Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small]

- †. of persons, does it follow that he exercises no grace?
When Peter took notice of the piety and faith of Cornelius,
and said, Qf a truth I perceive, that God is no respecter of per-
sons, Acts x. 34. did he ever intend by these words to deny
that grace was shewn to Cornelius? A non-respect of persons
excludes, indeed, injustice, and the consideration of these
things which ought to have no place in judgment; but it no
ways excludes grace and mercy. These things have been so -
often, confuted that there is no occasion to consider them
n. *
LXXII. It is a new opinion, and an extraordinary postu-
latum, to say, that the works of those who are to be justified,
and according to which they shall be judged, will be “per-
fect, yea most perfect, that nothing may derogate from the
righteousness of the judgment of that day.” It is a certain
truth, that the persons then to be justified, will be perfect:
1st. In Christ, on account of his most perfect righteousness
imputed to them, Col. ii. 10. 2dly. In themselves, being then
perfectly sanctified: For they who died before that time are
called just men made perfect, Heb. xii. 23.; and they who shall
at that day be alive shall be changed, 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52. and
doubtless obtain perfect holiness by that change which the others
obtained at death. But that the works which they performed
in this life, can then be said to be most perfect, is neither con-
sonant with scripture nor reason.
LXXIII. The scripture declares, that the works which
were done by believers in this life, were not without blemish;
because they who performed them had the old man still
remaining, who mixed and tainted them with some corruption
of his own, Rom. vii. 22, 23, 24. Gal. v. 15.: This is with-
out dispute. But the scripture no where says, that these
works shall appear otherwise at the last judgment, than
they did in this life; nay, it asserts the contrary, when it
testifies, that every one shall be judged according to that he
hath dome in his body, 2 Cor. v., 10.; but it is certain that the *
things done in the body were imperfect. It is also contra -
to reason, to say that actions which were imperfect o
they were performing, and actually existing, should be de-
clared to be perfect when they were no more; and perfect
not only in the estimation of God the Judge, but also by, I
know not what, sanctification, really perfecting them when
they had no further existence. . No doubt habits, which are
holy when first infused, are perfected by a further sanctifica-
tion; but that actions which were imperfect while they ex-

chap. vii.I.] of JUSTIFICATION. 423

isted, should become perfect, after they have ceased to be, is inconceivable. * * • ... . . . . . . . LXXIV. Seeing what we are taught in scripture concerning the perfection of believers by a progressive sanctification and the death of the body, regards their persons, about the perfection of which there is no dispute, it is erroneous to apply it to their antecedent works. That God refines those works like gold, purging away all their tin and dross, so as to be altogether pure in his eyes, is an unscriptural fancy. The passages, Isa. i. 25. Zech. xiii. 9. Mal. iii. 3. do not treat of works but of persons, nor speak of their absolute perfection, nor have a reference to the day of the last judgment, but relate to the condition of the present life, as will plainly appear to any who will peruse them; and can therefore with no bility be wrested to this sense. LXXV. Indeed the works of those who die in the Lord are said to follow them, Rev. xiv. 13. but they are such as they were performed here; and they follow, not in themselves, but in their fruits and effects; in so far as God, in re5. of their good works, does good to the pious even after eath. For this end it is not requisite that they be perfect; it is sufficient that they be performed in faith, and by the Spirit of Christ. I do not remember that the scripture says, that good works shall rise with them. They who speak thus, mean no more, at least they ought to mean no more by that phrase, but that in the resurrection of the just, the pious shall rejoice in the gratuitous reward of their holiness. It is said indeed that he, who hath begun a good work in believers, “will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,” Phil. i. 6. But by a good work is there meant the communication of the grace of Christ revealed in the gospel, as appears from ver. 5, which God perfects in certain degrees, till the finishing hand is put to it at the last day. There is nothing in that passage relating to the perfection of our actions, which are already over and gone. LXXVI. In the last place, if good works are there to pear perfect, there can be no reason why they should not meritorious. For that is certainly meritorious which satisfies every demand of the law; if merit is to be ascribed to such a work, which when a man does, he is to live therein, according to the law of the covenant of works. It is not required to meritorious works, in the sense now in debate, that they are not due and properly our own, that is, that they are done in our own strength without the grace of God. For the Papists themselves readily acknowledge, that there are no such meri

424 of Justification. [Book iii.

torious works. But by those theritorious works, which are the
resent subject of dispute, are understood such actions, on per-
#: which one has a right to life. But the only or at least
the principal reason, why our works are not meritorious, is what
the catechism assigns, because they " are imperfect and stained
with sin. -
LXXVII. Nor will the righteousness of the judgment of
that day be in the least diminished, though the works of be-
hevers, by which they shall be judged, are imperfect. For,
they will not be mentioned as the causes of their right to
claim the reward, to which perfection is requisite; but as
effects and signs of grace, j. union with Christ, and of a
living faith, and of justification by faith, and of a right to
life: for which their unfeigned sincerity is sufficient. We
therefore conclude, that the iustification in the next world is
not to be so very much distinguished from the justification in
this world.
LXXVIII. As this doctrine of free justification, on account
of the righteousness of Christ, apprehended by faith alone, is
founded on clear testimonies of scripture; so it proves itself
to every pious conscience, by its most excellent uses and
fruits. -
LXXIX. 1st. It tends much to o the glory of God,
whose most exalted perfections shine . with an eminent

lustre in this matter. It sets forth the infinite goodness of

God, by which he was inclined to procure salvation freely for lost and miserable man, “to the praise of the glory of his grace.” Eph. i. 6. It displays also the strictest justice, by which he would not forgive even the smallest offence, but on condition of the sufficient engagement, or full satisfaction of the Mediator, “that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus,” Rom. iii. 26. It shews further the unsearchable wisdom of the Deity, which found out a way, for the exercise of the most gracious act of mercy, without injury to his strictest justice and infallible truth, which threatened death to the sinner: justice demanded that the soul that sinned should die, Rom. i. 32. Truth had pronounced, “cursed is he that continueth not in all things,” Deut. xxviii. 26. Goodness, in the mean time, was inclined to adjudge life

* Q. 62. Why cannot our good works be righteousness, or some part of righteousness before God? A. Because that righteousness, which must stand before the judgment of God, must be in all points perfect and agreeable to the law of God. But our works, even the best of them, are imperfect in this life, and defiled with sin.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

to some sinners, but by no other way than what became the
majesty of the most holy God. Here wisdom interposed,
saying, “I will fully satisfy my goodness, and say to mine
elect, I, even I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for
min own sake, Isa. xliii. 25. Nor shall you, my justice and
my truth, have any cause of complaint, to: full satisfac-
tion shall be made to you by a mediator.” Hence the incredi-
ble philanthropy of the Lord Jesus shineth forth, who, though
Lord of all, was made subject to the law, not to the obedi-
ence of it only, but also to the curse; “made sin for us, that
we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Cor.
v. 21. '
LXXX. Ought not the pious soul, who is deeply engaged
in the devout meditation of these things, to break out into the
praises of a justifying God, and sing with the church, Mic.
vii. 17, “who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth ini-
quity, and passeth by transgressions" “O! the purity of that
holiness, which chose rather to punish the sins of the elect in
his only begotten Son, than suffer them to go unpunished . Of
the abyss of his love to the world, for which he spared not his
dearest Son, in order to spare sinners! O! the depth of the
riches of unsearchable wisdom, by which he exercises mercy
towards the penitent guilty, without any stain to the honour of
the most impartial Judge! O! the treasures of love in Christ,
whereby he became a curse for us, in order to deliver us there-
from.” How becoming the justified soul, who is ready to dis-
solve in the sense of this love, with full exultation to sing a
o song, a song of mutual return of love to a justifying
P :: * * * -- -
LXXXI.2dly. This doctrine is likewise calculated for the
humility of the sinner, from whom it cuts of all boasting, that
the glory may remain unstained to God alone. “What hast
thou, O man, to boast of P What, wherewith thou canst stand
before the tribunal of God? Good works? But all thy right-
eousnesses are as filthy rags, Isa. lxiv. 6. ' If thou leanest on
them, they are, Pope Adrian VI. himself being Judge, like
the staff of a reed which shall break, and pierce thy leaning
hand. Perhaps thou wilt boast of thy faith, as if o the ex-
cellency of that thou canst please God. But even that is like
a shaken and shattered reed, to which thou canst not safel
trust; and whatever it be, it is the gift of God, Phil. i. 3.
Thou hast received; why dost thou glory as if thou hadst
not received 2. 1 Cor. iv. 7. Thou hast nothing of thine
own to present to God.” Indeed thou hast a great deal of

thine own, but it is either sin, or at least what is stained with.

[graphic]

426 of Justification. |Pook III.

sin; for which if thou has deserved any thing, it is only
hell, or that which is worse than hell, if any such thing can be.
And canst thou, O most wretched creature, boast of any such
vanity ". Rom. iii. 27. -
LXXXII. 3dly. It conduces above all to the oonsolation of
the afflicted soul, bewailing his sins with godly sorrow ; whom
we may address in this manner, from the very genius, or na-
ture of this doctrine. “Indeed, thy sins are both more nu-
merous and greater, than thou canst either conceive or ex-
press: but behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the
sins of the world. Every thing in thee is infected with much
sin: but thanks be to God, the cause of thy justification is not
to be sought for in thee: we are justified freely by his grace.
Thou hast to do with a most righteous judge, who will not
clear the guilty: but behold Jesus the Surety, who, by a full
expiation, has brought it to pass, that he can justify the un-
f. without any violation of his justice. Having such a
ader and guardian, approach without fear to this judge, bein
assured, that Jesus thy patron or powerful friend will so pl
thy cause, that thou shalt not be cast. Canst thou not yet
venture? What should hinder P Do thy sins, thy nakedness
and thy pollution affright thee P But take shelter behind
Christ, hide thyself in his wounds, wrap thyself in his death
and blood, receive, with the hand of faith, the offered fine linen,
the righteousness of the saints. Is thy faith itself so weak
that thou art ashamed and grieved? But again thanks be to God,
that thou art not to be justified for thy faith, or for any wor-
thiness that is in it, but if it is true and sincere, however
weak, it is the band of thy union and communion with Christ.
And being united to him, present thyself to God without fear,
undauntedly also before the devil, and all who take pleasure
to accuse thee. Humbly confess whatever sin may be objected
against thee; but add, that they shall no doubt triumph in the
judgment when they shall make it appear, that the merits
and satisfaction of Christ are not sufficient to atone for and
remove them, or thou not suffered to plead those merits
of Christ in judgment. I challenge the devil and all his ac-
complices: Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's
elect # It is God that justifieth, &c. Doest thou believe
these things 2 Thou doest, but with faultering and hesita-
tion. Fight manfully against all the temptations of unbelief,
and even now, thou shalt receive that white stone, and new
name written thereon, which none knoweth, but he who re-
ceiveth it; and the hidden manna, which having tasted, thou
wilt enjoy thy life in patience, and death in desire.” This

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »