(Owen, Justification. part 33)

Secondly, He ascribes such adjuncts, and gives such epithets, unto
that divine mercy and grace, which is the sole cause of our
deliverance, in and by Jesus Christ, as rendered it singular, and
herein solely to be adored: "plousios en ele-ei, die ten pollen
agapen; hupertalloon ploutos tes charitos";--"rich in mercy;" "great
love wherewith he loved us;" "the exceeding riches of his grace in
his kindness," verses 4-7. It cannot reasonably be denied but that
the apostle does design deeply to affect the mind and heart of
believers with a sense of the grace and love of God in Christ, as
the only cause of their justification before God. I think no words
can express those conceptions of the mind which this representation
of grace does suggest. Whether they think it any part of their duty
to be like minded, and comply with the apostle in this design, who
scarce ever mention the grace of God, unless it be in a way of
diminution from its efficacy, and unto whom such ascriptions unto it
as are here made by him are a matter of contempt, is not hard to
     But it will be said, "These are good words, indeed, but they are
only general; there is nothing of argument in all this adoring of
the grace of God in the work of our salvation." It may be so, it
seems, to many; but yet, to speak plainly, there is to me more
argument in this one consideration,--namely, of the ascription made
in this cause unto the grace of God in this place,--than in a
hundred sophisms, suited neither unto the expressions of the
Scripture nor the experience of them that do believe. He that is
possessed with a due apprehension of the grace of God, as here
represented, and under a sense that it was therein the design of the
Holy Ghost to render it glorious and alone to be trusted unto, will
not easily be induced to concern himself in those additional
supplies unto it from our own works and obedience which some would
suggest unto him. But we may yet look farther into the words.
     The case which the apostle states, the inquiry which he has in
hand, whereon he determines as to the truth wherein he instructs the
Ephesians, and in them the whole church of God, is, how a lost,
condemned sinner may come to be accepted with God, and thereon
saved? And this is the sole inquiry wherein we are, or intend in
this controversy to be, concerned. Farther we will not proceed,
either upon the invitation or provocation of any. Concerning this,
his position and determination is, "That we are saved by grace."
     This first he occasionally interposes in his enumeration of the
benefits we receive by Christ, verse 5. But not content therewith,
he again directly asserts it, verse 8, in the same words; for he
seems to have considered how slow men would be in the admittance of
this truth, which at once deprives them of all boastings in
     What it is that he intends by our being saved must be inquired
into. It would not be prejudicial unto, but rather advance the truth
we plead for, if, by our being saved, eternal salvation were
intended. But that cannot be the sense of it in this place,
otherwise than as that salvation is included in the causes of it,
which are effectual in this life. Nor do I think that in that
expression, "By grace are ye saved," our justification only is
intended, although it be so principally. (conversion unto God and
sanctification are also included therein, as is evident from verses
5,6; and they are no less of sovereign grace than is our
justification itself. But the apostle speaks of what the Ephesians,
being now believers, and by virtue of their being so, were made
partakers of in this life. This is manifest in the whole context;
for having, in the beginning of the chapter, described their
condition, what it was, in common with all the posterity of Adam, by
nature, verses 1-3, he moreover declares their condition in
particular, in opposition to that of the Jews, as they were
Gentiles, idolaters, atheists, verses 11,12. Their present delivery
by Jesus Christ from this whole miserable state and condition,--that
which they were under in common with all mankind, and that which was
a peculiar aggravation of its misery in themselves,--is that which
he intends by their being "saved." That which was principally
designed in the description of this state is, that therein and
thereby they were liable unto the wrath of God, guilty before him,
and obnoxious unto his judgment. This he expresses in the
declaration of it, verse 3,--answerable unto that method and those
grounds he everywhere proceeds on, in declaring the doctrine of
justification. Rom. 3:19-24; Tit.3:3-5. From this state they had
deliverance by faith in Christ Jesus; for unto as many as receive
him, power is given to be the sons of God, John 1:12. "He that
believeth on him is not condemned;" that is, he is saved, in the
sense of the apostle in this place, John 3:18. "He that believeth on
the Son has everlasting life" (is saved); "and he that believeth not
the Son, the wrath of God abideth on him," verse 36. And in this
sense, "saved," and "salvation," are frequently used in the
Scripture. Besides, he gives us so full a description of the
salvation which he intends, from Eph.2:13 unto the end of the
chapter, that there can be no doubt of it. It is our being "made
nigh by the blood of Christ," verse 13; our "peace" with God by his
death, verses 14, 15; our "reconciliation" by the blood of the
"cross," verse 16; our "access unto God;" and all spiritual
privileges thereon depending, verses 18-20, etc.
     Wherefore, the inquiry of the apostle, and his determination
thereon, is concerning the causes of our justification before God.
This he declares, and fixes both positively and negatively.
Positively,--1. In the supreme moving cause on the part of God; this
is that free, sovereign grace and love of his, which he illustrates
by its adjuncts and properties before mentioned. 2. In the
meritorious procuring cause of it; which is Jesus Christ in the work
of his mediation, as the ordinance of God for the rendering this
grace effectual unto his glory, verses 7,13,16. 3. In the only means
or instrumental cause on our part; which is faith: "By grace are ye
saved through faith," verse 8. And lest he should seem to derogate
any thing from the grace of God, in asserting the necessity and use
of faith, he adds that epanorthosis, " And that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God." The communication of this faith unto us is
no less of grace than is the justification which we obtain thereby.
So has he secured the whole work unto the grace of God through
Christ; wherein we are interested by faith alone.
     But not content herewith, he describes this work negatively, or
adds an exclusion of what might be pretended to have a concernment
therein. And therein three things are stated distinctly:--1. What it
is he so excludes. 2. The reason whereon he does so. 3. The
confirmation of that reason, wherein he obviates an objection that
might arise thereon:--
     1. That which he excludes is works: "Not of works," verse 9. And
what works he intends, at least principally, himself declares.
"Works," say some, "of the law, the law of Moses." But what
concernment had these Ephesians therein, that the apostle should
inform them that they were not justified by those works? They were
never under that law, never sought for righteousness by it, nor had
any respect unto it, but only that they were delivered from it. But
it may be he intends only works wrought in the strength of our own
natural abilities, without the aids of grace, and before believing.
But what were the works of these Ephesians antecedent unto
believing, he before and afterwards declares. For, "being dead in
trespasses and sins," they "walked according to the course of this
world in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh
and of the mind," verses 1-3. It is certain enough that these works
have no influence into our justification; and no less certain that
the apostle had no reason to exclude them from it, as though any
could pretend to be advantaged by them, in that which consists in a
deliverance from them. Wherefore, the works here excluded by the
apostle are those works which the Ephesians now performed, when they
were believers, quickened with Christ; even the "works which God has
before ordained that we should walk in them," as he expressly
declared, verse 10. And these works he excludes, not only in
opposition unto grace, but in opposition unto faith also: "Through
faith; not of works." Wherefore he does not only reject their merit,
as inconsistent with grace, but their co-interest on our part with,
or subsequent interest unto faith, in the work of justification
before God.
     If we are saved by grace, through faith in Christ, exclusively
unto all works of obedience whatever, then cannot such works be the
whole or any part of our righteousness unto the justification of
life: wherefore, another righteousness we must have, or perish for
ever. Many things I know are here offered, and many distinctions
coined, to retain some interest of works in our justification before
God; but whether it be the safest way to trust unto them, or unto
this plain, express, divine testimony, will not be hard for any to
determine, when they make the case their own.
     2. The apostle adds a reason of this exclusion of works: "Not of
works, lest any man should boast." God has ordained the order and
method of our justification by Christ in the way expressed, that no
man might have ground, reason, or occasion to glory or boast in or
of himself. So it is expressed, 1 Cor.1:21,30,31; Rom.3:27. To
exclude all glorying or boasting on our part is the design of God.
And this consists in an ascription of something unto ourselves that
is not in others, in order unto justification. And it is works alone
that can administer any occasion of this boasting: "For if Abraham
were justified by works, he has whereof to glory," chap.4:2. And it
is excluded alone by the "law of faith," chap.3:27; for the nature
and use of faith is to find righteousness in another. And this
boasting all works are apt to beget in the minds of men, if applied
unto justification; and where there is any boasting of this nature,
the design of God towards us in this work of his grace is frustrated
what lies in us.
     That which I principally insist on from hence is, that there are
no boundaries fixed in Scripture unto the interest of works in
justification, so as no boasting should be included in them. The
Papists make them meritorious of it,--at least of our second
justification, as they call it. "This," say some, "ought not to be
admitted, for it includes boasting. Merit and boasting are
inseparable." Wherefore, say others, they are only "causa sine qua
non," they are the condition of it; or they are our evangelical
righteousness before God, whereon we are evangelically justified; or
they are a subordinate righteousness whereon we obtain an interest
in the righteousness of Christ; or are comprised in the condition of
the new covenant whereby we are justified; or are included in faith,
being the form of it, or of the essence of it, one way or other: for
herein men express themselves in great variety. But so long as our
works are hereby asserted in order unto our justification, how shall
a man be certain that they do not include boasting, or that they do
express the true sense of these words, "Not of works, lest any man
should boast?" There is some kind of ascription unto ourselves in
this matter; which is boasting. If any shall say that they know well
enough what they do, and know that they do not boast in what they
ascribe unto works, I must say that in general I cannot admit it;
for the Papists affirm of themselves that they are most remote from
boasting, yet I am very well satisfied that boasting and merit are
inseparable. The question is, not what men think they do? but, what
judgment the Scripture passes on what they do? And if it be said,
that what is in us is also of the grace and gift of God, and is so
acknowledged, which excludes all boasting in ourselves; I say it was
so by the Pharisee, and yet was he a horrible boaster. Let them,
therefore, be supposed to be wrought in us in what way men please,
if they be also wrought by us, and so be the "works of righteousness
which we have done," I fear their introduction into our
justification does include boasting in it, because of this assertion
of the apostle, "Not of works, lest any man should boast."
Wherefore, because this is a dangerous point, unless men can give us
the direct, plain, indisputable bounds of the introduction of our
works into our justification, which cannot include boasting in it,
it is the safest course utterly to exclude them, wherein I see no
danger of any mistake in these words of the Holy Ghost, "Not of
works, lest any man should boast;" for if we should be unadvisedly
seduced into this boasting, we should lose all the benefits which we
might otherwise expect by the grace of God.
     3. The apostle gives another reason why it cannot be of works, and
withal obviates an objection which might arise from what he had
declared, Fph.2:10, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ
Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should
walk in them." And the force of his reason, which the causal
conjunction intimates the introduction of, consists in this:--that
all good works,--those concerning which he treats, evangelical
works,--are the effects of the grace of God in them that are in
Christ Jesus, and so are truly justified antecedently in order of
nature unto them. But that which he principally designed in these
words was that which he is still mindful of, wherever he treats of
this doctrine,-- namely, to obviate an objection that he foresaw
some would make against it; and that is this, "If good works be thus
excluded from our justification before God, then of what use are
they? We may live as we list, utterly neglect them, and yet be
justified." And this very objection do some men continue to manage
with great vehemency against the same doctrine. We meet with nothing
in this cause more frequently, than that "if our justification
before God be not of works, some way or other, if they be not
antecedaneously required whereunto, if they are not a previous
condition of it, then there is no need of them,--men may safely live
in an utter neglect of all obedience unto God." And on this theme
men are very apt to enlarge themselves, who otherwise give no great
evidences of their own evangelical obedience. To me it is marvelous
that they heed not unto what party they make an accession in the
management of this objection,--namely, unto that of them who were
the adversaries of the doctrine of grace taught by the apostle. It
must be elsewhere considered. For the present, I shall say no more
but that, if the answer here given by the apostle be not
satisfactory unto them,--if the grounds and reasons of the necessity
and use of good works here declared be not judged by them sufficient
to establish them in their proper place and order,--I shall not
esteem myself obliged to attempt their farther satisfaction.

Phil.3:8,9. "Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the
excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have
suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I
may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own
righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the
faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith".
     This is the last testimony which I shall insist upon, and although
it be of great importance, I shall be the more brief in the
consideration of it, because it has been lately pleaded and
vindicated by another, whereunto I do not expect any tolerable
reply. For what has since been attempted by one, it is of no weight;
he is in this matter "oute tritos oute tetartos". And the things
that I would observe from and concerning this testimony may be
reduced into the ensuing heads:--
     1. That which the apostle designs, from the beginning of this
chapter, and in these verses, is, in an especial manner, to declare
what it is on the account whereof we are accepted with God, and have
thereon cause to rejoice. This he fixes in general in an interest
in, and participation of, Christ by faith, in opposition unto all
legal privileges and advantages, wherein the Jews, whom he reflected
upon, did boast and rejoice: "Rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no
confidence in the flesh," verse 3.
     2. He supposes that unto that acceptance before God wherein we are
to rejoice, there is a righteousness necessary; and, whatever it be,
[it] is the sole ground of that acceptance. And to give evidence
     3. He declares that there is a twofold righteousness that may be
pleaded and trusted unto to this purpose:--(].) "Our own
righteousness, which is of the law." (2.) "That which is through the
faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." These
he asserts to be opposite and inconsistent, as unto the end of our
justification and acceptance with God: "Not having mine own
righteousness, but that which is," etc. And an intermediate
righteousness between these he acknowledges not.
     4. Placing the instance in himself, he declares emphatically (so
as there is scarce a greater orator, or vehemency of speech, in all
his writings) which of these it was that he adhered unto, and placed
his confidence in. And in the handling of this subject, there were
some things which engaged his holy mind into an earnestness of
expression in the exaltation of one of these,--namely, of the
righteousness which is of God by faith; and the depression of the
other, or his own righteousness. As,--
     (1.) This was the turning point whereon he and others had forsaken
their Judaism, and betaken themselves unto the gospel. This,
therefore, was to be secured as the main instance, wherein the
greatest controversy that ever was in the world was debated. So he
expresses it, Gal.2:15,16, "We who are Jews by nature, and not
sinners of the Gentiles, 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." (2.) Hereon there was
great opposition made unto this doctrine by the Jews in all places,
and in many of them the minds of multitudes were turned off from the
truth which the most are generally prone unto in this case), and
perverted from the simplicity of the gospel. This greatly affected
his holy soul, and he takes notice of it in most of his epistles
(3.) The weight of the doctrine itself, with that unwillingness
which is in the minds of men by nature to embrace it, as that which
lays the axe to the root of all spiritual pride, elation of mind,
and self-pleasing whatever,--whence innumerable subterfuges have
been, and are, sought out to avoid the efficacy of it, and to keep
the souls of men from that universal resignation of themselves unto
sovereign grace in Christ, which they have naturally such an
aversation unto,--did also affect him. (4.) He had himself been a
great sinner in the days of his ignorance, by a peculiar opposition
unto Christ and the gospel. This he was deeply sensible of, and
wherewithal of the excellency of the grace of God and the
righteousness of Christ, whereby he was delivered. And men must have
some experience of what he felt in himself as unto sin and grace,
before they can well understand his expressions about them.
     5. Hence it was that, in many other places of his writings, but in
this especially, he treats of these things with a greater
earnestness and vehemency of spirit than ordinary. Thus,--(1.) On
the part of Christ, whom he would exalt, he mentions not only the
knowledge of him, but "to huperechon tes gnooseoos",--"the
excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord," with an
emphasis in every word. And those other redoubled expressions, "all
loss for him;" "that I may win him;" "that I may be found in him;"
"that I may know him,"--all argue the working of his affections,
under the conduct of faith and truth, unto an acquiescence in Christ
alone, as all, and in all. Somewhat of this frame of mind is
necessary unto them that would believe his doctrine. Those who are
utter strangers unto the one will never receive the other. (2.) In
his expression of all other things that are our own, that are not
Christ, whether privileges or duties, however good, useful,
excellent they may be in themselves, yet, in comparison of Christ
and his righteousness, and with respect unto the end of our standing
before God, and acceptance with him, with the same vehemency of
spirit he casts contempt upon [them], calling them "skutala",--
"dog's meat," to be left for them whom he calls "dogs;" that is,
evil workers of the concision, or the wicked Jews who adhered
pertinaciously unto the righteousness of the law, Phil.3:2. This
account of the earnestness of the apostle in this argument, and the
warmth of his expressions, I thought meet to give, as that which
gives light into the whole of his design.
     6. The question being thus stated, the inquiry is, what any
person, who desires acceptance with God, or a righteousness whereon
he may be justified before him, ought to retake himself unto one of
the ways proposed he must close withal. Either he must comply with
the apostle in his resolution to reject all his own righteousness,
and to retake himself unto the righteousness of God, which is by
faith in Christ Jesus alone, or find out for himself, or get some to
find out for him, some exceptions unto the apostle's conclusion, or
some distinctions that may prepare a reserve for his own works, one
way or other, in his justification before God. Here every one must
choose for himself. In the meantime, we thus argue:--If our own
righteousness, and the righteousness which is of God by faith, or
that which is through the faith of Christ Jesus (namely, the
righteousness which God imputes unto us, Rom.4:6, or the abundance
of grace and the gift of righteousness thereby which we receive,
chap.5:17), are opposite and inconsistent in the work of
justification before God, then are we justified by faith alone,
through the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto us. The
consequent is plain, from the removal of all other ways, causes,
means, and conditions of it, as inconsistent with it. But the
antecedent is expressly the apostle's: "Not my own, but that of
God." Again,--
     That whereby and wherewith we are "found in Christ" is that
whereby alone we are justified before God; for to be found in Christ
expresseth the state of the person that is to be justified before
God; whereunto is opposed to be found in ourselves. And according
unto these different states does the judgment of God pass concerning
us. And as for those who are found in themselves, we know what will
be their portion. But in Christ we are found by faith alone.
     All manner of evasions are made use of by some to escape the force
of this testimony. It is said, in general, that no sober-minded man
can imagine the apostle did not desire to be found in gospel
righteousness, or that by his own righteousness he meant that; for
it is that alone can entitle us unto the benefits of Christ's
righteousness. "Nollem dictum." (1.) The censure is too severe to be
cast on all Protestant writers, without exception, who have
expounded this place of the apostle; and all others, except some few
of late, influenced by the heat of the controversy wherein they are
engaged. (2.) If the gospel righteousness intended be his own
personal righteousness and obedience, there is some want of
consideration in affirming that he did desire to be found in it.
That wherein we are found, thereon are we to be judged. To be found
in our own evangelical righteousness before God, is to enter into
judgment with God thereon; which those who understand any thing
aright of God and themselves will not be free unto. And to make this
to be the meaning of his words: "I desire not to be found in my own
righteousness which is after the law, but I desire to be found in
mine own righteousness which is according to the gospel," whereas,
as they are his own inherent righteousness, they are both the same,-
-doth not seem a proper interpretation of his words; and it shall be
immediately disproved. (3.) That our personal gospel righteousness
does entitle us unto the benefits of Christ's righteousness,--that
is, as unto our justification before God,--is "gratis dictum;" not
one testimony of Scripture can be produced that gives the least
countenance unto such an assertion. That it is contrary unto many
express testimonies, and inconsistent with the freedom of the grace
of God in our justification, as proposed in the Scripture, has been
proved before. Nor do any of the places which assert the necessity
of obedience and good works in believers,--that is, justified
persons,--unto salvation, any way belong unto the proof of this
assertion, or in the least express or intimate any such thing; and,
in particular, the assertion of it is expressly contradictory unto
that of the apostle, Tit.3:4,5. But I forbear, and proceed to the
consideration of the special answers that are given unto this
testimony, especially those of Bellarmine, whereunto I have as yet
seen nothing added with any pretence of reason in it:--
     1. Some say that by his own righteousness, which the apostle
rejects, he intends only his righteousness "ek nomou", or "by the
works of the law." But this was only an outward, external
righteousness, consisting in the observation of rites and
ceremonies, without respect unto the inward frame or obedience of
the heart. But this is an impious imagination. The righteousness
which is by the law is the righteousness which the law requires, and
those works of it which if a man do he shall live in them; for "the
doers of the law shall be justified," Rom.2:13. Neither did God ever
give any law of obedience unto man, but what obliged him to "love
the LORD his God with all his heart, and all his soul." And it is so
far from being true, that God by the law required an external
righteousness only, that he frequently condemns it as an abomination
to him, where it is alone.
     2. Others say that it is the righteousness, whatever it be, which
he had during his Pharisaism. And although he should be allowed, in
that state, to have "lived in all good conscience, instantly to have
served God day and night," and to have had respect as well unto the
internal as the external works of the law; yet all these works,
being before faith, before conversion to God, may be, and are to be,
rejected as unto any concurrence unto our justification. But works
wrought in faith, by the aid of grace,--evangelical works,--are of
another consideration, and, together with faith, are the condition
of justification.
     Ans. 1. That, in the matter of our justification, the apostle
opposes evangelical works, not only unto the grace of God, but also
unto the faith of believers, was proved in the consideration of the
foregoing testimony.
     2. He makes no such distinction as that pretended,--namely, that
works are of two sorts, whereof one is to be excluded from any
interest in our justification, but not the other; neither does he
anywhere else, treating of the same subject, intimate any such
distinction, but, on the contrary, declares that use of all works of
obedience in them that believe which is exclusive of the supposition
of any such distinction: but he directly expresses, in this
rejection, his own righteousness,--that is, his personal, inherent
righteousness,-- whatever it be, and however it be wrought.
     3. He makes a plain distinction of his own twofold estate,--
namely, that of his Judaism which he was in before his conversion,
and that which he had by faith in Christ Jesus. In the first state,
he considers the privileges of it, and declares what judgment he
made concerning them upon the revelation of Jesus Christ unto him:
"hegemai", says he, referring unto the time past,--namely, at his
first conversion "I considered them, with all the advantages, gain,
and reputation which I had by them; but rejected them all for
Christ: because the esteem of them and continuance in them as
privileges, was inconsistent with faith in Christ Jesus." Secondly,
he proceeds to give an account of himself and his thoughts, as unto
his present condition. For it might be supposed that although he had
parted with all his legal privileges for Christ, yet now, being
united unto him by faith, he had something of his own wherein he
might rejoice, and on the account whereof he might be accepted with
God (the thing inquired after), or else he had parted with all for
nothing. Wherefore, he, who had no design to make any reserves of
what he might glory in, plainly declares what his judgment is
concerning all his present righteousness, and the ways of obedience
which he was now engaged in, with respect unto the ends inquired
after, Phil.3:8: "Alla menounge kai hegoumai". The bringing over of
what was affirmed before concerning his Judaical privileges into
this verse, is an effect of a very superficiary consideration of the
context. For,--(1.) There is a plain "auxesis" in these words, "Alla
menounge kai". He could not more plainly express the heightening of
what he had affirmed by a proceed unto other things, or the
consideration of himself in another state: "But, moreover, beyond
what I have already asserted." (2.) The change of the time expressed
by "hegemai", [which] respects what was past, into "hegoumai",
wherein he has respect only unto what was present, not what he had
before rejected and forsaken, makes evident his progress unto the
consideration of things of another nature. Wherefore, unto the
rejection of all his former Judaical privileges, he adds his
judgment concerning his own present personal righteousness. But
whereas it might be objected, that, rejecting all both before and
after conversion, he had nothing left to rejoice in, to glory in, to
give him acceptance with God; he assures us of the contrary,--
namely, that he found all these things in Christ, and the
righteousness of God which is by faith. He is therefore in these
words, "Not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law," so
far from intending only the righteousness which he had before his
conversion, as that he intends it not at all.
     The words of Davenant on this passage of the apostle, being in my
judgment not only sober, but weighty also, I shall transcribe them:
"Hic docet apostolus quaenam illa justitia sit qua nitendum coram
Deo, nimirum quae per fidem apprehenditur, at haec imputate est:
Causam etiam ostendit curjure nostra fiat, nimirum quia nos Christi
sumus et in Christo comperimur; quia igitur insiti sumus in corpus
ejus et coalescimus cumillo in unam personam, ideo ejus justitia
nostra reputtur", De Justif. Habit. cap.38. For whereas some begin
to interpret our being "in Christ," and being "found in him," so as
to intend no more but our profession of the faith of the gospel, the
faith of the catholic church in all ages concerning the mystical
union of Christ and believers, is not to be blown away with a few
empty words and unproved assertions.
     The answer, therefore, is full and clear unto the general
exception, namely, that the apostle rejects our legal, but not our
evangelical righteousness; for,--(1.) The apostle rejects,
disclaims, disowns, nothing at all, not the one nor the other
absolutely, but in comparison of Christ, and with respect unto the
especial end of justification before God, or a righteousness in his
sight. (2.) In that sense he rejects all our own righteousness; but
our evangelical righteousness, in the sense pleaded for, is our own,
inherent in us, performed by us. (3.) Our legal righteousness, and
our evangelical, so far as an inherent righteousness is intended,
are the same; and the different ends and use of the same
righteousness are alone intended in that distinction, so far as it
has sense in it. That which in respect of motives unto it, the ends
of it, with the especial causes of its acceptance with God, is
evangelical; in respect of its original prescription, rule, and
measure, is legal. When any can instance in any act or duty, in any
habit or effect of it, which is not required by that law which
enjoins us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and
mind, and our neighbour as ourselves, they shall be attended unto.
(4.) The apostle in this case rejects all the "works of
righteousness which we have done," Tit.3:5; but our evangelical
righteousness consists in the works of righteousness which we do.
(5.) He disclaims all that is our own. And if the evangelical
righteousness intended be our own, he sets up another in opposition
unto it; and which, therefore, is not our own, but as it is imputed
unto us. And I shall yet add some other reasons which render this
pretence useless, or show the falseness of it:--
     (1.) Where the apostle does not distinguish or limit what he
speaks of, what ground have we to distinguish or limit his
assertions? "Not by works," says he sometimes, absolutely; sometimes
"the works of righteousness which we have done." "That is, not by
some sort of works," say those who plead the contrary. But by what
warrant? (2.) The works which they pretend to be excluded, as
wherein our own righteousness that is rejected does consist, are
works wrought without faith, without the aid of grace: but these are
not good works, nor can any be denominated righteous from them, nor
is it any righteousness that consists in them alone; for "without
faith it is impossible to please God." And to what purpose should
the apostle exclude evil works and hypocritical from our
justification? Whoever imagined that any could be justified with
respect unto them? There might have been some pretence for this
gloss, had the apostle said his own works; but whereas he rejects
his own righteousness, to restrain it unto such works as are not
righteous, as will denominate none righteous, as are no
righteousness at all, is most absurd. (3.) Works wrought in faith,
if applied unto our justification, do give occasion unto, or include
boasting, more than any others, as being better and more
praiseworthy than they. (4.) The apostle elsewhere excludes from
justification the works that Abraham had done, when he had been a
believer many years; and the works of David, when he described the

(continued in part 34...)

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