We must not lean to any righteousness within
us, whereby to be justified.
††††††††† Mr. Baxter in his Cathol. Theol. part 2, n. 176, speaks thus, It is ordinary (says he) with some writers and preachers, to tell men, that no part of their righteousness is in themselves, and with others, that at least, none by which they are justified by in any part is in them; and that it is all Christ only: and that nature is loath to yield this, but thinks it a fine
thing, to have some little part of the honor to itself: and as to the honor of a good action, if it be but 999 parts, that it ascribes to God, and takes one part of a thousand to ourselves, it is a dangerous arrogation: We must have none. And it might be thought, that such as ever understood the Gospel, considered the particular expressions used in Scripture to abase man, yea and the whole contrivance of the Gospel salvation, through a crucified Cautioner, and that such as ever understood and were acquainted with the natural pride, deceit, and treachery of their own heart; and had any experience in the devices of Satan, in and about wakened consciences, to keep them from a hearty closing with and willing accepting of, and cleanly resting upon the way of salvation, revealed in the Gospel, should be far from condemning this saying, and from making exceptions against it. But indeed, the grounds, that Papists, Socinians, and Arminians lay down, as the basis of their anti-evangelic fabric, and contrivance of the way of salvation, are more favorable to self, and are therefore the more cordially embraced by many, and more stiffly maintained. Mr. Baxter seems to say here, that these are different things, to says, that no part of our righteousness is in ourselves, and that no part of our righteousness, by which we are justified, is in ourselves, where with the Orthodox, these are but different expressions of the same thing; for when they deny a righteousness within ourselves, it is not a denying of a begun holiness and sanctification; but a denying of a righteousness as the ground of justification, for all this they acknowledge to be wholly and only in Christ, the Lord our righteousness. And to adjoin to this, the question about the honor of a good action, as whether that should be wholly ascribed to God, or one part of a thousand may not be ascribed to ourselves; is neither very savory in itself, nor pertinent to the clearing of the other.
††††††††† But what does Mr. Baxter answer? This (says he) well explained may be sound: But thus grossly delivered, it is but a popular cheat, under the taking pretence of self abasement and giving Christ all. Answer: I should readily fear, that Mr. Baxterís explication should be so far from making the expressions sounder than they are, that it should rather prove a commentary corrupting the text, seeing I find him thus dissatisfied with expressions so consonant to the strain of the Gospel, to the holy genius of all savingly illuminated, and to the very language of the saints, in Scripture. But as to his censure, calling this no less than a popular cheat, it is sharp, and, more befitting, in my judgment, a Papist, or a non-Christian Socinian, than Mr. Baxter.
††††††††† Yet let us hear the ground of this so sharp and so unseemly censure. The Devil (says he) is as willing as anyone, that you should have nothing honorable or praiseworthy in you; and be as vile, as he can make you. Answer: If it would not be displeasing, I would say, that this answer is a plain cheat: for the question is not, whether we should have anything in us, truly honorable and praiseworthy, or whether we should be as vile, as the devil would make us; No Protestant ever spoke so; But the question is whether for anything in us truly honorable and praiseworthy, we should sacrifice to our own net, and burn incense to our own drag; or give the glory unto God,
who works all our works in us; and works in us both to will, and to do, Isaiah 26: 12, Philippians 2: 13. The question is not, whether we should have good in us, or not, but whether we should not say with Paul in I Corinthians 4: 4, even when we know nothing by ourselves, yet are we not hereby justified? and whether we should not say with him, Philippians 3: 8, 9, that we count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, our Lord, and count them dung, that we may win Christ, and be found in him, not having our own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ; the righteousness which is of God by faith. The question is not, whether Christ be made sanctification to us; but whether that sanctification be any part of that righteousness, which Christ is made of God to be unto us? What more?
††††††††† He adds, It is God, who honors these, that honor him, and praises his saints, as the excellent on the earth, and his jewels and peculiar treasure, adorned with his own lovely image, and partakers of the divine nature, and members of Christ, as his own flesh. And it is Satan and wicked men that vilify and dishonor them. Answer: This is but a continuance of the same cheat: for it is no part of the question, whether the saints should be vilified, or honored? But the question is, whether the saints should rob God of his glory, and ascribe that unto themselves, which is due unto him, be it in less, or in more? We know, the Saints are Godís excellent ones, his jewels and his peculiar treasure; but all this is through the free undeserved grace of God, making them beautiful and lovely with his own graces, and partakers of his divine nature: And therefore we say, that for all that they ought to be humble, knowing what their birth and nativity was, and whence all this is come; and who ought to have the glory of all this; and notwithstanding of this, what is the sole ground of their justification before God, and what is that righteousness, upon the account whereof they are justified in the sight of God.
††††††††† And I have oft lamented it (says he further) that these very men, that hold this kind of doctrine of self-abasement, as having no part of righteousness, nor share at all in any good work, are yet too often so proudly conceited of their own goodness (even for holding, that they have none for which they are praise worthy) as that their pride is no small trouble to the Churches all about them. Answer: I shall not plead for pride, or proud conceits in any: but whether such as lay down doctrinal grounds of pride, and teach men to be proud, or such as lay down contrary grounds, but do not practice accordingly, be most blameworthy; I leave Mr. Baxter to judge. One thing I would ask: How Mr. Baxter came to know, that such, as he opposes here, were proudly conceited of their own goodness? Pride and a proud conceit lie most within, and is not obvious to the view of everyone, especially being upon such a ground. I hope Mr. Baxter will not take upon himself to judge of hearts: And if it be by their contendings for that, which they conceive to be truth: If this be an infallible mark, no man can be judged more proud, than is Mr. Baxter, none having in this matter contended by so many and so great volumes, as he hath, since his Aphorisms came abroad, and that indeed to the no small trouble of the
Churches. And further, some might think, that if Mr. Baxter did aright lament, that any were proudly conceited of their own goodness, he should not have laid doctrinal grounds for fomenting of this pride; nor moved such an objection against himself, as he doth here; for no man can rightly lament at the practice of that doctrine, which he himself embraces and teaches.
††††††††† He proceeds (n. 177), Whatever is of God is good: and whatever is good is laudable or praiseworthy, and merits to be esteemed as it is. Answer: True, and therefore God, who is the author thereof, should have the glory, and it should be esteemed, as it is, to the glory of God, and not to puff us up with proud conceits, or to be the ground we lean to, in order to be justified and accepted of God. He adds (n. 178), All the sanctified are inherently righteous, but with an imperfect righteousness, which will no further justify them in judgment, save only against this accusation, that they are unholy. Answer: Mr. Baxter then is much to blame, who will have this imperfect righteousness to be a perfect righteousness, as being our Gospel righteousness, and the potestative condition of our justification and absolution at judgment, and so the immediate and sole formal ground of our justification before God. But this answer is also impertinent; for these he here writes against, speak not of a particular justification, from this or that false accusation; but of that justification before God, whereof Paul treats, in his epistles to the Romans and Galatians, and which is a justification of the ungodly, Romans 4: 5.
†††††††† He adds (n. 179) there is no righteousness, which will not justify him, that hath it in tantum, so far as he is righteous: for the contrary is a contradiction: for to be just, is to be justifiable. Answer: This is sick of the same impertinence with what went before: for the question is not concerning a particular righteousness, and a particular justification, upon that account; but of a general justification, as to our state and that from the just accusation of Law and Justice, under which we stand by nature, in reference to which, all our inherent righteousness, how great soever it be, is no ground, nor part of the merit, or formalis ratio of that. Paul had no small share of this righteousness, when he said, he knew nothing by himself: and yet he adds, Yet am I not thereby justified, I Corinthians 4: 4, and we would say the same, and speak after this manner, if Mr. Baxter would suffer us.
††††††††† Next (n. 181 for 180) he says, All the righteousness, which formally justifies us, is our own, or on ourselves, where it justifies us: for to be made just or justified, in the first sense constitutively, is nothing else, but to be made such, as are personally themselves just. Pardon of sin is made our own, right to Christ and glory is made our own; though Christís righteousness was the only meritorious cause of all this; which therefore is and may be called our Material Righteousness, as that, which merits it, is the matter. Answer: There seems to be nothing here but confusion: for (1.) he speaks ambiguously, when he says, that all that righteousness, which formally justifies us, is our own, or on ourselves; for this may be true, whether by that righteousness, he means the Surety righteousness of Christ (which he doth not mean, for he is too much against the imputation of that, as we have seen) because we
say, that is made ours by imputation, in order to our justification upon the account thereof: or whether he mean our inherent righteousness; but then if this be his meaning, it is false, that we are hereby formally justified, unless he means, as before, only a particular justification, which is nothing to the point, as was said. (2.) To be made just and to be justified, are not formally the same, but to such only, who love confusion. (3.) He who is made just, is but constituted justifiable, and is not co ipso constitutive justified: But Mr. Baxter loves his own expressions and explications of them. (4.) When he says that to be justified constitutively is nothing else but to be made such, as are personally themselves just, he speaks very indistinctly; not only as confounding, being made just, and being justified, as if they were formally the same; but also as not giving us to understand, what he means by these words personally themselves just: Hereby he would seem to say, that only by something inherent in our persons, we are constituted righteous, and are justified; and not by anything imputed to us: And if so, the ground of all anti-evangelic boasting and glorying in ourselves is laid. (5.) Pardon of sin, as such, is neither making just, nor justifying: and the same we say of right to Christ and to glory. (6.) Christís righteousness, according to Mr. Baxter, cannot be called the meritorious cause of our pardon, justification, and right to glory, &c. because it is only made by him the meritorious cause of the New Covenant, wherein pardon, right to Christ and† to glory are promised upon new conditions, and so is made the meritorious cause of the connection betwixt the performance of these new conditions, and the obtaining of pardon and that right; so that by virtue of Christís merits, these new conditions are made the proper and immediate meritorious cause ex pacto of these favors: And by this way, man cannot but boast and glory in himself immediately, and give Christ only some remote, far-off thanks, for procuring the new terms. (7.) Christís righteousness cannot be called our material righteousness, any other way, than as it hath purchased the New Covenant, according to Mr. Baxter; and this being equally for all, Christís righteousness shall be the material righteousness of the reprobate, as well as of believers: And how can that be called ours, which is not ours, nor our own, nor are we by it made personally just ourselves? as he spoke before. (8.)According to this doctrine, Christís righteousness merits to us another righteousness, which is our own and on ourselves, and by this we are formally justified: that is, according to what went before, and to what follows, we are formally justified by our own personal inherent holiness (for of this, he is speaking only) and yet that which he here mentions, as the righteousness, which formally justifies us, is said to be pardon of sin, and a right to Christ and to glory, which formally is no righteousness at all, nor anywhere so called in Scripture, and is but a consequent of that, which elsewhere he calls our Gospel righteousness, and the condition of justification.
††††††††† He goes on (n. 182) He that is no cause of any good work, is no Christian, but a damnable wretch, and worse than any wicked man I know in the world: And he that is a cause of it, must not be denied falsely to be a cause of it. Nor a
Saint denied to be a Saint, upon a false pretence of self denial. Answer: Of such a cause of any good work, he knows the objection speaks, that should have the glory and praise thereof; and of good works, as the ground and formal cause of justification; which these against whom Mr. Baxter here disputes, do deny. But we may see here, what Mr. Baxter accounts good works; even such as the most damnable wretch, and possibly the devil himself may do; that is a work materially good, though far different from the good works described to us in Scripture. And thus the justification upon good works, which Mr. Baxter here means, must be a justification, that all heathens, damnable wretches, yea and devils themselves are capable of: But this is not the justification we speak of, of which all who are partakers shall be glorified, Romans 8: 30. We say nothing, that gives him ground to think, that our thoughts are, that a Saint should be denied to be a Saint, upon pretence of self-denial. Only we say that such as are Saints indeed will be loath to rob God of his glory, or take any of that to themselves, which is due to him alone, in so far as they act as Saints; and they should not, because Saints, glory and boast, as if their justification before God, were by their sanctity and good works; and not of mere grace, through the imputation of the Surety-Righteousness of Christ. One thing I would ask. Doth Mr. Baxter think that Christís righteousness hath merited that justification, which those damnable wretches and devils may partake of, by any good work, which they do? He himself told us in the foregoing (n. 81) that all righteousness which formally justifies, is our own, and that to be made just and to be justified are the same, or equipollent; and to be justified constitutively is nothing else, than to be made such as are personally themselves just. Now, when devils and damnable wretches may be the causes of some good work, that work cannot but formally justify them, and they thereby become constitutively justified. I would enquire, whether this justification be purchased by Christ or not? And again I would enquire, whether this justification be accompanied with pardon of sin, and with right to Christ and to glory, or not? If not, how can it be called a justification? and if it be not a justification, how can they be hereby formally justified, and constitutively justified?
††††††††† He tells us next (n. 183) As God is seen here in the glass of his works, so he is to be loved and praised, as so appearing. (This is, say I, good and reasonable. What then?) Therefore (says he) he that dishonors his work, dishonors God, and hinders his due love and praise. (This consequence, I grant, is good; but what is that to the point in hand?) And his most lovely and honorable work (says he) on earth is his holy image on his Saints; and as Christ will come to be admired and glorified in them at last, so God must be seen and glorified in them here in some degree. (Neither, say I, is anything of this to the purpose in hand. He adds:) And to deny the glory of his image is the malignantís way of injuring him, and that in which the worst will serve you. (And what then?) He that will praise God as Creator and redeemer must praise his works of creation and redemption: And is it the way of praising him, as our sanctifier, to dispraise his work of sanctification? Answer: What makes all this to the purpose? Must
all such be guilty of this malignant wickedness, who tell men, that no part of their righteousness is in themselves, by which they are to be justified, but that it is all in Christ only: or that say, that God must have all the glory of what good action they do? This is hard, that either we must be wicked malignants, or sacrilegious robbers of God of the glory, due unto him. But I see no connection, and Mr. Baxter hath not yet demonstrated the same. He must then prove the consequence of this arguing.
††††††††† He adds (n. 184) Those poor sinners of my acquaintance, who lived in the grossest sins against conscience (as drunkenness and whoredom &c.) have been glad enough of such doctrine, and forward enough to believe, that there is nothing in man, that in any part can justify him, or that is any part of righteousness, but it is all out of us in Christ, and therefore they are as justifiable, as any. But conscience will not let them believe it, as they desire. Answer: To this I cannot answer, not knowing, nor having acquaintance with those poor sinners; Yet this I must say, (and others will say the same with me) that Mr. Baxterís way is that, which I find more relishing unto carnal souls, than the self denying way of the Gospel, which we use to preach: and that the way, which Mr. Baxter is not satisfied with, is the way, that is most pleasant and acceptable unto the truly gracious, and rightly exercised souls. But further, what of all this? Knoweth not Mr. Baxter that some can turn the grace of God into lasciviousness? Must therefore the mountains be removed for them?
††††††††† He says moreover (n. 1850 It is arrogant folly to divide the praise of any good act between God and man, and to say God is to have so many parts and man so many: for the whole is due to God; and yet some is due to man: for man holds his honor only in subordination to God, and not dividedly in coordination. And therefore all is due to God: for that which is manís is Godís, because we have nothing, but what we have received. But he that arrogates any of the honor due to God or Christ, offends.† Answer: If it be thus, Mr. Baxter is the more to blame, in being dissatisfied with such, as are but expressing their care, that God have all his due, and that men do not proudly arrogate to themselves any of that honor and glory, which is due to God alone. And if Mr. Baxter knows not, that there is a strong propension in corrupt nature, to spoil God of his glory, he knows nothing: And woe to such, as would indulge nature in this sacrilege. Them that honor God, He will honor. What honor is justly due unto man, in subordination unto God, none of those, I suppose, whom Mr. Baxter here opposes, will grudge him of; but all their care is, to have Godís due kept for himself, and that is all; and it is not commendable in any, to oppose them in this.
††††††††† But next he says (n. 186) If all had been taken from Godís honor, which had been given to the creature, God would have made nothing, or made nothing good; heaven and earth and all the world would derogate from his honor; and none of his works should be praised. And the better any man is, the more he would dishonor God, and the more wicked the less. But he made all good, and is glorious in the glory, and honorable in the honor of all: and to justify the holiness of his servants,
is to justify him. Answer: All this is little or nothing to the purpose: for such as are careful that man rob not God of his glory, do not deny the honor due to the creature, knowing that when honor is given to the creature, upon a right ground, and in a right manner, it redounded unto the honor of the Creator: But who knows not, how ready the creature is to steal into the throne of God; and how ready men are to transcend, and transgress all due limits? And is it not safest to keep far from such a dangerous precipice? Is it to edification thus to gratify with our pleadings proud Nature, and to blow at this fire of corruption, that the Saints have daily hard work about to suppress and extinguish? Must we thus, on so small occasions, plead so stoutly for man, and pretend to plead for God too?
††††††††† He adds next (n. 187) If these Teachers mean, that no man hath any power freely to specify the acts of his own will by any other help of God, besides necessitating predetermining promotion; and so that every man doth all that he can do, and no man can do more than he doth; they dishonor God by denying him to be the Creator of that free power, which is essential to man, and which God himself accounts it his honor to create. And they feign God to damn and blame all, that are damned and blamed, for as great impossibilities, as if they were damned and blamed for not making a world, or for not being angels. Answer: This is not a fit place to treat of that question of Predetermination, though Mr. Baxter pull it in here by the ears; It is enough for us, that we see now, whither all that Mr. Baxter hath here been saying, tends, even to give unto man, the glory of all the good he doth, of his faith, repentance, love of God, obedience and perseverance, in the first, chief and immediate place; for by his own natural power he did freely specify the acts of his own will, and so believed, when he might have rejected the Gospel, óloved God and Christ, when he might have hated both, órepented, when he might have remained in his former state (and Mr. Baxter makes no difference of acts here, and so his words must be looked on as meant of supernatural acts, as well as of natural) and that without any predetermining grace or motion of God. This glory shall we never yield to be due unto man, let Mr. Baxter load the doctrine of Predetermining grace, with all the reproaches and absurdities he can invent. He needs not think now to restrict his opinion of denying predetermination unto natural acts, for as the good spoken of by those he here opposes, is supernatural good, as such; so his discourse here is expressive enough of this: And thus the cause is yielded unto Pelagians, Jesuits and Arminians, and the crown is put upon the head of man, and he is to honor and praise himself for what good he doth, for all began at his own self determining power and will; and the Almighty himself could not bowed and predetermined his will, except he had overturned the course of nature, and destroyed that free power, which is essential to man. And thus it is made to be the honor of God, to create a creature, that is absolute Lord and Master of all his own actions, and so must be the first cause of his own actions, as to their specific moral nature, and what is this, but to make man an independent creature, as to his actions, and consequently a God to himself:
Mr. Baxter himself hints some other help of God besides predetermination; but what that is, he tells us not. Is it his concourse? From this the same inconveniences will follow, that flow from predetermination. And besides, Mr. Baxter seems to incline more to the opinion of Durandus, and <???>, which even the Jesuits are ashamed to own, and his friend D. Strang doth directly confute; as loving to set man yet higher up, than they dare do. Doth Mr. Baxter think that it is essential to man to have such a free power, as that of himself he can specify the acts of his own will, without any predetermining motion of God? Can he then believe in Christ, hope savingly in God, yield Christian obedience to all commands of God, without Godís predetermining motion upon his heart? and is that common general influx, whereby he is preserved in his being, and his faculties and power not taken away, enough to make a man turn from Nature unto Grace, if he will be so good natured as to bow his own will, and determine himself, as he may? Why do we then condemn the Pelagians? What did or could the Pelagians say more? But enough of this here.
††††††††† In the following paragraph (n. 188) He tells us, that some men teach, that Christ strips a Christian of two things, his sins, and his righteousness. Or that two things must be cast away for Christ, Sins & Righteousness. And he is not satisfied with such speeches, though they be consonant to, yea upon the matter, the very same with the speeches of Paul, Philippians 3: 8, 9. He says they should speak better, if they would not deceive. And why saith he not so of the Apostle Paul also? May it serve him, that we speak, as Paul did? Nothing (saith he) is to be cast away, as evil, but sin. True; and yet the Apostle desired to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness; and what was a righteousness in his eyes before; and was a righteousness, which is in the Law, and wherein he was blameless, he now accounted loss for Christ, yea he accounted them but dung; which includes a rejecting and casting of it away with detestation. He adds, Righteousness truly such is good, and never to be cast away. If it be no righteousness, why do they falsely say, that we must cast away our righteousness? Answer: Let the Apostle Paul answer this, whom it concerns as much as us: And let Mr. Baxter in soberness consider how this reflects upon the Spirit of the Lord, inspiring the Apostle to speak so. As for us, we are not very anxious in this matter, but can freely tell Mr. Baxter, that though our personal righteousness be good; Yet in the matter of justification before God, and absolution from the condemning sentence of the law, and adjudication to life, we must lay it aside, and betake ourselves solely to the righteousness of Christ, and seek to be found in him alone, after the example of the Apostle, and according to the clear doctrine of the Gospel; And this we are resolved to do, how displeased soever Mr. Baxter be with us upon that account.
††††††††† He adds, To cast away a false conceit of righteousness, is not to cast away righteousness, but sin only; indeed beside sin, we are said justly to cast away that, which would be the object and matter of sin: and the phrase is more fitly applied to a thing indifferent, than to a thing necessary, lest it seduce. Answer: To account our righteousness, consisting in our obedience to the law, to be dung,
as Paul did, in the business of justification, is all we plead for. Let Mr. Baxter call it a casting away of a false conceit of righteousness, if that will satisfy him, but even in this we cast away our righteousness, when we will not trust to it, as our righteousness, in order to justification; or as that righteousness, upon the account of which we expect to be justified in the sight of God. And if Mr. Baxter be afraid of seducing here, he may know where we ground our expressions: I suppose Paul was far from seducing, when he spoke, as he did in Philippians 3: 8, 9.
††††††††† There is nothing so good (says he) which may not be made the object of sin; not Christ, or his righteousness, or God himself excepted; But we must not thus objectively abuse them. Answer: And what is all this to the purpose? Does he think that those teachers, he here opposes, were enemies to holiness; or would have men laying aside all thoughts of it, and care about it when they spoke so? He may as well infer such things from the Apostleís speeches. But what is meant secundum quid, should not be understood as simpliciter. His reasoning here then is impertinent, as also is that which follows, when he says, So holiness and true righteousness (inherent or imputed) may be objects of sinful pride and boasting; but it is not edifying doctrine therefore to say, that we must cast away inherent and imputed righteousness. For we plead not for casting away everything that may be abused, but for casting away our own righteousness, in the matter of justification, that imputed righteousness may only take place. But how imputed righteousness can be the object of sinful pride and boasting, he would do well to teach us; that inherent righteousness may be so, we know; and to plead for justification upon that account, is to lay the foundation of sinful pride and boasting, as the Scriptures teach us.
††††††††† He adds, But yet true self denial requires that we deny our righteousness (inherent or imputed) to be that which indeed it is not. Answer: And therefore we deny, that our inherent righteousness is the ground, or formalis ratio objectiva of our justification: but what way self denial teaches us to deny our imputed righteousness to be what it is not, he must be pleased to inform us; and to speak thus alike of both our inherent and imputed righteousness, is not very fair; as if there were no difference.
††††††††† Further he tells us, And so when men accounted the Jewish observations to be a justifying righteousness, in competition with, and in opposition to Christ, Paul counts it as loss and dung, and nothing in that respect: when yet elsewhere he says, I have lived in all good conscience to this day: and Christ himself fulfilled that Law and righteousness. Answer: What does Mr. Baxter mean by these Jewish Observations? Does he mean nothing but their observance of the ceremonial Law? But did Paul mean nothing but his conscientious observance of this law, when he said, I have lived in all good conscience to this day? And did he mean nothing else, by that righteousness, which he counted loss and dung, Philippians 3? The Apostle himself distinguishes between the law, touching which he was a Pharisee; and that law touching the righteousness whereof, he had been blameless: and surely before the writing of this epistle, he had preached down the observation of the ceremonial law, and was far from
the observation thereof, and yet now, he accounted that same righteousness, which formerly was gain to him, now to be loss and dung, so that this could not be, his ceremonial observances; for it had been a small demonstration of his excessive desire to win Christ, to count that loss now, which he had before condemned as unnecessary, yea as unlawful, and had laid aside such. So that he means all that, which could be called his own righteousness, and which is of the law, and was not that righteousness, which is through the faith of Christ, and of God by faith. And it is also observable, that the Apostle uses a very comprehensive term besides, saying, And I count all things but loss &c. Moreover, the Jewish observances, while that law stood in force, were useful and good, and a righteousness, as well as the observation of the moral law, to which they were also reducible, being enjoined by virtue of the second command. And if these observances could be brought (through menís corruption,) in competition, with and set in opposition to Christ, and therefore were justly accounted as loss and dung and nothing, in that respect: why ought not also moral observances be so accounted, seeing they through manís corruption, can be and are too oft brought in competition with, and set in opposition against Christ, and his righteousness? If Mr. Baxter will yield to this, he needs dispute no more at this rate.
††††††††† He adds, So if a man will conceit, that his common grace will justify without holiness, or his holiness without pardon, and the righteousness of Christ, he must deny this righteousness; that is, he must deny it to be what it is not, and must cast away (not it, but) the false conceits of it. Answer: We think them in an error, who conceit, that either common grace will justify without holiness, or holiness with or without pardon and the righteousness of Christ: and it is not proper for him, who will not hear others saying, that faith justifies, to say, that holiness justifies. And it is as improper to say, that pardon justifies: Let him tell me, how holiness with pardon can justify? And as for the righteousness of Christ, all men (with Mr. Baxter) are justified by it alike, for it only purchased the New Covenant, and that it did to all alike, and is no other way imputed unto any whatsoever. And so, according to his judgment it must be denied, that Christís righteousness becomes the believers through Godís imputation, and that believers are therewith clothed, and thereupon made juridically righteous, and then justified, or pronounced righteous, through that imputed Surety righteousness of Christ: this is the self denial that Mr. Baxter will teach us; and instead of this surety righteousness of Christ, we must be clothed (according to him) with our own Gospel righteousness, Faith and New Obedience, and upon that ground, as the only nearest formal reason, or meritorious cause, expect to be justified; because Christís righteousness hath purchased this covenant, and connection. Mr. Baxter must not be offended, that I mention the word merit here, remembering what he says himself (n. 194) where his friendliness to Papists, and his displeasure at Protestants is so remarkable, in these words. And those that reject the saying of some Papists, who say that Christ merited that we might
merit, placing our evangelical merits in a near subordination to Christís, do but show, what prejudice and partiality can do, and harden those, who perceive their errors.
††††††††† Finally he says here, And so if any Libertine will say, that Christís righteousness imputed to him, will justify him without faith, or be instead to holiness to him, he must deny imputed righteousness thus to be, what indeed it is not. Answer: Though I know, the Lord hath thought good to ordain faith, as a mean, whereby we may be made partakers of Christís surety righteousness, and so be justified; Yet I may say, that Christís righteousness imputed, as being the sole meritorious cause and ratie formalis objectiva of our justification, will justify without faith, as any part of that righteousness, which we are considered as clothed with, when declared and pronounced righteous. though it be not instead of holiness, as if holiness were no more required of us; Yet it is and must be instead of that holiness and righteousness, which was required of us in the Old Covenant and by the Law, in order to our being accepted and justified thereupon.
††††††††† He tells us in the margin, that none deny that all that are saved have inherent righteousness; and that in tantum we are righteous by it; that a man accused, as being an infidel, atheist, impenitent, ungodly, a hypocrite, &c. must be justified by pleading all the contraries in himself; or else perish; and that this inherent righteousness is imperfect, and in us found with sin, and that therefore no man can be justified by it without pardon of sin, nor at all against the charge of being a sinner, and condemnable by the Law of innocence. But what is all this to the point? Must we not therefore say with Paul, that in the business of justification, we must account our own righteousness to be dung, and only lean to the righteousness of Christ? What would he hence conclude? And what remains then (says he) but to trouble the world with contending de nomine, whether this imperfect righteousness, shall be called righteousness, and the giving of it, called justifying, or making us righteous so far. Answer: And who, I pray, more guilty of troubling the world with these contendings, than he? But to the matter, it is no mere contending de nomine, that he hath caused, when instead of the Surety Righteousness of Christ, with which the Orthodox asserted believers to be clothed, as the immediate ground of their justification before God, and which by faith they were to lean to, and rest upon in order to justification, he substitutes in its place, our imperfect holiness, and makes that to merit justification and salvation, as a subordinate righteousness (so called, though indeed in this case the principal) advanced to that dignity by the merits of Christís righteousness; and as all that righteousness, which can properly be said to be ours, and to be imputed to us, as the only potestative condition of our justification and salvation, according to the New Covenant, purchased by Christ. This is something more, and a great something more, than a mere contest about a word, or a name. This touches the foundation of the Gospel, let Mr. Baxter think as little of it, as he will. I need not take notice of his making these two one thing, justifying and making us righteous, and of his calling the giving of righteousness
or holiness a justifying of us, for this is but suitable to him, who would confound all.
††††††††† This is all he speaks to this matter in this place: But thereafter, section 5, of merit (n. 196) he tells us, It is a great question, whether a man may trust to his own faith, repentance or holiness. And I should think, that no orthodox man should once make a question about it; but should reject the very insinuation of such a thing with detestation: seeing trusting to these things is the native consequent of the Popish, Socinian and Arminian error about justification; or of all, who speak of the imputation of faith &c. as our righteousness, instead of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. What answer gives he? But some men (says he) will trouble the world with unexplained words, where no sober men differ. Answer: The words are plain enough, and need no explication, and every ordinary Christian understands their meaning; but against such, as will seek knots in rushes, and raise dust in the most clear air, for their own ends, there is no remedy. I am afraid the point of difference shall be found such here, as that our agreement shall not be expected in haste, unless our sobriety be such, as will make us embrace inconsistencies.
††††††††† Let us hear what he says, No wise man can dream, that we may trust to those for more than their proper part, as that we may trust them to do anything proper to God, to Christ, to the Spirit, to the promise, &c. And to use the phrase of trusting to our own faith, or holiness, when it sounds absolutely, or may tempt the hearers to think, that they may trust them for Godís part, or Christís part, and not only for their own, is a dangerous deceiving course. Answer: It is true, no wise man will say, that we may trust to these for more than their proper part, but when we are mistaken about their proper part, and conceive them to have that place and part, which they have not, and accordingly trust unto them, do we not amiss? And Mr. Baxter makes it their part to be the immediate meritorious cause expacto (which he otherwise expresses to be the potestative condition) of justification and salvation: which we say is the part of Christ and his righteousness alone: and surely, whoever shall trust unto them for this part, which according to the Gospel is Christís part, trust unto them for more than their proper part. Neither is it any dangerous or deceiving course, to speak thus, when the meaning is obviously known (except to such as have wit enough to darken things) to be this, that we must not trust to faith, &c. as the price, the merit, expacto (as perfect obedience was under the first Covenant) of our justification, adoption, and salvation. But it is a most dangerous and deceiving course to call them only conditions, or causa sine quibus non, when in the mean time, they are made to have the same place in the New Covenant, that perfect obedience had in the old; and are made our Gospel righteousness, for which we are justified, yea and put in the same place, that the Orthodox put Christ and his Surety Righteousness, that is, to be the immediate ground, formal cause, Ratio formalis objectiva of our justification.
††††††††† What more? But that really they may be trusted, for their own part, and must be so, no sober person will deny: for so to believe, obey, pray to God, &c. and
not to trust to them in their place, that is not to think, that we shall be ever the better for them, is unbelief and indeed distrusting God, and saying, it is in vain to seek him, and what profit is it that we call upon him, and such diffidence and despair will end all endeavors. Let every man prove his own work, &c. This is our rejoicing &c. If we are justified by faith, we may trust to be justified by it. But the rare use of such a phrase in Scripture, and the danger of it, must make us never use it without need. Answer: As I said, all the question is concerning what is their own part: and by saying that they are not to be trusted unto, we deny them to have that part, or place in the matter of our justification and salvation, that others give unto them: And if there were no more, this is a shrewd ground of presumption to us, that Mr. Baxter, owns not the Orthodox doctrine in this matter, viz. that he cannot with patience hear it said, that we must not trust to our own faith, repentance or holiness, but accounts such expressions dangerous, and deceiving. (2.) It is but a wrong gloss put upon this expression, We must not trust to our own faith, &c. to make the meaning of it to be, we must not think, that we shall be ever the better for our faith, &c. And therefore his following words are vain, and to no purpose. (3.) It is one thing to trust to be justified by faith, which is but believe God, and trust in his word; and a far other, to trust in our faith; For this is to lay our stress, and lean our weight, and found our hopes of justification and salvation on our weak and feckless faith, instead of trusting to, and relying upon Jesus Christ and his Surety Righteousness, as the only immediate ground, and as that righteousness by and upon consideration of which, we are justified, and have a right to glory. And if Mr. Baxter does not see a difference betwixt these two, it is not because he cannot, but because he will not, as some may suppose. (4.) He talks of the rare use of such a phrase in Scripture; but I would know, where he finds it used at all in Scripture? And it is well, that he confesses there is danger in it: which should be enough to make him as great an enemy to this expression, as we are: but the truth is, according to his principles, we are as much no to trust to our faith, repentance and holiness, in order to justification and salvation, as Adam was to trust to his perfect obedience, according to the Covenant of Works; and as much, as, according to our doctrine, we are to trust to Christ and his Surety Righteousness.