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are things with which justification shall be, and without which, it will not be, and therefore are found to be put in Scripture in conditional propositions with justification and salvation, in multitudes of places, such are, love to God, and love to our brethren, forgiving men their trespasses, and many other good qualifications and acts. And there are many other things besides faith, which are directly proposed to us, to be pursued and performed by us, in order to eternal life, as those which if they are done, or obtained, we shall have eternal life, and if not done, or not obtained, we shall surely perish. And if it were so, that faith was the only condition of justification in this sense, yet I do not apprehend
that to say, that faith was the condition of justification, would express the sense of that phrase of Scripture, of being justified by faith. There is a difference
between being justified by a thing, and that thing universally, and necessarily, and inseparably attending or going with justification; for so do a great many things that we are not said to be justified by. It is not the inseparable connection with justification that the Holy Ghost would signify (or that is naturally signified) by such a phrase, but some particular influence that faith has in the affair, or some certain dependence that that effect has on its influence.
Some that have been aware of this have supposed that the influence or dev pendence might well be expressed by faith's being the instrument of our justi
fication; which has been misunderstood, and injuriously represented, and ridiculed by those that have denied the doctrine of justification by faith alone, as though they had supposed that faith was used as an instrument in the hand of God, whereby be performed and brought to pass that act of his, viz., approving and justifying the believer. Whereas it was not intended that faith was the instrument wherewith God justifies, but the instrument wherewith we receive justification; not the instrument wherewith the justifier acts in justifying, but wherewith the receiver of justification acts in accepting justification. But yet it must be owned, that this is an obscure way of speaking, and there must certainly be some impropriety in calling it an instrument, where with we receive or accept justification; for the very persons that thus explain the matter, speak of faith as being the reception or acceptance itself; and if so, how can it be the instrument of reception or acceptance ? Certainly there is difference between the act and the instrument. And besides, by their own descriptions of faith, Christ the mediator by whom, and his righteousness by which we are justified, is more directly the object of this acceptance and justification, which is the benefit arising there
from more indirectly; and therefore, if faith be an instruinent, it is more propí erly the instrument by which we receive Christ, than the instrument by which we receive justification.
But I humbly conceive we have been ready to look too far to find out what that influence of faith in our justification is, or what is that dependence of this effect on faith, signified by the expression of being justified by faith, overlooking that which is most obviously pointed forth in the expression, viz., that, the case being as it is (there being a mediator that has purchased justification), faith in this mediator is that which renders it a meet and suitable thing, in the sight of God, that the believer, rather than others, should have this purchased benefit assigned to him. There is this benefit purchased, which God sees it to be a more meet and suitable thing that it should be assigned to some than others, because he sees them differently qualified; that qualification wherein the meetness to this benefit, as the case stands, consists, is that in us by which we are justified. If Christ had not come into the world and died, &c., to purchase justification, no qualification whatever in us could render it a meet or fit thing that we should be justified: but the case being as it now stands, viz.,
that Christ has actually purchased justification by his own blood for infinitely unworthy creatures, there may be some certain qualification found in some per sons, that, either from the relation it bears to the mediator and his merits, or on some other account, is the thing that in the sight of God renders it a meet and condecent thing, that they should have an interest in this purchased benefit, and which if any are destitute of, it renders it an unfit and unsuitable thing that they should have it. The wisdom of God in his constitutions doubtless appears much in the fitness and beauty of them, so that those things are established to be done that are fit to be done, and that those things are connected in his constitution that are agreeable one to another : so God justifies a believer according to his revealed constitution, without doubt, because he sees something in this qualification that, as the case stands, renders it a fit thing that such should be justified; whether it be because faith is the instrument, or as it were the hand, by which he that has purchased justification is apprehended and accepted, or because it is the acceptance itself, or whatever. To be justified, is to be approved of God as a proper subject of pardon, and a right to eternal life; and therefore, when it is said that we are justified by faith, what else can be understood by it, than that faith is that by which we are rendered approvable, fitly so, and indeed, as the case stands, proper subjects of this benefit?
This is something different from faitlis being the condition of justification, only so as to be inseparably connected with justification : so are many other things besides faith; and yet nothing in us but faith renders it meet that we should have justification assigned to us; as I shall presently show how, in answer to the next inquiry, viz.
2. How this is said to be by faith alone, without any manner of virtue or goodness of our own. This may seem to some to be attended with two difficulties, viz., how this can be said to be by faith alone, without any virtue or goodness of ours, when faith itself is a virtue, and one part of our goodness, and is not only some manner of goodness of ours, but is a very excellent qualification, and one chief part of the inherent holiness of a Christian? And if it be a part of our inherent govdness or excellency (whether it be this part or any other) that renders it a condecent or congruous thing that we should have this benefit of Christ assigned to us, what less is this than what they mean that talk of a merit of congruity? And moreover, if this part of our Christian holiness qualifies us in the sight of God, for this benefit of Christ, and renders it a fit or meet thing, in his sight, that we should have it, why should not other parts of holiness, and conformity to God, which are also very excellent, and have as much the image of Christ in them, and are no less lovely in God's eyes, qualify us as much, and have as much influence to render us meet in God's sight, for such a benefit as this? Therefore I answer,
When it is said, that we are not justified by any righteousness or goodness of our own, what is meant is, that it is not out of respect to the excellency or goodness of any qualifications or acts in us whatsoever, that God judges it meet that this benefit of Christ should be ours; and it is not in any wise, on account of any excellency or value that there is in faith, that it appears in the sight of God a meet thing, that he that believes should have this benefit of Christ assigned to him, but purely from the relation faith has to the person in whom this benefit is to be had, or as it unites to that mediator, in and by whom we are justified. Here, for the greater clearness, I would particularly explain myself under several propositions.
1. It is certain that there is some union or relation that the people of Christ stand in to him, that is expressed in Scripture, from time to time, by being in
Christ, and is represented frequently by those metaphors of being members of Christ, or being united to him as members to the head, and branches to the stock,* and is compared to a marriage union between husband and wife. I do. not now pretend to determine of what sort this union is; nor is it necessary to iny present purpose to enter into any manner of dispute about it. If any are disgusted at the word union, as obscure and unintelligible, the word relation equally serves my purpose; I do not now desire to determine any more about it, than all, of all sorts, will readily allow, viz., that there is a peculiar relation between true Christians and Christ, or a certain relation between him and them, that there is not between him and others; which is signified by those metaphorical expressions in Scripture, of being in Christ, being members of Christ, &c.
2. This relation or union to Christ whereby Christians are said to be in Christ (whatever it be), is the ground of their right to his benefits. This needs no proof; the reason of the thing, at first blush, deinonstrates it: but yet it is evident also by Scripture, 1 John v. 12, “He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son, hath not life.” 1 Cor. i. 30, “ Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us-righteousness." First we must be in him, and then he will be made righteousness or justification to us. Eph. i. 6, " Who
hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Our being in him is the ground of our į being accepted. So it is in those unions which the Holy Ghost has thought fit
to compare this union to. The union of the members of the body with the head, is the ground of their partaking of the life of the head; it is the union of the branches to the stock, which is the ground of their partaking of the sap and life of the stock; it is the relation of the wife to the husband, that is the ground of her joint interest in his estate; they are looked upon, in several respects, as one in law: so there is a legal union between Christ and true Christians; so that (as all except Socinians allow) one, in some respects, is accepted for the other by the Supreme Judge
3. And thus it is that faith is that qualification in any person that renders it meet in the sight of God that he should be looked upon as having Christ's satisfaction and righteousness belonging to him, viz., because it is that in him which, on his part, makes up this union between him and Christ. By what has been just now observed, it is a person's being, according to Scripture phrase, in Christ, that is the ground of having his satisfaction and merits belonging to him, and a right to the benefits procured thereby : and the reason of it is plain; it is easy to see how a having Christ's merits and benefits belonging to us, follows from our having (if I may so speak) Christ himself belonging to us, or a being united to him; and if so, it must also be easy to see how, or in what manner, that, in a person, that on his part makes up the union between his soul and Christ, should be the thing on the account of which God looks on it meet that he should have Christ's merits and benefits, from regard to any qualification in him, in this respect, from his doing of it for him, out of respect to the value or loveliness of that qualification, or as a reward of the excellency of it.
“Our Saviour compares his mystical body, that is his church, to a vine, which his Father, whom he compares to a husbandman, hath planted; I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. To represent to us the union that is betwixt Christ and all true Christians, and the influence of grace and spiritual life. which all that are united to him do derive and receive from him, he sets it forth to us by the resemblance of a vine and branches. As there is a natural, vital union between the vine and the branches, so there is a spiritual union between Christ and true Christians; and this union is the cause of our fruitfulness in the works of obedience and a good life. There are some indeed that seem to be grafted into Christ by an outward profession of Christianity, who yet derive no influence from hiin so as to bring forth fruit, be. cause they are not vitally united to him." Dr. Tillotson, 34 vol. of Serm. p. 307.
By this it appears that the vital union between Christ and true Christians, which is much more of a mystery than the relative union, and necessarily implies it, was not thought an unreasonable doctrine by one of the greatest divines on the other side of the question in hand.
As there is nobody but what will allow that there is a peculiar relatior. between Christ and his true disciples, by which they are in some sense in Scripture said to be one; so I suppose there is nobody but what will allow, that there may be something that the true Christian does on his part, whereby he is active in coming into his relation or union, some of the soul of the Christian, that is the Christian's uniting act, or that which is done towards this union.or relation (or whatever any please to call it) on the Christian's part: now faith I suppose to be this act.
I do not now pretend to define justifying faith, or to determine precisely how much is contained in it, but only to determine thus much concerning it, viz., that it is that by which the soul that before was separate and alienated from Christ, unites itself to him, or ceases to be any longer in that state of alienation, and comes into that forementioned union or relation to him, or, to use the Scripture phrase, that it is that by which the soul comes to Christ, and receives him: and this is evident by the Scripture's using these very expressions to signify faith. John vi. 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, “ He that comcth to me, shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me, shall never thirst. But I said unto you, that ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." Ver. 40, " And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." Chap. v. 38, 39, 40,“ Whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the Scriptures, for-they are they which testify of me. And ye
will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” Ver. 43, 44, “ I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not : if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe which reccive honor one of another ?" Chap. i. 12, “ But as many as received bim, to them gave he power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” If it be said that these are obscure figures of speech, that, however they might be well understood of old among those that then commonly used such metaphors, yet they are difficultly understood now; I allow that the expressions, receiving Christ, and coming to Christ, are metaphorical expressions : and if I should allow them to be obscure metaphors, yet so much at least is certainly plain in them, viz., that faith is that by which those that before were separated, and at a distance from Christ, (that is to say, were not so related and united to him as his people are), do cease to be any longer at such a distance, and do come into that relation and nearness ; unless they are so unintelligible, that nothing at all can be understood by them.
God does not give those that believe, a union with or an interest in the Saviour, in reward for faith, but only because faith is the soul's active uniting with Christ, or is itself the very act of unition, on their part. God sees it fit, that in order to a union's being established between two intelligent, active beings or persons, so as that they should be looked upon as one, there should be the mutual act of both, that each should receive the other, as actively joining themselves one to another. God, in requiring this in order to a union with Christ as one of his people, treats men as reasonable creatures, capable of act and choice; and hence sees it fit that they only that are one with Christ by their own act, should be looked upon as one in law, What is real in the union between Christ and his people, is the foundation of what is legal; that is, it is something that is really in them, and between them, uniting them, that is the ground of the suitableness of their being accounted as one by the Judge: and if
there be any act or qualification in believers that is of that uniting nature, that it is meet, on that account, that the Judge should look upon them and accept them as one, no wonder that upon the account of the same act or qualification, he should accept the satisfaction and merits of the one for the other, as if it were their satisfaction and merits: it necessarily follows, or rather is implied.
And thus, it is that faith justifies, or gives an interest in Christ's satisfaction and merits and a right to the benefits procured thereby, viz., as it thus makes Christ and the believer one, in the acceptance of the Supreme Judge. It is by faith that we have a title to eternal life, because it is by faith that we have the Son of God, by whom life is. The Apostle John in these words, 1 John v. 12, “He that hath the Son, hath life," seems evidently to have respect to those words of Christ that he gives an account of in his gospel, chap. ii. 36, “ He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life.”. And in the same places that the Scripture speaks of faith as the soul's receiving or coming to Christ, it also speaks of this receiving, or coming to, or joining with Christ, as the ground of an interest in his benefits: to as many as received him,“ to them gave he power” to become the sons of God. Ye will not come unto me “ that ye might have life.” And there is a wide difference between its being looked on suitable that Christ's satisfaction and merits should be theirs that believe, because an interest in that satisfaction and merit is but a fit reward of faith, or a suitable testimony of God's respect to the amiableness and excellency of that grace, and its only being looked on suitable that Christ's satisfaction and merits should be theirs, because Christ and they are so united, that in the eyes of the Judge they may suitably be looked upon and taken as one.
Although, on the account of faith in the believer, it is, in the sight of God, fit and congruous, both that he that believes should be looked upon as in Christ, and also as having an interest in his merits in the way that has been now explained; yet it appears that this is very wide from a merit of congruity, or indeed any moral congruity at all to either. There is a twofold fitness to a state; I know not how to give them distinguishing names, or otherwise, than by calling the one a moral and the other a natural fitness. A person has a moral fitness for a state, when his moral excellency commends him to it, or when his being put into such a good state is but a fit or suitable testimony of regard or love to the moral excellency, or value, or amiableness of any of his qualifications or acts. A person has a natural fitness for a state, when it appears meet and condecent that he should be in such a state or circumstances, only from the natural concord or agreeableness there is between such qualifications and such circumstances; not because the qualifications are lovely or unlovely, but only because the qualifications and the circumstances are like one another, or do in their nature, suit and agree or unite one to another. And it is on this latter account only that God looks on it fit, by a natural fitness, that he whose heart sincerely unites itself to Christ as his Saviour, should be looked upon as united to that Saviour, and so having an interest in him; and not from any moral fitness there is between the excellency of such a qualification as faith, and such a glorious blessedness as the having an interest in Christ. God's bestowing Christ and his benefits on a soul in consequence of faith, out of regard only to the natural concord there is between such a qualification of a soul, and such a union with Christ, and interest in him, makes the case very widely different from what would be, if he bestowed this from regard to any moral suitableness : for, in the former case, it is only from God's love of order that he bestows these things on the account of faith : in the latter, God doth it out of love to the grace of faith