(Owen, Justification. part 6)

expressions that fall from them in polemical writings, wherein, on
many occasions, they do affront their own experience, and contradict
their own prayers; yet, as to those who understand not that blessed
commutation of sins and righteousness, as to the substance of it,
which I have pleaded for, and the acting of our faith with respect
thereunto, I shall be bold to say, "that if the gospel be hid, it is
hid to them that perish."

Sixthly, Introduction of grace by Jesus Christ into the whole of our
relation unto God, and its respect unto all the parts of our
obedience--No mystery of grace in the covenant of works--All
religion originally commensurate unto reason--No notions of natural
light concerning the introduction of the mediation of Christ and
mystery of grace, into our relation to God, Eph.1:17-19--Reason, as
corrupted, can have no notions of religion but what are derived from
its primitive state--Hence the mysteries of the gospel esteemed
folly--Reason, as corrupted, repugnant unto the mystery of grace--
Accommodation of spiritual mysteries unto corrupt reason, wherefore
acceptable unto many--Reasons of it--Two parts of corrupted nature's
repugnancy unto the mystery of the gospel:--1. That which would
reduce it unto the private reason of men--Thence the Trinity denied,
and the incarnation of the Son of God; without which the doctrine of
justification cannot stand--Rule of the Socinians in the
interpretation of the Scripture--2. Want of a due comprehension of
the harmony that is between all the parts of the mystery of grace--
This harmony proved--Compared with the harmony in the works of
nature--To be studied--But it is learned only of them who are taught
of God; and in experience--Evil effects of the want of a due
comprehension hereof--Instances of them--All applied unto the
doctrine of justification

     Sixthly. We can never state our thoughts aright in this matter,
unless we have a clear apprehension of, and satisfaction in, the
introduction of grace by Jesus Christ into the whole of our relation
unto God, with its respect unto all parts of our obedience. There
was no such thing, nothing of that nature or kind, in the first
constitution of that relation and obedience by the law of our
creation. We were made in a state of immediate relation unto God in
our own persons, as our creator, preserver, and rewarder. There was
no mystery of grace in the covenant of works. No more was required
unto the consummation of that state but what was given us in our
creation, enabling us unto rewardable obedience. "Do this, and
live," was the sole rule of our relation unto God. There was nothing
in religion originally of that which the gospel celebrates under the
name of the grace, kindness, and love of God, whence all our
favourable relation unto God does now proceed, and whereinto it is
resolved; nothing of the interposition of a mediator with respect
unto our righteousness before God, and acceptance with him;--which
is at present the life and soul of religion, the substance of the
gospel, and the centre of all the truths revealed in it. The
introduction of these things is that which makes our religion a
mystery, yea, a "great mystery," if the apostle may be believed, 1
Tim.3:16. All religion at first was suited and commensurable unto
reason; but being now become a mystery, men for the most part are
very unwilling to receive it. But so it must be; and unless we are
restored unto our primitive rectitude, a religion suited unto the
principles of our reason (of which it has none but what answer that
first state) will not serve our turns.
     Wherefore, of this introduction of Christ and grace in him into
our relation unto God, there are no notions in the natural
conceptions of our minds; nor are they discoverable by reason in the
best and utmost of its exercise, 1 Cor.2:14. For before our
understanding were darkened, and our reason debased by the fall,
there were no such things revealed or proposed unto us; yea, the
supposition of them is inconsistent with, and contradictory unto,
that whole state and condition wherein we were to live to God,--
seeing they all suppose the entrance of sin. And it is not likely
that our reason, as now corrupted, should be willing to embrace that
which it knew nothing of in its best condition, and which was
inconsistent with that way of attaining happiness which was
absolutely suited unto it: for it has no faculty or power but what
it has derived from that state; and to suppose it is now of itself
suited and ready to embrace such heavenly mysteries of truth and
grace as it had no notions of, nor could have, in the state of
innocence, is to suppose that by the fall our eyes were opened to
know good and evil, in the sense that the serpent deceived our first
parents with an expectation of. Whereas, therefore, our reason was
given us for our only guide in the first constitution of our
natures, it is naturally unready to receive what is above it; and,
as corrupted, has an enmity thereunto.
     Hence, in the first open proposal of this mystery,--namely, of the
love and grace of God in Christ, of the introduction of a mediator
and his righteousness into our relation unto God, in that way which
God in infinite wisdom had designed,--the whole of it was looked on
as mere folly by the generality of the wise and rational men of the
world, as the apostle declares at large, 1 Cor.1; neither was the
faith of them ever really received in the world without an act of
the Holy Ghost upon the mind in its renovation. And those who judge
that there is nothing more needful to enable the mind of man to
receive the mysteries of the gospel in a due manner but the outward
proposal of the doctrine thereof, do not only deny the depravation
of our nature by the fall, but, by just consequence, wholly renounce
that grace whereby we are to be recovered. Wherefore, reason (as has
been elsewhere proved), acting on and by its own innate principles
and abilities, conveyed unto it from its original state, and as now
corrupted, is repugnant unto the whole introduction of grace by
Christ into our relation unto God, Rom.8:7. An endeavour, therefore,
to reduce the doctrine of the gospel, or what is declared therein
concerning the hidden mystery of the grace of God in Christ, unto
the principles and inclinations of the minds of men, or reason as it
remains in us after the entrance of sin,--under the power, at least,
of those notions and conceptions of things religious which it
retains from its first state and condition,--is to debase and
corrupt them (as we shall see in sundry instances), and so make way
for their rejection.
     Hence, very difficult it is to keep up doctrinally and practically
the minds of men unto the reality and spiritual height of this
mystery; for men naturally do neither understand it nor like it: and
therefore, every attempt to accommodate it unto the principles and
inbred notions of corrupt reason is very acceptable unto many, yea,
unto the most; for the things which such men speak and declare, are,
without more ado,--without any exercise of faith or prayer, without
any supernatural illumination,--easily intelligible, and exposed to
the common sense of mankind. But whereas a declaration of the
mysteries of the gospel can obtain no admission into the minds of
men but by the effectual working of the Spirit of God, Eph.1:17-19,
it is generally looked on as difficult, perplexed, unintelligible;
and even the minds of many, who find they cannot contradict it, are
yet not at all delighted with it. And here lies the advantage of all
them who, in these days, do attempt to corrupt the doctrine of the
gospel, in the whole or any part of it; for the accommodation of it
unto the common notions of corrupted reason is the whole of what
they design. And in the confidence of the suffrage hereof, they not
only oppose the things themselves, but despise the declaration of
them as enthusiastical canting. And by nothing do they more prevail
themselves than by a pretence of reducing all things to reason, and
contempt of what they oppose, as unintelligible fanaticism. But I am
not more satisfied in any thing of the most uncontrollable evidence,
than that the understandings of these men are no just measure or
standard of spiritual truth. Wherefore, notwithstanding all this
fierceness of scorn, with the pretended advantages which some think
they have made by traducing expressions in the writings of some men,
it may be improper, it maybe only not suited unto their own genius
and capacity in these things, we are not to be "ashamed of the
gospel of Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation to every
one that believeth".
     Of this repugnancy unto the mystery of the wisdom and grace of God
in Christ, and the foundation of its whole economy, in the distinct
operations of the persons of the holy Trinity therein, there are two
parts or branches:--
     1. That which would reduce the whole of it unto the private reason
of men, and their own weak, imperfect management thereof. This is
the entire design of the Socinians. Hence,--
     (1.) The doctrine of the Trinity itself is denied, impugned, yea,
derided by them; and that solely on this account. They plead that it
is incomprehensible by reason; for there is in that doctrine a
declaration of things absolutely infinite and eternal, which cannot
be exemplified in, nor accommodated unto, things finite and
temporal. This is the substance of all their pleas against the
doctrine of the holy Trinity, that which gives a seeming life and
sprightly vigour to their objections against it; wherein yet, under
the pretence of the use and exercise of reason, they fall, and
resolve all their seasonings into the most absurd and irrational
principles that ever the minds of men were besotted withal. For
unless you will grant them that what is above their reason, is,
therefore, contradictory unto true reason; that what is infinite and
eternal is perfectly comprehensible, and in all its concerns and
respects to be accounted for; that what cannot be in things finite
and of a separate existence, cannot be in things infinite, whose
being and existence can be but one; with other such irrational, yea,
brutish imaginations; all the arguments of these pretended men of
reason against the Trinity become like chaff that every breath of
wind will blow away. Hereon they must, as they do, deny the distinct
operations of any persons in the Godhead in the dispensation of the
mystery of grace; for if there are no such distinct persons, there
can be no such distinct operations. Now, as upon a denial of these
things no one article of faith can be rightly understood, nor any
one duty of obedience be performed unto God in an acceptable manner;
so, in particular, we grant that the doctrine of justification by
the imputation of the righteousness of Christ cannot stand.
     (2.) On the same ground the incarnation of the Son of God is
rejected as "atopoon atopootaton",--the most absurd conception that
ever befell the minds of men. Now it is to no purpose to dispute
with men so persuaded, about justification; yea, we will freely
acknowledge that all things we believe about it are "graoodeis
muthoi",--no better than old wives' tales,--if the incarnation of
the Son of God be so also. For I can as well understand how he who
is a mere man, however exalted, dignified, and glorified, can
exercise a spiritual rule in and over the hearts, consciences, and
thoughts of all the men in the world, being intimately knowing of
and present unto them all equally at all times (which is another of
their fopperies), as how the righteousness and obedience of one
should be esteemed the righteousness of all that believe, if that
one be no more than a man, if he be not acknowledged to be the Son
of God incarnate.
     Whilst the minds of men are prepossessed with such prejudices,
nay, unless they firmly assent unto the truth in these foundations
of it, it is impossible to convince them of the truth and necessity
of that justification of a sinner which is revealed in the gospel.
Allow the Lord Christ to be no other person but what they believe
him to be, and I will grant there can be no other way of
justification than what they declare; though I cannot believe that
ever any sinner will be justified thereby. These are the issues of
an obstinate refusal to give way unto the introduction of the
mystery of God and his grace into the way of salvation and our
relation unto him.
     And he who would desire an instance of the fertility of men's
inventions in forging and coining objections against heavenly
mysteries, in the justification of the sovereignty of their own
reason, as unto what belongs to our relation unto God, need go no
farther than the writings of these men against the Trinity and
incarnation of the eternal Word. For this is their fundamental rule,
in things divine and doctrines of religion,--That not what the
Scripture says is therefore to be accounted true, although it seems
repugnant unto any reasonings of ours, or is above what we can
comprehend; but what seems repugnant unto our reason, let the words
of the Scripture be what they will, that we must conclude that the
Scripture does not say so, though it seem never so expressly so to
do. "Itaque non quia utrumque Scripture dicat, propterea haec inter
se non pugnare concludendum est; sed potius quia haec inter se
pugnant, ideo alterutrum a Scriptura non dici statuendum est", says
Schlichting ad Meisn. Def. Socin. p.102;--"Wherefore, because the
Scripture affirms both these" (that is the efficacy of God's grace
and the freedom of our wills), "we cannot conclude from thence that
they are not repugnant; but because these things are repugnant unto
one another, we must determine that one of them is not spoken in the
Scripture:"--no, it seems, let it say what it will. This is the
handsomest way they can take in advancing their own reason above the
Scripture; which yet savours of intolerable presumption. So Socinus
himself, speaking of the satisfaction of Christ, says, in plain
terms: "Ego quidem etiamsi non semel sed saepius id in sacris
monumentis scriptum extaret, non idcirco tamen ita prorsus rem se
habere crederem, ut vos opinamini; cum enim id omnino fieri non
possit non secus atque in multis llis Scripturae Testimoniis, una
cum caeteris omnibus facio; aliqua, quae minus incommoda videretur,
interpretatione adhibita, eum sensum ex ejusmodi verbis elicerem qui
sibi constaret;"--"For my part, if this (doctrine) were extant and
written in the holy Scripture, not once, but often, yet would I not
therefore believe it to be so as you do; for where it can by no
means be so (whatever the Scripture says), I would, as I do with
others in other places, make use of some less incommodious
interpretation, whereby I would draw a sense out of the words that
should be consistent with itself." And how he would do this he
declares a little before: "Sacra verba in alium sensum, quam verba
sonant, per inusitatos etiam tropos quandoque explicantur". He would
explain the words into another sense than what they sound or
propose, by unusual tropes. And, indeed, such uncouth tropes does he
apply, as so many engines and machines, to pervert all the divine
testimonies concerning our redemption, reconciliation, and
justification by the blood of Christ.
     Having therefore fixed this as their rule, constantly to prefer
their own reason above the express words of the Scripture, which
must, therefore, by one means or other, be so perverted or wrested
as to be made compliant therewith, it is endless to trace them in
their multiplied objections against the holy mysteries, all resolved
into this one principle, that their reason cannot comprehend them,
nor does approve of them. And if any man would have an especial
instance of the serpentine wits of men winding themselves from under
the power of conviction by the spiritual light of truth, or at least
endeavouring so to do, let him read the comments of the Jewish
rabbins on Isaiah, chap.53, and of the Socinians on the beginning of
the Gospel of John.
     2. The second branch of this repugnancy springs from the want of a
due comprehension of that harmony which is in the mystery of grace,
and between all the parts of it. This comprehension is the principal
effect of that wisdom which believers are taught by the Holy Ghost.
For our understanding of the wisdom of God in a mystery is neither
an art nor a science, whether purely speculative or more practical,
but a spiritual wisdom. And this spiritual wisdom is such as
understands and apprehends things, not so much, or not only in the
notion of them, as in their power, reality, and efficacy, towards
their proper ends. And, therefore, although it may be very few,
unless they be learned, judicious, and diligent in the use of means
of all sorts, do attain unto it clearly and distinctly in the
doctrinal notions of it; yet are all true believers, yea, the
meanest of them, directed and enabled by the Holy Spirit, as unto
their own practice and duty, to act suitably unto a comprehension of
this harmony, according to the promise that "they shall be all
taught of God." Hence, those things which appear unto others
contradictory and inconsistent one with another, so as that they are
forced to offer violence unto the Scripture and their own experience
in the rejection of the one or the other of them, are reconciled in
their minds and made mutually useful or helpful unto one another, in
the whole course of their obedience. But these things must be
farther spoken unto.
     Such an harmony as that intended there is in the whole mystery of
God. For it is the most curious effect and product of divine wisdom;
and it is no impeachment of the truth of it, that it is not
discernible by human reason. A full comprehension of it no creature
can in this world arise unto. Only, in the contemplation of faith,
we may arrive unto such an understanding admiration of it as shall
enable us to give glory unto God, and to make use of all the parts
of it in practice as we have occasion. Concerning it the holy man
mentioned before cried out, "O anexichniastou demiourgias"--"O
unsearchable contrivance and operations". And so is it expressed by
the apostle, as that which has an unfathomable depth of wisdom in
it, "O bathos ploutou", etc.--"O the depth of the riches both of the
wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and
his ways past finding Rom.11:33-36. See to the same purpose,
     There is a harmony, a suitableness of one thing unto another, in
all the works of creation. Yet we see that it is not perfectly nor
absolutely discoverable unto the wisest and most diligent of men.
How far are they from an agreement about the order and motions of
the heavenly bodies, of the sympathies and qualities of sundry
things here below, in the relation of causality and efficiency
between one thing and another! The new discoveries made concerning
any of them, do only evidence how far men are from a just and
perfect comprehension of them. Yet such a universal harmony there is
in all the parts of nature and its operations, that nothing in its
proper station and operation is destructively contradictory either
to the whole or any part of it, but every thing contributes unto the
preservation and use of the universe. But although this harmony be
not absolutely comprehensible by any, yet do all living creatures,
who follow the conduct or instinct of nature, make use of it, and
live upon it; and without it neither their being could be preserved,
nor their operations continued.
     But in the mystery of God and his grace, the harmony and
suitableness of one thing unto another, with their tendency unto the
same end, is incomparably more excellent and glorious than that
which is seen in nature or the works of it. For whereas God made all
things at first in wisdom, yet is the new creation of all things by
Jesus Christ ascribed peculiarly unto the riches, stores, and
treasures of that infinite wisdom. Neither can any discern it unless
they are taught of God; for it is only spiritually discerned. But
yet is it by the most despised. Some seem to think that there is no
great wisdom in it; and some, that no great wisdom is required unto
the comprehension of it: few think it worth the while to spend half
that time in prayer, in meditation, in the exercise of self-denial,
mortification, and holy obedience, doing the will of Christ, that
they may know of his word, to the attaining of a due comprehension
of the mystery of godliness, as some do in diligence, study, and
trial of experiments, who design to excel in natural or mathematical
sciences. Wherefore there are three things evident herein:--
     1. That such an harmony there is in all the parts of the mystery
of God, wherein all the blessed properties of the divine nature are
glorified, our duty in all instances is directed and engaged, our
salvation in the way of obedience secured, and Christ, as the end of
all, exalted. Wherefore, we are not only to consider and know the
several parts of the doctrine of spiritual truths but their
relation, also, one unto another, their consistency one with another
in practice, and their mutual furtherance of one another unto their
common end. And a disorder in our apprehensions about any part of
that whose beauty and use arises from its harmony, gives some
confusion of mind with respect unto the whole.
     2. That unto a comprehension of this harmony in a due measure, it
is necessary that we be taught of God; without which we can never be
wise in the knowledge of the mystery of his grace. And herein ought
we to place the principal part of our diligence, in our inquiries
into the truths of the gospel.
     3. All those who are taught of God to know his will, unless it be
when their minds are disordered by prejudices, false opinions, or
temptations, have an experience in themselves and their own
practical obedience, of the consistency of all parts of the mystery
of God's grace and truth in Christ among themselves,--of their
spiritual harmony and cogent tendency unto the sane end. The
introduction of the grace of Christ into our relation unto God,
makes no confusion or disorder in their minds, by the conflict of
the principles of natural reason, with respect unto our first
relation unto God, and those of grace, with respect unto that
whereunto we are renewed.
     From the want of a due comprehension of this divine harmony it is,
that the minds of men are filled with imaginations of an
inconsistency between the most important parts of the mystery of the
gospel, from whence the confusions that are at this day in Christian
religion do proceed.
     Thus the Socinians can see no consistency between the grace or
love of God and the satisfaction of Christ, but imagine if the one
of them be admitted, the other must be excluded out of our religion.
Wherefore they principally oppose the latter, under a pretence of
asserting and vindicating the former. And where these things are
expressly conjoined in the same proposition of faith,--as where it
is said that "we are justified freely by the grace of God, through
the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God has set forth to be
a propitiation through faith in his blood," Rom.3:24,25,--they will
offer violence unto common sense and reason, rather than not disturb
that harmony which they cannot understand. For although it be
plainly affirmed to be a redemption by his blood, as he is a
propitiation, as his blood was a ransom or price of redemption, yet
they will contend that it is only metaphorical,--a mere deliverance
by power, like that of the Israelites by Moses. But these things are
clearly stated in the gospel; and therefore not only consistent, but
such as that the one cannot subsist without the other. Nor is there
any mention of any especial love or grace of God unto sinners, but
with respect unto the satisfaction of Christ as the means of the
communication of all its effects unto them. See John 3:16;
Rom.3:23-25; 8:30-33; 2 Cor.5:19-21; Eph.1:7; etc.
     In like manner, they can see no consistency between the
satisfaction of Christ and the necessity of holiness or obedience in
them that do believe. Hence they continually glamour, that, by our
doctrine of the mediation of Christ, we overthrow all obligations
unto a holy life. And by their sophistical reasonings unto this
purpose, they prevail with many to embrace their delusion, who have
not a spiritual experience to confront their sophistry withal. But
as the testimony of the Scripture lies expressly against them, so
those who truly believe, and have real experience of the influence
of that truth into the life of God, and how impossible it is to
yield any acceptable obedience herein without respect thereunto, are
secured from their snares.
     These and the like imaginations arise from the unwillingness of
men to admit of the introduction of the mystery of grace into our
relation unto God. For suppose us to stand before God on the old
constitution of the covenant of creation, which alone natural reason
likes and is comprehensive of, and we do acknowledge these things to
be inconsistent. But the mystery of the wisdom and grace of God in
Christ cannot stand without them both.
     So, likewise, God's efficacious grace in the conversion of
sinners, and the exercise of the faculties of their minds in a way
of duty, are asserted as contradictory and inconsistent. And
although they seem both to be positively and frequently declared in
the Scripture, yet, say these men, their consistency being repugnant
to their reason, let the Scripture say what it will, yet is it to be
said by us that the Scripture does not assert one of them. And this
is from the same cause; men cannot, in their wisdom, see it possible
that the mystery of God's grace should be introduced into our
relation and obedience unto God. Hence have many ages of the church,
especially the last of them, been filled with endless disputes, in
opposition to the grace of God, or to accommodate the conceptions of
it unto the interests of corrupted reason.
     But there is no instance more pregnant unto this purpose than that
under our present consideration. Free justification, through the
imputation of the righteousness of Christ, is cried out against, as
inconsistent with a necessity of personal holiness and obedience:
and because the Socinians insist principally on this pretence, it
shall be fully and diligently considered apart; and that holiness
which, without it, they and others deriving from them do pretend
unto, shall be tried by the unerring rule.
     Wherefore I desire it may be observed, that in pleading for this
doctrine, we do it as a principal part of the introduction of grace
into our whole relation unto God. Hence we grant,--
     1. That it is unsuited, yea foolish, and, as some speak, childish,
unto the principles of unenlightened and unsanctified reason or
understandings of men. And this we conceive to be the principal
cause of all the oppositions that are made unto it, and all the
deprivations of it that the church is pestered withal. Hence are the
wits of men so fertile in sophistical cavils against it, so ready to
load it with seeming absurdities, and I know not what unsuitableness
unto their wondrous rational conceptions. And no objection can be
made against it, be it never so trivial, but it is highly applauded
by those who look on that introduction of the mystery of grace,
which is above their natural conceptions, as unintelligible folly.
     2. That the necessary relation of these things, one unto the
other,--namely, of justification by the imputation of the
righteousness of Christ, and the necessity of our personal
obedience,--will not be clearly understood, nor duly improved, but
by and in the exercise of the wisdom of faith. This we grant also;
and let who will make what advantage they can of this concession.
True faith has that spiritual light in it, or accompanying of it, as
that it is able to receive it, and to conduct the soul unto
obedience by it. Wherefore, reserving the particular consideration
hereof unto its proper place, I say, in general,--
     (1.) That this relation is evident unto that spiritual wisdom
whereby we are enabled, doctrinally and practically, to comprehend
the harmony of the mystery of God, and the consistency of all the
parts of it, one with another.
     (2.) That it is made evident by the Scripture, wherein both these
things--justification through the imputation of the righteousness of
Christ, and the necessity of our personal obedience--are plainly
asserted and declared. And we defy that rule of the Socinians, that
seeing these things are inconsistent in their apprehension or unto
their reason, therefore we must say that one of them is not taught
in the Scripture: for whatever it may appear unto their reason, it
does not so to ours; and we have at least as good reason to trust
unto our own reason as unto theirs. Yet we absolutely acquiesce in
neither, but in the authority of God in the Scripture; rejoicing
only in this, that we can set our seal unto his revelations by our
own experience. For,--
     (3.) It is fully evident in the gracious conduct which the minds
of them that believe are under, even that of the Spirit of truth and
grace, and the inclinations of that new principle of the divine life
whereby they are acted; for although, from the remainders of sin and
darkness that are in them, temptations may arise unto a continuation
in sin because grace has abounded, yet are their minds so formed and
framed by the doctrine of this grace, and the grace of this
doctrine, that the abounding of grace herein is the principal motive
unto their abounding in holiness, as we shall see afterward.
     And this we aver to be the spring of all those objections which
the adversaries of this doctrine do continually endeavour to
entangle it withal. As,--1. If the passive righteousness (as it is
commonly called), that is, his death and suffering, be imputed unto
us, there is no need, nor can it be, that his active righteousness,
or the obedience of his life, should be imputed unto us; and so on
the contrary: for both together are inconsistent. 2. That if all sin
be pardoned, there is no need of the righteousness; and so on the
contrary, if the righteousness of Christ be imputed unto us, there
is no room for, or need of, the pardon of sin. 3. If we believe the
pardon of our sins, then are our sins pardoned before we believe, or
we are bound to believe that which is not so. 4. If the
righteousness of Christ be imputed unto us, then are we esteemed to
have done and suffered what, indeed, we never did nor suffered; and
it is true, that if we are esteemed our selves to have done it,
imputation is overthrown. 5. If Christ's righteousness be imputed
unto us, then are we as righteous as was Christ himself. 6. If our
sins were imputed unto Christ, then was he thought to have sinned,
and was a sinner subjectively. 7. If good works be excluded from any
interest in our justification before God, then are they of no use
unto our salvation. 8. That it is ridiculous to think that where
there is no sin , there is not all the righteousness that can be
required. 9. That righteousness imputed is only a putative or
imaginary righteousness, etc.
     Now, although all these and the like objections, however subtilely
managed (as Socinus boasts that he had used more than ordinary
subtlety in this cause,--"In quo, si subtilius aliquanto quam opus
esse videretur, quaedam a nobis disputate sunt", De Servat., par.4,
cap.4.), are capable of plain and clear solutions, and we shall
avoid the examination of none of them; yet at present I shall only
say, that all the shades which they cast on the minds of men do
vanish and disappear before the light of express Scripture
testimonies, and the experience of them that do believe, where there
is a due comprehension of the mystery of grace in any tolerable

Seventhly, General prejudices against the imputation of the

righteousness of Christ: --1. That it is not in terms found in the
Scripture, answered--2. That nothing is said of it in the writings
of the evangelists, answered, John 20:30,31--Nature of Christ's
personal ministry--Revelations by the Holy Spirit immediately from
Christ--Design of the writings of the evangelists--3. Differences
among Protestants themselves about this doctrine, answered--Sense of
the ancients herein--What is of real difference among Protestants,

     Seventhly. There are some common prejudices, that are usually
pleaded against the doctrine of the imputation of the righteousness
of Christ; which, because they will not orderly fall under a
particular consideration in our progress, may be briefly examined in
these general previous considerations:--
     1. It is usually urged against it, that this imputation of the
righteousness of Christ is nowhere mentioned expressly in the
Scripture. This is the first objection of Bellarmine against it.
"Hactenus", says he, "nullum omnino locum invenire putuerunt, ubi
legeretur Christi justitiam nobis imputari ad justitiam; vel nos
justos esse per Christi justitiam nobis imputatam", De Justificat.,
lib.2 cap.7;--an objection, doubtless, unreasonably and immodestly
urged by men of this persuasion; for not only do they make
profession of their whole faith, or their belief of all things in
matters of religion, in terms and expressions nowhere used in the
Scripture, but believe many things also, as they say, with faith
divine, not at all revealed or contained in the Scripture, but
drained by them out of the traditions of the church. I do not,
therefore, understand how such persons can modestly manage this as
an objection against any doctrine, that the terms wherein some do
express it are not "rhetoos",--found in the Scripture just in that
order of one word after another as by them they are used; for this
rule may be much enlarged, and yet be kept strait enough to exclude
the principal concerns of their church out of the confines of
Christianity. Nor can I apprehend much more equity in others, who
reflect with severity on this expression of the imputation of the
righteousness of Christ as unscriptural, as if those who make use

(continued in part 7...)

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