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and afterward against the Socinians; and where this is granted, I will not contend with any man about his way of declaring the doctrine of it.
And that I may add it by the way, we have herein the concurrence of the fathers of the primitive church. For although by justification, following the etymology of the Latin word, they understood the making us righteous with internal personal righteousness, at least some of them did so, as Austin in particular, yet that we are pardoned and accepted with God on any other account, but that of the righteousness of Christ, they believed not. And whereas, especially in their controversy with the Pelagians, after the rising of that heresy, they plead vehemently that we are made righteous by the grace of God, changing our hearts and natures, and creating in us a principle of spiritual life and holiness, and not by the endeavours of our own free will, or works performed in the strength thereof, their words and expressions have been abused contrary to their intention and design.
For we wholly concur with them, and subscribe unto all that they dispute about the making of us personally righteous and holy, by the effectual grace of God, against all merit of works and operations of our own free will (our sanctification being every way as much of grace, as our justification, properly so called), and that in opposition unto the common doctrine of the Roman church about the same matter; only they call this our being made inherently and personally righteous by grace, sometimes by the name of justification, which we do not. And this is laid hold on as an advantage by those of the Roman church who do not concur with them in the way and manner whereby we are so made righteous. But whereas by our justification before God, we intend only that righteousness whereon our sins are pardoned, wherewith we are made righteous in his sight, or for which we are accepted as righteous before him, it will be hard to find any of them assigning of it unto any other causes than the Protestants do. So it is fallen out, that what they design to prove, we entirely comply with them in; but the way and manner whereby they prove it, is made use of by the Papists unto another end, which they intended not.
But as to the way and manner of the declaration of this doctrine among Protestants themselves, there ever was some variety and difference in expressions. Nor will it otherwise be whilst the abilities and capacities of men, whether in the conceiving of things of this nature, or in the expression of their conceptions, are so various as they are. And it is acknowledged that these differences of late have had by some as much weight laid upon them, as the substance of the doctrine generally agreed in. Hence some have composed entire books, consisting almost of nothing but imper. tinent cavils at other men's words and expressions. But these things proceed from the weakness of some men, and other vicious habits of their minds, and do not belong unto the cause itself. And such persons, as for me, shall write as they do, and fight on until they are weary. Neither hath the multiplication of questions and the curious discussion of them in the handling of this doctrine, wherein nothing ought to be diligently insisted on, but what is directive of our practice, been of much use unto the truth itself, though it hath not been directly opposed in them.
That which is of real difference among persons who agree in the substance of the doctrine, may be reduced unto a very few heads. As 1. There is something of this kind about the nature of faith whereby we are justified, with its proper object in justifying, and its use in justification. And an instance we have herein, not only of the weakness of our intellects in the apprehension of spiritual things, but also of the remainders of confusion and disorder in our minds, at least how true it is that we know only in part, and prophesy only in part, whilst we are in this life. For whereas this faith is an act of our minds, put forth in the way of duty to God, yet many by whom it is sincerely exercised, and that continually, are not agreed either in the nature or proper object of it. Yet is there no doubt but that some of them who differ amongst themselves about these things, have delivered their minds free from the prepossession of prejudices and notions derived from other artificial reasonings imposed on them, and do really express their own conceptions as to the best and utmost of their experience. And notwithstanding this difference, they do yet all of them please God in the exercise of faith, as it is their duty, and have that respect unto its proper object, as secures both their justification and salvation.
And if we cannot on this consideration bear with, and forbear, one another in our different conceptions, and expressions of those conceptions about these things, it is a sign we have a great mind to be contentious, and that our confidences are built on very weak foundations. For my part, I had much rather my lot should be found among them who do really believe with the heart unto righteousness, though they are not able to give a tolerable definition of faith unto others, than among them who can endlessly dispute about it with seeming accuracy and skill, but are negligent in the exercise of it as their own duty. Wherefore, some things shall be briefly spoken of in this matter, to declare my own apprebensions concerning the things mentioned, without the least design to contradict or oppose the conceptions of others.
2. There hath been a controversy more directly stated among some learned divines of the reformed churches (for the Lutherans are unanimous on the one side), about the righteousness of Christ that is said to be imputed unto us. For some would have this to be only his suffering of death, and the satisfaction which he made for sin thereby, and others include therein the obedience of his life also. The occasion, original, and progress of this controversy, the persons by whom it hath been managed, with the writings wherein it is so, and the various ways that have been endeavoured for its reconciliation, are sufficiently known unto all, who have inquired into these things. Neither shall I immix myself herein, in the way of controversy, or in opposition unto others, though I shall freely declare my own judgment in it, so far as the consideration of the righteousness of Christ, under this distinction, is inseparable from the substance of the truth itself, which I plead for.
3. Some difference there hath been also, whether the righteousness of Christ imputed unto us, or the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, may be said to be the formal cause of our justification before God, wherein there appears some variety of expression among learned men, who have handled this subject in the way of controversy with the Papists. The true occasion of the differences about this expression hath been this and no other. Those of the Roman church do constantly assert, that the righteousness whereby we are righteous before God, is the formal cause of our justification. And this righteousness, they say, is our own inherent personal righteousness, and not the righteousness of Christ imputed unto us. Wherefore, they treat of this whole controversy, namely, what is the righteousness on the account whereof we are accepted with God, or justified, under the name of the formal cause of justification, which is the subject of the second book of Bellarmine concerning justification. In opposition unto them, some Protestants, contending that the righteousness wherewith we are esteemed righteous before God, and accepted with him, is the righteousness of Christ imputed unto us, and not our own inherent, imperfect, personal righteousness, they have done it under this inquiry, namely, what is the formal cause of our justification; which some have said to be the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, some the righteousness of Christ imputed. But what they designed herein was not to resolve this controversy into a philosophical inquiry about the nature of a formal cause, but only to prove that, that truly belonged unto the righteousness of Christ in our justification, which the Papists ascribed unto our own, under that name. That there is an habitual infused habit of grace, which is the formal cause of our personal inherent righteousness, they grant. But they all deny that God pardons our sins, and justifies our persons, with respect unto this righteousness as the formal cause thereof. Nay, they deny that in the justification of a sinner there either is, or can be, any inherent formal cause of it. And what they mean by a formal cause in our justification, is only that which gives the denomination unto the subject, as the imputation of the righteousness of Christ doth to a person that he is justified.
Wherefore, notwithstanding the differences that have been among some in the various expression of their conceptions, the substance of the doctrine of the reformed churches, is by them agreed upon and retained entire. For they all agree that God justifieth no sinner, absolveth him not from guilt, nor declareth him righteous, so as to have a title unto the heavenly inheritance, but with respect unto a true and perfect righteousness, as also that this righteousness is truly
the righteousness of him that is so justified. That this righteousness becometh ours by God's free grace and donation, the way on our part whereby we come to be really and effectually interested therein, being faith alone. And that this is the perfect obedience or righteousness of Christ imputed unto us; in these things, as they shall be afterward distinctly explained, is contained the whole of that truth, whose explanation and confirmation is the design of the ensuing discourse. And because those by whom this doctrine in the substance of it, is of late impugned, derive more from the Socinians than the Papists, and make a nearer approach unto their principles, I shall chiefly insist on the examination of those original authors, by whom their notions were first coined, and whose weapons they make use of in their defence. : Eighthly, To close these previous discourses, it is worthy our consideration what weight was laid on this doctrine of justification at the first reformation, and what influence it had into the whole work thereof. However the minds of men may be changed as unto sundry doctrines of faith among us, yet none can justly own the name of Protestant, but he must highly value the first reformation. And they cannot well do otherwise, whose present even temporal advantages are resolved thereinto. However, I intend none but such as own an especial presence and guidance of God with them who were eminently and successfully employed therein. Such persons cannot but grant that their faith in this matter, and the concurrence of their thoughts about its ima portance, are worthy consideration.
Now it is known, that the doctrine of justification gave the first occasion to the whole work of reformation, and was the main hinge whereon it turned. This those mentioned declared to be Articulus stantis aut cadentis Ecclesiæ,' and that the vindication thereof alone, deserved all the pains that was taken in the whole endeavour of reformation. But things are now, and that by virtue of their doctrine herein, much changed in the world, though it be not so understood or acknowledged. In general no small benefit redounded unto the world by the reformation, even among them by whom it was not, nor is received, though many bluster with contrary pretensions. For all the evils which have acciden