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spect be that righteoufnefs, by which we are justified, or made righteous before God.
Furthermore, faith, as it is our personal inherent righteousness, is our own; but the righteousness by which we are justified, is not our own. Not having mine own righteousness, Phil. iii. 9. And therefore, faith, as our personal inherent righteousness, does not justify us before God.
I will only add, if faith, as it is our inherent personal righteousness, cannot answer the demands of the moral law, it cannot justify us, consistently with the perfecó' tions of the divine nature: but the former is true, and therefore the latter. If there had been a law given, which could have given life, verily righteousness oild have been by the law, Gal. iii. 21. But this was impossible in the case of fallen man, as being utterly inconsistent with the divine perfections. I think, no man will pretend, that our personal inherent righteousness can answer the demands of the moral law. I shall therefore only endeavour to shew you, how it is utterly inconsistent with the divine perfections, that sinners should be justified by any righteousness, which will not answer the demands of the moral law.
It cannot be agreeable to the justice of God, that we fhould be justified by any righteousness, which will not answer the demands of the moral law. For which reafon, God sending his own Son, in the likeness of finful flesh, and for fin, condemned fin in the flesh, that the righ. teousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, Rom. viii. 3, 4. It is by declaring Chrift's righteousness (by which the demands of the moral law are satisfied) that God can be just, and
yet the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus, Rom. iii. 26. The glorious God juftly gave us the law, as the rule of our obedience; justly required our perfect conformity to it; and justly annexed the penalties to it in case of disobedience. This law was founded upon, and Howed from the justice of the divine nature. Obedience to it was required, and the penalties to it were annexed, by the rectoral justice of the great governor of the world. And the justice of God is now the fame that it was when this law was first given; and with the same inflexible severity requires, that it be ful
filled, and not a title of it to pass away, or be deitroyed. The same justice, which annexed the penalties, must be satisfied for the violation of the law, in such manner as that the honour of a righteous Judge may be secured, and the penalty of the law fulfilled. Whence it follows, that no personal inherent righteousness of ours whatso. ever can justify us before God, consistent with his rectoral justice; because it cannot answer the demands of the moral law.
It is altogether impertinent, to pretend, that Christ has procured easier terms, than obedience to the law of nature. And that our sincere obedience to the gospel is now the condition of our justification. For the question still recurs, which way is the moral law fulfilled ? Has Christ fulfilled that for us, and in our place and stead; or has he not? If he has; we then have a better righte. ousness to plead for our justification, than any personal inherent righteousness of our own. But if he has not, the law has still its full challenges upon us (penal, as well as preceptive) notwithstanding any righteousness of our own, and we cannot be justified upon this bot. tom, consistently with the governing justice of God.
I must further observe, it cannot be agreeable to the holiness of God, that finners should be justified by any righteousness whatsoever, which does not fully answer the demands of the moral law. The moral law is (as it were) a copy or transcript of the holiness of God; and sauft therefore be a perpetual and unalterable rule of righteousness to man. There can strictly be no righteousness, but by a cor.pleat conformity to this law: and hence none can, consistent with God's holiness, be accepted by him as righteous, who have not a full conformity to this original and only rule of righteousness, to plead in their favour. If therefore, we can have no such perfect conformity to the moral law, to plead bee fore God, on account of our own personal inberent righteoufness, or any other way, but on the account of the imputed righteousness of Christ only; then faith, as it is our own personal inherent righteousness, cannot justify us, consistently with the rectoral holiness of God.
I may add, it cannot be agreeable to the truth of God, that we could be juftified by any righteousness which
will not fully answer the demand of the moral law. God has pronounced every one cursed who continues not in all things, written in the book of the law, to do them. If therefore we have nor a full conformity to all things written in the book of the law, if we have not a perfect obedience to his precepts, not a full satisfaction for the violation of them, to plead in our favour, then either we must lie under the curse, or God must break his word. The latter you dare not suppose ; and the former is, in its nature, absolutely inconGftent with our justification.
I know of but one answer, that can with any colour of reason be made to these arguments : and that is, That Christ's fulfilling the law for us is our legal righteousness ; as freeing us from the rigorous demands, and from the curses of the moral law, but that our faith including sincere obedience in its nature, is our evangeJical righteousness, whereby we ourselves personally fu.. bl the Gospel, and are hereby justified before God. According to this distinction, Christ's righteousness is the matter or ground of our justification, taken negatively, as it lies in abfolving us from the curse of the law, and
our sins forgiven : but our own righteousness is the matter or ground of our justification, considered
as it lies in pronouncing us righteous, and to intitled to the blessing. Now the least that can be faid against this notion, is, that it eclipses the honour
as the Lord our sighteousness, and leaves man
glory. But the consideration of this will of course bring me to the last thing I proposed in answer to your objection.
your own construction of those passages in the fourth chapter to the Romans were granted; and faith as including evangelical obedience in it, is imputed to us for righteousness, yet this would make nothing against our justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ
. For allowing, that faith be our personal evangelical righteousness, and that as such it will justify us, or render us acceptable to God, as far as it goes, we mult yet have Christ's righteousness imputed to us, or else lie under the curse of the moral law, as I have al. ready proved. If faith including sincere obedience in it, be imputed
of Christ, whereof to
to us for righteousness, this our personal righteousness must be iniputed to us, not for what it is not, but for what in truth it is, that is, an imperfect righteousness. God cannot judge that to be perfect, which is really imperfect. For his judgmenteveris according to truth. And a weak, imperfect faith (as that of the best is) cannot constitute a perfect righteousness. Whence it follows, that we cannot, on account of this our personal righteousness, be effectually and thoroughly junified: we cannot be perfectly acquitted from guilt and condemnation, we cannot be entitled to compleat happiness and eternal life, by virtue of our own righteousness
, and therefore it is of the last necessity, that we have some other and better righteousness, even a perfect one: to plead, or else we must perish eternally. At least we cannot at present be justified on the footing of our own, righteousness, so long as we are in this imperfect state, but must wait for justification of life, as a distant future benefit, not to be received till we are made perfect in, holiness. Whereas, by the whole current of scripture, it appears that justification is a present benefit, taking place in the life which now is. Believers have not a meer promise, that they shall be justified : But such are in express terms represented in fcripture as already jula tified, as actually pardoned and made acceptable in the Beloved, as pased from death to life, and reinstated in God's special favour, so that there is now no condemnation to them, but they are now the heirs of salvation,
Thus, Sir, I have given you some of the reasons I have against your author's interpretation of those paltages in the fourth chapter to the Romans. Many other arguments might be added, further to illustrate the truth ; and to refute all pretences of this kind. But I am afraid I have been already too tedious: and I hope, what is already said may prove sufficient for your satisfaction.
You desire me to give you a brief view of my fena <timents of those paflages; and to fnew you, in what « fenfe I understand faith to be imputed to us for righ. s teousness. You tell me that you cannot understand < how faith's being imputed to us for righteoufness, car - intend that Christ's righteousness is imputed to us.
The common interpretation of these passages by our Protestant divines, from the beginning of the reformation, is, that faith is imputed for righteousness, not subjectively, or as it is an act of our own, and our own perfonal righteousness: but objectively, or as it hath respect to its object, and apprehends the righteousness of Christ. That is, as faith is the band of union between Christ and the soul, and interests us in him, and his justifying righteousness, it is imputed to us for righteousness. Thus it is the righteousness of faith, as faith is the term or mean of our interest in Jesus Chritt's righteousness : and yet it is the righteousness of Chiift, as he was the immediate ľubject and author of it, or as it was wrought out by him. “Our faith is in a like manner said to be the faith of Jesus Chrift, Rom. iii. 22. as Christ's righteousnefs is here faid to be the righteoulness of faith. Our faith is not called the faith of Christ, as it is his personal act, (Chrift does not believe for us) but as it receives the Lord Jesus Christ, and gives us an interest in him. Nor is our faith our righteousness, as it is our personal act, (our faith has not fulfilled the law, nor answered the demands of vindiétive justice) but it is our righteousness, as it interests us in what Chrift has done and suffered for us, whereby the law is fulfilled and justice satisfied. In the former case, the object is put for the act: The faith of Christ, for believing in Christ. And there can no reason be given, why with the same propriety, in the latter case, the act may not be put for the object; the righteousness of faith, for righteousness by or through faith ; and why faith may not be counted for righteousness obtained by believing. It is remarkable, that the apostle exprefly speaks of faith ‘in this view, every where else besides this context : and therefore he ought to be here also understood in this sense, to make his doctrine consistent. In this sense, faith is our justifying righteousness, as a condemned malefactor's accepting his prince's pardon is his delive. rance from execution; or as a beggar's accepting an alms is his preservative from starving. As in these cases it is not the act of receiving but the benefit received, that is the preservation; so in that case it is no: the act