(Owen, Justification. part 26)

what was required of them;--on which supposition all the truth of
the Scripture does depend. It is one of the very first notions of
Christian religion, that the Lord Christ was given to us, born to
us; that he came as a mediator, to do for us what we could not do
for ourselves, and not merely to suffer what we had deserved. And
here, instead of our own righteousness, we have the "righteousness
of God;" instead of being righteous in ourselves before God, he is
"The LORD our Righteousness." And nothing but a righteousness of
another kind and nature, unto justification before God, could
constitute another covenant. Wherefore, the righteousness whereby we
are justified is the righteousness of Christ imputed unto us, or we
are still under the law, under the covenant of works.
     It will be said that our personal obedience is by none asserted to
be the righteousness wherewith we are justified before God, in the
same manner as it was under the covenant of works; but the argument
speaks not as unto the manner or way whereby it is so, but to the
thing itself. If it be so in any way or manner, under what
qualifications soever, we are under that covenant still. If it be of
works any way, it is not of grace at all. But it is added, that the
differences are such as are sufficient to constitute covenants
effectually distinct: as,--1. "The perfect, sinless obedience was
required in the first covenant; but in the new, that which is
imperfect, and accompanied with many sins and failings, is
accepted." Ans. This is "gratis dictum," and begs the question. No
righteousness unto justification before God is or can be accepted
but what is perfect. 2. "Grace is the original fountain and cause of
all our acceptation before God in the new covenant." Ans. It was so
also in the old. The creation of man in original righteousness was
an effect of divine grace, benignity, and goodness; and the reward
of eternal life in the enjoyment of God was of mere sovereign grace:
yet what was then of works was not of grace;--no more is it at
present. 3. "There would then have been merit of works, which is now
excluded." Ans. Such a merit as arises from an equality and
proportion between works and reward, by the rule of commutative
justice, would not have been in the works of the first covenant; and
in no other sense is it now rejected by them that oppose the
imputation of the righteousness of Christ. 4. "All is now resolved
into the merit of Christ, upon the account whereof alone our own
personal righteousness is accepted before God unto our
justification." Ans. The question is not, on what account, nor for
what reason, it is so accepted? But, whether it be or no?--seeing
its so being is effectually constitutive of a covenant of works.

XIV. The exclusion of all sorts of works from an interest in
justification--What is intended by "the law," and the "works" of it,
in the epistles of Paul

All works whatever are expressly excluded from any interest in our
justification before God--What intended by the works of the law--Not
those of the ceremonial law only--Not perfect works only, as
required by the law of our creation--Not the outward works of the
law, performed without a principle of faith--Not works of the Jewish
law--Not works with a conceit of merit--Not works only wrought
before believing, in the strength of our own wills--Works excluded
abso1utely from our justification, without respect unto a
distinction of a first and second justification--The true sense of
the law in the apostolical assertion that none are justified by the
works thereof--What the Jews understood by the law--Distribution of
the law under the Old Testament--The whole law a perfect rule of all
inherent moral or spiritual obedience --What are the works of the
law, declared from the Scripture, and the argument thereby confirmed
--The nature of justifying faith farther declared

We shall take our fourth argument from the express exclusion of all
works, of what sort soever, from our justification before God. For
this alone is that which we plead,--namely, that no acts or works of
our own are the causes or conditions of our justification; but that
the whole of it is resolved into the free grace of God, through
Jesus Christ, as the mediator and surety of the covenant. To this
purpose the Scripture speaks expressly. Rom.3:28, "Therefore we
conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the
law." Rom.4:5, "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him
that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness"
Rom.11:6, "If it be of grace, then is it no more of works."
Gal.2:16, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the
law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in
Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and
not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no
flesh be justified." Eph.2:8,9, "For by grace are ye saved through
faith ... not of works, lest any man should boast." Tit.3:5, "Not by
works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his
mercy he saved us."
     These and the like testimonies are express, and in positive terms
assert all that we contend for. And I am persuaded that no
unprejudiced person, whose mind is not prepossessed with notions and
distinctions whereof not the least little is offered unto them from
the texts mentioned, nor elsewhere, can but judge that the law, in
every sense of it, and all sorts of works whatever, that at any
time, or by any means, sinners or believers do or can perform, are,
not in this or that sense, but every way and in all senses, excluded
from our justification before God. And if it be so, it is the
righteousness of Christ alone that we must retake ourselves unto, or
this matter must cease for ever. And this inference the apostle
himself makes from one of the testimonies before mentioned,--namely,
that of Gal.2:19-21; for he adds upon it, "I through the law am dead
to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ:
nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the
life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son
of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate
the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ
is dead in vain."
     Our adversaries are extremely divided amongst themselves. and can
come unto no consistency, as to the sense and meaning of the apostle
in these assertions; for what is proper and obvious unto the
understanding of all men, especially from the opposition that is
made between the law and works on the one hand, and faith, grace,
and Christ on the other (which are opposed as inconsistent in this
matter of our justification), they will not allow; nor can do so
without the ruin of the opinions they plead for. Wherefore, their
various conjectures shall be examined, as well to show their
inconsistency among themselves by whom the truth is opposed, as to
confirm our present argument:--
     1. Some say it is the ceremonial law alone, and the works of it,
that are intended; or the law as given unto Moses on mount Sinai,
containing that entire covenant that was afterwards to be abolished.
This was of old the common opinion of the schoolmen, though it be
now generally exploded. And the opinion lately contended for, that
the apostle Paul excludes justification from the works of the law,
or excludes works absolutely perfect, and sinless obedience, not
because no man can yield that perfect obedience which the law
requires, but because the law itself which he intends could not
justify any by the observation of it, is nothing but the renovation
of this obsolete notion, that it is the ceremonial law only, or,
which upon the matter is all one, the law given on mount Sinai,
abstracted from the grace of the promise, which could not justify
any in the observation of its rites and commands. But of all other
conjectures, this is the most impertinent and contradictory unto the
design of the apostle; and is therefore rejected by Bellarmine
himself. For the apostle treats of that law whose doers shall be
justified, Rom.2:13; and the authors of this opinion would have it
to be a law that can justify none of them that do it. That law he
intends whereby is the knowledge of sin; for he gives this reason
why we cannot be justified by the works of it,--namely, because "by
it is the knowledge of sin," chap.2:20: and by what law is the
knowledge of sin he expressly declares, where he affirms that he
"had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet,"
chap.7:7; which is the moral law alone. That law he designs which
stops the mouth of all sinners, and makes all the world obnoxious
unto the judgment of God, chap.3:19; which none can do but the law
written in the heart of men at their creation, chap.2:14,15;--that
law, which "if a man do the works of it, he shall live in them,"
Gal.3:12, Rom.10:5; and which brings all men under the curse for
sin, Gal.3:10,--the law that is established by faith, and not made
void, Rom.3:31; which the ceremonial law is not, nor the covenant of
Sinai;--the law whose righteousness is "to be fulfilled in us,"
Rom.8:4. And the instance which the apostle gives of justification
without the works of that law which he intends,--namely, that of
Abraham,--was some hundreds of years before the giving of the
ceremonial law. Neither yet do I say that the ceremonial law and the
works of it are excluded from the intention of the apostle: for when
that law was given, the observation of it was an especial instance
of that obedience we owed unto the first table of the decalogue; and
the exclusion of the works thereof from our justification, inasmuch
as the performance of them was part of that moral obedience which we
owed unto God, is exclusive of all other works also. But that it is
alone here intended, or that law which could never justify any by
its observation, although it was observed in due manner, is a fond
imagination, and contradictory to the express assertion of the
apostle. And, whatever is pretended to the contrary, this opinion is
expressly rejected by Augustine, Lib. de Spiritu et Litera, cap.8:
"Ne quisquam putaret hic apostolum ea lege dixisse neminem
justificari, quae in sacramentis veteribus multa continet figurata
praecepta, unde etiam est ista circumcisio carnis, continuo
subjunxit, quam dixerit legem et ait; 'per legem cognitio peccati'".
And to the same purpose he speaks again, Epist. 200, "Non solum illa
opera legis quae sunt in veteribus sacramentis, et nunc revelato
testamento novo non observantur a Christianis, sicut est circumcisio
praeputii, et sabbati non observantur a Christianis, sicut est
circumcisio praeputii, et sabbati carnalis vacatio; et a quibusdam
escis abstinentia, et pecorum in sacrificiis immolatio, et neomenia
et ezymum, et caetera hujusmodi, verum etiam illud quod in lege
dictum est, 'Non concupisces', quod utique et Christianis nullus
ambigit esse dicendum, non justificat hominem, nisi per fidem Jesu
Christi, et gratiam Dei per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum".
     2. Some say the apostle only excludes the perfect works required
by the law of innocence; which is a sense diametrically opposite
unto that foregoing. But this best pleases the Socinians. "Paulus
agit de operibus et perfectis in hoc dicto, ideo enim adjecit, sine
operibus legis, ut indicaretur loqui eum de operibus a lege
requisitis, et sic de perpetua et perfectissima divinorum
praeceptorum obedientia sicut lex requirit. Cum autem talem
obedientiam qualem lex requirit nemo praestare possit, ideo subjecit
apostolus nos justificari fide, id est, fiducia et obedientia ea
quantum quisque praestare potest, et quotidie quam maximum praestare
studet, et connititur. Sine operibus legis, id est, etsi interim
perfecte totam legem sicut debebat complere nequit"; says Socinus
himself. But,--(1.) We have herein the whole granted of what we
plead for,--namely, that it is the moral, indispensable law of God
that is intended by the apostle; and that by the works of it no man
can be justified, yea, that all the works of it are excluded from
our justification: for it is, says the apostle, "without works." The
works of this law being performed according unto it, will justify
them that perform them, as he affirms, chap.2:13; and the Scripture
elsewhere witnesses that "he that does them shall live in them." But
because this can never be done by any sinner, therefore all
consideration of them is excluded from our justification. (2.) It is
a wild imagination that the dispute of the apostle is to this
purpose,--that the perfect works of the law will not justify us, but
imperfect works, which answer not the law, will do so. (3.) Granting
the law intended to be the moral law of God, the law of our
creation, there is no such distinction intimated in the least by the
apostle, that we are not justified by the perfect works of it which
we cannot perform, but by some imperfect works that we can perform,
and labour so to do. Nothing is more foreign unto the design and
express words of his whole discourse. (4.) The evasion which they
retake themselves unto, that the apostle opposes justification by
faith unto that of works, which he excludes, is altogether vain in
this sense; for they would have this faith to be our obedience unto
the divine commands, in that imperfect manner which we can attain
unto. For when the apostle has excluded all such justification by
the law and the works thereof, he does not advance in opposition
unto them, and in their room, our own faith and obedience; but adds,
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is
in Jesus Christ; whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through
faith in his blood."
     3. Some of late among ourselves,--and they want not them who have
gone before them,--affirm that the works which the apostle excludes
from justification are only the outward works of the law, performed
without an inward principle of faith, fear, or the love of God.
Servile works, attended unto from a respect unto the threatening of
the law, are those which will not justify us. But this opinion is
not only false, but impious. For,--(1.) The apostle excludes the
works of Abraham, which were not such outward, servile works as are
imagined. (2.) The works excluded are those which the law requires;
and the law is holy, just, and good. But a law that requires only
outward works, without internal love to God, is neither holy, just,
nor good. (3.) The law condemns all such works as are separated from
the internal principle of faith, fear, and love; for it requires
that in all our obedience we should love the Lord our God with all
our hearts. And the apostle says, that we are not justified by the
works which the law condemns, but not by them which the law
commands. (4.) It is highly reflexive on the honour of God, that he
unto whose divine prerogative it belongs to know the hearts of men
alone, and therefore regards them alone in all the duties of their
obedience, should give a law requiring outward, servile works only;
for if the law intended require more, then are not those the only
works excluded.
     4. Some say, in general, it is the Jewish law that is intended;
and think thereby to cast off the whole difficulty. But if, by the
Jewish law, they intend only the ceremonial law, or the law
absolutely as given by Moses, we have already showed the vanity of
that pretence; but if they mean thereby the whole law or rule of
obedience given unto the church of Israel under the Old Testament,
they express much of the truth,--it may be more than they designed.
     5. Some say that it is works with a conceit of merit, that makes
the reward to be of debt, and not of grace, that are excluded by the
apostle. But no such distinction appears in the text or context;
for,--(1,) The apostle excludes all works of the law,--that is, that
the law requires of us in a way of obedience,--be they of what sort
they will. (2.) The law requires no works with a conceit of merit.
(3.) Works of the law originally included no merit, as that which
"ariseth from the proportion of one thing unto another in the
balance of justice; and in that sense only is it rejected by those
who plead for an interest of works in justification. (4.) The merit
which the apostle excludes is that which is inseparable from works,
so that it cannot be excluded unless the works themselves be so. And
unto their merit two things concur:--First, A comparative boasting;
that is, not absolutely in the sight of God, which follows the
"meritum ex condigno" which some poor sinful mortals have fancied in
their works, but that which gives one man a preference above another
in the obtaining of justification; which grace will not allow,
chap.4:2. Secondly, That the reward be not absolutely of grace, but
that respect he had therein unto works; which makes it so far to be
of debt, not out of an internal condignity, which would not have
been under the law of creation, but out of some congruity with
respect unto the promise of God, verse 4. In these two regards merit
is inseparable from works; and the Holy Ghost, utterly to exclude
it, excludes all works from which it is inseparable, as it is from
all. Wherefore, (5.) The apostle speaks not one word about the
exclusion of the merit of works only; but he excludes all works
whatever, and that by this argument, that the admission of them
would necessarily introduce merit in the sense described; which is
inconsistent with grace. And although some think that they are
injuriously dealt withal, when they are charged with maintaining of
merit in their asserting the influence of our works into our
justification; yet those of them who best understand themselves and
the controversy itself, are not so averse from some kind of merit,
as knowing that it is inseparable from works.
     6. Some contend that the apostle excludes only works wrought
before believing, in the strength of our own wills and natural
abilities, without the aid of grace. Works, they suppose, required
by the law are such as we perform by the direction and command of
the law alone. But the law of faith requires works in the strength
of the supplies of grace; which are not excluded. This is that which
the most learned and judicious of the church of Rome do now
generally retake themselves unto. Those who amongst us plead for
works in our justification, as they use many distinctions to explain
their minds, and free their opinion from a coincidence with that of
the Papists; so, as yet, they deny the name of merit, and the thing
itself in the sense of the church of Rome, as it is renounced
likewise by all the Socinians: wherefore, they make use of the
preceding evasion, that merit is excluded by the apostle, and works
only as they are meritorious; although the apostle's plain argument
be, that they are excluded because such a merit as is inconsistent
with grace is inseparable from their admission.
     But the Roman church cannot so part with merit. Wherefore, they
are to find out a sort of works to be excluded only, which they are
content to part withal as not meritorious. Such are those before
described, wrought, as they say, before believing, and without the
aids of grace; and such, they say, are all the works of the law. And
this they do with some more modesty and sobriety than those amongst
us who would have only external works and observances to be
intended. For they grant that sundry internal works, as those of
attrition, sorrow for sin, and the like, are of this nature. But the
works of the law it is, they say, that are excluded. But this whole
plea, and all the sophisms wherewith it is countenanced, have been
so discussed and defeated by Protestant writers of all sorts against
Bellarmine and others, as that it is needless to repeat the same
things, or to add any thing unto them. And it will be sufficiently
evinced of falsehood in what we shall immediately prove concerning
the law and works intended by the apostle. However, the heads of the
demonstration of the truth to the contrary may be touched on. And, -
-(1.) The apostle excludes all works, without distinction or
exception. And we are not to distinguish where the law does not
distinguish before us. (2.) All the works of the law are excluded:
therefore all works wrought after believing by the aids of grace are
excluded; for they are all required by the law. See Ps.119:35;
Rom.7:22. Works not required by the law are no less an abomination
to God than sins against the law. (3.) The works of believers after
conversion, performed by the aids of grace, are expressly excluded
by the apostle. So are those of Abraham, after he had been a
believer many years, and abounded in them unto the praise of God. So
he excludeth his own works after his conversion, Gal.2:16; 1
Cor.4:4; Phil.3:9; and so he excludes the works of all other
believers, Eph.2:9,10. (4.) All works are excluded that might give
countenance unto boasting, Rom.4:2,; 3:27; Eph.2:9; 1 Cor.1:29-31.
But this is done more by the good works of regenerate persons than
by any works of unbelievers. (5.) The law required faith and love in
all our works; and therefore if all the works of the law be
excluded, the best works of believers are so. (6.) All works are
excluded which are opposed unto grace working freely in our
justification; but this all works whatever are, Rom.11:6. (7.) In
the Epistle unto the Galatians, the apostle does exclude from our
justification all those works which the false teachers pressed as
necessary thereunto: but they urged the necessity of the works of
believers, and those which were by grace already converted unto God;
for those upon whom they pressed them unto this end were already
actually so. (8.) They are good works that the apostle excludes from
our justification; for there can be no pretence of justification by
those works that are not good, or which have not all things
essentially requisite to make them so: but such are all the works of
unbelievers performed without the aids of grace,--they are not good,
nor as such accepted with God, but want what is essentially
requisite unto the constitution of good works; and it is ridiculous
to think that the apostle disputes about the exclusion of such works
from our justification as no man in his wits would think to have any
place therein. (9.) The reason why no man can be justified by the
law, is because no man can yield perfect obedience thereunto; for by
perfect obedience the law will justify, Rom.2:13; 10:5. Wherefore,
all works are excluded that are not absolutely perfect; but this the
best works of believers are not, as we have proved before. (10.) If
there be a reserve for the works of believers, performed by the aid
of grace, in our justification, it is, that either they may be
concauses thereof, or be indispensably subservient unto those things
that are so. That they are concauses of our justification is not
absolutely affirmed; neither can it be said that they are
necessarily subservient unto them that are so. They are not so unto
the efficient cause thereof, which is the grace and favour of God
alone, Rom.3:24,25; 4:16; Eph.2:8,9; Rev.1:5;--nor are they so unto
the meritorious cause of it, which is Christ alone, Acts 13:38;
26:18; 1 Cor.1:30; 2 Cor.5:18-21;--nor unto the material cause of
it, which is the righteousness of Christ alone, Rom.10:3,4,--nor are
they so unto faith, in what place soever it be stated; for not only
is faith only mentioned, wherever we are taught the way how the
righteousness of Christ is derived and communicated unto us, without
any intimation of the conjunction of works with it, but also, as
unto our justification, they are placed in opposition and
contradiction one to the other, Rom.3:28. And sundry other things
are pleadable unto the same purpose.
     7. Some affirm that the apostle excludes all works from our first
justification, but not from the second; at; as some speak, the
continuation of our justification. But we have before examined these
distinctions, and found them groundless.
     Evident it is, therefore, that men put themselves into an
uncertain, slippery station, where they know not what to fix upon,
nor wherein to find any such appearance of truth as to give them
countenance in denying the plain and frequently-repeated assertion
of the apostle.
     Wherefore, in the confirmation of the present argument, I shall
more particularly inquire into what it is that the apostle intends
by the law and works whereof he treats. For as unto our
justification, whatever they are, they are absolutely and
universally opposed unto grace, faith, the righteousness of God, and
the blood of Christ, as those which are altogether inconsistent with
them. Neither can this be denied or questioned by any, seeing it is
the plain design of the apostle to evince that inconsistency.
     1. Wherefore, in general, it is evident that the apostle, by the
law and the works thereof, intended what the Jews with whom he had
to do did understand by the law, and their own whole obedience
thereunto. I suppose this cannot be denied; for without a concession
of it there is nothing proved against them, nor are they in any
thing instructed by him. Suppose those terms equivocal, and to be
taken in one sense by him, and by them in another, and nothing can
be rightly concluded from what is spoken of them. Wherefore, the
meaning of these terms, "the law," and "works," the apostle takes
for granted as very well known, and agreed on between himself and
those with whom he had to do.
     2. The Jews by "the law" intended what the Scriptures of the Old
Testament meant by that expression; for they are nowhere blamed for
any false notion concerning the law, or that they esteemed any thing
to be so but what was so indeed, and what was so called in the
Scripture. Their present oral law was not yet hatched, though the
Pharisees were brooding of it.
     3. "The law" under the Old Testament does immediately refer unto
the law given at mount Sinai, nor is there any distinct mention of
it before. This is commonly called "the law" absolutely; but most
frequently "the law of God," "the law of the Lord;" and sometimes
"the law of Moses," because of his especial ministry in the giving
of it: "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded
unto him," Mal.4:4. And this the Jews intended by "the law."
     4. Of the law so given at Horeb, there was a distribution into
three parts. (1.) There was "'aseret hadevarim",--Deut.4:13, "The
ten words;" so also chap.10:4;--that is, the ten commandments
written upon two tables of stone. This part of the law was first
given, was the foundation of the whole, and contained that perfect
obedience which was required of mankind by law of creation; and was
now received into the church with the highest attestations of its
indispensable obligation unto obedience or punishment. (2.)
"chukim", which the LXX render by "dikaioomata",--that is, "jura,"
"rites," or "statutes;" but the Latin from thence,
"justificationes," ("justifications,") which has given great
occasion of mistake in many, both ancient and modern divines. We
call it "the ceremonial law." The apostle terms this part of the law
distinctly, "Nomos entoloon en dogmasi", Eph.2:15, "The law of
commandments contained in ordinances;" that is, consisting in a
multitude of arbitrary commands. (3.) "mishpatim", which we commonly
call "the judicial law." This distribution of the law shuts up the
Old Testament, as it is used in places innumerable before; only the
"'aseret hadevriem",--"the ten words,"--is expressed by the general
word "torah",--"the law," Mal.4:4.
     5. These being the parts of the law given unto the church in
Sinai, the whole of it is constantly called "torah",--"the law,"--
that is, the instruction (as the word signifies) that God gave unto
the church, in the rule of obedience which he prescribed unto it.
This is the constant signification of that word in Scripture, where
it is taken absolutely; and thereon does not signify precisely the
law as given at Horeb, but comprehends with it all the revelations
that God made under the Old Testament, in the explanation and
confirmation of that law, in rules, motives, directions, and
enforcements of obedience.
     6. Wherefore; "torah",--"the law,"--is the whole rule of obedience
which God gave to the church under the Old Testament, with all the
efficacy wherewith it was accompanied by the ordinances of God,
including in it all the promises and threatening that might be
motives unto the obedience that God did require;--this is that which
God and the church called "the law" under the Old Testament, and
which the Jews so called with whom our apostle had to do. That which
we call "the moral law" was the foundation of the whole; and those
parts of it which we call "the judicial and ceremonial law," were
peculiar instances of the obedience which the church under the Old
Testament was obliged unto, in the especial polity and divine
worship which at that season were necessary unto it. And two things
does the Scripture testify unto concerning this law:--
     (1.) That it was a perfect, complete rule of all that internal
spiritual and moral obedience which God required of the church: "The
law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of
the LORD is sure, making wise the simple," Ps.19:7. And it so was of
all the external duties of obedience, for matter and manner, time
and season; that in both the church might walk "acceptably before
God", Isa.8:20. And although the original duties of the moral part
of the law are often preferred before the particular instances of
obedience in duties of outward worship, yet the whole law was always
the whole rule of all the obedience, internal and external, that God
required of the church, and which he accepted in them that did
     (2.) That this law, this rule of obedience, as it was ordained of
God to be the instrument of his rule of the church, and by virtue of
the covenant made with Abraham, unto whose administration it was
adapted, and which its introduction on Sinai did not disannul, was
accompanied with a power and efficacy enabling unto obedience. The
law itself, as merely receptive and commanding, administered no
power or ability unto those that were under its authority to yield
obedience unto it; no more do the mere commands of the gospel.
Moreover, under the Old Testament it enforced obedience on the minds
and consciences of men by the manner of its first delivery, and the
severity of its sanction, so as to fill them with fear and bondage;
and was, besides, accompanied with such burdensome rules of outward
worship, as made it a heavy yoke unto the people. But as it was
God's doctrine, teaching, instruction in all acceptable obedience
unto himself, and was adapted unto the covenant of Abraham, it was
accompanied with an administration of effectual grace, procuring and
promoting obedience in the church. And the law is not to be looked
on as separated from those aids unto obedience which God
administered under the Old Testament; whose effects are therefore
ascribed unto the law itself See Ps.1, 19, 119.
     This being "the law" in the sense of the apostle, and those with
whom he had to do, our next inquiry is, What was their sense of
"works," or "works of the law?" And I say it is plain that they
intended hereby the universal sincere obedience of the church unto
God, according unto this law. And other works the law of God
acknowledges not; yea, it expressly condemns all works that have any
such defect in them as to render them unacceptable unto God. Hence,
notwithstanding all the commands that God had positively given for
the strict observance of sacrifices, offerings, and the like; yet,
when the people performed them without faith and love, he expressly
affirms that he "commanded them not,"--that is, to be observed in
such a manner. In these works, therefore, consisted their personal
righteousness, as they walked "in all the commandments and
ordinances of the Lord blameless," Luke 1:6; wherein they did
"instantly serve God day and night," Acts 26:7. And this they
esteemed to be their own righteousness, their righteousness
according unto the law; as really it was, Phil.3:6,9. For although
the Pharisees had greatly corrupted the doctrine of the law, and put
false glosses on sundry precepts of it; yet, that the church in
those days did, by "the works of the law," understand either
ceremonial duties only, or external works, or works with a conceit
of merit, or works wrought without an internal principle of faith
and love to God, or any thing but their own personal sincere
obedience unto the whole doctrine and rule of the law, there is
nothing that should give the least colour of imagination. For,--
     1. All this is perfectly stated in the suffrage which the scribe
gave unto the declaration of the sense and design of the law, with
the nature of the obedience which it does require, and was made at
his request by our blessed Saviour. Mark 12:28-33, "And one of the
scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and
perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the
first commandment of all?" (or as it is, Matt.22:36, "Which is the
great commandment in the law?") "And Jesus answered him, The first
of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our Gods is one
Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and
with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength;
this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. And the scribe said unto
him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God;
and there is none but he: and to love him with all the heart, and
with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the
strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all
whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices." And this [is] so expressly
given by Moses as the sum of the law,--namely, faith and love, as
the principle of all our obedience, Dent.6:4,5, , that it is
marvelous what should induce any learned, sober person to fix upon
any other sense of it; as that it respected ceremonial or external
works only, or such as may be wrought without faith or love. This is
the law concerning which the apostle disputes, and this the
obedience wherein the works of it do consist; and more than this, in

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