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faith unto salvation. Again; if the continuation of our justification dependeth on our own works of obedience, then is the righteousness of Christ imputed unto us only with respect unto our justification at first, or our first justification as some speak. And this indeed is the doctrine of the Roman school. They teach that the righteousness of Christ is so far imputed unto us, that on the account thereof God gives unto us justifying grace, and thereby the remission of sin in their sense, whence they allow it the meritorious cause of our justification. But on a supposition thereof, or the reception of that grace, we are continued to be justified before God by the works we perform by virtue of that grace received. And though some of them rise so high as to affirm, that this grace and the works of it, need no farther respect unto the righteousness of Christ, to deserve our second justification and life eternal; as doth Vasquez expressly, in 1, 2. q. 114. Disp. 222. cap. 3, yet many of them affirm that it is still from the consideration of the merit of Christ that they are so meritorious. And the same, for the substance of it, is the judgment of some of them, who affirm the continuation of our justification to depend on our own works, setting aside that ambiguous term of merit. For it is on the account of the righteousness of Christ they say, that our own works, or imperfect obedience, is so accepted with God, as that the continuation of our justification depends thereon. But the apostle gives us another account hereof; Rom. v. 1-3. For he distinguisheth three things; 1. Our access into the grace of God. 2. Our standing in that grace. 3. Our glorying in that station against all opposition. By the first he expresseth our absolute justification; by the second, our continuation in the state whereinto we are admitted thereby; and by the third, the assurance of that continuation, notwithstanding all the oppositions we meet withal. And all these he ascribeth equally unto faith, without the intermixture of any other cause or condition. And other places express to the same purpose might be pleaded.
3. The examples of them that did believe and were justified which are recorded in the Scripture, do all bear witness unto the same truth. The continuation of the justification of Abraham before God, is declared to have been by
faith only; Rom. iv. 3. For the instance of his justification given by the apostle from Gen xv. 6. was long after he was justified absolutely. And if our first justification, and the continuation of it, did not depend absolutely on the same cause, the instance of the one could not be produced for a proof of the way and means of the other, as here they are. And David, when a justified believer, not only placeth the blessedness of man in the free remission of sins, in opposition unto his own works in general; Rom. iv. 6, 7. but in his own particular case, ascribeth the continuation of his justification and acceptation before God, unto grace, mercy, and forgiveness alone, which are no otherwise received but by faith. Psal. cxxx. 3-5. cxliii. 2. All other works and duties of obedience do accompany faith in the continuation of our justified estate, as necessary effects and fruits of it, but not as causes, means, or conditions whereon that effect is suspended. It is patient waiting by faith, that brings in the full accomplishment of the promises; Heb. vi. 12. 16. Wherefore, there is but one justification, and that of one kind only, wherein we are concerned in this disputation. The Scripture makes mention of no more; and that is the justification of an ungodly person by faith. Nor shall we admit of the consideration of any other. For if there be a second justification, it must be of the same kind with the first or of another; if it be of the same kind, then the same person is often justified with the same kind of justification, or at least more than once; and so on just reason ought to be often baptized; if it be not of the same kind, then the same person is justified before God with two sorts of justification, of both which the Scripture is utterly silent. And the continuation of our justification depends solely on the same causes with our justification itself.
Evangelical personal righteousness, the nature and use of it. Final judgment, and its respect unto justification.
THE things which we have discoursed concerning the first and second justification, and concerning the continuation of justification, have no other design, but only to clear the principal subject whereof we treat, from what doth not necessarily belong unto it. For until all things that are either really heterogeneous or otherwise superfluous, are separated from it, we cannot understand aright the true state of the question about the nature and causes of our justification before God. For we intend one only justification, namely, that whereby God at once freely by his grace justifieth a convinced sinner through faith in the blood of Christ. Whatever else any will be pleased to call justification, we are not concerned in it, nor are the consciences of them that believe. To the same purpose we must therefore briefly also consider what is usually disputed about our own personal righteousness, with a justification thereon, as also what is called sentential justification at the day of judgment. And I shall treat no farther of them in this place, but only as it is necessary to free the principal subject under consideration, from being intermixed with them, as really it is not concerned in them. For what influence our own personal righteousness hath into our justification before God, will be afterward particularly examined. Here we shall only consider such a notion of it, as seems to interfere with it, and disturb the right understanding of it. But yet I say concerning this also, that it rather belongs unto the difference that will be among us in the expression of our conceptions about spiritual things whilst we know but in part, than unto the substance of the doctrine itself, And on such differences no breach of charity can ensue, whilst there is a mutual grant of that liberty of mind, without which it will not be preserved one moment.
It is therefore by some apprehended that there is an evangelical justification, upon our evangelical personal righ
teousness. This they distinguish from that justification which is by faith through the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, in the sense wherein they do allow it. For the righteousness of Christ, is our legal righteousness, whereby we have pardon of sin, and acquitment from the sentence of the law, on the account of his satisfaction and merit. But moreover, they say, that as there is a personal inherent righteousness required of us, so there is a justification by the gospel thereon. For by our faith, and the plea of it, we are justified from the charge of unbelief; by our sincerity, and the plea of it, we are justified from the charge of hypocrisy; and so by all other graces and duties from the charge of the contrary sins in commission or omission, so far as such sins are inconsistent with the terms of the covenant of grace. How this differeth from the second justification before God, which some say we have by works, on the supposition of the pardon of sin for the satisfaction of Christ, and the infusion of a habit of grace enabling us to perform those works, is declared by those who so express themselves.
Some add, that this inherent, personal, evangelical righteousness, is the condition on our part of our legal righteousness, or of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto our justification, or the pardon of sin. And those by whom the satisfaction and merit of Christ are denied, make it the only and whole condition of our absolute justification before God. So speak all the Socinians constantly. For they deny our obedience unto Christ to be either the meritorious or efficient cause of our justification; only they say it is the condition of it, without which God hath decreed that we shall not be made partakers of the benefit thereof. So doth Socinus himself, De Justificat. p. 17. 'Sunt opera nostra, id est, ut dictum fuit, obedientia quam Christo præstamus, licet nec efficiens nec meritoria, tamen causa est (ut vocant) sine qua non, justificationis coram Deo, atque æternæ nostræ.' Again, p. 14. inter Opuscul. Ut cavendum est ne vitæ sanctitatem atque innocentiam effectum justificationis nostræ coram Deo esse credamus, neque illam nostræ coram Deo justificationis causam efficientem aut impulsivam esse affirmemus; sed tantummodo causam sine qua eam justificationem nobis non contingere decrevit
Deus.' And in all their discourses to this purpose, they assert our personal righteousness and holiness, or our obedience unto the commands of Christ, which they make to be the form and essence of faith, to be the condition whereon we obtain justification or the remission of sins. And indeed, considering what their opinion is concerning the person of Christ, with their denial of his satisfaction and merit, it is impossible they should frame any other idea of justification in their minds. But what some among ourselves intend by a compliance with them herein, who are not necessitated thereunto by a prepossession with their opinions about the person and mediation of Christ, I know not. For as for them, all their notions about grace, conversion to God, justification, and the like articles of our religion, they are nothing but what they are necessarily cast upon by their hypothesis about the person of Christ.
At present I shall only inquire into that peculiar evangelical justification which is asserted to be the effect of our own personal righteousness, or to be granted us thereon. And hereunto we may observe,
1. That God doth require in and by the gospel a sincere obedience of all that do believe, to be performed in and by their own persons, though through the aids of grace supplied unto them by Jesus Christ. He requireth indeed obedience, duties, and works of righteousness in and of all persons whatever. But the consideration of them which are performed before believing, is excluded by all from any causality or interest in our justification before God. At least whatever any may discourse of the necessity of such works in a way of preparation unto believing (whereunto we have spoken before), none bring them into the verge of works evangelical, or obedience of faith, which would imply a contradiction. But that the works inquired after are necessary unto all believers, is granted by all; on what grounds and unto what ends, we shall inquire afterward; they are declared, Eph. ii. 10.
2. It is likewise granted that believers, from the performance of this obedience, or these works of righteousness are denominated righteous in the Scripture, and are personally and internally righteous; Luke i. 6. 1 John iii. 7. But yet this denomination is nowhere given unto them, with respect