Works excluded in Justification are not works only done before faith, nor perfect works required in the Law of Innocency, nor outward works only.
††††††††† The other evasion, which such, as plead for the interest of works in justification, fall upon, to evade the dint of the Apostleís arguing and concludings against works, is, that by the works of the Law, which Paul excludes from justification, works are meant, which are done before conversion and faith, by the strength of nature; and not the works of grace done after. This is the evasion of Bellarmine and others.
††††††††† But against this we have these reasons to propose.
††††††††† 1. When the Scripture says, we are justified by faith, the meaning is that so soon as a soul believes in Christ, by a true faith, he is justified before God: But this opinion says, that a man is not justified when he believes in Christ; No not until he performs works of righteousness after he hath believed: And thus, we may conceive a man to be a believer, and yet not to be justified; which is contrary to the Gospel.
††††††††† 2. If we were justified by the works of regenerate persons, we should be justified by works, that are imperfect; and consequently by an imperfect righteousness: for these works being made our righteousness, if we be justified by them, as our righteousness, we must be justified by an imperfect righteousness; for they are not perfect, neither as to parts, nor as to degrees. Isaiah 64: 5, I John 1: 8, 10, I Kings 8: 46, II Chronicles 6: 36, Ecclesiastes 7: 20.
††††††††† 3. Regenerate persons have renounced their own righteousness, in the matter of justification before God; therefore they judged, that they were not justified thereby: And this is registered in the word for our instruction and example; that we may learn also to renounce our own works in this business. The antecedent is clear from these instances: (1.) David saying in Psalm 130: 3, If thou Lord shouldest mark iniquity, o Lord, who shall stand: And in opposition to this, he betakes himself to free remission, saying in verse 4, But there is forgiveness with thee. So Psalm 143: 2, And enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. So that if God should enter in judgment with the best, even with his servants, they could not
expect to be justified by their works, even by their best works. So when he says, Psalm 32: 1, 2, Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered, &c. he renounces all justification by the best of his works; for Paul in Romans 4: 6, 7, gives the meaning hereof to be, that David describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputes righteousness without works. (2.) Paul also renounces his righteousness in this matter, and that several times, for he says, I Corinthians 4: 4, for I know nothing by myself, yet am I not hereby justified. And he speaks of himself, while in the state of regeneration. So Galatians 2: 16, 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. And Philippians 3: 9, he desired to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, which is of the Law. No man can think, that by his own righteousness here he means only works, done before he was regenerate.
††††††††† 4. The instances, whereby Paul proves justification by faith, without the works of the Law, confirm this, that works after regeneration are excluded as well as works before: for (1.) Abraham was a regenerate man when his faith was said to be imputed to him (Romans 4: 1, 2, 3, compared with Genesis 15,) for before this time óGenesis 12: 1, he obeyed the call of God by faith, Hebrews 11: 8. See also Romans 4: 9, 10, 11. (2.) David (another instance of justification by faith) was also regenerate when he was justified, as Paul clears, Romans 4: 6, 7, by the imputation of a righteousness, without the works of the Law.
††††††††† 5. The Apostle excludes simply the works of the Law, from being the righteousness of any, in point of justification: And we have no warrant to except or distinguish, where the Law excepts not, nor distinguishes. The works of regenerate persons are works, and works of the Law, as well, as any other: And Paul doth absolutely and simply exclude works and the works of the Law, from being the ground of justification.
††††††††† 6. By what reason can it be evinced, that the Law, or the Works of the Law signify works before regeneration, or works done before faith, more than other works? Do these words carry this sense, wherever they are used? Or can it be demonstrated, that they carry this express sense any where?
††††††††† 7. Are only regenerate persons said to be under the Law? Now the Apostle speaks of all the works of those, who are under the Law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God, Romans 3: 19.
††††††††† 8. The righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, is as much without the Law, or the works of the law, done by regenerate persons, as without the works of the Law, done before regeneration: And justification by these works after regeneration, is as much inconsistent with justification by faith without works of the Law, as justification by the works of the Law, done before regeneration; as is manifest, from the true sense of justification by faith.
††††††††† 9. Paul excludes all works of the Law from justification, that give any ground of boasting: and of glorying, as we see in Romans 3: 27 and 4: 2.
But if justification were by works of the Law, done after faith and regeneration, all boasting and glorying should not be excluded Ephesians 2: 9. Not of works lest any man should boast: And what these works were, the next argument will show.
†††††††† 10. Even works are excluded, unto which we are created and which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them, Ephesians 2: 8, 9, 10, for by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast: for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them. Now these works are works done after regeneration, as is manifest.
††††††††† 11. All works are excluded in this matter, which make justification not to be of mercy or of grace, Romans 3: 24, Ephesians 2: 8, Titus 3: 5, 7. But works after regeneration do this as well, as works before, as Paul clears in Ephesians 2: 8, 9, 10, and works and grace cannot consist, in being the ground of justification, no more, than in being the ground of election, Romans 11: 6.
††††††††† 12. Works done after regeneration belong to the righteousness, which is of the Law, which Paul describes in Romans 10: 5, from Leviticus 18: 5 to be, the man, which doth those things shall live in them. But the righteousness of the Law, and the righteousness of faith are opposite and inconsistent, as the Apostle clears in Romans 10.
††††††††† 13. Works done after regeneration, if made the ground of justification, will make the reward of debt and not of grace, Romans 4: 4, as well as works done before regeneration; for the Scripture holds forth no ground of difference, in this matter.
††††††††† 14. If works done by faith, and after regeneration, be admitted, as the ground of justification, God should not be said to justify the ungodly; for a regenerate believer, working works of righteousness, is nowhere in Scripture called an ungodly man. But the Scripture speaks this expressly, Romans 4: 5.
††††††††† 15. Paul tells us in Romans 4: 16, that the promise was of faith, that it might be by grace, to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed, not to that only which is of the Law, but to that also, which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all. Now this seed which is of the faith of Abraham are believers or regenerate persons; and yet as to these the Law is excluded, and the works thereof; because if they which are of the Law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is made of none effect, verse 14.
††††††††† 16. If justification were by the works of the Law, done after regeneration, we could not, upon first believing, be justified, and have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ; nor could we rejoice in hope of the glory of God, and glory in tribulation, &c. And yet this the Apostle expressly affirms, Romans 5: 1, 2, 3, &c. If justification did depend upon our after works, we could not as yet have peace and reconciliation, or assurance, or joy, &c. because of the uncertainty of our obedience.
††††††††† 17. If Paul had not excluded works done after faith and regeneration, from being the cause and ground of our justification, what seeming ground
or occasion had there been for that objection, Romans 6: 1, What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? What ground could any have to say, We are justified by our works done after regeneration; therefore we may continue in sin, that grace may abound? Any might see at first, how ridiculous this was.
††††††††† 18. And if we are justified by works done after regeneration, is it not strange, that in all Paulís answers unto this objection, he never once says, nor hints, that by these works we shall be justified, and no other way, and yet this had been the shortest and clearest solution of the objection, if it had been according to the doctrine of justification, delivered by Paul.
††††††††† 19. The false Apostles, who were corrupting the doctrine of the Gospel and of Justification, did not urge works done before faith in the Gospel, as the ground of justification, for they were corrupting such, as had already embraced the Gospel and believed in Christ, as is clear out of the Epistle to the Galatians. Therefore when Paul is confuting their error, and opposing himself unto them, he must deny that we are justified by works done after faith in Christ.
††††††††† 20. Justification by works done after regeneration, is as opposite to faith, and to living the life of justification by faith, as justification by works done before regeneration, for the Law is never of faith, so reasons Paul in Galatians 3: 11, 12, But that no man is justified by the Law, in the sight of God, it is evident: For the just shall live by faith: And the Law is not of faith.
††††††††† 21. All the works of the Law are excluded: But works wrought after believing and after regeneration, are works of the Law being required thereby, Psalm 119: 35, Romans 7: 22. Therefore even these works are excluded.
††††††††† 22. When the Apostle excludes works from being causes of justification, he must mean good works, for no man was ever so mad, as to imagine, that he could be justified by bad works. But no works can be called good works but such as flow from faith, and from the Spirit of grace, granted in regeneration. Therefore while good works are excluded, these done after regeneration are excluded.
††††††††† What is said by Bellarmine, in confirmation of his sense of these works of the Law, which are excluded from justification, is abundantly answered by all, that write against him; and therefore we need not take any notice thereof.
††††††††† There is another evasion, found out by our adversaries in this matter, and another gloss put upon these words, By the works of the Law there shall no flesh be justified. For some say, that hereby the Apostle only excludes those works, that are perfect, which were required by the Law in Innocency. This evasion grants, that the Law here spoken of is not the Ceremonial Law, for that was not required in Innocency; but the Moral Law. The reason they invent this evasion is not, to exclude works in the matter of justification; but to establish their own fancy of asserting justification by other works, than perfect works, required by the Covenant of works, to wit by imperfect works, which they sat, are required in the Gospel: And therefore their meaning is, we are not justified by perfect sinless obedience; but by imperfect
obedience to the Law. This is the evasion of the Socinians, who say, the Apostle speaks of the works of the law, to show, that he speaks of those works, which are enjoined by the law, to wit of perpetual and perfect obedience required by the law: And they sat, that by faith he means that confidence and obedience, which everyone is able to perform, and which is endeavored after and studied.
††††††††† That this cannot be the meaning of the Apostleís conclusion, we suppose will be clear from these considerations.
††††††††† 1. This supposes, that they against whom the Apostle is here disputing, were of the opinion, that men could yet be justified, and must be justified by perfect obedience to the Moral Law: But it is hardly imaginable, that men in their wits did ever so dream, or think, that they were innocent, and could expect to be justified before God by their perfection, or perfect obedience to the Law in all points: for this were to say, they never had sinned:
††††††††† 2. When the Apostle, in the beginning of his dispute, in his epistle to the Romans proves, that all have sinned, and are guilty before God, both Jew and Gentile, he thence infers, that by the works of the Law, no flesh shall be justified in Godís sight, Romans 3: 20. Whereby he gives us to understand, that there is no justification by the Law, unless it be perfectly kept: And because no man did ever keep it perfectly, or can so keep it; therefore he concludes, that no man can be justified thereby. There is no justification by works, unless the works be perfect; and consequently that such as expect justification thereby, be wholly sinless.
††††††††† 3. If the Apostle had so disputed against justification by perfect works, as to have granted, or established justification by imperfect works; he needed not have used any more arguments to that end, than what was mentioned and cleared in Romans 1 and 2, and in the beginning of the 3rd chapter: for his evincing that all had sinned and come short of the glory of God, had been sufficient to this end, without the addition of any one argument more, seeing it is impossible, that sinners can be perfect obeyers. And we must not think, that all the Apostleís further arguing is merely superfluous, for this would reflect upon the Spirit of God, who acted Paul in this.
††††††††† 4. How strange is it to imagine, that the Apostle should dispute against perfect works, that he might establish imperfect works in the matter of justification: and to think that the Apostle is proving, that we are not justified by the perfect works of the Law, but by the imperfect works thereof; that is, we are not justified by such works, as keep a conformity, with the Law, but by such works, as are violations of the Law; as all works are, which are not conformed thereunto, in all points.
††††††††† 5. Imperfect works, as to the ground of justification, are not that righteousness of God without the Law, and which is by faith of Jesus Christ, but opposite thereunto, and inconsistent therewith, as well as perfect works: for as he, that perfectly keeps the Law, needs not another righteousness, in order to his justification; so neither needs he, who hath an imperfect obedience if that be made the formal objective and meritorious
cause of justification. But Gospel justification is by the righteousness of God, which is without the Law, and which faith lays hold on, Romans 3: 21: 22.
††††††††† 6. Gospel justification is by faith, as the whole Gospel clears; but faith and imperfect works are not one and the same: Yea they are as repugnant in this affair, as faith and perfect works are. We are justified by faith, without the deeds of the Law, Romans 3: 28, Galatians 2: 16. Living by faith and living by works, are opposite, Galatians 3: 11, 12.
††††††††† 7. Justification by imperfect works, is not free justification by his grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood: as is manifest: But this is the Gospel Justification, Romans 3: 24, 25.
††††††††† 8. Imperfect works, exclude grace, and are as inconsistent therewith, as perfect works are. But Gospel justification is by grace without works Romans 3: 24, Ephesians 2: 8, 9, Titus 3: 5, 6, 7. The major is clear from the places cited, as also from Romans 11: 6. If by grace, then it is no more of works otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace, otherwise work is no more work. Now if it be said, that perfect works are here understood, and not imperfect works: it must be said also, that election (of which the Apostle here speaks) is upon foresight of imperfect woks.
††††††††† 9. Imperfect works, if made the cause of justification, can give ground of boasting and glorying, as we see in the Pharisee, Luke 18. But Gospel justification removes all ground of boasting, Romans 3: 27, 4: 2.
††††††††† 10. Imperfect works cannot be accounted a perfect righteousness, by the Lord, whose judgment is according to truth, Romans 2: 2. But there is no justification without a perfect righteousness, either inherent, or imputed. God will pronounce no man righteous, who is not so, nor justify any as righteous, who is not so indeed: But upon the account of an imperfect righteousness, can no man be justified as righteous.
††††††††† 11. Even this imperfect righteousness, when made the ground of justification, will make the reward of debt, and not of grace: As Abrahamís works, if he had been justified by them, would have done: for Abrahamís works were not perfect works, but imperfect works, as is manifest.
††††††††† 12. If justification were not by perfect works, but by imperfect works, then through faith, or through Gospel justification, the Law should be made void, contrary to Romans 3: 31. The reason of the consequence is, because hereby the Law, that requires perfect obedience, is laid aside and another Law that requires imperfect obedience admitted in its place: or rather the same Law is pretended, but it is made void, as to its requiring perfect obedience; and must now be satisfied with an imperfect obedience. But this is not to establish the Law, but to destroy it, when many jots and tittles are taken away from it, Matthew 5: 17, 18.
††††††††† 13. The Jews did not imagine, that they were perfect and without sin, but followed after the Law of Righteousness, and that, as it were (w)j) by the
works of the Law, Romans 9: 31, 32. And this of necessity must have been mixed with much imperfection: And yet the Apostle plainly says in the place cited, that they did not attain to a righteousness, nor to the Law of righteousness, because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the Law, so that seeking after righteousness as it were by the works of the Law, is opposite to a seeking of it by faith. And again, Romans 10: 3, they went about to establish their own righteousness, and did not submit themselves unto the righteousness of God; which two are opposite and inconsistent; And this their own righteousness, was but an imperfect righteousness, which they were laboring to cause stand.
††††††††† 14. We cannot imagine, that when he Apostle did exclude his own righteousness, and desired not to be found therein, he only excluded, that which was not; and desired not to be found in that, which he had not, and which he knew he had not, to wit, a perfect sinless obedience. Romans 7: 24, I Timothy 1: 13, 15. He confessed he had been a blasphemer, and the chief of sinners, and so was far from imagining, that his obedience was perfect and sinless. This then could not be the righteousness, whereof he speaks, Philippians 3: 9, but his imperfect righteousness, being that only which he could call his own, is that only, which he desired not to be found in, in the day of his appearing before his judge, in order to his justification.
††††††††† 15. If Paul had disputed only against perfect obedience, and had yielded justification by imperfect obedience, what ground was there for that objection in Romans 6: 1, Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound: seeing justification by imperfect obedience doth of itself engage to all endeavor after obedience, and against the allowance of sin?
††††††††† 16. And the Apostleís answer to this objection may furnish us with another argument against this; for if Paul had allowed of, or pleaded for justification by our imperfect works, he had used this, at least, as one argument to persuade unto an abstaining from sin, by saying, there is no justification but by endeavoring after obedience; but we hear of no such thing in all the Apostleís arguments, whereby he presses unto holiness and obedience, whether there, or elsewhere.
††††††††† 17. We are not justified by works done after faith and regeneration, as was proved before. Therefore we are not justified by imperfect works; for works after faith are imperfect, and again, they cannot but be so, as presupposing sin and guilt going before.
††††††††† There is yet another evasion, wherewith some satisfy themselves; for they say, that when Paul says, we are not justified by the works of the Law, by these works, he means only outward works of the Law, performed without an inward principle of grace, of faith, or fear or love of God. But we need not insist in the discovery of the vanity of this evasion, having before at large proved, that the works, whereof Paul speaks, are not works done before faith and regeneration; For all these works, that are done before faith and regeneration, are done without any inward principle of grace, and are only outward works, such as heathens may perform: a few reasons will serve here: as
††††††††† 1. When Paul denies justification to be by the Law, or by the works thereof; he must mean such works, as are enjoined and commanded by the Law: But the Law commands other works, than those outward works, for it condemns all works, that flow not from a principle of grace: because the Law is holy and spiritual, and the first and the chief command thereof is, that we, Love the Lord our God, with all our heart; with all our soul, with all our strength, &c. Romans 7: 12, 14, Matthew 22: 37, Mark 12: 30, Luke 10: 27, Deuteronomy 13: 3 and 30: 6. If then Paul exclude only such works, as flow not from a principle of grace, he shall not exclude the works of the Law, but works prohibited by the Law; and his meaning should be, we are not justified by works, which the law commands not, but we are justified by works, which the Law commands: which is contradictory to the whole scope and design of the Apostle.
††††††††† 2. The Apostle doth manifestly exclude the works of Abraham, Romans 4: 1, 2. But the works of Abraham were other than such servile works or such outward works, performed from no principle of grace or love to God; Therefore such cannot be here understood.
††††††††† 3. Outward works, done without any principle of grace, could with no face or show of a pretence, lay a ground, or be any occasion of boasting or of glorying, because they were no other, but manifest sins, being prohibited and condemned by the Law, and not commanded or approved: But the Apostle excludes such works, as could do this. Therefore he excludes good works, which were done in conformity to the Law, and not such outward lifeless works only, as were mere servile works, and no better.
††††††††† 4. Such lifeless, servile, and outward works could give no show of a ground of making the reward of debt: But Paul excludes such works as would make the reward of debt, Romans 4: 4.
††††††††† 5. If Paul had meant here only such outward, servile works, which are not conformed to the Law; what occasion had there been, for Paulís proposing of that objection in Romans 3: 31, Do we then make void the Law through faith? For to lay aside these works, which are not conformed to the Law, gives no probable ground of supposal, that thereby the Law is made void.
††††††††† 6. Israel could not have been said to have followed after the Law of Righteousness, by doing of works merely outward and lifeless: and yet this is said of them, and it is also said, that by all their following of the Law of Righteousness they could not be justified, Romans 9: 31, 32.
††††††††† 7. Mere performance of outward servile works, cannot be called a righteousness: But the Jews went about to establish their own righteousness, and therefore missed justification, Romans 10: 4.
††††††††† 8. There was never any life had by these outward and servile works alone; But by the works, which Paul excludes, there was life to be had, if they had been perfect. The man, which doth those things, shall live by them. Romans 2: 13 and 10: 5, Leviticus 18: 5, Galatians 3: 12.
††††††††† 9. These outward servile works are not good works; but even good works are here excluded. Ephesians 2: 9, 10.
††††††††† 10. Paul did not mean such works only, when he excluded his own righteousness, Philippians 3: 9. Nor can such works be called works of righteousness; which yet are expressly excluded in this matter, Titus 3: 5.