(Owen, Justification. part 34)

blessedness of a man by the forgiveness of sins. (5.) The state of
the question which he handles in his Epistle unto the Galatians, was
expressly about the works of them that did believe; for he does not
dispute against the Jews, who would not be pressed in the least with
his arguments,--namely, that if the inheritance were by the law,
then the promise was of none effect; and if righteousness were by
the law, then did Christ die in vain; for these things they would
readily grant. But he speaks unto them that were believers, with
respect unto those works which they would have joined with Christ
and the gospel, in order unto justification. (6.) If this were the
mind of the apostle, that he would exclude one sort of works, and
assert the necessity of another unto the same end, why did he not
once say so--especially considering how necessary it was that so he
should do, to answer those objections against his doctrine which he
himself takes notice of and returns answer unto on other grounds,
without the least intimation of any such distinction?
     Bellarmine considers this testimony in three places, lib.1 cap.18,
lib.1 cap.19, lib.5 cap.5, De Justificat. And he returns three
answers unto it; which contain the substance of all that is pleaded
by others unto the same purpose: He says,--(1.) "That the
righteousness which is by the law, and which is opposed unto the
righteousness which is by faith, is not the righteousness written in
the law, or which the law requires, but a righteousness wrought
without the aid of grace, by the knowledge of the law alone." (2.)
"That the righteousness which is by the faith of Christ is 'opera
nostra justa facta ex fide',--our own righteous works wrought in
faith; which others call our evangelical works." (3.) "That it is
blasphemous to call the duties of inherent righteousness "dzemian
kai skutala",--'loss and dung.'" But he labours in the fire with all
big sophistry. For as to the first,--(1.) That by the righteousness
which is by the law, the righteousness which the law requires is not
intended, is a bold assertion, and expressly contradictory unto the
apostle, Rom.9:31; 10:5. In both places he declares the
righteousness of the law to be the righteousness that the law
requires. (2.) The works which he excludes, he calls "the works of
righteousness that we have done," Tit.3:5, which are the works that
the law requires. Unto the second, I say,--(1.) That the substance
of it is, that the apostle should profess, "I desire to be found in
Christ, not having my own righteousness, but having my own
righteousness;" for evangelical inherent righteousness was properly
his own. And I am sorry that some should apprehend that the apostle,
in these words, did desire to be found in his own righteousness in
the presence of God, in order unto his justification; for nothing
can be more contrary, not only unto the perpetual tenor and design
of all his discourses on this subject, but also unto the testimony
of all other holy men in the Scripture to the same purpose; as we
have proved before. And I suppose there are very few true believers
at present whom they will find to comply and join with them in this
desire of being found in their own personal evangelical
righteousness, or the works of righteousness which they have done,
in their trial before God, as unto their justification. We should do
well to read our own hearts, as well as the books of others, in this
matter. (2.) "The righteousness which is of God by faith," is not
our own obedience or righteousness, but that which is opposed unto
it; that which God imputes unto us, Rom.4:6; that which we receive
by way of gift, chap.5:17. (3.) That by "the righteousness which is
through the faith of Christ;" our own inherent righteousness is not
intended, is evident from hence, that the apostle excludes all his
own righteousness, as and when he was found in Christ; that is,
whatever he had done as a believer. And if there be not an
opposition in these words, between a righteousness that is our own
and that which is not our own, I know not in what words it can be
expressed. Unto the third, I say,--(1.) The apostle does not, nor do
we say that he does, call our inherent righteousness "dung;" but
only that he "counts" it so. (2.) He does not account it so
absolutely, which he is most remote from; but only in comparison
with Christ. (3.) He does not esteem it so in itself; but only as
unto his trust in it with respect unto one especial end,--namely,
our justification before God. (4.) The prophet Isaiah, in the same
respect, terms all our righteousness "filthy rags," chap.64:6; and
"beged 'idim" is an expression of as much contempt as "skutala".
     3. Some say all works are excluded as meritorious of grace, life,
and salvation, but not as the condition of our justification before
God. But,--(1.) Whatever the apostle excludes, he does it
absolutely, and with all respects; because he sets up something else
in opposition unto it. (2.) There is no ground left for any such
distinction in this place: for all that the apostle requires unto
our justification is,--[1.] That we be found in Christ, not in
ourselves. [2.] That we have the righteousness of God, not our own.
[3.] That we be made partakers of this righteousness by faith; which
is the substance of what we plead for.

XIX. Objections against the doctrine of justification by the
imputation of the righteousness of Christ--Personal holiness and
obedience not obstructed, but furthered by it

Objections against the doctrine of justification by the imputation
of the righteousness of Christ--Nature of these objections--
Difficulty in discerning aright the sense of some men in this
argument--Justification by works, the end of all declension from the
righteousness of Christ--Objections against this doctrine derived
from a supposition thereof alone--First principal objection: Imputed

righteousness overthrows the necessity of a holy life--This
objection, as managed by them of the church of Rome, an open calumny-
-How insisted on by some among ourselves--Socinus' fierceness in
this charge--His foul dishonesty therein--False charges on men's
opinions making way for the rash condemnation of their persons--
Iniquity of such censures--The objection rightly stated--
Sufficiently answered in the previous discourses about the nature of
faith, and force of the moral law--The nature and necessity of
evangelical holiness elsewhere pleaded--Particular answers unto this
objection--All who profess this doctrine do not exemplify it in
their lives--The most holy truths have been abused--None by whom
this doctrine is now denied exceeds them in holiness by whom it is
formerly professed, and the power of it attested--The contrary
doctrine not successful in the reformation of the lives of men--The
best way to determine this difference--The one objection managed
against the doctrine of the apostle in his own days--Efficacious
prejudices against this doctrine in the minds of men--The whole
doctrine of the apostle liable to be abused--Answer of the apostle
unto this objection--He never once attempts to answer it by
declaring the necessity of personal righteousness, or good works,
unto justification before God--He confines the cogency of
evangelical motives unto obedience only unto believers--Grounds of
evangelical holiness asserted by him, in compliance with his
doctrine of justification:--1 Divine ordination--Exceptions unto
this ground removed--2. Answer of the apostle vindicated--The
obligation of the law unto obedience--Nature of it, and consistency
with grace--This answer of the apostle vindicated--Heads of other
principles that might be pleaded to the same purpose

That which remains to put an issue to this discourse is the
consideration of some things that in general are laid in objection
against the truth pleaded for. Many things of that nature we have
occasionally met withal, and already removed; yea, the principal of
those which at present are most insisted on. The testimonies of
Scripture urged by those of the Roman church for justification by
works, have all of them so fully and frequently been answered by
Protestant divines, that it is altogether needless to insist again
upon them, unless they had received some new enforcement; which of
late they have not done. That which, for the most part, we have now
to do withal are rather sophistical cavils, from supposed absurd
consequences, than real theological arguments. And some of those who
would walk with most wariness between the imputation of the
righteousness of Christ and justification by our own works, either
are in such a slippery place that they seem sometimes to be on the
one side, sometimes on the other; or else to express themselves with
so much caution, as it is very difficult to apprehend their minds. I
shall not, therefore, for the future dare to say that this or that
is any man's opinion, though it appear unto me so to be, as clear
and evident as words can express it; but that this or that opinion,
let it be maintained by whom it will, I approve or disapprove, this
I shall dare to say. And I will say, also, that the declination that
has been from the common doctrine of justification before God on the
imputation of the righteousness of Christ, does daily proceed
towards a direct assertion of justification by works; nor, indeed,
has it where to rest until it comes unto that bottom. And this is
more clearly seen in the objections which they make against the
truth than in what they plead in defense of their own opinions: for
herein they speak as yet warily, and with a pretence of accuracy in
avoiding extremes; but in the other, or their objections, they make
use of none but what are easily resolved into a supposition of
justification by works in the grossest sense of it. To insist on all
particulars were endless; and, as was said, most of those of any
importance have already occasionally been spoken unto. There are,
therefore, only two things which are generally pleaded by all sorts
of persons, Papists, Socinians, and others with whom here we have to
do, that I shall take notice of the first and fountain of all others
is, that the doctrine of justification by the imputation of the
righteousness of Christ does render our personal righteousness
needless, and overthrows all necessity of a holy life. The other is,
that the apostle James, in his epistle, does plainly ascribe our
justification unto works; and what he affirms there is inconsistent
with that sense of those many other testimonies of Scripture which
we plead for.
     For the first of these, although those who oppose the truth we
contend for do proceed on various different and contradictory prin
ciples among themselves, as to what they exalt in opposition unto
it, yet do they all agree in a vehement urging of it. For those of
the church of Rome who renewed this charge, invented of old by
others, it must be acknowledged by all sober men, that, as managed
by them, is an open calumny: for the wisest of them, and those whom
it is hard to conceive but that they knew the contrary, as
Bellarmine, Vasquez, Suarez, do openly aver that Protestant writers
deny all inherent righteousness (Bellarmine excepts Buyer and
Chemnitius); that they maintain that men may be saved, although they
live in all manner of sin; that there is no more required of them
but that they believe that their sins are forgiven; and that whilst
they do so, at though they give themselves up unto the most sensual
vices and abominations, they may be assured of their salvation.

     "Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum!"
     So will men, out of a perverse zeal to promote their own interest
in the religion they profess, wilfully give up themselves unto the
worst of evils, such as false accusation and open calumny; and of no
other nature are these assertions, which none of the writings or
preachings of those who are so charged did ever give the least coun
tenance unto. Whether the forging and promulgation of such impudent
falsehoods be an expedient to obtain justification by works in the
sight of God, they who continue in them had best consider. For my
part, I say again, as I suppose I have said already, that it is one
to me what religion men are of who can justify themselves in courses
and proceedings. And for those among ourselves who are pleased to
make use of this objection, they either know what the doctrine is
which they would oppose, or they do not. If they do not, the wise
man tells them that "he who answereth a matter before he hear it, it
is folly and shame unto him." If they do understand it, it is
evident that they use not sincerity but artifices and false
pretences, for advantage, in their handling of sacred things; which
is scandalous to religion. Socinus fiercely manages this charge
against the doctrine of the Reformed churches, De Servat. par.4,
cap.l; and he made it the foundation whereon, and the reason why, he
opposed the doctrine of the imputation of the satisfaction of
Christ, if any such satisfaction should be allowed; which yet he
peremptorily denies. And he has written a treatise unto the same
purpose, defended by Schlichtingius against Meisnerus. And he takes
the same honest course herein that others did before him; for he
charges it on the divines of the Protestant churches, that they
taught that God justifies the ungodly,--not only those that are so,
and whilst they are so, but although they continue so; that they
required no inherent righteousness or holiness in any, nor could do
so on their principles, seeing the imputed righteousness of Christ
is sufficient for them, although they live in sin, are not washed
nor cleansed, nor do give up themselves unto the ways of duty and
obedience unto God, whereby he may be pleased, and so bring in
libertinism and antinomianism into the church. And he thinks it a
sufficient confutation of this doctrine, to allege against it that
"neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers," etc., "shall
inherit the kingdom of God." And these are some of those ways which
have rendered the management of controversies in religion scandalous
and abominable, such as no wise or good man will meddle withal,
unless compelled for the necessary service of the church; for these
things are openly false, and made use of with a shameful dishonesty,
to promote a corrupt design and end. When I find men at this kind of
work, I have very little concernment in what they say afterwards, be
it true or false. Their rule and measure is what serves their own
end, or what may promote the design and interest wherein they are
engaged, be it right or wrong. And as for this man, there is not any
article in religion (the principal whereof are rejected by him) on
whose account he does with more confidence adjudge us unto eternal
ruin, than he does on this of the satisfaction of Christ, and the
imputation of it unto them that do believe. So much darkness is
there remaining on the minds of the most of men,--so many inveterate
prejudices on various occasions are they pestered withal, especially
if not under the conduct of the same enlightening Spirit,--that some
will confidently condemn others unto eternal flames for those thing
whereon they place, on infallible grounds, their hopes of eternal
blessedness, and know that they love God and live unto him on their
account. But this wretched advantage of condemning all them to hell
who dissent from them is greedily laid hold of by all sorts of
persons, for they thereby secretly secure their own whole party in
the persuasion of eternal salvation, be they otherwise what they
will; for if the want of that faith which they profess will
certainly damn men whatever else they be, and how good soever their
lives be, many will easily suffer themselves to be deceived with a
foolish sophism, that then that faith which they profess will
assuredly save them, be their lives what they please, considering
how it falls in with their inclinations. And hereby they may happen
also to frighten poor, simple people into a compliance with them,
whilst they peremptorily denounce damnation against them unless they
do so. And none, for the most part, are more fierce in the
denunciation of the condemnatory sentence against others for not
believing as they do, than those who so live as that, if there be
any truth in the Scripture, it is not possible they should be saved
themselves. For my part, I believe that, as to Christians in outward
profession, all unregenerate unbelievers who obey not the gospel
shall be damned, be they of what religion they will, and none else;
for all that are born again, do truly believe and obey the gospel,
shall be saved, be they of what religion they will as unto the
differences that are at this day among Christians. That way wherein
these things are most effectually promoted is, in the first place,
to be embraced by every one that takes care of his own salvation. If
they are in any way or church obstructed, that church or way is, so
far as it does obstruct them, to be forsaken; and if there be any
way of profession, or any visible church state, wherein any thing or
things absolutely destructive of or inconsistent with these things
are made necessary unto the professors of it, in that way, and by
virtue of it, no salvation is to be obtained. In other things, every
man is to walk according unto the light of his own mind; for
whatever is not of faith is sin. But I return from this digression,
occasioned by the fierceness of him with whom we have to do.
     For the objection itself that has fallen under so perverse a ma
nagement, so far as it has any pretence of sobriety in it, is this
and no other: "If God justify the ungodly merely by his grace,
through faith in Christ Jesus, so as that works of obedience are not
antecedently necessary unto justification before God, nor are any
part of that righteousness whereon any are so justified, then are
they no way necessary, but men may be justified and saved without
them." For it is said that there is no connection between faith unto
justification, as by us asserted, and the necessity of holiness,
righteousness, or obedience, but that we are by grace set at liberty
to live as we list; yea, in all manner of sin, and yet be secured of
salvation: for if we are made righteous with the righteousness of
another, we have no need of any righteousness of our own. And it
were well if many of those who make use of this plea would
endeavour, by some other way, also to evidence their esteem of these
things; for to dispute for the necessity of holiness, and live in
the neglect of it, is uncomely.
     I shall be brief in the answer that here shall be returned unto
this objection; for, indeed, it is sufficiently answered or obviated
in what has been before discoursed concerning the nature of that
faith whereby we are justified, and the continuation of the moral
law in its force, as a rule of obedience unto all believers. An
unprejudiced consideration of what has been proposed on these heads
will evidently manifest the iniquity of this charge, and how not the
least countenance is given unto it by the doctrine pleaded for.
Besides, I must acquaint the reader that, some while since, I have
published an entire discourse concerning the nature and necessity of
gospel holiness, with the grounds and reasons thereof, in compliance
with the doctrine of justification that has now been declared. Nor
do I see it necessary to add any thing thereunto, nor do I doubt but
that the perusal of it will abundantly detect the vanity of this
charge. Dispensation of the Holy Spirit, chap.5. Some few things may
be spoken on the present occasion:--
     1. It is not pleaded that all who do profess, or have in former
ages professed, this doctrine, have exemplified it in a holy and
fruitful conversation. Many, it is to be feared, have been found
amongst them who have lived and died in sin. Neither do I know but
that some have abused this doctrine to countenance themselves in
their sins and neglect of duty. The best of holy things or truths
cannot be secured from abuse, so long as the sophistry of the old
serpent has an influence on the lusts and depraved minds of men. So
was it with them of old who turned the grace of God into
lasciviousness; or, from the doctrine of it, countenanced themselves
in their ungodly deeds. Even from the beginning, the whole doctrine
of the gospel, with the grace of God declared therein, was so
abused. Neither were all that made profession of it immediately
rendered holy and righteous thereby. Many from the first so walked
as to make it evident that their belly was their god, and their end
destruction. It is one thing to have only the conviction of truth in
our minds; another to have the power of it in our hearts. The former
will only produce an outward profession; the latter effect an inward
renovation of our souls. However, I must add three things unto this

     (1.) I am not satisfied that any of those who at present oppose
this doctrine do, in holiness or righteousness, in the exercise of
faith, love, zeal, self-denial, and all other Christian graces,
surpass those who, in the last ages, both in this and other nations,
firmly adhered unto it, and who constantly testified unto that
effectual influence which it had into their walking before God. Nor
do I know that any can be named amongst us, in the former ages, who
were eminent in holiness (and many such there were), who did not
cordially assent unto that imputation of the righteousness of Christ
which we plead for. I doubt not in the least but that many who
greatly differ from others in the explication of this doctrine, may
be and are eminently holy, at least sincerely so; which is as much
as the best can pretend unto. But it is not comely to find some
others who give very little evidence of their "diligent following
after that holiness without which no man shall see God," vehemently
declaiming against that doctrine as destructive of holiness, which
was so fruitful in it in former days.
     (2.) It does not appear as yet, in general, that an attempt to in
troduce a doctrine contrary unto it has had any great success in the
reformation of the lives of men. Nor has personal righteousness or
holiness as yet much thrived under the conduct of it, as to what may
be observed. It will be time enough to seek countenance unto it, by
declaiming against that which has formerly had better effects, when
it has a little more commended itself by its fruits.
     (3.) It were not amiss if this part of the controversy might,
amongst us all, be issued in the advice of the apostle James,
chap.2:18, "Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show
thee my faith by my works." Let us all labour that fruits may thus
far determine of doctrines, as unto their use unto the interest of
righteousness and holiness; for that faith which does not evidence
itself by works, that has not this "endeixin", this index which
James calls for, whereby it may be found out and examined, is of no
use nor consideration herein.
     2. The same objection was from the beginning laid against the
doctrine of the apostle Paul, the same charge was managed against
it; which sufficiently argues that it is the same doctrine which is
now assaulted with it. This himself more than once takes notice of,
Rom.3:31, "Do we make void the law through faith?" It is an
objection that he anticipates against his doctrine of the free
justification of sinners, through faith in the blood of Christ. And
the substance of the charge included in these words is, that he
destroyed the law, took off all obligation unto obedience, and
brought in Antinomianism. So again, chap.6:1, "What shall we say
then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" Some thought
this the natural and genuine consequence of what he had largely
discoursed concerning justification, which he had now fully closed;
and some think so still: "If what he taught concerning the grace of
God in our justification be true, it will not only follow that there
will be no need of any relinquishment of sin on our part, but also a
continuance in it must needs tend unto the exaltation of that grace
which he had so extolled." The same objection he repeats again,
verse 15, "What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the
law, but under grace?" And in sundry other places does he obviate
the same objection, where he does not absolutely suppose it,
especially Eph.2:9,10. We have, therefore, no reason to be surprised
with, nor much to be moved at, this objection and charge; for it is
no other but what was insinuated or managed against the doctrine of
the apostle himself, whatever enforcements are now given it by
subtlety of arguing or rhetorical exaggerations. However, evident it
is, that there are naturally in the minds of men efficacious
prejudices against this part of the mystery of the gospel, which
began betides to manifest themselves, and ceased not until they had
corrupted the whole doctrine of the church herein: and it were no
hard matter to discover the principal of them, were that our present
business; however, it has in part been done before.
     3. It is granted that this doctrine, both singly by itself, or in
conjunction with whatever else concerns the grace of God by Christ
Jesus, is liable unto abuse by them in whom darkness and the love of
sin are predominant; for hence, from the very beginning of our
religion, some fancied unto themselves that a bare assent unto the
gospel was that faith whereby they should be saved, and that they
might be so however they continued to live in sin and a neglect of
all duties of obedience. This is evident from the epistles of John,
James, and Jude, in an especial manner. Against this pernicious evil
we can give no relief, whilst men will love darkness more than
light, because their deeds are evil. And it would be a fond imagina
tion in any, to think that their modellings of this doctrine after
this manner will prevent future abuse. If they will, it is by
rendering it no part of the gospel; for that which is so was ever
liable to be abused by such persons as we speak of.
     These general observations being premised, which are sufficient of
themselves to discard this objection from any place in the minds of
sober men, I shall only add the consideration of what answers the
apostle Paul returns unto it, with a brief application of them unto
our purpose.
     The objection made unto the apostle was, that he made void the
law, that he rendered good works needless; and that, on the supposi
tion of his doctrine, men might live in sin unto the advancement of
grace. And as unto his sense hereof we may observe,--
     1. That he never returns that answer unto it, no not once, which
some think is the only answer whereby it may be satisfied and re
moved,--namely, the necessity of our own personal righteousness and
obedience or works, in order unto our justification before God. For
that by "faith without works," he understands faith and works, is an
unreasonable supposition. If any do yet pretend that he has given
any such answer, let them produce it; as yet it has not been made to
appear. And is it not strange, that if this indeed were his
doctrine, and the contrary a mistake of it,--namely, that our
personal righteousness, holiness, and works, had an influence into
our justification, and were in any sort our righteousness before God
therein,--that he who, in an eminent manner, everywhere presses the
necessity of them, shows their true nature and use, both in general
and in particular duties of all sorts, above any of the writers of
the New Testament, should not make use of this truth in answer unto
an objection wherein he was charged to render them all needless and
useless? His doctrine was urged with this objection, as himself ac
knowledged; and on the account of it rejected by many, Rom.10:3,4;
Gal.2:18. He did see and know that the corrupt lusts and depraved
affections of the minds of many would supply them with subtle
arguing against it; yea, he did foresee, by the Holy Spirit, as
appears in many places of his writings, that it would be perverted
and abused. And surely it was highly incumbent on him to obviate
what in him lay these evils, and so state his doctrine upon this
objection as that no countenance might ever be given unto it. And is
it not strange that he should not on this occasion, once at least,
somewhere or other, give an intimation that although he rejected the
works of the law, yet he maintained the necessity of evangelical
works, in order unto our justification before God, as the condition
of it, or that whereby we are justified according unto the gospel?
If this were indeed his doctrine, and that which would so easily
solve this difficulty and answer this objection, as both of them are
by some pretended, certainly neither his wisdom nor his care of the
church under the conduct of the infallible Spirit, would have
suffered him to omit this reply, were it consistent with the truth
which he had delivered. But he is so far from any such plea, that
when the most unavoidable occasion was administered unto it, he not
only waives any mention of it, but in its stead affirms that which
plainly evidences that he allowed not of it. See Eph.2:9,10. Having
positively excluded works from our justification,--"Not of works,
lest any man should boast,"--it being natural thereon to inquire,
"To what end do works serve? Or is there any necessity of them?"
Instead of a distinction of works legal and evangelical in order
unto our justification, he asserts the necessity of the latter on
other grounds, reasons, and motives, manifesting that they were
those in particular which he excluded; as we have seen in the
consideration of the place. Wherefore,--that we may not forsake his
pattern and example in the same cause, seeing he was wiser and
holier, knew more of the mind of God, and had more zeal for personal
righteousness and holiness in the church, than we all,--if we are
pressed a thousand times with this objection, we shall never seek to
deliver ourselves from it, by answering that we allow these things
to be the condition or causes of our justification, or the matter of
our righteousness before God, seeing he would not so do.
     2. We may observe, that in his answer unto this objection, whether
expressly mentioned or tacitly obviated, he insists not anywhere
upon the common principle of moral duties, but on those motives and
reasons of holiness, obedience, good works alone, which are peculiar
unto believers. For the question was not, whether all mankind were
obliged unto obedience unto God, and the duties thereof, by the
moral law? But, whether there were an obligation from the gospel
upon believers unto righteousness, holiness, and good works, such as
was suited to affect and constrain their minds unto them? Nor will
we admit of any other state of the question but this only: whether,
upon the supposition of our gratuitous justification through the
imputation of the righteousness of Christ, there are in the gospel
grounds, reasons, and motives, making necessary, and efficaciously
influencing the minds of believers unto obedience and good works?
For those who are not believers, we have nothing to do with them in
this matter, nor do plead that evangelical grounds and motives are
suited or effectual to work them unto obedience: yea, we know the
contrary, and that they are apt both to despise them and abuse them.
See 1 Cor.1:23,24; 2 Cor.4:4. Such persons are under the law, and
there we leave them unto the authority of God in the moral law. But
that the apostle does confine his inquiry unto believers, is evident
in every place wherein he makes mention of it: Rom.6:2,3, "How shall
we, that are dead unto sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not
that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ," etc.;
Eph.2:10, "For we are the workmanship of God, created in Christ
Jesus unto good works." Wherefore, we shall not at all contend what
cogency unto duties of holiness there is in gospel motives and
reasons unto the minds of unbelievers, whatever may be the truth in
that case; but what is their power, force, and efficacy, towards
them that truly believe.
     3. The answers which the apostle returns positively unto this ob
jection, wherein he declares the necessity, nature, ends, and use of
evangelical righteousness and good works, are large and many, com
prehensive of a great part of the doctrine of the gospel. I shall
only mention the heads of some of them, which are the same that we
plead in the vindication of the same truth:--
     (1.) He pleads the ordination of God: "God has before ordained
that we should walk in them," Eph.2:10. God has designed, in the
disposal of the order of the causes of salvation, that those who
believe in Christ should live in, walk in, abound in good works, and
all duties of obedience unto God. To this end are precepts, direc
tions, motives, and encouragements, everywhere multiplied in the
Scripture. Wherefore, we say that good works,--and that as they
include the gradual progressive renovation of our natures, our
growth and increase in grace, with fruitfulness in our lives,--are
necessary from the ordination of God, from his will and command. And
what need there any farther dispute about the necessity of good
works among them that know what it is to believe, or what respect
there is in the souls and consciences of believers unto the commands
of God?
     "But what force," say some, "is in this command or ordination of
God, when notwithstanding it, and if we do not apply ourselves unto
obedience, we shall be justified by the imputation of the righteous
ness of Christ, and so may be saved without them?" I say,--First, as
was before observed, That it is believers alone concerning whom this
inquiry is made; and there is none of them but will judge this a
most unreasonable and senseless objection, as that which arises from
an utter ignorance of their state and relation unto God. To suppose
that the minds of believers are not as much and as effectually influ
enced with the authority and commands of God unto duty and obe
dience, as if they were all given in order unto their justification,
is to consider neither what faith is, nor what it is to be a
believer, nor what is the relation that we stand in unto God by
faith in Christ Jesus, nor what are the arguments or motives
wherewith the minds of such persons are principally affected and

(continued in part 34...)

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