capable of mixture or composition ; Rom. xi. 6. Which of these it is the duty, wisdom, and safety of a convinced sinner to rely upon, and trust unto, in his appearance before God, is the sum of our present inquiry.
4. The way whereby sinners do or ought to betake themselves unto this relief, on supposition that it is the righteousness of Christ, and how they come to be partakers of, or interested in, that which is not inherently their own, unto as good benefit and as much advantage as if it were their own, is of a distinct consideration. And as this also is clearly determined in the Scripture, so it is acknowledged in the experience of all them that do truly believe. Neither are we in this matter much to regard the senses or arguings of men, who were never thoroughly convinced of sin, nor have ever in their own persons 'fled for refuge unto the hope set before them.'
may get out of it themselves. And in this posture they oftentimes utterly forget the business which they are about, especially in this matter of justification; namely, how a guilty sinner may come to obtain favour and acceptance with God. And not only so, but I doubt they oftentimes dispute themselves beyond what they can well abide by, when they return home unto a sedate meditation of the state of things between God and their souls. And I cannot much value their notions and sentiments of this matter, who object and answer themselves out of a sense of their own appearance before God, much less of theirs who evidence an open inconformity unto the grace and truth of this doctrine in their hearts and lives.
9. Wherefore, we do but trouble the faith of Christians and the peace of the true church of God, whilst we dispute about expressions, terms, and notions, when the substance of the doctrine intended, may be declared and believed, without the knowledge, understanding, or use of any of them. Such are those in whose subtle management the captious art of wrangling doth principally consist. A diligent attendance unto the revelation made hereof in the Scripture, and an examination of our own experience thereby, is the sum of what is required of us for the right understanding of the truth herein. And every true believer who is taught of God, knows how to put his whole trust in Christ alone, and the grace of God by him, for mercy, righteousness, and glory, and not at all concern himself with those loads of thorns and briers, which under the names of definitions, distinctions, accurate notions, in a number of exotic, pedagogical and philosophical terms, some pretend to accommodate them withal.
10. The Holy Ghost, in expressing the most eminent acts in our justification, especially as unto our believing, or the acting of that faith whereby we are justified, is pleased to make use of many metaphorical expressions. For any to use them now in the same way, and to the same purpose, is esteemed rude, undisciplinary, and even ridiculous ; but on what grounds? He that shall deny, that there is more spiritual sense and experience conveyed by them into the hearts and minds of believers (which is the life and soul of teaching things practical), than in the most accurate philosophi