(Owen, Justification. part 24)

others against the whole of it. And although we should grant that
the obedience of Christ unto the law is not imputed unto us unto our
justification, yet shall we not be freed from disturbance by this
false accusation, unless we will renounce the whole of the
satisfaction and merit of Christ also; and we intend not to purchase
our peace with the whole world at so dear a rate. Wherefore, I shall
in its proper place give this part of the charge its due
consideration, as it reflects on the whole doctrine of
justification, and all the causes thereof, which we believe and
     I. The first part of this charge, concerning the impossibility of
the imputation of the obedience of Christ unto us, is insisted on by
Socinus de Servat., part 3 cap. 5. And there has been nothing since
pleaded unto the same purpose but what has been derived from him, or
wherein, at least, he has not prevented the inventions of other men,
and gone before them. And he makes this consideration the principal
engine wherewith he endeavours the overthrow of the whole doctrine
of the merit of Christ; for he supposes that if all he did in a way
of obedience was due from himself on his own account, and was only
the duty which he owed unto God for himself in his station and
circumstances, as a man in this world, it cannot be meritorious for
us, nor any way imputed unto us. And in like manner, to weaken the
doctrine of his satisfaction, and the imputation thereof unto us, he
contends that Christ offered as a priest for himself, in that kind
of offering which he made on the cross, part 2 cap. 22. And his real
opinion was, that whatever was of offering or sacrifice in the death
of Christ, it was for himself; that is, it was an act of obedience
unto God, which pleased him, as the savour of a sweet-smelling
sacrifice. His offering for us is only the presentation of himself
in the presence of God in heaven; now he has no more to do for
himself in a way of duty. And the truth is, if the obedience of
Christ had respect unto himself only,--that is, if he yielded it
unto God on the necessity of his condition, and did not do it for
us,--I see no foundation left to assert his merit upon, no more than
I do for the imputation of it unto them that believe.
     That which we plead is, that the Lord Christ fulfilled the whole
law for us; he did not only undergo the penalty of it due unto our
sins, but also yielded that perfect obedience which it did require.
And herein I shall not immix myself in the debate of the distinction
between the active and passive obedience of Christ; for he exercised
the highest active obedience in his suffering, when he offered
himself to God through the eternal Spirit. And all his obedience,
considering his person, was mixed with suffering, as a part of his
exinanition and humiliation; whence it is said, that "though he were
a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered."
And however doing and suffering are in various categories of things,
yet Scripture testimonies are not to be regulated by philosophical
artifices and terms. And it must needs be said, that the sufferings
of Christ, as they were purely penal, are imperfectly called his
passive righteousness; for all righteousness is either in habit or
in action, whereof suffering is neither; nor is any man righteous,
or so esteemed, from what he suffers. Neither do sufferings give
satisfaction unto the commands of the law, which require only
obedience. And hence it will unavoidably follow, that we have need
of more than the mere sufferings of Christ, whereby we may be
justified before God, if so be that any righteousness be required
thereunto; but the whole of what I intend is, that Christ's
fulfilling of the law, in obedience unto its commands, is no less
imputed unto us for our justification than his undergoing the
penalty of it is.
     I cannot but judge it sounds ill in the ears of all Christians,
"That the obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ, as our mediator and
surety, unto the whole law of God, was for himself alone, and not
for us;" or, that what he did therein was not that he might be the
end of the law for righteousness unto them that do believe, nor a
means of the fulfilling of the righteousness of the law in us;--
especially considering that the faith of the church is, that he was
given to us, born to us; that for us men, and for our salvation, he
came down from heaven, and did and suffered what was required of
him. But whereas some who deny the imputation of the obedience of
Christ unto us for our justification, do insist principally on the
second thing mentioned,--namely, the unusefulness of it,--I shall
under this part of the charge consider only the arguing of Socinus;
which is the whole of what some at present do endeavour to perplex
the truth withal.
     To this purpose is his discourse, part 3 cap. 5. De Servat.: "Jamo
vero manifestum est, Christum quia homo natus fuerat, et quidem, ut
inquit Paulus, factus sub lege, legi divinae inquam, quae aeterna et
immutabilis est, non minus quam caeteri homines obnoxium fuisse.
Alioqui potuisset Christus aeternam Dei legem negligere, sive etiam
universam si voluisset infringere, quod impium est vel cogitare.
Immo ut supra alicubi explicatum fuit, nisi ipse Christus legi
divinae servandae obnoxius fuisset, ut ex Paulu verbis colligitur,
nonpotuisset iis, qui ei legi servandae obnoxii sunt, opem ferre et
eos ad immortalitatis firmam spem traducere. Non differebat igitur
hac quidem ex parte Christus, quando homo natus erat, a caeteris
hominibus. Quocirca nec etiam pro aliis, magis quam quilibet alius
homo, legem livinam conservando satisfacere potuit, quippe qui ipse
eam servare omnino debuit". I have transcribed his words, that it
may appear with whose weapons some young disputers among ourselves
do contend against the truth.
     The substance of his plea is,--that our Lord Jesus Christ was for
himself, or on his own account, obliged unto all that obedience
which he performed. And this he endeavours to prove with this
reason,-- "Because if it were otherwise, then he might, if he would,
have neglected the whole law of God, and have broken it at his
pleasure." For he forgot to consider, that if he were not obliged
unto it upon his own account, but was so on ours, whose cause he had
undertaken, the obligation on him unto most perfect obedience was
equal to what it would have been had he been originally obliged on
his own account. However, hence he infers "That what he did could
not be for us, because it was so for himself; no more than what any
other man is bound to do in a way of duty for himself can be
esteemed to have been done also for another." For he will show of
none of those considerations of the person of Christ which make what
he did and suffered of another nature and efficacy than what can be
done or suffered by any other man. All that he adds in the process
of his discourse is,--"That whatever Christ did that was not
required by the law in general, was upon the especial command of
God, and so done for himself; whence it cannot be imputed unto us."
And hereby he excludes the church from any benefit by the mediation
of Christ, but only what consists in his doctrine, example, and the
exercise of his power in heaven for our good; which was the thing
that he aimed at. But we shall consider those also which make use of
his arguments, though not as yet openly unto all his ends.
     To clear the truth herein, the things ensuing must be observed,--
     1. The obedience we treat of was the obedience of Christ the
mediator: but the obedience of Christ, as "the mediator of the
covenant," was the obedience of his person; for "God redeemed his
church with his own blood," Acts 20:28. It was performed in the
human nature; but the person of Christ was he that performed it. As
in the person of a man, some of his acts, as to the immediate
principle of operation, are acts of the body, and some are so of the
soul; yet, in their performance and accomplishment, are they the
acts of the person: so the acts of Christ in his mediation, as to
their "energemata", or immediate operation, were the acting of his
distinct natures,--some of the divine and some of the human,
immediately; but as unto their "apotelesmata", and the perfecting
efficacy of them, they were the acts of his whole person,--his acts
who was that person, and whose power of operation was a property of
his person. Wherefore, the obedience of Christ, which we plead to
have been for us, was the obedience of the Son of God; but the Son
of God was never absolutely made "hupo nomon",--"under the law,"--
nor could be formally obliged thereby. He was, indeed, as the
apostle witnesses, made so in his human nature, wherein he performed
this obedience: "Made of a woman, made under the law," Gal.4:4. He
was so far forth made under the law, as he was made of a woman; for
in his person he abode "Lord of the sabbath," Mark 2:28; and
therefore of the whole law. But the obedience itself was the
obedience of that person who never was, nor ever could absolutely
be, made under the law in his whole person; for the divine nature
cannot be subjected unto an outward work of its owns such as the law
is, nor can it have an authoritative, commanding power over it, as
it must have if it were made "hupo nomon",--"under the law." Thus
the apostle argues that "Levi paid tithes in Abraham," because he
was then in his loins, when Abraham himself paid tithes unto
Melchizedek, Heb.7. And thence he proves that he was inferior unto
the Lord Christ, of whom Melchizedek was a type. But may it not
thereon be replied, that then no less the Lord Christ was in the
loins of Abraham than Levi? "For verily," as the same apostle
speaks, "he took on him the seed of Abraham." It is true, therefore,
that he was so in respect of his human nature; but as he was typed
and represented by Melchizedek in his whole person, "without father,
without mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end
of life," so he was not absolutely in Abraham's loins, and was
exempted from being tithed in him. Wherefore, the obedience whereof
we treat, being not the obedience of the human nature abstractedly,
however performed in and by the human nature; but the obedience of
the person of the Son of God, however the human nature was subject
to the law (in what sense, and unto what ends, shall be declared
afterwards); it was not for himself, nor could be for himself;
because his whole person was not obliged thereunto. It is therefore
a fond thing, to compare the obedience of Christ with that of any
other man, whose whole person is under the law. For although that
may not be for himself and others (which yet we shall show that in
some cases it may), yet this may, yea, must be for others, and not
for himself. This, then, we must strictly hold unto. If the
obedience that Christ yielded unto the law were for himself, whereas
it was the act of his person, his whole person, and the divine
nature therein, were "made under the law;" which cannot be. For
although it is acknowledged that, in the ordination of God, his
exinanition was to precede his glorious, majestical exaltation, as
the Scripture witnesses, Phil.2:9; Luke 24:26; Rom.14:9; yet
absolutely his glory was an immediate consequent of the hypostatical
union, Heb.1:6; Matt.2:11.
     Socinus, I confess, evades the force of this argument, by denying
the divine person of Christ. But in this disputation I take that for
granted, as having proved it elsewhere beyond what any of his
followers are able to contradict. And if we may not build on truths
by him denied, we shall scarce have any one principle of evangelical
truth left us to prove any thing from. However, I intend them only
at present who concur with him in the matter under debate, but
renounce his opinion concerning the person of Christ.
     2. As our Lord Jesus Christ owed not in his own person this
obedience for himself, by virtue of any authority or power that the
law had over him, so he designed and intended it not for himself,
but for us. This, added unto the former consideration, gives full
evidence unto the truth pleaded for; for if he was not obliged unto
it for himself,--his person that yielded it not being under the law,-
-and if he intended it not for himself; then it must be for us, or
be useless. It was in our human nature that he performed all this
obedience. Now, the susception of our nature was a voluntary act of
his own, with reference unto some end and purpose; and that which
was the end of the assumption of our nature was, in like manner, the
end of all that he did therein. Now, it was for us, and not for
himself, that he assumed our nature; nor was any thing added unto
him thereby. Wherefore, in the issue of his work, he proposes this
only unto himself, that he may be "glorified with that glory which
he had with the Father before the world was," by the removal of that
vail which was put upon it in his exinanition. But that it was for
us that he assumed our nature, is the foundation of Christian
religion, as it is asserted by the apostle, Heb.2:14; Phil.2:5-8.
     Some of the ancient schoolmen disputed, that the Son of God should
have been incarnate although man had not sinned and fallen; the same
opinion was fiercely pursued by Osiander, as I have elsewhere
declared: but none of them once imagined that he should have been so
made man as to be made under the law, and be obliged thereby unto
that obedience which now he has performed; but they judged that
immediately he was to have been a glorious head unto the whole
creation. For it is a common notion and presumption of all
Christians, but only such as will sacrifice such notions unto their
own private conceptions, that the obedience which Christ yielded
unto the law on the earth, in the state and condition wherein he
yielded it, was not for himself, but for the church, which was
obliged unto perfect obedience, but was not able to accomplish it.
That this was his sole end and design in it is a fundamental
article, if I mistake not, of the creed of most Christians in the
world; and to deny it does consequentially overthrow all the grace
and love both of the Father and [of the] Son in his mediation.
     It is said, "That this obedience was necessary as a qualification
of his person, that he might be meet to be a mediator for us; and
therefore was for himself." It belongs unto the necessary
constitution of his person, with respect unto his mediatory work;
abut this I positively deny. The Lord Christ was every way meet for
the whole work of mediation, by the ineffable union of the human
nature with the divine, which exalted it in dignity, honour, and
worth, above any thing or all things that ensued thereon. For hereby
he became in his whole person the object of all divine worship and
honour; for "when he bringeth the First-begotten into the world, he
saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." Again, that which
is an effect of the person of the Mediator, as constituted such, is
not a qualification necessary unto its constitution; that is, what
he did as mediator did not concur to the making of him meet so to
be. But of this nature was all the obedience which he yielded unto
the law; for as such "it became him to fulfill all righteousness."
     Whereas, therefore, he was neither made man nor of the posterity
of Abraham for himself, but for the church,--namely, to become
thereby the surety of the covenant, and representative of the whole,-
-his obedience as a man unto the law in general, and as a son of
Abraham unto the law of Moses, was for us, and not for himself, so

designed, so performed; and, without a respect unto the church, was
of no use unto himself. He was born to us, and given to us; lived
for us, and died for us; obeyed for us, and suffered for us,--that
"by the obedience of one many might be made righteous." This was the
"grace of our Lord Jesus Christ;" and this is the faith of the
catholic church. And what he did for us is imputed unto us. This is
included in the very notion of his doing it for us, which cannot be
spoken in any sense, unless that which he so did be imputed unto us.
And I think men ought to be wary that they do not, by distinctions
and studied evasions, for the defense of their own private opinions,
shake the foundations of Christian religion. And I am sure it will
be easier for them, as it is in the proverb, to wrest the club out
of the hand of Hercules, than to dispossess the minds of true
believers of this persuasion: "That what the Lord Christ did in
obedience unto God, according unto the law, he designed in his love
and grace to do it for them." He needed no obedience for himself, he
came not into a capacity of yielding obedience for himself, but for
us; and therefore for us it was that he fulfilled the law in
obedience unto God, according unto the terms of it. The obligation
that was on him unto obedience was originally no less for us, no
less needful unto us, no more for himself, no more necessary unto
him, than the obligation was on him, as the surety of the covenant,
to suffer the penalty of the law, was either the one or the other.
     3. Setting aside the consideration of the grace and love of
Christ, and the compact between the Father and the Son as unto his
undertaking for us, which undeniably proves all that he did in the
pursuit of them to be done for us, and not for himself; I say,
setting aside the consideration of these things, and the human
nature of Christ, by virtue of its union with the person of the Son
of God, had a right unto, and might have immediately been admitted
into, the highest glory whereof it was capable, without any
antecedent obedience unto the law. And this is apparent from hence,
in that, from the first instant of that union, the whole person of
Christ, with our nature existing therein, was the object of all
divine worship from angels and men; wherein consists the highest
exaltation of that nature.
     It is true, there was a peculiar glory that he was actually to be
made partaker of, with respect unto his antecedent obedience and
suffering, Phil.2:8,9. The actual possession of this glory was, in
the ordination of God, to be consequential unto his obeying and
suffering, not for himself, but for us. But as unto the right and
capacity of the human nature in itself, all the glory whereof it was
capable was due unto it from the instant of its union; for it was
therein exalted above the condition that any creature is capable of
by mere creation. And it is but a Socinian fiction, that the first
foundation of the divine glory of Christ was laid in his obedience,
which was only the way of his actual possession of that part of his
glory which consists in his mediatory power and authority over all.
The real foundation of the whole was laid in the union of his
person; whence he prays that the Father would glorify him (as unto
manifestation) with that glory which he had with him before the
world was.
     I will grant that the Lord Christ was "viator" whilst he was in
this world, and not absolutely "possessor;" yet I say withal, he was
so, not that any such condition was necessary unto him for himself,
but he took it upon him by especial dispensation for us. And,
therefore, the obedience he performed in that condition was for us,
and not for himself
     4. It is granted, therefore, that the human nature of Christ was
made "hupo nomon", as the apostle affirms, "That which was made of a
woman, was made under the law." Hereby obedience became necessary
unto him, as he was and whilst he was "viator." But this being by
especial dispensation,--intimated in the expression of it, he was
"made under the law," namely, as he was "made of a woman," by
especial dispensation and condescension, expressed, Phil.2:6-8,--the
obedience he yielded thereon was for us, and not for himself And
this is evident from hence, for he was so made under the law as that
not only he owed obedience unto the precepts of it, but he was made
obnoxious unto its curse. But I suppose it will not be said that he
was so for himself, and therefore not for us. We owed obedience unto
the law, and were obnoxious unto the curse of it, or "hupodikoi tooi
Theooi". Obedience was required of us, and was as necessary unto us
if we would enter into life, as the answering of the curse for us
was if we would escape death eternal. Christ, as our surety, is
"made under the law" for us, whereby he becomes liable and obliged
unto the obedience which the law required, and unto the penalty that
it threatened. Who shall now dare to say that he underwent the
penalty of the law for us indeed, but he yielded obedience unto it
for himself only? The whole harmony of the work of his mediation
would be disordered by such a supposition.
     Judah, the son of Jacob, undertook to be a bondsman instead of
Benjamin his brother, that he might go free, Gen.44:33. There is no
doubt but Joseph might have accepted of the stipulation. Had he done
so, the service and bondage he undertook had been necessary unto
Judah, and righteous for him to bear: howbeit he had undergone it,
and performed his duty in it, not for himself, but for his brother
Benjamin; and unto Benjamin it would have been imputed in his
liberty. So when the apostle Paul wrote these words unto Philemon
concerning Onesimus, "Ei de ti edikese se, e ofeilen, touto emoi
ellogei, egoo apotisoo", verse 18,--"'If he has wronged thee,' dealt
unrighteously or injuriously with thee, 'or oweth thee ought,'
wherein thou hast suffered loss by him, 'put that on mine account,'
or impute it all unto me, 'I will repay it,' or answer for it all,"-
-he supposes that Philemon might have a double action against
Onesimus, the one "injuriarum," and the other "damni" or "debiti,"
of wrong and injury, and of loss or debt, which are distinct actions
in the law: "If he has wronged thee, or oweth thee ought." Hereon he
proposes himself, and obliges himself by his express obligation:
"Ego Paulos egrapsa tei emei cheiri",--"I Paul have written it with
mine own hand," that he would answer for both, and pay back a
valuable consideration if required. Hereby was he obliged in his own
person to make satisfaction unto Philemon; but yet he was to do it
for Onesimus, and not for himself. Whatever obedience, therefore,
was due from the Lord Christ, as to his human nature, whilst in the
form of a servant, either as a man or as an Israelite, seeing he was
so not necessarily, by the necessity of nature for himself, but by
voluntary condescension and stipulation for us; for us it was, and
not for himself.
     5. The Lord Christ, in his obedience, was not a private but a
public person. He obeyed as he was the surety of the covenant,--as
the mediator between God and man. This, I suppose, will not be
denied. He can by no imagination be considered out of that capacity.
But what a public person does as a public person,--that is, as a
representative of others, and an undertaker for them,--whatever may
be his own concernment therein, he does it not for himself, but for
others. And if others were not concerned therein, if it were not for
them, what he does would be of no use or signification; yea, it
implies a contradiction that any one should do any thing as a public
person, and do it for himself only. He who is a public person may do
that wherein he alone is concerned, but he cannot do so as he is a
public person. Wherefore, as Socinus, and those that follow him,
would have Christ to have offered for himself, which is to make him
a mediator for himself, his offering being a mediatory act, which is
both foolish and impious; so to affirm his mediatory obedience, his
obedience as a public person, to have been for himself, and not for
others, has but little less of impiety in it.
     6. It is granted, that the Lord Christ having a human nature,
which was a creature, it was impossible but that it should be
subject unto the law of creation; for there is a relation that does
necessarily arise from, and depend upon, the beings of a creator and
a creature. Every rational creature is eternally obliged, from the
nature of God, and its relation thereunto, to love him, obey him,
depend upon him, submit unto him, and to make him its end,
blessedness, and reward. But the law of creation, thus considered,
does not respect the world and this life only, but the future state
of heaven and eternity also; and this law the human nature of Christ
is subject unto in heaven and glory, and cannot but be so whilst it
is a creature, and not God,--that is, whilst it has its own being.
Nor do any men fancy such a transfusion of divine properties into
the human nature of Christ, as that it should be self-subsisting,
and in itself absolutely immense; for this would openly destroy it.
Yet none will say that he is now "hupo nomon",--"under the law,"--in
the sense intended by the apostle. But the law, in the sense
described, the human nature of Christ was subject unto, on its own
account, whilst he was in this world. And this is sufficient to
answer the objection of Socinus, mentioned at the entrance of this
discourse,--namely, that if the Lord Christ were not obliged unto
obedience for himself, then might he, if he would, neglect the whole
law, or infringe it; for besides that it is a foolish imagination
concerning that "holy thing" which was hypostatically united unto
the Son of God, and thereby rendered incapable of any deviation from
the divine will, the eternal, indispensable law of love, adherence,
and dependence on God, under which the human nature of Christ was,
and is, as a creature, gives sufficient security against such
     But there is another consideration of the law of God,--namely, as
it is imposed on creatures by especial dispensation, for some time
and for some certain end, with some considerations, rules, and
orders that belong not essentially unto the law; as before
described. This is the nature of the written law of God, which the
Lord Christ was made under, not necessarily, as a creature, but by
especial dispensation. For the law, under this consideration, is
presented unto us as such, not absolutely and eternally, but whilst
we are in this world, and that with this especial end, that by
obedience thereunto we may obtain the reward of eternal life. And it
is evident that the obligation of the law, under this consideration,
ceases when we come to the enjoyment of that reward. It obliges us
no more formally by its command, "Do this, and live," when the life
promised is enjoyed. In this sense the Lord Christ was not made
subject unto the law for himself, nor did yield obedience unto it
for himself; for he was not obliged unto it by virtue of his created
condition. Upon the first instant of the union of his natures, being
"holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners," he might,
notwithstanding the law that he was made subject unto, have been
stated in glory; for he that was the object of all divine worship
needed not any new obedience to procure for him a state of
blessedness. And had he naturally, merely by virtue of his being a
creature, been subject unto the law in this sense, he must have been
so eternally, which he is not; for those things which depend solely
on the natures of God and the creature are eternal and immutable.
Wherefore, as the law in this sense was given unto us, not
absolutely, but with respect unto a future state and reward, so the
Lord Christ did voluntarily subject himself unto it for us; and his
obedience thereunto was for us, and not for himself. These things,
added unto what I have formerly written on this subject, whereunto
nothing has been opposed but a few impertinent cavils, are
sufficient to discharge the first part of that charge laid down
before, concerning the impossibility of the imputation of the
obedience of Christ unto us; which, indeed, is equal unto the
impossibility of the imputation of the disobedience of Adam unto us,
whereby the apostle tells us that "we were all made sinners."
     II. The second part of the objection or charge against the
imputation of the obedience of Christ unto us is, "That it is
useless unto the persons that are to be justified; for whereas they
have in their justification the pardon of all their sins, they are
thereby righteous, and have a right or title unto life and
blessedness; for he who is so pardoned as not to be esteemed guilty
of any sin of omission or commission wants nothing that is requisite
thereunto; for he is supposed to have done all that he ought, and to
have omitted nothing required of him in a way of duty. Hereby he
becomes not unrighteous; and to be not unrighteous is the same as to
be righteous; as he that is not dead is alive. Neither is there, nor
can there be, any middle state between death and life. Wherefore,
those who have all their sins forgiven have the blessedness of
justification; and there is neither need nor use of any farther
imputation of righteousness unto them." And sundry other things of
the same nature are urged unto the same purpose, which will be all
of them either obviated in the ensuing discourse, or answered
     Ans. This cause is of more importance, and more evidently stated
in the Scriptures, than to be turned into such niceties, which have
more of philosophical subtilty than theological solidity in them.
This exception, therefore, might be dismissed without farther answer
than what is given us in the known rule, that a truth well
established and confirmed is not to be questioned, much less
relinquished, on every entangling sophism, though it should appear
insoluble; but, as we shall see, there is no such difficulty in
these arguing but what may easily be discussed. And because the
matter of the plea contained in them is made use of by sundry
learned persons, who yet agree with us in the substance of the
doctrine of justification,--namely, that it is by faith alone,
without works, through the imputation of the merit and satisfaction
of Christ,--I shall, as briefly as I can, discover the mistakes that
it proceeds upon.
     1. It includes a supposition, that he who is pardoned his sins of
omission and commission, is esteemed to have done all that is
required of him, and to have committed nothing that is forbidden;
for, without this supposition, the bare pardon of sin will neither
make, constitute, nor denominate any man righteous. But this is far
otherwise, nor is any such thing included in the nature of pardon:
for, in the pardon of sin, neither God nor man does judge that he
who has sinned has not sinned; which must be done, if he who is
pardoned be esteemed to have done all that he ought, and to have
done nothing that he ought not to do. If a man be brought on his
trial for any evil act, and, being legally convicted thereof, is
discharged by sovereign pardon, it is true that, in the eye of the
law, he is looked upon as an innocent man, as unto the punishment
that was due unto him; but no man thinks that he is made righteous
thereby, or is esteemed not to have done that which really he has
done, and whereof he was convicted. Joab, and Abiathar the priest,
were at the same time guilty of the same crime. Solomon gives order
that Josh be put to death for his crime; but unto Abiathar he gives
a pardon. Did he thereby make, declare, or constitute him righteous?
Himself expresses the contrary, affirming him to be unrighteous and
guilty, only he remitted the punishment of his fault, 1 Kings 2:26.
Wherefore, the pardon of sin discharges the guilty person from being
liable or obnoxious unto anger, wrath, or punishment due unto his
sin; but it does not suppose, nor infer in the least, that he is
thereby, or ought thereon, to be esteemed or adjudged to have done
no evil, and to have fulfilled all righteousness. Some say, pardon
gives a righteousness of innocence, but not of obedience. But it
cannot give a righteousness of innocence absolutely, such as Adam
had; for he had actually done no evil. It only removes guilt, which
is the respect of sin unto punishment, ensuing on the sanction of
the law. And this supposition, which is an evident mistake, animates
this whole objection.
     The like may be said of what is in like manner supposed,-- namely,
that not to be unrighteous, which a man is on the pardon of sin, is
the same with being righteous. For if not to be unrighteous be taken
privatively, it is the same with being just or righteous: for it
supposes that he who is so has done all the duty that is required of
him that he may be righteous. But not to be unrighteous negatively,
as the expression is here used, it does not do so: for, at best, it
supposes no more but that a man as yet has done nothing actually
against the rule of righteousness. Now this may be when yet he has
performed none of the duties that are required of him to constitute
him righteous, because the times and occasions of them are not yet.
And so it was with Adam in the state of innocence; which is the
height of what can be attained by the complete pardon of sin.
     2. It proceeds on this supposition, that the law, in case of sin,
does not oblige unto punishment and obedience both, so as that it is
not satisfied, fulfilled, or complied withal, unless it be answered
with respect unto both; for if it does so, then the pardon of sin,
which only frees us from the penalty of the law, does yet leave it
necessary that obedience be performed unto it, even all that it does
require. But this, in my judgment, is an evident mistake, and that
such as does not "establish the law, but make it void," And this I
shall demonstrate:--
     (1.) The law has two parts or powers:--First, Its receptive part,
commanding and requiring obedience, with a promise of life annexed:
"Do this, and live." Secondly, The sanction on supposition of
disobedience, binding the sinner unto punishment, or a meet
recompense of reward: "In the day thou sinnest thou shalt die." And
every law, properly so called, proceeds on these suppositions of
obedience or disobedience, whence its commanding and punishing power
are in separate from its nature.
     (2.) This law whereof we speak was first given unto man in
innocence, and therefore the first power of it was only in act; it
obliged only unto obedience: for an innocent person could not be
obnoxious unto its sanction, which contained only an obligation unto
punishment, on supposition of disobedience. It could not, therefore,
oblige our first parents unto obedience and punishment both, seeing
its obligation unto punishment could not be in actual force but on
supposition of actual disobedience. A moral cause of, and motive
unto, obedience it was, and had an influence into the preservation
of man from sin. Unto that end it was said unto him, "In the day
thou eatest, thou shalt surely die." The neglect hereof, and of that
ruling influence which it ought to have had on the minds of our
first parents, opened the door unto the entrance of sin. But it

(continued in part 25...)

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