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to accommodate the conceptions of it, unto the interests of corrupted reason.
But there is no instance more pregnant unto this purpose than that under our present consideration. Free justification, through the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, is cried out against as inconsistent with a necessity of personal holiness and obedience; and because the Socinians insist principally on this pretence, it shall be fully and diligently considered apart, and that holiness, which, without it, they and others deriving from them do pretend unto, shall be tried by the unerring rule.
Wherefore, I desire it may be observed that in pleading for this doctrine, we do it as a principal part of the introduction of grace into our whole relation unto God. Hence we grant;
1. That it is unsuited, yea foolish, and as some speak, childish, unto the principles of unenlightened and unsanctified reason or understandings of men.
And this we conceive to be the principal cause of all the oppositions that are made unto it, and all the depravations of it that the church is pestered withal. Hence are the wits of men so fertile in sophistical cavils against it, so ready to load it with seeming absurdities, and I know not what unsuitableness unto their wonderous rational conceptions. And no objection can be made against it, be it never so trivial, but it is highly applauded by those who look on that introduction of the mystery of grace, which is above their natural conceptions, as unintelligible folly.
2. That the necessary relation of these things one unto the other, namely, of justification by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, and the necessity of our personal obedience, will not be clearly understood nor duly improved, but by and in the exercise of the wisdom of faith. This we grant also; and let who will make what advantage they can of this concession. True faith hath that spiritual light in it or accompanying of it, as that it is able to receive it, and to conduct the soul unto obedience by it. Wherefore, reserving the particular consideration hereof unto its proper place, I say in general,
1. That this relation is evident unto that spiritual wisdom whereby we are enabled doctrinally and practically to
comprehend the harmony of the mystery of God, and the consistency of all the parts of it one with another.
2. That it is made evident by the Scripture, wherein both these things, justification through the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, and the necessity of our personal obedience are plainly asserted and declared. And we defy that rule of the Socinians, that seeing these things are inconsistent in their apprehension or unto their reason, therefore we must say that one of them is not taught in the Scripture; for whatever it may appear unto their reason, it doth not so to ours; and we have at least as good reason to trust unto our own reason, as unto theirs. Yet we absolutely acquiesce in neither, but in the authority, of God in the Scripture; rejoicing only in this, that we can set our seal unto his revelations by our own experience. For,
3. It is fully evident in the gracious conduct which the minds of them that believe are under, even that of the Spirit of truth and grace, and the inclinations of that new principle of the divine life whereby they are acted. For although from the remainders of sin and darkness that are in them, temptations may arise unto a continuation in sin, because grace hath abounded, yet are their minds so formed and framed by the doctrine of this grace, and the grace of this doctrine, that the abounding of grace herein, is the principal motive unto their abounding in holiness, as we shall see afterward.
And this we aver to be the spring of all those objections which the adversaries of this doctrine do continually endeavour to entangle it withal. As, 1. If the passive righteousness (as it is commonly called), that is, his death and suffering be imputed unto us, there is no need, nor can it be, that his active righteousness, or the obedience of his life, should be imputed unto us; and so on the contrary; for both together are inconsistent. 2. That if all sin be pardoned, there is no need of the righteousness; and so on the contrary, if the righteousness of Christ be imputed unto us, there is no room for, or need of, the pardon of sin. 3. If we believe the pardon of our sins, then are our sins pardoned before we believe, or we are bound believe that which is not so. 4. If the righteousness of Christ be imputed unto us, then are we esteemed to have done and suffered, what indeed we never did nor suffered ; and it is true, that if we are esteemed ourselves to have done it, imputation is overthrown. 5. If Christ's righteousness be imputed unto us, then are we as righteous as was Christ himself. 6. If our sins were imputed unto Christ, then was he thought to have sinned, and was a sinner subjectively. 7. If good works be excluded from any interest in our justification before God, then are they of no use unto our salvation. 8. That it is ridiculous to think, that where there is no sin, there is not all the righteousness that can be required. 9. That righteousness imputed is only a putative or imaginary righteousness, &c.
Now although all these and the like objections, however subtlely managed (as Socinus boasts that he had used more than ordinary subtlety in this cause, ‘ in quo, si subtilius aliquanto quam opus esse videretur, quædam a nobis disputata sunt;'De Servat. par. 4. cap. 4.) are capable of plain and clear solutions, and we shall avoid the examination of none of them; yet at present I shall only say, that all the shades which they cast on the minds of men, do vanish and disappear before the light of express Scripture testimonies, and the experience of them that do believe, where there is a due comprehension of the mystery of grace in any tolerable measure.
Seventhly, There are some common prejudices, that are usually pleaded against the doctrine of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, which, because they will not orderly fall under a particular consideration in our progress, may be briefly examined in these general previous considerations.
1. It is usually urged against it, that this imputation of the righteousness of Christ is nowhere mentioned expressly in the Scripture. This is the first objection of Bellarmine against it. `Hactenus,' saith be, nullum omnino locum invenire potuerunt, ubi legeretur Christi justitiam nobis imputari ad justitiam ; vel nos justos esse per Christi justitiam nobis imputatam.' De Justificat. lib. ji. cap. 7. An objection doubtless unreasonably and immodestly urged by men of this persuasion. For not only do they make profession of their whole faith, or their belief of all things in matters of religion, in terms and expressions nowhere used in the
Soripture, but believe many things also, as they say, with faith divine, not at all revealed or contained in the Scripture, but drained by them out of the traditions of the church. I do not therefore understand, how such persons can modestly manage this as an objection against any doctrine, that the terms wherein some do express it, are not øntüs found in the Scripture, just in that order of one word after another as by them they are used. For this rule may be much enlarged, and yet be kept straight enough to exclude the principal concerns of their church out of the confines of Christianity; nor can I apprehend much more equity in others, who reflect with severity on this expression of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ as unscriptural, as if those who make use thereof were criminal in no small degree; when themselves, immediately in the declaration of their own judgment, make use of such terms, distinctions, and expressions, as are so far from being in the Scripture, as that it is odds they had never been in the world, had they escaped Aristotle's mint, or that of the schools deriving from him.
And thus, although a sufficient answer hath frequently enough, if any thing can be so, been returned unto this objection in Bellarmine, yet hath one of late amongst ourselves made the translation of it into English, to be the substance of the first chapter of a book about justification; though he needed not to have given such an early intimation unto whom he is beholding for the greatest part of his ensuing discourse, unless it be what is taken up in despiteful revilings of other men. For take from him what is not his own on the one hand, and impertinent cavils at the words and expressions of other men, witli forged imputations on some of them, on the other, and his whole book will disappear. But yet although he affirms that none of the Protestant writers, who speak of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto us (which were all of them without exception until of late), have precisely kept to the form of wholesome words, but have rather swerved and varied from the language of the Scripture, yet he will excuse them from open error, if they intend no more thereby, but that we are made partakers of the benefits of the righteousness of Christ. But if they intend that the righteousness of Christ
itself is imputed unto us (that is, so as to be our righteousness before God, whereon we are pardoned and accepted with him, or do receive the forgiveness of sins, and a right to the heavenly inheritance), then are they guilty of that error which makes us to be esteemed do ourselves what Christ did ; and so on the other side, Christ to have done what we do and did, chap. 2. 3. But these things are not so. For if we are esteemed to have done any thing in our own persons, it cannot be imputed unto us as done for us by another; as it will appear when we shall treat of these things afterward. But the great and holy persons intended are as little concerned in the accusations or apologies of some writers, as those writers seem to be acquainted with that learning, wisdom, and judgment, wherein they did excel, and the characters whereof are so eminently conspicuous in all their writings.
But the judgment of most Protestants, is not only candidly expressed, but approved of also by Bellarmine himself in another place. 'Non esset,' saith he, 'absurdum, si quis diceret nobis imputari Christi justitiam et merita; cum nobis donentur et applicentur; ac si nos ipsi Deo satisfecissemus.' De Justif. lib. ii. cap. 10. It were not absurd, if any one should say that the righteousness and merits of Christ are imputed unto us, when they are given and applied unto us, as if we ourselves had satisfied God.' And this be confirms with that saying of Bernard ad Innocent, Epist. 190. •Nam si unus pro omnibus mortuus est, ergo omnes mortui sunt, ut videlicet satisfactio unius omnibus imputetur, sicut omnium peccata unus ille portavit.' And those who will acknowledge no more in this matter, but only a participation quovis modo, one way or other, of the benefits of the odedience and righteousness of Christ, wherein we have the concurrence of the Socinians also, might do well, as I suppose, plainly to deny all imputation of his righteousness unto us in any sense as they do, seeing the benefits of his righteousness cannot be said to be imputed unto us, what way soever we are made partakers of them. For to say, that the righteousness of Christ is imputed unto us with respect unto the benefits of it, when neither the righteousness itself is imputed unto us, nor can the benefits of it be imputed unto us, as we shall see afterward,