AN End to Discord; Wherein is demonstrated That no Doctrinal Controversy remains between the PRESBYTERIAN AND CONGREGATIONAL Ministers, fit to justify longer Divisions.
With a true Account of SOCINIANISM as to the Satisfaction of Christ.
By DANIEL WILLIAMS.
London, Printed for Iohn Lawrence at the Angel, and Tho. Cockeril at the Three Legs in the Poultry. 1699.
EPISTLE TO THE READER.
IF Arguments might induce Christians to Peace, 'twere enough to say, nothing is more expresly required than Christian Concord by our Lord Iesus, or more commended from its heavenly Original and happy Fruits; nor scarce any thing more warned against as ob∣structing the Kingdom of Christ, advantageous to Satan's Interest, destructive to Religion, yea Civil Society, repugnant to the very Design and Spirit of the Gospel, with the mutual useful∣ness of Men, than uncharitable and dividing Contentions be. The only reason that can be suggested to acquit such Contenders from notori∣ous Guilt must be, that it's for the Faith of the Gospel that they contend. But it's worth our serious thoughts, that as even this cannot excuse a rigid, censorious, envenom'd Spirit, or un∣hallowed Methods in our Struggles for Truth; so no other than a direct Opposition to the Essentials of some Fundamental Article can Page iv warrant Divisions, or refusals of Communion on the account of meer difference in the Faith, provided Assent to no real Error is imposed on us as a Term of Union.
It's too obvious to require Proof, that if a direct Opposition to what is not fundamental, or to whatever remotely belongs to all which is so; nay further, if opposing by denied Con∣sequences what is of the Essence of any funda∣mental Article of Faith, be a warrant for Se∣paration of Ministers and Churches from each other, then the instituted Rules of Christian Fellowship do not oblige us: the approved In∣stances of Communion in the New Testament Churches ought to be condemned, and all the Churches of Christ must daily be more and more rended by Non-communion and dividing Ani∣mosities, until the Catholick Church lose all shew of Unity, or be reduced to a single Con∣gregation (and that but for an uncertain mo∣ment) even when vast numbers of Christian Societies proclaim the Advancement of our Saviour's Conquest.
Nor is their Folly less apparent, who for ex∣cuse of this surmise that every Error which they ought to rectify in themselves, and by just methods to reform in others, is a bar to Com∣munion; or yet, that Separation is one of those just Methods in the case fore-mentioned, espe∣cially towards such over whom they pretend to no Authority. O when will Men see that Christ's Royal Prerogative is assumed, when ever other Terms of, or Bars to Communion are invented than what he hath expresly made such, and that in a matter wherein his own Honour and Page v his People's Interest are concerned next to that of Vnion with himself!
But alas! in contempt of Rules so necessary to the Churches Peace, many Ages are filled with Instances of assuming a right to account him for a Heathen who differs but in Trifles, and cannot pronounce their very Phrases, tho scrupled because abused to support an Error, and the Truth designed by them is most expresly owned: a thing so thwarting a Christian Temper, that Athanasius and Bazil profess they would break with none who refused the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, so they would by any words declare their soundness in the Doctrine of the Trinity; and yet that word had been adjusted by not a few particular Au∣thors, but the great Council of Nice, in oppo∣sition to the Heresy of Arius. I scruple not to say, an Antichristian Spirit most effectually ex∣tinguisheth the like Moderation; and such Im∣posers entrusted with the Secular Sword, would use it as they do their Ecclesiastical, however they condemn Severity while themselves are not the Persecutors.
That there have been of late years great Di∣visions among the Dissenters is too publickly know; I had rather share in the Imputation of an Accessory, than perpetuate them by the fullest Vindication, hoping that a calm Season will better fit all of us to reflect, and repent of our Faultiness, especially the Unchristian manage∣ment of our Debates, and for which we have great reason to pray God would not signally con∣tend hereafter.
But blessed be the Name of our God, that e'er we be quite devoured by each other, a fit Page vi occasion is ministred for our healing; and tho self-preservation hath been my work ever since my temperate Confutation of Dr. Crisp, (and then too) none will wonder I take hold of this Opportunity to evidence that further Contests will be inexcusable: nor is it a hard Province when the united Ministers and Congregational Brethren have so far acquitted themselves: The first by sundry former Accounts (and now more enlarged from any word in which I cannot suspect two will differ) of their Vindication from Errors concerning the Satisfaction of Christ, and Justification, which are the only Points objected. The last by their Declaration against Antinomian Erros, for which I am too thankful to remark its Stings; and had it come out before my Postscript, I durst not have represented their Iudgment by the Con∣sequences of their Objections (however natural) as in some few things is done. That the God of Peace would give us Peace, is the unfeigned Prayer of
Thy Servant in the Gospel, and Bro∣ther in the Kingdom and Patience of our Lord Iesus, Daniel Williams.
Note, The Edition of the Works of Socinus, &c. to which I refer, is that printed in Folio at Ireno∣poli, 1656.Page 7
AS the too visible Progress of Antino∣mianism grieved us, and obliged our Defence of the Truth, and a Gospel-Ministry: so we must rejoice in the Congregational Ministers Declaration against Antinomian Errors, well knowing the in∣fected will more regard the Judgment of these Brethren, because of their Agreement with them in matters of Church-Discipline.
We are sorry they were not a little sooner prevailed with to give this Testimony; for then we had not been forced in the Answer to the Report, to hint some of the Reasons indu∣cing us to think many of them espoused, and the generality of them in this City too much countenanced Antinomianism, with its open Abettors. Nor dare we indulge a Temper so devilish, as for Party-sake to repine at these Brethren acquitting themselves from those im∣puted Errors: But on the contrary, we glad∣ly endeavour to procure Peace by this Decla∣ration of theirs; for which desirable end, we shall overlook all the Reflections contained therein against us; and not refuse to acquit our selves once more from all hurtful Errors concerning Christ's Satisfaction, and our Iusti∣fication (altho so fully and often done here∣tofore, Page 8 that our Brethrens Insinuation to the contrary doth not a little surprize us) and, which is principally aimed at, we hope it will appear, that in all that's material, both our Brethren agree with us in our Testimony against Antinomianism; and we agree with them in a disapproval of the other Extreams. To evidence which we shall repeat, 1. Our Testimony against Dr. Crisp's Errors, when so many were indangered by his reprinted Books. 2. Some part of our former Decla∣rations against Popish, Socinian and Arminian Errors, when our Brethren accused us thereof for subscribing the foresaid Testimony against Crispianism. 3. We shall give an account of our Congregational Brethrens Declaration against Antinomian Errors. 4. We shall evi∣dence that this taken together and examined with Candor, ought to be acknowledged a sufficient Vindication of the Approvers there∣of from all hurtful Antinomian Errors. 5. We shall add our further Testimony against Er∣rors about Christ's Satisfaction and Justifi∣cation. If Peace at least must not be allowed us after this, we must bewail a judicial stroke, and expect to be despised by such who per∣ceive our common hurt from these Debates, but have not Judgment to distinguish be∣tween the injured Seekers of Peace, and the injurious Fomenters of Trouble.
The State of Truth and Errors (subscribed by near fifty of us) drawn up and pub∣lished by Mr. Williams, in a Book called, Gospel-Truth stated and vindicated, first Edition; Anno 16. 1692.
Truth 1. IT is certain from God's Decree of Election, that the Elect shall in time be justified, adopted, and saved in the way God hath appointed; and the whole meritorious Cause and Price of Justification, Adoption, and Eternal Life, were perfect, when Christ finished the Work of Satisfacti∣on. Nevertheless, the Elect remain Children of Wrath, and subject to Condemnation, till they are effectually called by the Operation of the Spirit.
Error. The Elect are at no time of their Lives under the Wrath of God, nor are they subject to Condemnation if they should die before they believe; yea, when they are un∣der the Dominion of Sin, and in the Practice of the grossest Villanies, they are as much the Sons of God, and justified, as the very Saints in Glory.
Truth 2. Tho our Sins were imputed to Christ with respect to the Guilt thereof, so that he, by the Father's Appointment, and his own Consent, became obliged, as Media∣tor, Page 10 to bear the Punishments of our Iniquities; and he did bear those Punishments to the full Satisfaction of Iustice, and to our actual Re∣mission when we believe; nevertheless, the Filth of our Sins was not laid upon Christ; nor can he be called the Transgressor, or was he in God's account the Blasphemer, Murde∣rer, &c.
Error. God did not only impute the Guilt, and lay the Punishment of the Sins of the Elect upon Christ; but he laid all the very Sins of the Elect upon Christ, and that, as to their real Filthiness and Loathsomness; yea, so, that Christ was really the Blasphemer, Murderer, and Sinner, and so accounted by the Father.
Truth 3. The Atonement made by Christ, by the Appointment of God, is that for which alone the Elect are pardoned, when it is applied to them. But the Elect are not immediately pardoned upon Christ's being appointed to suffer for them, nor as soon as the Atonement was made; nor is that Act of laying Sins on Christ, God's forgiving Act, by which we are personally discharged.
Error. The very Act of God's laying Sins on Christ upon the Cross, is the very actual discharge of all the Elect from all their Sins.
Truth 4. An Elect Person ceaseth not to be a Sinner upon the laying of our Sins upon Christ; that is, he remains a Sinner, as to the Guilt, till he believes, if Adult. He is a Sin∣ner, as to the Filth of Sin, till he be sancti∣fied. He is a Sinner, as to the charge of the sinful Fact he commits, and that even after Page 11 Pardon and Sanctification: Nevertheless, he is free from the Curse when he is pardoned, and shall be purged from all the Filth of Sin when he is perfect in Holiness. And tho Christ did bear the Punishment of our Ini∣quity, yet it never was Christ's Iniquity, but ours.
Error. The Elect upon the Death of Christ ceased to be Sinners, and ever since their Sins are none of their Sins, but they are the Sins of Christ.
Truth 5. The Obligation of suffering for our Sins was upon Christ, from his under∣taking the Office of a Mediator, to the mo∣ment wherein he finished his satisfactory A∣tonement. The Punishment of our Sins lay upon Christ from the first moment, to the last of his state of Humiliation.
Error. The time when our Sins were laid actually on Christ, was when he was nailed to the Cross, and God actually forsook him; and they continued on him till his Resur∣rection.
Truth 6. The God testified his threatned Indignation against Sin, in the awful Suffer∣ings of Christ's Soul and Body in his Agony, and suspended those delightful Communica∣tions of the Divine Nature to the Human Nature of Christ, as to their wonted De∣grees; yet God was never separated from Christ, much less during his Body's lying in the Grave; neither was the Father ever dis∣pleased with Christ, and far less did he ab∣hor him, because of the Filthiness of Sin upon him.
Page 12Error. Christ was on the account of the Filthiness of Sins, while they lay upon him, separated from God, odious to him, and even the Object of God's Abhorrence, and this to the time of his Resurrection.
Truth 7. The Mediatorial Righteousness of Christ is so imputed to true Believers, as that for the sake thereof they are pardoned and accepted unto Life eternal; it being reckoned to them, and pleadable by them for these Uses, as if they had personally done and suffered what Christ did as Mediator for them, whereby they are delivered from the Curse, and no other Atonement nor meriting Price of saving Benefits can be demanded from them. Nevertheless, this Mediatorial Righteousness is not subjectively in them; nor is there a Change of Person betwixt them and Christ, neither are they as righte∣ous as he; but there remain Spots and Ble∣mishes in them, until Christ by his Spirit per∣fect that Holiness begun in all true Believers, which he will effect before he bring them to Heaven. See the 2d Truth, and note, it is only Dr. Crisp's Change of Person is denied, viz. a perfect Change which makes us as righteous as he, &c. but not Christ's dying in our stead, which in this Book is oft asserted.
Error. Every Believer, or elect Person, is as righteous as Christ, and there is a perfect Change of Person and Condition betwixt Christ and the Elect; he was what we are, viz. as sinful as we; and we are what he was, viz. perfectly holy, and without Spot or Blemish.
Page 13 Truth 8. I shall express it in the words of the Assembly. The Grace of God is mani∣fested in the second Covenant, in that he freely provideth, and offereth to Sinners a Mediator, and Life and Salvation by him, requiring Faith as the Condition to interest them in him; promiseth and giveth his holy Spirit to all his Elect to work in them that Faith, with all other saving Graces; and to enable them unto all Obedience, as the Evidence of the Truth of their Faith and Thankful∣ness to God, and as the way which he hath appointed them to Salvation.
Note, Reader, that these Divines do here join together the Covenant of Redemption with Christ, and the Gospel-Covenant whereby are dispensed to us the Benefits impetrated by Christ; which two distinguished would lead to clearer thoughts.
Error. The Covenant of Grace hath no Condition to be performed on Man's part, tho in the strentgh of Christ: Neither is Faith it self the Condition of this Covenant; but all the saving Benefits of this Covenant, are actually ours before we are born: Nei∣ther are we required so much as to believe, that we may come to have an Interest in the Covenant-Benefits.
Truth 9. I shall express this in the words of the Assembly, and Congregational Elders at the Savoy (Confes. of Faith, ch. 14. 2. & Decla∣rat. ch. 14. a. 2. of saving Faith:) By this Grace, a Christian believeth to be true what∣ever is revealed in the Word, for the Autho∣rity of God speaking therein; and actethPage 14 differently upon that which each particular Passage thereof containeth; yielding Obe∣dience to the Commands, trembling at the Threatnings, and embracing the Promises of God for this Life, and that which is to come. But the principal Acts of saving Faith, are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for Justification, Sanctification, and Eternal Life, by virtue of the Covenant of Grace.
Error. Saving Faith is nothing but our Persuasion, or absolute concluding within our selves, that our Sins are pardoned, and that Christ is ours.
Truth 10. Christ is freely offered to be a Head and Saviour to the vilest Sinners, who will knowingly assent to the Truth of the Gospel, and from a Conviction of their Sin and Misery out of Christ, are humbled, and truly willing to renounce all their Idols and Sins; denying their own carnal Self and Me∣rits, and accept of Christ as offered in the Gospel; relying on him alone for Justifica∣tion, Sanctification, and Eternal Life.
Error. Christ is offered to Blasphemers, Murderers, and the worst of Sinners, that they remaining ignorant, unconvinced, un∣humbled, and resolved in their purpose to continue such, they may be assured they have a full Interest in Christ, and this by only concluding in their own Minds upon this Offer, that Christ is theirs.
Truth 11. Every Man is without Christ, or not united to Christ, until he be effectually called; but when by this Call the Spirit of Page 15 God enclineth and enableth him willingly to accept of Christ as a Head and Saviour, a Man becomes united to him, and Partaker of those Influences and Privileges which are pe∣culiar to the Members of the Lord Jesus.
Error. All the Elect are actually united to Christ, before they have the Spirit of Christ, or at all believe in him, even before they are born; yea, and against their Will.
Truth 12. Tho Faith be no way a meri∣torious Cause of a Sinner's Justification, yet God hath promised to justify all such as truly believe, and requires Faith as an indispensible Qualification in all whom he will justify for Christ's Merits; declaring, that Unbelief shall not only hinder Mens knowing that they are justified, but that it is a bar to any Per∣son's being justified while he continues an Un∣believer.
Error. The whole use of Faith in Justifica∣tion, is only to manifest that we were justified before; and Faith is no way necessary to bring a Sinner into a justified State, nor at all useful to that end.
In a Digression there about Repentance is added.
Truth. Altho neither Faith nor Repentance be any part of the meriting Righteousness for which we are justified, and the Habits of both are wrought at the same time, and in∣cluded in the Regenerating Principle; and there must be an assenting Act of Faith be∣fore there be any exercise of true Repentance: And Repentance as consisting in the fruits Page 16 meet for it, viz. an external Reformation and a fruitful Life, must follow Pardon, as doth also an ingenuous Sorrow for Sin in the sense of Pardon: Nevertheless, Repentance, as it consists in some degree of Humblings and Sorrow from Convictions of our lost State, and the Evil of Sin, with a sincere pur∣pose of Heart to turn from our Sin and Idols to God, is absolutely necessary in order to the forgiveness of Sin.
Error. Our Sins are forgiven before any Repentance; and Believers ought not to com∣plain, or mourn, or sorrow for the Sins they have committed.
Truth 13. Tho neither Holiness, sincere Obedience, or good Works, do make any Atonement for Sin; or are in the least the meritorious Righteousness whereby Salvation is caused, or for which this, or any Blessing becomes due to us as of Debt; yet as the Spirit of Christ freely worketh all Holiness in the Soul, and enableth us to sincere Obe∣dience and good Works; so the Lord Jesus hath of Grace, and for his own Merits pro∣mised to bring to Heaven such as are Par∣takers of true Holiness, perform this sincere Obedience, and do these good Works perse∣veringly, and appoints these as the Way and Means of a Believer's obtaining Salvation, and several other Blessings; requiring these as indispensible Duties and Qualifications of all such whom he will so save and bless, and excluding all that want or neglect them, or live under the Power of what's contrary Page 17 thereto, viz. Profaneness, Rebellion, and utter Unfruitfulness.
Error. Men have nothing to do in order to Salvation, nor is Sanctification a jot the way of any Person to Heaven; nor can the Graces or Duties of Believers, no, nor Faith it self do them the least Good, or prevent the least Evil; nor are they of any use to their Peace or Comfort; yea, tho Christ be explicitely owned, and they be done in the strength of the Spirit of God. And a Believer ought not to think he is more pleasing to God by any Grace he acteth, or Good he doth; nor may Men expect any Good to a Nation by the Hu∣miliation, earnest Prayer, or Reformation of a People.
Truth 14. Tho we ought to intend God's Glory as our supream End in all our Duties, and design therein the expressing our Love and Gratitude to God for his Benefits, with a great regard to publick Good: Yet we also lawfully may, and ought to strive after Grace, grow in it, and perform holy Duties and Services, with an Eye to, and Concern for our own spiritual and eternal Advantage.
Error. No Man ought to propose to himself any Advantage by any Religious Duty he performeth, nor ought he in the least to intend the Profit of his own Soul by any Christian Endeavours; it being vain and unlawful to do any thing with an Eye to our spiritual or eternal Good, tho in Subordination to God's Glory in Christ.
Truth 15. The ordinary way whereby a Man attaineth a well-grounded Assurance, is Page 18 not by immediate objective Revelation, or an inward Voice saying, Thy Sins are for∣given thee: But when the Believer is exa∣mining his Heart and Life by the Word, the holy Spirit enlightens the Mind there to dis∣cern Faith, and Love, and such other Qua∣lifications which the Gospel declareth to be infallible signs of Regeneration: And he adds such Power to the Testimony of Conscience for the Truth and In-being of these Graces, as begets in the Soul a joyful sense of its re∣conciled State; and some comfortable free∣dom from those Fears which accompany a doubting Christian; and according to the Evi∣dence of these Graces, Assurance is ordinarily strong or weak.
Error. Assurance is not attained by the Evidence of Scripture-Marks of Signs of Grace, or by the Spirit's discovering to us that he hath wrought in our Hearts any holy Qualifications: But Assurance comes only by an inward Voice of the Spirit saying, Thy Sins are forgiven thee, and our believing thereupon that our Sins are forgiven.
Truth 16. The Sins of Believers have the loathsomness of Sin adhering to them, which God seeth, and accounteth the Committers guilty thereby: and they ought to charge themselves therewith, so as to stir up them∣selves to Repentance, and renew their Actings of Faith on Christ for Forgiveness. Never∣theless, they ought not thereby to fear their being out of a justified State, further than their Falls give them just cause of suspecting that Sin hath Dominion over them; and that Page 19 their first believing on Christ was not sin∣cere.
Error. God seeth no Sin in Believers, tho he see the Fact; neither doth He charge them with any Sin; nor ought they to charge themselves with any Sin, nor be at all sad for them; nor confess, repent, or do any thing as a Means of their Pardon; no, nor in order to assuring themselves of Pardon, even when they commit Murder, Adultery, or the grossest Wickedness.
Truth 17. It's true of Believers, that if Sin should have Dominion over them, they would thereby be subject to Condemnation: And tho the Grace of God will prevent the Dominion of Sin in every elect Believer, and so keep them from eternal Death; yet true Believers may by Sin bring great hurt upon themselves in Soul and Body, which they ought to fear; and they may expect a share in National Judgments, according as they have contributed to common Guilt.
Error. The grossest Sins that Believers can commit, cannot do them the least harm; nei∣ther ought they to fear the least hurt by their own Sins, nor by National Sins; yea, tho themselves have had a hand therein.
Truth 18. Tho God is not so angry with his People for their Sins, as to cast them out of his Covenant-favour; yet by their Sins he is so displeased, as for them to correct his Children, tho he speaks Instructions by his Rebukes.
Error. None of the Afflictions of Believers have in them the least of God's Displeasure against their Persons for their Sins.
Page 20Truth 19. Tho the present sincere Holiness of Believers be not perfect, according to the Precepts of the Word; nor valuable by the Sanction of the Law of Innocency; nor any Atonement for our Defects; and we still need Forgiveness and the Merits of Christ, for Acceptance thereof; yet as far as it prevails it's lovely in it self, and pleasing to God, and is not Dung or Filth.
Error. The greatest Holiness in Believers, tho wrought in them by the Holy Ghost, is meer Dung, Rottenness and Filthiness as in them.
Truth 20. Gospel-preaching is when the Messengers of Christ do publish to fallen Sinners the good News of Salvation by Christ, to be obtained in the way which he hath appointed in his Word, freely offering Salvation on his Terms, earnestly perswading and commanding Men in the Name of Christ, to comply with those Terms, as ever they would escape the Misery they are under, and possess the Benefits he hath purchased; di∣recting all to look to him for Strength, and acknowledg him as the only Mediator, and his Obedience and Sufferings as the sole Atonement for Sin, and meriting Cause of all Blessings; instructing them in all revealed Truth, and by Gospel-Motives, urging them to obey the whole Will of God, as a Rule of Duty, but especially to be sincere and up∣right, pressing after Perfection.
Error. Gospel-Preaching is to teach Men they were as much pardoned, and as accepta∣ble to God always, as when they are regene∣rate; Page 21 and while they were ungodly, they had the same Interest in God and Christ as when they believe; neither can Sin any way hin∣der their Salvation, or their Peace; nor have they any thing to do to further either of them, Christ having done all for them, and given himself to them, before any holy Qualifica∣tion or Endeavour.
Truth 21. Legal Preaching is to preach the Law as a Covenant of Innocency, or Works; or to preach the Mosaick or Jewish Covenant of Peculiarity: But it is not Legal Preaching, to require and perswade to Faith, Holiness or Duties, by Promises and Threat∣nings, according to the Grace of the Gospel, and direct Men to fear and hope accordingly.
Error. Legal Preaching is to call People to act any Grace, or do any Duty, as a re∣quired Means of Salvation, or inward Peace; or to threaten them with Death, or any Affliction, to cause Fear if they commit the grossest Sins, and backslide, and fall away; or to promise them any Blessing upon their Obedience to the Commandments of Christ, or urge the Threatnings, to perswade Sinners to believe and repent.
A Renunciation of sundry Errors, Anno 1696. A Paper called, The second Paper, 1696. A Proposal made by us, 1697.
ALtho we hoped the Caution used in the foresaid State of Truth and Error, would prevent the Imputation of Socinianism, and other hurtful Errors; yet finding our Bre∣thren dissatisfied, we subscribed with them, Anno 1692. (about seven Months after the State of Truth was published) certain Doctri∣nal Propositions collected out of the Assembly's Confession, which we printed Anno 1693. with this Title, An Agreement in Doctri∣nals, &c. but that being too long to be here inserted, we shall confine our selves to the more material Parts of what further Account we have given of our Judgment concerning the Doctrines of Satisfaction and Iustifica∣tion, which may be seen at large in our Answer to the Report, p. 3, 11, 27, 33, &c.
Anno 1694. In a Paper sent to our Congre∣gational Brethren it's thus declared:
We the united Ministers in and about London, do renounce and testify against these following Opinions.
1. That there is no definite number of Per∣sons elected from all Eternity, whom God Page 23 will by his appointed Means certainly save, and bring to Eternal Life; leaving the rest who fall under a just Condemnation for their Original and Actual Sins, especially for their Neglect and Contempt of the Means of Sal∣vation.
2. That Christ died equally for all Men, not intending the final Salvation of some more than others.
3. That Men have in their own Power, by the use of the natural Faculties of their Rea∣son and Will, unassisted by the special Light and Grace of the Holy Ghost, to perform all that is necessary to Salvation; or that his special efficacious Light and Grace is not ne∣cessary to their Conversion, Perseverance, and final Salvation.
4. That any of them whom God hath fore∣known, predestinated, and called effectually according to the purpose of his Grace, shall fall away either totally, or so as not to be fi∣nally glorified.
5. That Faith, Repentance, a holy Con∣versation, or any Act or Work whatever done by us, or wrought by the Spirit of God in us, are any part of that Righteousness, for the sake of which, or on the account whereof, God doth justify any Man, or entitle him to Eternal Life.
Then follows a Testimony against the other Extreams, viz. Antinomian Errors.
Again, Anno 1696. in a Paper (call'd The second Paper) sent to our Brethren, we thus give our sense.
Page 24 1. Concerning Iustification: That altho the express Word of God doth assert the necessi∣ty of Regeneration to our entring into the Kingdom of God, and require Repentance that our Sins may be blotted out, and Faith in Christ, that we may be justified, and Holi∣ness of Heart and Life, without which we cannot see God; yet that none of these, or any Work done by Men, or wrought by the Spirit of God in them, is, under any Denomination whatsoever, any part of the Righteousness, for the sake, or on the account whereof God doth pardon, justify, or ac∣cept Sinners, or entitle them to Eternal Life, that being only the Righteousness of Christ without them imputed to them, and received by Faith alone.
2. Of a Commutation of Persons between Christ and us: As we are to consider our Lord Jesus Christ in his Obedience and Sufferings, as God and Man, invested with the Office of Mediator; so it is apparent this Commutation of Persons with us was not na∣tural in respect of either Nature, by which his individual Substance should become ours, and ours his; nor moral, in respect of Qua∣lities or Actions, whereby he should become inherently sinful, and we immediately sinless; nor was it any change whereby his Office of Mediator should be transferred on us, but it is to be understood in a legal or judi∣cial sense, as we may call it, viz. He by Agreement between the Father and him, came into our room and stead, not to repent and believe for us, which the Gospel requires Page 25 of us as our Duty, tho he hath undertaken the Elect shall in due time be enabled there∣to, but to answer for our Violation of the Law of Works, he being made Sin for us, that knew no Sin; that we might be made the Righteousness of God in him: 2 Cor. 5. 21.
3. Of God's being pleased or displeased with Christ as standing and suffering in our stead. We judg that God was always pleased with Christ both in his Person, and Execution of all his Offices, which is exprest most parti∣cularly in that of his Priestly, Iohn 10. 17, 18. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my Life; and no otherwise displeased than as having a dispassionate Will to inflict upon him the Punishment of our Sins, which he had undertaken to bear, that God might, without Injury to his Justice or Honour, pardon and save penitent Believers for his Sa∣tisfaction and Intercession founded thereon.
Note, It was declared, that by the words [under any Denomination] we exclude all Righteousness from being meritorious, or atoning, yea, or a procuring Cause of these Benefits; none is at all so but the Righteous∣ness of Christ: But we intended not to ex∣clude what the Gospel requireth in order to our Interest in those Benefits given for the sake of Christ's Righteousness.
We also in 1697, delivered our Iudgment in this Proposal to our Brethren.
1. That Repentance towards God is com∣manded in order to the Remission of Sins. Page 26 2. That Faith in Christ is commanded by the Gospel, in order to the Justification of our Persons before God, for the sake of the alone Righteousness of Christ. 3. That the Word of God requires Perseverance in true Faith and Holiness, that we may be Partakers of the Heavenly Glory. 4. That the Gospel promiseth Pardon through the Blood of Christ to the Penitent, Justification before God to the Believer, and the Heavenly Glory to such as persevere in Faith and Holiness; and also declareth that God will not pardon the Im∣penitent, justify the Unbeliever, nor glorify the Apostate or Unholy. 5. That justifying Faith is not only a Perswasion of the Under∣standing, but also a receiving and resting up∣on Christ alone for Salvation. 6. That by Change of Person, is meant, that whereas we were condemned for our Sins, the Lord Jesus was substituted in our room to bear the Punishment of our Sins for the Satisfaction of Divine Justice, that whoever believes on him may be acquitted and saved; but it is not intended that the Filth of Sin was upon Christ, nor that he was a Criminal in God's account. 7. That by Christ being our Sure∣ty, is meant, that Jesus Christ our Mediator obliged himself to expiate our Sins by his Blood, and to purchase eternal Life for all that believe, and Faith and every saving Grace for the Elect; but it's not intended that we were legally reputed to make Satisfaction, or purchase eternal Life. 8. That by Christ's answering for us the Obligations of the vio∣lated Law of Works, is intended, that where∣as Page 27 the Law obliged us to die for our Sins, Christ became obliged to die in our stead; and whereas we were after we had sinned still obliged to yield perfect Obedience, Christ perfectly obeyed the Law, that upon the account of his Active and Passive Obedience Believers might be forgiven, and entituled to eternal Life; but it is not intended that the sense of the Law of Works should be, that if we, or Christ obey'd, we should live, and if Christ suffered we should not die, tho we sinned; nor that Believers are justified, or to be judged by the Law of Works, but by the Gospel; altho the Righteousness for the sake of which they are justified, be as perfect as that Law of Works required, and far more valuable.
The State of Truth and Error published in the Congregational Ministers Declara∣tion against Antinomian Errors, about December 1698.
Error 1. THat the eternal Decree gives such an Existence to the Justi∣fication of the Elect, as makes their Estate whilst in Unbelief, to be the same as when they do believe, in all respects save only as to the Manifestation; and that there is no other Justification by Faith, but what is in their Consciences.
Page 28Error 2. That the Elect considered as in their natural Estate, or as in the first Adam, are not under the denunciation of Wrath by the Law, as well as other Unbelievers and impenitent Sinners.
Truth 1. That there is a difference be∣tween the state of the Elect whilst in Unbe∣lief and when Believers, besides what is ma∣nifestative to their Consciences, p. 13.
Truth 2. That before they believe they are not personally and actually justified in the Court of Heaven, p. 13. and none may ex∣pect to be pardoned in a state of Unbelief and Impenitence, p. 47.
Error. 3. That pardoned Sin is no Sin, and therefore God cannot see Sin in his People to be displeased with them for their Sins; nor doth God express his Fatherly Displeasure against them by any Afflictions laid upon them.
Truth. That pardoned, yea mortified Sins are truly and properly Sins; and God seeth the Sins of his own People, and is displeased with them for their Sins.
Error 4. That Believers are not bound to confess or mourn over Sin, as committed by them, or pray for pardon of Sin, in making a daily acknowledgment of a need of it, because it was pardoned before committed; and pardoned Sin is no Sin.
Truth. That when Believers do sin, it is their Duty to humble themselves, confess their Sins, and pray for Pardon, p. 19.
Error 5. That Believers ought not to be afraid of committing Sin, because their Sins can do them no hurt.
Page 29Truth. The Sins of Believers do hurt them, and they should be afraid to commit them, seeing they impair their Graces and Comforts, harden their Hearts, wound their Consci∣ences, hurt and scandalize others, grieve God's holy Spirit, expose to his Fatherly Displeasure, and bring temporal Judgments upon them, p. 22.
Error 6. That they must do no good Work or Duty for their own Benefit, or with an Eye to their own Salvation.
Truth. That Believers must do good Works, expecting Blessings in the perfor∣mance thereof, p. 24.
Error 7. Believers not having in themselves an Ability to do good Works, are not bound to perform any good Duty, unless excited thereunto by a special motion of the Spirit.
Truth. Tho Believers Ability to do good Works is not at all in themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ, yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any Duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit, but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the Grace of God that is in them, p. 27.
Error 8. That Sanctification evidenced by the Spirit of God to their Consciences, is not a Sign, Mark, or Evidence of their Justi∣fication; and that Marks and Signs for the trial of a Believer's Faith are of no use: for Faith lying in a full perswasion and assurance that their Persons were actually justified and pardoned in Christ, it is a Sin to question, Whether they do savingly believe or no?
Page 30Truth. Saving Faith lieth not in a full perswasion and assurance that our Sins are actually pardoned; but Marks and Signs for the trial of our spiritual Estate are useful, and to be sought after; and Sanctification evidenced by the Spirit of God to our Con∣sciences is a certain sign and mark of Sancti∣fication, p. 28, 29.
Error 9. That Gospel Ministers are not to preach the Law in its Commands and Curses to convince Men of their need of Christ, nor are Believers obliged to regard the Law as delivered by Moses, nor as externally propounded; nor are they bound when they commit Sin to look to the Law for further Discoveries and Convictions of the remaining Corruptions that are in them, because by the Gospel its Obligations are dissolved.
Truth. That the Law delivered by Moses continues in its Commands and Curses un∣dissolved; and it's still of use to convince of Sin, that we may see a need of Christ, and therefore is to be preached and externally propounded, and we are to look unto it, p. 36. And tho there is no Sin so small but it deserves Damnation, yet there is no Sin so great that it shall bring Damnation to them that truly repent, which makes the constant preaching of Repentance necessary.
Error 10. That Ministers of the Gospel ought not to propound the Offers of Salva∣tion unto all those to whom God calls them to preach, seriously inviting them to improve the Means of Grace that they may be saved, and assuring them in the way of their Mi∣nisterial Page 31 Duty, of the Salvation of all such as believe in Christ, because they want Abi∣lity to close with the Offer, and all shall not be saved.
Truth. That tho Men want Ability to be∣lieve savingly, yet it's the Duty of Gospel-Ministers to make the Offer, and testify unto them that whoever believes and repents shall be saved; and that it's the Peoples Duty to make use of their natural Faculties with such external Means and workings of the Spirit as God affords them, that they may believe, repent and be saved, p. 41, 42.
Error 11. That by God's laying our Sins upon Christ, he became every way as sinful as we, and we every way as righteous as he; and that therefore Persons may expect to be pardoned whilst they continue in a state of Unbelief and Impenitence; and that conti∣nued Repentance and Holiness are not in the nature of the thing, nor, by the Constitu∣tion of the Gospel, necessary to our being possessed of eternal Life.
Truth. Our Sins were not laid upon Christ so as to make him every way as sinful as we, and we are not every way as righteous as Christ; and none may expect to be par∣doned in a state of Unbelief and Impenitence; and continued Repentance and Holiness are necessary to our possession of eternal Life, p. 46, 47, 48.
It's made evident, that this Declaration of our Brethren taken altogether, and ex∣amined with due Charity and Candor, ought to be acknowledged a sufficient Vin∣dication of the Approvers thereof from all hurtful Antinomian Errors.
TO this end, 1. We think that Christian Charity and Candor oblige us to judg of what they have declared by these following Rules, and we expect the same for our selves from them. 1. That the omission of any Points unmentioned is not to be attributed to a mistaken Judgment concerning them, and far less when the things expressed are granted to be Truths or Errors upon a reason that alike infers what is omitted. 2. That the Approvers do truly intend for substance what is declared. 3. That in a Body of Subscri∣bers some few may be more narrow in their Conceptions, and therefore to avoid a Breach, must be accommodated in the phrasing of some Points beyond what the others, if at full liberty, would either need or chuse. 4. If any thing be a little darkly or suspiciously word∣ed in one part, and more expresly and fully in another, the latter must be the Index of their Judgment; upon which account we cite not only their State of Error and Truth, but Page 33 refer to the Pages containing their Expli∣cations, and approved Authorities, some of which will be mentioned afterwards. 5. That they ought not to be charged with the Consequences of any occasional Passages which they disown.
2. These just Rules being admitted, we shall enumerate the hurtful Antinomian Er∣rors, as Antinomianism is described in the last Age (which in many things differs from what was so called at first) and under each refer you to the places (besides the above-mentioned State of Error and Truth) where∣in the Brethren have so laudably vindicated themselves by their Declaration.
The dangerous Parts of Antinomianism are reducible to these general Heads. 1. As it renders the Ministry unapt to its proper Ends. 2. As it tends to Libertinism in Practice. 3. As it hinders a well-grounded Assurance, and encourageth Presumption. 4. As it reproacheth Christ our blessed Re∣deemer. Against each of which our Bre∣thren bear their Testimony.
1. The hurtful Antinomian Errors which render the Ministry unapt to its proper Ends, are, 1. Unduly limiting the Offers of Salva∣tion, and decrying Arguments to excite Sin∣ners to use their Endeavours under the As∣sistance of Gospel Means and common Grace. Against this see Error 10. and from p. 41 to 47. 2. Forbidding and branding as legal the preaching of Duties and Threatnings, and the applying of promised Benefits as Mo∣tives to Faith and other Duties, whereto those Page 34 Benefits are promised. Against which see Error 9. and p. 36, 39. Error 6. and p. 25, 26, 45. 3. Denying that the Elect whilst unconverted, are under the Curse of the Law, and affirming they are united to Christ, and justified before God, and pardoned whilst im∣penitent Infidels. Against which see Errors 1, 2, 11. and p. 12 to 18. and 47, 58.
2. The hurtful Antinomian Errors tending to Libertinism in Practice, besides the Impe∣diments to a Sinner's Conviction and Con∣version under the fore-mentioned Head of the Ministry, are such as these: 1. That God seeth no Sin in his People, accounts them not their Sins but Christ's, and is not displeased with his People, nor afflicts them for their Sins. Against which see Error 3. and p. 19. 2. That Repentance is not necessary to For∣giveness, nor are Believers to mourn for Sin, or to beg Pardon, nor to confess it, unless it be to shew, for Christ's Glory, how many the Sins are which are become his. Against which see Error 4. and p. 19, 20, 21, 47, 58. 3. That their Sins can do Believers no hurt. Against this see Error 5. p. 22, 23. 4. That we ought not to intend our own Benefits by our Duties, neither are bound to perform Duties unless ex∣cited thereto by the Spirit, nor are any Acts of our Obedience rewardable; and that con∣tinued Repentance and Holiness are not by the Constitution of the Gospel necessary to our being possessed of Eternal Life. Against this see Errors 6, 10, 11. and p. 25, 26, 27, 47, 58, 59. 5. That justifying Faith is a Per∣swasion that Christ is mine, and that my Page 35 Sins are pardoned in Christ. Against this see Error 8. and p. 30, 31.
3. The hurtful Antinomian Error which hinders a well-grounded Assurance and Peace, and also encourages Presumption, is, that besides the last description of Faith, we are not to try our State by marks and signs of Sanctification. Against this see Error 8. and p. 32, 33, 34.
4. The hurtful Antinomian Errors re∣proachful to Christ our Redeemer are such as these, that Christ is as sinful as we, and we are as righteous as Christ. Against which see Error 11. p. 48, 57.
If the Reader consult these places, and compare them with our State of Truth and Error in the first Chapter, he cannot but rejoice in our Brethrens Agreement with us in a Testimony against Antinomianism.
SOCINIAN Errors concerning Christ's Satisfaction. Also LIMBORG's, with some other ARMINIANS con∣cerning Christ's Satisfaction. SOCI∣NIAN Errors as to Justification. LIMBORG's, with some other Ar∣minian Errors about Justification. With a state of Truths opposite to each of these, as also to Popish Errors.
FInding our Brethren suggest in the Preface to this Declaration, that after all we have said in Cap. 1 and 2. yet still we ought to do more to discharge our selves from hurtful Errors about Christ's Satisfaction and our Iustification; we shall to promote Peace re∣nounce several more Errors about those two Doctrines wherein we are suspected, and tell them what we think to be Truths.
Error 1. Punitive Justice against Sin is no Property of God, but only an Effect of his Will, and therefore there was no need of any Satisfaction to be made by Christ for Sin; nor is it less than ridiculous to say God was at once just as well as merciful in bringing about our Salvation by Christ: Socin. opera Theol. Tom. 1. Praelect. cap. 16. & Tom. 2. de Servator. par. 1. cap. 1. Prael. cap. 16. Wolzog. in Mat. 19. 28. Crel. Resp. ad Grot. cap. 1.
Page 37Truth. God is essentially just, and so zea∣lous for the Honour of his Law when enacted and his Government, that Sin must not go un∣punished; and therefore if Sinners be saved from the Punishments threatned by the vio∣lated Law for Christ their Mediator's sake, it was necessary that he made Satisfaction to Punitive Justice by enduring the Penal Effects of God's Wrath.
Error 2. Jesus Christ is not the true eter∣nal most High God, of the same Substance, Authority and Power with the Father. Socin. Tom. 2. Respons. ad Iac. Vujeki, cap. 1, &c.
Truth. Jesus Christ is the true eternal most High God, of the same Substance, Autho∣rity and Power with the Father, and in time assumed the Human Nature, and remaineth God-Man for ever more.
Note, This Article is inserted, because the Value of Christ's Obedience and Death, for Satisfaction and Merit, was deprived from the Dignity of Christ's Person as God: And therefore tho the Socinians faintly argue, that if Christ were the eternal God, it would not render his Death a Satisfaction; yet it's evident their great Concern in denying Christ's Satisfaction is to prevent the un∣answerable Argument this would be for his Deity. The like is also to be seen by their Notion of the Lord's-Supper.
Error 3. Christ did not by his Blood acquire or purchase the Gospel-Covenant, nor was his Death an impulsive Cause of God's promising to Men the Blessings of that Covenant; nor did it Page 38 move him to make such Promises: But Christ was only the Mediator, that is, Sponsor of it, who assured Men that God would accom∣plish it, and who in God's Name, and by his Command, performed such things as be∣longed to the confirming and executing of the said Covenant. Socin. Tom. 2. 168, 199. Crell. Vol. 1. p. 612. and Vol. 3. Resp. ad Grot. p. 19, 128, 171. & Vol. 1. 612.
Truth. Christ did not only confirm the Gospel-Covenant to Men, and do such things as belonged to the execution of the Gospel Promises, but God as Governor made those Promises in consideration of the Death of Christ, as what vindicated the Glory of his Government in offering and promising such Blessings to condemned Sinners, altho as our absolute Lord and Proprietor he freely pur∣posed within himself, that those Blessings should be granted in what method he judged fit.
Error 4. Christ was for no other cause a Mediator, nor so call'd, but that he was ap∣pointed by God a middle Person between himself and Men, not that he should appease God towards Men, but that he should de∣clare God already pacified to them, and most evidently confirm the same by himself: And as for Men who were Haters of and Enemies to God, them he was to reconcile to God (i. e. convert) and be our eternal Lawgiver, and faithful Interpreter of the Di∣vine Will to them, by whom they might al∣ways have access to God, and obtain eternal Life. Socin. Tom. 1. 788.
Page 39Truth. Jesus Christ was by Divine Adjust∣ment a middle Person between God and Sinners, and as such laid his hand on both; undertaking to appease God's Wrath, and procure Salvation for us at his hand; and also to make God and the way of Salvation known to us for our Reconciliation and Obe∣dience to God: and by him God still im∣parts his Blessings to us, and admits us free access to himself.
Error 5. Christ is called a Surety as a Sponsor or Messenger on God's part to us, but he promised nothing to God for us. Crell. vol. 1. p. 612.
Truth. Tho Christ was not a joint fede∣rating Party with us in the Covenant of Works, yet he was not only a Surety on God's part to us, but he was a mediating Surety on both parts; and as such he en∣gaged in the Covenant of Redemption to make Atonement for us, and in the Gospel-Covenant, that all true Believers shall perse∣vere to the obtaining of eternal Life.
Error 6. Christ was not an High-Priest while on Earth, nor was his Blood offered by him to God, but it was himself was offered, and that not on the Cross, but when he en∣tred into Heaven; yet the Death of Christ so far belongs to his Priesthood, that he was prepared by his Death to become a High-Priest, and to offer himself a perfect Sacri∣fice for Sin in Heaven, neither of which could be according to the Decree of God, if his Death had not intervened. Crell. vol. 2. Resp. ad Grot. cap. 10. vol. 1. 613. vol. 2. Page 40 par. 1. 162. Socin. Tom. 1. Praelect. Theol. cap. 23.
Truth. Christ was an High-Priest while he was on Earth, and as such upon the Cross offered up himself by his bloody Death a perfect Sacrifice, whereby his Blood was a propitiatory offering at the very time it was shed; and tho in the virtue thereof the Saints were saved before his Incarnation, and Christ for ever intercedeth in the Heavens, yet the presenting of himself or it there, makes no addition to the Perfection of it as a Sacrifice.
Error 7. There is no use nor place in the Priesthood of Christ for appeasing God's Wrath, or offering any Sacrifice, no not in Heaven, as a Condition of obtaining Remis∣sion properly as from God, or impetrating the same; but Christ's Death is a means of our enjoying that Remission from God, and it was indirectly a Condition thereof as to be given to us, i. e. it was a Condition impo∣sed: on Christ, without which, by the Divine Decree, he was not to obtain Authority from God to forgive us our Sins; and it may be called a Sacrifice to God's Mercy, as of his own free Grace reconciled, but not as offend∣ed with Sinners. Socin. Tom. 2. 665, 666. Crell. vol. 1. 612. Wolzog. in Ioh. 3. 16.
Truth. The first and principal use of Christ's Priesthood, was to offer on the Cross a Sacri∣fice to appease God's Wrath against Sinners, and to impetrate Remission and eternal Life, that so God the offended Governor might, consistently with the Honour of his Law, and of all his Divine Perfections, be at liberty, and Page 41 inclined as well to give the said Blessings, as that we might become actual Partakers of them from Christ, as authorized to apply them to us: And all the other Sacerdotal Acts of Christ do refer to this.
Error 8. Redemption mentioned in the New Testament, signifies no more nor other than a freeing us from the Punishment of Sin without any proper Price intervening. And when it's said, Redemption is obtained by the Blood of Christ, it's not meant that the Blood of Christ could move God, or that God was thereby obliged to grant us Delive∣rance from the Punishment of our Sins, but that the shedding of his Blood ought to inter∣vene, that we might be moved thereby to accept that Deliverance when offered to us. Neither did Christ buy us, but God by Christ asserted his Right to us; and tho our Deli∣verance from Punishment is gotten as if by a Price, yet this is not as if the Blood of Christ were paid to any. Socin. Tom. 〈◊〉. Prael. Theol. cap. 19. Tom. 2. 145, 147. Slicht. in Rom. cap. 5. v. 10.
Truth. Redemption by the Blood of Christ, is that we are bought by his Blood as a pro∣per Price, and delivered from the Curse of the Law, and Captivity under Sin and Sa∣tan, as by a proper Ransom paid to the just Governor of the World.
Error 9. Christ by his Death did not re∣concile God to us, but he reconcileth us to God by his Death, i. e. we come thereby to be converted to God, and cease to offend him; yea, God's Anger was so far from being Page 42 appeased by the Death of Christ, that there∣by it was declared, that God was before pa∣cified to us. Socin. Tom. 1. 144, 145, 665, 666. Crell. vol. 3. Resp. ad Grot. 154, 155, 107. Slicht. Tom. 2. 214, 401. & in Rom. 5. 10. & 2 Cor. 5.
Truth. We being Children of Wrath be∣cause of our Sin, the Lord Jesus did by his Death atone our offended God, who became thereby so reconciled, that he offereth Peace to Sinners, and requireth and urgeth us by believing aright to accept thereof; and upon our penitent believing he becomes actually reconciled to us, delighting in us, and deal∣ing with us as Objects of his restored Fa∣vour.
Note 1. Crellius Resp. ad Grot. cap. 8. part. 3. disputes against this as the Error of Grotius and the rest of the Orthodox, stating it in these words,
2. Grotius de Satisf. cap. 7. distinguisheth the Actings of the Divine Will; 1. As before Christ's Death is decreed, &c. then God is angry with the Sinner, yet so as not to be averse to all methods of Reconciliation. 2. Vpon Christ's Death (as well when fixed as when undergone) then God not only ap∣points the way, but promiseth to be recon∣ciled. 3. When a Man believes in Christ with a right Faith, and Christ according to the Tenor of the Covenant presents the Be∣liever Page 43 to God; then God lays aside his Anger, and receives the Person into Favour (or is actually reconciled.)
3. How little do well-meaning Antino∣mians consider, that not only in the third Error, &c. but in this last Error, they agree with the Socinians, and that in a Point whence most of their false Notions about Christ's Sa∣tisfaction proceed. For, see you not? they hold that after God's absolute Decree to justi∣fy us, there's no Wrath in God to appease, the change is only on our part: And no Re∣conciliation but on our side, whom God begs to be reconciled to him, he being already at Peace with us.
Error 10. By Christ's dying for our Sins as being laid on him, is not meant, that Christ according to his Sponsion satisfied Di∣vine Iustice for our Sins, or that he paid to God any thing which we owed for our Sins; but when he is said to have died for our Sins as they were laid on him, nothing else is meant, but that he died by occasion of our Sins, to take them away, i. e. he died to re∣claim us from our Sins, and to assure us, that if we did leave our Sins we should be for∣given; and besides this, that we might per∣ceive and obtain the fruit of that Forgive∣ness, &c. Socin. Tom. 2. 153. Tom. 1. Prael. Theol. cap. 18, 20. Crell. Vol. 3. Resp. ad Grot. cap. 9.
Truth. When it's said, Christ died for our Sins as being laid on him, it's not only to bring about the forementioned Ends, and such other Purposes as are assigned by the Soci∣nians,Page 44 but they were imputed to him as what he had for our Salvation engaged to make Satisfaction for: And he did by his Death make a real, full and proper Satisfaction to God's Justice, vindicating the Honour of his Justice and Government, and of the violated Law as fully, as if the pardoned Sinner had endured the utmost Punishment threatned by the said Law.
Error 11. God did not inflict Death on Christ our Mediator to express his hatred of Sin, and deter us from it by his Death as any instance of Divine Displeasure against our Offences, and therefore our Sins were not punished in Christ. Socin. Tom. 1. 577, 578, 581. Tom. 2. 194. Crell. vol. 1. de Morte Christi p. 611.
Truth. God did punish our Sins in the Death of Christ, by shewing his real Hatred against Sin in all the Extremities Christ did endure; which Extremities and Death thus inflicted were not only fit, but truly design'd to deter us from all Disobedience, against which God thus testified his high Displeasure.
Error 12. Christ did not by his Death pro∣perly merit Salvation or any other thing for us, nor did he by the Merit of his great Obedience appease God's Anger. Socin. Tom. 2. de Servat. Part. 3. cap. 6. p. 205. Ruari Epist. 164. Smal. Disp. 2. contr. Frantz.
Truth. Christ by his Death and Obedience did properly merit our Salvation, and the Reconciliation of God to us; his Death be∣ing to be considered first as satisfactory, and hen meritorious; and his Obedience first Page 45 as meritorious, and then satisfactory.
Error 13. By Christ's dying for us, or in our stead (as some of them sometimes word it, tho they expresly dispute against it) is not meant, that Christ was substituted to die in the room of us who were condemned to die, that God might be pacified, nor that his Death was instead of our Death, that we for the Merit of it might be delivered; but the meaning is, that Christ for our good did by his Death come to be crowned with Glory and Power, whereby he is able to make us meet for Pardon, and authorized to give that Pardon to us. Socin. Praelect. cap. 20, 21. & de Scrvat. cap. 8. Crell. Resp. ad Grot. cap. 9. Par. 1, &c.
Truth. By Christ's dying for us, and in our stead, is meant, that whereas we Sinners were condemned to die for our Sins, our Lord Jesus, tho he became not a Sinner in our stead, yet as Mediator, he was substitu∣ted to die in our stead, that by his Death God might be inclined to forgive us who otherwise must have died (and by virtue of his Death, as a Satisfaction to Divine Justice, we are delivered from Death.) This Paren∣thesis I add to the Description Grotius gives of Christ's dying in our stead. De Satisf. cap. 9.
LIMBORG's Opinion of Christ's Satis∣faction consonant to EPISCOPIVS and some few other Arminians.
Error 14. Vindictive Justice required not Page 46 Satisfaction to be made in order to the re∣mission of Sin. Limbor. Theol. Christian. lib. 3. cap. 18. §. 4.
Truth. Vindictive Justice for the Honour of the Divine Law required Satisfaction in order to the remission of Sin, at least after the enacting of Adam's Covenant.
Error 15. Christ's Sufferings were not a full Satisfaction to Justice, nor was the Price of our Redemption fully equivalent to the Misery we deserved: But God might accept as a redeeming Price much or little as him∣self judged fit, and might be satisfied with any sort of Affliction laid on Christ. Nor did Christ satisfy the Rigor of Divine Justice, but the Will of God considered at once merciful as well as just (i. e. Mercy abated to Christ in the terms of Satisfaction, what Iustice demanded) Lib. 3. cap. 2. §. 8, 9. cap. 22. §. 2. cap. 23. §. 6.
Truth. Tho the great Mercy of God ap∣peared in his being willing to admit, accept and provide Christ our Mediator to make Satisfaction for our Sins, yet God our just Governor would have it that the terms of Satisfaction proposed to our Mediator should be such as strict Iustice demanded for the Honour of his violated Law, and securing the Ends of his Government; which terms were no lower than that he should suffer what was fully equivalent to the Punishments they whom he was to redeem deserved to endure. And as our Lord Jesus did suffer in kind much of what we deserved to suffer; so he suffered (considering the Dignity and Inno∣cency Page 47 of his Person) what was in the in∣trinsick Value fully equivalent to such of our deserved Punishments, as he was not capable of suffering in kind. Nay the Price of our Redemption paid by him, was not only e∣quivalent to what the Law of Works re∣quired of us, but it was supralegal, that is, it far exceeded what any Sinners were there∣by obliged to; nor see we how a full Satis∣faction for all our Sins could be otherwise made.
Error 16. Our Faith and Regeneration were not merited by Christ. Lib. 3. cap. 22. §. 3.
Truth. Considering that our New-birth and Faith are the Fruits of the holy Spirit, whom by Sin we had expelled, his return to regenerate and make us Believers must be for the sake and with respect to the Merits of Christ, as what vindicated the Honour of God who restored him to us.
Truth. No Penance, Pilgrimage, Fast∣ings or good Works of our own, or other Men, can make proper Satisfaction to Di∣vine Justice for the least of our Sins as to any part of their Fault or Guilt.
This last we add in opposition to what POPISH Opinions seem to militate against the Doctrine of Christ's Satisfaction.
Socinian Notions of Iustification.
Error 1. In our Justification by Christ our Sins are blotted out, not by Christ's Death and Obedience as any Compensation or Satis∣faction Page 48 to God for them, but only by God's simple Forgiveness and Pardon absolutely free in all respects, without any Merit of Christ's or our own. Socin. Tom. 1. Praelect. Theol. cap. 15, 16. Crell. vol. 1. in Phil. 3. 9. & in Rom. 3. 24.
Truth. In Justification upon our penitent believing our Sins are pardoned, and our Persons accepted for the sake of Christ's Death and Obedience, as what compen∣sated and made Satisfaction for our Sins: And tho neither our Graces nor Works do merit our Pardon, Acceptance or eternal Life, yet these with all other saving Benefits were merited by Christ.
Note, The Socinians are as much for abso∣lutely unlimited free Grace as even our Anti∣nomians would pretend to be, if not more.
Error 2. Faith in Christ is accepted under the Gospel as a perfect Righteousness for a perfect sinless Obedience: And as this Faith expresseth it self in our Works, our Justifi∣cation is in it self firmer and surer. Crell. vol. 1. p. 110, 612, 613. 474.
Truth 1. Tho true Faith be a Gospel Righ∣teousness, yet it is not accepted for sinless Obedience; nor doth the Gospel entitle us to Salvation upon our believing, as the Law did upon a perfect sinless Obedience: for the Law entitled us to Life as of Debt for our Obedience, as the immediate Merit of that Reward by the adjustment of govern∣ing Iustice. Whereas the Gospel of meer Grace (tho in a way of Government) entitles the Believer to Life, as what was merited by Page 49 the Lord Jesus, and not by our Faith or Works.
Truth. 2. Tho a dead Faith cannot justify us, and our believing Consent must be execu∣ted if we survive it; yet are we as truly and firmly justified, and in Christ's Right entitled to Glory when we first believe, as when those genuine Fruits of it are produced, which are contrary to that Barrenness, Ungodliness and Apostacy that would subject us to Condem∣nation.
We shall provide against Limborg's and some other Arminians Notion of Justification (tho it be none of the five Points which con∣stitute Arminianism) and that we in the for∣mer Papers opposed each of the said Points in concurrence with our British Divines in the Synod of Dort.
Error 3. By Faith being imputed for Righ∣teousness, is meant, that God graciously for Christ's sake will account our Obedience which we yield him by Faith as if it were perfect, tho it be imperfect. As if a Creditor having a Debtor who ows him 1000 Gilders, should upon this Debtor's paying him 100, forgive him the rest, and graciously impute to him this part of Payment for the Payment of the whole. Lib. 6. cap. 4. §. 39.—17.
Truth. Tho we are justified by Christ be∣lieved on, and Faith in him be accounted a Gospel-Righteousness, as it is the performed Condition upon which we are by the Gospel-Promise adjudged to have the Righteousness of Christ imputed to us as our pleadable Se∣curity against the Curse of the Law; by Page 50 which Righteousness of Christ alone our Right to Pardon and eternal Life (wherein we are personally invested by the Gospel) is merited as well as the Blessings themselves. Never∣theless our Faith in Christ is no part of the Debt we owed to God by the Law of Inno∣cency, nor is it, or our sincere Obedience proceeding from it, either in themselves, or Divine Acceptance, a full Conformity to the Gospel Precepts, much less doth God impute to us this Faith, or that Obedience for the payment of the whole Debt owing by the Law or Gospel, tho he grant us thereupon that Pardon, Favour and Acceptance Christ hath procured, so as to deal with us as righ∣teous Persons; and these he doth not sus∣pend until Faith produceth the said Fruit of Obedience, but grants them upon our first true purpose to turn from Sin to God, and our acceptation of and trust in Christ for doing this, and for obtaining all Salvation by him.
The common POPISH Notion of Justi∣fication as stated by Andradius in his autho∣rized Explication of the Decree of the 6th Session of the Council of Trent, whereto Bel∣larmine, and the generality of the Papists agree.
Error 4. The first Justification is the Re∣novation of an ungodly Man by the infused habit of Love, the infusion of which is me∣rited by Christ. The second Justification is this habit of Love producing goods Works, by the Merit whereof we are further justi∣fied, and ex condigno deserve eternal Life; Page 51 but neither the first nor second Justification consists in the forgiveness of Sin.
Note. By preparatory Work, the Council intend with the School-men, that our Wills moved by the Spirit do by their natural Power prepare themselves to obtain the habit of Grace, and ex congruo, merit the Infusion of it, which Habit is that justifying Righte∣ousness, for the Merit whereof the Sinner is at first absolved from Guilt, and accepted to eternal Life.
Truth 1. Neither this first nor second Justi∣fication is the Justification described usually in the Gospel, which is not the Conversion of a Sinner, or the progressive Holiness of a Convert, but a forensick Act, viz. God's judicial absolving us from the Curse due for Sin, and adjudging us entitled to Glory for the Merits of Christ, according to the Gospel.
Truth 2. It is not true, that preparatory Works do any way deserve from God the Habit of Grace at first infused, tho ordina∣rily the Divine Spirit doth by Knowledg and humbling Convictions abate the Obstacles to Grace in our Hearts, and put us upon seeking help from Christ; all which are as truly owing to his more common Operations, as saving Grace is to his special.
Truth 3. Neither the first infused Habit of Grace, nor its Acts, do merit further Grace or Holiness; nor yet any degree of that Par∣don or Acceptance which by Divine Ordina∣tion ensue thereupon.
Error. 5. Christ hath merited that the Habit of Love should by its virtue extinguish Page 52 Sin in us by good Works, and we by these Works merit Reconciliation with God, For∣giveness of Sin, and eternal Glory, as what do appease his Anger, satisfy for our Guilt, and are part of the Price of eternal Glory.
Note. The Popish Error concerning Satis∣faction leads them to this Error about Justi∣fication; and when Justification is considered in a Protestant sense, viz. as a forensick Act, the true Controversy between the Papists and us is about the Doctrine of the Merit of good Works.
Truth. Neither Repentance, Faith, Love, nor any good Work proceeding therefrom, do in the least merit Reconciliation, Pardon, or eternal Life; neither did Christ merit that we might merit: But Reconciliation, Pardon, and eternal Life were merited only by Christ's atoning, satifying, and meriting Sufferings and Obedience: And therefore the Righte∣ousness of Christ is accepted and reputed the only meriting Righteousness in God's justify∣ing Act, altho this Act terminates on none (Adult) besides the penitent Believer, and on all such by the Ordination of the Gospel.
Note 1. It's one thing for Christ to merit, that we might by our Works merit Salvation, it's another thing for Christ to merit that Salvation it self, which he gives and applies to Men on Gospel-terms; the first is Popish, the last is Protestant Doctrine.
2. It's one thing what our Judg in his justifying Act accounts to be the thing which appeaseth his Anger (for Reconciliation) makes Compensation to Justice (for Pardon) Page 53 and to be the meriting Price (of eternal Life) to which Reconciliation, Pardon, and eternal Life he now adjudgeth the penitent Believer to be entitled. Now the thing which our Judg accounts to be that which appea∣seth his Anger, &c. is the Righteousenss of Christ, and only that.
It's another matter whom our Judg in his justifying Act accounts and adjudgeth in con∣formity to the Gospel-Offer, to be the Persons who he therein promised should be actually re∣conciled, pardoned, and entitled to Glory in the alone meriting virtue of what appeased his Anger, made amends for Sin, and was the Price of Glory. Now this Person is the penitent Be∣liever, and he is accounted to be such from his having Gospel-Faith in Christ, with true Repentance, and as such is adjudged to be under the Favour of the foresaid Gospel Pro∣mise of Reconciliation, Pardon and Glory, yet procured and merited not by his Faith, but by Christ's alone Righteousness, as before accounted for, and obtained in his Right, who as well had these promised to him for Be∣lievers in the Covenant of Redemption, as they are promised by God in Christ in the Gospel to Believers themselves for a personal Title to possess them, and to plead the Merits of Christ for the enjoyment of them.
Having testified our Concord with our Brethren, and and added this further account of what we esteem Truth and Error in the Doctrines of Satisfaction and Justification, we must express our Thankfulness to God, that our Brethren in the foresaid DeclarationPage 54 have testified against ignorant and scandalous Persons intruding themselves into the Mi∣nistry. And tho the Vindication of our selves in this matter be needless, when our Princi∣ples and Practice are so well known; and it's so notorious, that of the great number of unqualified Men who are of late turned Preachers, those very few who broke out of any of our Congregations in this City, re∣ceiv'd no Approbation or Countenance from us; and to avoid Restraint and Discourage∣ment they renounced the Name of Presbyte∣rians, yea, preach'd against us; yet to sup∣port what we can this present Testimony of our Congregational Brethren, we'll publish one of the Articles agreed to by all of us for strengthening our Vnion after our said Bre∣threns Recess, which is as follows,
Some further Examination what is Soci∣nianism, as to the Doctrine of Christ's Satisfaction, and what is not so; with a brief account of several Phrases used by Socinians and by the Orthodox in a very contrary sense.
A Strict Observation in how uncertain a sense Terms and Phrases are made use of, must convince one that Errors may be easily concealed from the Ignorant, and the Orthodox as easily impeached without ground by sagacious Persons who design imposing on the Vulgar. I shall give an instance in the Controversy before me, which makes it evi∣dent, that Mens Explications and main Hy∣pothesis must be regarded above words, other∣wise their sense will be mistaken.
1. I find the Socinians admit and make use of the words which some Orthodox Di∣vines esteemed most distinguishingly expres∣sive of their own sense, as Commutation of Persons as well as things for Persons,a Sub∣stitution and Surrogation of Christ's Person in our room.b Dying in our stead.c Christ was an Expiatory Sacrifice.d His Page 56 Sufferings were Punishments.e Our Sins were an impulsive Cause of Christ's Death. fGod was moved by Christ's Death to give us Forgiveness.g; Yea it was a Sa∣tisfaction. hChrist was made a Sinner, yea the chief Sinner. And many more such I could mention: But this evidenceth that these very Phrases are capable of a very ill sense as well as a good one. Ruarus admits Christ did in a sense impetrate our Pardon by his Death. Epist. 64. So doth Crellius Resp. ad Got. cap. 9. part. 3.
2. The last Chapter gave us such a Sum∣mary of their Assertions as demonstrates they use these Expressions in no good sense, but if you consult the places last cited, and in Chap. 5. you'll find them wrested to consist with the fore-mentioned Errors; but because it will be tedious to particularize, I shall enu∣merate the Causes and Ends they plainly and truly ascribe the Death of Christ to. a1. They assign Christ's Death to God's meer Dominion over him as his entire Crea∣ture, whom he would reward for it, tho not as merited.b 2. It was an Example of Pa∣tience. c3. It was a Preparation of his Page 57 Sacrifice to be offered to God in Heaven for our Sins.d 4. It shew'd how much he desired our Salvation, tho such great Sinners, and how faithful he would be in expiating our Sins in Heaven, when he endured such dreadful things for our sakes, which God would have chiefly considered in our High-Priest. e5. His Death impressed a tender Affection and Pity towards us, that so he would succour us who were to be so extream∣ly afflicted, God would not have put Man∣kind in his hands unless he first suffered Death for Sinners: And that God might ren∣der us more assured, that if we obeyed we should have eternal Life; Christ should be so fashioned that in a sense it should appear Christ had more Tenderness for us than God himself, or otherwise it had been as to us alike, that God had saved us immediately, as to have saved us by Christ. Or,f 6. To establish the new Covenant and Promises. g7. To confirm his Doctrine.h 8. To come pursuant to God's Decree to be crowned with Glory and Honour, and invested with Authority and Power to convert, protect, for∣give, and give us eternal Life.i 9. That there might be greater Rewards promised to induce us to repent than there were be∣fore Page 58k10. To take away those greater Sins which the legal Sacrifices were not appointed for.l 11. Beget in us a firm hope of Life, tho we should die as terrible a Death. m12. That we might not fear Death, or the Curse, which we see conquered by him. n13. That we might be induced to leave our Sin, when he died that we might be re∣claimed from it by such hope of Pardon up∣on leaving of it.o 14. To, make known how highly kind and pacified God was to us. I pass by a compliance with Pagan Customs.
3. As they limit Christ's Death in this manner, exclusively of and in opposition to other Causes and Ends, which the proper Satisfaction of Christ more directly suppo∣seth, as you see in the fifth Chapter. So I could easily shew how they dilute their own seeming Concessions, as well as reduce plain Scripture-Expressions to that Insignificancy, that no Man can hope by their method to apprehend any kind of words with certainty as to their meaning; one while an as if (a quasi) is all they intend by their large Grants, as if a redeeming Price, &c. God is as it were moved, and as it were obliged by Christ to pardon us: another while all is figurative, as a metaphorical Redemption. Christ's Death Page 59 was an Expiatory Sacrifice, i.e. metonymically and synechdocically called so, and it chiefly sig∣nifies what by God's Decree followed upon it, viz. his Entrance into Heaven. Many more might be heaped of this kind. Socin. de Servat. par. 2. cap. 2. Crell. vol. 1. in Rom. 3. 24. vol. 3. Resp. ad Grot. cap. 8. par. 3. p. 198, 189. So∣cin. Tom. 1. Praelect. cap. 20.
4. They sometimes state the Difference between themselves and others, and there are some things they still adhere to and secure, however they perplex this Controversy with their seeming Grants and equivocal Expres∣sions.
(1.) Socinus states this Question and de∣nies it: Are our Sins blotted out by any Com∣pensation or Satisfaction, or else by Forgive∣ness? Most think they are blotted out, a Satisfaction intervening: but we think they are blotted out by simple Forgiveness, or a Pardon absolutely free. Prael. cap. 15. p. 565. He also states the Difference with Covet, and puts this for the Position held by his own Party. I judg and think this to be the Orthodox Determination, That Jesus Christ is therefore our Saviour, because he hath made known to us the way of eternal Life; and in his own Person, both by the Example of his Life, and rising from the dead, hath given assurance of it, and made it evident, as also that he will give eternal Life to us who be∣lieve him. But I affirm, that he neither sa∣tisfied Divine Justice, by which we Sinners did deserve to be damned; nor was there any need that he should satisfy it. Socin. Page 60 Tom. 2. de Servat. cap. 1. 121. Crellius states this Question; Did the Redemption wrought by Christ include his Payment of a true Price to God for our Sins, which he calls Satisfaction? Resp. ad Grot. cap. 8. This he denies; and he and others of them take great advantage of Covet's making use of Creditor, Debtor, and Debt, to express their Judgment in this Controversy. Other Instances might be given.
(2) The principal things they adhere to are, 1. That Christ did not appease God's Anger towards Sinners. 2. That what Christ did and suffered had no meriting Virtue; and so did not merit from God our Pardon, Ac∣ceptance and eternal Life, or properly move God to give or promise them. These are the Heart of Socinianism as to the Satisfaction of Christ; and they do exclude what Christ performs in Heaven, as well as his Death on Earth, from any proper influence Godward as to these things, tho to effect what they call Expiation, they ascribe more to Christ's abiding on God's Right-hand taking care of the Church, than to his Resurrection, and more to his Resurrection than to his Death; these two last being but the decreed interve∣ning way of coming to the other, which they call the Expiation it self. Hence they always deny any proper redeeming Price, and say God quitted his right to punish us without any respect to Christ; and distinguish of Ex∣piation on God's part (which they call his own Act;) and on our part, which is, say they, Christ's giving us eternal Life; wherein as Page 61 contain'd a full deliverance from the Punish∣ment of Sin. As to Expiation on God's part, that's in no wise by Christ's inclining God to forgive our Sins by his Sacrifice; yea So∣cinus tells us God alone expiates Sin. And when CRELLIVS blames Grotius for ma∣king Socinus to confine the Efficacy of Christ's Sacrifice to Sins future for Prevention or Par∣don, and excluding the Forgiveness of Sins past, otherwise than as it begets Faith, and so turns us from Sin. What greater expiating Virtue doth he ascribe to it under the Notion of an expiating Sacrifice? it's this, it takes away the Guilt and Punishments of all Sins tho past before Conversion, and however great: But how and wherein? He answers, it's partly by declaring and granting us a right to that thing, and partly by actually taking away Divine Punishments. But is that Right or Pardon at all properly pro∣cured by this Sacrifice? No, by no means; that he had denied, and abides by the De∣nial here, and in the following Sections. The sum is; a crucified Saviour his being exalted, and in Heaven taking care of our Salvation, assures us, that we shall be partakers of the Pardon appointed and promised before by the meer Mercy of God without respect to Christ; and Christ as the authorized Sponsor on God's part conveys it, and assisted with the Divine Power fully removes the Punish∣ments, or rather God himself doth it: Nay, by their Scheme you cannot well see them allow less expiating Virtue to Mens Prayers than the legal Sacrifices, yea the yearly: for, Page 62 fay they, we expiate our own Sins by those Prayers; and scarce more to Christ's Sacri∣fice than the Legal, except as to more sorts of Sin, and its greater aptness to disswade us from Sin by the Love of God, and strong grounds of hopes of higher Rewards, being more evidenced and assured by this Sacrifice of Christ, than by those of the Law: For this Sacrifice of Christ is no other than an inter∣vening Means, which being performed, that Discharge follows by the Divine Decree, which the self-inclined God, unmoved by any thing Christ was to do or suffer, resolved freely to bestow of his meer Mercy.
To add no more, they carefully distinguish between the Impetration of Pardon; &c. with respect to the Divine Will, and the means of the application of that Pardon to the Sinner. From the former they exclude Christ's Satisfaction and Merits, and confine their Virtue truly altogether to the latter. The thing it self is unprocured as from God, the Sinner's obtaining it is subserved by Christ by what he perfoms to make us meet for it, and possessing us in the Effects of it according to the way decreed, and that only because decreed. Socin. Tom. 1. Praelect. cap. 27. 21, 22, 23, 24. Tom. 2. de Serv. cap. 4. Crell. Resp. ad Grot. cap. 8, 9, 10.
5. It's very obvious that the Socinian Con∣troversy lies not in those things wherein some are induced to place them, because of certain Phrases sometimes occurring in Debates con∣cerning the Doctrine of Christ's Satisfaction. To Instance a few.
Page 63 (1.) It's not whether the Sufferings of a Sponsor in the stead of the Sinner be in so strict a sense a proper Punishment, as the Sufferings of the Delinquem himself would be? this is nothing with them; for their Question is, Were Christ's Sufferings such an Instance of God's rectoral Hatred against our Sins, and Anger against Sinners, as that there∣by the Honour of his Justice and injured Go∣vernment and Law was provided for, and vindicated, and Sinners to be deterred from Sin by God's insisting upon such a penal Compensation before he would be reconciled to us. Punishment under this Notion they ex∣presly dispute against.
(2.) Nor is it about the Phrase Commuta∣tion of Persons between Christ and Sinners, they grant it; admit a Surrogation of the typical Sacrifice instead of the Sinner, and a Substitution of Christ in our place. Their Point depends not on any such mere words. But was Christ appointed, and did he consent to endure what the Sinner was to suffer, that in virtue thereof the offended God might be appeased, and the Sinner delivered? This is the thing they oppose. Crell. Resp. ad Grot. cap. 9. par. 14. explaining this very Phrase.
(3.) Nor is with them the Question, Whe∣ther Christ's Sufferings were in part the Idem, and in other respects a full Equivalent to the Punishments the Sinner deserved: No, their Arguments run against the Equivalency, and on that account deny that his Sufferings could be a full Price of Redemption, or a Satisfaction; and well they may, when they Page 64 call him a mere Creature. Crell. Resp. ad Grot. c. 4. par. 2. &c. 6. par. 18. It's the Proportion in the Value they most directly militate against.
(4.) Nor, whether Christ was a Sinner in judicial Esteem, or was he reputed the inno∣cent Mediator making amends to Iustice for our Sins, that we the Offendors might be redeemed by his merits, who, to make Satis∣faction, submitted to be dealt with as if he had been a Sinner. The last is enough for their Abhorrence; and tho Socinus took all Advantages to expose the Orthodox, in re∣presenting their Opinion as to the Imputation of Sin to Christ, yet grants they hold that Christ was truly innocent, and reputed so by God even when he was punished as if an Offender. De Servat. cap. 6. It's true, some∣times they would force some such Consequence on the words of the Orthodox, as if Christ must be legally reputed a Sinner, but that is to furnish themselves with an Argument to ri∣dicule the true Doctrine of Satisfaction. And note, they deny that 2 Cor. 5. 21. Christ was made Sin, to be Christ was made a Sacrifice for Sin; yea some render it, he was made a Sinner, as Slicht. &c. God dealt with him as a Sinner. Socin in loc.
(5.) It's far enough from the Socinian Con∣troversy, whether Christ was immediately obliged by the Law of Works to die, i. e. Did God thus sentence him, Thou Christ hast sinned, and therefore thou shalt die? Or, was he immediately obliged to die by the Govenant of Redemption, and mediately by the Law of Works, i. e. the Sentence is Page 65 to be thus apprehended? Whereas thou my Son the Mediator, hast with my Consent, de∣clared thy willingness to expiate Sin, and ransom Sinners, justly condemned by the Curse of my Law to die: And whereas my Vindictive Iustice, the Honour of my Law and Government, required that I the Rector should exact Satisfaction and Reparation for the Crimes of these Sinners by thy Death, if I agreed to thy redeeming and saving them, and thou hast obliged thy self to die in their stead to redeem them, therefore thou shalt die this accursed, shameful Death.
This, I say, is no part of the Dispute with the Socinians, for the last account doth as directly oppose their Notions as the former, nay much more; for it asserts the Compact before his Incarnation, and consequently the Divinity, at least Preexistence of Christ.
(6.) Nor yet is it of any moment with them, whether Men say Sin would be in a more proper sense the immediate meritorious Cause of the Sinner's dying who commit∣ted the Sin, than of Christ's dying who did not commit the Sin, tho he obliged him∣self to make Satisfaction for it in the Sinner's stead, that the provoked God might be re∣conciled to him. The Point with them be∣ing this, Did our Sins, notwithstanding God's merciful Disposition, retain that Demerit in his account, as rendered Satisfaction for it by Death necessary to reconcile him to Sin∣ners; and consequently did Christ suffer Death to make that Satisfaction which was become thus necessary by Sin, and yet im∣possible Page 66 for the Sinner to make.
(7.) It's true, the Socinians usually say our Sins were the occasion of Christ's Death (yet oft they call them the antecedent Cause) but occasion being more common and agree∣able to their Hypothesis, I wish others had waved that word to prevent Abuse. Never∣theless the mere using of that word is far from arguing any Man to Socinianize, so that he apply it to a sense opposite to what Soci∣nians do. This will appear, if we consider in what sense the Socinians use it; they say our Sin was an occasion of Christ's Death, as Sin was that which we were to be reclaimed from, and our hope supported against. And the Death of Christ was that way in which God, who was not unreconciled before, did appoint Christ to reclaim us from our Sins; as his Death assureth us of the Truth of his Doctrine and Promises, manifesteth God's prior Reconciliation, and so his Death be∣came an Argument to encline us to believe and repent, and also a causa sine qua non; both of a strong Motive to Holiness, viz. the endless Glory designed in Heaven for us (which was before shut up) and of that Power, Authority and Care of Christ at God's Right-hand to bring us into the Pos∣session of it.
But when others shall call our Sins an oc∣casion of Christ's Death, and explain it thus; That it was an occasion of Christ's Death as a penal Satisfaction to the Iustice of God, and that he endured it to pacify God to Sin∣ners; that God's hatred of Sin, and his Page 67 Justice (yea punitive Justice) might be no less demonstrated in Christ's Satisfaction, than if the Sinners had been damned. And his Obedience, and his Punishments wherein Vindictive Iustice was thus glorified, did me∣rit the Pardon of our Sins, and eternal Life, such an Explication doth as much oppose Soci∣nianism, as if they had used the word meri∣torious Cause instead of occasion.
That no Person may pretend the Reverend Mr. Baxter's Authority in favour of Socinia∣nism, because he sometimes calls our Sins an occasion of Christ's Death, I do assure the Reader that he explains the word occasion in the last sense, and in the most direct opposi∣tion to Socinianism: nor can any pretend but the reason he useth this word, as also pro causa meritoria, or instead of a meritorious Cause, is only to distinguish Christ the Spon∣sor making Satisfaction to Justice for our Sins, from the Sinner himself when suffering for his own Sins. To evidence which, I have re∣peated his own Assertions under this seventh Head, and could easily cite his own words, which agree exactly to what's Antisocinian in the six foregoing Heads. See Method. Theol. par. 3. cap. 1. determ. 11, 12, 15.
Need I add that he says,
Perhaps others who follow Episcopius and some other Arminians (when all must ac∣quit him of Socinianism) may surmise he fa∣voureth their Notion of Christ's Death, as if it were a Satisfaction only to the Will of God, and not a full Satisfaction to the Iustice of God. To this I answer, Mr. B. distinguish∣eth Satisfaction into that which is the fulfil∣ling the Will of a Person, and that which is Page 69 the Payment of what was owing by an Equi∣valent otherwise not due. And he affirms, that Christ's Satisfaction was not a mere ful∣filling the Will of God (tho it supposeth his Consent;) but it was a full Equivalent to what Punishments we deserved, in that it better answered the Ends of Divine Government, than the Sinner's Punishment would have done; it more fully demonstrated the vin∣dictive Justice of God, than if the Sinner had been damned, and it was a full Satisfaction to governing Justice, and the End of the Law. Vbi supra Determ. 10, 11, 12, 15.
I thought this account necessary not only for the forementioned End, but also that our Agreement in opposition to Socinianism might not exclude Mr. B. and such as approve of his Scheme, which would add strength to that Heresy, and be injurious to many worthy Persons; nor ought a few words so fully ex∣plained be pressed to brand them with that odious Title, who could more plausibly fix the same Character on Persons from things plainly asserted in the Socinian sense, and subserving their Hypothesis: As Christ's Death was not necessary to the remission of Sin, the Promise of Forgiveness is no Effect of Christ's Death. Repentance under the Gospel is an Effect of justifying Faith in Christ. The preaching of Reconciliation to Sinners, is only to publish to them that God is already recon∣ciled to them, and to call them to be recon∣ciled to God. Many others might be in∣stanced; but I think it were unjust, even upon such grounds, to call any of these Socinians.
An Enquiry into what Difference seems to remain concerning the Satisfaction of Christ, and Iustification of a Sinner. And this Difference reduced below any Cause of Discord.
I Think both sides are acquitted from all dangerous Errors concerning the Satis∣faction of Christ, and Justification of a Sin∣ner; nor can I doubt but the impartial Rea∣der must apprehend the remaining Diffe∣rence doth not lie in Opinions about these Doctrines themselves, but in accommodating some words in opposition to other Errors which either Side have more especially ap∣plied their Minds to confute, unless he should also ascribe it to a Zeal for sundry received Phrases on the one part, and an apprehension in the other part, that more accuracy is be∣come needful since those Phrases were re∣ceived.
1. In both these Doctrines the visible Spring of what Difference remains is a different Notion of Christ's Suretiship. For by this the word Imputation, as used in both these Doctrines, is governed, viz. how our Sins were imputed to Christ when he satisfied, and how Christ's Righteousness is imputed to us when we are justified; both which de∣pend Page 71 upon the various Conceptions of the Suretiship of Christ, and the manner of his representing us, which I will begin with. One Side thinks him a mediating Surety, and distinguishing both as to the matter engaged, and Instrument wherein he voluntarily en∣gaged himself, as also the respect he had to us therein.
1. In the Covenant of Redemption they consider Christ agreeing with his Father the Terms of Satisfaction to Justice, and Impe∣tration of Life for Sinners, and obliging him∣self to assume our Nature, and therein per∣fectly to obey the Law, die an accursed Death, with whatever was equivalent to what by the Covenant of Works our Sins deserved. Here they think Christ did not covenant strictly in our stead, or as our Proxy, tho he covenanted to die in our stead, even strictly so: He transacted as a free Interposer tho for our Salvation; we were no federating Party, tho we were the Persons whose Salva∣tion was his promised Reward: And there∣fore we have more reason, since we are become his Members, to say we intercede in Christ now, than to say that we covenanted in Christ then. Finally, they account his Act of en∣gaging so peculiar to himself, that his non-performance of what he engaged (which was impossible) had not made us more guilty, tho it would have left us miserable for our own Sins, there being no other way to re∣deem us.
2. They find Christ called a Surety in the Gospel-Covenant made with fallen Man, Heb. 7. Page 72 22. and no where else. This Covenant sup∣poseth the former, yea supposeth Christ's having executed his Engagements by the Co∣venant of Redemption to make Satisfaction to Justice (i. e. it was at first accepted as if executed) for this Covenant with Man doth not adjust the terms of Redemption, but the way of conveying the Effects of that Re∣demption, and is called the Testament of our Lord Jesus, whereby he bequeaths the Bles∣sings he acquired by his atoning Death. In this Covenant Christ is such a Surety, as not only assures us all will be performed which is promised to us on God's part, but that under∣takes to bring in the Elect, and for the Perseve∣rance of Believers unto eternal Life, by his ex∣erting that Power and Authority he hath re∣ceived. But here also they apprehend Christ a distinct federating Party: A Mediator treat∣ing and obliging himself to make the Cove∣nant stand sure, and effect the Ends it was designed for: but he binds not himself to be∣lieve, repent, or persevere for us; but that we shall repent, believe and persevere; nor doth his Engagement that we should do so, prevent our personal Engagement by Cove∣nant to do it our selves, tho in his Strength. Now our Act of engaging is not his engaging Act, but an Effect of it; nor is our repenting his repenting Act, but the Effect of his en∣gaged Assistance; nor is that Assistance of his reckoned to be legally our assisting our selves; nor can we say that we covenanted in Christ to bring in the Elect, or that Believers shall persevere: By which, with other Reasons, we Page 73 are induced to think, that in covenanting he transacts still as Mediator; but he obliging himself to these great Performances, in order to our doing what we are personally obliged to do, and our receiving what we are neces∣sitated to receive, if ever we be saved even in a Gospel-way (tho it supposeth him already crucified) he is properly called a Surety of the New Covenant, yet still connoting him a Me∣diator.
I need not suggest, that if in this new Co∣venant Christ's Suretyship will not infer our being one foederating Party with Christ, and hence that we covenanted in him; it will far less follow we did so in the Covenant of Re∣demption, which treated of things so improper to be once propos'd to us as undertaking Par∣ties, much less as Principals, which to strictly legal Sureties always are supposed. But of this I have treated in Man made righteous, and in Answer to the Report, and P. S. to Gospel-Truth.
THE OTHER SIDE think Christ, with the Father's consent, came into the Cove∣nant of Works considered as a Bond, (as un∣violated say some, as violated say others) and therein became one foederating Party with us, (as Elect some say, as Believers say others) even such a Surety as made the Covenant of Works run thus: If thou Christ my Son, or you the Elect (or Believers) do obey all the Law, you shall live: But if they sin, thou or they shall die, or they having sinned, thou shalt die. And they conceiving Christ to be as a strict pecuniary Surety in this one Bond Page 74 with us, they esteem him one legal Person and Representative in such a sense as that we did covenant in him, and are legally esteemed to do and suffer what he did, and not only se∣cured of Salvation in his right, and for his sake.
This may be accounted by some a dangerous Difference, and so it were on our part, if we did not own that Christ's fulfilling of the Law was an Article in the Covenant of Redemp∣tion; and that we are as fully assured of Salva∣tion, if we accept of Christ, as if we had covenanted in him; and that he hath engaged the Elect should accept of him, tho they did not covenant in him: and that Believers have as inviolable an Interest in the Benefits of Christ's Death, both in his right and by the Gospel-promise, as if they were legally e∣steemed to suffer what he did suffer. But all this we acknowledg. It would be as dange∣rous on our Brethrens part to say we cove∣nanted in Christ, and obeyed in him, if they did not renounce all proud assuming Boasts, as if they were as righteous as Christ, or stood on terms with God needing no more Acts of Mercy than that one of appointing Christ to be Mediator; but after that they are on terms of strict Justice, and above For∣giveness, &c. The like Danger would ensue their Position, if they did not acknowledg the necessity of Faith to Justification, and this Faith to be always accompanied with Re∣pentance and persevering Holiness. But our Brethren renounce the former, and own the latter.
Page 75 Matters standing thus, will afford no ground to hereticate each other: We think a mediat∣ing Surety obliged in a distinct Bond to per∣form the utmost which our Brethren affirm Christ to have done, doth as well secure our State, and support our Faith as if in the same Bond, and better account for the sapiential Methods of Divine Government towards Man since the Fall, with God's judicial Procedures to∣wards Man as under Gospel-offers, and his sus∣pending Christ's merited Benefits till Men be∣lieve, as also his recorded Pleadings with Sin∣ners. The Brethren think not that Christ did more for our Salvation than we allow, but that we did more in Christ; and thence judge our Faith more supported, and the Law of Works more honoured in their way. But did each side perceive all the aforesaid respective Ends alike provided for, and evil Consequences equally avoided, the Notion in debate could for its own sake admit no Dispute on either side. And is it not pity to hate each other for mis∣taking the best Scheme, to avoid the same E∣vils which both would prevent, and secure that same Good which both honestly aim at by their respective Hypotheses?
Forbearance is the juster in this point, because it turns upon a Solution of this Que∣stion, When Adam is called a Figure of Christ, Rom. 5. 18. is there not some disparity in their Representation of Men, as well as in those other things there instanced? Our Brethren think Christ so fully prefigured by Adam as a Repre∣sentative, that we as truly obeyed and suffer∣ed in Christ, as we sinned in Adam. We Page 76 think the Figure, as to Representation, is to be explained thus: As no man becomes a Sin∣ner, or dieth, whose Depravedness and Death were not procured and merited by Adam's first Sin; and tho the Pagan Sinners who died, did not actually sin against a revealed positive Law, as Adam did, yet he was the Root of Death to them as well as to the Jews under Moses's Law: So no men are quickned, justi∣fied, sanctified, or saved, but Christ is a Root of Life, Grace, Justification, Holiness, and Glory to them (in all these by his Merits, in some also by his Spirit and Power.)
But yet we conceive Christ may as well an∣swer Adam's Figure here intended, by our being quickned, justified, and saved by Christ's Obedience imputed to us, without our being esteemed to have obeyed and suffered in him, as Christ was condemned and died for Adam's Sins imputed to him, tho he was not esteemed to have sinned in Adam. As he was condemned by our Disobedience, so we are justified by his Obedience, viz. the first by his own Compact with the Father, the last by that and the Gospel too: He was not con∣demned by any imputation that made him by the Law a Sinner, unless he sinned in Adam; neither are we justified by being legally judg∣ed Sufferers or Obeyers in him. It avails not to say Christ was legally a Sinner, and yet not reputed to sin in Adam, because Christ was our Root; for tho he was our Root as to Grace, Acceptance, Pardon and Glory, and whatever else did proceed from him to us, as our Saviour; nevertheless, if he was a Sinner, he Page 77 could not as to this be our Root, unless we derive Sin from him; but surely that Deno∣mination must have its Root, not in him, but in those that were Sinners before him, and whose Sins were imputed to him: they must denominate that one legal Person into which he came, a sinful guilty Person; as he doth that one obeying, satisfying Person, into which we are admitted: (which Terms our Brethren espousing, I argue from.)
Finally, we are enclined to set the foresaid Li∣mit to Christ's Representation by this among many other Reasons: for in that Rom. 5. 18. where Adam is called a Figure, the Death of those Heathens was merited by their own per∣sonal Transgressions as well as by Adam's Dis∣obedience. But the Elect, even when Believers do not, merit Life by their own personal O∣bedience; and therefore we are not repre∣sented altogether in the same manner in Christ as in Adam.
2. From the former another point ariseth referring expresly to the Satisfaction, viz. in what sense our Sins were imputed to Christ.
One saith our Sins were imputed to Christ only as to Guilt or Obligation, to bear the Punishment which we deserved for them; which Punishments tho he obliged himself to endure in our stead to reconcile God to us, yet that did not render him a Sinner in God's account, because that Title results from the violation of the Precept abstractedly from a respect to the threatning; and conceiving he was not a Sinner in our stead, tho he suffer'd in our stead the punishments due to our sins, Page 78 they think he was esteemed by God what in truth he was, viz. the holy, innocent Media∣tor, punishable by his own consent for the Sins he came to expiate, and were not expi∣able without his dying in our stead.
But our Brethren think our Sins were so im∣puted to Christ, as to give him the Denomi∣nation and judicial acceptation of a Sinner in the esteem of God and the Law.
Yet lest the difference should appear great∣er than it is, it's fit I inform you that our Brethren deny that Christ had any Sin or Defilement in him, or had any Sin of his own: they were our Sins, only imputed to him, and he was a legal Sinner by being one political Person with those Sinners whom the Law e∣steemed real Sinners, and condemned as such.
On the other hand, we own that (supposing the Covenant of Redemption) he was as truly obliged, and God the just Rector at as full li∣berty to punish him for our Sins, as if he had been reputed a Sinner: Nay Divine Justice required the inflicting those Punishments on him, if the Sinner was to be redeemed from them for his sake.
Now, Reader, can this difference justify mutual Censures or Alienation? What, is a Sinner without Filth, yea or any Fault of his own, above a Sponsor obliged to bear the Punishments of other mens Sins in the stead of the Offenders? And they who ac∣knowledg him to be this, what less say they of him than the others mean, tho scrupulous of that harsher Denomination? At least it would Page 79 appear strange to revile each other for a dif∣ferent explication of that Text, 2 Cor. 5. 21. he was made Sin for us. One thinks he was made a Sacrifice for Sin after the Hebrew Custom: for we find very oft the words 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 to signify a Sin-Offering as well as Sin, Lev. 7. 1, 2. and cap. 4. 28, 29, 33. And this very Apostle follows the same Usage, calling an Offering or Sacrifice for Sin 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Rom. 8. Heb. 10. 5. The other side will have it meant that Christ was made a Sinner, but a Sinner that's holy, un∣defiled, and never offended: which Notion of being made Sin is too diminutive to admit harsh thoughts of such as entertain it.
An unconcerned Observer will be apt to say, These who call Christ a Sinner are in∣tent to renounce Socinianism; and they who call him a Sacrifice for Sin, are as sollicitous to confute Socinianism and Antinomianism too, by withholding an advantage which both these Errors receive by the use of that Word. But where's the Christian Charity or Prudence of the condemning Side, when both contend for what seems the best Defence of the Doctrine of Satisfaction? The other Phrases accounted for in the 6th Chapter, admit the same Miti∣gation as this, and upon the same Grounds.
3. The third point wherein there appears some difference, refers to the Doctrine of Iustification. But before I insist on this, per∣mit me to offer a few hints.
1. Any Difference in this matter seems to proceed from want of an equal Consideration of the Covenant of Redemption, which fixed Page 80 the terms of Satisfaction, and Impetration of saving Benefits, which Christ alone was thereby obliged to perform; and the Gospel-Covenant, wherein the Method of giving us a personal Interest in the Blessings impetrated by Christ is ordained. By the former, all that belongs to Satisfaction and Merit are confined to Christ, and Pardon, Adoption, and eternal Life put in the hand of our Sa∣viour as his Reward. By the latter, a way becoming our fallen State and rational Nature, is appointed to apply to us a Right to the purchased Blessings; nor can the Scripture-Account of God's Calls, Pleadings and judi∣cial Proceedings be explained without it. I think the not distinguishing these two Cove∣nants, or fixing the Mind upon either of them, with too little regard to the other, contri∣bute much to our Debates.
2. With Humility I propose to Considera∣tion, whether such can dangerously err as to the way of Salvation, and particularly in the Doctrine of Justification, who do honestly adhere to our foregoing account of Christ's Satisfaction; and in subordination thereto, assert a Gospel-Law or Covenant, wherein is enacted a Rule by which the saving Effects of that Satisfaction are given forth: it seems to me highly improbable. For in the account given of Satisfaction, we ascribe the whole Impe∣tration of Pardon, Acceptance, and all saving Benefits only to the Atonement and Merits of Christ, expresly excluding all our own Graces and good Works from the least place therein: And by our Judgment of the Gospel-Law, we Page 81 secure the Method and Rule of the personal Application of these merited Benefits, and that conformably to the scope of the Bible in its most explained Parts, as well as in full con∣sistency with an apt Ministry, and a judicial Sentence against impenitent Infidels, to whom those Benefits are not applied, notwith∣standing Gospel-Offers.
Whereas if we conceived never so fitly and with greatest Soundness concerning the Satisfaction of Christ, and denied a Gospel-Law (or what's equivalent to it) we appre∣hend no small Danger inevitably to ensue; and that in no less a matter than Mens Sal∣vation: for if this Gospel prove a Rule of Iudgment, and that Christ gives forth Pardon and such merited Benefits thereby, will not our Ministry be useless and ensnaring to Souls, which doth not explain and press the Gospel-Conditions in order to an Interest in those Benefits? And must not those secure Sinners be destroyed who submit not to those Condi∣tions, however confident they be upon Or∣thodox Apprehensions of what Christ hath done to satisfy Justice, and merit eternal Life? The Boundaries therefore I would propose to my self are, that Christ be not rivalled in his atoning or meriting Performances on the one hand, nor rejected in his enacted Rules of dispensing his purchased and offered Benefits on the other: for he is truly dishonoured, and Souls undone by both. But I would not be mistaken, as if this were suggested to re∣flect on the Brethren who are seriously intent upon the first; for it already appears, and Page 82 will be more evident that they neglect not the last, but affirm what to this purpose is equi∣valent to a Gospel-Law.
3. It is very evident that when Protestants express great Zeal for Christ's alone Righteous∣ness imputed to us in Justification, against the Popish Doctrine, the generality of the Learn∣ed among them do only exclude every thing besides that Righteousness of Christ, from be∣ing meritorious of Acceptance, Pardon, Life, and any other Blessing; and from being any Satisfaction or Compensation for any Sin; af∣firming that this alone can atone the Anger of God, for the sake of this alone will he absolve us, and nothing below this is perfect enough for us to stand in before the Bar of his Ju∣stice. And therefore the Work of Faith it self can be no justifying Righteousness in that sense they took justifying Righteousness (all which we heartily own;) and hence they oft appropriate the justifying Aptitude and Office of Faith mostly to a Reliance on that sole meriting Righteousness of Christ, and its receiving Forgiveness, Acceptance, and a Right to Life, of meer Mercy, for the sake of Christ's alone Merits: All which is justly and truly spoken, as they accommodate it to the defence of Christ's Righteousness, as the only thing appointed or fit for the fore-described Purposes, and in opposition to the Popish Doctrine of Merit.
The Dispute they had with the Popish Church was about this meriting, atoning, satisfying Righteousness; and you I find them often pro∣pose that if the Papists would grant that this Page 83 Righteousness was that of Christ alone, the great Controversy about Justification was at an end: But at the same time most Prote∣stants, and our Homilies do fully grant, that Repentance was necessary, and required to Forgiveness, and Faith to Justification, and these Blessings promised to those Graces, tho they were not led to dispute whether these were to be called a Righteousness as qualify∣ing the Subject on whom God's justifying Act terminated: But whether in that Act God regarded any thing as a meriting, absolving, satisfying Righteousness, any thing as a Satis∣faction to Justice, any thing as an impelling Motive, or valuable Consideration, besides the Righteousness of Christ. To this their Debates were confined in their day, and this they were intent to maintain, as all Christi∣ans ought to be: Whereas the reason of debating the Name of that by which the Subject of Justification was determined in opposition to such whom God did not justify, was not so much before them as before others, of later years assaulted by such as went into another Extreme from the Doctrine of Po∣pish Merit.
Nor was this matter otherwise stated by our able Divines who contend against such Arminians, as affirmed the Tò credere, to be our justifying Righteousness; for by Righte∣ousness such Arminians mean the Righteous∣ness which is part of Payment, and stands in the place of, and answers the same Ends in our Justification, as perfect Obedience served for to sinless Man; which we have before Page 84 stated and renounced. Were there need, a∣bundant Testimonies offer by which this Head is easily proved, tho I grant some Men may be found to vent some Inconsistent Ex∣pressions. Having premised these things, I reassume the Difference about Justification that seems to continue, which lies,
1. In the manner of the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness. Both agree it is im∣puted, but how, is not so universally assented to: One side thinks the sense of imputing Christ's Righteousness to be, that God rec∣kons us to have legally done and suffered what Christ did, and this to the full Satis∣faction of Justice and the Law of Works, and therefore are reputed to have perfectly obeyed the Precepts of this Law, and fully endured its Curse; and for our legally doing so, God judgeth and pronounceth us righte∣ous in full Conformity to the Law, and there∣fore entituled to Pardon, Adoption, and eternal Life. If you ask, Is this justifying Sentence the Sentence of the Law of Works, viz. its premiant Sanction applied to us by God as the righteous Judg judging us by the Law of Works? They answer, It is the Sen∣tence of the Law of Works, but it is of Gos∣pel-Grace that God allowed Christ to be one Person with us in the Covenant of Works, whereby we are thus accounted to obey and suffer in him. But others think that the Righteousness of Christ is imputed in the following manner, viz. 1. They consider that the Father promised to Christ in Reward of his Obedience and Suffering, that they who Page 85 believed on him should be pardoned, adopted, dealt with as righteous Persons who had not sinned, and be eternally sav'd: Hence the Lord Iesus has a right to Believers obtaining these things. And as Faith describes the Per∣sons in this Covenant who shall obtain them, so when we become Believers, we are accounted and adjudged to be such Believers, and such as are to obtain those Blessings in Christ's Right.
2. They consider God in Christ for sa∣piential Ends, making in the Gospel an Offer of Pardon, Adoption, and eternal Life to poor Sinners if they believe, and promising these Blessings when they believe, and still as Blessings bought by Christ's Obedience and Sufferings, and promised to him for Believers; tho withal used in his Gospel as Motives to inforce his Command of Faith and Calls to it. These things thus considered, we appre∣hend that when God in Christ justifieth us, he doth not only give us Pardon, Adoption, and Life; but he adjudgeth and sentenceth us to be the Persons that by the Covenant of Redemption were to be pardoned, adopted and saved in the right of Christ; and to whom the Gospel by its Promise gives a personal Right to that Pardon, Adoption and Life as purchased by Christ: And he esteems and adjudgeth that the Obedience and Sufferings of Christ in their full virtue, is our pleadable Security for the enjoyment of them, where∣by we have a right to plead his Death and Merits with God as what procured these for us, as well as God's Fidelity, who promised them to us in his Gospel.
Page 86 You see by this account that we rise not so high as to say, we are accounted to do and suffer what Christ did, and to be absolved immediately by the Sentence of the Law of Works; nor fall we so low as a mere Parti∣cipation of the Effects of Christ's Righteous∣ness, but assert an Imputation of Christ's Righteousness it self relatively to those Effects. Christ's Right is applied, and his very Obe∣dience reckoned to us, as what pleads with God for those Effects, and secures us against all condemning Obstacles and Challenges. The justifying Sentence is not the Sentence of the Law; God saith not, You have perfectly obeyed, therefore you shall live; you have satisfied the Curse, therefore you shall not die: Yet the Righteousness which procured our Salvation, and is our adjudged pleadable Security of enjoying this promised Salvation, includes an Obedience as perfect as that to which the Law promised Life if we had not sinned, and Sufferings equivalent to what the Curse pronounced against us when we sinned. But because we apprehend not where this Law includes such a Sentence as this, viz. because Christ obeyed, you shall live tho you obeyed not; and because Christ who sinned not, did suffer for your Sins, you shall be ab∣solved tho you have sinned; therefore we ra∣ther conceive the justifying Sentence to be the Sentence of the Gospel-Law, yet connoting the Law of Mediation, and presupposing a Satisfaction made to the Law of Works, which we conceive to be to this purpose. Thou be∣lieving Sinner, I judicially esteem and pro∣nounce Page 87 thee to be one that I promised to my Son in the Covenant of Redemption, to pardon, adopt and glorify in Reward of his perfect Obedience to my Law, and Satis∣faction to my Justice, which I acknowledg he hath performed: As also to be one of those Persons to whom I made a Promise of Pardon, Adoption and eternal Glory, when I offer'd these Blessings to all Sinners who would be∣lieve on him. Thou art therefore in the vir∣tue of the Promise made to Christ, and the Promise made thee, adjudged to receive For∣giveness, Adoption and Glory, and to have a right to plead the Righteousness of Christ for thy safe and comfortable Enjoyment of them in the prevailing Efficacy of his Merits, who alone procured both these Blessings, and that Faith upon which thy Estate is so much altered. Charity obligeth me to think that some well-meaning Persons who talk of eter∣nal Justification in Christ, intend no more than this Promise made to Christ in the Co∣venant of Redemption: and by not distin∣guishing between this Promise, that all who should believe on him should be justified; and that other Article, all the Elect shall believe on him (which is a distinct thing) they con∣sider not that by the first no Man can be justified till he be a Believer; and the last Article only assures that the Elect will be Believers, and by the Consequence of the first that they shall all be justified, but yet not before they are Believers. Isa. 53. 10, 11. He shall see his Seed, and by his Knowledg (or Faith in him) he shall justify many, are Page 88 not the same thing: The former ascertains the Elect shall believe, the latter that they shall be justified when they believe; nor could it be otherwise even when Christ upon the Cross paid that for the sake of which these Promises were made to him; he must then pursuant to the Compact die, that Believers might be justified, and the Elect become Be∣lievers, otherwise the Articles of the Cove∣nant of Redemption must be altered, and not direct his engaged Performances and Rewards; nor can I chuse but wonder to see our Divines in their Dispute against the Pa∣pists proving that Justification is a forensic or judicial Act, and yet find many using terms so improper to such an Act, and omitting, yea condemning those which are proper.
But to digress no further; you see what is this part of the difference about Justifica∣tion; yet remember our Brethren do not say we our selves did personally obey or suffer, or are reputed so to do, but are reputed to have done it in Christ, who was one legal Person with us in the account of the Law; nor do they deny the Pardon of Sin, but own it, whatever others think of the difficulty of re∣conciling such things; they do deny also that we can be said to satisfy in Christ, tho we died in him, or that we merited in him, tho he merited. Further, there's no difference about the Effects of the imputed Righteous∣ness of Christ, nor yet about the Righteous∣ness it self as including both his active and passive Obedience, nor the time of its Impu∣tation, viz. when we believe.
Page 89 And shall we condemn each other notwith∣standing this Agreement in almost every thing besides the manner of Imputation, and this is about what God accounts us to have done in Christ, and not what Christ hath done for us? Shall Men rend each other, because one thinks there can be no Imputation be∣yond what he grants; the other suspects it is not an Imputation unless it be in his words; and yet both grant an Imputation effectually available to all the same real Purposes, viz. the Honour of Christ and Grace, the Ac∣complishment of God's Decree, and the Ac∣ceptance and Salvation of Believers, as if they had never been unrighteous, with ground of believing hopes about it equally strong and quieting?
2. The other Point undecided is, what Title or Name we should give to that Faith which is required in the Person on whom God's justifying Act doth terminate: our Bre∣thren scruple our calling it a Qualification, a Condition or a Righteousness. Others of us think each of these properly ascribed to it, a Qualification as it distinguisheth one Man described by the Word, which declares who shall be justified, from another who, according to the Rule of the Word, and the Incongruity of the thing, is not to be justi∣fied, unless the Divine Perfections and the Methods of Grace should be reflected on; for by the Gospel-Rule he that hath not Faith is to abide under Wrath. And how unbecoming and of ill Consequence would it be to entitle a Man to Glory, and receive Page 90 him to favour for Christ's sake while he re∣jecteth Christ, and is resolved to tread under foot his Blood, tho it's from God's Promise and not any Merit of Congruity that the Accepter of Christ should be justified? They call it a Condition, not to signify any Merit or Compensation, which they abhor, but to connote God's Offers of these Blessings to more than do accept of them, as also a Di∣vine Authority injoyning a Compliance with the Terms on which the Blessing is offered, tho that be no more than a meet Acceptance. And to shew the manner of God's conferring them upon that Acceptation, they think it may be called a Gospel-Righteousness, not as meritorious of the Blessing, no, nor a full Conformity to the Gospel-Precept, but as it is the performed Condition of the offered Be∣nefit according to the Tenor of the Gospel-Promise, which always supposes Christ's Sa∣tisfaction, and his paying the impetrating Price of all such offered Blessings.
And they are more induced to account the performed Condition a Gospel-Righteousness, because the Gospel so very often speaks of a subjective Righteousness in us, and denomi∣nates imperfect Men righteous so expresly with respect to that Righteousness: they also think that this cannot be from Obedience to the Law of Works unless it were perfect, which it is not, nor yet from full Obedience to the Precepts of the Gospel, which enjoyn no less as a Duty than doth the Law it self; there∣fore they can find no ground of that Deno∣mination, besides a Conformity to what the Page 91 Gospel-Promise appointeth as a Condition of the Good it entitles a Person to; yet still as a means of giving us in a way of governing Grace what was promised to Christ for us, as a Reward of his full Satisfaction to Legal Iustice.
But our Brethren think these Terms too high, and prefer calling Faith an Instrument, as many Protestants do, who also call it a Condition: Some chuse to call it a means, I suppose to note a physical Influence in oppo∣sition to what's moral, and expressive of any Law; both which by the way we apprehend an ascribing much more to Faith than we dare, because it makes Faith efficacious from its na∣tural Aptitude and Activity, without a Divine Ordination of it to that end by any Promise.
The Reason of any Debate concerning these Expressions lies in this: Our Brethren consider all the Gospel-Duties and Benefits as a mere physical Order of Blessings decreed by God to the Elect; and so one is given before the other, according as the Gospel describeth that Order: We grant the said Order, and should insist on no more were not the Benefits offered to more besides the Elect, and still used as Motives to induce Men to submit to those Duties, and this by Promises of the Benefits if the Duty be performed, and Threatnings of withholding the Benefits with additional Misery to be inflicted if they be not performed, with an account of judicial Proceedings towards Men with re∣spect to their performance or non-perfor∣mance of the said official Terms. But Page 92 things being thus, and so very apparently the Indications of governing Methods, and the Aptitude of our Ministry for Conversion and Perseverance so much depending upon the affecting of Mens hopes and fears; we are forced to own that the Gospel is not only a description of the foresaid Order, but that it is a Law of Grace subordinate to the Co∣venant of Redemption.
Yet that none may suspect the difference above what it is, I shall recite what our Brethren grant in their Declaration. They say, p. 13. We are true Owners of Iustifica∣tion at the instant when we believe. P. 15. It must be said that even in foro Dei, in God's Court, and according to the Iudgment in that open Court which God hath set up in his Word; and according to the Proceedings of his Word (which is the Rule he professeth to judg Men by, and therein he keeps to the Rule of his Word; as Christ saith, I judg no Man, but the Word that I speak shall judg you, Ioh. 12. 47, 48.) God doth judg▪ and pronounce his Elect ungodly and unjustified till they believe. All these are the words of Dr. Goodwin, which they ap∣prove of, and note that he in vol. 2. of the Creatures, lib. 2. cap. 7. p. 51, to 63. proves at large, that Faith in Christ is of another kind than the Faith required by the Law of Works. They also say, p. 46. God in the Covenant of Grace freely offereth unto Sin∣ners Life and Salvation by Iesus Christ, re∣quiring of them▪ Faith in him that they may be saved. Note the Assembly of Divines in Westminsier, larger Catech. Q. 32. addPage 93 requiring Faith as the Condition to interest them in Christ. And less. Cat. to escape the Wrath and Curse of God due to us for Sin, God requireth Faith in Iesus Christ, Repentance unto Life, &c. And in the Savoy Confession as well as theirs, Cap. 18. S. 2. The true Be∣liever's Certainty of Salvation is not a bare con∣jectural and probable Perswasion grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of Faith founded upon the Divine Truth of the Promi∣ses of Salvation, the inward Evidences of those Graces unto which these Promises are made, &c. Of all which our Brethren have approved. To add no more, they declare p. 47. it's an Error, That continued Repentance and Holi∣ness are not in the nature of the thing, nor by the Constitution of the Gospel, necessary to our being possessed of eternal Life: And may it not be supposed that nor is put for and? Also that necessary by Constitution of the Gospel, as distinguished from necessary in the nature of the thing: Some of them may mean an autho∣ritative or rectoral Constitution, i. e. this Order is appointed by Christ as our Ruler, wherein he hath enacted this Connexion, and requireth our Compliance.
These things being put together, must ac∣quit our Brethren from the imputation of ren∣dering Faith, Repentance, or Holiness, need∣less or useless to Salvation, tho they scruple to call it a Gospel-Righteousness; and we hope it may encline them to a forbearance towards us, who think these Concessions contain for sub∣stance all that we intend by the Terms, Con∣dition, and Gospel-Righteousness, which we Page 94 make use of as 〈◊〉 do more exactly, com∣prehensively, and to some purposes more safely express what we conceive to be the true import of these Passages when connected, and which we approve of.
Yet to put things in a fuller Light, I shall represent the matter as it stands by the fore∣cited Passages, to all which they declare their Assent p. 63. The Brethren affirm God in his Covenant offering Life and Salvation to Sinners, and requiring Faith in him that they may be saved; and this Faith in a Mediator commanded by the Gospel (and not by the Law of Works, as Dr. Goodwin saith) with Gospel-Promises of an Interest in Christ and his Benefits, and these are made to this Faith, (as a Condition, saith the Assembly of Divines) and this in such a manner, that the Believer may have an infallible assurance of the Bene∣fits upon an inward evidence of his having this Faith, as that Grace to which the Promise was made, wherein the said Benefits were included. And also that this Gospel includes that Word, which is the Rule of Iudgment, by which Rule God judgeth that Man (tho Elect) who hath not this Faith, to be a Christless, unpardoned Child of Wrath; and him who hath this Faith, to be a true Owner of Christ and Pardon: Also that Re∣pentance is of such necessity to all Sinners, that it as well as Faith, is required that they may e∣scape, and none may expect to be pardoned in a state of Unbelief and Impenitence; yea con∣tinued Repentance and Holiness are necessary to our possession of eternal Life. And all this to be necessary, not only from the nature of Page 95 the thing, but also by the Constitution of the Gospel.
I apprehend this Account is so equivalent to a Gospel-Law of Grace for all its great purpo∣ses, that I shall not be offended at what name they please to give it; and did not a fear of offending them prevent me, I would prove it to be all the Law of Grace which we assert; especially if they would allow that when they say God requireth Faith, that Sinners under Offers of Life may be saved, it's upon his Throne (tho a Throne of Grace) that God in Christ requireth it, and from thence directs his Offers of Salvation to Sinners; and thence sentenceth them who live under Gospel-Offers by their asserted Rule of Iudgment.
However, we have no reason to contend, especially when both agree the Debate is about the Instrument of Donation, and the Qualification of the Subject to receive a Gift, and not about any thing that meriteth the Gift freely bestowed on God's part, and thankfully and humbly received on our part. A low degree of Charity would make allow∣ances on both hands, when the Difference is so minute. They seem jealous of the Honour of Free-Grace (yet owning Christ's Merits:) we are for Free-Grace in opposition to all Merits besides Christ's, but not exclusively of all governing Methods in applying the effects of Free-Grace. They grant Faith in Christ is required, that we may be saved; we more expresly say, it's by a rectoral Authority: they grant it so by the Law of Works; we say it's by a Gospel positive Law, tho we grant when Page 96 this positive Law requireth it, we are obliged also by the general Law of Nature to yield Obedience; yet not by the Law of Works, as specified by Adam's Covenant, which Faith in Christ was inconsistent with from the es∣sential Nature of that Covenant▪ Our Bre∣thren are watchful against any inherent Righ∣teousness of man mingling with Christ's Righ∣teousness: We, besides avoiding of that, are solicitous lest men come short of Salvation by the Righteousness of Christ, through a neg∣lect of what he requireth in all those who shall be saved by it; and yet we declare a∣gainst all things besides Christ's Righteousness to be any impetrating, satisfying, atoning, meriting or compensating Righteousness; and as Faith hath no share or place in this Office, so Christ's Righteousness, tho the sole merito∣rious Cause, is not that which God by the Gospel requires of Sinners that they may be saved by the Righteousness of Christ. Faith is that commanded Requisite, and no more than that; its place is thereto confined: and therefore here's no mingling of our Righteous∣ness with Christ's, because their Use, Place, and Offices be so very distinct.
They seem most afraid of Popery and Ar∣minianism; and therefore keep to this sense of being justified by Faith alone, viz. we are justified only by Christ believed on, or the Object of Faith only is imputed to us for Righ∣teousness. We are truly afraid of Popery and Arminianism, but not only of these, but of Antinomianism too; and therefore are in∣tent to maintain two great Truths included in Page 97 that one Sentence, We are justified by Faith, viz.
1. That the Believer is absolv'd from Guilt, accepted into God's Favour, and entituled to eternal Life in and for Christ's Righteousness, and neither Faith, nor any Grace or Act of ours make the least recompense to God, or is the least Price or Merit of Pardon or Life, or any motive inclining divine Justice to promise or accept us into his favour, or to treat us as righteous Persons: This from our heart we own, and know that this is what sound Protestants intended by it against the Pa∣pists.
2. Yet as God promised to Christ in the Covenant of Redemption, all Belivers should be absolv'd, &c. so in the the Gospel-Offer of his Grace to Sinners, he promised to Men, that he would in and for the Righteousness of Christ, absolve, accept, treat as righteous Persons, and give eternal Life (already pur∣chased by Christ) to every true Believer; commanding Sinners to believe, and threatning that if they believed not, they should re∣main condemned, yea become subject to sorer Punishments: And that he would judg them by this Gospel-Rule of Iudgment. Whence we are attentive to a second Truth, viz. That God accepts and accounteth Faith a performed Condition of this Gospel-Covenant, and upon it acquits the Sinner from the Charge of dam∣ning Infidelity, and adjudgeth the Believer, qua such, in opposition to Infidels, to be, in Christ's Right, and by his Gospel-Promise, en∣titled to a present personal Interest in the fore∣said Page 98 Absolution, Acceptance, and Gift of eter∣nal Life; yet as procured by Christ's Righ∣teousness alone, and applied for his sake.
To add no more, our Brethren in the Doc∣trine of Justification almost confine their Regards to the Satisfaction of Christ, where∣in Christ transacted with the provoked Ju∣stice of God: We, besides that, consider a propitiated God in Christ applying the effects of his Redemption to Men in a Method of governing Grace, but without any real dif∣ference in the Doctrine of Satisfaction; and withal sincerely granting the Condition is per∣formed in the Strength of Christ freely dis∣pensed. Yet upon the whole they provide against carnal Security, and we against carnal Boasting: They are far from designing to e∣clipse the Glory of Christ, as King, Lawgiver, and Iudg; and we as far from intending the diminution of his Glory as a Priest. How un∣reasonable and unhappy would perpetuated Contests by where the Grounds pretended are of so little weight?
Thus I have insisted on what seems most like a Difference in the Doctrine of Satisfaction and Iustification. Some weak persons may think there is a great Controversy, where I see nothing worth our notice, they will say. Some think we are justified by one Act of Faith, viz. Reliance. Well, but they say ju∣stifying Faith is receiving Christ, &c. as well as a Reliance. Ay, but a Man sees only with his Eye, tho more is of the Essence of a Man: But I say no Man sees without that which is of the Essence of his Eye. Another thinks Page 99 justifying Faith as such receives Christ only as a Priest; others say, it receives him also as a King and Prophet: yet the last say the con∣vinced Sinner hath an especial respect to Christ's Priesthood as most agreeable to his present case; and the former will say its but an hy∣pocritical Faith that receives not Christ as Prophet and King as well as Priest. Nay, its not the true Christ, the anointed Messias, who is received, unless it be as Prophet, King, and Priest, even Christ Iesus the Lord. Ay, but some say Repentance is an effect of Iustification; but there be very few of our Congregational Brethren of that mind, and I suppose they mean Works meet for Repentance, and not a change of the purpose of the heart.
Nay, but several say, Faith alone is the instru∣ment of Iustification; others make Repentance the Condition of Forgiveness. What then? seeing the first grant there is no justifying Faith without Repentance, and the last grant the aptitude of Faith to receive and acknow∣ledg Christ (which I suppose they mean by instrument) is far greater than Repentance. But when both sides consider Faith as an or∣dained Condition as well as an Instrument, they'l scarce dispute but that Repentance is a Condition of Pardon as well as Faith, unless they would agree to join them together by calling Faith a penitent Faith, or Repentance a believing Repentance; connoting at once a Sinner's purpose to return to God by Christ the Mediator, and his closing with Christ the Mediator, that he may return to God by him: tho I think the end is first agreed to, before Page 100 the way or means to that end is resolved on or made use of.
Obj. But sure there is a vast difference be∣tween those who think we are justified by Faith only, and those who think we are justified by Works as well as by Faith.
Answ. 1. Not so very great; when both mean that we are justified neither by Faith nor Works, as the word justified is commonly taken: for both agree that we are absolved, accepted as righteous, and entitled to e∣ternal Life only for Christ's Death and O∣bedience, as the only meriting, satisfactory and atoning Righteousness.
2. They who say it's by Faith alone that we apply this Righteousness, do also grant that Faith is not alone in the person to whom God applies the Righteousness of Christ; and when they apply it to themselves, Repentance, Love, &c. are Concomitants with Faith: And they who think we are justified by Works, as they think its God's applying Christ's Righ∣teousness to us, and not our applying it to our selves, that is the great justifying Act; so they grant God justifieth us as soon as we repent and believe with the heart, and suspends not a justified State, till Works meet for Repentance or the Effects of Faith are produced; yea, should a man dy then, he would be certainly saved.
3. They who say its by Faith alone, ac∣knowledg that justifying Faith will certainly produce good Works; and if good Works and persevering Holiness do not follow, it was a dead Faith; and because dead, it never was Page 101 a justifying Faith, however men flatter'd them∣selves: Also that Mens Faith, tho not their Persons, is justified by their Works: yea the most Judicious own, that if Sin should reign in Believers, and they apostatize, they would be condemned, (tho the Promise of Perseve∣rance make that impossible;) and therefore persevering Holiness and good Works so far continue their justification, as they prevent what would bring them into Condemnation; and Faith is the Condition of the Continua∣tion of Justification. See Dr. Owen of Iustifi∣cation, p. 207, 208, 306.
On the other hand, they who say we are justified by Works, do account Works to be no more but the executing the foederal consenting Act of Faith; and so its Faith exerting it self by various occasions: and considering that the Believer's not only for∣giving his Enemies, but his persevering in Faith and Holiness, are plain Conditions in many Promises made thereto; and God pro∣nounceth to Believers, that he will have no pleasure in any Man who drawerh back, and he shall die if Sin reigneth in him; Heb. 10. 38. Rom. 8. 13. Mat. 6. 14, 15. They conceive that by Perseverance in Faith and true Holi∣ness, they are kept from being chargeable with final and total Apostacy, and from Obnoxious∣ness to the Evils denounced by the Gospel a∣gainst Apostates as such, and are adjudged to be under the Influence and Safeguard of the Promises made to Believers as persevering: nevertheless they abhor a thought that Per∣severance in Faith and Holiness, or any good Page 102 Work, is any meriting Righteousness, or the least Compensation for Sin, or entitling Price of the least Benefit; nor exclude they the need of multiplied and continued Pardon, or make they any Blessing due of Debt; but they rely wholly on Christ's Merits for these things, as the only procuring Cause; tho they are affected and governed by these places of God's Word, which are directed to Believers as part of his Rule of Iudgment; well knowing that whatever Sentence the said Words pass in this Life, God executes in part now, and more at Death; but at the great Day it will be so∣lemnly pronounced, and perfectly executed.
These respective Concessions duly weighed, secure those who say we are justified by Faith alone from the danger of Licentiousness; and those who say we are justified by Works also, from detracting from the Honour of Christ's Righteousness, as having the sole meriting, a∣toning Virtue and Efficacy in Justification; and do not only grant Perseverance, but think these conditional Promises and Comminations are apt and designed means of it, in Subjects capable of moral Government, and whose Warfare is unaccomplished.
However such different Sentiments may ap∣pear to others, I lay so little stress upon them, that I had not thought it worth my labour to have printed a Sheet against any man who confessed the necessity of saving Faith (as de∣scribed in the Gospel) to Justification, (Re∣pentance and Love still accompanying that Faith in the Object on whom God's justifying Act doth terminate) and the Uneffectualness Page 103 of Faith to save any who neglected to perform good Works, and to persevere in Faith and Holiness. Such as granted but these things I had never wrote against for scrupling the conditional respect of them to the Gospel-Law. But Dr. Crisp's Notions I apprehended dan∣gerous; and they so greatly prevailing, my Brethren thought my confuting them necessary at that time: whereas I had no purpose when I wrote against Dr. Crisp, to intermeddle with these other points; but some Congregational Brethren in their Attempts against my Book, did from a very few occasional Expressions therein, accuse us of Socinianism, Arminia∣nism, and Popery: and that they might have some pretence to fix that Charge, they turn∣ed the Controversy into these lesser Matters, whereby I was necessitated either to insist on them (however against my Will) or else abide under the foresaid severe Imputation, to the prejudice not only of my own Ministry, but also of most of my Brethren.
An Attempt to accommodate the difference between such as say Christ's Righteous∣ness is imputed only as to Effects, and not in se; and those of us who think it is imputed in se.
FOreseeing an Objection that will be im∣proved against a peaceable Forbearance towards a number, however small, and that Rigidness may include in that number whom∣ever the Objectors shall disaffect, it's of use to state it.
Object. Granting the forementioned Points to be reduced below a Cause of Dissention, yet the Difference cannot be compromised between such as say the Righteousness of Christ is imputed [in se] for Justification, and them who say it is not imputed in se, but quoad effectus.
Answ. I think it may be accommodated; at least so far as to cut off just Pretences for hereticating and dividing from each other: To which end I will consider these several Opinions, and then reduce the difference.
First, Among them who say Christ's Righ∣teousness is imputed [in se] there be two Opi∣nions most noted, and whereto all others are reducible: Of both these I have al∣ready Page 105 treated so much, that little more is needful.
1. Some think the Elect are judicially, ac∣cording to the Law of Works, accounted to have done and suffered in Christ all the Law demanded, both as the Punishment of Sin, and the Merit of eternal Life.
Such must hold that Christ's Death and O∣bedience are the formal Righteousness of the Elect, and the formal Cause of Justification, and that from the first moment of their per∣sonal Subsistence; yea, and (except making Christ to be their Representative) without any Gift of that Righteousness, it being imputed not of Grace but of Legal Iustice, as Adam's Obedience had been if he had finally obeyed, and his Offence now is upon his sinning.
There are others who are for this judicial reckoning Sinners to obey and suffer in Christ; but they hold they are not adjudged to have done this, till they are Believers; and then they are legally just before God, and as such entitled to eternal Life. These speak more safely, but less consistently; they limit the time, from a Conviction that the whole scope of the Gospel must be contradicted, if Unbe∣lievers do not remain condemned, and Be∣lievers only are justified. But yet it seems hard to apprehend, that God by the Law of Works accounts the Person of a Believer to have suffered in Christ, and therefore to be absolved, whom yet he did not account to suffer in Christ while he was an Vnbeliever, and therefore condemned him, and this by that very same Law which now acquits him. Page 106 I know, to make this consist, it's offered that the Elect are not Christ's Seed till they be∣come Believers. But this comes short, for it will thence follow that Christ in his Death was a strict Representative, who personated Be∣lievers, [qua] Believers, which will induce ill Consequences: And yet further, it is not true, that the Persons of Believers were se∣minally in Christ when he died, as we were in Adam when he sinned; and so no Argu∣ment can be brought from that Instance. I grant that both the Merit and the powerful Virtue whereby our Persons in time obtain Faith, were in Christ before we were born; but that makes not Christ the Root of our Persons at that time, but of that regenerating Virtue whereby we become Believers; and therefore tho as to this change of our Quali∣fication we may be called Christ's Seed when we believe, yet it's not such a Seed as it may be said of, we suffered in him, as we sinned in Adam who was the natural Root of our Per∣sons, and thereupon such a Representative as his Descendents sinned in. What may be said of Christ's adopting Merit will have no place here, for these Authors make Adoption to be an Effect of Justification, and so the Imputation is prior.
2. There be others who are for imputed Righteousness in se, but cannot approve of the former manner of Imputation, among whom there is some variety in wording their Conceptions, but they come to one and the same thing, viz. that God adjudgeth the Be∣liever to be one whose Absolution, Adoption Page 107 and Glory were promised to Christ in Re∣ward of his Death and Obedience by the Covenant of Redemption, (which are pro∣mised also to the Believer himself in the Gospel-Covenant) and for his actual Inte∣rest and Enjoyment thereof, as also Accep∣tance and Treatment as a righteous Person, against all Challenges, God judicially ac∣counts what Christ hath done and suffered to be his pleadable Security: This we take to be Imputation.
Secondly, By the Opinion of those who say Christ's Righteousness is not imputed [in se] but only as to Effects; they in Expressions oppose all the forementioned account, deny∣ing that the first Head is true, and that the second is any Imputation of Christ's Righte∣ousness in se. Nevertheless they grant that Christ's Righteousness is the meritorious Cause of our Justification by Faith, and seem to insist mostly upon its Efficacy to that end, as Christ's Satisfaction was the ground upon which God enacted the Gospel-Cove∣nant, wherein our Faith, tho imperfect, is accounted for Righteousness. Concerning this Opinion I shall offer a few things.
1. None ought to narrow it, as if the Authors meant that Pardon and eternal Life are not merited by the Righteousness of Christ; for they affirm, that these and other Gospel-Blessings are merited by Christ as well as the Gospel-Covenant. Pray say not this; it's not only the Covenant it self, but those very Blessings which that Covenant conveys, that are the merited Effects of Christ's Death and Page 108 Obedience; they were his deserved Rewards which are dispensed to us upon believing. This I insert, to obviate a Conceit too much improved by some, so stupid, or worse, that they will not own this Distinction, and still cry out as if their Opinion confined the In∣fluence of Christ's Righteousness to the pro∣curing of a Law whereby Men were to pur∣chase Pardon and Life by their own Faith: Whereas they are so far from this, that they affirm these Blessings were already accounted purchased, and Authority in Christ to dispense them before he could enact such a Law.
2. They intend not to exclude Christ's Righteousness from being imputed in any sense; for they say it's imputed quoad effectus, and therefore should not be charged to deny all Imputation, or represented to say, we are pardoned and saved for our own Works, without any Imputation of Christ's Death and Obedience at all.
3. In all which they affirm concerning Justification, they still suppose Christ's com∣plete Satisfaction, and are sound therein: None can accuse them to differ from the Or∣thodox as to Christ's expiating Sacrifice, or impetration of eternal Life.
4. I could wish a very worthy Person of this Opinion would review his own account of Justification, wherein he saith, it's that Act whereby God imputes to every sound Believer his Faith for Righteousness upon the account of Christ's Satisfaction and Merits, and gives Pardon and Life as the Benefits of it, i. e. of Justification, which he further explicates, Page 109—Through Christ's Sacrifice the Defects of this Faith, which is our Righteousness, are pardoned, and by his Merits that imperfect Duty is ac∣counted or imputed to us for Righteousness, which it is not in it self. Had I thus stated this Point, I should ask my self, Do not I set Pardon too remote from Christ's Sacri∣fice as the meritorious Cause? And how can Pardon be the Effect of imputing Faith for Righteousness, (which is Justification,) and yet God cannot impute Faith for Righteous∣ness unless he first pardon its Defects for the sake of Christ's Sacrifice? But the cause of my mentioning this Account follows.
5. They do affirm what amounts to a real Imputation of Christ's Righteousness in se, at least what supposeth this Imputation, and infers it to be necessary: For how by Christ's Merits can a Righteousness in it self imper∣fect be reckoned before a just God for our perfect Righteousness, and yet those Merits, for which it is so reckoned, not be imputed at all for Righteousness to us who have that Faith? Would Faith be no Righteousness, except the Divine Mind did apply the Merits of Christ to Faith to make it a Righteousness, upon which I am accounted righteous by this Faith, and yet the Divine Mind not apply to me that Righteousness of Christ, without which my Faith had left me still unrighteous? whereas it seems undeniable, as far as Christ's Righteousness is necessary to make my per∣sonal Faith my Righteousness in God's ac∣count, that same very Righteousness is ne∣cessary to make my Person righteous in God's Page 110 account. Moreover, they own that God pro∣mised to Christ in reward of his meriting Sufferings and Obedience, that all Believers should be absolved and glorified, and can they be adjudged to this Absolution and Glory without a judicial acknowledgment that they are to be absolved and glorified in that Right of Christ which resulted from that Promise made to him? And can that be without an Imputation of those Sufferings and Obedience of Christ which are rewarded in that Right of Christ, and thereby in those Blessings wherein Believers have this judicially acknowledged interest? They also abhor a thought that our Faith can be presented to God as any Righteousness in Satisfaction to Justice, Atonement for our Sin, or the me∣riting Price of our Salvation: withal they grant there must be such a Righteousness, and that this was Christ's Righteousness, and that our Sins are satisfied for, we receive the Atonement, are reconciled, and obtain the Sal∣vation so purchased. Now is it possible that things should stand thus, and Christ's Righte∣ousness not be imputed to us? Can our righ∣teous Judg declare himself satisfied, atoned, and reconciled to us Sinners for the Righte∣ousness of Christ, and not impute to us that Righteousness in se, as what he accounts a Plea for us in his account? Can we enjoy the merited Effects of Christ's Death, and that Death not be reckoned what secures to us those Effects against the Challenges which the Me∣rits of it were designed to answer? Finally, Do not these Divines oft rest on and plead Page 111 with God the Merits of Christ more imme∣diately and directly than a denial of Impu∣tation will admit? when they rest on Christ's Righteousness, and plead it with God for Pardon, (tho it's true we could not expect Pardon for it, were not Pardon promised for the sake thereof.) I think their Minds oft act more directly and fully towards the Righteousness of Christ, than to intend it thus, viz. I trust in Christ's Merits for Par∣don, as that Pardon is the Effect of that Justification wherein our Faith is accounted through Christ's Satisfaction a Righteousness according to the Gospel-Covenant, which Covenant was procured by the Merits of Christ's Death.
I. grant there may be use of this pro∣gressive manner of arriving at Christ's Death for support of our Faith as we confine its regards to the Gospel-Covenant, and examine our Interest thereby as a Rule of Judgment. But I humbly think that when we plead with God for Pardon for the sake of Christ's Merits, we have a more direct Eye to the Covenant of Redemption, wherein a Pardon was promised to Christ for Believers in re∣ward of his Death, and which the Gospel distinctly expresseth in this, viz. That Par∣don is granted for the sake of Christ's Death, as what procured it in se, as well as what merited the Gospel-Covenant, which is the Instrument of the Donation of it. And so by keeping our Eye on the Covenant of Re∣demption, we plead Christ's Right as more immediately imputable; and by keeping our Page 112 Thoughts on the Gospel-Connexion between Pardon and Christ's Death as the procuring Merit of it, we plead Christ's very Perfor∣mances mediately imputed, viz. as our plea∣dable Security for our certain obtaining and safe enjoying the said Forgiveness.
6. The Reasons why these venerable Per∣sons are so intent to deny an Imputation of Christ's Righteousness in se, are, 1. An appre∣hension that there's no such Imputation, unless we are accounted by God to have done and suffered what Christ did, which would un∣avoidably induce the Antinomian Scheme as most consistent. But that I deny to be the only import of that Phrase; for when that Righteousness it self is imputed relatively to the special Effects of it, it's truly an Impu∣tation of it in se; and whereas they of the other Extreme say, that its being a pleadable Security for our Pardon, is but an Effect; I answer, This Righteousness it self being that Security is an Effect of the Compact be∣tween the Father and the Son, and it's not this Effect is imputed, but the Righteousness it self, as such; and by the same Rule, as they can deny it to be imputed in se, because it's im∣puted as a pleadable Security, they may better say it's being imputed for Justification and for Atonement, &c. would make it to be no Im∣putation of it in se, for those are but Effects, and that by virtue of the same Compact. 2. A Zeal for the Gospel-Righteousness of Faith: But that is very consistent with the imputed Righteousness of Christ; and tho both meet in our Justification, yet it's under Page 113 very distinct Considerations, of which after∣wards.
Nor can I forbear again to inform the World that both Extremes arise from too much disregard of the one or the other Co∣venants, wherein the Salvation of a Sinner is adjusted. These Brethren, forgetting the Covenant of Redemption to which the Gos∣pel-Covenant is subordinate, too little men∣tion the Righteousness of Christ; the other Brethren overlook the Gospel-Covenant, and darken a Gospel-Righteousness of Faith: Whereas a distinct respect to the Rule of Satisfaction and Impetration on the one hand, and to the Rule of the Application of impe∣trated Benefits on the other hand, would put a Period to their principal Disputes.
From this Representation of the several Sentiments of the Brethren concerned in the Point before us, a mutual Forbearance seems no unjustifiable thing between them who differ most; and no considerable Disagree∣ment remains between the others. 1. They who think the Imputation of Christ's Righte∣ousness in se, is God's reckoning we did and suffered what Christ did, claim a tender re∣gard from them who say it's imputed only as to Effects, for they disown the Antino∣mian Consequences of it, and abhor all Abuses of it to carnal Boasts and profane Liber∣tinism, of which before: How unreasona∣ble then were it to perpetuate Contests about this Point from the ill Consequences of it, when those Consequences are denied? On the other hand, it appears too like uncharitable Page 114 Rigidness for them to condemn as intolera∣ble, such who say Christ's Righteousness is imputed only as to Effects: For whatever is the sound of their words, they ascribe no∣thing to Faith or Works which belongs to Christ's Righteousness; nor do they de∣tract from the Honour of Christ's Righte∣ousness any thing which these Brethren ascribe thereto, and are Orthodox in the Doctrine of Satisfaction against Socinianism and Po∣pery. When they say Faith is an accepted Righteousness, mean they that it's a Satis∣faction either to atone for Sin, or merit Life? No, they abhor it, and confine both to Christ's Righteousness entirely: But they do not say Christ's Righteousness is imputed, that's not true, for they say it is imputed; Ay, but not in se. But should that be so, would not it be far from a Christian Spirit, to be im∣placable for not using a Phrase which the Spirit of God makes no use of, who surely knew how to express Truth as properly as fallible Men should pretend to? Yea, but the Scriptures speak what amounts to this Phrase. And so do they in granting Christ's Righte∣ousness to be the only Atonement and me∣riting Cause of Pardon and Life, and Ac∣ceptance with God as righteous Persons. But do not they think we stand before God only in this Righteousness of Faith, and not of Christ? No; they assure us, that what Righ∣teousness Faith is, it's so by Christ's Sacri∣fice and Merits, and it's only a Righteous∣ness as a performed Condition of the Gospel, describing the Persons who obtain that Sal∣vation Page 115 which is the Effect of the Righteous∣ness of Christ; and whose Satisfaction still interposeth between the Justice of God and a believing Sinner: Neither are they back∣ward to ascribe to efficacious Grace that Virtue whereby we are enclined and enabled to believe. Men may expose each other by fiery Debates after such Concessions, but he who expresseth most Heat, discovers the more ungospel Spirit, if not the weaker Cause, and weaker Judgment.
2. As for such who own Christ's Righte∣ousness in se to be imputed in the second sense, and those who say it's not imputed in it self but as to Effects; if they contend, the first must quarrel the other for denying in words what he grants for substance; and the latter must be warm against the former, because he will not join with him in offend∣ing the weak, and hazarding Truth by re∣jecting a Phrase, which, well explained, doth properly express what both intend.
An Abstract of what helped me to avoid some Perplexity concerning Iustification, with some account of our being justified at the Creator and Redeemer's Bar.
THO I avoid arguing any Controversy in these Sheets, which are designed for Peace, yet I think it may promote this heal∣ing Design, to give a short Abstract of some Thoughts whereby I arrived to Satisfaction in the Doctrine of Justification.
§. 1. Justification being a forensick Act, our Thoughts ought not to wander beyond what's necessary to it as a judicial Sentence, nor disregard whatever belongs to that. Here the principal Considerations are the Judg, the Rule of Judgment, the Cause and Per∣son to be tried by that Rule, and the Sen∣tence to be past by the Judg on the Person whose Cause is so tried, which must be no other than what that Rule of Judgment, duly applied, containeth. Hereby what some call Constitutive Justification, is strictly no other than the Conformity of the Person to the Rule of Judgment, by which he is acquitta∣ble or rewardable, or both. Passive Justifi∣cation is no other than the Effect of the ju∣dicial Sentence, or the Person's State consi∣dered as absolved, or to be rewarded, or both, Page 117 by the Sentence now judicially past upon him, and supposeth a Sentence, and is mea∣sured by it.
§. 2. A justifying Sentence is past upon eve∣ry justified Person, and continues to pass up∣on him by the Gospel-Promises applied by an Omnipresent, All-seeing, Infallible, Faithful, Almighty God, Rom. 5. 1, 2. The Gospel-offer is the Rule of Judgment, the Gospel in its respective Promises complied with, is God's justifying Sentence, and that, conclusive and effectual, tho not so discernable by us, as if it were solemnly pronounced. 1. Here the transcendent Perfections of God must raise our Minds above Human Judicatories: he needs no Evidence, because he knoweth all things; there needs no Summons to appear, for he is ever with us; he cannot err in Judgment, for he is inflexibly righteous, and knows the Rule of Judgment in its extent and allowances. 2. We know not what So∣lemnity this Sentence may be pronounced with concerning us, tho out of our hearing, what in Heaven, where there is Joy for the Conversion of Sinners; what at the Throne, where Christ is our interceding Advocate, &c. And sometimes God condescends to make it audible to our own Consciences by the received Testimony of his Spirit. 3. This Sentence is in part executed upon every Believer as to what is promised for the present, as well as his Title is adjudged to what is reserved for the future. The in-dwelling Spirit, Assistan∣ces peculiar to Christ's Members, Answers of Prayer, the Comforts of the Holy Ghost, Page 118 and whatever special Actings of Providence belong only to God's adopted Ones, are the Execution of the justifying Sentence, and suppose such a Sentence past, as well as that it is a gracious one. 4. God still pronounceth a justifying Sentence according to the variety of his Gospel-Promises, tho that great one which alters our State passeth upon our first believing. As he adjudgeth us to Pardon and Adoption upon our first acceptance of his Grace, so he adjudgeth us non-forfeiters up∣on our abiding in Christ, or persevering ac∣ceptance, instanced as the various Promises describe the Heirs thereof.
§. 3. The same justifying Sentence that God past by his Promises applied by himself in this Life, will be more solemnly and con∣vincingly pronounced at the Judgment-day, when the full and perfect Execution of the Sentence is to take place.
1. We shall be as truly judged at that day as if we had not been sentenced, or the Sen∣tence executed at all in this Life, or at Death. The wise God who knows the Subserviency hereof to Practical Religion, doth oft and most expresly deliver it, and in words as if we were all to be among those found alive when the Trumpet sounds. 2 Cor. 5. 10. We must all appear before the Iudgment-seat of Christ, that we may all receive, &c. Rom. 14. 10, 12. Every one of us shall give an account of himself to God, 1 Pet. 4. 5. And what must we give an account of? Our Words, Mat. 12. 36. Secrets of Hearts, Rom. 2. 16. use of Ta∣lents, Mat. 25. Heb. 13. 17. our Works, &c. Page 119 that is, every thing as gives Evidence concern∣ing Mens Condition, as it's determinable by the Rule of Judgment, and principally cen∣ters in this, Have they sincerely accepted of the Salvation offered by the Redeemer?
2. The Rule of Judgment and Sentence at that day will be the same as that by which eve∣ry Believer is justified on this side Death; it's no new or other Sentence, but the same more solemnly declared, unless you'll say it includes the entire extent of the Rule for the time of trial, as well as that which changed our State.
3. The great design of that solemn Process and open Sentence, is to vindicate God in Christ as no Respecter of Persons, in the ex∣tremely different State of the Damned and the Saved, both in this Life and Eternity, especially such as lived under the offers of Salvation; and withal to vindicate his own mysterious Methods towards the Justified in their past Life, as also them from unjust Aspersions, 2 Thess. 1. Dan. 12. Mat. 22. & 25. But to instance no more than the first, he'll convince Angels and Men by manifested Instances, that they whom he justified, and now saveth, were Persons justifiable by that Rule of Judgment whereby the others are condemned; and that the Sentence he pro∣nounceth and executes on each, is the very Sentence which that Rule impartially applied to their real Cases denounced.
§. 4. The Rule of Judgment in its nature and scope is to be principally regarded in order to right Apprehensions concerning the Page 120 justifying Sentence: This determineth what is a justifying Righteousness, and what is not; this declares the nature of the adjudged Title, whether it be of Grace or Debt, dependent or independent; thereby is evident what we are adjudged to, and whether the Sentence pas∣seth upon several complex Conditions, or one particular one; for we must be free from whatever the Rule of Judgment denounceth condemnable, and not be without what it confineth its promised Absolution or Bene∣fits to; seeing the Lord our Judg doth sen∣tence us as this revealed Rule takes hold of us.
§. 5. I find nothing plainer, than that on the one hand we are made righteous by Christ's Obedience, Rom. 5. 19. 2 Cor. 5. 21. and accepted in the Beloved, Eph. 1. 6, 7. and washed from our Sins in his Blood, Rev. 1. 5. and we receive the Atonement, Rom. 5. 11. And on the other hand, that Faith is imputed for Righteousness, Rom. 4. 9, 11, 22, 24. and we are justified by Faith, Rom. 5. 1. chap. 3. 30. and by our words, Mat. 11. 37. and by our Works, Iam. 2. 24. and Men are called righteous with respect to their Graces and Actings short of Perfection; and that Christ's judicial Proceedings are upon Mens Temper and Behaviour, Mat. 22. 25. chap. 10. 32. and Promises of Pardon and Life are made still to Repentance, Faith, and Perseverance; and the Gospel denounceth Death against impe∣nitent Ones, Luke 13. 3. Infidels, Iob. 3. 36. Disobedient, Rom. 2. 8. Barren, Heb. 6. 8. Apostates, Heb. 10. 38. and Workers of Ini∣quity, Page 121Luke 13. 27. Nor can it be overlook'd that Perfection is not intended in what the Gospel-Promise is made to, nor is the Gospel threatning of Damnation levell'd against any Offences consistent with Sincerity. Hence I conclude, that when God justifies a Sinner, the Rule by which he judgeth requires a ju∣dicial regard to inherent Faith, &c.
§. 6. By one Rule of Judgment the same justifying Sentence, in all respects, could not be pronounced upon Christ's Righteous∣ness, and upon that of a believing Sinner, unless that one Rule did either,
1. Originally promise Life to perfect Legal Obedience, and also to that which was not a perfect Obedience to the Law: But if I sup∣pose this, I must admit that the Law did not denounce Death for the least Sin; for to con∣demn to Death for the least Sin, and to pro∣mise Life to imperfect Obedience, consist not: yea, I must then consider God to enact that Rule of Judgment as in his first relation to innocent Man, viz. as Creator, governing by virtue of his absolute Propriety in Man as his Creature. But if God be considered only in that relation, it was inconsistent with his Perfections to enact a Rule of Judgment which promised Life to any thing short of perfect Obedience to the Law he delivered, and which Man was originally capable to obey. And moreover, we find in the Rule of Judgment, by which he now justifies Men, a direct respect to many things which that first Law was inconsistent with, as the Death of a Redeemer for our Sin. Faith in this Page 122 Redeemer, Pardon of Sin, and Absolution from the Curse which condemned us as Sin∣ners, &c.
2. Or unless that one Rule of Judgment were the Gospel-Promise of the Redeemer, viz. He that believeth shall be saved. Hereby in∣deed the justifying Sentence would directly pass upon Man as a Believer, and adjudg him to a right in whatever the Gospel pro∣mised to Believers, qua such. And considering the chief design of the Gospel is to induce fallen Sinners to believe upon a supposition and assurance given that Satisfaction is al∣ready made by our Redeemer, and not now to be made or adjusted: Many are apt to confine their thoughts of Justification to this as the alone Rule of Judgment, and the ac∣count of the final Judgment generally states it in this manner; nor can I deny but this is in some respects a safe as well as easy me∣thod.
But I cannot agree that the justifying Sen∣tence is by this Rule so abstractedly taken: For, 1. This would too much confine the Influence of Christ's Merits to the mere pro∣curing of the Gospel-Promise; whereas we find it more immediately and fully connected with Pardon, and all other saving Benefits. 2. We must be made righteous by Christ's Obedience in some way less remote than this. 3. The Satisfaction of Christ is not hereby sufficiently acknowledged nor applied in our Justification. Many other Reasons might be given why I am convinced, that when God ustifies a believing Sinner, the Sentence re∣spects Page 123 him under some further judicial Consi∣deration than merely a Believer; and conse∣quently the Rule of Judgment extensively taken, required somewhat more to constitute him a justifiable Person.
§. 7. I therefore take the Rule of Judg∣ment to be the Gospel-Law in a subordinated Connexion with the Law of Mediation, where∣in the Honour of our Creator governing us by the Law of Works is provided for, and the Ends of that Law fulfilled; and so the Sentence will respect the imputed Righteous∣ness of Christ, and the Righteousness of Faith too; the first as satisfactory and meri∣torious with our injured creating Lawgiver, the latter as the performed Condition of the Redeemer's Grant of the blessed Effects of Christ's Satisfaction and Merits; and whereby this Man who believes is discriminated from such who rejected the Offer of Salvation. In the first, Justice is satisfied that a Rebel should be absolved and glorified; in the last, the Rule enacted by governing Grace is answered by the Believer; so that the Judg is no more a Respecter of Persons in applying these Bene∣fits as Redeemer, than he was regardless of governing Justice in the Condition upon which they were procured by our Saviour.
§. 8. The Rule of Iudgment then must be this: That the Believer (tho a Sinner) whose Absolution, Pardon, Acceptance as righteous, and Salvation were promised to Christ by the governing Creator in reward of his Obedience and Sufferings, and promised to himself for the sake of Christ in the Gospel upon his Page 124 believing with that Faith which it appoints, is to be absolved, pardoned, accepted as righteous, and saved.
From this Rule of Judgment is easily in∣ferr'd that justifying Sentence on which our State is changed, viz. Thou art that true Be∣liever whose Absolution, Pardon, Acceptance as righteous, and Salvation were promised to Christ in the Covenant of Redemption, and to thy self personally in my Gospel; and there∣fore thou art adjudged absolved, pardoned, accepted, and an Heir of Glory by virtue of that Promise made to Christ, and the Gospel-Promise made to thy self, and hast a Title to plead Christ's perfect Obedience and Suffer∣ings for thy certain enjoyment thereof, which will also be continually pleaded by Christ thy Advocate.
In like manner we see Constitutive Justifi∣cation is our being made such Believers, through the Influence of the Spirit of Christ, as fall un∣der the foresaid Promise made to Christ in the Covenant of Redemption, and the Gospel-Promise made to our selves, and so are con∣formed to the Rule of Judgment, but yet considered as not judicially sentenced accord∣ing to it. Again, Passive Iustification is no o∣ther than our Persons and State considered as affected by that Sentence as already past upon us, viz. absolved, pardoned, accepted as righ∣teous, and intitled to Glory. Finally, Execu∣tive Iustification is no other than God's dealing with us as Persons so absolved, pardoned, ac∣cepted and entitled to Glory, and his per∣forming whatever is included in the justifying Page 125 Sentence, yet in the way, time, manner, and limits which the Gospel declares.
§. 9. The Consideration of the Rule of Iudg∣ment as before explained, led me to affirm that the Justification of a believing Sinner is equi∣valent to a twofold Justification, the one at our Creator's Bar, the other at the Redeemer's; the first by the imputed Righteousness of Christ, the other by that of Faith, which I have insisted on in PS. to Gospel-Truth, p. 276, 279, &c. 3d Edit. And being desirous to prevent Mis∣takes in this Point, which I think is probable to prevent furious Debates concerning the Doctrine of Iustification, I'll give a few hints of fuller Thoughts about it, premising only that I hoped none would think that I said there is a twofold Justification, for I make the Sentence to be but one, tho that includes what's equivalent to a twofold Justification: Nor yet that I denied Christ as of one Essence with the Father to be Creator, or said there be two actually existing Bars. But these are things too low for many words.
1. I consider God at our first Formation as our Creator, governing Men by a Law su∣ted to their rational, innocent and perfect Na∣tures, by which Law he promised Life to sin∣less Obedience, and threatned Death for all Disobedience; God considered in this relation cannot be apprehended to enact a Gospel-Law, with a Promise of Pardon and Life to the imperfect, tho sincere, Faith of Sinners.
2. I consider this Creator offended by Man's Violation of his holy Law: Under this No∣tion, 1. He condemns the Sinner unless Satis∣factionPage 126 be made, and excludes him from Life unless purchased by one capable of meriting it. 2. He would reject Faith and every Work of a Sinner as satisfactory or meritorious, this Offendor being incapable to satisfy for the least Fault, or merit the least Blessing.
3. I consider our Mediator transacting with our offended creating Lawgiver in the Covenant of Redemption; wherein, 1. Our governing Creator demands of Christ, if he would save Sinners, that in their Nature he must obey the violated Law, and endure Death, and what was equivalent to its threatned Punish∣ment in their stead. 2. He declareth that this Obedience, and those Sufferings of this Media∣tor, considering the Dignity of his Person, should be accepted for Satisfaction for Sin and the Merit of eternal Life, and of whatever subserved Sinners obtaining thereof. 3. He promiseth Christ as a Reward of his Obedi∣ence and Sufferings, that whoever of fallen Men should believe on him, should be absol∣ved, pardoned, accepted as righteous, and eter∣nally glorified for the sake of what he was to do and suffer; and that a certain number should believe on him, and so be absolved, &c. to his Glory, and he have all Power, Authori∣ty and Iudgment committed to him. 4. Christ our Mediator covenanteth to do and suffer what was proposed, and accepts of the said Rewards. 5. In due time Christ porforms his Undertaking, and becomes entitled to the said Rewards, and invested in a right thereto, with respect to which he is said to be justified. 6. His Undertaking is allowed to operate as if Page 127 performed, at least from Adam's Fall; and thereby his Kingdom, and the saving Effects of his Obedience and Death antecede his obey∣ing and dying. 7. Whatever concerned the Sinner's Salvation, was to be founded upon the satisfactory and meritorious Death and Obe∣dience of Christ our Mediator. 8. Man is to be considered under the first Head as an in∣nocent Subject in a state of Trial, according to the Law of Works; and under the second Head as a Sinner obnoxious to the Curse of the Law, past Relief by his own Merit, and yet upon Christ's Satisfaction (pursuant to the Covenant of Redemption in this third Head) as savable notwithstanding the Curse of the Law.
4. As an Effect of this Transaction, I do not consider only Christ our Mediator under the Notion of a Redeemer, as all will grant him to be in an especial manner, because he alone paid the redeeming Price: But I consider also the Creator to be Redeemer as he gave his Son to be a Saviour, accepted the Satisfaction made by him, promised to him the foresaid Rewards; and so far executed them as to invest him in his Office of an accepted authorized Mediator, admitting his Kingdom to commence (as well as his Death to operate to saving Effects) be∣fore he actually dy'd, &c. Upon these and the like accounts I apprehend the blessed God (considered essentially, tho the Father emi∣nently bears the Title of Creator, and sustains the Dignity of the Divine Essence and Govern∣ment in proposing the Terms, and receiving Sa∣tisfaction) to stand towards us in the rela∣tion Page 128 of a Redeemer, who hath received Satis∣faction, and transacting with us in and by our Mediator, in whom he is well pleased.
Our Creator being considered thus as God in Christ, who is satisfied as to the Violations of his Law, the Honour of his Government vindicated, and the Ends of it secured, tho Pardon and Life be granted to Sinners, it will follow, that in a consistency with rectoral Iustice, he can so far suspend the Curse of the Law towards sinful Man, and exert his Mercy, as, 1. To be willing to admit to Peace and Favour all whom Christ shall present to him. 2. To be ready to forgive our Offences. 3. To make Offers of Peace, Pardon and Salvation to lost Sinners, begging them to be reconciled, &c. 4. To return his expelled forfeited Spirit to strive with and work on dead Sinners in or∣der to their acceptance of this offered Salva∣tion. 5. To be long-suffering, and waiting to be gracious in the use of fit Methods and Means to conquer their Resistance. These and the like immediately ensue upon Christ's Satis∣faction; and if Men intend but Instances of this kind when they say God was reconciled to us by the Death of Christ before Conversi∣on, we should allow it: yet intreating them to note, that the Curse suspended thus far, and the Curse removed by an actual Interest in saving Blessings, are very distinct, as be Forgiveness with God, and Forgiveness bestowed on us; and yet I fear many do detract from this Be∣nefit, viz. that there is Forgiveness with God for guilty Sinners, and Salvation for undone Apostates: this is in it self a higher thing than Page 129 that this or that Man is Partaker of it, tho our personal Advantage consisteth in the latter.
5. I consider God in Christ Redeemer, making his offers of Salvation to Sinners, and stating the Conditions upon which he will give the merited Par∣don and eternal Life personally to them, command∣ing their acceptance, with a Promise of applying Christ's Satisfaction in those Effects upon their Com∣pliance, and denouncing their abiding under Guilt and Misery, with sorer Punishments if they finally refuse. This is by the Gospel: To explicate which, Note, 1. Compliance is injoined by a governing Au∣thority, tho with a display of Grace; it supposeth Christ's Sacerdotal Offering over, and is an Instru∣ment of Government resulting from a Dominion ac∣quired as Redeemer; and therefore may well be called a Law, yea, and that by which he will judg us. 2. The Historical Account of Christ's Offices, Fulness, Love, Death, and of Man's Misery; the Displays of Covenant-Benefits present and eternal, Revelations of Divine Truths and Mysteries, Gos∣pel-Institutions, and Directions whence to derive Grace, &c. are all to subserve our due acceptance of this Offer. 3. If Christ had not proclaimed Par∣don and Life to Sinners, we had not known that these were to be obtained by any of us. If he had not declared that he gave Pardon and Life to such as have Faith, and none else, we had not been certain whether it were the Believer or Unbeliever were pardoned: If he had not told us he gave Faith and then Pardon, there had been no known Order of these Gifts: If by his Gospel God had not offered Pardon to all if they would accept it, commanding their acceptance in order to it, promising it upon their acceptance, and determining to judg Men as they ac∣cepted or refused, then there had been only an or∣der in giving Faith and then Pardon, but Accepta∣tion had been no Condition nor Righteousness, nor had Page 130 Man been justifiable by it, or condemnable to the want of Pardon for rejecting it. 4. Acceptance of offered Salvation, tho a Righteousness supposeth a meritng Righteousness of Christ, and can be no higher a Righteousness than a performed Condition of a Law of Grace, by which Benefits already impetrated are given: Which Law differs not from a Deed of Gift, but that the Donor expresseth a governing Authority in the method of applying these Blessings, and re∣solves to judg them to whom that Offer is made, by their acceptance or nonacceptance. 5. Our Right adjudged upon our acceptation is a Right of Grace and Mercy, and tho infallible, it can infer no Claim of Debt. 6. This Acceptation is described by the Gospel, and nothing is an Acceptation upon which we shall receive the offered Blessings, if it be not in its Principle, Nature, Extent, Operativeness and Du∣ration, such an Acceptation as the Gospel doth pro∣mise its saving Benefits to. 6. Tho this Acceptation merit nothing, yet Christ's Righteousness being or∣dained to merit Salvation for such as shall accept of it, and this Acceptance being the Gospel-ordained Condition of our personal Interest in that merited Salvation, we can be saved without neither of them. 7. To prevent Mistakes I add, the Elect shall in∣fallibly be brought savingly to accept of this Salva∣tion.
6. I consider God applying Pardon, Peace, Adop∣tion, &c. to Men that have accepted of this Salva∣tion according to the Gospel-offer. 1. He acts here∣in as a Iudg. 2. The Relations he stands in are as Creator and Redeemer; the first ceaseth not, tho the other is superadded. 3. The Cause is adjusted by the Rule of Judgment described in §. 8. and this Cause partly refers to what satisfied the offended Creator for this Sinner's Fault, and merited Salva∣tion for this forfeiting Rebel. Here Christ's Righte∣ousness is the only justifying Righteousness, Faith Page 131 hath no place in God's regard, who as Creator judgeth in this matter. The Cause is partly also: Is this a true Accepter of Salvation, for whom Pardon, Peace and Glory were promised in the Covenant of Redemption to Christ in reward of his satisfying, meriting Death and Obedience, and to whom these were promised in the Gospel? Here Acceptation is a Righteousness, the want whereof Christ's Righteous∣ness is not appointed to supply; and the adjudging a Man a Believer, intitled to Pardon, Peace and Glo∣ry, upon the Satisfaction of Christ, I call Justifi∣cation active, or the Judg's justifying Sentence.
7. I call it a Justification at the Creator's and Re∣deemer'S Bar; at the Creator's Bar, as far as the Sentence refers to what vindicated the Honour of God's violated Law, secured his governing Authori∣ty as our Maker, and merited the Blessings, before which there was no Pardon, Peace, or Glory for the Sinner, tho a Believer, none to be offered, none to be had by accepting. Nor is it a needless thing that the justifying Sentence have an express regard to what that refers to, viz. Christ's Righteousness: for as it was the alone Condition of Christ's Impe∣tration of Pardon, Peace and Life for Sinners, so when these are to be adjudged to the Sinner, the Honour of the Creator, of the violated Law, and of Christ's Satisfaction, is wisely provided for by an express acknowledgment of, and reference to that Righteousness. I call it a Justification at the Re∣deemer's Bar, as far as the Sentence refers to our Acceptation, or Faith as a Righteousness; for the un∣satisfied Creator, who governeth and judgeth by the Law of Works, could make no Offers of Pardon and Glory to Sinners, if they would accept, nor admit Faith to be a Righteousness; and yet considered as a Redeemer (as God was, when he had received Satis∣faction) he could not again demand a satisfying, me∣riting Righteousness to acquit the Believer now Page 132 upon; no nor, unless under the Notion of a Re∣deemer, require Faith as a proper Condition of Pardon, &c. because in the Covenant of Re∣demption it was promised to Christ for Sinners as meerly described by Faith. But God in Christ as Redeemer could make the Gospel-offer of Par∣don upon condition of Acceptation, injoyning that acceptance, and promising thereto the Pardon impetrated by Christ; and so that Acceptation is re∣ferred to in the justifying Sentence of God in Christ as Redeemer, as what discriminates one Man who obtains the Pardon, according to the Gospel-Pro∣mise, from him who is judicially debarred of it.
8. I think they who are altogether for Faith as the only imputed Righteousness in Justification, do too much contract the justifying Sentence by ex∣cluding that distinct Respect which ought to be to the Satisfaction and meriting Obedience of Christ, whereby God as our governing Creator can admit the Absolution of a Sinner. And they who are altogether for the Righteousness of Christ as only imputed in Justification, do also too much limit the justifying Sentence, by excluding the Gospel-Righteousness of Faith which the Redeemer regards, and by which he judicially discriminates who among them, to whom Salvation was offered, shall obtain it, and who of them shall not obtain it. May these Hints contribute to an Agreement between these worthy Persons, at least encline all to Christian Forbearance, I shall reckon it worth all my Labour and Sufferings. O that the God of Peace would give us Peace by any just means!