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Necessity, that the Dishonour done to God by our Sins be repaired, and the penal Demands of his broken Law be sulfilled; that our Guilt may be removed from us, and God be just, in justifying the Ungodly. How else would the Judge os all the Earth do right, in declaring the Sinner righteous, while he remains under the Pollution and Guilt, both of original and actual Sin ? As sar then a', our Obedience, considered in itself, can answer those Ends, so sar it may conduce to our Justification before God, and no sarther.—If we can answer the Demands of the Justice and Law of God for our past Sins; if we can pay ten thousand Talents with less than nothing ; and if by committing netr Sin (as we always do in the best of our impersect Obedience') we can satisfy for our former Sin and Guilt, and so discharge the old Score; then may our Obedience be considered as the Condition of our Justification beforeGod.—Whereas, if neither our legal nor our evangelical Obedience can do any Thing at all toward this; but (as coming from a sinful Nature, and mixed with sinsul Impersection) will add to the Debt, and increase the Weight of our Guilt, then it is certain, that that cannot be the Matter of a Sinner's Justification, nor the Condition of our Acceptance with God.—Whence we may conclude with the Apostle, that Christ Jesut is set forth to be a Propitiation, thro' Faith in hit Blood, that hit Righteousness may be declared, sot the Remifion of our Sins, in order that God may be just, and the Justifier of him 'whicb believeth in Jesus. Rom. iii. 2 26.
Here can therefore be no Room at all for that Pretence, that the Obedience of Christ has purchased for us a dispensing Act of Grace; that our sincere Obedience fhast on this Account be accepted, instead of the persect Obedience demanded by the Law of Nature; and that we arc accordingly j ustified by our evangelical Obedience, our Faith and Repentance, . and our sincere Kndeavours ast- r a Conformity to the Will of God: For by whatever Price these Terms of our Justification be procured for us, that Obedience, immediately by which (according to that Notion) we are justified, is our vmn Righteousness; and therefore cannot intitle us to zny Justification before God, mentioned in Scripture. Not to that respected by the Law; for that is only propofed on Condition of perse flObedience, l^ot to that respected by the Go!f el; for that is the Justification of the Ungodly, by a not imputing their iniquity, but imputing to them Righteousness without Works. (Rom. iv.) Whereas, according to this Imagination, it must be by a Vindication of our own Sincerity, and in virtue of our own evangelical Righteousness, which must therefore be proportioned to the Demands of Justice, or leave us ofen to the Curses of the Law.-—How much saser therefore would it be (with the Apostle) to disclaim *1l our own Righteousness, that we may be vested with that Righteousness -which it through the Faith tf Christ, the Righteousness which is of God by Faith! fail. in. o.
Besides, how can our sincere Obedience justify Us, when we can have no gracious Sincerity, and therefore no true Obedience, until the Moment ia *hkh we are actUally justified?—I think all must that he who is united to Christ by Faith, is at the same time justified in the Sight of God: For *e are accepted in the Beloved: There is no Condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.—And K is most certain, that we can have no gracious Werity, before we are united to Christ by Faith Unseigned. As the Branch cannot bear Fruit of itself, except it abide in the Vine; no more can ye, except J* abide in me. He that abideth in me, and I 'in him, bringeth forth much Fruit: For without me ye can do nothing. Joh. xiv. 4, From whence it is evident, that no Man can excercise gracious Sincerity in performing any good Works, until he be in-a justisied State; and consequently sincere Obedience, either to the Law or Gofpel, cannot be the Condition of our Justisication before God.-—The sirst Excercise of saving Faith unites us to Christ; and is the immediate Foundation both of our Justisication and of our sincere Obedience.— I here is not a Moment of Time passes between the sirst Act of true Faith and our Justisication; and consequently not a Moment of Time for the Practice of sincere Obedience, before we are united to Christ, and thereby justisied in the Sight of God. Now it is impossible, that our sincere Obedience should be both the Condition and the Conlequence os our Justisication.
I might add to this, that if the Scriptures ascribe all the spiritual Benefits we are Partakers of, either in this World, or that to come, to the Righteousnefs of Christ only, then our Obedience, either to the Law or Gofpel, can have no Hand in our Justification before God. If all saving Mercy flow to us from that Fountain only, there can none flow to us from any other. And it appears plainly the whole Design and Tenour of the Gofpel, to illustrate this blessed Truth to us. Though I cannot now enlarge uj-on this Head, I will just mention a sew Instances to exemplify it.—It is from Christ's Righteousness alone that we receive the complete Forgiveness of our Sins. Rom. iv. 6, 7, 8. Even as David alfa defcribeth the Blessednefs of the Man, unto whom Cod imputeth Righteoufnefs Without Works, faying, B le fed are they whose Iniquities are forgiven, tsihofe Sins are covered. Blessed is the Man to whom tie Lord 'wili not imj>uteSin..~-By this alone we are
made mie righteous. Rom. v. 19. By the Obedience os one shall many be made righteous.—By this alone we are acquitted from Guilt, and freed from Condemnation. Rom. viii. r. 'There is theresore new no Condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.— By this we are reconciled to God. 2 Cor. v. 18. For all Things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ.—this we have Peace with God, Access into his glorious Presence, and joyful Hopes of eternal Glory. Rom.v. I, 2. Therefore being justified by Faith, we have Peace u:ith God, through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also •» have Access into this Grace wherein 'we JIand, "id rejoice in hope of the Glory cfGod.—By this we are Heirs of eternal Lise. Rom. v. 31. That as Sin hath reigned unto Death, even so might Grace reign through Righteousness, unto eternal Lifo, by Jesus Chris cur Lord.—The blessed Hope we are looking for, is therefore called the Hope of Righteousness. Gal. v. ;.
I will only add, that if the Scriptures do expressly exclude all our own Righteousness, and all our own Works, from any Hand in our Justification, we »Ho(hould renounce them all, and depend upon the Righteousness of Christ only: For this see Tit. iii. 5. Not by Works of Righteousness uihich 'we have done, hut according to his Mercy he saved us. Rom. 1v. 5- To him that 'worketh not, but believeth on him that jujiifieth the Ungodly, his Faith is counted for Righteousness. These Things are so plainly and evidently the Scope and Design of the whole New Testament, that all the artsul Evasions of thofe, "ho would go about to eftablists their oivn Righle^n,si> and rob Christ of the Honour of their Justification and Salvation, mould be rejected with Aos'Orrence.-—In fine, let me intreat you, Sir. always to remember, that both the La'w and the Prophets witnefs the Righteoufnefs of God, which i« by Faith of Jefus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe. Rom. iii. 21, 22. That Christ it the End of the Laiv for Righteoufnefs, to every one that lelieveth. Rom. x. 4—And that being justified by his Blood, we shall be saved from Wrath through him. Rom. v. 9.
You'll pardon me, that I have so long delayed your Expectations.—I thought it necessary, not only to clear the Way before me, that you may see in what Sense.I oppofe the AntinomianDreams and Moravian Dotages; but also to offer some Precautions, that you may not sail upon Scylla, while you avoid Charyhdis, but fleer your Way sase between the two Extremes.
By all that I have now said you may perceive, that the Question between us and the Moravians or Antincmians is not—whether Believers may have, and should seek to have a comfortable Perfuafon of their Interest in Christ ? To doubt of this, would be at once to contradict the strongest Attestations thereto in the Word of God, and the huppy Experience of his Children.—Nor is it the Question, whether we are justified by any Attainments of our own? To suppofe this, were to counteract the whole Design of the Gosoel, an^l to bring the greatest Contempt upon the Redeemer's Merits and Righteousness.—But the Question is, whether a true saving Faith consists in a Perfuasion of our personal actual Interest in Christ, and that he will bestow his eternal Salvation upon us in particular? Whether there may not be a strong Perfuasion of a justisied State, without any true saving Faith, and a true saving Faith without this particular Perfuafon
of a justisied State? If this be so; if Men
may have this Perfuafon, while in a State of Guilt and Condemnation; and if God's own dear Children may be in Doubts and Darkness with re