« AnteriorContinuar »
fulfil the law in order to merit life for himself; but, to me. rit it for us, he was under obligation to keep the law. Though Christ, as a creature, was naturally subject to the law, yet he was not under it by a covenant and economical subjection, binding him to obtain life for himself, but that he should stand as a surety in the room of sinners; and this last arose from a voluntary agreement entered into between him and his father. In an economical sense, he owed nothing for himself, because he is the Son of God, and Lord of the law. As to his human nature, he was not thus bound either absolutely or partially. Not absolutely, for his human nature was an adjunct of his divine person,
which was not subject to the law. He could not be thus subject to the law, for his assumption of human nature was a part of his humiliation; hence, in relation to those duties which flow from his humiliation, his obligation to discharge them was a covenant obligation. He could not, in respect of his human nature, be subject to the law as procuring for himself life; because, as man he was not bound by the old covenant obligation to discharge those duties, which belonged to those whom Adam represented, and who were naturally descended from him. From all which I infer, that he was under no obligations to perform the duties of the law to acquire for himself a right to life; which right, of necessity results from the conuection of his human nature with the Logos, the second person of the Trinity. Hence also I infer, that Christ owed all his covenant obedience for us, and this in the character of a surety who represented us.
Though Christ obeyed God in our room we cannot thence infer, that we are no longer bound to obedience in our own persons. It is indeed fairly to be inferred, that we are not bound to obey for the same end, and by the same kind of subjection--to obtain life by the performance of duties, to which we are bound by covenant obligation. Yet we may be, and we are, in perfect consistency with the obedience of Christ for us, bound by a natural obligation to yield the same obedience to God, not that we may obtain life, but because we have obtained it not that we may acquire a right to the en
joyments of heaven, but that, having through Christ, obtained a title to them, we may be prepared for entering upon the enjoyment of them. Hence though Christ has died for us, we are still obnoxious to natural death, not, however, for a punishment, but for a deliverance from the evils of this life, and an introduction into heaven.
We must distinguish between a righteousness of innocence, which takes place, when one is accused of no fault, and a righteousness of perseverance, to which a reward is due for duties done. The pardon of sin produces the former kind of righteousness, by taking away every accusation OR account of sins committed; but it does not of necessity so produce the latter, that he who obtains it, must be forth with adjudged to have performed all duties. It is one thing to free a person from punishment which is due to the omission of duty; another to account him really righteous, with the righteousness of perseverance, to which life is promised, and to view him as having omitted no duty, and done no evil. The former of these is obtained in the day of pardon, but not the latter; which would be contrary to truth and the just judgment of God. Pardon does not remove sin, but prevents its imputation. He who is pardoned may commit sin, and he does commit sin; but in consequence of the pardon which he has obtained, it shall not be imputed to him for condemnation. Pardon takes away the guilt only, and consequently its punishment, but does not take away its pollution. Thus, to be viewed as having done no sin, and as having omitted no duty, can be understood in a twofold sense. 1. In relation to punishment that we can no more be punished than if we had in reality committed no sin, and omitted no duty; because we are freed from all that punishment, which is due to sin. 2. In relation to the obtaining of reward—that he who is esteemed to have performed all duty, and avoided all sin, shall be judged by God to have done all things which are necessary to life. In this latter sense, it is not true, that he whose sins are remitted, is to be esteemed free from all sin; for, as was remarked above, pardon "takes away punishment; but God is not, by the sentence of
pardon which he pronounces, bound to hold the sinner as free from all delinquency, as having fulfilled all his duty, and as a perfectly just person. This is not true in fact. The judge is not bound to esteem an accused person righteous, because, through supplication and confession, he has obtained pardon.
It cannot be said, that God demands a double payment of the same debt; because the law binds the sinner both to obedience and punishment, as is said above; and the actions and sufferings of Christ do not constitute a double payment; they, both together, constitute one payment--one unique righte ousness, by which deliverance from death, and a right to life have been acquired for us.
A perfect fulfilment of the law cannot be said to have been condensed into the voluntary death of Christ; for the law demands perfect obedience, as to all its several precepts, and this not in degree only, but in duration, from the beginning to the end of life; all which cannot be accomplished in one action.
So far is the whole of Christ's righteousness, which is im. puted to us, from being placed in his sufferings, and hence called active, that, strictly speaking, no righteousness is placed in suffering, but in doing only. No one can be called righteous, merely because he suffers, for misery is not virtue. Besides, sufferings yield no obedience to those commands of the law, to which life is promised; they only satisfy its sanctions, and cannot be called, per se, righteousness. If there is any righteousness in punishment, it belongs to the person who inflicts the punishment, and not to him who is punished.
Calvin, in many parts of his works, teaches the doctrine for which we contend. Take the following passages.* “When it is asked how by the removal of sin, Christ hath taken away the enmity between God and us; and brought in a righteousness, which hath made God our friend? It may be answered in general, that he has done this by the whole course of his obedience. This is proved by the testimony of
Inst. book ii. cap. 16. sec. 5.
Paul, as by the transgression of one, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one, many were made righteous?! Elsewhere, “ the ground of pardon—that which delivers us from the curse of the law, the same apostle extends to the whole of Christ's life. When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law. Even in his baptism, God declares, that Christ had fulfilled a part of this righteousness --that he had done his will. Finally, from the time that he took upon himself the form of a servant,' he began to pay the price of our redemption. Nevertheless, that the scripture may define more precisely, the manner in which salvation is procured, it ascribes peculiarly, the price of redemption to the death of Christ.” He afterwards adds, "yet the remaining part of his obedience which he performed during his life is not excluded; for the apostle comprehends the whole of his obedience from the beginning of his life to the end, when he says,
that he humbled himself, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was obedient to his Father unto death, even the death of the cross.' Indeed, his death occupies the first grade in his voluntary subjection; because, a sacrifice availed nothing, unless it was offered freely.” Elsewhere, he remarks,* that, “ accepting grace, is nothing else but his un. merited goodness, by which the Father embraces us in Christ, clothes us with his innocence, causing us to accept it, that on account of it, he may esteem us holy, pure and innocent. It behooves the righteousness of Christ, which alone is perfect, and will stand in the sight of God, to be presented for us, and as a righteousness offered by our surety, to be set to our account in the judgment. Ornamented by this, we, through faith, obtain perpetual remission of sin. By its immaculate purity, all our defilements are washed away: they are not laid to our account-before the splendour of Em. manuel's righteousness, our pollutions are banished, and flee away, never more to rise against us in judgment."
* Inst. book iii. cap. 14. sec. 12.
The Gallic Synods, by repeated acts, have given their most explicit testimony in favour of the same truth.* “ When man can find in himself, either before or after effectual calling, no righteousness, by which he can stand before the tribunal of God; he cannot be justified unless in our Lord Jesus Christ, who was obedient to God the Father, even from his entrance into the world, until his ignominious death on the cross. In his life, and at his death, he fulfilled the whole law given to man—the command to suffer and lay down his life, a price of redemption for many. By the perfect obedience of Christ, we are rendered righteous; for through the goodness of God it is imputed to us, and received by faith, which is the gift of God. We by the merit of the whole of this obedience, obtain remission of our sins, and are rendered worthy of eternal life.”
* Privatensis Synodius, anno 1612, and Joninensis, anno 1614.