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Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ
by John Bunyan
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But to pass this digression, and to come to my argument, namely, that men are justified from the curse of the law, before God, while sinners in themselves; this is evident by what hath already been said; for if the justification of their persons is by, in, and through Christ; then it is not by, in, and through their own doings. Nor was Christ engaged in this work but of necessity, even because else there had not been salvation for the elect. 'O my father,' saith he, 'if it be possible, let this cup pass from me' (Matt 26:39). If what be possible? Why, that my elect may be saved, and I not spill my blood. Wherefore he saith again, Christ ought to suffer (Luke 24:26). 'Christ must needs have suffered,' for 'without shedding of blood is no remission' of sin (Acts 17:3; Heb 9:22).[9]

[Proofs of the first position.]

SECOND. We will now come to the present state and condition of those that are justified; I mean with respect to their own qualifications, and so prove the truth of this our great position. And this I will do, by giving of you plain texts that discover it, and that consequently prove our point. And after that, by giving of you reasons drawn from the texts.

First. 'Speak not thou in thine heart,' no, not in thine heart, 'after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out [thine enemies] before thee, saying, For my righteousness—do I possess this land.—Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land.—Understand, therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiff-necked people' (Deut 9:4-6).

In these words, very pat for our purpose, two things are worthy our consideration. 1. The people here spoken to were the people of God; and so by God himself are they here twice acknowledged to be—'The Lord thy God, the Lord thy God.' So then, the righteousness here intended is not the righteousness that is in the world, but that which the people of God perform. 2. The righteousness here intended is not some, but all, and every whit of that the church performs to God: Say not in thine heart, after the Lord hath brought thee in, It was for my righteousness. No, all thy righteousness, from Egypt to Canaan, will not purchase Canaan for thee.

That this is true is evident, because it is thrice rejected—Not for thy righteousness—not for thy righteousness—not for thy righteousness, dost thou possess the land. Now, if the righteousness of the people of God of old could not merit for them Canaan, which was but a type of heaven, how can the righteousness of the world now obtain heaven itself? I say again, if godly men, as these were, could not by their works purchase the type of heaven, then must the ungodly be justified, if ever they be justified from the curse and sentence of the law, while sinners in themselves. The argument is clear; for if good men, by what they do, cannot merit the less, bad men, by what they do, cannot merit more.

Second. 'Remember me, O my God, concerning this; and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done' (Neh 13:14).

These words were spoken by holy Nehemiah, and that at the end of all the good that we read he did in the world. Also, the deeds here spoken of were deeds done for God, for his people, for his house, and for the offices thereof. Yet godly Nehemiah durst not stand before God in these, nor yet suffer them to stand to his judgment by the law; but prays to God to be merciful both to him and them, and to spare him 'according to the greatness of his mercy' (v 22).

God blots out no good but for the sake of sin;[10] and forasmuch as this man prays God would not blot out his, it is evident that he was conscious to himself that in his good works were sin. Now, I say, if a good man's works are in danger of being overthrown because there is in them a tang of sin, how can bad men think to stand just before God in their works, which are in all parts full of sin? Yea, if the works of a sanctified man are blameworthy, how shall the works of a bad man set him clear in the eyes of Divine justice?

Third. 'But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away' (Isa 64:6).

In these words we have a relation both of persons and things. 1. Of persons. And they are a righteous people, a righteous people put all together—'We, we all are,' &c. 2. The condition of this people, even of ALL of them, take them at the best, are, and that by their own confession, 'as an unclean thing.' 3. Again; the things here attending this people are their good things, put down under this large character, 'Righteousnesses, ALL our righteousnesses.'

These expressions therefore comprehend all their religious duties, both before and after faith too. But what are all these righteousnesses? Why, they are all as 'filthy rags' when set before the justice of the law; yea, it is also confessed, and that by these people, that their iniquities, notwithstanding all their righteousnesses, like the wind, if grace prevent not, would 'carry them away.' This being so, how is it possible for one that is in his sins, to work himself into a spotless condition by works done before faith, by works done by natural abilities? or to perform a righteousness which is able to look God in the face, his law in the face, and to demand and obtain the forgiveness of sins, and the life that is eternal? It cannot be: 'men must therefore be justified from the curse, in the sight of God while sinners in themselves,' or not at all.[11]

Fourth. 'There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not' (Eccl 7:20; 1 Kings 8:46).

Although the words before are large, yet these seem far larger; there is not a man, not a just man, not a just man upon the earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. Now, if no good man, if no good man upon earth doth good, and sinneth not; then no good man upon earth can set himself by his own actions justified in the sight of God, for he has sin mixed with his good. How then shall a bad man, any bad man, the best bad man upon earth, think to set himself by his best things just in the sight of God? And if the tree makes the fruit either good or evil, then a bad tree—and a bad man is a bad tree—can bring forth no good fruit, how then shall such an one do that that shall 'cleanse him from his sin,' and set him as 'spotless before the face of God?' (Matt 7:16).

Fifth. 'Hearken unto me, ye stout-hearted, that are far from righteousness: I bring near my righteousness,' &c. (Isa 46:12-13).

1. This call is general, and so proves, whatever men think of themselves, that in the judgment of God there is none at all righteous. Men, as men, are far from being so. 2. This general offer of righteousness, of the righteousness of God, declares that it is in vain for men to think to be set just and righteous before God by any other means. 3. There is here also insinuated, that for him that thinks himself the worst, God has prepared a righteousness, and therefore would not have him despair of life that sees himself far from righteousness. From all these scriptures, therefore, it is manifest, 'that men must be justified from the curse of the law, in the sight of God, while sinners in themselves.'

Sixth. 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest' (Matt 11:28).

Here we have a labouring people, a people labouring for life; but by all their labour, you see, they cannot ease themselves; their burden still remains upon them; they yet are heavy laden. The load here is, doubtless, guilt of sin, such as David had when he said by reason thereof, he was not able to look up (Psa 38:3-5). Hence, therefore, you have an experiment set before you of those that are trying what they can do for life; but behold, the more they stir, the more they sink under the weight of the burden that lies upon them.[12] And the conclusion—to wit, Christ's call to them to come to him for rest—declares that, in his judgment, rest was not to be had elsewhere. And I think, one may with as much safety adhere to Christ's judgment as to any man's alive; wherefore, 'men must be justified from the curse, in the sight of God, while sinners in themselves.'

Seventh. 'There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one' (Rom 3:10-12).

These words have respect to a righteousness which is justified by the law; and they conclude that none by his own performances is righteous with such a righteousness; and it is concluded from five reasons—1. Because they are not good; for a man must be good before he doth good, and perfectly good before he doth good and sinneth not. 2. Because they understand not. How then should they do good? for a man must know before he does, else how should he divert[13] himself to do? 3. Because they want a heart; they seek not after God according to the way of his own appointment. 4. They are all gone out of the way; how then can they walk therein? 5. They are together become unprofitable. What worth or value then can there be in any of their doings? These are the reasons by which he proveth that there is 'none righteous, no, not one.' And the reasons are weighty, for by them he proves the tree is not good; how then can it yield good fruit?

Now, as he concludes from these five reasons that not one indeed is righteous, so he concludes by five more that none can do good to make him so—1. For that internally they are as an open sepulchre, as full of dead men's bones. Their minds and consciences are defiled; how then can sweet and good proceed from thence? (v 13). 2. Their throat is filled with this stink; all their vocal duties therefore smell thereof. 3. Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; how then can there be found one word that should please God? 4. Their tongue, which should present their praise to God, has been used to work deceit; how then, until it is made a new one, should it speak in righteousness? 5. The poison of asps is under their lips; therefore whatever comes from them must be polluted (Rom 3:11-14; Matt 23:27; Titus 1:15; Jer 44:17, 17:9). Thus, you see, he sets forth their internal part, which being a true report, as to be sure it is, it is impossible that any good should so much as be framed in such an inward part, or come clean out of such a throat, by such a tongue, through such lips as these.

And yet this is not all. He also proves, and that by five reasons more, that it is not possible they should do good—1. 'Their feet are swift to shed blood' (Rom 3:15). This implies an inclination, an inward inclination to evil courses; a quickness of motion to do evil, but a backwardness to do good. 2. 'Destruction and misery are in their ways' (v16). Take 'ways' for their 'doings,' and in the best of them destruction lurks, and misery yet follows them at the heels. 3. 'The way of peace have they not known'; that is far above out of their sight (v 17). Wherefore the labour of these foolish ones will weary every one of them, because they know not the way that goes to the city (Eccl 10:15). 4. 'There is no fear of God before their eyes' (v 18). How then can they do anything with that godly reverence of his holy Majesty that is and must be essential to every good work? for to do things, but not in God's fear, to what will it amount? will it avail? 5. All this while they are under a law that calls for works that are perfectly good; that will accept of none but what are perfectly good; and that will certainly condemn them because they neither are nor can be perfectly good. 'For what things soever the law saith, it saith it to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God' (v 19).

Thus you see that Paul here proves, by fifteen reasons, that none are, nor can be, righteous before God by works that they can do; therefore 'men must be justified from the curse, in the sight of God, while sinners in themselves.'

Eighth. 'But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets' (v 21).

This text utterly excludes the law—what law? The law of works, the moral law, (v 27)—and makes mention of another righteousness, even a righteousness of God; for the righteousness of the law is the righteousness of men, men's 'own righteousness' (Phil 3:9). Now, if the law, as to a justifying righteousness, is rejected; then the very matter upon and by which man should work is rejected; and if so, then he must be justified by the righteousness of God, or not at all; for he must be justified by a righteousness that is without the law; to wit, the righteousness of God. Now, this righteousness of God, whatever it is, to be sure it is not a righteousness that flows from men; for that, as I said, is rejected, and the righteousness of God opposed unto it, being called a righteousness that is without the law, without our personal obedience to it. The righteousness of God, or a righteousness of God's completing, a righteousness of God's bestowing, a righteousness that God also gives unto, and puts upon all them that believe (Rom 3:22), a righteousness that stands in the works of Christ, and that is imputed both by the grace and justice of God (v 24-26). Where, now, is room for man's righteousness, either in the whole, or as to any part thereof? I say, where, as to justification with God?

Ninth. 'What shall we then say that Abraham, our father as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?' (Rom 4:1)

Now, the apostle is at the root of the matter; for Abraham is counted the father of the faithful; consequently, the man whose way of attaining justification must needs be exemplary to all the children of Abraham. Now, the question is, how Abraham found? how he found that which some of his children sought and missed? (Rom 9:32); that is, how he found justifying righteousness; for it was that which Israel sought and attained not unto (11:7). 'Did he find it,' saith Paul, 'by the flesh?' or, as he was in the flesh? or, by acts and works of the flesh? But what are they? why, the next verse tells you 'they are the works of the law' (Rom 4).

'If Abraham was justified by works'; that is, as pertaining to the flesh; for the works of the law are none other but the best sort of the works of the flesh. And so Paul calls all they that he had before his conversion to Christ: 'If any other man,' saith he, 'thinketh he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more.' And then he counteth up several of his privileges, to which he at last adjoineth the righteousness of the moral law, saying, 'Touching the righteousness which is in the law, [I was] blameless' (Phil 3:4-6). And it is proper to call the righteousness of the law the work of the flesh, because it is the work of a man, of a man in the flesh; for the Holy Ghost doth not attend the law, or the work thereof, as to this, in man, as man; that has confined itself to another ministration, whose glorious name it bears (2 Cor 3:8). I say it is proper to call the works of the law the works of the flesh, because they are done by that self-same nature in and out of which comes all those things that are more grossly so called (Gal 5:19,20); to wit, from the corrupt fountain of fallen man's polluted nature (James 3:10).

This, saith Paul, was not the righteousness by which Abraham found justification with God—'For if Abraham was justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness' (Rom 4:2-3). This 'believing' is also set in flat opposition to 'works,' and to the 'law of works'; wherefore, upon pain of great contempt to God, it must not be reckoned as a work to justify withal, but rather as that which receiveth and applieth that righteousness. From all this, therefore, it is manifest 'that men must be justified from the curse of the law, in the sight of God, while sinners in themselves.' But,

Tenth. 'Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt' (Rom 4:4).

These words do not only back what went before, as to the rejection of the law for righteousness as to justification with God, but supposing the law was of force to justify, life must not be admitted to come that way, because of the evil consequences that will unavoidably flow therefrom. 1. By this means, grace, and justification by grace, would be rejected; and that would be a foul business; it would not be reckoned of grace. 2. By this, God would become the debtor, and so the underling; and so we in this the more honourable.

It would not be reckoned of grace, but of debt; and what would follow from hence? Why, (1.) By this we should frustrate the design of Heaven, which is, to justify us freely by grace, through a redemption brought in by Christ (Rom 3:24-26; Eph 2:8-13). (2.) By this we should make ourselves the saviours, and jostle Christ quite out of doors (Gal 5:2-4). (3.) We should have heaven at our own dispose, as a debt, not by promise, and so not be beholden to God for it (Gal 3:18). It must, then, be of grace, not of works, for the preventing of these evils.

Again, it must not be of works, because if it should, then God would be the debtor, and we the creditor. Now, much blasphemy would flow from hence; as, (1.) God himself would not be his own to dispose of; for the inheritance being God, as well as his kingdom (for so it is written, 'heirs of God' (Rom 8:17)), himself, I say, must needs be our purchase. (2.) If so, then we have right to dispose of him, of his kingdom and glory, and all—'Be astonished, O heavens, at this!'—for if he be ours by works, then he is ours of debt; if he be ours of debt, then he is ours by purchase; and then, again, if so, he is no longer his own, but ours, and at our disposal.

Therefore, for these reasons, were there sufficiency in our personal works to justify us, it would be even inconsistent with the being of God to suffer it. So then, 'men are justified from the curse, in the sight of God, while sinners in themselves.'

Eleventh. 'But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness' (Rom 4:5).

These words show how we must stand just in the sight of God from the curse of the law, both as it respecteth justification itself, as also the instrument or means that receiveth that righteousness which justifieth.

1. As for that righteousness that justifieth, it is not personal performances in us; for the person here justified stands, in that respect, as one that worketh not, as one that is ungodly. 2. As it respecteth the instrument that receiveth it, that faith, as in the point of justifying righteousness, will not work, but believe, but receive the works and righteousness of another; for works and faith in this are set in opposition. He doth not work, he doth believe' (Gal 3:12). He worketh not, but believeth on him who justifieth us, ungodly. As Paul also saith in another place, The law is not of faith (Rom 10:5,6). And again, Works saith on this wise; faith, far different. The law saith, Do this, and live. But the doctrine of faith saith, 'If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness,' &c. (Rom 10:9,10).

Object. But faith is counted for righteousness.

Answ. True, but yet consider, that by faith we do oft understand the doctrine of remission of sins, as well as the act of believing.

But again; faith when it hath received the Lord Jesus, it hath done that which pleaseth God; therefore, the very act of believing is the most noble in the world; believing sets the crown upon the head of grace; it seals to the truth of the sufficiency of the righteousness of Christ, and giveth all the glory to God (John 3:33). And therefore it is a righteous act; but Christ himself, he is the Righteousness that justifieth' (Rom 4:20,25). Besides, faith is a relative, and hath its relation as such. Its relation is the righteousness that justifieth, which is therefore called the righteousness of faith, or that with which faith hath to do (Rom 10:6). Separate these two, and justification cannot be, because faith now wants his righteousness. And hence it is you have so often such sayings as these—'He that believeth in me; he that believeth on him; believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved' (John 6:35,40). Faith, then, as separate from Christ, doth nothing; nothing, neither with God nor man; because it wants its relative; but let it go to the Lord Jesus—let it behold him as dying, &c., and it fetches righteousness, and life, and peace out of the virtue of his blood, &c. (Acts 10:29,31,33). Or rather, sees it there as sufficient for me to stand just thereby in the sight of Eternal Justice For him 'God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith [belief] in his blood,' with intent to justify him that believeth in Jesus (Rom 3:25,26).

Twelfth. 'Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man to whom God imputeth righteousness without works' (Rom 4:6).

Did our adversaries understand this one text, they would not so boldly affirm, as they do, that the words, 'impute, imputed, imputeth, imputing,' &c., are not used in scripture but to express men really and personally to be that which is imputed unto them; for men are not really and personally faith, yet faith is imputed to men; nay, they are not really and personally sin, nor really and personally righteousness, yet these are imputed to men: so, then, both good things and bad may sometimes be imputed to men, yet themselves be really and personally neither. But to come to the point: what righteousness hath that man that hath no works? Doubtless none of his own; yet God imputeth righteousness to him. Yea, what works of that man doth God impute to him that he yet justifies as ungodly?

Further, He that hath works as to justification from the curse before God, not one of them is regarded of God; so, then, it mattereth not whether thou hast righteousness of thine own, or none. 'Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness without works.' Man's blessedness, then, the blessedness of justification from the curse in the sight of God, lieth not in good works done by us, either before or after faith received, but in a righteousness which God imputeth without works; as we 'work not' as we 'are ungodly.' 'Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sin is covered' (v 7). To forgive and to cover are acts of mercy, not the cause of our merit. Besides, where sin is real, there can be no perfect righteousness; but the way of justification must be through perfect righteousness, therefore by another than our own, 'Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin' (v 8). The first cause, then, of justification before God, dependeth upon the will of God, who will justify because he will; therefore the meritorious cause must also be of his own providing, else his will cannot herein be absolute; for if justification depend upon our personal performances, then not upon the will of God. He may not have mercy upon whom he will, but on whom man's righteousness will give him leave. But his will, not ours, must rule here; therefore his righteousness, and his only (Rom 9:15,18). So, then, 'men are justified from the curse, in the sight of God, while sinners in themselves.'

Having passed over these few scriptures, I shall come to particular instances of persons who have been justified; and shall briefly touch their qualifications in the act of God's justifying them. First, By the Old Testament types. Second, By the New.

[First Position illustrated by Scripture types.]

First. By the Old [Testament types]. First. 'Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them' (Gen 3:21).

In the beginning of this chapter you find these two persons reasoning with the serpent, the effect of which discourse was, they take of the forbidden fruit, and so break the command of God (vv 7-15). This done, they hide themselves, and cover their nakedness with aprons. But God finds out their sin, from the highest branch even to the roots thereof. What followeth? Not one precept by which they should by works obtain the favour of God, but the promise of a Saviour; of which promise this twenty-first verse is a mystical interpretation: 'The Lord God made them coats of skins, and clothed them.'

Hence observe—1. That these coats were made, not before, but after they had made themselves aprons; a plain proof their aprons were not sufficient to hide their shame from the sight of God. 2. These coats were made, not of Adam's inherent righteousness, for that was lost before by sin, but of the skins of the slain, types of the death of Christ, and of the righteousness brought in thereby—'By whose stripes we are healed' (Isa 53).[14] 3. This is further manifest; for the coats, God made them; and for the persons, God clothed them therewith; to show that as the righteousness by which we must stand just before God from the curse is a righteousness of Christ's performing, not of theirs; so he, not they, must put it on them also, for of God we are in Christ, and of God his righteousness is made ours (1 Cor 1:30).

But, I say, if you would see their antecedent qualifications, you find them under two heads—rebellion [and] hypocrisy. Rebellion, in breaking God's command; hypocrisy, in seeking how to hide their faults from God. Expound this by gospel language, and then it shows 'that men are justified from the curse, in the sight of God, while sinners in themselves.'

Second. 'The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering' (Gen 4:4).

By these words we find the person first accepted: 'The Lord had respect unto Abel.' And indeed, where the person is not first accepted, the offering will not be pleasing; the altar sanctifies the gift, and the temple sanctifieth the gold; so the person, the condition of the person, is that which makes the offering either pleasing or despising (Matt 23:16-21). In the epistle to the Hebrews it is said, 'By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous' (Heb 11:4). Righteous before he offered his gift, as his sacrifice testified; for God accepted of it.

'By faith he offered.' Wherefore faith was precedent, or before he offered. Now faith hath to do with God through Christ; not with him through our works of righteousness. Besides, Abel was righteous before he offered, before he did do good, otherwise God would not have testified of his gift. 'By faith he obtained witness that he was righteous,' for God approved of his gifts. Now faith, I say, as to our standing quit before the Father, respects the promise of forgiveness of sins through the undertaking of the Lord Jesus. Wherefore Abel's faith as to justifying righteousness before God looked not forward to what should be done by himself, but back to the promise of the seed of the woman, that was to destroy the power of hell, and 'to redeem them that were under the law' (Gen 3:15; Gal 4:4,5). By this faith he shrouds himself under the promise of victory, and the merits of the Lord Jesus. Now being there, God finds him righteous; and being righteous, 'he offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than his brother'; for Cain's person was not first accepted through the righteousness of faith going before, although he seemed foremost as to personal acts of righteousness (Gen 4). Abel therefore was righteous before he did good works; but that could not be but alone through that respect God had to him for the sake of the Messias promised before (3:15). But the Lord's so respecting Abel presupposeth that at that time he stood in himself by the law a sinner, otherwise he needed not to be respected for and upon the account of another. Yea, Abel also, forasmuch as he acted faith before he offered sacrifice, must thereby entirely respect the promise, which promise was not grounded upon a condition of works to be found in Abel, but in and for the sake of the seed of the woman, which is Christ; which promise he believed, and so took it for granted that this Christ should break the serpent's head—that is, destroy by himself the works of the devil; to wit, sin, death, the curse, and hell (Gal 4:4). By this faith he stood before God righteous, because he had put on Christ; and being thus, he offered; by which act of faith God declared he was pleased with him, because he accepted of his sacrifice.

Third. 'And the Lord said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger' (Gen 25:23).

These words, after Paul's exposition, are to be understood of justification in the sight of God, according to the purpose and decree of electing love, which had so determined long before, that one of these children should be received to eternal grace; but mark, not by works of righteousness which they should do, but 'before they had done either good or evil'; otherwise 'the purpose of God according to election,' not of works, but of him that calleth, 'could not stand,' but fall in pieces (Rom 9:10-12). But none are received into eternal mercy but such as are just before the Lord by a righteousness that is complete; and Jacob having done no good, could by no means have that of his own, and therefore it must be by some other righteousness, 'and so himself be justified from the curse, in the sight of God, while a sinner in himself.'

Fourth. The same may be said concerning Solomon, whom the Lord loved with special love, as soon as born into the world; which he also confirmed with signal characters. 'He sent,' saith the Holy Ghost, 'by the hand of Nathan the prophet, and he called his name Jedidiah, because the Lord loved him (2 Sam 12:24,25).[15] Was this love of God extended to him because of his personal virtues? No, verily; for he was yet an infant.[16] He was justified then in the sight of God from the curse by another than his own righteousness.

Fifth. 'And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live' (Eze 16:6).

The state of this people you have in the former verses described, both as to their rise and practice in the world (vv 1-5). 1. As to their rise. Their original was the same with Canaan, the men of God's curse (Gen 9:25). 'Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan'; the same with other carnal men (Rom 3:9). 'Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite' (Eze 16:3). Their condition, that is showed us by this emblem—(1.) They had not been washed in water. (2.) They had not been swaddled. (3.) They had not been salted. (4.) They brought filth with them into the world. (5.) They lay stinking in their cradle. (6.) They were without strength to help themselves. Thus they appear and come by generation. 2. Again, as to their practice—(1.) They polluted themselves in their own blood. (2.) They so continued till God passed by—'And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood';—'in thy blood, in thy blood'; it is doubled. Thus we see they were polluted born, they continued in their blood till the day that the Lord looked upon them; polluted, I say, to the loathing of their persons, &c. Now this was the time of love—'And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live' (Eze 16:6).

Quest. But how could a holy God say, 'Live,' to such a sinful people?

Answ. Though they had nought but sin, yet he had love and righteousness. He had love to pity them; righteousness to cover them—'Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love' (Eze 16:8). What follows? (1) 'I spread my skirt over thee'; and (2) 'Covered thy nakedness'; yea, (3) 'I sware unto thee'; and (4) 'Entered into covenant with thee'; and (5) 'Thou becamest mine.' My love pitied thee; my skirt covered thee. Thus God delivered them from the curse in his sight. 'Then I washed thee with water, after thou wast justified; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and anointed thee with oil' (v 9).

Sanctification, then, is consequential, justification goes before. The Holy Ghost by this scripture setteth forth to the life, free grace to the sons of men, while they themselves are sinners. I say, while they are unwashed, unswaddled, unsalted, but bloody sinners; for by these words, 'not washed, not salted, not swaddled,' he setteth forth their unsanctified state; yea, they were not only unsanctified, but also cast out, without pity, to the loathing of their persons; yea, 'no eye pitied them, to do any of these things for them'; no eye but his, whose glorious grace is unsearchable; no eye but his, who could look and love; all others looked and loathed; but blessed be God that hath passed by us in that day that we wallowed in our own blood; and blessed be God for the skirt of his glorious righteousness wherewith he covered us when we lay before him naked in blood. It was when we were in our blood that he loved us; when we were in our blood he said, Live. Therefore, 'men are justified from the curse, in the sight of God, while sinners in themselves.'

Sixth. 'Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel' (Zech 3:3).

The standing of Joshua here is as men used to stand that were arraigned before a judge. 'Joshua stood before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him' (v 1). The same posture as Judas stood in when he was to be condemned. 'Set thou,' said David, 'a wicked man over him; and let Satan stand at his right hand' (Psa 109:6). Thus, therefore, Joshua stood. Now Joshua was clothed, not with righteousness, but with filthy rags! Sin upon him, and Satan by him, and this before the angel! What must he do now? Go away? No; there he must stand! Can he speak for himself? Not a word; guilt had made him dumb! (Isa 53:12). Had he no place clean? No; he was clothed with filthy garments! But his lot was to stand before Jesus Christ, that maketh intercession for transgressors. 'And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee' (Zech 3:2). Thus Christ saveth from present condemnation those that be still in their sin and blood.[17]

But is he now quit? No; he standeth yet in filthy garments; neither can he, by aught that is in him, or done by him, clear himself from him. How then? Why, the Lord clothes him with change of raiment. The iniquities were his own, the raiment was the Lord's. 'This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord' (Isa 54:17). We will not here discourse of Joshua's sin, what it was, or when committed; it is enough to our purpose that he was clothed with filthy garments; and that the Lord made a change with him, by causing his iniquity to pass from him, and by clothing him with change of raiment. But what had Joshua antecedent to this glorious and heavenly clothing? The devil at his right hand to resist him, and himself in filthy garments. 'Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment' (Zech 3: 3,4).

Second. But to pass [from] the Old Testament types, and to come to the New.

First. 'And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things God hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee' (Mark 5:18,19).

The present state of this man is sufficiently declared in these particulars—1. He was possessed with a devil; with devils, with many; with a whole legion, which some say is six thousand, or thereabouts (Matt 8). 2. These devils had so the mastery of him as to drive him from place to place into the wilderness among the mountains, and so to dwell in the tombs among the dead (Luke 8). 3. He was out of his wits; he would cut his flesh, break his chains; nay, 'no man could tame him' (Mark 5:4-5). 4. When he saw Jesus, the devil in him, as being lord and governor there, cried out against the Lord Jesus (v 7). In all this, what qualification shows itself as precedent to justification? None but such as devils work, or as rank bedlams have. Yet this poor man was dispossessed, taken into God's compassion, and was bid to show it to the world. 'Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee' (v 19); which last words, because they are added over and above his being dispossessed of the devils, I understand to be the fruit of electing love. 'I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion,' which blesseth us with the mercy of a justifying righteousness; and all this, as by this is manifest, without the least precedent qualification of ours.

Second. 'And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both' (Luke 7:42).

The occasion of these words was, for that the Pharisee murmured against the woman that washed Jesus' feet, because 'she was a sinner'; for so said the Pharisee, and so saith the Holy Ghost (v 37). But, saith Christ, Simon, I will ask thee a question, 'A certain man had two debtors: the one owed him five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both' (v 38).

Hence I gather these conclusions—1. That men that are wedded to their own righteousness understand not the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins. This is manifested by the poor Pharisee; he objected against the woman because she was a sinner. 2. Let Pharisees murmur still, yet Christ hath pity and mercy for sinners. 3. Yet Jesus doth not usually manifest mercy until the sinner hath nothing to pay. 'And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly,' or freely, or heartily, 'forgave them both.' If they had nothing to pay, then they were sinners; but he forgiveth no man but with respect to a righteousness; therefore that righteousness must be another's; for in the very act of mercy they are found sinners. They had nothing but debt, nothing but sin, nothing to pay [with]. Then they were 'justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.' So, then, 'men are justified from the curse, in the sight of God, while sinners in themselves.'

Third. 'And when he saw their faith, he said unto the man, Thy sins are forgiven thee' (Luke 5:20).

This man had not righteousness to stand just before God withal, for his sins as yet remained unforgiven; wherefore, seeing guilt remained until Christ remitted him, he was discharged while ungodly. And observe it, the faith here mentioned is not to be reckoned so much the man's, as the faith of them that brought him; neither did it reach to the forgiveness of sins, but to the miracle of healing; yet this man, in this condition, had his sins forgiven him.

But again; set the case, the faith was only his, as it was not, and that it reached to the doctrine of forgiveness, yet it did it without respect to righteousness in himself; for guilt lay still upon him, he had now his sins forgiven him. But this act of grace was a surprisal; it was unlooked for. 'I am found of them that sought me not' (Isa 65:1). They came for one thing, he gave them another; they came for a cure upon his body, but, to their amazement, he cured first his soul. 'Thy sins are forgiven thee.' Besides, to have his sins forgiven betokeneth an act of grace; but grace and works as to this are opposite (Rom 11:6). Therefore 'men are justified from the curse, in the sight of God, while sinners in themselves.'

Fourth. 'Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son' (Luke 15:21).

What this man was is sufficiently declared in verse 13, &c. As 1. A riotous spender of all—of time, talent, body, and soul. 2. He added to this his rebellion, great contempt of his father's house—he joined himself to a stranger, and became an associate with swine (vv 15,17). At last, indeed, he came to himself. But then observe—(1.) He sought not justification by personal performances of his own; (2.) Neither did he mitigate his wickedness; (3.) Nor excuse himself before his father; but first resolveth to confess his sin; and coming to his father, did confess it, and that with aggravating circumstances. 'I have sinned against heaven; I have sinned against thee; I am no more worthy to be called thy son' (v 18). Now what he said was true or false. If true, then he had not righteousness. If false, he could not stand just in the sight of his father by virtue of his own performances. And, indeed, the sequel of the parable clears it. His 'father said to his servant, Bring forth the best robe,' the justifying righteousness, 'and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet' (v 22). This best robe, then, being in the father's house, was not in the prodigal's heart; neither stayed the father for further qualifications, but put it upon him as he was, surrounded with sin and oppressed with guilt. Therefore 'men are justified from the curse, in the sight of God, while sinners in themselves.'

Fifth. 'For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost' (Luke 19:10).

The occasion of these words was, for that the Pharisees murmured because 'Jesus was gone to be guest to one that was a sinner,' yea, a sinner of the publicans, and are most fitly applied to the case in hand. For though Zaccheus climbed the tree, yet Jesus Christ found him first, and called him down by his name; adding withal, 'For to-day I must abide at thy house' (v 5); which being opened by verse 9, is as much as to say, I am come to be thy salvation. Now this being believed by Zaccheus, 'he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully.' And not only so, but to declare to all the simplicity of his faith, and that he unfeignedly accepted of this word of salvation, he said unto the Lord, and that before all present, 'Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation,' a supposition intimating an affirmative, 'I restore him fourfold.'[18] This being thus, Christ doubleth his comfort, saying to him also, and that before the people, 'This day is salvation come to this house.' Then, by adding the next words, he expounds the whole of the matter, 'For I am come to seek and save that which was lost'; to seek it till I find it, to save it when I find it. He finds them that sought him not (Rom 10:20); and saith, Zaccheus, Behold me! to a people that asked not after him. So, then, seeing Jesus findeth this publican first, preaching salvation to him before he came down from the tree, it is evident he received this as he was a sinner; from which faith flowed his following words and works as a consequence.

Sixth. 'Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise' (Luke 23:43).

This was spoken to the thief upon the cross, who had lived in wickedness all his days; neither had he so much as truly repented—no, not till he came to die; nay, when he first was hanged he then fell to railing on Christ; for though Luke leaves it out, beginning but at his conversion; yet by Matthew's relating the whole tragedy, we find him at first as bad as the other (Matt 27:44). This man, then, had no moral righteousness, for he had lived in the breach of the law of God. Indeed, by faith he believed Christ to be King, and that when dying with him. But what was this to a personal performing the commandments? or of restoring what he had oft taken away? Yea, he confesseth his death to be just for his sin; and so leaning upon the mediation of Christ he goeth out of the world. Now he that truly confesseth and acknowledgeth his sin, acknowledgeth also the curse to be due thereto from the righteous hand of God. So then, where the curse of God is due, that man wanteth righteousness. Besides, he that makes to another for help, hath by that condemned his own, had he any, of utter insufficiency. But all these did this poor creature; wherefore he must stand 'just from the law in the sight of God, while sinful in himself.'

Seventh. 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?' (Acts 9:6).

What wilt thou have me to do? Ignorance is here set forth to the full. Paul hitherto knew not Jesus, neither what he would have him to do; yet a mighty man for the law of works, and for zeal towards God according to that. Thus you see that he neither knew that Christ was Lord, nor what was his mind and will—'I did it ignorantly, in unbelief' (1 Tim 1:13-15). I did not know him; I did not believe he was to save us; I thought I must be saved by living righteously, by keeping the law of God. This thought kept me ignorant of Jesus, and of justification from the curse by him. Poor Saul! how many fellows hast thou yet alive!—every man zealous of the law of works, yet none of them know the law of grace; each of them seeking for life by doing the law, when life is to be had by nought but believing in Jesus Christ.

Eighth. 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved' (Acts 16:31).

A little before, we find Paul and Silas in the stocks for preaching of Jesus Christ; in the stocks, in the inward prison, by the hands of a sturdy jailer; but at midnight, while Paul and his companion sang praises to God, the foundations of the prison shook, and every man's bands were loosed. Now the jailer being awakened by the noise of this shaking, and supposing he had lost his prisoners, drew his sword, with intent to kill himself; 'But Paul cried out, Do thyself no harm; for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'

In all this relation here is not aught that can justify the jailer. For, 1. His whole life was idolatry, cruelty, and enmity to God. Yea, 2. Even now, while the earthquake shook the prison, he had murder in his heart—yea, and in his intentions too; murder, I say, and that of a high nature, even to have killed his own body and soul at once.[19] Well, 3. When he began to shake under the fears of everlasting burnings, yet then his heart was wrapped up in ignorance as to the way of salvation by Jesus Christ: 'What must I do to be saved?' He knew not what; no, not he. His condition, then, was this: he neither had righteousness to save him, nor knew he how to get it. Now, what was Paul's answer? Why, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,' look for righteousness in Christ, 'and then thou shalt be saved.' This, then, still holdeth true, 'men are justified from the curse, in the sight of God, whilst sinners in themselves.'

[Reasons for the first position drawn from the texts.]

THIRD. I should now come to the second conclusion, viz., that this can be done by no other righteousness than that long ago performed by, and remaining with, the person of Christ. But before I speak to that, I will a little further press this, by urging for it several reasons.

The First Reason.—Men must be justified from the curse while sinners in themselves, because by nature all are under sin—'All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. He hath concluded all in unbelief; he hath concluded all under sin' (Rom 3:23, 11:32; Gal 3:22). Now having sinned, they are in body and soul defiled, and become an unclean thing. Wherefore, whatever they touch, with an intent to work out righteousness thereby, they defile that also (Titus 1:15; Lev 15:11; Isa 64:6). And hence, as I have said, all the righteousness they seek to accomplish is but as a menstruous cloth and filthy rags; therefore they are sinners still.' Indeed, to some men's thinking, the Pharisee is holier than the Publican; but in God's sight, in the eyes of Divine justice, they stand alike condemned. 'All have sinned'; there is the poison! Therefore, as to God, without Christ, all throats are an open sepulchre (Matt 23:27; Rom 3:13).

The world in general is divided into two sorts of sinners—the open profane, and the man that seeks life by the works of the law. The profane is judged by all; but the other by a few. Oh! but God judgeth him.

1. For a hypocrite; because that notwithstanding he hath sinned, he would be thought to be good and righteous. And hence it is that Christ calls such kind of holy ones, 'Pharisees, hypocrites! Pharisees hypocrites!' because by their gay outside they deceived those that beheld them. But, saith he, God sees your hearts; you are but like painted sepulchres, within you are full of dead men's bones (Prov 30:12; Matt 23:27-30; Luke 11:26, 16:15). Such is the root from whence flows all their righteousness. But doth the blind Pharisee think his state is such? No; his thoughts of himself are far otherwise—'God, I thank thee,' saith he, 'I am not as other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this publican' (Luke 18:11,12). Aye, but still God judgeth him for a hypocrite.

2. God judgeth him for one that spurneth against Christ, even by every such work he doth. And hence it is, when Paul was converted to Jesus Christ, that he calls the righteousness he had before, madness, blasphemy, injury; because what he did to save himself by works was in direct opposition to grace by Jesus Christ (Phil 3:7,8; Acts 22:3,4, 26:4; 1 Tim 1:14,15). Behold, then, the evil that is in a man's own righteousness! (1.) It curseth and condemneth the righteousness of Christ. (2.) It blindeth the man from seeing his misery. (3.) It hardeneth his heart against his own salvation.

3. But again, God judgeth such, for those that condemn him of foolishness—'The preaching of the cross,' that is, Christ crucified, 'is to them that perish foolishness' (1 Cor 1:18,23). What, saith the merit-monger, will you look for life by the obedience of another man? Will you trust to the blood that was shed upon the cross, that run down to the ground, and perished in the dust? Thus deridingly they scoff at, stumble upon, and are taken in the gin that attends the gospel; not to salvation, but to their condemnation, because they have condemned the Just, that they might justify their own filthy righteousness (Isa 8:14).

But, I say, if all have sinned, if all are defiled, if the best of a man's righteousness be but madness, blasphemy, injury; if for their righteousness they are judged hypocrites, condemned as opposers of the gospel, and as such have counted God foolish for sending his Son into the world; then must the best of 'men be justified from the curse in the sight of God while sinners in themselves'; because they still stand guilty in the sight of God, their hearts are also still filthy infected—'Though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before ME, saith the Lord God' (Jer 2:22). It stands marked still before God. So, then, what esteem soever men have of the righteousness of the world, yet God accounts it horrible wickedness, and the greatest enemy that Jesus hath. Wherefore, this vine is the vine of Sodom; these clusters are the clusters of Gomorrah; these grapes are grapes of gall; these clusters are bitter, they are the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps (Matt 3:7; 23). No marvel, then, if John in his ministry gives the first rebuke and jostle to such, still calling them serpents and vipers, and concluding it is almost impossible they should escape the damnation of hell; for of all sin, man's own righteousness, in special, bids defiance to Jesus Christ.

The Second Reason.—A second reason why men must stand just in the sight of God from the curse, while sinners in themselves, is, because of the exactions of the law. For were it granted that men's good works arose from a holy root, and were perfect in their kind, yet the demand of the law—for that is still beyond them—would leave them sinners before the justice of God. And hence it is that holy men stand just in the sight of God from the curse; yet dare not offer their gifts by the law, but through Jesus Christ; knowing that not only their persons, but their spiritual service also, would else be rejected of the heavenly Majesty (1 Peter 2:5; Rev 7:14-16; Heb 8:7,8).[20]

For the law is itself so perfectly holy and good as not to admit of the least failure, either in the matter or manner of obedience—'Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them' (Gal 3:10). For they that shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, are guilty of all, and convicted of the law as transgressors (James 2:9,10). 'Tribulation,' therefore, 'and anguish, upon every soul of man that doth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile' (Rom 2:9). And observe, the law leaveth thee not to thy choice, when, or when not, to begin to keep it; but requireth thy obedience so soon as concerned, exactly, both as to the matter and manner, and that before thou hast sinned against it; for the first sin breaks the law. Now, if thou sinnest before thou beginnest to do, thou art found by the law a transgressor, and so standest by that convicted of sin; so, then, all thy after-acts of righteousness are but the righteousness of a sinner, of one whom the law hath condemned already (John 3:18). 'The law is spiritual, but thou art carnal, sold under sin' (Rom 7:14).

Besides, the law being absolutely perfect, doth not only respect the matter and manner as to outward acts, but also the rise and root, the heart, from whence they flow; and an impediment there spoils all, were the executive part never so good—'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with ALL thy heart, with ALL thy soul, with ALL thy mind, and with ALL thy strength' (Mark 12:30). Mark the repetition, with all, with all, with all, with all; with all thy heart, with all thy soul, in all things, at all times, else thou hadst as good do nothing. But 'every imagination of the thought of the heart of man is only evil continually' (Gen 6:5). The margin hath it, 'the whole imagination, the purposes, and desires'; so that a good root is here wanting. 'The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?' (Jer 17:9). What thoughts, words, or actions can be clean, sufficiently to answer a perfect law that flows from this original? It is impossible. 'Men must therefore be justified from the curse, in the sight of God, while sinners in themselves.' But further yet to open the case. There are several things that make it impossible that a man should stand just in the sight of God but while sinful in himself.

1. Because the law under which he at present stands, holds him under the dominion of sin; for sin by the law hath dominion over all that are under the law (Rom 6:14). Dominion, I say, both as to guilt and filth. Guilt hath dominion over him, because he is under the curse: and filth, because the law giveth him no power, neither can he by it deliver his soul. And for this cause it is that it is called beggarly, weak, unprofitable; imposing duty, but giving no strength (Gal 3:2, 4:9). Expecting the duty should be complete, yet bendeth not the heart to do the work; to do it, I say, as is required (Rom 8:3). And hence it is again that it is called a 'voice of words' (Heb 12:19);[21] for as words that are barely such are void of spirit and quickening life, so are the impositions of the law of works. Thus far, therefore, the man remains a sinner. But,

2. The law is so far from giving life or strength to do it, that it doth quite the contrary.[22]

(1.) It weakeneth, it discourageth, and dishearteneth the sinner, especially when it shows itself in its glory; for then it is the ministration of death, and killeth all the world. When Israel saw this, they fled from the face of God; they could not endure that which was commanded (Exo 20:18,19); yea, so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, 'I exceedingly fear and quake' (Heb 12:20,21). Yea, almost forty years after, Moses stood amazed to find himself and Israel yet alive, 'Did ever people,' said he, 'hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?' (Deut 4:32,33). Alas! he who boasteth himself in the works of the law, he doth not hear the law; when that speaks, it shakes Mount Sinai, and writeth death upon all faces, and makes the church itself cry out, A mediator! else we die (Exo 20:19; Deut 5:25-27, 18:15,19).

(2.) It doth not only thus discourage, but abundantly increaseth every sin. Sin takes the advantage of being by the law; the motions of sin are by the law. Where no law is, there is no transgression (Rom 4:15, 7:5). Sin takes an occasion to live by the law: 'When the commandment came, sin revived; for without the law, sin was dead' (Rom 7:8,9). Sin takes an occasion to multiply by the law: 'The law entered, that the offence might abound' (Rom 5:20). 'And the strength of sin is the law' (1 Cor 15:56). 'That sin by the commandment might become' outrageous, 'exceeding sinful' (Rom 7:13). 'What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law, sin was dead' (Rom 7:7,8)

These things, then, are not infused or operated by the law from its own nature or doctrine, but are occasioned by the meeting of, and having to do with, a thing directly opposite. 'The law is spiritual, I am carnal'; therefore every imposition is rejected and rebelled against. Strike a steel against a flint, and the fire flies about you; strike the law against a carnal heart, and sin appears, sin multiplies, sin rageth, sin is strengthened! And hence ariseth all these doubts, murmurings, and sinful complainings that are found in the hearts of the people of God; they have too much to do with the law; the law of works is now in the conscience, imposing duty upon the carnal part. This is the reason of the noise that you hear, and of the sin that you see, and of the horror that you feel in your own souls when tempted. But to pass this digression.

The law, then, having to do with carnal men, by this they become worse sinners than before; for their heart now recoileth desperately, opposeth blasphemously; it giveth way to despair; and then to conclude there is no hope for hereafter; and so goeth on in a sordid, ungodly course of life, till his time is come to die and be damned, unless a miracle of grace prevent. From all this I conclude, that 'a man cannot stand just from the curse, in the sight of God but while sinful in himself.' But,

3. As the law giveth neither strength nor life to keep it, so it neither giveth nor worketh repentance unto life if thou break it. Do this and live, break it and die; this is the voice of the law. All the repentance that such men have, it is but that of themselves, the sorrow of the world, that endeth in death, as Cain's and Judas' did, even such a repentance as must be repented of either here or in hell-fire (2 Cor 7:10).

4. As it giveth none, so it accepteth none of them that are under the law (Gal 5:4). Sin and die, is for ever its language; there is no middle way in the law; they must bear their judgment, whosoever they be, that stand and fall to the law. Therefore Cain was a vagabond still, and Judas hangeth himself; their repentance could not save them, they fell headlong under the law. The law stays no man from the due reward of his deeds; it hath no ears to hear nor heart to pity its penitent ones (Gen 4:9-11; Matt 27:3).

5. By the law, God will show no mercy; for, 'I will be merciful to their unrighteousness,' is the tenor of another covenant (Heb 8:9,10,12). But by the law I regard them not, saith the Lord. For,

6. All the promises annexed to the law are, by the first sin, null and void. Though, then, a man should live a thousand years twice told, and all that while fulfil the law, yet having sinned first, he is not at all the better. Our legalists, then, begin to talk too soon of having life by the law; let them first begin without sin, and so throughout continue to death, and then if God will save them, not by Christ, but works, contrary to the covenant of grace, they may hope to go to heaven.

7. But, lastly, to come close to the point. Thou hast sinned; the law now calls for passive as well as active obedience; yea, great contentedness in all thou sufferest for thy transgressing against the law. So, then, wilt thou live by the law? Fulfil it, then, perfectly till death, and afterwards go to hell and be damned, and abide there till the law and curse for thy sin be satisfied for; and then, but not till then, thou shalt have life by the law. Tell me, now, you that desire to be under the law, can you fulfil all the commands of the law, and after answer all its demands? Can you grapple with the judgment of God? Can you wrestle with the Almighty? Are you stronger than he that made the heavens, and that holdeth angels in everlasting chains? 'Can thine heart endure, or can thy hands be strong in the day that I shall deal with thee? I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it' (Eze 22:14). O, it cannot be! 'These must go away into everlasting punishment' (Matt 25:46). So, then, men must stand just from the curse, in the sight of God, while sinners in themselves, or not at all.

Objection [to the second reason]. But the apostle saith, 'That the doers of the law shall be justified' (Rom 2). Plainly intimating that, notwithstanding all you say, some by doing the law may stand just before God thereby; and if so, then Christ fulfilled it for us but as our example.

Answer. The consequences are not true; for by these words, 'The doers of the law shall be justified,' there is no more proof of a possibility of saving thyself by the law than there is by these: 'For by the works of the law shall no man living be justified in his sight' (Gal 2:16). The intent, then, of the text objected, is not to prove a possibility of man's salvation by the law, but to insinuate rather an impossibility, by asserting what perfections the law requireth. And were I to argue against the pretended sufficiency of man's own righteousness, I would choose to frame mine argument upon such a place as this—'The hearers of the law are not just before God'; therefore the breakers of the law are not just before God; not just, I say, by the law; but all have sinned and broken the law; therefore none by the law are just before God. For if all stand guilty of sin by the law, then that law that judgeth them sinners cannot justify them before God. And what if the apostle had said, 'Blessed are they that continue in all things,' instead of pronouncing a curse for the contrary, the conclusion had been the same; for where the blessing is pronounced, he is not the better that breaks the condition; and where the curse is pronounced, he is not the worse that keeps it. But neither doth the blessing nor curse in the law intend a supposition that men may be just by the law, but rather to show the perfection of the law, and that though a blessing be annexed thereto, no man by it can obtain that blessing; for not the hearers of the law are justified before God, but the doers, when they do it, shall be justified. None but doers can by it be just before God: but none do the law, no, not one, therefore none by it can stand just before God (Rom 3:10,11).

And whereas it is said Christ kept the law as our example, that we by keeping it might get to heaven, as he; it is false, as before was showed—'He is the end of the law,' or, hath perfectly finished it, 'for righteousness to every one that believeth' (Rom 10:4). But a little to travel with this objection; no man can keep the moral law as Christ, unless he be first without sin, as Christ; unless he be God and man, as Christ. And again; Christ cannot be our pattern in keeping the law for life, because of the disproportion that is between him and us; for if we do it as he, when yet we are weaker than he; what is this but to out-vie, outdo, and go beyond Christ? Wherefore we, not he, have our lives exemplary: exemplary, I say, to him; for who doth the greatest work, they that take it in hand in full strength, as Christ; or he that takes it in hand in weakness, as we? Doubtless the last, if he fulfils it as Christ. So, then, by this doctrine, while we call ourselves his scholars, we make ourselves indeed the masters. But I challenge all the angels in heaven, let them but first sin as we have done, to fulfil the law, as Christ, if they can!

But again; if Christ be our pattern in keeping the law for life from the curse before God, then Christ fulfilled the law for himself; if so, he was imperfect before he fulfilled it. And how far short this is of blasphemy let sober Christians judge; for the righteousness he fulfilled was to justify from sin; but if it was not to justify us from ours, you know what remaineth (Dan 9:26; Isa 53:8-10).

But when must we conclude we have kept the law? Not when we begin, because we have sinned first; nor when we are in the middle, for we may afterwards miscarry. But what if a man in this his progress hath one sinful thought? I query, is it possible to come up to the pattern for justification with God? If yea, then Christ had such; if no, then who can fulfil the law as he? But should I grant that which is indeed impossible—namely, that thou art justified by the law; what then? Art thou now in the favour of God? No, thou art fallen by this thy perfection, from the love and mercy of God: 'Whosoever of you are justified by the law are fallen from grace' (Gal 5:4). He speaks not this to them that are doing, but to such as think they have done it, and shows that the blessing that these have got thereby is to fall from the favour of God. Being fallen from grace, Christ profits them nothing, and so they still stand debtors to do the whole law. So, then, they must not be saved by God's mercy, nor Christ's merits, but alone by the works of the law! But what should such men do in that kingdom that comes by gift, where grace and mercy reigns? Yea, what should they do among that company that are saved alone by grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ? Let them go to that kingdom that God hath prepared for them that are fallen from grace. 'Cast out the bond-woman and her son; for he shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman' and of promise (Gal 4:30).[23]

But to pass this objection. Before I come to the next reason, I shall yet for the further clearing of this, urge these scriptures more.

[Further scriptures to prove the second reason.]

1. The first is that in Galatians 3:10, 'As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.'

Behold how boldly Paul asserts it! And observe it, he saith not here, so many as sin against the law—though that be true—but, 'As many as are of the works of the law.' But what, then, are the works of the law? Not whoredom, murder, theft, and the like; but works that are holy and good, the works commanded in the ten commandments, as to love God, abhor idols, reverence the name of God, keeping the Sabbath, honouring thy parents, abstaining from adultery, murder, theft, false-witness, and not to covet what is thy neighbour's—these are the works of the law. Now he, saith Paul, that is of these is under the curse of God. But what is it then to be of these? Why, to be found in the practice of them, and there resting; this is the man that is under the curse: not because the works of the law are wicked in themselves, but because the man that is in the practice of them comes short of answering the exactness of them, and therefore dies for his imperfections (Rom 2:17).

2. The second scripture is that of the eleventh verse of the same chapter, 'But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident; for, The just shall live by faith.'

These words, 'the just shall live by faith,' are taken out of the Old Testament, and are thrice used by this apostle in the New. (1.) To show that nothing of the gospel can be apprehended but by faith: 'For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.' 'As it is written, The just shall live by faith' (Rom 1:17). (2.) To show that the way to have relief and succour under temptation is then to live by faith: 'Now the just shall live by faith' (Heb 10:38) (3.) But in this of the Galatians it is urged to show that how holy and just soever men be in themselves, yet as such they are dead, and condemned to death by the law before God. But that no man is justified by the law, in the sight of God, is evident; for, 'the just shall live by faith.'

The word 'just,' therefore, in this place in special, respecteth a man that is just, or that so esteems himself by the law, and is here considered in a double capacity; first, what he is before men; secondly, what he is before God. (1.) As he stands before men, he is just by the law; as Paul before his conversion (Phil 3:4). (2.) As he stands in the sight of God; so, without the faith of Christ, he cannot be just, as is evident; for 'the just shall live,' not by his justice or righteousness by the law.

This is the true intent of this place. Because they carry with them a supposition that the just here intended may be excluded life, he falling within the rejection asserted within the first part of the verse. No man is just by the law in the sight of God; for 'the just shall live by faith': his justice cannot make him live, he must live by the faith of Christ.[24] Again, the words are a reason dissuasive, urged to put a stop to those that are seeking life by the law; as if the apostle had said, Ye Galatians! what are you doing? Would you be saved by keeping the law? Would you stand just before God thereby? Do you not hear the prophets, how they press faith in Jesus, and life by faith in him? Come, I will reason with you, by way of supposition. Were it granted that you all loved the law, yet that for life, will avail you nothing; for, 'the just shall live by faith.'

Were it granted that you kept the law, and that no man on earth could accuse you; were you therefore just before God? No; neither can you live by works before him; for 'the just shall live by faith.' Why not live before him? Because when we have done our best, and are applauded of all the world for just, yet then God sees sin in our hearts: 'He putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight' (Job 15:15, 4:18). There is then a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, if he want the faith of Christ, for that no man is justified by the law, in the sight of God, is evident; for, 'the just shall live by faith'; and the law is not of faith.

3. The third Scripture is this—'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; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified' (Gal 2:15,16).

These words are the result of the experienced Christians in the primitive times; yea, of those among them that had given up themselves before to the law, to get life and heaven thereby; the result, I say, of believing Jews—We who are Jews by nature. But how are they distinguished from the Gentiles? Why, they are such that rest in the law, and make their boast of God; that know his will, and approve the things that are excellent; that are guides to the blind, and a light to them that are in darkness; that are instructors of the foolish, teachers of babes, and which have the form of knowledge, and of the truth of the law (Rom 2:17-19). How far these attained we find by that of the Pharisee—I pray, I fast, I give tithes of all (Luke 18:11,12); and by the young man in the gospel—'All these have I kept from my youth up'; and by that of Paul—'Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless' (Phil 3:6). This was the Jew by nature, to do and trust in this.[25] Now these attaining afterwards the sound knowledge of sin, the depravedness of nature, and the exactions of the law, fled from the command of the law to the Lord Jesus for life. 'We knowing' is—We that are taught of God, and that have found it by sad experience, we, 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. Surely, if righteousness had come by the law, Paul and the Jews had found it, they being by many privileges far better than the sinners of the Gentiles; but these, when they received the word of the gospel, even these now fly to Christ from the law, that they might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law.

To conclude this. If righteous men, through the knowledge of the gospel, are made to leave the law of God, as despairing of life thereby, surely righteousness is not to be found in the law; I mean that which can justify thee before God from the curse who livest and walkest in the law. I shall, therefore, end this second reason with what I have said before—'Men must be justified from the curse in the sight of God while sinful in themselves.'

The Third Reason.—Another reason why not one under heaven can be justified by the law, or by his own personal performances to it, is, because since sin was in the world, God hath rejected the law and the works thereof for life (Rom 7:10).

It is true, before man had sinned, it was ordained to be unto life; but since, and because of sin, the God of love gave the word of grace. Take the law, then, as God hath established it; to wit, to condemn all flesh (Gal 3:21); and then there is room for the promise and the law, the one to kill, the other to heal; and so the law is not against the promises; but make the law a justifier, and faith is made void, and the promise is made of none effect (Rom 4:14); and the everlasting gospel, by so doing, thou endeavourest to root out of the world. Methinks, since it hath pleased God to reject the law and the righteousness thereof for life, such dust and ashes as we are should strive to consent to his holy will, especially when in the room of this [covenant] of works there is established a better covenant, and that upon better promises. The Lord hath rejected the law, for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof; for, finding fault with them of the law, 'The days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel,' &c. (Heb 8:8). Give God leave to find fault with us, and to condemn our personal performances to death, as to our justification before him thereby; let him do it, I say; and the rather, because he doth by the gospel present us with a better. And certainly, if ever he be pleased with us, it will be when he findeth us in that righteousness that is of his own appointing.

[Six things that incline the heart to seek to the law for life.]

To conclude. Notwithstanding all that hath or can be said, there are six things that have great power with the heart to bend it to seek life before God by the law; of all which I would caution that soul to beware, that would have happiness in another world.

First. Take heed thou be not made to seek to the law for life, because of that name and majesty of God which thou findest upon the doctrine of the law (Exo 20:1). God indeed spake all the words of the law, and delivered them in that dread and majesty to men that shook the hearts of all that heard it. Now this is of great authority with some, even to seek for life and bliss by the law. 'We know,' said some, 'that God spake to Moses' (John 9:29). And Saul rejected Christ even of zeal towards God (Acts 22:3). What zeal? Zeal towards God according to the law, which afterwards he left and rejected, because he had found out a better way. The life that he once lived, it was by the law; but afterwards, saith he, 'The life which I now live,' it is by faith, 'by the faith of Jesus Christ' (Gal 2:20). So that though the law was the appointment of God, and had also his name and majesty upon it, yet now he will not live by the law. Indeed, God is in the law, but yet only as just and holy, not as gracious and merciful; so he is only in Jesus Christ. 'The law,' the word of justice, 'was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ' (John 1:17). Wherefore, whatever of God thou findest in the law, yet seeing grace and mercy is not there, let neither the name of God, nor that majesty that thou findest of him in the law, prevail with thee to seek life by all the holy commandments of the law.

Second. Take heed that the law, by taking hold on thy conscience, doth not make thee seek life by the law (Rom 2:13-15). The heart of man is the seat of the law. This being so, the understanding and conscience must needs be in danger of being bound by the law. Man is a law unto himself, and showeth that the works of the law are written in his heart. Now, the law being thus nearly related to man, it easily takes hold of the understanding and conscience; by which hold, if it be not quickly broken off by the promise and grace of the gospel, it is captivated to the works of the law; for conscience is such a thing, that if it once be possessed with a doctrine, yea, though but with the doctrine of an idol, it will cleave so fast thereto that nothing but a hand from heaven can loosen it; and if it be not loosed, no gospel can be there embraced (1 Cor 8:7). Conscience is Little-ease, if men resist it, whether it be rightly or wrongly informed.[26] How fast, then, will it hold when it knows it cleaves to the law of God! Upon this account, the condition of the unbeliever is most miserable; for not having faith in the gospel of grace, through which is tendered the forgiveness of sins, they, like men a-drowning, hold fast that they have found; which being the law of God, they follow it; but because righteousness flies from them, they at last are found only accursed and condemned to hell by the law. Take heed, therefore, that thy conscience be not entangled by the law (Rom 9:31,32).

Third. Take heed of fleshly wisdom. Reasoning suiteth much with the law. 'I thought verily that I ought to do many things against the name of Jesus,' and so to have sought for life by the law; my reason told me so. For thus will reason say: Here is a righteous law, the rule of life and death; besides, what can be better than to love God, and my neighbour as myself? Again; God hath thus commanded, and his commands are just and good; therefore, doubtless, life must come by the law. Further, to love God and keep the law are better than to sin and break it; and seeing men lost heaven by sin, how should they get it again but by working righteousness? Besides, God is righteous, and will therefore bless the righteous. O the holiness of the law! It mightily swayeth with reason when a man addicteth himself to religion; the light of nature teacheth that sin is not the way to heaven; and seeing no word doth more condemn sin than the words of the ten commandments, it must needs be, therefore, the most perfect rule for holiness; wherefore, saith reason, the safest way to life and glory is to keep myself close to the law. But a little here to correct. Though the law indeed be holy, yet the mistake as to the matter in hand is as wide as the east from the west; for therefore the law can do thee no good, because it is holy and just; for what can he that hath sinned expect from a law that is holy and just? Nought but condemnation. Let them lean to it while they will, 'there is one that accuseth you,' saith Christ, 'even Moses, in whom you trust' (John 5:45).

Fourth. Man's ignorance of the gospel suiteth well with the doctrine of the law; they, through their being ignorant of God's righteousness, fall in love with that (Rom 10:1-4). Yea, they do not only suit, but, when joined in act, the one strengtheneth the other; that is, the law strengtheneth our blindness, and bindeth the veil more fast about the face of our souls. The law suiteth much our blindness of mind; for until this day remains the veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; especially in the reading of that which was written and engraven on stones; to wit, the ten commandments, that perfect rule for holiness; which veil was done away in Christ (2 Cor 3:15,16). But 'even to this day, when Moses is read, the veil is over their hearts'; they are blinded by the duties enjoined by the law from the sight and hopes of forgiveness of sins by grace. 'Nevertheless when IT,' the heart, 'shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.' The law, then, doth veil the heart from Christ, and holds the man so down to doing and working for the kingdom of heaven, that he quite forgets the forgiveness of sins by mercy through Christ. Now this veiling or blinding by the law is occasioned—

1. By reason of the contrariety of doctrine that is in the law to that which was in the gospel. The law requireth obedience to all its demands upon pain of everlasting burnings; the gospel promiseth forgiveness of sins to him that worketh not, but believeth. Now the heart cannot receive both these doctrines; it must either let go doing or believing. If it believe, it is dead to doing; if it be set to doing for life, it is dead to believing.[27] Besides, he that shall think both to do and believe for justification before God from the curse, he seeks for life but as it were by the law, he seeks for life but as it were by Christ; and he being not direct in either, shall for certain be forsaken of either. Wherefore? Because he seeks it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law' (Rom 9:32).

2. The law veils and blinds by that guilt and horror for sin that seizeth the soul by the law; for guilt, when charged close upon the conscience, is attended with such aggravations, and that with such power and evidence, that the conscience cannot hear, nor see, nor feel anything else but that. When David's guilt for murder and blood did roar by the law in his conscience, notwithstanding he knew much of the grace of the gospel, he could hear nothing else but terror, the sound of blood; the murder of Uriah was the only noise that he heard; wherefore he crieth to God that he would make him hear the gospel. 'Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice' (Psa 51:8). And as he could not hear, so neither could he see; the law had struck him deaf and blind. 'I am,' saith he, 'not able to look up'; not up to Christ for mercy. As if David had said, O Lord, the guilt of sin, which is by the law, makes such a noise and horror in my conscience, that I can neither hear nor see the word of peace unless it is spoken with a voice from heaven! The serpents that bit the people in the days of old were types of guilt and sin (Num 21:6). Now, these were fiery serpents, and such as, I think, could fly (Isa 14:29). Wherefore, in my judgment, they stung the people about their faces, and so swelled up their eyes, which made it the more difficult for them to look up to the brazen serpent, which was the type of Christ (John 3:14). Just so doth sin by the law do now. It stings the soul, the very face of the soul, which is the cause that looking up to Jesus, or believing in him, is so difficult a task in time of terror of conscience.[28]

3. This is not only so at present, but so long as guilt is on the conscience, so long remains the blindness; for guilt standing before the soul, the grace of God is intercepted, even as the sun is hid from the sight of mine eyes by the cloud that cometh between. 'My sin,' said David, 'is ever before me,' and so kept other things out of his sight; sin, I say, when applied by the law (Psa 51:3). When the law came to Paul, he remained without sight until the good man came unto him with the word of forgiveness of sins (Acts 9).

4. Again; where the law comes with power, there it begetteth many doubts against the grace of God; for it is only a revealer of sin, and the ministration of death; that is, a doctrine that sheweth sin, and condemneth for the same; hence, therefore, as was hinted before, the law being the revealer of sin, where that is embraced, there sin must needs be discovered and condemned, and the soul for the sake of that. Further, it is not only a revealer of sin, but that which makes it abound; so that the closer any man sticks to the law for life, the faster sin doth cleave to him. 'That law,' saith Paul, 'which was ordained to be unto life, I found to be unto death,' for by the law I became a notorious sinner; I thought to have obtained life by obeying the law, 'but sin taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me' (Rom 7:10-14). A strange way of deceivableness, and it is hid from the most of men; but, as I have already told you, you see how it comes to pass. (1.) Man by nature is carnal, and the law itself is spiritual: now betwixt these two ariseth great difference; the law is exceeding good, the heart exceeding bad; these two opposites, therefore, the heart so abiding, can by no means agree. (2.) Therefore, at every approach of the law to the heart with intent to impose duty, or to condemn for the neglect thereof; at every such approach the heart starteth back, especially when the law comes home indeed, and is heard in his own language. This being thus, the conscience perceiving this is a fault, begins to tremble at the sense of judgment; the law still continueth to command to duty, and to condemn for the neglect thereof. From this struggling of these two opposites ariseth, I say, those doubts and fears that drive the heart into unbelief, and that make it blind to the word of the gospel, that it can neither see nor understand anything but that it is a sinner, and that the law must be fulfilled by it, if ever it be saved.

[Fifth.] But again; another thing that hath great influence upon the heart to make it lean to the law for life is, the false names that Satan and his instruments have put upon it; such as these—to call the law the gospel; conscience, the Spirit of Christ; works, faith; and the like: with these, weak consciences have been mightily pestered; yea, thousands deluded and destroyed. This was the way whereby the enemy attempted to overthrow the church of Christ of old; as, namely, those in Galatia and at Corinth, &c. (2 Cor 11:3,4,13,14). I say, by the feigned notion that the law was the gospel, the Galatians were removed from the gospel of Christ; and Satan, by appropriating to himself and his ministers the names and titles of the ministers of the Lord Jesus, prevailed with many at Corinth to forsake Paul and his doctrine. Where the Lord Jesus hath been preached in truth, and something of his doctrine known, it is not there so easy to turn people aside from the sound of the promise of grace, unless it be by the noise and sound of a gospel. Therefore, I say, the false apostles came thus among the churches: 'another gospel, another gospel'; which, in truth, saith Paul, 'is not another; but some would pervert the gospel of Christ,' and thrust that out of doors, by gilding the law with that glorious name (Gal 1:6-8).[29] So again, for the ministers of Satan, they must be called the apostles of Christ, and ministers of righteousness; which thing, I say, is of great force, especially being accompanied with so holy and just a doctrine as the word of the law is; for what better to the eye of reason than to love God above all, and our neighbour as ourselves, which doctrine, being the scope of the ten words given on Sinai, no man can contradict; for, in truth, they are holy and good.

But here is the poison; to set this law in the room of a mediator, as those do that seek to stand just before God thereby; and then nothing is so dishonourable to Christ, nor of so soul-destroying a nature as the law; for that, thus placed, hath not only power when souls are deluded, but power to delude, by its real holiness, the understanding, conscience, and reason of a man; and by giving the soul a semblance of heaven, to cause it to throw away Christ, grace, and faith. Wherefore it behoveth all men to take heed of names, and of appearances of holiness and goodness.

[Sixth.] Lastly, Satan will yet go further; he will make use of something that may be at a distance from a moral precept, and therewith bring souls under the law. Thus he did with some of old; he did not make the Galatians fall from Christ by virtue of one of the ten words, but by something that was aloof off; by circumcision, days, and months, that were Levitical ceremonies; for he knows it is no matter, nor in what Testament he found it, if he can therewith hide Christ from the soul—'Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law' (Gal 5:2,3). Why so, seeing circumcision is not one of the ten words [commandments]? Why, because they did it in conscience to God, to stand just before him thereby. Now here we may behold much cunning of the devil; he begins with some at a distance from that law which curseth, and so by little and little bringeth them under it; even as by circumcision the Galatians were at length brought under the law that condemneth all men to the wrath and judgment of God. I have often wondered when I have read how God crieth out against the Jews, for observing his own commandment (Isa 1:11-14). But I perceive by Paul that by these things a man may reject and condemn the Lord Jesus; which those do, that for life set up aught, whether moral or other institution, besides the faith of Jesus. Let men therefore warily distinguish betwixt names and things, betwixt statute and commandment, lest they by doing the one transgress against the other (2 Cor 1:19,20). Study, therefore, the nature and end of the law with the nature and end of the gospel; and if thou canst keep them distinct in thy understanding and conscience, neither names nor things, neither statutes nor commandments, can draw thee from the faith of the gospel. And that thou mayest yet be helped in this matter, I shall now come to speak to the second conclusion.

[THE SECOND POSITION.]

SECOND. THAT MEN CAN BE JUSTIFIED FROM THE CURSE BEFORE GOD, WHILE SINNERS IN THEMSELVES, BY NO OTHER RIGHTEOUSNESS THAN THAT LONG AGO PERFORMED BY, AND REMAINING WITH, THE PERSON OF CHRIST.

For the better prosecuting of this position I shall observe two things—FIRST, That the righteousness by which we stand just before God, from the curse, was performed by the person of Christ. SECOND, That this righteousness is inherent only in him.

FIRST. As to the first of these, I shall be but brief. Now, that the righteousness that justifieth us was performed long ago by the person of Christ, besides what hath already been said, is further manifest thus—

First. He is said to have purged our sins by himself—'When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of God' (Heb 1:3). I have showed that in Christ, for the accomplishing of righteousness, there was both doing and suffering; doing, to fulfil all the commands of the law; suffering, to answer its penalty for sin. This second is that which in this to the Hebrews is in special intended by the apostle, where he saith he hath purged our sins, that is, by his precious blood; for it is that alone can purge our sins, either out of the sight of God or out of the sight of the soul (Heb 9:14). Now this was done by himself, saith the apostle; that is, in or by his personal doings and sufferings. And hence it is that when God had rejected the offerings of the law, he said, 'Lo, I come. A body hast thou prepared me,—to do thy will, O God' (Heb 10:5-8). Now by this will of God, saith the Scripture, we are sanctified. By what will? Why, by the offering up of the body of Jesus Christ; for that was God's will, that thereby we might be a habitation for him; as he saith again—'Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate' (Heb 13:12).

Second. As it is said, he hath purged our sins by himself, so it was by himself at once—'For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified' (10:14). Now by this word 'at once,' or by 'one offering,' is cut off all those imaginary sufferings of Christ which foolish men conceive of; as that he in all ages hath suffered or suffereth for sin in us.[30] No; he did this work but once. 'Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world,' in the time of Pilate, 'hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself' (Heb 9:25,26). Mark how to the purpose the Holy Ghost expresseth it: he hath suffered but once; and that once, now; now once; now he is God and man in one person; now he hath taken the body that was prepared of God; now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself; by the offering up of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Third. It further appears, in that by his resurrection from the dead the mercies of God are made sure to the soul, God declaring by that, as was said before, how well pleased he is by the undertaking of his Son for the salvation of the world: 'And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David' (Acts 13:34). For Christ being clothed with man's flesh, and undertaking for man's sins, did then confirm all sure to us by his resurrection from the dead. So that by the rising of that man again, mercy and grace are made sure to him that hath believed on Jesus. Wherefore, from these things, together with what hath been discovered about his addressing himself to the work, I conclude 'that men can be justified from the curse, before God, while sinners in themselves, by no other righteousness than that long ago performed by the person of Christ.' Now the conclusion is true from all show of contradiction; for the Holy Ghost saith he hath done it; hath done it by himself, and that by the will of God, at once, even then when he took the prepared body upon him—'By the will of God we are sanctified, through the offering up of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.'

[SECOND.] This being so, the second position is also manifest—namely, that the righteousness by which we stand just from the curse, before God, is only inherent in Jesus Christ. For if he hath undertaken to bring in a justifying righteousness, and that by works and merits of his own, then that righteousness must of necessity be inherent in him alone, and ours only by imputation; and hence it is called, in that fifth to the Romans, the gift, the 'gift of righteousness'; because neither wrought nor obtained by works of ours, but bestowed upon us, as a garment already prepared, by the mercy of God in Christ (Rom 5:17; Isa 61:10). There are four things that confirm this for a truth—

First. This righteousness is said to be the righteousness of one, not of many; I mean of one properly and personally, as his own particular personal righteousness. The gift of grace, which is the gift of righteousness, it is 'by one man, Jesus Christ.' 'Much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by ONE, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of ONE, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of ONE shall many be made righteous' (Rom 5:15-19). Mark, the righteousness of one, the obedience of one; the righteousness of one man, of one man, Jesus.[31] Wherefore, the righteousness that justifieth a sinner, it is personally and inherently the righteousness of that person only who, by works and acts of obedience, did complete it, even the obedience of one, of one man, Jesus Christ; and so ours only by imputation. It is improper to say, Adam's eating of the forbidden fruit was personally and inherently an act of mine. It was personally his, and imputatively mine; personally his, because he did it; imputatively mine, because I was then in him. Indeed, the effects of his personal eating is found in my person; to wit, defilement and pravity. The effects also of the imputation of Christ's personal righteousness are truly found in those that are in him by electing love and unfeigned faith, even holy and heavenly dispositions; but a personal act is one thing, and the effects of that another. The act may be done by, and be only inherent in one; the imputation of the merit of the act, as also the effects of the same, may be in a manner universal, extending itself unto the most, or all. This the case of Adam and Christ doth manifest. The sin of one is imputed to his posterity; the righteousness of the other is reckoned the righteousness of those that are his.

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