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is a plain contradiction. For in that it merits, it is necessarily implied that itself acts that by which it is said to merit ; but in that it doth not depend upon itself, but upon another in what it acts, it is as necessarily implied, that itself doth not do that by which it is said to merit.
Upon this account, I shall never be induced to believe that any creature, by any thing it doth or can do, can merit or deserve any thing at the hand of God, till it can be proved that a creature can merit by that which God doth : or that God can be bound to bestow any thing upon us, for that which himself alone is pleased to work in us, and by us; which, in plain terms, would be as much as to say, that because God hath been pleased to do one good turn for us, he is therefore bound to do more; and because God hath enabled us to do our duty, he should therefore be bound to give us glory.
It is not therefore in the power of any person in the world to merit any thing from God, but such a one who is absolutely coessential with him, and so depends not upon him, either for his existence or actions. And as there is no person can merit any thing from God, unless he be essentially the same with him, so likewise unless he be personally distinct from him; forasmuch as though a person may be said to merit for himself, yet he cannot be said, without a gross solecism, to merit any thing from himself. So that he that is not as perfectly another person from God, as really the same in nature with him, can never be said to merit any thing at his hands.
But farther, God the Father could not properly be said to do it in his own person, because, being (according to our conception) the party offended, should he have undertaken this work for me, he in his own person must have undertaken to make satisfaction to his own person for the offences committed against himself; which if he should have done, his mercy might have been much exalted, but his justice could not have been satisfied by it. Forjustice requires, either that the party offending should be punished for these offences, or, at least, some fit person in his stead, which the Father himself cannot be said to be, in that he was the party offended, to whom this satisfaction was to be made, and it is absurd to suppose, that the same person should be capable of making satisfaction both by and to himself at the same time.
It remains therefore, that there were only two persons in the Holy Trinity who could possibly be invested with this capacity; the Son, and the Spirit. As to the latter, though he be indeed the same in nature with the Father, and a distinct person from him, and so far in a capacity to make satisfaction to him ; yet not being capable both of assuming the human nature into the divine, and also uniting and applying the divine nature to the human, (as I have shewed before in the fifth Article,) he was not in a capacity of making satisfaction for man; none being fit to take that office upon him, but he that of himself was perfectly God, and likewise capable of becoming perfectly man, by uniting both natures in the same person ; which the Holy Ghost could not do, because he was the person by whom, and therefore could not be the person also in whom, this union of the two natures was to be perfected. And yet it was by this means, and this method only, that any person could have been completely capacitated to have borne the punishment of our sins : he that was only man could not do it, because the sin was committed against God; and he that was only God could not do it, because the sin was committed by man.
From all which, as I may fairly infer, so I hope I may safely fix, my faith in this article, viz. that there was only one person in the whole world that could do this great work for me, of justifying my person before God, and so glorifying my soul with him; and that was the Son of God, the second person in the glorious Trinity, begotten of the substance of the Father from all eternity; whom I apprehend and believe to have brought about the great work of my justification before God, after this or the like manner.
He being in and of himself, perfectly coequal, coessential, and coeternal with the Father, was in no sort bound to do more than the Father himself did ; and so whatsoever he should do which the Father did not, might justly be accounted as a work of supererogation ; which, without any violation of divine justice, might be set upon the account of some other persons, even of such whom he pleased to do it for. And hereupon, out of mercy and compassion to fallen man, he covenants with his Father, that if it pleased his Majesty to accept it, he would take upon him the suffering of those punishments which were due from hiin to man, and the performance of those duties which were due from man to him ; so that whatsoever he should thus humble himself to do or suffer, should wholly be upon the account of man, himself 1100 being any ways bound to do or suffer more in time, than he had from 'eternity
This motion the Father, out of the riches of his grace and mercy, was pleased to consent unto: and hereupon, the Son assuming our nature into his Deity, becomes subject and obedient both to the moral and ceremonial laws of his Father; and at last to death itself, even the death of the cross. In the one he paid an active, in the other a passive obedience, and so did not only fulfil the will of his Father in obeying what he had commanded, but satisfied his justice in suffering the punishment due to us for the transgressing of it. His active obedience, as it was infinitely pure and perfect, did without doubt infinitely transcend all the obedience of the sons of men, even of Adam too in his primitive state.
For the obe dience of Adam, make the best of it, was but the obedience of a finite creature ; whereas the obedience of Christ was the obedience of one that was infinite God, as well as man. By which means the laws of God had higher obedience performed to them, than themselves in their primitive institution required; for being made only to finite creatures, they could command no more than the obedience of finite creatures; whereas the obedience of Christ was the obedience of one who was the infinite Creator, as well as a finite creature.
Now this obedience being more than Christ was bound to, and only performed upon the account of those whose nature he had assumed, as we by faith lay hold upon it, so God through grace imputes it to us, as if it had been performed by us in our own persons. And hence it is, that as in one place Christ is said to be made sin for us, 2 Cor. v. 21. so in another place he is said to be made our righteousness, 1 Cor. i. 30. And in the forecited place, 2 Cor. v. 21. as he is said to be made sin for us, so we are said to be made righteousness in him. But what righteousness ? Our own ? No, the righteousness of God, radically his, but imputatively ours: and this is the only way whereby we are said to be made the righteousness of God, even by the righteousness of Christ's being made ours, by which we are accounted and Teputed as righteous before God.
These things considered, I very much wonder how any man can presume to exclude the active obedience of Christ from our justification before God; as if what Christ did in the flesh was only of duty, not at all of merit ; or as if it was for himself, and not for us. Especially when I consider, that suffering the penalty is not what the law primarily requireth ; for the law of God requires perfect obedience, the penalty being only threatened to, not properly required of, the breakers of it. For, let a man suffer the penalty of the law in never so high 'a manner, he is not therefore accounted obedient to it; his punishment doth not speak his innocence, but rather his transgression of the law.
Hence it is, that I cannot look upon Christ as having made full satisfaction to God's justice for me, unless he had performed the obedience I owe to God's laws, as well as borne the punishment that is due to my sins : for, though he should have borne my sins, I cannot see how that could denominate me righteous or obedient to the law, so as to entitle me to eternal life, according to But now,
the tenor of the old law, Do this and live, Lev. xvii. 5. Which old covenant is not disannulled or abrogated by the covenant of grace, but rather established, Rom. iii. 31. especially as to the obedience it requires from us in order to the life it promiseth ; otherwise the laws of God would be mutable, and so come short of the laws of the very Medes and Persians, which altered not. Obedience therefore is as strictly required under the New, as it was under the Old Testament, but with this difference; there, obedience in our own persons was required as absolutely necessary; here, obedience in our Surety is accepted as completely sufficient.
if we have no such obedience in our Surety, (as we cannot have if he did not live as well as die for us) let any one tell me what title he hath, or can have, to eternal life ? I suppose he will tell me he hath none in himself, because he hath not performed perfect obedience to the law. And I tell him, he hath none in Christ, unless Christ performed that obedience for him, which none can say he did, that doth not believe his active as well as passive obedience to be wholly upon our account.
And now I speak of Christ's being our Surety, as the Apostle calls him, Heb. vii. 22. methinks this gives much light to the truth in hand : for what is a surety, but one that undertakes to pay whatsoever he, whose surety he is, is bound to pay, in case the debtor prove non-solvent, or unable to pay it himself? And thus is Christ, under the notion of a surety, bound to pay whatever we owe to God, because we ourselves are not able to pay it in our own persons.
Now there are two things that we owe to God, which this our Surety is bound to pay for us, viz. first and principally, obedience to his laws, as he is our Creator and Governor ; and, secondly, by consequence, the punishment that is annexed to the breach of these laws, of which we are guilty. Now, though Christ should pay the latter part of our debt for us, by bearing the punishment that is due unto us; yet, if he did not pay the