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of receiving Christ, but the benefit received by faith, that is the believer’s righteoufnefs. But ‘ you cannot underitand how faith’s being im* puted to us for righteoufnefs, can intend that Christ’s * righteoufnefs is imputed to us.”. Well then, let it be even fupposed, that faith is here taken fubjećtively; and that it was Abraham’s faith itself, confidered as an aćt of his own, that was imputed to him. It may notwithítanding be fet in fuch a view, as will fecure the truth of the doćtrine I am pleading for, if the text be confidered, as it is in the original. His faith was imputed U N70 righteousneß, that is, as he was reckoned, judged or efteemed of God to be a found believer, fo the faith which was imputed or reckoned to him, was unto righteoufness; was instrumental to his attaining of righteoufnefs ; was the means, that by the righteoufne/s of one the free gift came upon him, unto justification of life; or, in other words, was the means of his intereft in that righteoufnefs of Christ, by which he was justified. In this fenfe, the imputation refpeċts his faith: and intends an approbation and acknowledgement of it as true and fincere, and effećtual to its proper purpofes. He was approved of God, as having a true and found faith, a faith effećtual, as an applying means, unto righteoufnefs, and thereby unto justification: a faith, which interefied him in Christ and his righteoufnefs, and thereby entitled him unto acceptance with God, and eternal life. He was judged to be fuch a believer as to have a right, according to the terms of the covenant of grace, to have righteou/ne/s imputed to him, without works, as it is exprefied in ver, 6th. According to this view of the cafe, imputation is confidered in this context in both the fenfes, before explained. Abraham was reckoned or efteemed a true believer: in confequence whereof, a juftifying righteoufnefs was imputed to him, even the rightecu/ne/s of God without the law. I think, I have before fufficiently proved to you, that we are justified by the righteoufness of Christ received by faith, and cannot be justified by any perfonal inherent righteoufness of our own. This has been illutirated from the nature of things, and confirmed by full and plain fcripture testimony: and this upon an impartial fearch
and enquiry, I think, would appear to you to be the whole fcope and defign of the gospel of Chrift. I have now removed your great difficulty out of the way, and fhewn you how this doĉtrine fo plainly taught every where elfe, may be true in a full confiftency with thofe texts, which in your apprehenfion feemed to make against it. I would now propofe one method more, to confirm you in the important truth under confideration : and that, if duly attended to, cannot fail. Allow me, Sir, the freedom to advise you, that you place yourself in the prefence of the infinitely great and glorious God, and give yourself to meditation, on fuch fubjećts particularly, as may tend to enlighten and eftablish you in the prefent truth. With this view folemnly contemplate God’s infinite justice, his infinite purity - and holiness, his infinite abhorrence of fin and finners, efpecially as to be feen in the glafs of Christ’s fufferings: alfo contemplate your own ftate and moral charaćter, both by nature and praćtice. Contemplate the finful defects of the beft works of righteoufness that ever you have done, the pollutions mingled with the best duties that ever you performed. Contemplate the unbelief, which accompanied the highest aĉtings of faith you were capable of; the formality and hypocrify, which has mixed with your devouteft prayers; the defultory thoughts and dead frames, which have accompanied you to the most facred ordinances of God’s houfe ; the frequent violations of the most folemn refolutions and covenant obligations by which you have bound your foul to the Lord. And in a word, contemplate the greatnefs of your fins, their vaft number and dreadful aggravations; , with the nothingnefs of your best performances and higheft attainments in religion ; how much you have done against God, and how little for him. And then confider, what plea you have to make before this infinitely great, this absolutely just, this perfectly pure and holy God, for justification in his fight, and acceptance with him. Will you plead your aĉting of faith in him and his promifes ? Alas, how will your prevailing unbelief, fly, in your face, and put you to filence I will you Plead your personal obedience, and works of righte- , Q 3 . - - - v oufnefs, that you have done ? Alas, how will a vaft degree of fin and unrighteoufnefs cover and confound you! Will you plead your fincerity before God ? But what will you do with that prevalent formality and hypocriíy, which your own confcience will accufe and convince you of ! Will not you be forced at latt to cry out with David. If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquity, O Lord, who fball fiand ! and with Job, Behald, I am vile ) IWhat fball I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I/þoken : but I will not anfwer; yen twice, but I will proceed no further. Will not you then fee your necessity of a more perfećt righteoufnefs, to plead before God, than any perfonal inherent righteoufnefs of your own, to cover your dreadful finfulnefs and infinite defećłs; and to render you acceptable to God, notwithstanding all the challenges, which the justice, the helinefs, and the law of God, together with your own confcience, have against you ? Surely on due reflection, you muft fee yourself in perishing neceflity of Christ, ånd his righteoufnefs, to recommend you to the divine favour. of his having brought in everla/fing righteoufne/; ; of his being the end of the law for righteoufne/s, unto every one that believeth ; and of his being of Godmade unto us wifdom, and righteoufne/i, and fanĉlification, andredemption ; with many other like representations of his procuring a justifying righteoufnefs for us. But of his purchafing this new law of grace, not one word is to be found in the fcriptures. May we not juftly fuppofe, that if this fcheme were right, we should have it plainly represented to usin the oracles of God; and not be left to grope in the dark, and to find out by far-fetcht consequences, what is the foundation of our praćtice and hope ? How vaft is the difference, between the one and the other fide of this question ! On the one fide, we have (or at leaft we think we have) very numerous, plain, exprefs fcripture authorities, for our justification by the righteoufnefs of Chrift. On the other fide, there is a deep filence throughout the whole word of God, about any purchafe of a new law, fuch a law of favourable terms; and about thofe new conditions of our justification, those eafier terms of our faith and fincere obedience. This fcheme therefore may be prefumed to be at leaft but of human invention. I would further enquire, whether in the nature of things there can be any justification at all, upon fuch conditions as you fpeak of ? I have shewn you, that justification is always to be understood of our being efteemed, declared, manifested, or pronounced righteousNow then, if our evangelical obedience be imperfećt, we are still unrighteous, by our remaining fin and difobedience against this (imaginary) new law of grace; and confequently God cannot judge and declare us righteous by virtue of our obedience. For his judgment is according to truth, as I obferved to you in my last letter. Certain it is, that no man upon earth is or can be perfećtly fincere, perfećtly believing, or perfećtly obedient to the gospel. His defećts will be greater than his attainments, and his diiobedience will be greater than his obedience, under his highest improvements, as long as he lives. He knows nothing of himself, that does not know this to be faćt. He muft therefore ever be more unrighteous, than righteous, as longas he lives:
Dear Sir, I intreat you to confider in feafon, what you must confider first or laft: and let you and I be now folemnly caretul to lay our foundation fure, that we may meet with comfort at the great trial, and receive the Euge of our Judge, in that awful and great day: which is the prayer of, - .
I. ET TER XIII. Wherein it is considered, whether we are JusTIFIED by faith and obedience to the Gospel, as a NEW LAW of GRACE.
S 1 R, C AN with greater encouragement ufe my endeaJ vours to remove your difficulties; and to fatisfy your Jefires, fince * you do not throw dificulties either ili « your own way or in mine, out of any conceived preju« áice, or from oftentation or wrangling disposition : · but from a fincere defire of building your hope upon