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I answer, 1. According to some authors or maintainers of this opinion, I see not but that the Lord Christ is as much our evangelical righteousness, as he is our legal. For our legal righteousness he is not, in their judgment, by a proper imputation of his righteousness unto us, but by the communication of the fruits of what he did and suffered for us. And so he is our evangelical righteousness also. For our sanctification is an effect or fruit of what he did and suffered for us ; Eph. v. 25, 26. Tit. ii. 14.
2. None have this evangelical righteousness, but those who are in order of nature at least, justified before they actually have it. For it is that which is required of all that do believe, and are justified thereon. And we need not much inquire how a man is justified, after he is justified.
3. God hath not appointed this personal righteousness in order unto our justification before him in this life, though he have appointed it to evidence our justification before others, and even in his sight, as shall be declared. He accepts of it, approves of it, upon the account of the free jus. tification of the person, in and by whom it is wrought. So he had respect unto Abel and his offering. But we are not acquitted by it from any real charge in the sight of God, nor do receive remission of sins on the account of it. And those who place the whole of justification in the remission of sins, making this personal righteousness the condition of it, as the Socinians do, leave not any place for the righteousness of Christ in our justification.
4. If we are in any sense justified hereby in the sight of God, we have whereof to boast before him. We may not have so absolutely and with respect unto merit, yet we have so comparatively, and in respect of others, who cannot make the same plea for their justification. But all boasting is excluded. And it will not relieve to say, that this personal righteousness, is of the free grace and gift of God unto some, and not unto others ; for we must plead it as our duty, and not as God's grace.
5. Suppose a person freely justified by the grace of God through faith in the blood of Christ, without respect unto any works, obedience, or righteousness of his own: we do freely grant, (1.) That God doth indispensably require personal obedience of him, which may be called his evangelical
righteousness. (2.) That God doth approve of, and accept in Christ this righteousness so performed. (3.) That hereby that faith whereby we are justified is evidenced, proved, manifested, in the sight of God and men. (4.) That this righteousness is pleadable unto an acquitment against any charge from Satan, the world, or our own consciences. (5.) That upon it, we shall be declared righteous at the last day, and without it none shall so be. And if any shall think meet from hence to conclude unto an evangelical justification, or call God's acceptance of our righteousness by that name, I shall by no means contend with them. And wherever this inquiry is made, not how a sinner guilty of death, and obnoxious unto the curse, shall be pardoned, acquitted, and justified, which is by the righteousness of Christ alone imputed unto him; but how a man that professeth evangelical faith, or faith in Christ, shall be tried, judged, and whereon as such he shall be justified, we grant that it is and must be by his own personal sincere obedience.
And these things are spoken, not with a design to contend with any, or to oppose the opinions of any; but only to remove from the principal question in hand, those things which do not belong unto it.
A very few words will also free our inquiry from any concernment, in that which is called sentential justification, at the day of judgment. For of what nature soever it be, the person concerning whom that sentence is pronounced, was (1.) actually and completely justified before God in this world; (2.) make partaker of all the benefits of that justification, even unto a blessed resurrection in glory; (it is raised in glory;') 1 Cor. xv. (3.) The souls of the most will long before have enjoyed a blessed rest with God, absolutely discharged and acquitted from all their labours, and all their sins; there remains nothing but an actual admission of the whole person into eternal glory. Wherefore this judgment can be no more but declaratory unto the glory of God, and the everlasting refreshment of them that have believed. And without reducing of it unto a new justification, as it is nowhere called in the Scripture; the ends of that solemn judgment, in the manifestation of the wisdom and righteousness of God, in appointing the way of salvation by Christ, as well as in giving of the law; the public con
viction of them, by whom the law hath been transgressed and the gospel despised; the vindication of the righteousness, power, and wisdom of God in the rule of the world by his providence, wherein for the most part, his paths unto all in this life are in the deep, and his footsteps are not known; the glory and honour of Jesus Christ, triumphing over all hisenemies, then fully made his footstool ;' and the glorious exaltation of grace in all that do believe, with sundry other things of an alike tendency unto the ultimate manifestation of divine glory in the creation and guidance of all things, are sufficiently manifest.
And hence it appears, how little force there is in that argument which some pretend to be of so great weight in this cause. Aş every one (they say) shall be judged of God at the last day, in the same way and manner, or on the same grounds, is he justified of God in this life. But by works and not by faith alone, every one shall be judged at the last day; wherefore by works and not by faith alone every one is justified before God in this life. For,
1. It is nowhere said that we shall be judged at the last day, ‘ex operibus;' but only that God will render unto men 'secundum opera.' But God doth not justify any in this life ' secundum opera;' being justified freely by his grace, and, not according to the works of righteousness which we have done. And we are every where said to be justified in this life,' ex fide, per fidem,' but nowhere 'propter fidem;' or that God justifieth us 'secundum fidem,' by faith ; but not for our faith, nor according unto our faith. And we are not to depart from the expressions of the Scripture where such a difference is constantly observed.
2. It is somewhat strange that a man should be judged at the last day, and justified in this life, just in the same way and manner, that is with respect unto faith and works, when the Scripture doth constantly ascribe our justification before God unto faith without works; and the judgment at the last day is said to be according unto works, without any mention of faith.
3. If justification and eternal judgment proceed absolutely on the same grounds, reasons, and causes, then if men had not done what they shall be condemned for doing at the last day, they should have been justified in this life. But many shall be condemned only for sins against the light of nature, Rom. ii. 12. as never having the written law or gospel made known unto them. Wherefore unto such persons, to abstain from sins against the light of nature, would be sufficient unto their justification, without any knowledge of Christ or the gospel.
4. This proposition, that God pardons men their sins, gives them the adoption of children with a right unto the heavenly inheritance according to their works; is not only foreign to the gospel, but contradictory unto it, and destructive of it, as contrary unto all express testimonies of the Scripture, both in the Old Testament and the New, where these things are spoken of. But that God judgeth all men, and rendereth unto all men at the last judgment according unto their works, is true and affirmed in the Scripture.
5. In our justification in this life by faith, Christ is considered as our propitiation and advocate, as he who hath made atonement for sin, and brought in everlasting righte
But at the last day, and in the last judgment, he is considered only as the judge.
6. The end of God in our justification is the glory of
grace; Eph. i. 6. But the end of God in the last judgment is the glory of his remunerative righteousness; 2 Tim. iv. 8.
7. The representation that is made of the final judgment, Matt. vii. and xxv. is only of the visible church. And therein the plea of faith as to the profession of it is common unto all, and is equally made by all. Upon that plea of faith, it is put unto the trial whether it were sincere true faith or no, or only that which was dead and barren. And this trial is made solely by the fruits and effects of it, and otherwise in the public declaration of things unto all, it cannot be made. Otherwise the faith whereby we are justified comes not into judgment at the last day. See John v. 24. with Mark xvi. 16.
Imputation, and the nature of it ; with the imputation of the
righteousness of Christ in particular. The first express record of the justification of any sinner is of Abraham. Others were justified before him from the beginning, and there is that affirmed of them, which sufficiently evidenceth them so to have been. But this prerogative was reserved for the father of the faithful, that his justification and the express way and manner of it, should be first entered on the sacred record. So it is Gen. xv. 6.
He believed in the Lord, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. navn it was 'accounted' unto him, or imputed’unto him for righteousness. 'Eloyío In, it was 'counted, reckoned, imputed. And it was 'not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed unto him, but for us also unto whom it shall be imputed if we believe ;' Rom. iv. 23, 24. Wherefore the first express declaration of the nature of justification in the Scripture, affirms it to be by imputation; the imputation of somewhat unto righteousness. And this done in that place and instance, which is recorded on purpose, as the precedent and example of all those that shall be justified. As he was justified so are we, and no otherwise.
Under the New Testament there was a necessity of a more full and clear declaration of the doctrine of it. For it is among the first and most principal parts of that heavenly mystery of truth which was to be brought to light by the gospel. And besides there was from the first a strong and dangerous opposition made unto it. For this matter of justification, the doctrine of it, and what necessarily belongs thereunto, was that whereon the Jewish church broke off from God, refused Christ and the gospel, perishing in their sins"; as is expressly declared, Rom. ix. 31. x. 3, 4. And in like manner a dislike of it, an opposition unto it, ever was, and ever will be, a principle and cause of the apostacy of any professing church, from Christ and the gospel, that falls under the power and deceit of them; as it fell out afterward in the churches of the Galatians. But in this state