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tendency or inimical to personal holiness. In excluding works, as the ground or means of our justification before God, he was far from supposing that a believer is at liberty to dispense with them as useless, or that they can be separated from the faith by which Christ and his righteousness are received: and at once guards the doctrine from Antinomian abuses, and clears it from the foul charge of Antinomianism, by which it is reproached, by distinctly maintaining that the moral law remains the unchangeable rule of life and conversation to them that believe. On these accounts his Treatise is highly valuable, and deserving of a serious and close perusal.
In this abridgement the abridger has faithfully given the substance of the original, and in general in the words of Dr. Owen: and the reader may be fully assured that no argument or observation of importance is excluded. In the abridged criticisms, the benefit of the mere English reader has been consulted.
CH AP. VI,
on account whereof believers are justified bejore God.. 154
General considerations previously necessary to the ex
planation of the doctrine of Justification.
1 HAT the doctrine of Justification may be usefully discussed, with regard to its proper ends,-the glory of God in Christ, and the peace and obedience of believers-some things are previously to be considered. And among others, the following are not to be omitted.
The first inquiry is after the proper relief of the conscience of a sinner distressed with a sense of the guilt of sin. For Justification is the way and means by which such an one obtains acceptance with God with a right and title to a heavenly inberitance. The person under consideration therefore is one who in himself is “ ungodly"*" guilty before God”+ and obnoxious to his righteous judgment, which denounces that he who committeth sin is worthy of death; and being convinced of this and finding himself under the curse and wrath of God, ş is without plea or excuse,|| and shut up under sin.
With men in this state, the inquiry is, What that is upon the account whereof God will pardon and acquit them from all the guilt and curse of sin, receive them into his favor, declare them righteous, and give them right and title to life eternal. Nor do they inquire after any thing, but what will fully satisfy the Justice of God in the commands and curse of the law, and what they may safely trust to for acceptance with Him unto life and salvation.
This inquiry necessarily issues in this : Whether it be
* Rom. iv, 5. + Rom. iii. 19, Rom. i. 32. Gal. iii. 10. John iii.
18, 36. || Rom. iii. 19. 9 Gal, iii, 32,
any thing in ourselves, as our faith and repentance, the res novation of our natures-inherent babits of grace, and actual works of righterusness which we have done or may do; or whether it be something not inherently our own or wrought out by us, namely, the obedienre, righteousness and satisfaction of the Sun of God our Mediator and Surety of the New Covenant imputed to us. Which of these it is the dots and wisdom of a convinced sinner to rely upon in his appearance before God is the sum of our present inquiry.
It is alone the relief of those who are in themselves guilty before or obnoxious to the Judgment of God that we inquire after. That this neither is nor can be any thing in and of themselves : that it is a provision without them, made in infinite wisdom and grace, by the mediation of Christ, his obedience and death, is secured in the Scripture against all successful contradiction : and is the fundamental principle of the gospel, Matt. xi. 28.
It is confessed that many things for the declaration of the truth and order of grace in this matter, are necessarily to ho insisted on; such are the nature of justifying faith ; the place and use of it in justification; the causes of the New Covenant; the true notion of the mediation and suretiship of Christ, and the like, which shall alt of them be inquired into. But beyond what directly tends to inform and satisfy the souls of men who seek after a firm and abiding foundation of acceptance with God, we shall avoid as unnecessary and unprofitable.
Secondly, a due consideration 'of him with whom in this matter we have to do, is necessary to a right stating of our thoughts about it. The Scripture expresses it emphatically, that " it is God that justifieth.”* And be assumes it as his own prerogative to do what belongs thereto. “I even I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, aud will not remember thy sins.”* And it is difficult to suggest