MAN'S RIGHTEOUSNESS REJECTED, AND THE IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST ALONE TO BE RELIED ON FOR JUSTIFICATION.
But, O thou blind Pharisee, since thou art so confident that thy state is good, and thy righteousness is that that will stand, when it shall be tried with fire (1 Cor 3:13), let me now reason with thee of righteousness. My terror shall not make thee afraid; I am not God, but a man as thou art, we both are formed out of the clay.
First, Prithee when didst thou begin to be righteous? Was it before or after thou hadst been a sinner? Not afore, I dare say; but if after, then the sins that thou pollutedst thyself withal before, have made thee uncapable of acting legal righteousness. For sin, where it is, pollutes, defiles, and makes vile the whole man; therefore thou canst not by after acts of obedience make thyself just in the sight of that God thou pretended now to stand praying unto. Indeed, thou mayest cover thy dirt, and paint thy sepulchre; for that acts of after obedience will do, though sin has gone before. But Pharisee, God can see through the white of this wall, even to the dirt that is within: God also can see through the paint and garnish of thy beauteous sepulchre, to the dead men's bones that are within; nor can any of thy most holy duties, nor all, when put together, blind the eye of the all-seeing majesty from beholding all the uncleanness of thy soul. (Matt 23:27) Stand not therefore so stoutly to it, now thou art before God; sin is with thee, and judgment and justice is before him. It becomes thee, therefore, rather to despise and abhor this life of thy hand, and to count all thy doings but dross and dung, and to be content to be justified with another's righteousness instead of thine own. This is the way to be secured. I say, blind Pharisee, this is the way to be secured from the wrath which is to come.
There is nothing more certain than this, that as to justification from the curse of the law, God has rejected man's righteousness, for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof; and hath accepted in the room of that glorious righteousness of his Son; because indeed, that, and that only, is universal, perfect, and equal with his justice and holiness. This is in a manner the contents of the whole bible, and therefore must needs be most certainly true. Now then, Mr. Pharisee, methinks, what if thou didst this, and that while thou art at thy prayers; to wit, cast in they mind what doth God love most, and the resolve will be at hand. The BEST righteousness, surely the BEST righteousness; for that thy reason will tell thee: This done, even while thou art at thy devotion, ask thyself again, But WHO has the best righteousness? And that resolve will be at hand also; to wit, he that in person is equal with God; and that is his Son Jesus Christ. He that is separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; and that is his Son Jesus Christ. He that did no sin, nor had any guile found in his mouth; and there never was any such HE in all the world but the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Now Pharisee, when thou hast done this, then as thou art in thy devotion, ask again, But what is this best righteousness, the righteousness of Christ, to do? And the answer will be ready. It is to be made by an act of the sovereign grace of God over to the sinner, that shall dare to trust thereto for justification from the curse of the law. He is made unto us of God, righteousness. (1 Cor 1:30) "He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Cor 5:21) "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Rom 10:4)
This done, and concluded on, then turn again Pharisee, and say thus with thyself; Is it most safe for me to trust in this righteousness of God? This righteousness of God-man, this righteousness of Christ? Certainly it is. Since, by the text, it is counted the best, and that which best pleaseth God; since it is that which God hath appointed, that sinners shall be justified withal. For in the Lord have we righteousness if we believe: And, in the Lord we are justified, and do glory. (Isa 45:24,25)
Nay Pharisee, suppose thine own righteousness should be as long, as broad, as high, as deep, as perfect, as good, even every way as good, as the righteousness of Christ. Yet since God has chosen by Christ, to reconcile us to himself, canst thou attempt to seek by thine own righteousness to reconcile thyself to God, and not be guilty of attempting, at least, to confront this righteousness of Christ before God. Yea, to dare with it, yea, to challenge by it, acceptance of thy person contrary to God's design.
Suppose, that when the king has chosen one to be judge in the land, and has determined that he shall be judge in all cases, and that by his verdict every man's judgment shall stand. I say, suppose, after this another should arise, and of his own head resolve to do his own business himself. Now, though he should be every whit as able as the judge of the king's appointing to do it; yea, and suppose he should do it as justly and righteously too, yet his making of himself a judge, would be an affront to the king, and an act of rebellion, and so a transgression worthy of punishment.
Why Pharisee, God hath appointed, that by the righteousness of his Son, and by that righteousness only, men shall be justified in his sight from the curse of the law. Wherefore, take heed, and at thy peril, whatever thy righteousness is, confront not the righteousness of Christ therewith. I say, bring it not in, let it not plead for thee at the bar of God, nor do thou plead for that in his court of justice; for thou canst not do that and be innocent. If he trusts to his righteousness, he hath sinned, says Ezekiel. Mark the text, "When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered: but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it." (Chron 33:13)
Observer a few things from this text, and they are these that follow.
First, Here is a righteous man; a man, with whom we do not hear that the God of heaven finds fault.
Secondly, Here is a promise made to this man, that "he shall surely live"; but on THIS condition, that he trusts not to his own righteousness. Whence it is manifest, that the promise of life to this righteous man, is not for the sake of his righteousness, but for the sake of something else, to wit, the righteousness of Christ.
1. Not for the sake of his own righteousness. This is evident, because we are admitted, yea, commanded, to trust in the righteousness that saveth us. The righteousness of God is unto all, and upon all that believe; that is, trust in it, and trust to it for justification. Now therefore, if thy righteousness, when most perfect, could save thee, thou mightest, yea oughtest most boldly to trust therein. But since thou art forbidden to trust to it, it is evident it cannot save, nor is it for the sake of that, that the righteous man is saved. (Rom 3:21, 22)
2. But for the sake of something else; to wit, for the sake of the righteousness of Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. "To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." (Rom 3:26) See also Philippians 3:7-9.
"If he trusts to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousness shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed [in trusting to his own righteousness] he shall die for it."
Note hence further.
1. That there is more virtue in one sin to destroy, than in all thy righteousness to save thee alive. If he trust, if he trust never so little, if he do at all trust to his own righteousness, all his righteousness shall be forgotten; and by, and for, and in, the sin that he hath committed in trusting to it, he shall die.
2. Take notice also, that there are more damnable sins than those that are against the moral law. By which of the ten commandments is trusting to our own righteousness forbidden? Yet it is a sin. It is a sin therefore forbidden by the gospel, and is included, lurketh close in, yea, is the, or a root of unbelief itself; "He that believeth not shall be damned." But he that trusteth in his own righteousness doth not believe, neither in the truth or sufficiency of the righteousness of Christ to save him, therefore he shall be damned.
But how is it manifest, that he that trusteth to his own righteousness, doth it through a doubt, or unbelief of the truth or sufficiency of the righteousness of Christ?
I answer, Because, even because he trusteth to his own. A man will never willingly choose to trust to the worst of helps, when he believes there is a better as near, and to be had as soon, and that too, upon as easy, if not more easy terms. If he that trusteth to his own righteousness for life, did believe, that there is indeed such a thing as the righteousness of Christ to justify; and that this righteousness of Christ has in it ALL sufficiency to do that blessed work, be sure he would choose that, thereon to lay, lean, and venture his soul, that he saw was the best, and most sufficient to save; especially when he saw also, (and see that he must, when he sees the righteousness of Christ) to wit, that that is to be obtained as soon, because as near, and to be had on as easy terms; nay, upon easier than may man's own righteousness. I say, he would sooner choose it, because of the weight of salvation, of the worth of salvation, and of the fearful sorrow, that to eternity will overtake him, that in this thing shall miscarry. It is for heaven, it is to escape hell, wrath, and damnation, saith the soul; and therefore I will, I must, I dare not but choose that, and that only, that I believe to be the best and most sufficient help in so great a concern, as soul-concern is. So then he that trusteth to his own righteousness, does it of unbelief of the sufficiency of the righteousness of Christ to save him.
Wherefore this sin of trusting to his own righteousness is a most high and damning transgression: because it contemneth the righteousness of Christ, which is the only righteousness that is sufficient to save from the curse of the law. It also disalloweth the design of heaven, and the excellency of the mystery of the wisdom of God, in designing this way of salvation for man. What shall I say, It also seeketh to rob God of the honour of the salvation of man. It seeketh to take the crown from the head of Christ, and to set it upon the hypocrite's head; therefore, no marvel, that this one sin be of that weight, virtue and power, as to sink that man and his righteousness into hell, that leaneth thereon, or that trusteth unto it.
But Pharisee, I need not talk thus unto thee, for thou art not the man that hath that righteousness, that God findeth not fault withal; nor is it to be found, but with him that is ordained to be the Saviour of mankind; nor is there any such one besides Jesus, who is called Christ. Thy righteousness is a poor pittance, a serap: nay, not so good as a serap of righteousness. Thine own confession makes thee partial in the law; for here, in the midst of thy boasts, thou hast not, because thou canst not say, thou hast fulfilled all righteousness. What madness then has brought thee into the temple, there in audacious manner to stand and vaunt before God; saying, "God, I thank thee, I am not as other men are."
Dost thou not know, that he that breaks one, breaks all the commandments of God; and consequently, that he that keeps not all, keeps none at all of the commandments of God. Say I this of myself? saith not the scriptures the same? "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10) Be confounded then, be confounded.
Dost thou know the God with whom now thou hast to do? He is a God that cannot, no, that cannot, as he is just, accept of an half righteousness for a whole; nor of a lame righteousness for a sound; nor of a sick righteousness for a well and healthy one. (Mal 1:8) And if so, how should he then accept of that which is not righteousness? I say, how should he accept of that which is none at all, save an hypocritical and feigned one, for thine is only such. And if Christ said, when you have done all, say, "We are unprofitable," How camest thou to say before thou hadst done one thing well, I am better, more righteous than other men?
Didst thou believe, when thou saidst it, That God knew thy heart? Hadst thou said this to the Publican, it had been a high and rampant expression; but to say this before God, to the face of God, when he knew that thou wast vile, and a sinner from the womb, and from the conception, spoils all. It was spoken to put a check to thy arrogancy, when Christ said, "Ye are they which justify yourselves before me; but God knoweth your hearts." (Luke 16:15)
Hast thou taken notice of this, that God judgeth the fruit by the heart from whence it comes? "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil." (Luke 6:45) Nor can it be otherwise concluded, but that thou art an evil man, and so that all thy supposed good is nought but badness. For that thou hast made it to stand in the room of Jesus, and hast dared to commend thyself to the living God thereby: For thou hast trusted in thy shadow of righteousness, and committed iniquity. Thy sin hath melted away thy righteousness, and turned it to nothing but dross; or, if you will, to the early dew, like to which it goeth away, and so can by no means do thee good, when thou shalt stand in need of salvation and eternal life of God.
But further, thou sayest thou art righteous, but they are but vain words. Knowest thou not that thy zeal, which is the life of thy righteousness, is preposterous in many things. What else means thy madness, and the rage thereof, against men as good as thyself. True, thy being ignorant that they are good, may save thee from the commission of the sin that is unpardonable, but it will never keep thee from spot in God's sight, but will make both thee and thy righteousness culpable.
Paul, who was once as brave a Pharisee as thou canst be, calleth much of that zeal, which he in that estate was possessed with, and lived in the exercise of, madness; yea, exceeding madness (Acts 26:9-11, Phil 3:5,6), and of the same sort is much of thine, and it must be so; for a lawyer, a man for the law, and that resteth in it, must be a persecutor; yea, a persecutor of righteous men, and that of zeal to God; because by the law is begat, through the weakness that it meeteth with in thee, sourness, bitterness of spirit, and anger against him that rightfully condemneth thee of folly, for choosing to trust to thine own righteousness, when a better is provided of God to save us. (Gal 4:28-31) Thy righteousness therefore is deficient; yea, thy zeal for the law, and the men of the law, has joined madness with thy moral virtues, and made thy righteousness unrighteousness; How then canst thou be upright before the Lord?
Further, Has not the pride of thy spirit in this hot-headed zeal for thy Pharisaical notions, run thee upon thinking that thou art able to do more than God hath enjoined thee, and so able to make thyself more righteous, than God requireth thou shouldest be. What else is the use of thy adding of laws to God's laws, precepts to God's precepts, and traditions to God's appointments? (Mark 7:8) Nay, hast thou not by thus doing, condemned the law of want of perfection, and so the God that gave it, of want of wisdom, and faithfulness to himself and thee?
Nay, I say again, hath not thy thus doing charged God with being ignorant of knowing, what rules there needed to be imposed on his creatures to make their obedience complete? And doth not this apish madness of thine intimate, moreover, that if thou hadst not stept in with the bundle of thy traditions, righteousness had been imperfect, not through man's weakness, but through impediment in God, or in his ministering rules of righteousness unto us.
Now, when thou hast thought on these things fairly, answer thyself in these few questions: Is not this arrogancy? Is not this blasphemy? Is not this to condemn God, that thou mightest be righteous? And dost thou think, this is, indeed, the way to be righteous?
But again, what means thy preferring of thine own rules, laws, statues, ordinances and appointments, before the rules, laws, statutes and appointments of God? Thinkest thou this to be right? Whither will thy zeal, thy pride, and thy folly carry thee? Is there more reason, more equity, more holiness in thy traditions, than in the holy, and just, and good commandments of God? (Rom 7:12) Why then, I say, dost thou reject the commandment of God, to keep thine own tradition? Yea, Why dost thou rage, and rail, and cry out when men keep not thy law, or the rule of thine order, and tradition of thine elders; and yet shut thine eyes, or wink with them, when thou thyself shalt live in the breach of the law of God? Yea, why wilt thou condemn men, when they keep not thy law, but study for an excuse, yea, plead for them that live in the breach of God's (Mark 7:10-13) Will this go for righteousness in the day of God Almighty? Nay rather, will not this, like a millstone about thy neck, drown thee in the deeps of hell? Oh, the blindness, the madness, the pride, and spite, that dwells in the hearts of these pretended righteous men.
Again, What kind of righteousness of thine, is this, that standeth in a misplacing, and so consequently in a misesteeming of God's commands? Some thou settest too high, and some too low; as in the text, thou hast set a ceremony above faith, above love, and above hope in the mercy of God: When, as it is evident, the things last mentioned, are the things of the first rate, the weightier matters. (Matt 23:23)
Again, Thou hast preferred the gold above the temple that sanctifieth the gold, and the gift upon the altar, above the altar that sanctifies the gift. (Matt 23:17)
I say again, What kind of righteousness shall this be called? What back will such a suit of apparel fit, that is set together just cross and thwart to what it should be? Just as if the sleeves should be sewed upon the pocket-holes, and the pockets set on where the sleeves should stand. Nor can other righteousness proceed where a wrong judgment precedeth it.
This misplacing of God's laws cannot, I say, but produce misshaped and misplaced obedience. It indeed produceth a monster, an ill-shapened thing, a mole, a mouse, a pig, all which are things unclean, and an abomination to the Lord. For see, saith he, if thou wilt be making, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. Set faith, where faith should stand, a moral, where a moral should stand; and a ceremony, where a ceremony should stand; for this turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: And wilt thou call this thy righteousness; yea, wilt thou stand in this, plead for this, and venture an eternal concern in such a piece of linsey-woolsey as this? O fools, and blind!
But further, let us come a little closer to the point. O blind Pharisee. Thou standest to thy righteousness, what dost thou mean? Wouldest thou have MERCY for thy righteousness, or JUSTICE for thy righteousness?
[FIRST MERCY.] If mercy, what mercy? Temporal things God giveth to the unthankful and unholy; nor doth he use to SELL the world to man for righteousness. The earth hath he GIVEN to the children of men. But this is not the thing; thou wouldest have eternal mercy for thy righteousness; thou wouldest have God think upon what an holy, what a good, what a righteous man thou art, and hast been. But Christ died not for the good and righteous, nor did he come to call such to the banquet, that grace hath prepared for the world. "I came not," I am not come, saith Christ, "to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Mark 2:27, Rom 5) Yet this is thy plea; Lord God, I am a righteous man, therefore grant me mercy, and a share in thy heavenly kingdom. What else dost thou mean, when thou sayest, "God I thank thee, that I am not as other men are?" Why dost thou rejoice, why art thou glad that thou art more righteous, if indeed thou art, than thy neighbour, if it is not because thou thinkest, that thou hast got the start of, the better of thy neighbour, with reference to mercy; and that by thy righteousness thou hast insinuated thyself into God's affections, and procured an interest in his eternal favour. But,
What, What hast thou done by thy righteousness? I say, What hast thou given to God thereby? And what hath he received of thy hand? Perhaps thou wilt say, righteousness pleaseth God: But I answer no, not thine, with respect to justification from the curse of the law, unless it be as perfect, as the justice it is yielded to, and as the law that doth command it. But thine is not such a righteousness: no, thine is speckled, thine is spotted, thine makes thee to look like a speckled bird in his eye-sight.
Thy righteousness has added iniquity, to thy iniquity, because it has kept thee from a belief of thy need of repentance, and because it has emboldened thee to thrust thyself audaciously into the presence of God, and made thee there, even before his holy eyes, which are so pure, that they cannot look on iniquity (Hab 1:13), to vaunt, boast, and brag of thyself, and of thy tottering, ragged, stinking uncleanness; for all our righteousnesses are as menstruous rags, because they flow from a thing, a heart, a man that is unclean. But,
Again, Wouldest thou have mercy for thy righteousness? For who wouldest thou have it; for another, or for thyself? If for another, and it is most proper, that a righteous man should intercede for another by his righteousness, rather than for himself, then thou thrusteth Christ out of his place and office, and makest thyself to be a saviour in his stead; for a mediator there is already, even a mediator between God and man, and he is the man Christ Jesus. There is therefore no need of thine interceding by thy righteousness for the acceptation of any unto justification from the curse.
But dost thou plead by thy righteousness, for mercy for thyself? Why, in so doing thou impliest,
First, That thy righteousness can prevail with God, more than can thy sins. I say, that thy righteousness can prevail with God, to preserve thee from death, more than thy sins can prevail with him to condemn thee to it. And if so, what follows? but that thy righteousness is more, and has been done in a fuller spirit than ever were thy sins: but thus to insinuate is to insinuate a lie; for there is no man, but while he is a sinner, sinneth with a more full spirit, than any good man can act righteousness withal.
A sinner when he sinneth, he doth it with all his heart, and with all his mind, and with all his soul, and with all his strength; nor hath he in his ordinary course any thing that bindeth. But with a good man it is not so; all, and every whit of himself, neither is, nor can be, in every good duty that he doth. For when he would do good evil is present with him. And again, "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." (Gal 5:17)
Now if a good man cannot do good things with that wholeness and oneness of soul, with that oneness and universalness of mind, as a wicked man doth sin with, then is his sin heavier to weigh him down to hell, than is his righteousness to buoy him up to the heavens.
And again, I say, if the righteousness of a good man comes short of his sin, both in number, weight and measure, as it doth, for a good man shrinks and quakes at the thoughts of God's entering into judgment with him (Psa 143:2), then is his iniquity more than his righteousness. And I say again, if the sin of one that is truly gracious, and so of one that hath the best of principles, is heavier and mightier to destroy him, than is his righteousness to save him, how can it be, that the Pharisee, that is not gracious, but a mere carnal man, somewhat reformed and painted over with a few, lean, and lousy formalities, should with his empty, partial, hypocritical righteousness, counterpoise his great, mighty, and weighty sins, that have cleaved to him in every state and condition of his, to make him odious in the sight of God?
Second. Dost thou plead by thy righteousness for mercy for thyself? Why in so doing thou impliest, that mercy thou deservedst; and that is next door to, or almost as much as to say, God oweth me what I ask for. The best that can be put upon it, is, thou seekest security from the direful curse of God, as it were by the works of the law, and to be sure betwixt Christ and the law, thou wilt drop into hell. (Rom 9:31-33) For he that seeks for mercy, as it were, and but as it were, by the works of the law, doth not altogether trust thereto. Nor doth he that seeks for that righteousness, that should save him, as it were, by the works of the law, seek it only, wholly and solely at the hands of mercy. So then, to seek for that that should save thee, neither at the hands of the law, nor at the hands of mercy, is, to be sure, to seek it where it is not to be found; for there is no medium betwixt the righteousness of the law, and the mercy of God. Thou must have it either at the door of the law, or at the door of grace. But sayest thou, I am for having of it at the hands of both. I will trust solely to neither. I love to have two strings to my bow. If one of them, as you think, can help me by itself, my reason tells me, that both can help me better. Therefore will I be righteous, and good, and will seek by my goodness to be commended to the mercy of God: for surely, he that hath something of his own to ingratiate himself into the favour of his prince withal, shall sooner obtain his mercy and favour, than one that comes to him as stript of all good.
I answer, But there are not two ways to heaven, not two living ways; there is one new and living way, which Christ hath consecrated for us through the vail, that is to say, his flesh; and besides that one, there is no more. (Heb 10:19-24) Why then dost thou talk of two strings to thy bow? What became of him that had, and would have, two stools to sit on? Yea, the text says plainly, that therefore they obtained not righteousness, because they sought it not by faith, but, as it were, by the works of the law. See here, they are disowned by the gospel, because they sought it not by faith; that is, by faith only. Again, the law, and the righteousness thereof, flies from them, nor could they attain it, though they followed after it, because they sought it not by faith.
Mercy then is to be found alone in Jesus Christ! Again, the righteousness of the law is to be obtained only by faith of Jesus Christ: that is, in the Son of God is the righteousness of the law to be found; for he, by his obedience to his Father, is become the end of the law for righteousness. And for the sake of his legal righteousness, which is also called the righteousness of God, because it was God in the flesh of the Lord Jesus that did accomplish it, is mercy and grace from God extended, to whoever dependeth by faith upon God by this Jesus his righteousness for it. And hence it is, that we so often read, that this Jesus is the way to the Father: That God, for Christ's sake, forgiveth us: That by the obedience of one, many are made righteous or justified: And that through this man, is preached to us the forgiveness of sins; and that by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Now, though I here do make mention of righteousness and mercy, yet I hold there is but one way, to wit, to eternal life; which way, as I said, is Jesus Christ; for he is the new, the only new, and living way to the Father of mercies, for mercy to make me capable of abiding with him in the heavens for ever and ever.
But sayest thou, I will be righteous in myself that I may have wherewith to commend me to God, when I go to him for mercy?
I answer, But thou blind Pharisee; I tell thee thou hast no understanding of God's design by the gospel; which is, not to advance man's righteousness, as thou dreamest; but to advance the righteousness of his Son, and his grace by him. Indeed, if God's design by the gospel was to exalt and advance man's righteousness, then that which thou hast said, would be to the purpose. For what greater dignity can be put upon man's righteousness, than to admit it?
I say then, for God to admit it, to be an advocate, an intercessor, a mediator; for all these is that which prevaileth with God to shew me mercy. But this God never thought of, much less could he thus design by the gospel: for the text runs flat against it. Not of works, not of works of righteousness, which we have done; not of works, lest any man should boast, saying, Well, I may thank my own good life for mercy. It was partly for the sake of mine own good deeds that I obtained mercy to be in heaven and glory. Shall this be the burden of the song of heaven? Or is this that which is composed by that glittering heavenly host, and which we have read of in the holy book of God! No, no, that song runs upon other feet, standeth in far better strains, being composed of far higher, and truly heavenly matter: For God has "predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." (Eph 1:5-7) And it is requisite, that the song be framed accordingly; wherefore he saith, that the heavenly song runs thus: "Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth." (Rev 5:9,10)
He saith not that they have redeemed, or helped to redeem and deliver themselves; but that the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain; the Lamb only was he that had redeemed them. Nor, saith he, that they had made themselves kings and priests unto God to offer any oblation, sacrifice, or offering whatsoever; but that the same Lamb had made them such. For they, as is insinuated by the text, were in, among, one with, and no better, than the kindreds, tongues, nations, and people of the earth. Better! No, in no wise, saith Paul (Rom 3:9), therefore their separation from them was of mere mercy, free grace, good will, and distinguishing love: not for, or because of, works of righteousness which any of them have done; no, they were all alike. But these, because beloved, when in their blood, according to Ezekiel 16 were separated by free grace. And as another scripture hath it, redeemed from the earth, and from among men by blood. (Rev 14:3,4) Wherefore deliverance from the ireful wrath of God, must not, neither in whole, nor in part, be ascribed to the whole law, or to all the righteousness that comes by it; but to the Lamb of God, Jesus, the Saviour of the world; for it is He that delivered us from the wrath to come: and that according to God's appointment; "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by [or through] our
Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess 5:9) Let every man, therefore, take heed what he doth, and whereon he layeth the stress of his salvation, "For other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Cor 3:11)
But dost thou plead still as thou didst before, and wilt thou stand thereto? Why then, thy design must overcome God, or God's design must overcome thee. Thy design is to give thy good life, thy good deeds, a part of the glory of thy justification from the curse. And God's design is to throw all thy righteousness out into the street, into the dirt, and dunghill, as to that. Thou art for glory, and for glorying here before God; yea, thou art for sharing in the glory of justification, when that alone belongeth to God. And he hath said, "My glory will I not give to another." Thou wilt not trust wholly to God's grace in Christ for justification; and God will not take thy stinking righteousness in, as a partner in thy acquitment from sin, death, wrath, and hell. Now the question is, who shall prevail? God, or the Pharisee? And whose word shall stand? His, or the Pharisee's?
Alas! The Pharisee here must needs come down, for God is greater than all. Also, he hath said, that no flesh shall glory in his presence; and that he will have mercy, and not sacrifice. And again, that it is not, nor shall be, in him that wills, nor in him that runs, but in God that sheweth mercy. What hope, help, stay, or relief then is there left for the merit-monger? What twig, or straw, or twined thread is left to be a stay for his soul? This besom will sweep away his cobweb: The house that this spider doth so lean upon, will now be overturned, and he in it to hell fire; for nothing less than everlasting damnation is designed by God, and that for this fearful and unbelieving Pharisee: God will prevail against him for ever.
Third, But wilt thou yet plead thy righteousness for mercy? Why, in so doing, thou takest away from God the power of giving mercy. For if it be thine as wages, it is no longer his to dispose of all pleasure; for that which another man oweth me, is in equity not at his, but at my disposal. Did I say, that by this thy plea, thou takest away from God the power of giving mercy; I will add, yea, and also of disposing of heaven and life eternal. And then, I pray you, what is left unto God, and what can he call his own? Not mercy; for that by thy good deeds thou hast purchased. Not heaven; for that by thy good deeds thou hast purchased. Not eternal life; for that by thy good deeds thou hast purchased. Thus, Pharisee, O thou self-righteous man, hast thou set up thyself above grace, mercy, heaven, glory; yea, above even God himself, for the purchaser should in reason be esteemed above the purchase.
Awake man! What hast thou done? Thou hast blasphemed God, thou hast undervalued the glory of his grace; thou hast, what in thee lieth, opposed the glorious design of heaven! Thou hast sought to make thy filthy rags to share in thy justification.
Now, all these are mighty sins; these have made thine iniquity infinite. What wilt thou do? Thou hast created to thyself a world of needless miseries. I call them needless, because thou hadst more than enough before. Thou hast set thyself against God in a way of contending; thou standest upon thy points and pantables: Thou wilt not bate God an ace, of what thy righteousness is worth, and wilt also make it worth what thyself shalt list. Thou wilt be thine own judge, as to the worth of thy righteousness; thou wilt neither hear what verdict the word has passed about it, nor wilt thou endure, that God should throw it out in the matter of thy justification, but quarrellest with the doctrine of free grace, or else dost wrest it out of its place to serve thy Pharisaical designs; saying, "God, I thank thee, I am not as other men"; fathering upon thyself, yea, upon God and thyself, a stark lie; for thou art as other men are, though not in this, yet in that; yea, in a far worse condition than the most of men are. Nor will it help thee any thing to attribute this thy goodness to the God of heaven: for that is but a mere toying; the truth is, the God that thou intendest, is nothing but thy righteousness; and the grace that thou supposest, is nothing but thine own good and honest intentions. So that,
Fourth, In all that thou sayest, thou dost but play the downright hypocrite. Thou pretendest indeed to mercy, but thou intendest nothing but merit. Thou seemest to give the glory to God; but at the same time takest it all to thyself. Thou despisest others, and criest up thyself, and in conclusion fatherest all upon God by word, and upon thyself in truth. Nor is there any thing more common among this sort of men, than to make God, his grace, and kindness, the stalking-horse to their own praise, saying, God, I thank thee when they trust to themselves that they are righteous, and have not need of any repentance; when the truth is, they are the worst sort of men in the world, because they put themselves into such a state as God hath not put them into, and then impute it to God, saying, God, I thank thee, that thou hast done it; for what greater sin [is there] than to make God a liar, or than to father that upon God which he never meant, intended, or did. And all this under a colour to glorify God; when there is nothing else designed, but to take all glory from him, and to wear [it] on thine own head as a crown, and a diadem in the face of the whole world.
A self-righteous man therefore can come to God for mercy none otherwise than fawningly: For what need of mercy hath a righteous man? Let him then talk of mercy, of grace, and goodness, and come in an hundred times with him, "God, I thank thee," in his mouth, all is but words, there is no sense, nor savour, nor relish of mercy and favour; nor doth he in truth, from his very heart, understand the nature of mercy, nor what is an object thereof; but when he thanks God, he praises himself; when he pleads for mercy, he means his own merit; and all this is manifest from what doth follow; for, saith he, "I am not as this Publican!" Thence clearly insinuating, that not the good, but the bad, should be rejected of the God of heaven: That not the bad but the good; not the sinner, but the self- righteous, are the most proper objects of God's favour. The same thing is done by others in this our day: Favour, mercy, grace, and "God I thank thee," is in their mouths, but their own strength, sufficiency, free-will, and the like, they are the things they mean, by all such high and glorious expressions.
[SECOND JUSTICE.] But, secondly, If thy plea be not for mercy, but for justice, then to speak a little to that. Justice has measures and rules to go by; unto which measures and rules, if thou comest not up, justice can do thee no good. Come then, O thou blind Pharisee, let us pass away a few minutes in some discourse about this. Thou demandest justice, because God hath said, that the man that doth these things shall live in and by them. And again, the doers of the law shall be justified; not in a way of mercy, but in a way of justice. He shall live by them. But what hast thou done, O blind Pharisee! What hast thou done, that thou art emboldened to venture, to stand and fall to the most perfect justice of God? Hast thou fulfilled the whole law, and not offended in one point? Hast thou purged thyself from the pollutions and motions of sin that dwell in the flesh, and work in thy own members? Is the very being of sin rooted out of thy tabernacle? And art thou now as perfectly innocent as ever was Jesus Christ? Hast thou, by suffering the uttermost punishment that justice could justly lay upon thee for thy sins, made fair and full satisfaction to God, according to the tenor of his law for thy transgressions? If thou hast done all these things, then thou mayest plead something, and yet but something for thyself in a way of justice. Nay, in this I will assert nothing, but rather inquire:–What hast thou gained by all this thy righteousness? (we will now suppose what must not be granted) Was not this thy state when thou wast in thy first parents? Wast thou not innocent, perfectly innocent and righteous? And if thou shouldest be so now, what hast thou gained thereby? Suppose that the man, that had forty years ago forty pounds of his own, and had spent it all since, should yet be able now to show his forty pounds again? What has he got thereby, or how much richer is he at last, than he was, when he first set up for himself. Nay, doth not the blot of his ill living betwixt his first and his last, lie as a blemish upon him, unless he should redeem himself also by works of supererogation, from the scandal that justice may lay at his door for that?
But, I say, suppose, O Pharisee, this should be thy case, yet God is not bound to give thee in justice that eternal life, which by his grace he bestoweth upon those, that have redemption from sin, by the blood of his Son. In justice therefore, when all comes to all, thou canst require no more than an endless life in an earthly paradise; for there thou wast set up at first; nor doth it appear from what hath been said, touching all that thou hast done or canst do, that thou deservedst a better place.
Did I say, that thou mayest require justly an endless life in an earthly paradise. Why? I must add to that saying, this proviso: If thou continuest in the law, and in the righteousness thereof, else not. But how dost thou know that thou shalt continue therein? Thou hast no promise from God's mouth for that, nor is grace or strength ministered to mankind by the covenant that thou art under. So that still thou standest bound to thy good behaviour, and in the day that thou dost give the first, though never so little a trip, or stumble in thy obedience, thou forfeitest thine interest in paradise, and in justice, as to any benefit there.
But alas, what need is there that we should thus talk of things, when it is manifest, that thou hast sinned, not only before thou wast a Pharisee, but when, after the most strictest sect of thy religion, thou livedst also a Pharisee; yea, and now in the temple, in thy prayer there, thou showest thyself to be full of ignorance, pride, self-conceit, and horrible arrogancy, and desire of vain-glory, &c., which are none of them the seat of fruits of righteousness, but the seat of the devil, and the fruit of his dwelling, even at this time, in thy heart.
Could it ever have been imagined, that such audacious impudence could have put itself forth in any mortal man, in his approach unto God by prayer, as has showed itself in thee? "I am not as other men!" sayest thou; but is this the way to go to God in prayer? Is this the way for a mortal man, that is full of sin, that stands in need of mercy, and that must certainly perish without it, to come to God in prayer? The prayer of the upright is God's delight. But the upright man glorifies God's justice, by confessing to God the vileness and pollution of his state and condition: He glorifies God's mercy by acknowledging, that that, and that only, as communicated of God by Christ to sinners, can save and deliver from the curse of the law.
This, I say, is the sum of the prayer of the just and upright man (Job 1:8, 40:4, Acts 13:22, Psa 38, 51, 2 Sam 6:21,22), and not as thou most vain-gloriously vauntest, with thy, "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are."
True, when a man is accused by his neighbours, by a brother, by an enemy, and the like; if he be clear, and he may be so, as to what they shall lay to his charge, then let him vindicate, justify, and acquit himself, to the utmost that in justice and truth he can; for his name, the preservation whereof is more to be chosen than silver and gold; also his profession, yea, the name of God too, and religion, may now lie at stake, by reason of such false accusations, and perhaps can by no means, as to this man, be recovered, and vindicated from reproach and scandal, but by his justifying of himself. Wherefore in such a work, a man serveth God, and saves religion from hurt; yea, as he that is a professor, and has his profession attended with a scandalous life, hurteth religion thereby: So he that has his profession attended with a good life, and shall suffer it notwithstanding, to lie under blame by false accusations, when it is in the power of his hand to justify himself, hurteth religion also. But the case of the Pharisee is otherwise. He is not here a dealing with men, but God; not seeking to stand clear in the sight of the world, but in the sight of heaven itself; and that too, not with respect to what men or angels, but with respect to what God and his law, could charge him with and justly lay at his door.
This therefore mainly altereth the case; for a man here to stand thus upon his points, it is death; for he affronteth God, he giveth him the lie, he reproveth the law, and in sum, accuseth it of bearing false witness against him; he doth this, I say, even by saying, "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are"; for God hath made none of this difference. The law condemneth all men as sinners, and testifieth, that every imagination of the thought of the heart of the sons of men is only evil, and that continually. Wherefore they that do as the Pharisee did, to wit, seek to justify themselves before God from the curse of the law, by their own good doings, though they also, as the Pharisee did, seem to give God the thanks for all, yet do most horribly sin, even by their so doing, and shall receive a Pharisee's reward at last. Wherefore, O thou Pharisee, it is a vain thing for thee either to think of, or to ask for, at God's hand, either mercy or justice. Because mercy thou canst not ask for, from sense of want of mercy, because thy righteousness, which is by the law, hath utterly blinded thine eyes, and complimenting with God doth nothing. And as for justice, that can do thee no good, but the more just God is, and the more by that he acteth towards thee, the more miserable and fearful will be thy condition, because of the deficiency of thy, so much by thee, esteemed righteousness.
[The Pharisee seeth no need of mercy, but thinketh himself righteous before God.]
What a deplorable condition then is a poor Pharisee in! For mercy he cannot pray, he cannot pray for it with all his heart; for he seeth, indeed, no need thereof. True, the Pharisee, though he was impudent enough, yet would not take all from God; he would still count, that there was due to him a tribute of thanks: "God, I thank thee," saith he, but yet not a bit of this, for mercy; but for that he had let him live, for I know not for what he did thank himself, till he had made himself better than other men; but that betterment was a betterment in none other judgment than that of his own, and that was none other but such an one as was false. So then, the Pharisee is by this time quite out of doors; his righteousness is worth nothing, his prayer is worth nothing, his thanks to God are worth nothing; for that what he had was scanty, and imperfect, and it was his pride that made him offer it to God for acceptance; nor could his fawning thanksgiving better his case, or make his matter at all good before God.
But I'll warrant you, the Pharisee was so far off from thinking thus of himself, and of his righteousness, that he thought of nothing so much as of this, that he was a happy man; yea, happier by far than other his fellow rationals. Yea, he plainly declares it when he saith, "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are."
O what a fool's paradise was the heart of the Pharisee now in, while he stood in the temple praying to God! "God, I thank thee," said he, for I am good and holy, I am a righteous man; I have been full of good works; I am no extortioner, unjust, nor adulterer, no nor yet as this wretched Publican. I have kept myself strictly to the rule of mine order, and my order is the most strict of all orders now in being: I fast, I pray, I give tithes of all that I possess. Yea, so forward am I to be a religious man; so ready have I been to listen after my duty, that I have asked both of God and man the ordinances of judgment and justice; I take delight in approaching to God. What less now can be mine than the heavenly kingdom and glory?
Now the Pharisee, like Haman, saith in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour, more than to myself? Where is the man that so pleaseth God, and consequently, that in equity and reason should be beloved of God like me? Thus like the prodigal's brother, he pleadeth, saying, "Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment." (Luke 15:29) O brave Pharisee! But go on in thine oration: "Nor yet as this Publican."
Poor wretch, quoth the Pharisee to the Publican, What comest thou for? Dost think that such a sinner as thou art shall be heard of God? God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshipper of God as I am, as I thank God I am, him he heareth. Thou, for thy part, hast been a rebel all thy days: I abhor to come nigh thee, or to touch thy garments. Stand by thyself, come not near me, for I am more holy than thou. (Isa 65:5)
Hold, stop there, go no further; fie Pharisee, fie; Dost thou know before whom thou standest, to whom thou speakest, and of what the matter of thy silly oration is made? Thou art now before God, thou speakest now to God, and therefore in justice and honesty thou shouldest make mention of his righteousness, not of thine; of his righteousness, and of his only.
I am sure Abraham, of whom thou sayest he is thy father, never had the face to do as thou hast done, though it is to be presumed he had more cause so to do, than thou hast, or canst have. Abraham had whereof to glory, but not before God; yea, he was called God's friend, and yet would not glory before him; but humbled himself, was afraid, and trembled in himself, when he stood before him, acknowledging of himself to be but dust and ashes. (Gen 18:27,30, Rom 4:2) But thou, as thou hadst quite forgot, that thou wast framed of that matter, and after the manner of other men, standest and pleadest thy goodness before him. Be ashamed Pharisee! Dost thou think, that God hath eyes of flesh, or that he seeth as man sees? Is not the secrets of thy heart open unto him? Thinkest thou with thyself, that thou, with a few of thy defiled ways canst cover thy rotten wall, that thou hast daubed with untempered mortar, and so hide the dirt thereof from his eyes: Or that these fine, smooth, and oily words, that come out of thy mouth, will make him forget that thy throat is an open sepulchre, and that thou within art full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness? Thy thus cleansing of the outside of the cup and platter, and thy garnishing of the sepulchres of the righteous, is nothing at all in God's eyes, but things that manifest, that thou art an hypocrite, and blind, because thou takest no notice of that which is within, which yet is that, which is most abominable to God. For the fruit, alas, what is the fruit to the tree, or what are the streams to the fountain! Thy fountain is defiled; yea, a defiler, and so that which maketh thy whole self, with thy works unclean in God's sight. But Pharisee, how comes it to pass, that the poor Publican is now such a mote in thine eye, that thou canst not forbear, but must accuse him before the judgment of God: for in that thou sayest, "that thou art not even as this Publican," thou bringest in an accusation, a charge, a bill against him. What has he done? Has he concealed any of thy righteousness, or has he secretly informed against thee that thou art an hypocrite, and superstitious? I dare say, the poor wretch has neither meddled nor made with thee in these matters.
But what aileth the Pharisee? Doth the poor Publican stand to vex thee? Doth he touch thee with is dirty garments; or doth he annoy thee with his stinking breath? Doth his posture of standing so like a man condemned offend thee? True, he now standeth with his hand held up at God's bar, he pleads guilty to all that is laid to his charge.
He cannot strut, vapour, and swagger as thou dost? but why offended at this? Oh but he has been a naughty man! and I have been righteous, sayest thou. Well, Pharisee, well, his naughtiness shall not be laid to thy charge, if thou hast chosen none of his ways. But since thou wilt yet bear me down, that thou art righteous, shew now, even now, while thou standest before God with the Publican, some, though they be but small, yea, though but very small fruits of thy righteousness. Let the Publican alone, since he is speaking of his life before God. Or if thou canst not let him alone, yet do not speak against him; for thy so doing will but prove, that thou rememberest the evil that the man has done unto thee; yea, and that thou bearest him a grudge for it too, and that while you stand before God.
But Pharisee, the righteous man is a merciful man, and while he standeth praying, he forgiveth; yea, and also crieth to God that he will forgive him too. (Mark 11:25,26, Acts 7:60) Hitherto then thou hast shewed none of the fruits of thy righteousness. Pharisee, righteousness would teach thee to love this Publican, but thou showest that thou hatest him. Love covereth the multitude of sins; but hatred and unfaithfulness revealeth secrets.
Pharisee, thou shouldest have remembered this thy brother in this his day of adversity, and shouldest have shewed, that thou hadst compassion to thy brother in this his deplorable condition; but thou, like the proud, the cruel, and arrogant man, hast taken thy neighbour at the advantage, and that when he is even between the straits, and standing upon the very pinnacle of difficulty, betwixt the heavens and the hells, and hast done what thou couldest, what on thy part lay, to thrust him down to the deep, saying, "I am not even as this Publican."
What cruelty can be greater; what rage more furious; and what spite and hatred more damnable and implacable, than to follow, or take a man while he is asking of mercy at God's hands, and to put in a caveat against his obtaining of it, by exclaiming against him that he is a sinner? The master of righteousness doth not so: "Do not think," saith he, "that I will accuse you to the Father." (John 5:45) The scholars of righteousness do not so. "But as for me," said David, "when they [mine enemies] were sick, [and the Publican here was sick of the most malignant disease] my clothing was sackcloth, I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer [to wit, that I made for them] returned into mine own bosom. I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother." (Psa 35:13,14)
Pharisee, Dost thou see here how contrary thou art to righteous men? Now then, where shall we find out one to parallel thee, but by finding out of him that is called the dragon; for he it is that accuseth poor sinners before God. (Zech 3, Rev 12)
"I am not as this Publican": Modesty should have commanded thee to have bit thy tongue as to this. What could the angels think, but that revenge was now in thine heart, and but that thou comest up into the temple, rather to boast of thyself and accuse thy neighbour, than to pray to the God of heaven: For what one petition is there in all thy prayer, that gives the least intimation, that thou hast the knowledge of God or thyself? Nay, what petition of any kind is there in thy vain-glorious oration from first to last? only an accusation drawn up, and that against one helpless and forlorn; against a poor man, because he is a sinner; drawn up, I say, against him by thee, who canst not make proof of thyself that thou art righteous: But come to proofs of righteousness, and there thou art wanting also. What though thy raiment is better than his, thy skin may be full as black: Yea, what if thy skin be whiter than his, thy heart may be yet far blacker. Yea, it is so, for the truth hath spoken it; for within you are full of excess and all uncleanness. (Matt 23)
Pharisee, there are transgressions against the second table, and the Publican shall be guilty of them: But there are sins also against the first table, and thou thyself art guilty of them.
The Publican, in that he was an extortioner, unjust, and an adulterer, made it thereby manifest that he did not love his neighbour; and thou by making a God, a Saviour, a deliverer, of thy filthy righteousness, doth make it appear, that thou dost not love thy God; for as he that taketh, or that derogateth from his neighbour in that which is his neighbour's due, sinneth against his neighbour, so he that taketh or derogateth from God, sinneth against God.
Now then, though thou hast not, as thou dost imagine, played at that low game as to derogate from thy neighbour; yet thou hast played at that high game as to derogate from thy God; for thou hast robbed God of the glory of salvation; yea, declared, that as to that there is no trust to be put in him. "Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness" or substance. (Psa 52:7)
What else means this great bundle of thy own righteousness, which thou hast brought with thee into the temple? yea, what means else thy commending of thyself because of that, and so thy implicit prayer, that thou for that mightest find acceptance with God?
All this, what does it argue, I say, but thy diffidence of God? and that thou countest salvation safer in thine own righteousness, than in the righteousness of God; and that thy own love to, and care of thy own soul, is far greater, and so much better, than is the care and love of God. And is this to keep the first table; yea, the first branch of that table, which saith, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God?" For thy thus doing cannot stand with love to God.
How can that man say, I love God, who from his very heart shrinketh from trusting in him? Or, how can that man say, I would glorify God, who in his very heart refuseth to stand and fall by his mercy?
Suppose a great man should bid all the poor of the parish to his house to dinner, and should moreover send by the mouth of his servant, saying, My lord hath killed his fatlings, hath furnished his table, and prepared his wine, nor is there want of anything, come to the banquet: Would it not be counted as a high affront to, great contempt of, and much distrust in the goodness of the man of the house, if some of these guests should take with them, out of their own poor store, some of their mouldy crusts, and carry them with them, lay them on their trenchers upon the table before the lord of the feast, and the rest of his guests, out of fear that he yet would not provide sufficiently for those he had bidden to his dinner that he made?
Why Pharisee, this is thy very case, Thou hast been called to a banquet, even to the banquet of God's grace, and thou hast been disposed to go; but behold, thou hath not believed, that he would of his own cost make thee a feast, when thou comest; wherefore of thy own store thou hast brought with thee, and hast laid upon thy trencher  on his table, thy mouldy and hoary crusts in the presence of the angels, and of this poor Publican; yea, and hast vauntingly said upon the whole, "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are." I am no such NEEDY man. (Luke 15:7) "I am no extortioner, nor unjust, no adulterer, nor even as this Publican." I am come indeed to thy feast, for of civility I could do no less; but for thy dainties, I need them not, I have of such things enough of mine own. (Luke 18:9) I thank thee therefore for thy offer of kindness, but I am not as those that have, and stand in need thereof, "nor yet as this Publican." And thus feeding upon thine own fare, or by making a composition of his and thine together, thou condemnest God, thou countest him insufficient or unfaithful; that is, either one that hath not enough, or having it, will not bestow it upon the poor and needy, and therefore, of mere pretence thou goest to his banquet, but yet trustest to thine own, and to that only.
This is to break the first table; and so to make thyself a sinner of the highest form: for the sins against the first table, are sins of an higher nature than are the sins against the second. True, the sins of the second table are also sins against God, because they are sins against the commandments of God: but the sins that are against the first table, are sins not only against the command, but against the very love, strength, holiness, and faithfulness of God. And herein stands thy condition; thou hast not, thou sayest thou hast not done injury to thy neighbour; but what of that, IF THOU HAST REPROACHED GOD THY MAKER? This is, as if a man should be in with his fellow- servant, and out with his master.
Pharisee, I will assure thee, thou art besides the saddle; thy state is not good, thy righteousness is so far off from doing of thee any good, that it maketh thee to be a greater sinner than if thou hadst none at all, because it fighteth more immediately against the mercy, the love, the grace, and goodness of God, than the sins of other sinners, as to degree, does.
And as they are more odious and abominable in the sight of God, as they needs must, if what is said be true, as it is; so they are more dangerous to the life and soul of man: for that they always appear unto him in whom they dwell, and to him that trusteth in them, not to be sins and transgressions, but virtues and excellent things. Not things that set a man further off, but the things, that bring a man nearer to God, than those that want them are or can be. This therefore is the dangerous estate of those that go about to establish their own righteousness, that neither have, nor can, while they are so doing, submit themselves to the righteousness of God. (Rom 10:3) It is far more easy to persuade a poor wretch, whose life is debauched, and whose sins are written in his forehead, to submit to the righteousness of God, that is, to the righteousness that is of God's providing and giving; than it is to persuade a self- righteous man to do it. For the profane are sooner convinced, as of the necessity of righteousness to save him: so that he has none of his own to do him that pleasure, and therefore most gladly he accepteth of, and submitteth himself to the help and health and salvation that is in the righteousness and obedience of another man.
And upon this account it is, that Christ saith, "The Publicans and the Harlots" enter into the kingdom of heaven before the Scribes and Pharisees. (Matt 21:31) Poor Pharisee, what a loss art thou at? thou art not only a sinner, but a sinner of the highest
form. Not a sinner by such sins (by such sins chiefly) as the second table doth make manifest; but a sinner chiefly in that way, as no self-righteous man did ever dream of. For when the righteous man or Pharisee shall hear that he is a sinner, he replieth, "I am not as other men are."
And because the common and more ordinary description of sin, is the transgression against the second table, he presently replieth again, I am not as this Publican is; and so shrowdeth himself under his own lame endeavours, and ragged, partial patches of moral or civil righteousness. Wherefore when he heareth, that his righteousness is condemned, slighted, and accounted nothing worth, then he fretteth, and fumeth, and chafeth and would kill the man, that so slighteth and disdaineth his goodly righteousness; but Christ and the true gospel-teacher still goeth on, and condemneth all his righteousness to be as menstruous rags, an abomination to God, and nothing but loss and dung.
Now menstruous rags, things that are an abomination, and dung, are not fit matter to make a garment of to wear, when I come to God for life, much less to be made my friend, my advocate, my mediator and spokesman, when I stand betwixt heaven and hell, to plead for me that I might be saved. (Isa 64:6, Luke 16:15, Phil 3:6-8)
Perhaps some will blame me, and count me also worthy thereof, because I do not distinguish betwixt the matter and the manner of the Pharisee's righteousness. And let them condemn me still; for, saving the holy law, which is neither the matter nor manner of the Pharisee's righteousness, but rather the rules, if he will live thereby, up to which he should completely come in every thing that he doth. And I say again, that the whole of the Pharisee's righteousness is sinful, though not with and to me, yet with and before the God of heaven. Sinful I say it is, and abominable, both in itself, and also in its effects.
[The Pharisee's whole righteousness sinful.]
First, In itself; for that it is imperfect, scanty, and short of the rule by which righteousness is enjoined, and EVEN with which every act should be: For shortness here, even every shortness in these duties, is sin, and sinful weakness; wherefore the curse taketh hold of the man for coming short, but that it could not justly do, if he coming short was not his sin: Cursed is every one that doeth not, and that continueth not to do all things written in the law. (Deu 27:26, Gal 3:10)
Second, It is sinful, because it is wrought by sinful flesh; for all legal righteousness is a work of the flesh. (Rom 4:1, Phil 3:3-8)
A work, I say, of the flesh; even of that flesh, who, or which also committeth the greatest enormities. For the flesh is but one, though its workings are divers: Sometimes in a way most notoriously sensual and devilish, causing the soul to wallow in wickedness as the sow doth to wallow in the mire.
But these are not all the works of the flesh; the flesh sometimes will attempt to be righteous, and set upon doing actions, that in their perfection would be very glorious and beautiful to behold. But because the law is only commanding words, and yieldeth no help to the man that attempts to perform it; and because the flesh is weak, and cannot do of itself that which it beginneth to meddle with, therefore this most glorious work of the flesh faileth.
But, I say, as it is a work of the flesh, it cannot be good, forasmuch as the hand that worketh it, is defiled with sin: For in a good man, one spiritually good, "that is in his flesh there dwells no good thing," but consequently that which is bad; how then can the flesh of a carnal, graceless man, and such a one is every Pharisee and self-righteous man in the world, produce, though it joineth itself to the law, to the righteous law of God, that which is good in his sight.
If any shall think that I pinch so hardly, because I call man's righteousness which is of the law, of the righteous law of God, flesh; let them consider that which follows; to wit, That though man by sin, is said to be dead in sin and trespasses, yet not so dead, but that he can act still in his own sphere. That is, to do, and choose to do, either that which by all men is counted base, or that which by some is counted good, though he is not, nor can all the world make him capable of doing anything that may please his God.
Man by nature, as dead as he is, can, and that with the will of his flesh, will his own salvation. Man by nature can, and that by the power of the flesh, pursue and follow after his own salvation; but then he wills it, and pursues or follows after it, not in God's way, but his own. Not by faith in Christ, but by the law of Moses, see Romans 10:16, 31, 10:3-7.
Wherefore it is no error to say, that a man naturally has Will, and a Power to pursue his will, and that as to his salvation. But it is a damnable error to say, that he hath will and power to pursue it, and that in God's way. For then we must hold that the mysteries of the gospel are natural; for that natural men, or men by nature, may apprehend and know them; yea, and know them to be the only means by which they must obtain eternal life: for the understanding must act before the will; yea, a man must approve of the way to life by Jesus Christ, before his mind will budge, or stir, or move that way: "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; [of the gospel] for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor 2:14)
He receiveth not these things; that is, his mind and will lie cross unto them, for he counts them foolishness; nor can all the natural wisdom in the world, cause that his will should fall in with them, because it cannot discern them.
Nature discerneth the law, and the righteousness thereof; yea, it discerneth it, and approveth thereof; that is, that the righteousness of it is the best and only way to life, and therefore the natural will and power of the flesh, as here you see in the Pharisee, do steer their course by that for eternal life. (1 Cor 2:14)
The righteousness of the law therefore is a work of the flesh, a work of sinful flesh, and therefore must needs be as filth and dung, and abominable as to that for which this man hath produced it, and presented it in the temple before God.
Nor is the Pharisee alone entangled in this mischief; many souls are by these works of the flesh flattered, as also the Pharisee was, into an opinion, that their state is good, when there is nothing in it. the most that their conversion amounteth to, is, the Publican is become a Pharisee; the open sinner is become a self-righteous man. Of the black side of the flesh he hath had enough, now therefore with the white side of the flesh he will recreate himself. And now, most wicked must he needs be, that questioneth the goodness of the state of such a man. He, of a drunkard, a swearer, an unclean person, a sabbath-breaker, a liar, and the like, is become reformed; a lover of righteousness, a strict observer, doer, and trader in the formalities of the law, and a herder with men of his complexion. And now he is become a great exclaimer against sin and sinners, defying to acquaint with those that once were his companions, saying, "I am not even as this Publican."
To turn therefore from the flesh to the flesh, from sin to man's righteousness: yea, to rejoice in confidence, that thy state is better than is that of the Publican: I mean, better in the eyes of divine justice, and in the judgment of the law; and yet to be found by the law, not in the spirit, but in the flesh; not in Christ, but under the law; not in a state of salvation, but of damnation, is common among men: For they, and they only, are the right men, "which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." Where by flesh, must not be meant the horrible transgressions against the law, though they are also called the works of the flesh (Gal 5:19), for they minister no occasion unto men, to have confidence in them towards God: but that is that, which is insinuated by Paul, where he saith, he had "no confidence in the flesh," though he might have had it, as he said, "Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man," saith he, "thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more" (Phil 3:3,4): And then he repeats a two-fold privilege that he had by the flesh. First, That he was one of the seed of Abraham, and of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews, &c.
Secondly, That he had fallen in with the strictest men of that religion, which was such after the flesh; to wit, to be a Pharisee, and was the son of a Pharisee, had much fleshly zeal for God, and was "touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless." (Phil 3:6)
But, I say still, there is nothing but flesh, flesh; fleshly privileges, and fleshly righteousness, and so consequently a fleshly confidence, and trust for heaven. This is manifest for these very things, when the man had his eyes enlightened, he counted all but loss and dung, that he might be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
[Godly men are afraid of their own righteousness.]
And this leads me to another thing, and that is, to tell thee, O thou blind Pharisee that thou canst not be in a safe condition, because thou hast thy confidence in the flesh, that is, in the righteousness of the flesh. For "all flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field": and the flesh and the glory of that being as weak as the grass, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, is but a weak business for a man to venture his eternal salvation upon. Wherefore, as I also hinted before, the godly-wise have been afraid to be found in their righteousness, I mean their own personal righteousness, though that is far better, than can be the righteousness of any carnal man: for the godly man's righteousness is wrought in the spirit and faith of Christ; but the ungodly man's righteousness is of the flesh, and of the law. Yet I say, this godly man is afraid to stand by his righteousness before the tribunal of God, as is manifest in these following particulars.
First, He sees sin in his righteousness, for so the prophet intimates, when he saith, "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isa 64:6): but there is nothing can make one's righteousness filthy but sin. It is not the poor, the low, the mean, the sickly, the beggarly state of a man, nor yet his being hated of devils, persecuted of men, broken under necessities, reproaches, distresses, or any kind of troubles of this nature, that can make the godly man's righteousness filthy; nothing but SIN can do it, and that can, doth, hath, and will do it. Nor can any man, be he who he will, and though he watches, prays, strives, denies himself, and puts his body under what chastisement or hardships he can; yea, though he also shall get his spirit and soul hoisted up to the highest peg, or pin of sanctity, and holy contemplation, and so his lusts to the greatest degree of mortification; but sin will be with him in the best of his performances. With him, I say, to pollute and defile his duties, and to make his righteousness specked and spotted, filthy and menstruous.
I will give you two or three instances for this. 1. Nehemiah was a man, in his day, one that was zealous, very zealous for God, for his house, for his people, and for his ways; and so continued, and that from first to last, as they may see that please to read the relation of his action; yet when he comes seriously to be concerned with God about his duties, he relinquisheth a standing by them. True, he mentioneth them to God, but confesseth that there is imperfections in them, and prayeth that God will not wipe them away: "Wipe not out my good deeds, O my God, that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof." And again, "Remember me, O my God, concerning this," also another good deed, "and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy: - Remember me, O my God, for good." (Neh 13)
I do not think that by these prayers he pleadeth for an acceptation of his person, as touching justification from the curse of the law, as the poor blind Pharisee doth; but that God would accept of his service, as he was a son, and not deny to give him a reward of grace for what he had done, since he was pleased to declare in his testament, that he would reward the labour of love of his saints with an exceeding weight of glory; and therefore prayeth, that God would not wipe away his good deeds, but remember him for good, according to the greatness of his mercy.
2. A second instance is that of David, where he saith, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant": O Lord; "for in thy sight shall no man living be justified." (Psa 143:2) David, as I also have hinted before is said to be a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22), and as here by the Spirit he acknowledges him for his servant; yet behold how he shrinketh, how he draweth back, how he prayeth, and petitioneth, that God would vouchsafe so much as not to enter into judgment with him. Lord, saith he, if thou enterest into judgment with me, I die, because I shall be condemned; for in thy sight I cannot be justified; to wit, by my own good deeds. Lord, at the beginning of thy dealing with me, by thy law and my works I die, therefore do not so much as enter into judgment with me, O Lord. Nor is this my case only, but it is the condition of all the world: "For in thy sight shall NO man living be justified."
3. A third instance is, that general conclusion of the apostle, "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith." (Gal 3:11) By this saying of Paul, as he taketh up the sentence of the prophet Habakkuk (2:4), so he taketh up this sentence, yea, and the personal justice of David also. No man, saith he, is justified by the law in the sight of God; no, no just man, no holy man, not the strictest and most righteous man. But why not? why? Because the just shall live by faith.
The just man, therefore, must die, if he has not faith in another righteousness, than that which is of the law; called his own: I say, he must die, if he has none other righteousness than that which is his own by the law. Thus also Paul confesses of himself: I, saith he, know nothing by myself, either before conversion or after; that is, I knew not, that I did anything before conversion, either against the law, or against my conscience; for I was then, touching the righteousness which is of the law, blameless. Also, since my conversion, I know nothing by myself; for "I have lived in all good conscience before God unto this day." (Acts 23:1)
A great saying, I promise you. I doubt this is more than our glorious justitiaries can say, except they say and lie. Well, but yet, "I am not hereby justified." (1 Cor 4:4, Phil 3:7) Nor will I dare to venture the eternal salvation of my soul upon mine own justice, "but he that judgeth me is the Lord." That is, though I, through my dimsightedness, cannot see the imperfections of my righteousness; yet the Lord, who is my judge, and before whose tribunal I must shortly stand, can and will; and if in his sight there shall be found no more but one spot in my righteousness, I must, if I plead my righteousness, fall for that.
Second, That the best of men are afraid to stand before God's tribunal, there to be judged by the law as to life and death, according to the sufficiency or non-sufficiency of their righteousness, is evident, because by casting away their own, in this matter, they make all the means they can for this; that is, that his mercy, by an act of grace, be made over to them, and that they in it may stand before God to be judged.
Hence David cries out so often, "Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness." (Psa 5:8) "Deliver me in thy righteousness." (Psa 31:1) "Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness." (Psa 35:24) "Quicken me in thy righteousness." (Psa 119:40) "O Lord," says he, "give ear to my supplications; in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness. And enter not into judgment with thy servant": O Lord: "For in thy sight shall no man living be justified." (Psa 143:1,2) And David, What if God doth thus? Why then, saith he, "My tongue shall speak of thy righteousness." (Psa 35:28) "My tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness." (Psa 51:14) "My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness." Yea, "I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only." (Psa 71:15,16)
Daniel also, when he comes to plead for himself and his people, he first casts away his and their righteousness, saying, "For we do not present out supplications before thee for our righteousnesses." And pleads God's righteousness, and that he might have a share and interest in that, saying, "O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee" (9:7,18), to wit, that righteousness, for the sake of which, mercy and forgiveness, and so heaven and happiness is extended to us.
Righteousness belongeth to thee, and is thine, as nearly as sin, shame, and confusion, is ours, and belongeth to us, which righteousness he afterwards calleth "The Lord," saying, do it, for the Lord's sake; read the 16, 17, verses of the ninth of Daniel. "O Lord," saith he, "according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake." For the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ; for on him Daniel now had his eye, and through him to the Father he made his supplication; yea, and the answer was according to his prayer, to wit, that God would have mercy on Jerusalem, and that he would in his time send the Lord, the Messias, to bring them in everlasting righteousness for them.
Paul also, as I have hinted before, disclaims his own righteousness, and layeth fast hold on the righteousness of God: seeking to be found in that, or in him that has it, not having his own righteousness; for he knew that when the rain descends, the winds blow, and the floods come down falls on all men, but they that have that righteousness. (Phil 3)
Now the earnest desire of the righteous to be found in God's righteousness, ariseth from strong conviction of the imperfections of their own, and of good knowledge that was given them of the terror that will attend men at the day of the fiery trial; to wit, the day of judgment. For although men can now flatter themselves into a fool's paradise, and persuade themselves that all shall be well with them then, for the sake of their own silly and vain-glorious performances; yet when the day comes that shall burn like an oven, and when all that have done wickedly shall be as stubble, and so will all appear to be that are not found in Christ, then will their righteousness vanish like smoke, or be like fuel for that burning flame. And hence the righteousness that the godly seek to be found in, is called the name of the Lord, a strong tower, a rock, a shield, a fortress, a buckler, a rock of defence, UNTO which they resort, and INTO which they run and are safe.
The godly wise therefore do not, as this Pharisee, bring their own righteousness into the temple, and there buoy up themselves and spirits by that into a conceit, that for the sake of that, God will be merciful and good unto them: but throwing away their own, they make to God for his, because they certainly know, even by the word of God, that in the judgment none can stand the trial, but those that are found in the righteousness of God.
Third, That the best of men are afraid to stand before God's tribunal by the law, there to be judged to life and death, according to the sufficiency or non-sufficiency of their righteousness, is evident: for they know, that it is a vain thing to seek by acts of righteousness to make themselves righteous men, as is the way of all them that seek to be justified by the deeds of the law.
And herein lieth the great difference between the Pharisee and the true Christian man. The Pharisee thinks, by acts of righteousness he shall make himself a righteous man, therefore he cometh into the presence of God well furnished, as he thinks, with his negative and positive righteousness.
Grace suffereth not a man to boast it before God, whatever he saith before me: "His soul which is lifted up, is not upright in him" (Hab 2:4): And better is the poor in spirit, than the proud in spirit. The Pharisee was a very proud man, a proud, ignorant man, proud of his own righteousness, and ignorant of God's: for had he not, he could not, as he did, have so condemned the Publican, and justified himself.
[The Pharisee ignorant that he must be righteous before he can do righteousness.]
And I say again, that all this pride and vain-glorious shew of the Pharisee, did arise from his not being acquainted with this; that a man must be good, before he can do good; he must be righteous, before he can do righteousness. This is evident from Paul, who insinuateth this as the reason, why "none do good," even because There is none that is righteous, no, not one. "There is none righteous," saith he; and then follows, "There is none that doeth good." (Rom 3:10-12) For it is not possible for a man, that is not first made righteous by the God of heaven, to do anything that in a proper, in a law, or in a gospel-sense may be called righteousness. Meddle with righteous things he may; attempt to make himself a righteous man, by his so meddling with them, he may; but work righteousness, and so by such works of righteousness, make himself a righteous man, he cannot.
The righteousness of a carnal man, is indeed by God called righteousness; but it must be understood, as spoken in the dialect of the world; or with reference to the world's matters. The world indeed calls it righteousness; and it will do no harm, if it bear that term with reference to worldly matters. Hence worldly civilians are called good and righteous men, and so, such as Christ, under that notion, neither died for, nor giveth his grace unto. (Rom 5:7,8) But we are not now discoursing about any other righteousness, than that which is so accounted either in a law, or in a gospel-sense; and therefore let us a little more touch upon that.
A man then must be righteous in a law-sense, before he can do acts of righteousness, I mean that are such, in a gospel-sense. Hence first, you have true gospel-righteousness made the fruit of a second birth. "If ye know that he [Christ] is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him." (1 John 2:29) Not born of him by virtue of his own righteous actions, but born of him by virtue of Christ's mighty working with his word upon the soul; who afterwards, from a principle of life, acteth and worketh righteousness.
And he saith again, "Little children, let no man deceive you, he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous." (1 John 3:7) Upon this scripture, I will a little comment, for the proof of what is urged before; namely, that a man must be righteous in a law-sense, before he can do such things that may be called acts of righteousness in a gospel-sense. And for this, this scripture, ministereth to us two things to be considered by us.
The first is, that he that doeth righteousness is righteous.
The second is, that he that doeth righteousness is righteous, as Christ is righteous.
First, He that doeth righteousness; that is, righteousness which the gospel calleth so, is righteous; that is, precedent to, or before he doth that righteousness. For he doth not say, he shall make his person righteous by acts of righteousness that he shall do; for then an evil tree may bear good fruit: yea, and may make itself good by doing so: But he saith, he that doeth righteousness is righteous; as he saith, he that doeth righteousness IS born of him.
So then, a man must be righteous before he can do righteousness, before he can do righteousness in a gospel-sense.
Second, Our second thing then is to inquire, with what righteousness a man must be righteous, before he can do that which in a gospel-sense is called righteousness?
And first, I answer, He must be righteous in a law-sense; that is, he must be righteous in the judgment of the law. This is evident, because he saith, he that doeth righteousness is righteous as he is righteous. That is, in a law-sense; for Christ in no sense is righteous in the judgment of charity only; but in his meanest acts, if it be lawful to make such comparison, he was righteous in a law-sense, or in the judgment of the law. Now the apostle saith, "That he that doeth righteousness IS righteous, as HE is righteous." They are the words of God, and therefore I cannot err in quoting of them, though I may not so fully, as I would, make the glory of them shine in speaking to them.
But what righteousness is that, with which a man must stand righteous in the judgment of the law, before he shall or can be found to do acts of righteousness, that by the gospel are so called? I answer.
First, It is none of his own which is of the law, you may be sure; for he hath this righteousness before he doeth any that can be called his own. "He that doeth righteousness is righteous" already, precedent to, or before he doth that righteousness; yea, he is righteous before, even as HE is righteous.
Second, It cannot be his own which is of the gospel; that is, that which floweth from a principle of grace in the soul: for he is righteous before he doeth this righteousness. He that doeth righteousness, IS righteous. He doth not say he that hath done it, but he that doeth it; respecting the act while it is in doing, he is righteous. He is righteous even then, when he is a doing of the very first act of righteousness; but an act, while it is in doing, cannot, until it is done, be called an act of righteousness; yet, saith the text, "He is righteous."
But again, if an act, while it is in doing, cannot be called an act of righteousness; to be sure, it cannot have such influences as to make the actor righteous; to make him righteous, as the Son of God is righteous, and yet the righteousness with which this doer is made righteous, and that before he doeth righteousness, is such; for so saith the text, that makes him righteous as he is righteous.
Besides, it cannot be his own, which is gospel-righteousness, flowing from a principle of grace in the soul; for that in its greatest perfection in us, while we live in this world, is accompanied with some imperfections; to wit, our faith, love, and whole course of holiness is wanting, or hath something lacking in it. They neither are apart, nor when put all together, perfect, as to the degree, the uttermost degree of perfection.
But the righteousness under consideration, with which the man, in that of John, is made righteous, is a perfect righteousness; not only with respect to the nature of it, as a penny is as perfect silver as a shilling; nor yet with respect to a comparative degree; for so a shilling arriveth more toward the perfection of the number twenty, than doth a two-penny or a three-penny piece: but it is a righteousness so perfect, that nothing can be added to it, nor can any thing be taken from it: for so implieth the words of the text, "he is righteous, as Christ is righteous." Yea, thus righteous before, and in order to his doing of righteousness. And in this he is like unto the Son of God, who was also righteous before he did acts of righteousness referring to a law of commandment: wherefore it is said, that as he is, so are we in this world. As he is or was righteous, before he did acts of righteousness among men by a law, so are HIS righteous, before they act righteousness among men by a law. "He that doth righteousness is righteous, as HE is righteous."
Christ was righteous, before he did righteousness, with a two- fold righteousness. He had a righteousness as he was God; his godhead was perfectly righteous; yea, it was righteousness itself. His human nature was perfectly righteous, it was naturally spotless and undefiled. Thus his person was righteous, and so qualified to do that righteousness, that because he was born of a woman, and made under the law, he was bound by the law to perform.
Now, as he is, so are we: not by way of natural righteousness, but by way of resemblance thereunto. Had Christ, in order to his working of righteousness, a two-fold righteousness inherent in himself, the Christian, in order to his working of righteousness, hath belonging to him a two-fold righteousness. Did Christ's two-fold righteousness qualify him for that work of righteousness, that was of God designed for him to do? Why the Christian's two-fold righteousness doth qualify him for that work of righteousness, that God hath ordained, that he should do and walk in this world.
But you may ask, what is that righteousness, with which a Christian is made righteous before he doth righteousness?
I answer, It is a two-fold righteousness.
I. It is a righteousness put upon him.
II. It is a righteousness put into him. I. For the first, It is righteousness put upon him, with which also he is clothed as with a coat or mantle (Rom 3:22), and this is called the robe of righteousness; and this is called the garments of salvation. (Isa 61:10) This righteousness is none other but the obedience of Christ; the which he performed in the days of his flesh, and can properly be called no man's righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ; because no man had a hand therein, but he completed it himself. And hence it is said, That "by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Rom 5:19) By the obedience of one, of one man Jesus Christ, as you have it in verse 15 for he came down into the world to this very end; that is, to make a generation righteous, not by making of them laws, and prescribing unto them rules: for this was the work of Moses, who said, "And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us." (Deu 6:25, 24:13) Nor yet by taking away by his grace the imperfections of their righteousness, and so making of that perfect by additions of his own; but he makes them righteous by his obedience; not in them, but for them, while he personally subjected himself to his Father's law on our behalf, that he might have a righteousness to bestow upon us. And hence we are said to be made righteous, while we work not; and to be justified while ungodly (Rom 4:5), which can be done by no other righteousness than that, which is the righteousness of Christ by performance, the righteousness of God by donation, and our righteousness by imputation. For, I say, the person that wrought this righteousness for us, is Christ Jesus; the person that giveth it to us, is the Father; who hath made Christ to be unto us righteousness, and hath given him to us for this very end, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (1 Cor 1:30, 2 Cor 5:21), And hence it is so often said, One shall say, surely in the Lord have I righteousness and strength. And again, "In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory." "This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." (Isa 45:24,25, 54:17)
This righteousness is that which justifieth, and which secureth the soul from the curse of the law; by hiding, through its perfection, all the sins and imperfections of the soul. Hence it follows, in that fourth of the Romans, "Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."
And this it doth, even while the person that by grace is made a partaker, is without good works, and so ungodly. This is the righteousness of Christ, Christ's personal performances, which he did when he was in this world; that is that, by which the soul while naked, is covered, and so hid as to its nakedness, from the divine sentence of the law; "I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness." (Eze 16:8)
Now this obediential righteousness of Christ, consisteth of two parts. 1. In a doing of that which the law commanded us to do. 2. In a paying that price for the transgression thereof, which justice hath said, shall be required at the hand of man; and that is the cursed death. In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die the death; to wit, the death that comes by the curse of the law. So then, Christ having brought in that part of obedience for us, which consisteth in a doing of such obediential acts of righteousness which the law commands; he addeth thereto the spilling of his blood, to be the price of our redemption from that cursed death, that by sin we had brought upon our bodies and souls. And thus are the Christians made perfectly righteous; they have the whole obedience of Christ made over to them; to wit, that obedience that standeth in doing the law, and that obedience that standeth in paying of a price for our transgressions. So then, Doth the law call for righteousness? Here it is. Doth the law call for satisfaction for our sins? Here it is. And what can the law say any more to the sinner but that which is good, when he findeth in the personal obedience of Christ for him, that which answereth to what it can command, that which it can demand of us.
Herein then standeth a Christian's safety, not in a bundle of actions of his own, but in a righteousness which cometh to him by grace and gift; for this righteousness is such as comes by gift, by the gift of God. Hence it is called the gift of righteousness, the gift by grace, the gift of righteousness by grace, which is the righteousness of one, to wit, the obedience of Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:15-19)
And this is the righteousness by which, he that doth righteousness, is righteous as HE is righteous; because it is the very self-same righteousness, that the Son of God hath accomplished by himself. Nor has he any other or more excellent righteousness, of which the law taketh notice, or that it requireth, than this. For as for the righteousness of his godhead, the law is not concerned with that; for as he is such, the law is his creature, and servant, and may not meddle with him.
The righteousness also of his human nature, the law hath nothing to do with that; for that is the workmanship of God, and is as good, as pure, as holy and undefiled, as is the law itself. All then that the law hath to do with, is to exact complete obedience of him that is made under it, and a due satisfaction for the breach thereof, the which, if it hath, then Moses is content.
Now, this is the righteousness, with which the Christian, as to justification, is made righteous; to wit, a righteousness, that is neither essential to his godhead, nor to his manhood; but such as standeth in that glorious person, who was such, his obedience to the law. Which righteousness himself had, with reference to himself, no need of at all, for his godhead; yea, his manhood was perfectly righteous without it. This righteousness therefore was there, and there only, necessary, where Christ was to be considered as God's servant and our surety, to bring to God Jacob again, and to restore the preserved of Israel. For though Christ was a Son, yet he became a servant to do, not for himself, for he had no need, but for us, the whole law, and so bring in everlasting righteousness for us.
And hence it is said, that Christ did what he did for us: He became the end of the law for righteousness for us; he suffered for us (1 Peter 2:21); he died for us (1 Thess 5:10); he laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16), and he gave himself for us. (Gal 1:4) The righteousness then that Christ did fulfil, when he was in the world, was not for himself simply considered, nor for himself personally considered, for he had no need thereof; but it was for the elect, the members of his body.
Christ then did not fulfil the law for himself, for he had no need thereof. Christ again did fulfil the law for himself, for he had need of the righteousness thereof; he had need thereof for the covering of his body, and the several members thereof; for they, in a good sense, are himself, members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones; and he owns them as parts of himself in many places of the holy scripture. (Eph 5:30, Acts 9:4,5, Matt 25:45, 10:40, Mark 9:37, Luke 10:16, 1 Cor 12:12,27) This righteousness then, even the whole of what Christ did in answer to the law, it was for his, and God hath put it upon them, and they are righteous in it, even righteous as he is righteous. And this they have before they do acts of righteousness.
II. There is righteousness put into them, before they act righteous things. A righteousness, I say, put into them; or I had rather that you should call it a principle of righteousness; for it is a principle of life to righteousness. Before man's conversion, there is in him a principle of death by sin; but when he is converted to Christ, there is put into him a principle of righteousness, that he may bring forth fruit unto God. (Rom 7:4-6)
Hence they are said to be quickened, to be made alive, to be risen from death to life, to have the Spirit of God dwelling in them; not only to make their souls alive, but to quicken their mortal bodies to that which is good. (Rom 8:11)
Here, as I hinted before, they that do righteousness are said to be born of him, that is, antecedent to their doing of righteousness (1 John 2:29), "born of him," that is, made alive with new spiritual and heavenly life. Wherefore the exhortation to them is, "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." (Rom 6:13)
Now this principle must also be in men, before they can do that which is spiritually and gospelly good: For whatever seeming good thing any man doth, before he has bestowed upon him this heavenly principle from God, it is accounted nothing, it is accounted sin and abomination in the sight of God; for an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit: Men do not gather grapes of thorns; neither of a bramble gather they figs. Either make the tree good and his fruit good, or the tree evil and his fruit evil. (Luke 6:43-45) It is not the fruit that makes the tree, but the tree that makes the fruit. A man must be good, before he can do good, and evil before he can do evil.
They be not righteous actions that make a righteous man; nor be they evil actions that make a wicked man: for a tree must be a sweeting tree before it yield sweetings; and a crab tree before it bring forth crabs.
This is that which is asserted by the Son of God himself; and it lieth so level with reason and the nature of things, that it cannot be contradicted. (Matt 7:16-18) "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil." (Luke 6:45) But this, notwithstanding all that can be said, seemeth very strange to the carnal world; for they will not be otherwise persuaded, but that they be good deeds that make good men, and evil ones that make evil men: And so by such dotish apprehensions do what in them lieth to fortify their hearts with the mists of darkness against the clear shining of the word, and conviction of the truth.
And thus it was from the beginning: Abel did his first services to God from this principle of righteousness; but Cain would have been made righteous by his deed; but his deed not flowing from the same root of goodness, as did Abel's, notwithstanding he did it with the very best he had, is yet called evil: For he wanted, I say, the principles, to wit, of grace and faith, without which no action can be counted good in a gospel sense.
These two things then, that man must have that will do righteousness. He must have put upon him the perfect righteousness of Christ; and he must have dwelling in him, as a fruit of the new birth, a principle of righteousness. Then indeed he is a tree of righteousness, and God is like to be glorified in, and by him; but this the Pharisee was utterly ignorant of, and at the remotest distance from it.
[The righteousness of Christ, unto justification, must be imputed to the Christian before he can attain the principle of righteousness unto sanctification.]
Quest. You may ask me next, But which of these are first bestowed upon the Christian, the perfect righteousness of Christ unto justification, or this gospel principle of righteousness unto sanctification?
Answ. The perfect righteousness of Christ unto justification, must first be made over to him by an act of grace. This is evident,
1. Because, he is justified as ungodly; that is, whilst he is ungodly: But it must not be said of them, that have this principle of grace in them, that they are ungodly; for they are saints and holy. But this righteousness, by IT God justifieth the ungodly, by imputing it to them, when, and while they, as to a principle of grace, are graceless.
This is further manifested thus: The person must be accepted before the performance of the person can; "And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering." (Gen 4:4) If he had respect to Abel's person first, yet he must have respect unto it for the sake of some righteousness; but Abel, in that, had no righteousness; for that he acted after that God had had respect unto his person. "And the LORD had respect unto Abel, and to his offering: But unto Cain, and to his offering, he had not respect."
The prophet Ezekiel also shows us this; where, by the similitude of the wretched infant, and of the manner of God's receiving it to mercy, he shows how he received the Jews to favour. First, saith he, "I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness." (16:8) There is justification; "I covered thy nakedness." But what manner of nakedness was it? Was it utter nakedness, nakedness in its perfection? Yes, it was then as naked as naked could be, even as naked as in the day that it was born. And as thus naked, it was covered, not with anything, but with the skirt of Christ; that is, with his robe of righteousness, with his obedience, that he performed by himself for that very purpose. For by the obedience of one many are made righteous.
2. Righteousness unto justification must be first, because the first duty that a Christian performeth to God, must be accepted, not for the sake of the principle from which in the heart it flows, nor yet for the sake of the person that acts it; but for the sake of Christ, whose righteousness it is, by which, before the sinner, he stands just before God. And hence it is said, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." (Heb 11:4) By faith he did it; but faith hath respect to the righteousness that justifies. For we are justified by faith, not by faith as it is a grace, nor by faith as it is an acting grace; but by the righteousness of faith; that is, by that righteousness that faith embraceth, layeth hold of, and helpeth the soul to rest upon, and to trust to, for justification of life, which is the obedience of Christ. Besides, it is said, by faith he offered; faith then, faith in Christ, was precedent to his offering.
Now since faith was in being and in act before his offer, and since before his offer, he had no personal goodness of his own, faith must look out from home: I say, it must look out to another than to him in whom it resided for righteousness; and finding the righteousness of Christ to be the righteousness, which by God was designed to be performed for the justification of a sinner, it embraces it, and through it offereth to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.
Hence it follows, "by which he obtained witness that he was righteous." By which, not by his offering, but by his faith. For his offering, simply as an offering, could not have made him righteous, if he had not been righteous before; "for an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit." Besides, if this be granted, why had not God respect to Cain's offering, as well as to Abel's?
For, did Abel offer? so did Cain. Did Abel offer his best? so did Cain his. And if with this, we shall take notice of the order of their offering, Cain seemed to offer first, and so with the frankest will, and forwardest mind; but yet, saith the text, "The Lord had respect to Abel and to his offering." But why to Abel? Why, because his person was made righteous before he offered his gift: "By which he obtained witness that he was righteous." God testifying of his gifts, that they were good and acceptable, because they declared Abel's acceptation of the righteousness of Christ, for his justice, through the riches of the grace of God.
By faith then, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. He shrouded himself under the righteousness of Christ, and so, as out of that righteousness, he offered to God; God also looking and finding him there, where also he could not have been, as to his own apprehension, no otherwise than by faith, he accepted of his gift; by which acceptation, for so you may understand it also, God testified that he was righteous: For God receiveth not the gifts and offerings of those that are not righteous, for their sacrifices are an abomination unto him. (Prov 21:27)
Abel then was righteous before; he was, I say, made righteous first, as he stood ungodly in himself; God justifieth the ungodly. (Rom 4) Now being justified, he was righteous; and being righteous, he offered his sacrifice of praise to God, or other offerings which God accepted, because he believed in his Son, as also other scriptures manifest abundantly. But this our Pharisee understandeth not.
3. Righteousness by imputation must be first, because we are made so, to wit, by another, "By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." Now to be made righteous, implies a passiveness in him that is so made, and the activity of the work to lie in some body else; except he had said, they had made themselves righteous; but that it doth not, nor doth the text leave to any the least countenance so to insinuate: Nay, it plainly affirms the contrary, for it saith, by the obedience of one, of one man Jesus Christ, many are made righteous; by the righteousness of one (Rom 5), So then, if they be MADE righteous by the righteousness of one: I say, if many be made righteous by the righteousness of one, then are they that are so, as to themselves, passive and not active, with reference unto the working out of this righteousness. They have no hand in that; for that is the act of ONE, the righteousness of ONE, the obedience of ONE, the workmanship of ONE, even of Christ Jesus.
Again, if they are made righteous by this righteousness, then also they are passive, as to their first privilege by it; for they are made righteous by it; they do not make themselves righteous; no, they do not make themselves righteous by it.
Imputation is also the act of God. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness. The righteousness then is the work of Christ, his own obedience to his father's law; the making of it ours, is the act of his father, and of his infinite grace; "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness." "For he [God] hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." And both these things God showed to our first parents when he acted in grace towards them after the fall.
There it is said, the Lord God made unto Adam, and unto his wife, coats of skins, and clothed them. (Gen 3:21)
(1.) That Adam and his wife were naked both in God's eye, and in their own. (verse 10,11)
(2.) That the Lord God made coats of skins.
(3.) That in his making of them, he had respect to Adam and to his wife, that is, he made them for them.
(4.) That when he had made them, he also clothed them therewith.
They made not the coats, nor did God bid them make them; but God did make them himself to cover their nakedness with. Yea, when he had made them, he did not bid them put them on, but he himself did clothe them with them: For thus runs the text; "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them." O! It was the Lord God that made this coat, with which a poor sinner is made righteous! And it is also the Lord God that putteth it upon us. But this our Pharisee understandeth not.
But now, if a man is not righteous before he is made so, before the Lord God has, by the righteousness of another, made him so; then whether this righteousness come first or last, the man is not righteous until it cometh, and if he be not righteous until it cometh, then what works soever are done before it comes, they are not the works of a righteous man, nor the fruits of a good tree, but of a bad. And so again, this righteousness must first come before a man be righteous, and before a man does righteousness. Make the tree good and its fruit will be good.
Now, since a man must be made righteous before he can do righteousness, it is manifest his works of righteousness do not make him righteous, no more than the fig makes its own tree a fig-tree, or than the grape doth make its own vine a vine. Hence those acts of righteousness, that Christian men do perform, are called the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. (Phil 1:11)
The fruits of righteousness they are by Jesus Christ, as the fruits of the tree are by the tree itself. For the truth is, that principle of righteousness, of which mention has been made before, and concerning which I have said, it comes in, in the second place; it is also originally to be found for us no where but in Christ.
Hence it is said to be by Jesus Christ, and again, "of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." (John 1:16) A man must then be united to Christ first, and so being united, he partaketh of this benefit, to wit, a principle that is supernatural, spiritual, and heavenly. Now his being united to Christ, is not of, or from himself, but of, and from the Father, who, as to this work, is the husbandman; even as the twig that is grafted into the tree, officiateth not, that is, grafteth not itself thereinto, but is grafted in by some other, itself being utterly passive as to that. Now being united unto Christ, the soul is first made partaker of justification, or of justifying righteousness, and now no longer beareth the name of an ungodly man, for he is made righteous by the obedience of Christ, he being also united to Christ, partaketh of the root and fatness of Christ; the root, that is, his divine nature; the fatness, that is, that fulness of grace that is laid up in him to be communicated unto us, even as the branch that is grafted into the olive-tree, partaketh of the root and fatness of the olive-tree. Now partaking thereof, it quickeneth, it groweth, it buddeth, and yieldeth fruit to the glory and praise of God. (Rom 11:17)
But these things, as I have often said, the poor Pharisee was ignorant of, when so swaggeringly he, with his, "God I thank thee," came into the temple to pray and indeed, in that which hath here been said, is something of the mystery of God's will in his way with his elect; and such a mystery it is, that it lieth hid for ever to nature and natural men; for they think of nothing less than of this, nor of nothing more, when they think of their souls and of salvation, than that something must be done by themselves to reconcile them to God. Yea, if through some common convictions their understandings should be swayed to a consenting to that, that justification is of grace by Christ, and not of works by men; yet conscience, reason, and the law of nature, not being as yet subdued by the power and glory of grace unto the obedience of Christ, will rise up in rebellion against this doctrine, and will overrule and bow down the soul again to the law and works thereof for life.
4. Righteousness by imputation must be first, because, else faith, which is a part, yea, a great part, of that which is called a principle of grace in the soul, will have nothing to fix itself upon, nor a motive to work by. Let this therefore be considered by those that are on the contrary side.
Faith, so soon as it has being in the soul, is like the child that has being in the mother's lap, it must have something to feed upon, not something at a distance, afar off, or to be purchased, I speak now as to justification from the curse, but something by promise made over of grace to the soul; something to feed upon to support from the fears of perishing by the curse for sin. Nor can it rest content with all duties and performances, that other graces shall put the soul upon; nor with any of its own works, until it reaches and takes hold of the righteousness of Christ. Faith is like the dove, that found no rest any where in all the world until it returned to Noah into the ark. But this our Pharisee understandeth not.
Objection. Perhaps some may object, That from this way of reasoning it is apparent, that sanctification is first, since the soul may have faith, and so a principle of grace in it; and yet, as yet it cannot find Christ to feed and to refresh the soul withal.
Answ. From this way of reasoning it is not at all apparent, that sanctification, or a principle of grace is in the soul before righteousness is imputed, and the soul made perfectly righteous thereby. And for the clearing up of this let me propose a few things.
(1.) Justifying righteousness, to wit, the obedience of that one man Christ is imputed to the sinner to justify him in God's sight. For his law calls for perfect righteousness, and before that be come TO, and put UPON the poor sinner, God cannot bestow other spiritual blessings upon him; because by the law he has pronounced him accursed; by the which curse, he is also so holden, until a righteousness shall be found upon the sinner, that the law, and so divine justice can alike approve of, and be contented with. So then, as to the justification of the sinner, there must be a righteousness for God; I say, for the sinner, and for God. For the sinner to be clothed with, and for God to look upon, that he may, for the sake thereof in a way of justice, bless the sinner with forgiveness of sins: For forgiveness of sins is the next thing that followeth upon the appearance of the sinner before God in the righteousness of Christ. (Rom 4:6,7)
Now, upon this forgiveness, follows the second blessing. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. And so, consequently, hath obtained for us the forgiveness of sins: for he that is delivered from the curse, hath received forgiveness of sins, or rather is made partaker thereof; now being made a partaker thereof, the second blessing immediately follows: to wit, the blessing of Abraham, that is, "the promise of the spirit through faith" (Gal 3:13,14), but this our Pharisee understandeth not.
But now, although it be of absolute necessity that imputed righteousness be first TO the soul; that is, that perfect righteousness be found upon the sinner first by God, that he may bestow other blessings in a way of justice. Yet it is not of absolute necessity that the soul should see this first.
Let God then put righteousness, the righteousness of his Son upon me; and by virtue of that, let the second blessing of God come in to me; and by virtue of that, let me be made to see myself a sinner, and Christ's righteousness, and my need of it, in the doctrine of it, as it is revealed in the scriptures of truth. Let me then believe this doctrine to be true, and be brought by my belief to repentance for my sins, to hungering and thirsting vehemently after this righteousness; for this is "the kingdom of God and his righteousness." Yea, let me pray, and cry, and sigh, and groan day and night to the God of this righteousness, that he will of grace make me a partaker: And let me thus prostrate before my God, all the time that in wisdom he shall think fit. And in his own time he shall show me, that I am a justified person, a pardoned person, a person in whom the Spirit of God hath dwelt for some time, though I knew it not.
So then justification before God is one thing; and justification in mine own eyes is another: not that these are two justifications, but the same righteousness by which I stand justified before God, may be seen of God, when I am ignorant of it; yea, for the sake of it I may be received, pardoned, and accounted righteous of him, and yet I may not understand it. Yea, further, he may proceed in the way of blessing, to bless me with additional blessings, and yet I be ignorant of it.
So that the question is not, Do I find that I am righteous? But am I so? Doth God find me so, when he seeth that the righteousness of his Son is upon me, being made over to me by an act of his grace? For I am justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the redemption of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. (Rom 3:25) But this our Pharisee understandeth not.
I am then made righteous first, by the righteousness of another; and because I am thus righteous, God accepteth of my person as such, and bestoweth upon me his grace; the which, at first, for want of skill and experience in the word of righteousness, I make use of but poorly, and have need to be certified that I am made righteous, and that I have eternal life (Heb 5:13), not by faith first and immediately, but by the written word, which is called the word of faith; which word declareth unto me, to whom grace, and so faith in the seed of it is given, that I have eternal life; and that I should with boldness, in peace and joy, believe on the Son of God. (Rom 15:13, 1 John 5:13) But,
Again, I, in the first acts of my faith, when I am come at Christ, do not accept of him, because, I know I am righteous, either with imputed righteousness, or with that which is inherent: both these, as to my present privilege in them, may be hidden from mine eyes, and I only put upon taking of encouragement to close with Christ for life and righteousness, as he is set forth to be a propitiation before mine eyes, in the word of the truth of the gospel; to which word I adhere as, or because I find, I want peace with God in my soul, and because I am convinced, that the means of peace is not to be found any where but in Jesus Christ. Now, by my thus adhering to him, I find stay for my soul, and peace to my conscience, because the word doth ascertain me, that he that believeth on him hath remission of sins, hath eternal life, and shall be saved from the wrath to come.
But alas! who knows the many straights, and as I may say, the stress of weather, I mean the cold blasts of hell, with which the poor soul is assaulted, betwixt its receiving of grace, and its sensible closing with Jesus Christ?  None, I daresay, but IT and its FELLOWS. "The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy." (Prov 14:10) No sooner doth Satan perceive that God is doing with the soul, in a way of grace and mercy, but he endeavoureth what he may, to make the renewing thereof bitter and wearisome work to the sinner. O what mists, what mountains, what clouds, what darkness, what objections, what false apprehensions of God, of Christ, of grace, of the word, and of the soul's condition, doth he now lay before it, and haunt it with; whereby he fighteth, dejecteth, casteth down, daunteth, distresseth, and almost driveth it quite into despair. Now, by the reason of these things, faith, and all the grace that is in the soul, is hard put to it to come at the promise; and by the promise to Christ, as it is said, when the tempest and great danger of shipwreck lay upon the vessel in which Paul was, They "had much work to come by the boat." (Acts 27:16) For Satan's design is, if he cannot keep the soul from Christ, to make his coming to him, and closing with him, as hard, difficult, and troublesome, as he by his devices can. But faith, true justifying faith, is a grace, that is not weary by all that Satan can do; but meditateth upon the word, and taketh stomach, and courage, fighteth, and crieth, and by crying and fighting, by help from heaven, its way is made through all the oppositions that appear so mighty, and draweth up at last to Jesus Christ, into whose bosom it putteth the soul, where, for the time, it sweetly resteth after its marvellous tossings to and fro.
And besides what hath been said, let me yet illustrate this truth unto you by this familiar similitude.
Suppose a man, a traitor, that by the law should die for his sin, is yet such an one, that the king hath exceeding kindness for; may not the king pardon this man of his clemency; yea, order that his pardon should be drawn up and sealed, and so in every sense be made sure; and yet, for the present, keep all this close enough from the ears, or the knowledge of the person therein concerned. Yea, may not the king after all leave this person, with others under the same transgression, to sue for, and obtain this pardon with great expense and difficulty, with many tears and heart-achings, with many fears, and dubious cogitations.
Why this is the case between God and the soul that he saveth; he saveth him, pardoneth him, and secureth him from the curse and death that to him is due for sin, but yet doth not tell him so, but ascends in his great suit unto God for it. Only this difference we must make in this between God and the potentates of this world: God cannot pardon before the sinner stands before him righteous by the righteousness of Christ; because he has in judgment, and justice, and righteousness threatened and concluded, that he that wants righteousness shall die.
And I say again, because this righteousness is God's, and at God's disposal only; it is God that must make a man righteous before he can forgive him his sins, or bestow upon him of his secondary blessings; to wit, his Spirit, and the graces thereof. And I say again, it must be this righteousness; for it can be no other, that must justify a sinner from sin in the sight of God, and from the sentence of his law. But
(2.) This is, and must be the way of God with the sinner, that faith may not only have an object to work upon, but a motive to work by.
Here, as I said, Faith hath an object to work upon, and that is the person of Christ, and that personal righteousness of his, which he in the days of his flesh did finish to justify sinners withal. This is, I say, the object of faith for justification, whereunto the soul by it doth continually resort. Hence David said to Christ, "Be thou my strong habitation"; or as you have it in the margin, "Be thou to me for a rock of habitation, whereunto I may continually resort" (Psa 71:3): And two things he inserts by so saying.
The first is, That the Christian is a man under continual exercises, sometimes one way, and sometimes another; but all his exercises have a tendency in them more or less to spoil him; if he deals with them hand to hand; therefore he is rather for flying than standing; for flying to Christ, than for grappling with them in and by his own power.
The second is, That Christ is of God, provided to be our shelter as to this very thing. Hence his name is said to be a strong tower, and that the righteous run into it, and are safe. (Prov 18:10) That also of David in the 56th psalm is very pregnant to this purpose; "Mine enemies," saith he, "would daily swallow me up, for they be many that fight against me, O thou most high." And what then? Why, "what time I am afraid," saith he, "I will trust in thee." Thus you see, faith hath an object to work upon to carry the soul unto, and to secure the soul in, in times of difficulty, and that they are almost continually, and that object is Jesus Christ, and his righteousness. But,
Again, as faith hath an object to work upon, so it hath a motive to work by; and that is the love of God in giving of Christ to the soul for righteousness. Nor is there any profession, religion, or duty and performance, that is at all regarded, where this faith, which by such means can work, is wanting. "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." (Gal 5:6) So he saith not here, but faith which acteth lovely, or but faith whose fruit is love, though true faith hath love for its offspring, but faith which worketh BY love; that is true saving justifying faith, as it beholdeth the righteousness of Christ, as made over to the soul for justification, so it beholdeth love, love to be the cause of its so being made over. It beholdeth love in the Father, in giving of his Son; and love in the Son, in giving of himself to be made soul-saving righteousness for me. And this seeing, it worketh or this apprehending, it worketh by it; that is, it is stirred up to an holy boldness of venturing all eternal concerns upon Christ, and also to an holy endeared affecting love of him for his sweet and blessed redeeming love. Hence the apostle saith, "The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." (2 Cor 5:14,15)
Thus then is the heart united in affection and love to the Father and the Son, for the love that they have shewed to the poor sinner, in their thus delivering him from the wrath to come. Nor doth this love of God cause that the faith of the poor man should work by IT to him alone, no; for by this love faith worketh, in sweet passions and pangs of love, to all that are thus reconciled, as this sinner seeth he is. The motive then, whereby faith worketh, both as to justification, and sanctification, the great motive to them, I say, is love, the love of God, and the love of Christ: "We love him because he first loved us." That is, when our faith hath told us so; for so are the words above, "We have known and believed the love that God hath to us." And then, "We love him because he first loved us." And then, "This commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God, love his brother also." (1 John 4:16-21) But this our poor Pharisee understandeth not. But,
5. Righteousness by imputation must be first, to cut off boasting from the heart, conceit, and lips of men, Wherefore he saith as also was hinted before, That we are justified freely by the grace of God, not through, or for the sake of an holy gospel principle in us; but "through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ," &c. "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith." (Rom 3:24,27) And this is the law of faith that we are justified as afore [is shewn].
Nor can any man propound such an essential way to cut off boasting as this, which is of God's providing: for what has man here to boast of? No righteousness, nor yet of the application of it to his soul. The righteousness is Christ's, not the sinner's. The imputation is God's, not the sinner's. The cause of imputation is God's grace and love, not the sinner's works of righteousness. The time of God's imputing righteousness, is when the sinner was a sinner, wrapped up in ignorance, and wallowing in his vanity; not when he was good, or when he was seeking of it; for his inward gospel goodness is a fruit of the imputation of justifying righteousness, as has been already shewed. "Where is boasting then?" Where is our Pharisee then, with his brags of not being as other men are? It is excluded, and he with it, and the poor Publican taken into favour, that boasting might be cut off. "Not of works, lest any man should boast." There is no trust to be put in men, those that seem most humble, and that to appearance, are farthest off from pride, it is natural to them to boast; yea, to boast now, now they have no cause to boast. For by grace are we saved through FAITH, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.
But if man is so prone to boast, when yet there is no ground of boasting in him, nor yet in what he doeth, how would he have boasted, had he been permitted by the God of heaven to have done something, though that something had been but a very little something towards his justification. But God has prevented boasting by doing as he has done. (Eph 2:8,9) Nay, the apostle addeth further, lest any man should boast, that as to good works, "we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them." (verse 10) Can the tree boast, because it is a sweeting tree, since it was not the tree, but God that made it such: Where is boasting then? "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." (1 Cor 1:30,31) Where is boasting then? Where is our Pharisee then, with all his works of righteousness, and with his boasts of being better than his neighbours?
Objection. It may be said, If we should be justified for the sake of our inherent righteousness, since that righteousness is the gift of God, will it not follow that boasting is in the occasion thereof, cut off.
Ans. No, for although the principle of inherent righteousness be the gift of God, yet it bringeth forth fruits by man, and through man, and so man having a hand therein, though he should have never so little, he has an occasion offered him to boast. Yea, if a man should be justified before God by the grace, or the working of the grace of faith in him, he would have ground of occasion to boast, because faith, though it be the gift of God, yet as it acteth in man, takes man along with it in its so acting; yea, the acting of faith is as often attributed to the man by whom it is acted, and oftener, than to the grace itself. How then can it be, but that man must have a hand therein, and so a ground therein, or thereof to boast.
But now! since justification from the curse of the law before God, lieth only and wholly in God's imputing of Christ's righteousness to a man, and that too, while the man to whom it is imputed, is in himself wicked and ungodly, there is no room left for boasting before God, for that is the boasting intended; but rather an occasion given to shame and confusion of face, and to stop the mouth for ever, since justification comes to him in a way so far above him, so vastly without him, his skill, help, or what else soever. (Eze 16:61-63)
6. Righteousness by imputation must be first, that justification may not be of debt, but of mercy and grace. This is evident from reason: It is meet that God should therefore justify us by a righteousness of his own, not of his own prescribing, for that he may do, and yet the righteousness be ours; but of his own providing, that the righteousness may be his. "Now to him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt." (Rom 4:4) If I work for justifying righteousness, and that way get righteousness, my justification is not of grace but of debt, God giveth it not unto me, for he oweth it unto me; so then it is no longer his but mine: Mine not of grace, but debt: And if so then, I thank him not for remission of sins, nor for the kingdom of heaven, nor for eternal life; for if justifying righteousness is of debt, then when I have it, and what dependeth thereon, I have but mine own, that which God oweth to me.
Nor will it help at all to say, but I obtain it by God's grace in me, because that doth not cut off my work, nor prevent my having of an hand in my justifying righteousness.
Suppose I give a man materials, even all materials that are necessary to the completing of such or such a thing; yet if he worketh, though the materials be mine, I am to him a debtor, and he deserveth a reward. Thou sayest, God has given thee his Spirit, his grace, and all other things that are necessary for the working up of a complete righteousness. Well, but is thy work required to the finishing of this righteousness? If so, this is not the righteousness that justifieth, because it is such as has thy hand, thy workmanship therein, and so obtains a reward. And observe it, righteousness, justifying righteousness, consisteth not in a principle of righteousness, but in works of righteousness; that is, in good duties, in obedience, in a walking in the law to the pleasing of the law, and the content of the justice of God.
I suppose again, that thou shalt conclude with me, that justifying righteousness, I mean that which justifies from the curse of the law, resideth only in the obedience of the Son of God; and that the principle of grace that is in thee, is none of that righteousness, no, not then when thou hast to the utmost walked with God according to thy gift and grace: Yet if thou concludest that this principle must be in thee, and these works done by thee, before this justifying righteousness is imputed to thee for justification, thou layest in a caveat against justification by grace; and also concludest, that though thou art not justified by thy righteousness, but by Christ, yet thou art justified by Christ's righteousness, for the sake of thine own, and so makest justification to be still a debt. But here the scripture doth also cut thee off: "Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart dost thou go to possess their land"; which was but a type of heaven, and if our righteousness cannot give us by its excellency a share in the type, be sure, that for it, we shall never be sharers in the antitype itself. "Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it, for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiff-necked people." (Deu 9:5,6)
Gospel-performances therefore are not first; that was first, for the sake of which, God did receive these people into favour with himself, and that was a covenant righteousness; and where could that covenant righteousness be found but in the prince, mediator, and high priest of the covenant? For it was HE and HE only that was appointed of God, nor could any but himself, bring in everlasting righteousness. (Dan 9:24,25) This is evident from these texts last mentioned; it was not for their righteousness, that they possessed the land.
Again, As it was not for their righteousness, that they were made possessors of the land, so it was not for the sake of their righteousness, that they were made partakers of such a righteousness that did make them possess the land. This is plain to reason; for then inherent or inherent and personal righteousness, when by us performed, is of worth to obtain of God a justifying righteousness. But if it be of worth to obtain a justifying righteousness, then it seems, it is more commodious to both parties than is justifying righteousness. First, it is more commodious to him that worketh it, for by it he obtaineth everlasting righteousness; and secondly, it is more commodious unto him that receiveth it, else why doth he for it give us a due debt, and so put upon us the everlasting justifying righteousness.
Perhaps it will be objected, that God doth all this of grace; but I answer, that these are but fallacious words, spake by the tongue of the crafty. For we are not now discoursing of what rewards God can give to the operations of his own grace in us, but whether he can in a way of justice, or how he will, bestow any spiritual blessings upon sinful creatures, against whom, for sin, he has pronounced the curse of the law, before he hath found them in a righteousness, that is proved to be as good justice and righteousness, as is the justice and righteousness of the law, with which we have to do.
I assert he cannot, because he cannot lie, because he cannot deny himself: For if he should first threaten the transgression of the law with death, and yet afterwards receive the transgressor to grace, without a plenary satisfaction, what is this but to lie, and to diminish his truth, righteousness, and faithfulness; yea, and also to overthrow the sanction and perfect holiness of his law. His mercy therefore must act so towards this sinner, that justice may be content, and that can never be, without a justifying righteousness.
Now what this justifying righteousness should be, and when imputed, that is the question. I say, it is the righteousness or the obedience of the Son of God in the flesh, which he assumed, and so his own, and the righteousness of no body else, otherwise than by imputation.
I say again, that this righteousness must be imputed first, that the sinner may stand just in God's sight from the curse, and that God might deal with him both in a way of justice as well as mercy, and yet do the sinner no harm.
But you may ask, How did God deal with sinners before this righteousness was actually in being?
I answer, He did then deal with sinners even as he dealeth with them now; he justifieth them by it, by virtue of the suretiship of him that was to bring it in. Christ became surety for us, and by his suretiship laid himself under an obligation to bring in, in time, for those for whom he became a surety, this everlasting and justifying righteousness, and by virtue of this those of his elect that came into and went out of the world, before he came to perform his work, were saved through the forbearance of God. Wherefore, before the Lord came, they were saved for the Lord's sake, and for the sake of his name. And they that were spiritually wise understood it, and pleaded it as their necessities required, and the Lord for HIS sake also accepted them. (Heb 7:22, Rom 4:24, Dan 9:17, Psa 25:11)
7. Righteousness by imputation must be first: that justification may be certain; "therefore it is of faith, [of the righteousness that faith layeth hold on] that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed." (Rom 4:16) That the promise, What promise? The promise of remission of sins, &c. might be sure.
Now a promise of remission of sins supposeth a righteousness, a righteousness going before; for there is no forgiveness of sins, nor promise of forgiveness, but for the sake of righteousness: but not for the sake of righteousness that shall be by us, but that IS already found in Christ as head, and so imputed to the elect for their remission. "God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Eph 4:32) For Christ's sake; that is, for the sake of the righteousness of Christ. Therefore imputed righteousness must be first; yea, it must be before forgiveness, and forgiveness is extended by God, then when we lie in our blood, though to us it is manifested afterwards. Therefore it is OF faith, he saith not BY it, respecting the act of faith; but of, respecting the doctrine or word which presenteth me with this blessed imputed righteousness: "They that are of faith, are the children of faithful Abraham." They that are of the doctrine of faith, for all the elect are the sons of that doctrine in which is this righteousness of Christ contained; yea, they are begotten by it of God to this inheritance, to their comfortable enjoyment of the comfort of it by faith.
That "the promise might be sure to all the seed"; to all them wrapped up in the promise, and so begotten and born. That it might be sure, implying that there is no certain way of salvation for the elect but this, because God can never by other means reconcile us to himself; for his heavenly eyes perceive through and through the silly cobweb righteousness that we work; yea, they spy faults and sins in the best of our gospel performances. How then can God put any trust in such people, or how can remission be extended to us for the sake of that? Yea, our faith is faulty, and also imperfect; how then should remission be extended to us for the sake of that? But now the righteousness of Christ is perfect, perpetual and stable as the great mountains, wherefore he is called the rock of our salvation, because a man may as soon tumble the mountains before him, as one would tumble a little ball, I say, as soon as sin can make invalid the righteousness of Christ, when, and unto whom, God shall impute it for justice. (Psa 36:6) In the margin it is said, to be like the mountain of God; to wit, that is called Mount Zion, or that Moriah on which the temple was built, and upon which it stood: All other bottoms are fickle, all other righteousnesses are so feeble, short, narrow, and thin, yea, so specked and full of imperfections. "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh," Christ did for us in the similitude of sinful flesh. But what could not the law do? Why it could not give us righteousness, nor strengthen us to perform it. It could not give us any certain, solid, well-grounded hope of remission of sin and salvation, "but the bringing in of a better hope did, by the which we draw nigh unto God."
Wherefore this righteousness being imputed, justice findeth no fault therewith, but consenteth to the extending to the sinner those blessings that tend to perfect his happiness in the heavens.
8. Righteousness by imputation must be first, "that in all things he [Christ] might have the pre-eminence." Christ is head of the church, and therefore let him have the highest honour in the soul; but how can he have that, if any precede as to justification, before his perfect righteousness be imputed? If it be said, grace may be in the soul, though the soul doth not act it, until the moment that justifying righteousness shall be imputed.
I ask, What should it do there before, or to what purpose is it there, if it be not acted? And gain, how came it thither, how got the soul possession of it, while it was unjustified? Or, How could God in justice give it to a person, that by the law stood condemned, before they were quitted from that condemnation? And I say, nothing can set the soul free from that curse, but the perfect obedience of Christ; nor that either, if it be not imputed for that end to the sinner by the grace of God.
Imputed, that is, reckoned, or accounted to him. And why should it not be accounted to him for righteousness? Who did Christ bring it into the world for, for the righteous or for sinners? no doubt for sinners. And how must it be reckoned to them? when in circumcision or in uncircumcision; not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision; not as righteous, but as sinners. And how are they to consider of themselves, even then when they first are apprehensive of their need of this righteousness? Are they to think, that they are righteous or sinners.
And again, How are they to believe concerning themselves, then when they put forth the first act of faith towards this righteousness for justification? Are they to think, that they are righteous or sinners? Sinners, sinners doubtless they are to reckon themselves, and as such to reckon themselves justified by this righteousness. And this is according to the sentence of God, as appeareth by such sayings.
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."
"But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
"For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son," &c. (Rom 5:6,8,10)
Out of these words I gather these three things.
1. That Christ by God's appointment died for us.
2. That by his death he reconciled us to God.
3. That even then, when the very act of reconciliation was in performing, and also when performed, we were ungodly, sinners, enemies.
Now the act by which we are said to be reconciled to God while ungodly, while sinners, and while enemies, was Christ's offering himself a sacrifice for us, which is, in the words above- mentioned, called his death. Christ died, Christ died for the ungodly, Christ died for us while sinners. Christ reconciled us to God by his death. And just as here Christ is said to die for us, so the Father is said to impute righteousness to us; to wit, as we are without works, as we are ungodly: "Now to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (Rom 4:5) He worketh not, but is ungodly, when this gracious act of God, in imputing of the righteousness of Christ to him, is extended, the which when he shall believe, his faith is counted to him for righteousness. And why should we not have the benefit of the righteousness, while we are ungodly, since it was completed for us while we were yet ungodly? Yea, we have the benefit of it: "For - when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." (Rom 5:10)
When I say, the benefit, I mean that benefit that we are capable of, and that is justification before God; for that a man may be capable of while he is in himself ungodly, because this justice comes to him by the righteousness of another. True, was it to be his own righteousness by which he was to be justified, he should not, could not so be, as or while he is ungodly. But the righteousness is Christ's, and that imputed by God, not as a reward for work, or of debt, but freely by his grace, to the glory of it, and therefore may be done, and is so, while the person concerned is without works, ungodly, and a sinner.
And he that denieth that we are capable of this benefit while we are sinners and ungodly, may with like reason deny that we are created beings. For that which is done for a man without him, may be done for him, not only at any time which they that do it shall appoint, but for him while in any condition in this world. While a man is a beggar, may not I make him worth ten thousand a year, if I can and will; yea and yet he shall not know thereof in that moment that I make him so? yet the revenue of that estate shall really be his from the moment that I make him so, and he shall know it too at the rent-day.
This is the case, we are sinners and ungodly; there is a righteousness wrought out by Jesus Christ, the which God hath designed we shall be made righteous by; and by it, if he will impute it to us, we shall be righteous in his sight, even then when we are yet ungodly in ourselves; "for he justifies the ungodly."
Now though it is irregular and blame-worthy in man to justify the wicked, because he cannot for the wicked provide, and clothe him with a justifying righteousness; yet it is glorious and for ever worthy of praise for God to do it; because it is in his power not only to forgive, but to make a man righteous, even then when he is a sinner, and to justify him, as afore is proved, while he is ungodly.
Objection. But it may be yet objected, That though God has received satisfaction for sin, and so sufficient terms of reconciliation by the obedience and death of his Son, yet he imputeth it not unto us but upon condition of our becoming good.
Answ. This must not be admitted: For,
1. The scripture saith not so; but that we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son, and justified too, and that while, or when we are sinners and ungodly.
2. If this objection carrieth the truth in it, then it follows, that the Holy Ghost, faith, and so all grace, may be given to us, and we may have it dwelling in us, yea, acting in us, before we stand righteous in the judgment of the law before God; for nothing can make us stand just before God in the judgment of the law, but the obedience of the Son of God without us. And if the Holy Ghost, faith and so consequently the habit of every grace, may be in us, acting in us, before Christ's righteousness be by God imputed to us, then we are not justified as sinners and ungodly: but as persons inherently holy and righteous before.
But I have over and over already shewed you, that this cannot be, therefore righteousness for justification must be imputed first. And here let me present the reader with two or three things.
(1.) That justification before God is one thing; and justification to the understanding and conscience is another. Now, I am treating of justification before God, not of it as to man's understanding and conscience, and I say, a man may be justified before God, even then when himself knoweth nothing thereof (Isa 40:2, Matt 9:2), and so when and while he hath not faith about it, but is ungodly.
(2.) There is a justification by faith, by faith's applying of that righteousness to the understanding and conscience, which God hath afore of his grace imputed for righteousness to the soul for justification in his sight. And this is that by which we, as to sense and feeling, have peace with God: "Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom 5:1) And these two the Apostle keepeth distinct, a little lower in this chapter: for after that he had said in the tenth verse, that while "we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son": He addeth, "And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." (verse 11) Here you see that to be reconciled to God by the death of his Son, is one thing; and for us actually, for that I think he aimeth at, to receive by faith, this reconciliation, is another. That is a thing over and above, and not only so, but we have received the atonement.
(3.) Men do not gather their justification from God's single act of imputing of righteousness, that we might stand clear in his sight from the curse and judgment of the law; but from the word, the which they neither see nor understand, till it is brought to their understanding by the light and glory of the Holy Ghost.
We are not therefore in the ministry of the word to pronounce any man justified, from a supposition that God has imputed righteousness to him, since that act is not known to us, until the fruits that follow thereupon do break out before our eyes; to wit, the signs and effects of the Holy Ghost's indwelling in our souls. And then we may conclude it; that is, that such a one stands just before God, yet not for the sake of his inherent righteousness, nor yet for the fruits thereof, and so not for the sake of the act of faith, but for the sake of Jesus Christ his doing and suffering for us.
Nor will it avail to object, That if at first we stand just before God by his imputing of Christ's righteousness unto us, though faith be not in us to act, we may always stand justified so; and so what need of faith? For therefore are we justified, first, by the imputation of God, as we are ungodly, that thereby we might be made capable of receiving of the Holy Ghost, and his graces in a way of righteousness and justice. Besides, God will have those that he shall justify by his grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, to have the Holy Ghost, and so faith, that they may know and believe the things not only that shall be, but that already ARE, freely given to us of God. Now, says Paul, "we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." (1 Cor 2:12) To know, that is, to believe. It is given to you to believe, who believe according to the working of his mighty power, "and we have known and believed the love that God hath to us," preceding to our believing. (1 John 4:16) He then that is justified by God's imputation, shall believe by the power of the Holy Ghost; for that must come, and work faith, and strengthen the soul to act it, because imputed righteousness has gone before. He then that believeth shall be saved; for his believing is a sign, not a cause, of his being made righteous before God by imputation: And he that believeth not shall be damned, because his non-belief is a sign that he is not righteous, and a cause that his sins abide upon him.
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