Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

may not be so clear, and yet their experience may be as sound as ours. There is a wide difference between the natural faculties of men, their understandings in particular; and that difference is exceedingly increased, by the manner of their education. Indeed this alone may occasion an inconceivable difference in their opinions of various kinds; and why not upon this head, as well as on any other ? But still, though their opinions, as well as expressions, may be confused and inaccurate, their hearts may cleave to God through the Son of his love, and be truly interested in his righteousness.

4. Let us then make all that allowance to others, which, were we in their place, we would desire for ourselves. Who is ignorant, (to touch - again on that circumstance only) of the amazing power of education ? And who that knows it, can expect, suppose a member of the church of Rome, either to think or speak clearly on this subject ? And yet, if we had heard even dying Bellarmine cry out, when he was asked, “Unto which of the saints wilt thou turn ?"-Fidere meritis Christi tutissimum ; “ It is safest to trust in the merits of Christ;" would we have affirmed that, notwithstanding his wrong opinions, he had no share in his righteousness?

5. But in what sense is this righteousness imputed to believers ? In this: All believers are forgiven and accepted, not for the sake of any thing in them, or of any thing that ever was, that is, or ever can be done by them, but wholly and solely for the sake of what Christ hath done and suffered for them. I say again, not for the sake of any thing in them, or done by them, of their own righteousness or works: “Not for works of righteousness which we have done, but of his own mercy he saved us.

“ By grace ye are saved, through faith,---not of works, lest any man should boast ;" but wholly and solely for the sake of what Christ hath done and suffered for us. We are “justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. And this is not only the means of our obtaining the favour of God but of our continuing therein. It is thus we come to God at first; it is by the same we come unto him ever after. We walk in one and the same new and living way, till our spirit returns to God.

6. And this is the doctrine which I have constantly believed and taught for near eight and twenty years. This I published to all the world in the year 1738, and ten or twelve times since, in those words, and many others to the same effect, extracted from the homilies of our church :-" These things must necessarily go together in our justification; upon God's part, his great mercy and grace; upon Christ's part, the satisfaction of God's justice; and on our part, faith in the merits of Christ. So that the grace of God doth not shut out the righteousness of God in our justification, but only shutteth out the righteousness of man, as to deserving our justification.” “ That we are justified by faith alone, is spoken to take away clearly all merit of our works, and wholly to ascribe the mcrit and deserving of our justification to Christ only Our justification comes freely of the mere mercy of God, for whereas all the world was not able to pay any part towards our ransom, it pleased him, without any of our deserving, to prepare for us Christ's body and blood, whereby our ransom might be paid, and his justice satisfied. Christ, therefore, is now the righteousness of all them that truly believe in him."

7. The hymns published a year or two after this, and since republished several times, (a clear testimony that my judgment was still the same,) speak full to the same purpose. To cite all the passages to this effect, would be to transcribe a great part of the volumes. Take one for all, which was reprinted seven years ago, five years ago, two years ago, and some months since:

Jesu, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress :
'Midst flaming worlds in these array'd,

With joy shat I lift up my head." The whole hymn expresses the same sentiment from the beginning to the end.

8. In the sermon on justification, published nineteen, and again seven or eight, years ago, I express the same thing in these words : (page 87 :) " In consideration of this, that the Son of God hath 'tasted death for every man,' God hath now reconciled the world unto himself, not imputing to them their former trespasses.' So that for the sake of his well beloved Son, of what he hath done and suffered for us, God now vouchsafes, on one only condition, (which himself also enables us to perform,) both to remit the punishment due to our sins, to reinstate us in his favour, and to restore our dead souls to spiritual life, as the earnest of life eternal."

9. This is more largely and particularly expressed in the Treatise on Justification, which I published last year. “ If we take the phrase of imputing Christ's righteousness, for the bestowing (as it were) the righteousness of Christ, including his obedience, as well passive as active, in the return of it, that is, in the privileges, blessings, and benefits, purchased by it; so a believer may be said to be justified, by the righteousness of Christ imputed. The meaning is, God justifies the believer, for the sake of Christ's righteousness, and not for any righteousness of his own. So Calvin : (Institut. I. 2, c. 17:) Christ, by his obedience, procured or merited for us grace or favour with God the Father.' Again : 'Christ, by his obedience, procured or purchased righteousness for us.” And yet again : ' All such expressions as these, That we are justified by the grace of God, that Christ is our righteousness, that righteousness was procured for us by the death and resurrection of Christ, import the same thing; namely, that the righteousness of Christ, both his active and passive righteousness, is the meritorious cause of our justification, and has procured for us at God's hand, that, upon our believing, we should be accounted righteous by him,'” page 5

10. But perhaps some will object, " Nay, but you affirm that faith is imputed to us for righteousness. St. Paul affirms this over and over ; therefore I affirm it too. Faith is imputed for righteousness to every believer; namely, faith in the righteousness of Christ; but this is exactly the same thing which has been said before ; for by that expression I mean neither more nor less, than that we are justified by faith, not by works; or that every believer is forgiven and accepted, merely for the sake of what Christ has done and suffered.

11. But is not a believer invested or clothed with the righteousness of Christ? Undoubtedly he is. And accordingly the words above recited are the language of every believing heart:

Jesu, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dreso."

as

That is, for the sake of thy active and passive righteousness, I am forgiven and accepted of God.

But must not we put off the filthy rags of our own righteousness, before we can put on the spotless righteousness of Christ ? Certainly we must ; that is, in plain terms, we must repent, before we can believe the gospel. We must be cut off from dependance upon ourselves, before we can truly depend upon Christ. We must cast away all confidence in our own righteousness, or we cannot have a true confidence in his. Till we are delivered from trusting in any thing that we do, we cannot thoroughly trust in what he has done and suffered. First, we receive the sentence of death in ourselves; then we trust in Him that lived and died for us.

12. But do not you believe inherent righteousness? Yes, in its proper place; not as the ground of our acceptance with God, but as the fruit of it; not in the place of imputed righteousness, but as consequent upon it. That is, I believe God implants righteousness in every one to whom he has imputed it. I believe “ Jesus Christ is made of God unto us sanctification,” as well righteousness;” or, that God sanctifies, as well as justifies, all them that believe in him. They to whom the righteousness of Christ is imputed, are made righteous by the Spirit of Christ; are renewed in the image of God, “after the likeness wherein they were created, in righteousness and true holiness."

13. But do not you put faith in the room of Christ, or of his righteousness ? By no means: I take particular care to put each of these in its proper place. The righteousness of Christ is the whole and sole foundation of all our hope. It is by faith that the Holy Ghost enables us to build upon this foundation. God gives this faith ; in that moment we are accepted of God; and yet, not for the sake of that faith, but of what Christ has done and suffered for us. You see, each of these has its proper place, and neither clashes with the other : we believe, we love, we endeavour to walk in all the commandments of the Lord blameless; yet,

" While thus we bestow
Our moments below,

Ourselves we forsake,
And refuge in Jesus's righteousness take.

His passion alone,
The foundation we own;

And pardon we claim,

And eternal redemption, in Jesus's name.” 14. I therefore no more deny the righteousness of Christ, than I deny the Godhead of Christ; and a man may full as justly charge me with denying the one as the other. Neither do I deny imputed righteousness: this is another unkind and unjust accusation. I always did, and do still continually affirm, that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to every believer. But who deny it? Why all infidels, whether baptized or unbaptized; all who affirm the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to be a cunningly devised fable: all Socinians and Arians; all who deny the supreme Godhead of the Lord that bought them; they, of consequence, deny his divine righteousness, as they suppose him to be a mere creature ; and they deny his human righteousness, as imputed to any man, seeing they believe every one is accepted for his own righteousness.

15. The human righteousness of Christ, at least the imputation of it, as the whole and sole meritorious cause of the justification of a sinner before God, is likewise denied by the members of the church of Rome; by all of them who are true to the principles of their own church. But undoubtedly there are many among them whose experience goes beyond their principles; who, though they are far from expressing themselves justly, yet feel what they know not how to express. Yea, although their conceptions of this great truth be as crude as their expressions, yet with their hearts they believe : they rest on Christ alone, both unto present and eternal salvation.

16. With these we may rank those even in the reformed churches, who are usually termed Mystics. One of the chief of these in the present century, (at least in England,) was Mr. Law. It is well known that he absolutely and zealously denied the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, as zealously as Robert Barclay, who scruples not to say, “Imputed righteousness imputed nonsense!” The body of the people known by the name of Quakers, espouse the same sentiment. Nay, the generality of those who profess themselves members of the church of England, are either totally ignorant of the matter, and know nothing about imputed righteousness, or deny this and justification by faith together, as destructive of good works. To these we may add a considerable number of the people vulgarly styled Anabaptists, together with thousands of Presbyterians and Independents, lately enlightened by the writings of Dr. Taylor. On the last I am not called to pass any sentence: I leave them to Him that made them.

But will any one dare to affirm that all Mystics, (such as Mr. Law in particular,) all Quakers, all Presbyterians or Independents, and all members of the church of England, who are not clear in their opinions or expressions, are void of all Christian experience !--that, consequently, they are all in a state of damnation, “ without hope, without God in the world ?” However confused their ideas may be, however improper their language, may there not be many of them whose heart is right towards God, and who effectuully know “ the Lord our righteousness ?”

17. But, blessed be God, we are not among those who are so dark in their conceptions and expressions. We no more deny the phrase than the thing; but we are unwilling to obtrude it on other men. Let them use either this or such other expressions as they judge to be more exactly scriptural, provided their heart rests only on what Christ has done and suffered, for pardon, grace, and glory. I cannot express this better than in Mr. Hervey's words, worthy to be wrote in letters of

gold. “We are not solicitous as to any particular set of phrases. Only let men be humbled as repenting criminals at Christ's feet, let them rely as devoted pensioners on his merits, and they are undoubtedly in the way to a blessed immortality.”

18. Is there any need, is there any possibility, of saying more? Let us only abide by this declaration, and all the contention about this or that particular phrase, is torn up by the roots. Keep to this "All who are humbled as repenting criminals at Christ's feet, and rely as devoted pensioners on his merits, are in the way to a blessed immortality ;' and what room for dispute ? Who denies this? Do we not all meet on this ground? What then shall we wrangle about? A man of peace here proposes terms of accommodation to all the contending

parties. We desire no better : we accept of the terms: we subscribe to them with heart and hand. Whoever refuses so to do, set a mark upon that man! He is an enemy of peace, a troubler of Israel, a disturber of the church of God.

19. In the mean time, what we are afraid of is this ;-lest any should use the phrase, the righteousness of Christ, or the righteousness of Christ is imputed to me, as a cover for his unrighteousness. We have known this done a thousand times. A man has been reproved, suppose, for drunkenness: “Oh,” said he, “I pretend to no righteousness of my own ; Christ is my righteousness." Another has been told, that “ The extortioner, the unjust, shall not inherit the kingdom of God:" He replies with all assurance, “I am unjust in myself, but I have a spotless righteousness in Christ." And thus, though a man be as far from the practice as from the tempers of a Christian'; though he neither has the mind which was in Christ, nor in any respect walks as he walked ; yet he has armour of proof against all conviction, in what he calls the righteousness of Christ.

20. It is the seeing so many deplorable instances of this kind, which makes us sparing in the use of these expressions. And I cannot but call upon all of you who use them frequently, and beseech you in the name of God our Saviour, whose you are, and whom you serve; earnestly to guard all that hear you, against this accursed abuse of them. Oh warn them (it may be they will hear your voice) against "continuing in sin that grace may abound !” Warn them against making “Christ the minister of sin ;' against making void that solemn decree of God, “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord,” by a vain imagination of being holy in Christ! Oh warn them that if they remain unrighteous, the righteousness of Christ will profit them nothing ! Cry aloud, (is there not a cause ?) that for this very end the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, that “ the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in us;" and that we may “live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”

It remains only to make a short and plain application. And, first, I would address myself to you who violently oppose these expressions, and are ready to condemn all that use them as Antinomians. But is not this bending the bow too much the other way? Why should you condemn all who do not speak just as you do? Why should you quarrel with them, for using the phrases they like, any more than they with you, for taking the same liberty ? Or, if they do quarrel with you upon that account, do not imitate the bigotry which you blame. At least, allow them the liberty which they ought to allow you. And why should you be

angry at an expression ? “Oh, it has been abused.” And what expression has not ? However, the abuse may be removed, and at the same time the use remain. Above all, be sure to retain the important sense which is couched under that expression. All the blessings I enjoy, all I hope for in time and in eternity, are given wholly and solely for the sake of what Christ has done and suffered for me.

I would, secondly, add a few words to you who are fond of these expressions. And permit me to ask, do not I allow enough? What can any reasonable man desire more ? I allow the whole sense which you contend for; that we have every blessing through the righteousness of God our Saviour. I allow you to use whatever expressions you choose, and that a thousand times over ; only guarding them against that dread

« PredošláPokračovať »