RPM, Volume 17, Number 2, January 4 to January 10, 2015

Systematic Theology

By R. L. Dabney, D. D., LL. D.

Chapter 23: Justification

Importance of correct views of the doctrine.
Scripture idea of.
Roman Catholic view Justification not by inherent grace and its works.
Both pardon and adoption.
Both Christ's active and passive obedience is the ground of it.
What is adoption?
Works cannot justify.
James reconciled to Paul.
Christ's work was not to lower the Law.
Faith not our Imputed Righteousness.
But Justification only on account of Christ's merit.
Justification an Act.
How related to the Judgment Day?
Faith only instrument of Justification.
How related to Sanctification?
To good works?
Antinomian result rejected.
[Lectures 52 & 53 & 54]

Section Two—Basic Doctrines of the Faith

Chapter 23: Justification

Syllabus for Lectures 52 & 53 & 54

1. What is the importance of correct views on this doctrine?
Dick, Lecture 69. Turrettin, Loc. 16., Qu. 1. Owen on Justification, (Assembly's Edit.), p. 76-82.

2. What is the scriptural idea or meaning of God's acts of justification? State and refute Papal view and establish the true view.
Turrettin, Loc. 15., Qu. 1. Owen, ch. 4. Dick, Lecture 69. Hill, bk. 5., ch. 2. Ridgley, Qu. 70. Knapp, section 109. Watson's Theol. Inst., ch. 23, section 1. Bellarmine's Controversia. Liber de Justificatione. Council of Trent. Ses. 6, ch. 7. Calvin's Inst., bk. ch. 11. Dr. W. Cunningham, ch. 21.

3. Does the inherent grace wrought by God in the believer's soul or good works proceeding therefrom, merit anything towards justification?
Calvin's Inst., bk. 3., chs. 15-17. Turrettin, Qu. 2. Owen, chs. 5, 6. Council of Trent, Ses. 6, chs.7-10, and Canons 11, etc., de Justi. Bellarmine, as above. Dr. A. Alexander's Tracton Justification.

4. Is justification mere remission of sins; or does it include the bestowal of a title to favor and reward? And is Christ's active, as well as His passive obedience, imputed to believers therefore?
Turrettin, Qu. 3, 4. Owen. ch. 12. Dick, Lecture 69, 70. Hill, as above. Knapp, section 115. Watson, as above, section 2. Dr. A. Alexander, as above.

5. What is adoption?
Turrettin. Loc. 16., Qu. 6. Dick, Lect. 73. Ridgley, Qu. 74. See on whole, Conf. of Faith, ch 11 and Catechisms, on Qu.4. Dorner's Hist. Prot. Theol. Vol. i, section 3, of Div. 3.

6. State the general argument, (against Moralists, Socinians, Pelagians, etc.,) to prove dent works cannot justify.
Turrettin, Loc. 16., Qu. 2. Owen, chs. 10, 14. Dick, Lectures 69, 70. Hill, bk, 5., ch. 2. Dr. A. Alexander, Tract.

7. How then reconcile James and Paul, Rom., chs. 3, 4; and James, ch. 2? Owen, ch. 20. Turrettin, Qu. 8. Dick, Lecture 71. Watson's Theol Inst., ch. 23, section 4.

8. Repute the lower Arminian scheme, that Christ only purchased for us a milder law, which accepts penitence and evangelical obedience, instead of perfect obedience.
Owen, ch. 11. Dick, Lecture 70. Waston's Theol. Inst., as above, and section 3. Witsius, bk. 1., ch. 9.

9. State and refute the Wesleyan, (or higher Arminian theory), that faith is imputed as our righteousness.
Turretin, Qu. 7, section 1-14. Owen, ch. 3. Dick, Lecture 71. Watson, Theol. Inst., ch. 23, section 3. Hodge, Theol. p, 3., ch 17, section 8.

10. Complete, then, the argument of our 4th question, by showing what is the meritorious ground of justification.
See Owen. chs. 16, 17. Turrettin, Qu. 3, section 11-21. Hill, Dick, Alexander as above. Hodge, as above, section 4.

11. Define and prove the Imputation of Christ's righteousness, and answer objections. Adam's case, Rom. 5.
See Turrettin. Loc. 16., Qu. 3. Owen on Justif, chs. 7, 8, 10. Dick, Lecture 70. Dr. A. Alexander, Tract. Dr. Wm. Cunningham, Hist. Theol. ch. 21, section 3. Watson's Theol, Inst., ch. 23.

12. Is Justification a single, complete, and absolute act? How related to after sins, and to the general Judgment?
Turrettin, Qu. 9-10. Owen, ch. 6. Hill, bk. 5., ch. 2. Knapp, section 113. Dr. Cunningham, as above, section 90. Turrettin, Qu, 5.

13. Is Faith the sole instrumental condition of Justification, or also Repentance?
Turrettin, Qu. 7, 8. Oven, ch. 2, 3. Breckinridge, Theol. Subjective, bk. 1., ch. 4. Thornwell's Collected Works, Vol. 2., pp. 37-40. Dick, Lecture 71.

14. How are Justification and Sanctification distinguished? Are they inseparable? Why then discriminate?
Turrettin. Loc. 17., Ou. 1. Dick, Lecture 71. Hill, bk. 5., ch. 3.

15. What the proper place and importance of good works in the Believer's Salvation?
Turrettin, Loc. 17. Qu. 3. Dick, Lecture 71. Hill, as above. Knapp, section 116, 117.

16. "May we then sin, because we are not under the Law but under Grace?"
Dr. John Witherspoon on Justification. Southern Review (edited by Bledsoe) Art. 1, April, 1874. Owen, ch. 19. Turrettin, Loc. 17., Qu. 1. Dick, Lecture 72. Watson, ch. 23, section 3.

Its Importance.

It is obvious to the first glance that it is a question of the first importance to sinners, "How shall man be just with God?" The doctrine of justification was the radical principle, as we have seen, out of which grew the Reformation from Popery. It was by adopting this that the Reformers were led out of darkness into light. Indeed, when we consider how many of the fundamental points of theology are connected with justification, we can hardly assign it too important a place. Our view of this doctrine must determine, or be determined by our view of Christ's satisfaction; and this, again, carries along with it the whole doctrine concerning the natures and person of Christ. And if the proper deity of Him be denied, that of the Holy Spirit will very certainly fall along with it; so that the very doctrine of the Trinity is destroyed by extreme views concerning justification. Again, "It is God that justifieth." How evident, then, that our views of justification will involve those of God's law and moral attributes? The doctrine of original sin is also brought in question, when we assert the impossibility of man's so keeping the law of God, as to justify himself. It is a more familiar remark, that the introduction of the true doctrine of justification excludes that whole brood of Papal inventions, purgatory and penance, works of supererogation, indulgences, sacrifice of the mass, and merit of congruity acquired by alms and mortifications.

Justification As Its Ground.

Not to go again into these subjects at large, which are illustrated in your history of the Reformation, it may be briefly repeated, that as is our conception of the meritorious ground of justification, such will be our conception of its nature. This proposition will be found necessarily decisive of every man's scheme of justification, be it what it may. If its ground is absolute, complete and infinite, the righteousness of Jesus Christ, it also will be an act complete, final and absolute, equal in all justified persons, admitting no increment, and leaving neither need nor room for any sacramental merit or penitential atonement. Once more, the blessed doctrine of an assurance of hope is intimately dependent on justification. If the latter is grounded on infused grace, and admits of loss and increment, the Christian's opinion concerning the certainty of his own justification can never become an assurance, this side the grave; for the very sufficient reason, that the fact itself is still suspended. If he were assured of it, he would believe an untruth; for the thing itself is not yet sure. Hence, the propriety of Luther's decision, when, taught by his personal, as well as his theological, experience, he declared justification to be the cardinal doctrine of the Church's creed.

2. Etymology of Term.

The question concerning the true nature of justification should be strictly one of exegesis. All are agreed that it is God's act. Hence, the opinions of men, or the human meanings of words by which men have expressed God's descriptions of it in Scripture, are not worth one particle, in determining its nature. It may, however, be remarked, that all English theologians have adopted the Latin word justify (justifico) from the Vetus Itala, Latin Fathers and Latin Vulgate; an unclassical word, which would mean, etymologically, to make righteous. I may also remind you that Augustine, and a few of the other fathers, misled by this etymology, and their ignorance of Greek, conceived and spoke of justification as a change of moral state, as well as of legal condition. Here is the poisonous germ of the erroneous doctrine of the Scholastics and of Trent concerning it; a striking illustration of the high necessity of Hebrew and Greek literature, in the teachers of the Church.

Bible Terms. Roman Catholic Definitions. Our Definition.

When we pass to the original Scriptures, we find the act of justification described by a Hebrew and Greek verb, qydix]ji (hiphil) and dikaiow, with their derivatives. Now, the Roman Catholic Church asserts that the Scriptural idea of the act is not only God's accounting, but also making the sinner righteous, by both infusing the divine righteousness, and declaring it acceptable, in the sinner. We believe that the true meaning is not to make righteous in that sense, but only to declare righteous or false righteous in the forensic sense; and that the act of justification does not change the moral state, but only declares, in the forum of heaven, the legal state of the sinner. The soundest reasons for this, we shall give, without any claim whatever to originality, merely aiming to present them in a brief, lucid, and logical order. The Holy Spirit, then, by justification, intends a forensic act, and not a moral change.


(a) Because, in a number of cases, He expresses a justification of objects incapable of being made righteous by a moral change, by the justifying agents, in the given cases. (Wisdom: Matt. 11:19. God: Ps. 2:4; Job 32:2; Luke 7:29.)

(b) Because, in a multitude of cases, to justify is the contrast of condemning; e. g. , Job 9:20; Deut. 25:1; Rom. 8:33, 34, etc. Now, to condemn does not change, but only declares the culprit's moral condition; it merely fixes or apportions the legal consequence of his faults. Therefore, to justify does not make holy, but only announces and determines the legal relation.

(c) In some places, the act of a magistrate in justifying the wicked is pronounced very sinful. (Prov. 17:15; Is. 5:23). Now, if to justify were to make righteous, to justify the wicked would be a most praiseworthy and benevolent act on the magistrate's part. From this very argument, indeed, some have raised a captious objection; saying, if it is so iniquitous in the human magistrate to pronounce righteous him who is personally unrighteous, it must be wrong for God to justify in this (Calvinistic) sense, the sinner. The answer is, that God, unlike the magistrate, is able to impute to the justified ungodly, a vicarious satisfaction for his guilt, and to accompany this justification with sanctifying grace, ensuring his future obedience.

(d) The adjuncts of the act of justification are all such as would indicate a forensic character for it. Rom. 3:19-20: the objects of the act are men who are upodikoi. See also Job 9:2, 3; Ps. 143:2. There is a bar at which the act is performed. (Luke 16:15; Rom. 4:2; Is. 43:26). There is an advocate, pleading our cause (1 John 2:1).

(e.) Finally, the equivalent expressions all point to a forensic act. Thus, in Rom. 4:4-6, justification is explained by the forgiveness of iniquity, and covering of sin. In Rom. 5:9, we are justified by His blood and saved from wrath through Him; and v.10, it is farther explained by reconciliation. In John 3:18; 5:24, etc., it is being not condemned, and passing from death to life. In a word, the only sense of the word which makes Paul's argument in Romans 2:5, intelligible, is the forensic sense; for the whole question there is concerning the way of acquittal for a sinner before God.

Papal Objections.

Papists, therefore, admit that the original words often carry a forensic sense, even an exclusive one; and that in the justification of the sinner the forensic idea is also present; but they claim that, in addition, a production of inherent righteousness in the justified person is intended by the word; so that the believer is accounted, because made personally righteous in justification. And in support of this, they quote Is. 53:11; Dan. 12:3, from the Old Testament, and in the New, Rom. 3:24; 4:22; 6:4, 5; 8:10, 30; 1 Cor. 6:11; Heb. 11:4; Titus 3:5-7; Rev. 22:11. Of the first two texts it is enough to say, that the forensic sense of the verb is perfectly tenable, when we assign only an instrumental agency to the gospel, or minister mentioned; and that sort of agency the Papist himself is compelled to give them. Of 1 Cor. 6:11, it should be said that it is a case of introverted parallelism, in which the "washing" is general; and the sanctifying and justifying the two branches thereof. Can they be identical: tautological? "Ye are sanctified by the Spirit of our God, and justified in the name of Christ." Rev. 22:11, only has a seeming relation to the subject, in consequence of the Vulgate's mistranslation from an erroneous reading. The other passages scarcely require notice.

3. Protestant Definition.

The Protestant view of justification as to its nature, and meritorious cause may be seen in Shorter Catechism, que 33.

Justification According To Rome.

The doctrine of Rome is a masterpiece of cunning and plausible error. According to this doctrine, justification is rather to be conceived of as a process, than an absolute and complete act. The initiation of this process is due to the gracious operation of the Holy Spirit, (bestowed first in Baptism,) infusing and inworking a fides formata in the soul. Free will is by itself inadequate for such an exercise, but yet neither doth the Holy Spirit produce it, without the concurrence of the contingent will of the believer. So that Rome's doctrine herein is synergistic. Moreover, the meritorious cause which purchases for the believer, this grace of a fides formata, is Christ's righteousness and intercession. But now, the agaph, with resultant good works, thus inwrought by grace, is the righteousness which is imputed to the believer, for his justification—i. e. , to entitle him to life and adoption; so that the work of justification not only accounts, but makes the sinner personally righteous. It will be seen how cunningly this doctrine, by mixing justification with sanctification, avails itself of the seeming support of such passages as Rom. 4:22, 24; 10:10; Acts 10:35; Gal. 5:6; James 2:26, how plausibly it evades those peculiar texts, as Rom. 1:17; Phil. 3:9, which say that the righteousness which justifies us is God's; and how "it keeps the word of promise to the ear, and breaks it to the sense," in seeming to ascribe something to the merit of Christ, while yet it is practically justification by works.

Causes of Justification According To Rome.

According to the Council of Trent then, the final cause of justification is (correctly), God's glory in the bestowal of eternal life. The efficient cause, God's grace; the meritorious cause, the righteousness of Jesus Christ; (i. e., of His passion); the instrumental cause, baptism; the formal cause, the infused righteousness of God, dwelling in the believer. Justification will consequently be imperfect in all, different in degree in different ones, capable of increment and diminution, and liable to entire loss, in case of backsliding; nor can its continuance unto glory be certainly ascertained by the believer (except in case of inspiration), inasmuch as its continuance is not itself certain.

Justification Not By Inherent Grace and Its Works.

Now all sound Protestants assert, on the contrary, that there is no other justification than that which Roman Catholics describe as the initiation thereof, which is a complete and absolute act; done for the believer once for all, perfect and complete in all, needing and admitting no increment; and above all, that God is not moved in any sort, to bestow this grace of justification by the congruous merit of our inwrought holiness; but that this latter is, on the contrary, one of the fruits of our justification. We utterly exclude our own inherent holiness.


(a.) Because, however gracious, it is always imperfect. But the Law of God (Gal. 3:10; James 2:10,) can accept nothing but a perfect righteousness. Nor is it worth the Papist's while to say, that the believer's holiness is perfect in habitu, but imperfect in actu. They also plead, since conversion is God's work, the godliness infused must be perfect in principle, because "the work of our Rock is perfect." Deut. 32:4. I reply, His own works are, of course, perfect; but it may be far otherwise with those in which imperfect man is recipient, and his feeble faculties means. I urge, farther, that it is a fiction to represent that godliness as perfect in disposition and principle, which is imperfect in act. For the act expresses the principle. Said our Savior: "Make the tree good, and the fruit good." It is a favorite claim of unbelievers and Socinians to say that their intentions and hearts are better than their conduct. Whereas, Bible saints always confess the human heart worse than its outward developments. And last, the plea would not avail the Papist, if granted, because God says that when man is judged on his merits, it is the overt act by which he is especially tried. Matt. 12:37.

Evasion of Rom. 3:20, Etc.

(b.) The Apostle sternly excludes works from the ground of justification. Rom. 3:20, 28, etc., etc. And it is no adequate answer to say he means only to exclude ceremonial works. For besides that, it is improbable the Apostle would ever have thought it worth his while to argue against a justification by ceremonial works alone, inasmuch as we have no proof any Jew of that day held such a theory; we know that the Hebrew mind was not accustomed to make the distinction between ceremonial and moral, positive and natural precepts. Moreover, the law whose works are excluded is, evidently from the context, the law whose works might prompt boasting, the law which was over Jew and Gentile alike, the law which was the term of the Covenant of works, and from whose curse Christ delivers us.

Another Evasion.

Another evasion is attempted, by saying the Apostle only excludes the works of the unrenewed heart. We reply, Was it worth his while to argue their exclusion, when nobody was so impudent as to assert their value? Again, his language is general. He excludes all works which stand opposed to faith; but there is as much contrast between working and believing, after, as before conversion. Then, the illustrations which the Apostle uses, are David and Abraham, all of whose works he excludes from their justification. Surely the Hebrew would not naturally refer to their good works, as those of an unsanctified man! In fine, the manner in which, in Rom. 6:, the Apostle answers the charge of "making void the law through faith," proves that he meant to exclude all works.

(c.) Our justification is asserted, in many forms, to be all of grace, to exclude boasting, to be by Christ's righteousness, as contrasted with ours. We assert that the freedom of grace, and the honor of Christ in our salvation are grievously marred by the Papal doctrine. Human merit is foisted in.

(d.) No holy exercises, nor gracious acts, whatever their source, have any relevancy to atone for past guilt. But remission of this is the more essential part of the justification, if either is.

(e.) When once the righteousness of Christ, which the Council of Trent allows to be the meritorious cause for initiating a justified state, is applied, we assert that the whole change of legal attitude is effected; and nothing remains that can be done more. The man "is passed from death unto life," and hath eternal life," (John 5:24; 3:36). There is no condemnation to him (Rom. 8:1). He "has peace" with God (Rom. 5:1). He "is reconciled," (v.10), and has acquired a vicarious merit, which a fortiori assures all subsequent gifts of grace without any additional purchase. He is adopted (John 1:12). In a word, the righteousness imputed being infinite, the justification grounded on it is at once complete, if it exists at all.

(f.) The Papal idea that justification can be matured and carried on by inherent grace is inconsistent with God's nature and law. Suppose the believer reinstated in acceptance, and left to continue and complete it by his imperfect graces; why should not his first shortcoming hurl him down into a state of condemnation and spiritual death, just as Adam's first did him? Then his justification would have to be initiated over again. The only thing which prevents this, is the perpetual presentation of Christ's merit on the believer's behalf. So that there is no room for the deservings of inherent grace.

4. Justification Is Both Pardon and Adoption.

The Catechism defines justification as a pardoning of all our sins, and an acceptance of us as righteous in God's sight. It is more than remission, bestowing also a title to God's favor, and adoption to that grace and glory which would have been won had we perfectly kept the Covenant of Works. On the contrary, the Arminian declares justification to be nothing but simple forgiveness, asserting that, as absence of life is death, cessation of motion is rest, so absence of guilt is justification. The Scriptural ground on which they rely is that class of passages represented by Rom. 4:4-8, where Paul defines, for instance, justification as that pardon of iniquities and covering of sin which David sung in Ps. 32: See also Acts 5:31; Eph. 1:7; Rom. 5:16, etc. We reply: We admit that forgiveness is the first element, and a very important element of justification; and that wherever bestowed, it always infallibly draws after it the whole act and grace. In passages where it was not the immediate scope of the sacred writer, therefore, to define the whole extent of justification, what more natural than that it should be denominated by this characteristic element, in which a guilty conscience will naturally feel itself more immediately interested? Surely, if in other places we find the act described as containing more, we should complete our definition of it, by taking in all the elements which are embraced in all the places. We argue, then:

(a) That the use of the words and their meaning would indicate that remission is not the whole idea of justification. Surely, to declare righteous is another thing than a mere declaration of exemption from penalty, even as righteousness is another state, than that of mere exemption from suffering. This leads us to remark:

Righteousness More Than Guiltlessness.

(b) That the law contains a two-fold sanction. If its terms be perfectly kept, the reward will be eternal life; if they be broken in any respect, the punishment will be death. Pardon alone would release from the punishment of its breach, but would not entitle to the reward of its performance. In other words, he who broke it, and has suffered the penalty, therefore does not stand on the same platform with him who has kept it. Suppose, for instance, I promise to my servants a reward for keeping my commands, and threaten punishment for breaking them. At the end of the appointed time, one of them has kept them, and receives the reward. A second one has broken them, and is chastised. Suppose this second should then arise and claim his reward also, on the ground that suffering the full penalty of the breach was an entire equivalent for perfect obedience? Common sense would pronounce it absurd. Hence, the Arminian logic, that remission is justification, is seen to be erroneous. Since Christ steps the sinner's stead, to fulfill in his place the whole Covenant of Works, He must, in order to procure to us full salvation, both purchase pardon for guilt, and a positive title to favor and life. The sinner needs both. Arminians have sometimes argued that the one necessarily implies the latter; because a moral tertium quid is inconceivable; there is no place between heaven and hell to which this person, guiltless and yet not righteous, could be consigned. We reply, the two elements are indeed practically inseparable; but yet they are distinguishable. And, while there can be no moral neutrality, yet, in the sense of this argument, guiltlessness is not equal to righteousness; e. g., Adam, the moment he entered into the Covenant of Works, was guiltless, (and in one sense righteous). God could not justly have visited him with inflictions, nor taken away from his present natural happiness. But did Adam, therefore, have a title to that assured eternal life, including all the blessings of perseverance, infallible rectitude, and sustaining grace, which was held out in the Covenant, as the reward to be earned by obedience? Surely not. Now this is what the sinner needs to make a complete justification—what Christ gives therein; The Arminian's error is betrayed by another of his own positions. He insists that the believer's faith is imputed to him for righteousness: i. e., as a putative righteousness graciously accepted for his justification. But he will not deny that pardon is for the merit of Christ's sacrifice. For what justification then is this imputation of faith made? His own dogma is only rescued from absurdity, by having in the mind that very element of justification which he denies: an acceptance or adoption into life which is more than mere pardon.


(c) To this the Scriptures agree. In Zech. 3:4-5, justification is not only the stripping off of the filthy garment, but the putting on of the fair mitre and clean robe. In Acts 26:18, faith obtains forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among the saints. In Rom. 5:1-2, justification by faith brings us not only peace with God, but access to a state of grace, and joy and glory. Gal. 4:5, Christ's coming under the curse for us, results in a redemption, which includes adoption. In John 1:12, believing is the immediate instrument of adoption, etc., etc.

2. Christ's Active Obedience Imputed.

Second, those who admit this definition of justification, will, of course, admit that the righteousness by which the sinner is justified must include a full obedience to the preceptive, as well as the penal part of the law. And as that righteousness, (to anticipate a point of future discussion) is Christ's, hence, the merit of His obedience to the precepts, as well as of His atoning sufferings, must be imputed to us for justification. [It is common for theologians to say: "both His active and passive obedience" are imputed. The phrase is clumsy. In truth Christ's sufferings contained an active obedience; and it is this which made them a righteousness: for mere pain, irrespective of the motive of voluntary endurance, is not meritorious. And Christ's obedience to precepts was accompanied with endurance.]


(a) All the arguments then, by which the last head was supported, also go to prove that both parts of Christ's righteousness are imputed for justification, if either is. He undertook to stand in our lawstead; and do for us, what the Covenant of Works demanded of us for our eternal life. We have seen that after we sinned, it required an obedience penal and preceptive.

(b) It is most scriptural to suppose that all Christ did as a mediatorial person, was for us, and in our stead. Did Christ then, obey the preceptive law, as one of His official functions? The answer is, there was no other reason why He should do it —of which more anon. See Matt. 3:15; 5:17.

(c) In many places, Christ's bearing the preceptive law is clearly implied to be for our redemption. See for instance, Gal. 4:4. By what fair interpretation can it be shown that the law under which He was made to redeem us, included nothing but the penal threatenings? "To redeem us who were under the law." Were we under no part of it but the threats? See also Rom. 5:18-19, "By the obedience of Christ, many are made righteous." The antithesis and whole context show that obedience to precepts is meant (Rom. 8:3, 4). What the law failed to do, through our moral impotency, that Christ has done for us. What was that? Rather our obedience than our suffering. See also Heb. 10:5-7.

Osiander's View.

In the days of the Reformation, Andr. Osiander vitiated the doctrine of justification by urging that if Christ was under a moral obligation to keep the preceptive law, (as who can doubt?) then He owed all the obedience of which He was capable on His own account, and therefore could not render it as our surety. Hence, he supposed that the righteousness imputed to us is not that of the God-man on earth, but the inherent or natural righteousness of the Deity. The Socinians and others have adopted this cavil, making it the staple of one of their objections to imputation. The answer is threefold. First, Christ did indeed owe complete obedience to law, after assuming His vicarious task. But for what purpose was the obligation assumed? For what purpose was the very humanity assumed, by which He came under the obligation? To redeem man, the argument is, therefore, as preposterous as though, when a surety comes forward, and gives his own bond, to release his bankrupt friend, the creditor should refuse to cancel the bankrupt man's bond, saying to the surety: "Now, you owe me the money for yourself, for I hold your bond!" The security would speedily raise the question:" What was the value received, for which I, who otherwise owed nothing, gave this bond? It was nothing else than the promised release of this bankrupt's bond." Thus every lawyer would scout the argument of the Socinian, as profligate trifling. See Witsius, bk. 2., chap. 3, section 14, etc. But second, Christ, as Godman, was not obliged to render any obedience to the law, to secure the justification of His own mediatorial person because He was personally accepted and justified from the beginning. See Matt. 3:17; Heb. 1:6. For whom, then, was this obedience rendered. if not for His people? And third, the obedience, though rendered in the human nature, was the obedience of the divine person. That person, as divine, could not be subject, on His own personal behalf, to law, being the sovereign. Hence, it must be vicarious obedience, and being of infinite dignity, is sufficient to justify not one believer only, but all.

5. Adoption. What?

Adoption cannot be said to be a different act of grace from justification. Turrettin devotes only a brief separate discussion to it, and introduces it in the thesis in which he proves that justification is both pardon and acceptance. Owen says that adoption is but a presentation of the blessings bestowed in justification in new phases and relations. And this is evidently correct because adoption performs the same act for us, in Bible representations, which justification does: translates us from under God's curse into His fatherly favor because its instrument is the same, faith. (Gal. 3:26, with 4:6, 7; Titus 3:7; Heb. 11:7; John 1:12). And because the meritorious ground of adoption is the same with that of justification, viz., the righteousness of Christ. See Heb. 11:7; Eph. 1:6; and texts above. The chief doctrinal importance of this idea then is, that we have here, the strongest proof of the correctness of our definition of justification, and of the imputed righteousness upon which it is based, in the fact that it is both a pardon and an adoption.

The representation of our adoption given in Scripture, with its glorious privileges, is full of consoling and encouraging practical instructions. The student may see these well set forth in Dick's 73d Lecture.

6. Justification Not By Works. Evasions of Scripture.

THE particular phase in which the Roman Catholic Church foists the merit of works into justification, has been considered in discussing its nature. But now that we approach the subject of its grounds, it is necessary that we study the general reasons for the exclusion of works, in more comprehensive views. We find the Apostle, Rom. 3:20, declaring: "Therefore, by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in His sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin."

1. To this agree the views expressed by all the sacred writers of the Old and New Testaments. See Ps. 130:3, 4; 71:l6; 143:2; Dan.9:18; Job 40:4. These instances are peculiarly instructive, as showing that Paul broaches no new doctrine; and especially as excluding the Roman Catholic pretext, that only works of the carnal nature are excluded; because the Psalmist and Job are the very men who, in other places, make most earnest protestations of their sincerity and piety. Then our Savior teaches the same doctrine. Luke 17:10; 18:14. And the Epistles likewise. Rom. 3:28; 4:6; 11:6; Gal. 3:11; Eph. 2:8, 9, etc., etc.

Because the Law Convicts.

2. Justification cannot be by the law, "because by the law is the knowledge of sin." That law which has already condemned cannot be the means of our acquittal (See Eph. 2:3). The battle is already hopelessly lost, the die cast, and cast against us on this scheme. If it is to be retrieved, some other method must be found for doing it.

Because the Law Is Absolute.

3. The law of God is absolute; as the transcript of God's moral perfections, and the rule of a perfectly holy God, who cannot favor any sin, it requires a perfect, universal, and perpetual obedience during the time of the probation. See Matt. 22:37, 38, etc.; James 2:10; Gal. 3:10. Every precept applicable to our condition must be kept; they must be kept all the time; and must all be always kept with perfectly proper motives or intentions! There is not a man upon the earth who, when his conscience is convinced of sin by the Holy Spirit, and enlightened to apprehend the majesty and purity of his Judge, would be willing to risk his acquittal on the best act he ever performed in his life. But see 1 John 3:20.

Because Our Only Works Fruits of Justification.

4. While sincerely good works are an all-important part of our salvation, they cannot be the ground of our justification, because they are a result thereof. It is by coming into a state of favor with God, that we acquire from His grace spiritual strength to do anything truly good. See John 15:1-5; Rom. 5:1-2; 6:3, 4, 6; Gal. 2:20. All other works which man does are carnal, selfish, or slavish, and wholly unmeritorious before a perfect God. Hence, it is preposterous to attribute to our works any procuring influence as to our justification.

Fair View From Apostle's Point.

Indeed, the exclusion of works by Paul is so emphatic, that there must be some evasion adopted, to limit his meaning in order to leave a loophole for doubt. Those evasions we have discussed in detail. We would remark generally, in closing this topic, that the fair way to judge what Paul meant by "works of law," is to find out what an intelligent Pharisee (he was reared one, and was now debating with them), would mean by "the Law," when named without qualification. The answer is plain, the Torah, the whole Law of the Pentateuch, moral, civic and ceremonial. And this law was conceived of, not merely as a set of carnal ordinances, or dry forms' but as a rule spiritually holy and good. See Ps. 19:7; 1:2. Nor are we to conceive that the intelligent Jews thought of an obedience to this law merely unspiritual, slavish and carnal. They comprehended such precepts as Deut. 6:4-5; Ps. 51:6, to be an important part of the Law, and the evidence is in such passages as Mark 12:28-33; 10:19-20. This certainly is the sense in which St. Paul employed the phrase, "works of the law," when he excludes them from justification, in his epistles. See Rom. 3:20, with 7:1-12; 8:3, 4; 9:31; 10:3.

7. James 2:12-26

The Scripture which has been supposed to offer the greatest difficulty against Paul's view, is James 2:12 to end. On this it may be remarked, for introduction that if there is a real contradiction, both Epistles cannot be regarded as canonical; our alternative is to reject Paul or James, or else to show their difference only seeming. Further, when one writer treats a given topic formally and professedly, (as Paul obviously does justification in Rom.), and another only incidentally, it is out of all reason to force the seeming sense of the latter on the former.

James' Scope and Terminology Different.

It is well remarked by Owen, that James' scope is totally different from Paul's. James' is, to defend justification by faith from an Antinomian perversion. (See ver. 14.) Paul's is, to prove against Legalists what is the meritorious ground of justification. Rom. 1:17. Again, the faith of which James speaks, is a dead faith; such a faith as Paul himself would judge nonjustifying. That of which Paul speaks, when he makes it the sole instrument of justification, is a living faith, infallibly productive of good works (Rom. vi). And third, the justification of which James speaks, presents a different phase from Paul's, namely: not God's secret and sovereign judicial act, transferring the sinner from a state of condemnation at the time of his conversion, but that act declaratively manifested at any end every subsequent time, especially at the day of judgment. That this is James' meaning, is argued by Owen irrefragably from 5:1-13. The apostle says, Abraham's justification by works, when he proposed to sacrifice Isaac, was a fulfilling of that Scripture, (Gen. 15:6), which says: "He believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness." For that justification by faith was notoriously some thirty years before the offering of Isaac. The latter transaction must therefore be the fulfilling of the former statement, in the sense that Abraham's justification was then not originated, but evinced. See close of ver. 23. These three remarks do sufficiently show that James ought not to be held as contradicting Paul, when their scope and use of terms are so very different.

Work Essential As Sign of Justification, Worthless As Cause.

But a juster view of the matter will be gained by connecting our view of James 2:14-16, with the other passages, where a similar, seeming difference is presented—e. g., Ps. 15:1, 2; 24:3, 4; Matt. 25:34, 35, 41, 42; John 15:8, 14; Acts 10:35; 1 John 3:7. The amount of all these texts is, that a just life is the test of a justified state; and the general remark is obviously true, that this is a very different thing from asserting that the former is the procuring cause of the latter. Fruit is the test of healthy life in a fruit tree not therefore the cause of that life. These simple ideas go far to explain the seeming contrariety of these texts to former citations. But perhaps the application of such an explanation to James 2:14-16, will be attended in the student's mind, with some difficulty, just here. Are we dealing fairly with the text, to suppose that James does indeed use the word justify, a word of meaning so exact, definite and thoroughly established in Bible usage, in a new sense, without giving us any notice thereof? The exegetical evidence that he does, is well stated by Owen, (above). And the view is greatly strengthened by observing that the difference of meaning is in fact not so great. What is the transaction described, for instance, in Matt. 25:34, 35, and how does it differ from the act described in Rom. 3:28? The latter describes the sinner's justification to God; the former the sinner's justification to God's intelligent creatures, (a more correct statement than Owen's, that it describes his justification by man). Each is a declaratory and forensic act; but the one is secret as yet to God and the justified soul; the other is a proclamation of the same declaration to other fellow-creatures. And it is most proper that the latter should be based on the personal possession of a righteous character in order that the universe may see and applaud the correspondence between God's justifying grace and His sanctifying grace; and thus the divine holiness may be duly magnified.

8. Christ Did Not Lower the Law.

A scheme of justification has been advanced by many of the lower Arminians, which is, in its practical results, not far removed from the Papal. It represents that the purpose of Christ's work for man was not to procure a righteousness to be imputed to any individual believers; but to offer to God such a mediatorial work, as would procure for believers in general the repeal of the old, absolute and unbending law as a rule of justification, and the substitution of a milder law, one which demands only sincere evangelical obedience. The thing then, which is imputed for the sinner's justification, is the whole merit of his sincere faith, humble penitence, and strivings to do his duty, which God is pleased, for Christ's sake, to accept in lieu of a perfect righteousness. These theologians would say, with the Roman Catholics, and higher Arminians, that our "faith is accounted as our righteousness;" but they would define Justifying faith as a seminal principle of good works, and inclusive of all the obedience which was to flow from it. The point of inosculation of this, and the Papal theory, (determining them to be the same in essential character) is here. They both conceive Christ as having procured for man (in general) a new probation, evangelical indeed, instead of absolute; but in which the sinner still has his own proximate merit of justification to work out, by something he does. Whereas, the Bible conception is, that the Second Adam perfected, for His people, the line of probation dropped by Adam, by purchasing for them a title to eternal life, and covering also all guilt of the breaches of the first covenant. The student cannot discriminate these two conceptions too carefully. The former is "another gospel." It robs us of the very essence of a salvation by grace. It violates that fundamental principle laid down by the Apostle, Rom. 11:6, that the two plans of adoption unto life, the legal and gospel plans, cannot be combined. The attempt to do so confounds both. In one word, since man's will, in its best estate is, per se, fallible, if the plan of our salvation is that of a near probation by obedience, and if God's grace in regeneration and sanctification is only synergistic, then no believer is ever sure of his redemption. Our view of Christ's substitution under the Covenant of Paradise determines our view of justification. Thus, Adam by nature was righteous, innocent and guiltless; but not yet adopted. The first covenant was given him, that he might by it earn his adoption of life, his elevation from the state of a (holy) servant, to that of a son. He failed in the undertaking, and fell, with his race, into the state of an enemy, both corrupted and guilty. The second Adam steps into the place vacated by the fall of the first, takes up the work where he dropped it; and, while He makes expiation for the guilt, original and actual purchases for all believers a perfect title, not to restoration to that mutable state from which Adam fell, but to that state of adoption, to which he had aspired. My desire is, that the student adopt this view as the touchstone of his doctrine.

I would remark, at the outset, that it comes with a very poor grace from these men to object to the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us, because it was not literally and personally wrought by us. It seems they consider that it is more consistent in God to account a believer's righteousness to him as that which it is not, thus basing his justification on a falsehood, than to account the legal benefits of Christ's righteousness to him for what it truly is—i. e., a perfect righteousness!

I refer here to the favorite cavil against imputation; that it dishonors God, by representing Him as basing His judgment on a legal fiction. But I retort with the question: Which is more a legal fiction; the Arminian scheme, which makes God adjudge a partial righteousness a complete one, per acceptilationem ; or ours, which represents Him as admitting an appropriate substitution, by which a perfect righteousness is rendered in the sinner's stead, and the law gloriously satisfied. There is, in fact, no legal fiction in this whatever; unless men mean to denounce the Scriptural doctrine of substitution. God's judgment does not assert the perfect righteousness as done by the believer; which it was not; but is done for the believer; which it was. I explained the true nature of "satisfaction," by the parable of the landlord and his bankrupt tenant. The bankrupt's brother, who is his surety, is a competent and faithful carpenter. As the landlord is building extensively, the surety proposes to pay the whole debt in faithful labor, at so much per diem , the 'fair market price of such labor. When that labor is all rendered, where is the legal fiction in the creditor's giving receipt in full? But had the surety proposed that he should receive receipt in full for some half-worthless script belonging to his bankrupt brother, this would have been a legal fiction indeed!

Against this form of the Arminian scheme, I present the following:

Proofs. 1. The Law Unchangeable As God.

1. The source and basis of God's moral law is His own moral character; which is necessary and immutable. Supposing creatures to exist, there are certain relations between them and God, which cannot be other than they are, God continuing what He is. Among these must obviously be the essential moral relations of the law. These flow, not from any positive institution of God alone, but also from the very relations of creatures and the attributes of God. And if any moral relations are necessary, the requirement of a universal obedience is clearly so; because our Savior represents the obligation to love God with all the mind, soul, heart, and strength, and our neighbor as ourself, as the very essence of that law. Hence, the idea that God can substitute an imperfect law for one perfect, is a derogation to His perfection. Either the former standard required more than was right, or the new one requires less than is right; and in either case God would be unrighteous. That Christ should perform all His work as an inducement to His Father to perpetrate such unrighteousness, would be derogatory to Him. Hence, we find that He expressly repudiates such a design. Matt. 5:17. And here we may add, that the Bible nowhere indicates such a relaxation of the believer's law of living. David, a Justified person, represents the rule by which he regulated himself, as "perfect," "pure," and "right," and "very righteous." (Ps. 19:7-8; 119:140; James 1:25; 2:10. Everywhere, the law which we are still required to obey, is the same law which, by its perfectness, condemned us. Practically, the allowance of an imperfect standard of obedience would be ruinous; because man ever falls below his standard.

Asserted Changes of Law Explained.

It is objected again: God has changed His law, substituting certain simpler and easier precepts, in place of old ones; as in abrogating the burdensome ritual of Moses, and giving in its place the easy yoke of the New Testament ceremonial. We reply, those were only positive, not eternal and natural precepts of morality; the obligation to keep them only arose from God's command to do so; and hence, when the command was retracted, there was no longer any sin in their omission. To retract such commands is far different from making that no longer sin, which is in its nature sin. Again, it has been objected, that God's permission has been given, in some cases, to do what, without such permission, would have been, in its nature sin; as when Abraham was directed to slay Isaac, and Israel the Canaanites. It seems to me surprising that these cases should be advanced with any confidence in this argument, or that they should be supposed by any to prove that the intrinsic relations of morality are alterable by God's mere positive precepts; or that so acute a writer as Mansel, in his "Limits of Religious Thought," should feel occasion to take refuge from the exigencies of the case, in the inability of human reason to conceive the infinite and absolute Being fully. The truth is, that in those cases there is no alteration whatever of any principle of natural morality, by which God has ever regulated Himself, or His human subjects. It always has been right for God to slay any of His rebel creatures, whom He pleases; He kills some thirty millions of them each year, by various means. And whenever God appoints man to slay it is no sin for him to do so, be it in the case of magistrates, self-defense, or defensive war. So that God's appointment of a man to take a given life renders it perfectly moral to take it. An instance of such an appointment is therefore no instance at all, of a conversion of what is naturally sinful into right. As fairly might one say, that when the master tells his servants that the unauthorized use of his substance is theft, and afterwards directs one of them to take and consume some fruit of his field, he has undertaken to alter the fundamental relations of morality. We repeat: there is, and can be no case, in which God has made that which is naturally wrong to be right.

Saints Strive To Keep the Perfect Law.

2. Scripture represents the Bible saints as repudiating all their own works, even while they protest their affectionate sincerity in them. See Job 40:4, etc. Moreover, their consciences rebuke them for every shortcoming from perfect love and holiness. Surely that which cannot justify us to our own consciences, will hardly answer with God! We appeal to each man's conscience when it is enlightened by the Holy Spirit, does not it bear out this experience of Bible saints?

The Law Would Not Be Magnified.

3. By such a scheme of justification Christ's work, instead of resulting in a complete harmonizing of God's absolute holiness and perfect Law, in the sinner's acceptance, would leave the law forever ruptured and dislocated. We are taught in Scripture that Christ was to "magnify the Law, and make it honorable; "that mercy and truth were to meet together, and righteousness and peace kiss each other"; that He "came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill." Now, if He has procured the abrogation of that perfect law, during each believer's Christian life, there is a demand of the law which remains unmet; and that forever. The doctrine makes a piece of patchwork: men do not sew new cloth on an old garment.

We conclude then, that the two methods of obtaining an adoption of life cannot he compounded; that, namely, by a probation of works; and that by gospel grace. The adoption of the one must exclude the other. This conclusion raises at once the question; Has not the Covenant of Works, then, been abrogated? To this many of the Reformed reply, Yes. And they refer us, far proof, to such passages as Heb. 8:13. Arminius also asserted an abrogation of the legal covenant with Adam, but it was in a far different sense, and for a different scope from those of the Reformed. Hence has arisen confusion and intermingling of views, which calls for careful disentanglement. Arminius claims that the legal covenant was wholly abrogated at Adam's fall; because first, the promise of life through that covenant was then revoked, and where there is no compact there can be no obligation; because second, man could not be justly bound to obedience in a state of orphanage where God neither promised nor bestowed the gracious help essential to enable him to a true and hearty service; and because, third, it would be derogatory to God's wisdom, holiness and majesty to practice such a farce as calling the depraved creature to a service of holy and entire love; the only one a spiritual God can condescend to accept. The use which his party designed to make of their conclusion, was this: In order that fallen man may be justly brought again under obligation to obey, the law of a new covenant must be enacted for him, to which his impaired powers may be adequate, and the imposition of which must be accompanied by the enabling helps of common grace. Thus he sought to prepare the way for the theory of justification which we have been discussing under our eighth head.

Now, the Reformed divines of Holland easily refuted this kind of abrogation of the legal covenant by such facts as these. Man's obligation to obey never was founded merely in covenant between him and his Milker. It is founded immutably in the nature of God, and of His rational creature, and in their natural relation as Master and servant. The covenant only added a reinforcement to that original obligation. Supposing the covenant completely abrogated, the original bond of duty would remain. Second: The inability of will, into which the race has fallen, is self-induced, and is itself criminal. Hence it does not at all relieve man of his just obligation. Third: It is one thing to say, it would be derogatory to God to allow Himself to be cheated bye heartless and hostile service from corrupt man; but wholly another thing to say, as Arminius does, that man's criminal and voluntary hostility has stripped God of the proper right to demand of him the hearty and loving service naturally due. And the whole argument of Arminius is shown to be preposterous, by this result: That it makes the sinner gain emancipation from righteous obligation, by sinning. There is no principle of law clearer than this; that no man is entitled to plead his own wrong-doing. Posit the conclusion of Arminius; and it will be only necessary for every creature in the universe to make himself vile, in order to strip God of His whole right of rule. That is, the servant's wrong may dethrone his rightful Lord! Once more: "where there is no law, there is no transgression." After obligation has ceased, of course, there is no more sin or guilt, and ought to be no more punishment. Thus we should reach this amazing result: Only let the creature make Himself wicked enough; and God will no longer have a right to punish him for his new wickedness.

The abrogation of the legal covenant in that sense, then, is absurd and unscriptural; and the student is placed at the proper point of view for appreciating the arguments by which we have above refuted that scheme of justification.

To what extent, then, does the consistent Reformed theologian hold the old covenant to be abrogated? The answer may be given by a series of propositions, which will commend themselves to belief by their mere statement. The Ruler's claims to obedience are not abrogated by the subjects' falling by transgression, under penal relations to Him; so, all moralists and jurists hold, of all governments. God' law being the immutable expression of His own perfections, and the creature's obligation to obey being grounded in his nature and relation to God, it is impossible that any change of the legal status under any covenant imaginable, legal or gracious, should abrogate the authority of the law as a rule of acting for us. Third, it remains true, under all dispensations, that the "wages of sin is death." Fourth, it remains forever true, that a perfect obedience is requisite to purchase eternal life. And such a compliance is rendered to the covenant of works for our justification, namely, by our Surety. Let us then beware how we speak of the covenant of works as in every sense abrogated; for it is under that very covenant that the second Adam has acted, in purchasing our redemption. That is the covenant which He actually fulfills for us. Again, it is that covenant under which the sinner out of Christ now dies, just as the first sinner was condemned under it. The law is still in force, then, in three respects: as the dispensation under which our Substitute acts for us; as the rule of our own obedience; and as the rule by which transgressors dying out of Christ are condemned. Some, even, of the Reformed, have been so incautious as to conclude) that by the rule that "a compact broken on one side, is broken for both sides," transgression abrogates the legal covenant wholly, as soon as it is committed. One plain question exposes this: By what authority, then, does the Ruler punish the transgressor after the law is broken? If, for instance, a murder abrogated the legal covenant between the murderer and the commonwealth, from the hour it was committed, I presume that he would be exceedingly mystified to know under what law he was going to be hung! The obvious statement is this: The transgression has indeed terminated the sinner's right to the sanction of reward; but it has not terminated his obligation to obey, nor to the penal sanction.

This last remark shows us, in what sense the covenant of works was abrogated when Adam fell—and this is obviously the sense of Paul. The proposal of life by the law is at an end for the fallen; they have forever disabled themselves for acquiring, under that law, the sanction of reward, by their own works. Hence, God, in His mercy, withdraws that covenant so far as it is a dispensation for that result; and He substitutes for all who are in Christ, the covenant of grace. Compare Gal. 5:3; 3:10; Matt. 5:18; Rom. 6:14, 15.

9. The Wesleyan View.

The Wesleyan divines, while they disclaim and argue against the imputation of Christ's righteousness, also discard the scheme we have just considered. They say that faith is imputed as the believer's justifying righteousness. Justification is, with them, simply pardon. They define faith properly as a simply receiving and resting upon Christ for salvation, and they earnestly disclaim the Socinian confusion adopted by so many of the Continental Arminians, which includes in the justifying power of faith the evangelical obedience of which it is operative. If asked whether Christ has not made satisfaction for sin, they fully assent, and they say in many forms, that pardon is "through His blood," "in His name" and "for His sake alone." If we ask, "How is it then, that an act whose organic virtue in the matter of our justification is a simple receptivity, an act which brings nothing to satisfy the claims of law, but only receives, can be accounted to us as a substitute for a whole and complete righteousness? "They reply that this is the gracious effect of Christ's sacrifice; this is what His precious blood procures for us; and this is the sense in which pardon is of free grace. Thus they suppose they escape the "absurdities of imputation," and still exalt the absolute freeness of Gospel redemption.

Makes Faith A Work.

In this view, the doctrine is open to all the objections urged against the one just refuted above, and in greater force; for it represents God's imputation as a most glaring violation of truth, in accounting not the imperfect duties of a Christian life, but one imperfect act as a complete obedience! And while it seems to repudiate works, and establish faith, it really foists in again the doctrine of human merit and works; for faith is also an act, an act of obedience to law. (John 6:29; 1 John 3:23), and if rendered as a matter of righteousness before God, or, indeed, for anything except the mere instrument of accepting Christ, it is a work. But faith and work should be opposed.

Faith Only Receives.

Again: the idea that faith is accounted to us as our justifying righteousness, contradicts, in two ways, that nature which Scripture attributes to it. It is said in many places, that righteousness is by faith, (Rom. 1:17, etc., etc.). Now, then, it cannot be identical with it. Moreover, faith is defined as an act purely receptive, and receptive of Christ our righteousness. John 1:12. Now, that it should be a righteousness when its very nature is to embrace a righteousness, is as contradictory, as that the beggar's confessions of destitution can constitute a price to purchase relief.

The Righteousness Imputed Is God's.

And last: the whole question is decisively settled against this theory, as well as against the Papal, and all other false ones, which make the procuring cause of our justification to be, either in whole or in part, anything wrought by us, or wrought in us, in all those passages which declare that we are justified on account of God's righteousness, and sometimes it is God's righteousness as contrasted with ours. See Rom. 1:17; 3:22; Phil. 3:9. How can these expressions be evaded? The righteousness by which we are justified is not ours, but God's —therefore not constituted of any acts or graces of ours.

Wesleyan Proof-texts Considered.

But, says the Arminian, it is vain to speculate against the express words of Scripture; and here we have it, four times over, Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3, 5, 22, 24. We reply that they clearly overstrain and force the text. It is true, that in Gen. 15:6, the construction is, "His faith was accounted righteousness (no preposition). Now, suppose that in the other three cases in the New Testament, the construction were even as difficult as they suppose in this: would not a fair criticism say that these somewhat peculiar statements should not be strained into a sense contradictory to the current of plainer expressions elsewhere, which always say we obtain righteousness by our faith! And as Calvin well argues, on Gen. 15:6, when the very context clearly shows that the whole amount of Abraham's faith in this case was to embrace a set of promises tendered to him, since it did not bring anything on its own part to the transaction, but merely received what God brought, in His promise; the sense must not and cannot be strained to make the receptive act the meritorious cause of the bestowal which itself merely accepted. There is obviously just such an embracing of the result in the instrument, as occurs in John 12:50; 17:3. But our case is far stronger than even this. The Septuagint and Paul, an inspired interpreter, uniformly give the sense, pistis logizetai eis oichaiosunen . All these Arminian interpreters, with a perverse inattention or ignorance, persist in translating "faith is accounted as righteousness;" the English ones being probably misled by the occasional use of our preposition, "for" in the sense of our "as" (e. g., "I reckon him for a valuable citizen)." But the Greek preposition, eis , with the accusative, rarely carries that sense. See one instance, Rom. 9:8; and its obvious force in this passage is, that of designed results. "His faith is imputed in order to the attaining of righteousness"—i. e., Christ's. This gives faith its proper instrumental office. Compare Rom. 10:10. Pistuetai eis dikaiosunhn . Consult Harrison's Greek Prep., and cases, p. 226. Our argument for the Apostle's construction is greatly strengthened by observing that the Hebrew Syntax (see Nordheimer), expressly recognizes the construction of a noun objective after a verb, to express this very sense of intended result.

All Locutions of Scripture Prove Faith Instrumental.

In conclusion of this head, the Scriptures clearly assign that office, on the whole, to faith. This appears, first, from its nature, as receptive of a promise. The matter embraced must of course be contributed by the promiser. The act of the receiver is not procuring, but only instrumental. Second, all the locutions in which faith is connected with justification express the instrumental idea by their fair grammatical force. Thus, the current expressions are justified pistei (Ablative), dia pistews . Never once are we said to be justified dia pistin; ek pistews; the construction which is commonly used to express the relation of Christ's righteousness, or blood, to our justification.

10. Proof of the Doctrine From Scripture.

We have now passed in review all the prominent theories which deny the truth. By precluding one, and then another, we have shut the inquirer up to the Bible doctrine, that the sinner is justified "only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us." The remaining affirmative argument for this proposition is therefore very short and simple; it will consist in a grouping together of the Bible statements; so classified as to exhibit the multitude of proof-texts by a few representatives:

1. Our justification is gratuitous. Rom 3:24; Eph. 2:5; Titus 3:7.
2. Christ is our Surety. Heb. 7:22. Our sins are imputed to Him, that His righteousness may be imputed to us. Is. 4:6 and 11; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24.
3. He is our propitiation. Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2.
4. We are justified through Christ, or for His name, or His sake, or by His blood. Acts 10:43; 13:38, 39; Eph. 1:7; 4:32; Rom. 5:9; 1 John 2:12.
5. Christ is called "our righteousness." Jer. 33:6; 1 Cor. 1:30; Rom. 10:4.
6. We are justified by His obedience, or righteousness. Rom. 5:18, 19.
7. The righteousness that justifies us is God's and Christ's, as opposed to ours. Rom. 1:17; 3:22; Phil. 3:9.

Let the student weigh these and such like texts, and he will see accumulative proof of the proposition. In fine; no other construction of the facts coheres with the doctrine of Christ's substitution. Let but the simple ideas, in which all evangelical Christians concur, be weighed; that Christ acted as our surety; that His mediatorial actions were vicarious; that we are justified in Him and for their sake; and we shall see that the doctrine of our catechism is the fair and obvious result. What do men mean by a substitute or vicar? That the acts which he does as such are accounted, as to their legal effect, as the acts of his principal.

2. Imputation.

OUR last attempt was to prove that the meritorious cause of the believer's justification is the righteousness of Christ. But how is it that this righteousness avails for us, or that its justifying efficacy is made ours? The answer to this question leads us to the doctrine of imputation. The Catechism says that Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. This Latin word, to reckon or account to any one, is sometimes employed in the English Scriptures as the translation of bv'h;, logizomai, ellogew, and correctly. Of the former we have instances in Gen. 15:6; 38:15; 2 Sam. 19:19; of the next in Mark 15:28; Rom. 2:26; 4:5, etc.; Gal. 3:6, etc.; and of the last, in Rom. 5:13; Philem. 18.

Defined. Owen Criticized.

Sometimes it is evident that the thing imputed is that which is actually done by or personally belongs to the person to whom it is reckoned, or set over.. (This is what Turrettin calls imputation loosely so called). Sometimes the thing imputed belonged to, or was done by another, as in Philem. 18; Rom. 4:6. This is the imputation which takes place in the sinner's justification. It may be said, without affecting excessive subtlety of definition, that by imputation of Christ's righteousness, we only mean that Christ's righteousness is so accounted to the sinner, as that he receives thereupon the legal consequences to which it entitles. In accordance with 2 Cor. 5:21, as well as with the dictates of sound reason, we regard it as the exact counterpart of the imputation of our sins to Christ. Owen does, indeed deny this, asserting that the latter only produced a temporary change in Christ's legal state, and that He was able speedily to extinguish the claims of law against our guilt, and return to His glory; while the former so imputes His very righteousness as to make a final and everlasting change in our legal relations. We reply: the difference is not in the kind of imputation, but in the persons. The mediatorial Person was so divine and infinite, that temporary sufferings and obedience met and extinguished all the legal claims upon Him. Again, Owen pleads that we must suppose Christ's very righteousness, imputed to us, in another sense than our sins are to Him; because to talk of imputing to us the legal consequences of His righteousness, such as pardon, etc., is nonsensical, pardon being the result of the imputation. But would not the same reasoning prove as well, that not only our guilt, but our very sinfulness must have been imputed to Christ; because it is nonsensical to talk of imputing condemnation! The truth is, the thing set over to our account, in the former case, is in strictness of speech, the title to the consequences of pardon and acceptance, founded on Christ's righteousness, as in the latter case it was the guilt of our sins—i. e., the obligation to punishment founded on our sinfulness. All are agreed that, when the Bible says, "the iniquity of us all was laid on Christ," or that "He bare our sins," or "was made sin for us," it is only our guilt and not our moral attribute of sinfulness which was imputed. So it seems to me far more reasonable and scriptural to suppose that, in the imputation of Christ's righteousness, it is not the attribute of righteousness in Christ which is imputed, but that which is the exact counterpart of guilt—the title to acquittal. Owen, in proceeding to argue against objections, strongly states that imputation does not make the sinner personally and actually righteous with Christ's righteousness as a quality. We should like, then, to know what he means, when saying that this righteousness is really and truly imputed to us in a more literal sense than our sins were to Christ. A middle ground is to me invisible.

Basis of Justification.

The basis on which this imputation proceeds, is our union to Christ. There is, first, our natural union constituting Him a member of our race; a man as truly as we are men. But this, though an essential prerequisite, is not by itself enough; for if so, mere humanity would constitute every sinner a sharer in His righteousness. There must be added our mystical union, in which a legal and spiritual connection are established by God's sovereign dispensation, making Him our legal and our spiritual Head. Thus imputation becomes proper.

Is the Idea In Scripture?

When we attempt to prove this imputation, we are met with the assertion, by Arminians and theologians of the New England School, that there is no instance in the whole Bible of anything imputed, except that which the man personally does or possesses himself; so that there is no Scriptural warrant for this idea of transference of righteousness as to its legal consequences. We point, in reply, to Philemon 18, and to Romans 4:6. If God imputes to a man righteousness without works, and his faith cannot literally be this imputed righteousness, as we have abundantly proved, we should like to know where that imputed righteousness comes from. Certainly it cannot come personally from the sinner who is without works. The whole context shows that it is Christ's. But how sorry an artifice is it to seize on the circumstances that the word logizesqai happens not to be immediately connected with Christ's name in the same sentence, when the idea is set forth in so many phrases? Moreover, as Turrettin remarks, every case of pardoned guilt is a case (see 2 Sam. 19:19) of this kind of imputation: for something is reckoned to the sinner—i. e., legal innocency, or title to immunity, which is not personally his own.

Proofs, Farther.

The direct arguments for the imputation of Christ's righteousness are: 1st. The counterpart imputation of our guilt to Him. (Proved by Is. 53:5, 6, 10; Heb. 9:18; 1 Pet. 2:24, &c). For the principles involved are so obviously the same, and the one transaction so obviously the procurer of the other, that none who admit a proper imputation of human guilt to Christ, will readily deny an imputation of His righteousness to man. Indeed both are conclusively stated in 2 Cor. 5:21. The old Reformed exposition of this important passage, by some of our divines, was to read, "Christ was made a sin offering for us." The objection is that by this view no counterpart is presented in the counterpart proposition: "we are made the righteousness of God in Him." It is obvious that St. Paul uses the abstract for the concrete. Christ was made a sinner for us, that we might be made righteous persons in Him. The senses of the two members of the parallelism must correspond. There is no other tenable sense than this obvious one—that our guilt (obligation to penalty) was imputed to Christ, that His righteousness (title to reward) might be imputed to us. 2d. Christ is said to be our righteousness. Jer. 23:6; 1 Cor. 1:30, etc., expressions which can only be honestly received by admitting the idea of imputation. 3d. By "His obedience many are constituted righteous;" (katasteqhsontai ). Here is imputation. So we might go through most of the passages cited to prove that we are justified on account of Christ's righteousness, and show that they all involve the idea of imputation. Indeed, how else can the legal consequences of His righteousness become ours? To see the force of all these, we have only to remember that all who deny imputation, also deny that Christ's righteousness is the sole meritorious ground, thus plainly implying that the latter necessarily involves the former. 4th. Imputation of Christ's righteousness to us is argued by Paul in Rom 5., from imputation of Adam's sin to us.

Objections Solved.

Objections have been strenuously urged against this doctrine, of which the most grave is that it encourages licentiousness of living. This will be separately considered under section 15. It has again been urged that it is impious, in representing Christ as personally the worst Being in the universe as bearing all the sins of all believers; and false to fact, in representing His act in assuming our law place as the act which drew down God's wrath on Him; whereas it was an act of lovely benevolence, according to the Calvinistic view of it; and also false, as representing the sinner as personally holy at the very time his contrition avows him to be vilest. The answer is, that all these objections mistake the nature of imputation, which is not a transfer of moral character, but of legal relation. And Christ's act in taking our law place was a lovely act. In strictness of speech, it was not this act which drew down His Father's wrath, (but His love—John 10:17), but the guilt so assumed. For the discussion of more subtle objection, that guilt must be as untransferable as personal demerit, because it is the consequence of demerit alone, —see Lecture 44.

12. Justification Complete.

The important principle has already been stated, that justification must be as complete as its meritorious ground. Since faith is only the instrument of its reception, the comparative weakness or strength of faith will not determine any degrees of justification in different Christians. Feeble faith which is living truly leads to Christ, and Christ is our righteousness alone. Our justifying righteousness is in Christ. The office of faith, is simply to be the instrument for instituting the union of the believing soul to Him; so that it may "receive of His fullness grace for grace." Suppose in men's bodies a mortal disease, of which the perfect cure was a shock of electricity, received from some exhaustless "receiver," by contact. One man discovering his mortal taint, but yet a little enfeebled, rushes to the electrical receiver and claps his hand swiftly upon it, with all the force of a violent blow. He receives his shock, and is saved. Another, almost fainting, can only creep along the floor with the greatest difficulty, and has barely strength to raise his languid hand and lay it on the "receiver." He also derives the same shock, and the same healing. The power is in the electricity, not in the impact of the two hands. Hence, also, it will follow that justification is an instantaneous act, making at once a complete change of legal condition. See Rom. 3:22; John 3:36; 5:24; Rom. 8:1, 32 and 34; Col. 2:9, 10; Heb. 10:14; Mic. 7:19; Ps. 103:12, etc. And this legal completeness, it is too evident to need proof, begins when the sinner believes, and at no other time.

But Sense and Fruits of It May Grow.

But here two distinctions must be taken—one between the completeness of title, and completeness of possession as to the benefits of our justification; the other between our justification in God's breast, and our own sense and consciousness thereof. On the latter distinction, we may remark: as our faith strengthens, so will the strength of our apprehension of a justified state grow with it. The former also may, to some extent, be affected by the increase of our faith. God may make that increase the occasion of manifesting to the soul larger measures of favor and grace. But the soul is not one whit more God's accepted child then, than when it first believed. We have seen that the thing which, strictly speaking, is imputed, is the title to all the legal consequences of Christ's righteousness— i.e, title to pardon and everlasting adoption, with all the included graces. Now, the acknowledged and legitimate son of a king is a prince, though an infant. His status and inheritance are royal, and sure; though he be for a time under tutors and governors, and though he may gradually be put into possession of one and another, of his privileges, till his complete majority. So the gradual possession of the benefits of justification does not imply that our acquisition of the title is gradual.

Does Justification Remit Sins In Future?

These views may assist us in the intricate subject of the relation which justification bears to the believer's future sins. On the one hand these things are evident; that there is not a man on the earth who does not offend, (James 3:2), that sin must always be sin in its nature, and as such, abhorrent to God, by whomsoever committed; and even more abhorrent in a believer, because committed against greater obligations and vows; and that sins committed after justification need expiation, just as truly as those before. On the other hand, flee proofs above given clearly show, that the justified believer does not pass again under condemnation when betrayed into sin. Faith is the instrument for continuing, as it was for originating our justified state. This is clear from Rom. 11:20; Heb. 10:38, as well as from the experience of all believers, who universally apply a fresh to Christ for cleansing, when their consciences are oppressed with new sin. In strictness of speech, a man's sin must be forgiven after it is committed. Nothing can have a relation before it has existence, so that it is illogical to speak of sin as pardoned before it is committed. How, then, stands the sinning believer, between the time of a new sin and his new application to Christ's cleansing blood? We reply: Justification is the act of an immutable God, determining not to impute sin, through the believer's faith. This faith, though not in instant exercise at every moment, is an undying principle in the believer's heart, being rendered indefectible only by God's purpose of grace, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So God determines, when the believer sins, not to impute guilt for Christ's sake, which determination also implies this other, to secure in the believer's heart, the unfailing actings of faith and repentance, as to all known sin. So that his justification from future sins is not so much a pardoning of them before they are committed, as an unfailing provision by God both of the meritorious and instrumental causes of their pardon, as they are committed.

How Related To Judgment Day?

There are two qualified senses, in which we are said to be justified at the judgment day. See Acts 3:19-21; Matt. 12:36, 37. Indeed, a forensic act is implied somehow in the very notion of a judgment day. First: Then, at length, the benefits of the believer's justification in Christ will be fully conferred, and he will, by the resurrection, be put into possession of the last of them, the redemption of his body. Second: There will be a declaration of the sentence of justification passed when each believer believed, which God will publish to His assembled creatures, for His declarative glory, and for their instruction. See Mal. 3:17, 18. This last declarative justification will be grounded on believers' works, (Matt. 25:), and not on their faith, necessarily; because it will be addressed to the fellow creatures of the saints, who cannot read the heart, and can only know the existence of faith by the fruits.

13. Faith Only Instrument.

That faith alone is the instrument of justification, is asserted by the Catechism, que. 33. The proof is two-fold: First. That this is the only act al the soul which, in its character, is receptive of Christ's righteousness. Repentance and other graces are essential, and have their all important relations to other parts of our salvation; but faith alone is the embracing act, and this alone is the act which contributes nothing, which looks wholly out of self for its object and its efficacy, and thus is compatible with a righteousness without works. Second. All the benefits we receive in Christ are suspended on our union with Him. It is because we are united, and when we are united to Him, that we become interested in His blood and righteousness, and in His sanctifying Spirit. But, as we have seen, faith is the instrumental bond of that union. Hence it follows, that our standards are right in saying that justifying righteousness is received by faith alone. Third. It is said in so many forms, that righteousness is by faith; and especially is this said most frequently where the technical act of justification is formally discussed, as separated from the other parts of our salvation. Then there are passages in which this is held up singly, in answer to direct inquiries, as the sole instrumental act; which do not leave us at liberty to suppose that any other one would have been omitted, if there had been one; e. g., John 6:29; Acts 16:31.

Connection of Repentance Explained.

Yet, it is strenuously objected by some, (even of sound divines), that in many places repentance is spoken of, along with faith, as a term of gospel salvation, and in some cases, even to the exclusion of faith. Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3; Acts 20:21; and especially, Acts 2:38; 3:19. The chief force is in the last two. As to the previous ones, it is very obvious that to make repentance necessary to salvation, does not prove that it performs this particular work in our salvation, the instrumental acceptance of a justifying righteousness. We might even say that repentance is a necessary condition of final acceptance, and yet not make it the instrument; for there is a sense in which perseverance is such a condition. Heb. 10:38. But to make it the instrument is absurd; for then no one would be justified till death. But it may be urged, in Acts 2:38, and 3:19, repentance is explicitly proposed as in order to remission, which is an element of justification itself. We reply: this is not to be pressed; for thus we should equally prove, Acts 2:38, that baptism is an instrument of justification; and, Rom. 10:9, 10, that profession is, equally with living faith, an instrument of justification. These passages are to be reconciled to our affirmative proof-texts, by remembering that repentance is used in Scripture much more comprehensively than saving faith. It is the whole conversion of the soul to God, the general acting in which faith is implicitly involved. When the Apostle calls for repentance, he virtually calls for faith; for as the actings of faith imply a penitent frame, so the exercise of repentance includes faith. It is therefore proper, that when a comprehensive answer is demanded to the question, "What must we do?" that answer should be generally, "Repent," and that when the instrument of justification is inquired after specially, the answer should be, "Believe."

14. Works Do Not Justify, Yet Necessary.

The question once debated: whether faith or good works be most important to a believer? is as foolish as though one should debate, whether roots or fruits were most essential to a fruit tree. If either be lacking, there is no fruit tree at all. Good works, when comprehensively understood for all holy actings of heart and life, hold the place of supreme importance in our redemption, as the ulterior end, not indeed in any sense the procuring cause, but yet the grand object and purpose. And the dignity of the end is, in one sense, higher than that of the means.

Because They Most Essential To God's Ultimate End.

The final cause of God, or ultimate highest end in His view in our justification, is His own glory. The chief means or next medium thereto, is our sanctification and good works; for God's nature is holy, and cannot be glorified by sin, except indirectly in its punishment. If we look, then, at His immutable will and glory, we find an imperative demand for holiness and works. If we look next at the interests of God's kingdom as affected by us, we find an equal necessity for our good works: for it is sin which originates all mischief and danger, and disorder to the subjects of God's government. And if we look, third, at our own personal interests and well-being, as promoted by our redemption, we see good works to be equally essential; because to be sinful is to be miserable; and true holiness alone is true happiness.

Because All the Plan of Redemption Incites Them.

Hence, we find that God in many places mentions redemption from corruption, rather than redemption from guilt, as His prominent object in the Covenant of Grace. See Titus 2:14; Eph. 1:4; 5:25-27; 1 Thess. 4:3; 1 John 3:8; Matt. 1:21. And all the features of this plan of redemption, in its execution, show that God's prime object is the production of holiness— yea, of holiness in preference to present happiness, in His people. The first benefit bestowed, in our union to Christ, is a holy heart. The most constant and prominent gifts, ministered through Christ, are those of sanctification and spiritual strength to do good works. The designs of God's providence constantly postpone the believer's comfort to his sanctification by the means of afflictions. When the question is, to make one of God's children holier, at the expense of his present happiness, God never hesitates. Again, the whole gospel system is so constructed as to be not merely an expedient for introducing justification, but a system of moral motives for producing sanctification, and that of wondrous power. Let the student look up its elements. And last. This very gospel teems with most urgent injunctions on believers already justified to keep this law, in all its original strictness and spirituality. See, especially, Matt. 5:17-20; Gal. 5:13; Rom. 6:6; 7:6; John 13:34; 1 Pet. 1:15, 16, etc.

The law is no longer our rule of justification, but it is still our rule of living.

Is Justification By Grace Licentious In Tendency?

We have reserved to the close the discussion of the objection, that this doctrine of justification, by faith on Christ's righteousness, tends to loosen the bonds of the moral law. There are two parties who suggest this idea—the legalists, who urge it as an unavoidable objection to our doctrine; and the Antinomians, who accept it as a just consequence of the doctrine. Both classes may be dealt with together, except as to one point growing out of the assertion that Christ fulfilled the preceptive, as well as bore the penal law in our stead. If this be so, says the Antinomian, how can God exact obedience of the believer, as an essential of the Christian state, without committing the unrighteousness of demanding payment of the same debt twice over? I reply, that it is not a pecuniary, but a moral debt. In explaining the doctrine of substitution, I showed that God's acceptance of our Surety's work in our room was wholly an optional and gracious act with Him, because Christ's vicarious work, however well adapted to satisfy the law in our stead, did not necessarily and naturally extinguish the claims of the law on us; was not a "legal tender," in such sense that God was obliged either to take that, or lose all claims. Now, as God's accepting the substitutionary righteousness at all was an act of mere grace, the extent to which He shall accept it depends on His mere will. And it can release us no farther than He graciously pleases to allow. Hence, if He tells us, as He does, that He does not so accept it, as to release us from the law as a rule of living, there is no injustice.

We preface further, that the objection of the legalist proceeds upon the supposition, that if the motives of fear and self-interest for obeying God be removed, none will be left. But are these the only motives? God forbid.

No, But Sanctifying.

Indeed, we assert that the plan of justification by faith leaves all the motives of self-interest and fear, which could legitimately and usefully operate on a soul under the Covenant of Works, in full force; and adds others, of vast superiority. (Rom. 3:31).

1. All Legitimate Self-Interest Remains.

The motives of self-interest and fear remain, so far as they properly ought to operate on a renewed soul.

(a) While "eternal life is the gift of God," the measure of its glories is our works. See Luke 19:17-19; Matt. 10:42; 2 Cor. 9:6. Here is a motive to do as many good works as possible. (b) Works remain, although deposed from the meritorious place as our justification, of supreme importance as the object and end. Hence, (c) they are the only adequate test of a justified state, as proved above. Thus, the conscience of the backslider should be as much stimulated by the necessity of having them, as though they were to be his righteousness. It is as important to the gratuitous heir of an inheritance to preserve his evidence of title, as it was to the purchaser, to be furnished with money enough to pay for the estate.

Faith Purifies.

2. The gospel shows its superior efficiency over a system of legality, in producing holy living, in this respect; that its instrument in justification is a living faith. A dead faith does not justify. Now, it is the nature of a justifying faith to give an active response to the vitalizing energy of God's truth. It is granted that the truth, which is the immediate object of its actings unto justification, is Christ's redemption; but its nature ensures that it shall be vitally sensitive to all God's truth, as fast as apprehended. Now, the precepts are as really divine truth, the proper object of this vital action of a living faith, as the promises. Such is the teaching of our Confession in that instructive passage, ch. x4, section 2. "By this faith a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein, and acteth differently, upon that which each passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come. But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the Covenant of Grace." The soul is not made alive in patches. It is alive all over. That principle of faith, therefore, which actively responds to the promise, responds just so, likewise, to the precepts: especially as precepts and promises are so intertwined, See Ps. 32:1, 2; Rom. 8:1.

Gospel Appeals To Love.

(b). The gospel is efficient in producing holy living, because it gives the strongest possible picture of the evil of sin, of God's inflexible requisition of a perfect righteousness, and of His holiness. (c). Above all, it generates a noble, pure and powerful motive for obedience, love begotten by God's goodness in redemption. And here, the peculiar glory of the gospel, as a religion for sinners, appears. I believe that the justified believer should have motives to holy living, which if their whole just force were felt, would be more operative than those which Adam in innocence could have felt under the Covenant of Works. See above. But when we consider that man is no longer innocent, but naturally condemned and depraved, under wrath, and fundamentally hostile to God, we see that a Covenant of Works would now be, for him, infinitely inferior in its sanctifying influences. For the only obedience it could evoke from such a heart, would be one slavish, selfish, and calculated—i. e., no true heart obedience at all—but a mere trafficking with God for self-interest. Now, contrast with this an obedience of love, and of gratitude, which expects to purchase nothing thereby from God, because all is already given, freely, graciously; and therefore obeys with ingenuous love and thankfulness. How much more pleasing to God! And last; Love is a principle of action as permanent and energetic, as it is pure. Witness even the human examples of it. When we look to those social affections, which have retained their disinterestedness (towards man) through the corruptions of our fall, we see there the most influential, as well as the purest principles of human action, the springs of all that is most energetic, and persevering, as well as most generous.

Love, the Most Operative.

We sometimes hear the legalists, of various schools, say: "A correct knowledge of human nature will warn us, that if the principles of fear and self-interest are removed from man's religious obedience, he will render none; for these are the main springs of human action." We do not represent the gospel scheme as rejecting the legitimate action of those springs. But their view of human nature is false; fear and self-interest are not its most energetic principles. Many a virtuous son and daughter render to an infirm parent, who has no ability or will to punish, and no means of rewarding save with his blessing, a service more devoted, painful, and continued, than the rod ever exacted from a slave. Indeed, slavery itself showed, by the occasional instances of tyranny, which occurred, that fear was an inadequate principle; the rod by itself never secured industry and prosperity on a plantation; but the best examples of success were always those, where kindness was chiefly relied on, (with a just and firm authority), to awaken in the slaves affection and cheerful devotion. The sick husband receives from his wife, without wages, nursing more assiduous than any hire can extort from the mercenary professional nurse. And above all, does the infant, helpless to reward or punish, exact from the mother's love and pity, a service more punctilious and toilsome, than was ever rendered to an eastern sultan by the slave with the scimitar over his head?

Suppose, then, that the all-powerful Spirit of God, employing the delightful truths of gospel grace as His instrument, produces in believers a love and gratitude as genuine as these instinctive affections, and more sacred and strong, as directed towards a nobler object; has He not here a spring of obedience as much more efficacious, as it is more generous, than the legalists?

"Talk they of morals? O Thou bleeding Love,
The great morale is love to Thee!"

When, therefore, these heretics object, that justification by free grace will have licentious results; God's answer is that He will provide against that, by making the faith which justifies also a principle of life, which "works by love."

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