Mr. Baxterís opinion, Concerning Imputation,
††††††††† There being so frequent mention made, in Scripture, of imputation of righteousness; or of righteousness imputed; and of Christís being our righteousness, or righteousness in Him, and the like, many, that even plead much against the doctrine of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, maintained by the orthodox, must yet yield to it, in some sense or other; at least in such a sense, as may, in their apprehensions, not cross their other hypotheses and dogmas: Yea and sometimes grant this imputation in that sense, at least in words, which overthrows or weakens all their disputations to the contrary. Schlightingius, in defense of Socinus against Meisnerus page 250, will grant, that Christís righteousness may be called and accounted ours, in so far, as it redounds to our good and righteousness, and is the cause of our justification. And Bellarmine, will also say (de just. lib. 2. chapter 10) that Christ is said to be our righteousness, because He satisfied the Father for us; and so gives and communicates that satisfaction to us, when He justifies us, that it may be said to be our satisfaction and righteousness.
††††††††† Mr. Baxter, though he seems not satisfied with what is commonly held by the orthodox, anent the imputation of the righteousness of Christ; yet will not profess himself an enemy to all imputation; but on the contrary, says, he owns it in a right sense: and it is true, men have their own liberty, in expressing their sense and meaning of truths; and where there seems to be some considerable difference, as to word and expressions; yet there may be little, or none upon the matter. And it is not good, I confess, to make real differences of these, that are but verbal; nor is it good to be so tenacious of our expressions, as to exaggerate the expressions of others, whose meaning may be good, because not complying with our own, in all points.
††††††††† Let us therefore enquire after Mr. Baxterís sense, and see wherein he really differs from us, inn this matter. In his late Treatise of Justifying Righteousness against Dr. Tully: The first part (as the title page shows) is of Imputed Righteousness, opening and defending the true sense, and confuting the false. Here then we are likely to find his meaning, as to this question.
††††††††† In his preface to this book, he gives us his sense, in these words, that righteousness is imputed to us, that is, we are accounted righteous, because of the merits of Christís total fulfilling of the conditions of his Mediatorial Covenant with the Father, by His habitual holiness, His actual perfect obedience, and His sacrifice, or satisfactory suffering for our sins, in our stead, freely without any merit, or conditional act of manís, God hath made an act of oblivion and Deed of Gift, pardoning all sin, justifying and adopting and giving right to the Spirit and
Life eternally to everyone, that believing accepts Christ, and the gifts with, and by, and from Him; and when we accept them, they are all ours by virtue of this purchased covenant-gift. But this, I judge, cannot give satisfaction, for upon the grant of that Act of Oblivion, (as he calls it) which, in his judgment, is extended to all mankind, no man in particular can be called or accounted righteous, or have righteousness imputed to him, more than another; and so upon this account, all are equally righteous, and have equally Christís righteousness imputed to them, that is, no man hath it. As for these effects, pardon justification, adoption, and right to the Spirit and to life, they cannot be called the righteousness of Christ; no more then the effects can be called the cause. And though they become ours, when we accept them, or rather when we accept of Christ; yet upon that account merely, it cannot be said, that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, and no otherways: for that is nothing but the Socinian Confession formerly mentioned, and it cannot satisfy the orthodox. The question is about the imputation of Christís righteousness, and the answer given is concerning the effects thereof given to us; but these effects are not the righteousness of Christ; nor are they to be called a righteousness; nor are they in Scripture so called, unless we say with John Goodwine, that righteousness imputed is nothing but free justification. Yea these effects must presuppose a righteousness in the persons receiving them, either inherently, or by way of imputation: for God will justify no man, or declare no man to be righteous, who is not righteous: and our question is concerning this righteousness. Mr. Baxter gives us nothing here for this, unless it be our believing: and this is that which Servetus, Socinus and Arminians say.
††††††††† In opposition to this, which he calls a short and plain explication of Christianity, he sets down what others say, as necessary to go in to our Christianity; and so tells us, that according to them, we must say, That Christ was habitually and actually perfectly holy and obedient, imputatively in our particular persons; and that each one of us did particularly fulfill that law, which requires perfect habits and acts in and by Christ imputatively; and yet did also in and by Him suffer ourselves imputatively for not fulfilling it, and imputatively did ourselves both satisfy Godís justice, and merit heaven; and that we have ourselves imputatively a righteousness of perfect holiness and obedience, as sinless; and must be justified by the law of innocence, or works, as having ourselves imputatively fulfilled it in Christ. And that this is our sole righteousness: and that faith itself is not imputed to us for righteousness, no not a mere particular subordinate righteousness, answering the conditional part of the new justifying covenant, as necessary to our participation of Christ, and His freely given righteousness. As touching the latter part of this discourse, about the imputation of faith, and its being called our particular subordinate righteousness, it is true, several of the orthodox have appeared against it, and we shall also speak our judgment of it hereafter. But as to the former part (which is only pertinent to our purpose now in hand) I know not, if ever any orthodox person uttered his mind, after this manner: Yea, I know not, if antinomians themselves have at any time expressed themselves, an all points, as is here set down. But
be it so, that they have thus expressed their meaning, and that these expressions, here set down, are not mere consequences and inferences, drawn by Mr. Baxter himself, from their opinions and assertions: yet Mr. Baxter cannot but know, that the orthodox are against them, in these assertions, as well as he: and to me it appears not fair, to set down these words, as containing that opinion, which all must hold, who cannot fully embrace Mr. Baxterís own judgment; as if there were no medium between the Socinian or Arminian judgment, on the one hand, and the Antinomian opinion on the other hand; whileas he cannot but know the contrary. Neither is this a fit and sure way to clear up the true sense of the imputation of Christís righteousness, at least, that sense, which we own.
††††††††† In the book page 24, he again sets down his own judgment, or sense of imputation, which he takes to be the true healing middle way; part whereof is as follows. That as Christ suffered in our stead, that we might not suffer, and obeyed in our nature, that perfection of obedience might not be necessary to our justification; and this in the person of a Mediator and Sponsor, for us sinners; but not so in our persons, as that we truly, in a moral or civil sense, did all this in and by him: even so God reputes the thing to be, as it is, and so far imputes Christís righteousness and merits and satisfaction to us, as that it is reputed by Him the true Meritorious cause of our justification; and that for it God makes a covenant of grace, in which He freely gives Christ, pardon and life to all that accept the gift, as it is; so that the acceptors are by this covenant and gift, as surely justified and saved by Christís righteousness, as if they had obeyed and satisfied themselves. Not that Christ merits, that we shall have grace to fulfill the law ourselves, and stand before God in a righteousness of our own, which will answer the law of works, and justify us; but that the conditions of the gift, in the covenant of grace, being performed by every penitent believer, that covenant doth pardon all their sins (as Godís instrument) and gives them a right to life eternal for Christís merits. As to this, though it may seem fair and a far advancement: yet I shall crave leave to say these few things against it.
††††††††† 1. When he says, that Christ suffered in our stead, I would know, in whose stead it was? whether it was in the stead of some select persons, or in stead of all? If in the stead of some select persons only, then these select persons, must have another interest, in the death of Christ, than all others; and it being done in their stead, must needs be accepted in their behalf, as it was undergone for them, and in their stead and place: and if it be accepted in their behalf, as it was undergone for them, and in their stead and place: and if it be accepted in their behalf, they must necessarily be freed from suffering, after Godís method; and that upon the account of Christís suffering in their stead; and if so, must not that suffering of Christ, in a law sense, be accounted theirs, and imputed unto them, and they as really and effectually freed from what they were under, and obnoxious to, and made partakers of what was purchased there by, as if they had suffered all that, in their own persons? If it be in stead of all, then all must, upon the account of it, be delivered from suffering, which cannot be said; or not one shall be delivered from suffering, merely upon the account of it, but upon the account of some other thing intervening,
which he calls, in the following words, the New Covenant, and the performance of the conditions thereof: and if so, all Christís sufferings in our stead, will be but a suffering for our good, as say the Socinians.
††††††††† 2. When he says, that we might not suffer, does that mean eventually viz. that none of us should ever be put to suffer the penalty? Or is it only meant potentially, that is, that it might be possible, that we should not suffer? If the former be said, then either all of us shall be saved, or the us must be restricted to the elect. If the latter be said, then this dying in our stead, is really but a dying for our good, which the Socinians grant.
††††††††† 3. When he says, and obeyed in our nature, this, in our nature, must either be the some with in our stead, which he mentioned before; or something different. If the same, then it seems, when he said, Christ suffered in our stead, his meaning only was, that Christ suffered in our nature. And will not all Socinians grant, that Christ suffered thus in our stead, that is, in our nature? If different, I would know, why he puts such a difference between Christís suffering and His obeying, seeing both belonged to that law (as he speaks in the foregoing words) which was his covenant conditions; and both were satisfactory and meritorious, though the one more primarily satisfactory, and the other more primarily meritorious?
††††††††† 4. When he says, that Christ obeyed in our nature, that perfection of obedience might not be necessary to our justification, I would ask, if this end did, or could flow from, or follow upon Christís obedience, merely because it was performed in our nature? Had we no other interest, or ground of interest in it, or in Him, but that it was performed in our nature? Or did all the benefit and advantage, that we received, or are to receive thereby flow from it merely upon this account, that it was performed in our nature?
††††††††† 5. As to this end of Christís obeying viz. that perfection of obedience might not be necessary to our justification, I suppose his meaning is, that this perfection of obedience might not be required of us, in order to justification: but yet he doth not say (as he should) that this was our debt; and that Christ paid this perfect obedience as our debt, in order to life: for if he shall say this, then it will follow, that this payment must, in law sense, be imputed to those, for whom it was paid. However these words do plainly insinuate, that howbeit Christ obeyed in our nature: that perfection of obedience might not be necessary to our justification; yet notwithstanding an imperfect obedience might be accounted necessary to our justification; and thus the New Covenant be supposed to be of the same kind and specie with the old; and Christ be supposed to have obeyed, only that the terms of the old covenant might be abated, as to the rigor of perfection of obedience required.
††††††††† 6. That Christ obeyed and suffered in the person of a Mediator and Sponsor, (as he says) that is, that person God-man, who was Mediator and Sponsor, did obey and suffer, is very true; but notwithstanding hereof, yea so much the rather, he obeyed and suffered, as a public person, that is, for others, and not for Himself personally considered. And therefore those,
for whom He thus obeyed and suffered, must, in a just and consequent sense, be accounted as obeying and suffering in Him, that is, there was such a relation between this Mediator, or Surety, and those, for whom He was a Mediator and Surety (in the purpose and design of God appointing Christ hereunto, and in the purpose and design of Christ undertaking, and actually performing what He undertook) as gave them fundamentally another interest in His obedience and suffering, than others had, or could have, to and for whom He was Mediator and Sponsor.
††††††††† 7. Whence Christ may be said to have obeyed and suffered legally, in the person of, and as representing others; that is, in the construction of Law and Law-giver, not for Himself, but for others, in whose law-place He did substitute Himself, undertaking their debt, in order to their redemption. And though believers, who now come to have an actual interest in Christ, cannot be said to have done all this in and by Him, that is, as by their delegate and servant (as Mr. Baxter elsewhere expresses it) yet they may be said to have done it in and by Him, civilly, juridically or legally, as the debtor is by law said to have satisfied the creditor, in and by the surety, who yet physically paid the debt by himself only, but legally in the person of the debtor, the debtor and Surety being in Law-consideration, but as one person, in so far as, they concur in, and are both obliged by, one and the same obligation; just as the heir succeeding in jus defuncti, is eatenus repute and said to be una and eadem persona with him; whence it is evident, that one payment made by either must be accounted as made by both, and doth in effect dissolve the whole obligation; and consequently the debtor is as effectually and justly absolved from all charge or danger of law, upon the account of that debt, as if he had paid the money out of his own purse. But whether the term of Morally, or Civilly, or Legally, or the like, be most apposite, is of on great weight to occasion a debate, especially seeing the thing itself so well known to all, who know what it is to have a friend paying their debt, or satisfying the creditor for them, and in their behalf; and thereupon bringing them out of prison. Though I know, the case of pecuniary debts doth not in all things quadrate with our case; yet it is sufficient to explicate what we are now upon.
††††††††† 8. We grant, that God reputes the thing to be, as it is; and therefore it is very true, that God reputes Christ to have obeyed and suffered, as being in the law-place of others, and as making satisfaction for them; and them, for whom He satisfied, to be in another manner in Him, than any others whatever.
††††††††† 9. He adds, and so far imputes Christís righteousness, as that it is reputed by Him, the true meritorious cause of our justification. But it was reputed and estimated so to be, before this imputation; for it was accepted as such: therefore imputation must denote something more, than this reputation, even a reckoning of it (as it were) now upon their score, and accounting it theirs, or them to have a full, special and actual interest therein, in order to their justification and absolution from the charge of guilt and death brought in against them, whereby they are accounted and reckoned to be
righteous, because of that imputation, and therefore pronounced such in justification: so that now it is the objectum formale, or the ratio formalis objectiva of our justification.
††††††††† 10. When he adds and that for it God makes a covenant of grace, if those words mean, that in this also Christís righteousness is said to be imputed, then, it seems, it is equally imputed unto all Adamís posterity: for with him, all are comprehended within this covenant. But this were as much as to say, it is imputed to none in particular. Moreover, it may be thought that this is explicative of what went immediately before: and so Christís righteousness shall be reputed the true Meritorious Cause of our justification, in that it was the meritorious cause of the covenant of grace: now hereby the immediate ground of justification will be the Gospel righteousness, he speaks of, that is our performance of the conditions of the New Covenant of Grace; and Christís merits, satisfaction and righteousness shall be only a remote ground. But we shall show hereafter, how groundless it is to say, that Christ procured the New Covenant by His merits and satisfaction.
††††††††† 11. He says, in which (i.e. Covenant of Grace) He freely gives Christ, pardon and life, to all that accept the gift, as it is. That all these are held forth in the covenant, and that such as receive Christ, receive pardon and life, is true. But what is that, to accept the gift, as it is? and what is meant by this gift?
††††††††† 12. He adds, so that the acceptors are by this covenant and gift as surely justified and saved by Christís righteousness, as if they had obeyed and satisfied themselves. But this is not by virtue of any immediate of that righteousness unto them, whereby they are looked upon as righteous in the sight of God; but by virtue of faith, whereby the gift is accepted, that is offered in the covenant, which faith is indeed immediately imputed to then according to him, and reputed their Gospel righteousness, and they thereupon are reputed righteous, and so justified, as such: for the righteousness of Christ is only imputed, in that it is reputed the meritorious cause of the New Covenant.
††††††††† 13. Though Christ hath not merited, that we shall have grace to fulfill the law ourselves &c., yet he will say, that Christ hath merited, that faith shall be the condition of the New Covenant, and consequently, that we may stand before God, even as the Great Law-giver, and so before His law also, in that Gospel righteousness (as he calls it) of our own, which will justify us.
††††††††† 14. In end, when he says, the covenant of grace doth pardon and give right to life for Christís merits, I suppose (because of what is already observed) it is only upon the account that Christís merits have purchased this covenant; and not because they become our immediate righteousness, whereupon we are justified and have pardon: and he should rather say, conformed to what went before, that this covenant doth pardon and give right to life, for faith, our Gospel righteousness, the condition thereof.
††††††††† These are my exceptions against this supposed healing middle way; and the grounds why I cannot acquiesce therein, as the right way. He tells us again page 45, note 3, That it is ordinarily agreed by Protestants, that Christís
righteousness is imputed to us, in the same sense, as our sins are said to be imputed to Him. And to this I also heartily acquiesce; and hence infer, that as Christ was made sin by that imputation, so we are made righteous by virtue of this imputation: as our sins were laid on Him (as the sins of the people were laid on the scape goat, the type) so His righteousness is put upon us; as He came in our law place, so we come in His: as our sins imputed to Him were the immediate procuring cause of His stripes and punishment or suffering; so His righteousness imputed to us is the immediate procuring cause of our justification, &c. As Christ was reputed legally or juridically, though not inherently, a sinner, because of this imputation of our sins to him, and therefore dealt with, punished and chastened, as if He had been a real sinner, because he stood in our law place; so His righteousness being imputed to us, we are reputed legally and juridically though not inherently, righteous, and thereupon dealt with, justified and accepted &c., as if we had been really righteous, because now standing in His law place. So that if Mr. Baxter will stand to this, that ordinarily Protestants agree unto, I am fully satisfied: and had he done so from the beginning, many of his discourses would have been forborne: And whether he, or others who own what Protestants agree unto, be to be reckoned among the self conceited wranglers, as he speaks in the following page, indifferent men may judge: and I conceive, if he would yet stand to this, he should alter that, which he gave us, in the forementioned words, as the only healing middle way. For that middle way (as he calls it) gives us a far other scheme, than can be drawn out of this, wherein Protestants are commonly agreed as is obvious.
††††††††† He tells us chapter 2, (where he comes to state the question) page 51, that we must distinguish concerning imputation, and gives us six senses thereof; five whereof are such, as I know not, if even Antinomians did own them. They are these. 1. To repute us personally to have been the agents of Christís acts, the subjects of His habits and passion, in a physical sense. I know not, who in their wits would affirm this: and to me, it is not a fit way to end, or clear controversies, to raise so much dust needlessly, and imagine senses out of our own heads, as if they were owned and maintained by some. What is the second?† óTo repute the same formal relation of righteousness, which was in Christís person, to be in ours, as the subjects. But this is only a consequent of the foregoing. Thirdly, he says, or to repute us to have been the very subjects of Christís habits and passion, and the agents of His acts, in a political, or moral sense (and not a physical) as a man pays a debt by a servant, or attorney, or delegate. If this be the only meaning of his Political and Moral sense, I suppose no man will own it either: for no man will say, that Christ was our servant, attorney, or delegate. The fourth is but a consequent of this; and consequently, (says he) to repute a double formal righteousness to result from such habits, acts and passions, one to Christ, as the natural subject and agent; and another to us, as the moral, political or reputed subject and agent (and so His formal righteousness not to be imputed to us in itself, as ours, but another to result from the same matter. This is too philosophical for me to own, or follow. The fifth is, or else that we are
reputed both the agents and subjects of the matter of His righteousness, morally, and also of the formal righteousness of Christ himself. All these are but effluvia of a brain floating and swimming in ill digested philosophical notions and school dregs, and contribute nothing to the clearing of Gospel-truth, which hath little or rather no affinity with airy philosophical notions, but tend manifestly to the darkening of the same. But now, when all these philosophical notions and relations are at an end, and we can proceed no further, where is that imputation, which is legal, and plain to every ordinary man, viz. whereby the satisfaction made to a judge and governor for a crime committed, by the delinquentís friend; or that payment and satisfaction made to the creditor, for the debtor, by a friend interposing, is in law-sense accounted the delinquentís and debtorís; and he as really and effectually delivered out of prison thereof, as if he had made satisfaction in his own proper person, or had paid the sum out of his own substance? If any philosopher, after Mr. Baxterís manner here, should, with such philosophical whimsies, (I call them so, for they are no other in this case) labor to disprove any such imputation, and say, it must be in one of those five senses &c. would not any country man smile at this?
††††††††† But now let us see Mr. Baxterís sixth sense, wherein he grants the imputation of Christís righteousness. Or else (says he) by imputation is meant here, that Christ being truly reputed to have taken on the nature of sinful man, and become a head for all true believers, in that undertaken nature and office, in the person of a Mediator, to have fulfilled all the Law imposed upon Him, by perfect holiness and obedience, and offering himself on the cross a sacrifice for our sins, voluntarily suffering in our stead, as if He had been a sinner (guilty of all our sins) as soon as we believed, we are pardoned, justified, adopted, for the sake and merits of this holiness, obedience and penal sanction of Christ, with as full demonstration of divine justice, at least, and more full demonstration of His wisdom and mercy, than if we had suffered ourselves what our sins deserved (that is, been damned) or had never sinned. And so righteousness is imputed to us, that is, we are accounted or reputed righteous (not in relation to the precept, that is, innocent or sinless, but in relation to the retribution, that is, such as have right to impunity and life) because Christís foresaid perfect holiness, obedience and satisfaction, merited our pardon and adoption and the spirit; or merited the New Covenant, by which, as an instrument, pardon, justification and adoption are given to believers, and the Spirit to be given to sanctify them; and when we believe, we are justly reputed such, as have right to all these purchased gifts.
††††††††† As to this I shall only note a few things (1.) Christís fulfilling of the Law imposed on Him, doth not hinder, but that He paid our debt, and so came in our law place, and substitute Himself in our room, to do what we should have done and to suffer what we should have suffered according to the law, in all the essentials and substantials of that punishment: for had He not done this, He could not be said to have suffered in our stead: for he only suffers in the room and stead of another, who suffers what that other should have suffered. If one be condemned to suffer death, another that suffers only
imprisonment for his delivery, cannot be said to suffer in this stead, but only for his cause and good, as the Socinians say, Christ suffered for us. (2.) Christ not only suffered in our stead, as if He had been a sinner and guilty, but as a sinner legally and juridically guilty, having sins imputed to Him, though He was most free of all sin inherently, and knew it not: and the reason is manifest; for otherwise divine justice should not have shined forth in His sufferings, it being no demonstration of justice to punish one, who neither inherently, nor imputatively and legally, is or can be accounted and reputed a sinner. (3.) We cannot, with right, be reputed righteous, except we be either inherently righteous, or righteous by imputation; and so legally, juridically, and in law sense righteous, by virtue of the imputation of the surety righteousness of Christ, our sponsor. (4.) Righteousness must properly respect the commands and prohibitions of the law, and but secondarily the retribution, if not most improperly; as unrighteousness is in reference to the law, as commanding or forbidding, and very improperly attributed to any reference to the punishment threatened. and therefore, if we be accounted righteousness, it must be in relation to the precept, at least, in the first place. Nor can we be accounted righteous, in reference to the retribution, that is, have a right to impunity and life, in the sight of God, who judges and reputes according to equity and right, unless we be first accounted righteous, in reference to the precept; for this is the only just and legal foundation of the other. (5.) Upon his it doth not follow that we are innocent or sinless inherently, far less, that we never transgressed; but on the contrary, it clearly says, that we were sinners; but now are legally, or juridically innocent and sinless by the imputation of the fidejussorie righteousness of Christ; and therefore are not obnoxious to the penalty, or to the punishment; but have right to impunity and life. (6.) When he speaks of what Christ merited, he expresses himself dubiously, not being positively clear, whether Christ merited our pardon &c. or the New Covenant: and the disjunctive particle or, says He did not merit both, in his judgment: but before, we heard him plainly affirming, that Christ merited the New Covenant, and consequently He did not purchase pardon, adoption and the Spirit to any immediately, but only mediately, in purchasing the Covenant, which promises these to such, as perform the conditions thereof. (7.) By this way, believers are reputed such, as have right to all these purchased gifts, not immediately by virtue of Christís merits and righteousness, imputed to them and bestowed upon them, but by virtue of their being inherently righteous with that Gospel-righteousness, faith, which is the potestative condition of the Covenant, and is now imputed to them, and accounted their righteousness, according to his judgment.
††††††††† Speaking afterward page 55, of Christ, as a Head and Root, he tells us, that He was no natural Root or Head; which is undeniable. Yet He was a super-natural and political Head. But he says, He was not actually such a Head to the redeemed, when He obeyed and suffered; but as a Head by aptitude, office, power and virtue. Answer: It is true, as to such, as were not then believers, He was not a super-natural Head actually, that is, by communicating
actually physical and supernatural influences of spiritual life: Yet He was, as to all given to Him, actually a political Head, or a Head in a political sense, that is, by Godís appointment, and His own voluntary undertaking, He obeyed and suffered for them, and in their stead; paying their debt answering for all that the justice and the law did require of them, and so purchasing all grace and glory for them, to be certainly bestowed in due time. In this respect, that must be denied, which he adds (n. 12.) Therefore they were not Christís members political, when He obeyed and died: for they may as well be said, to have been then His members political, as some not yet within the fold, but that were to be brought in, and were to hear His voice, were by Himself called His sheep John 10: 16. Whence, I pray, come the influences, whereby they are made to believe, if not from Him, as their political Head, or Surety Head, standing engaged for them? But possibly the ambiguous use of the word political may occasion his mistake here.
††††††††† A natural head (says he n. 14.) being but a part of a person, what it does, the person does. But seeing a contracted head and all the members of his body contracted, or politic, are every one a distinct person, it follows not, that each person did really, or reputatively what the head did. Nay, it is a good consequence, that if he did it, as a head, they did it not (numerically) as head or members. Answer: Passing the impropriety of the expression contracted head, whereby, it is like, he means a conventional head, I say, though a conventional head and all the members of that body, be every one a distinct person physically, yet considered as such, they are all but one person politically and in law sense: and so in law sense and politically (as all lawyers know, and even men of common sense can acknowledge) every distinct physical person is supposed to have done what their political Head and Representative has done, as such. And though it be a good consequence, that if the Head did it, as a Head, they in their physical persons did it not: yet it were a ridiculous consequence, to say, they therefore, as political members of that political conventional body, did it not viz. politically (not physically, or numerically.)
††††††††† Christ (says he n. 15.) suffered and obeyed in the person of the Mediator, between God and man, and as a subject to the Law of Mediation. Answer: Though He suffered in the physical person of the Mediator; yet because suffering and obeying as a Mediator and Surety.† He suffered and obeyed, as a political Head, and in a political person. (2.) Though He was subject to the Law of Mediation; yet by virtue of that same Law of Mediation, He was subject to the Law, under which we were, both as to its duty and penalty: for suffering and obeying, did pay our debt, for He came into our Law-place.
††††††††† Christ may be said (says he n. 16.) to suffer, in the person of a sinner, as it means His own person, reputed and used as a sinner, by His persecutors; and as He was one, who stood before God, as undertake, to suffer for manís sins. Answer: Seeing He was one, who stood before God, as an undertaker for sinners; and not only to suffer for manís sin, did he not suffer as a sinner (not inherently, but) legally and
juridically? And did He not represent and stand in the room of sinners, as their political head and representative? These things cannot be handsomely, with any show of reason, contradicted, or denied. Nay, he himself adds (n. 17. page 56.) that Christ suffered in the place and stead of sinners, that they might be delivered, though in the person of a sponsor. Whence we see, that though He suffered in the person of a sponsor, physically taken, yet He suffered in the person of others, politically and legally, because He suffered as a Sponsor for, in their stead, that they might certainly and eventually be delivered, and not possibly only.
††††††††† But then (n. 18.) he comes to an accommodation, saying, When we are agreed that the person of the sponsor and of every particular sinner are diverse (if the word person be here understood in a physical, or numerical sense, and the word sinners be understood of the Elect only, I agree) and that Christ had suffered, if we had not sinned: (true) and that He as a Sponsor, suffered in our stead, and so bore the punishment; which not He, but we deserved (add also óand obeyed, and I agree.) If any will here, in stead of a Mediator, or Sponsor, call Him our Representative, and say, that He suffered even in all our persons reputatively, not simpliciter, but secundum quid, and in tantum only, that is, not representing our persons simply and in all respects, and to all ends, but only so far as to be a sacrifice for our sins, and suffer in our place and stead, what He suffered, we take this to be but lis de nomine. And why is not His obeying also added? But again, if He suffered, as a Mediator and Sponsor, in our place and stead, He must needs have been our political representative, according as we use to speak and understand the terms; and so must have suffered in all our persons reputatively, so far as was necessary to our redemption and salvation; and for more we enquire not. And seeing this is what the orthodox assert, Mr. Baxter is much to be blamed, for troubling the Church so long by his opposition hereunto, and his own new notions.
††††††††† He proceeds (n. 19) Christ did not suffer, strictly, simply, absolutely, in the person of any one elect sinner, much less in the millions of persons of them all in law-sense, or in Godís esteem; God did not esteem Christ to be, naturally, or as an absolute representer, David, Manasseh, Paul, and every such other sinner, but only a mediator, that suffered in their stead. Answer: Till we understand what is meant by these terms, strictly, simply, absolutely, we cannot know well what to say to this. We grant, He suffered in the person of no elect sinner, so as to become David, Manasseh, &c. Yet, when He suffered in their stead, as Mediator and Surety, both in law-sense, and in Godís esteem, He did represent them; and did and suffered what He did and suffered, as a Surety for them, and as representing their persons, in a law sense and politically, simply and absolutely, to all ends necessary for their redemption and salvation.
††††††††† He adds (n. 20.) God did make Christ to be sin for us, that is, a sacrifice for our sins, and one that by man was reputed, and by God and man was used, as sinners are and deserve to be. Answer: Christ could not be a sacrifice for sin, till He had the guilt of sin laid upon Him by imputation, as the sacrifices of old had typically. His being reputed such, and handled as such by man, is of no
consideration here: And by God He could not be used, as a sinner, or as sinners are and deserve to be, unless our sins had been first caused to meet upon Him, and imputed to Him, to the end, He might properly be said to suffer and become a sacrifice for sin. We say with him (n. 23.) that God did not suppose or repute Christ to have committed all, or any of the sins, which we all committed; nor to have had all the wickedness in His nature which was in ours; not to have deserved what we did deserve; nor did in this proper sense impute our sins to Christ. For indeed this had not been in a proper sense, to impute our sins to Him, but plainly to confound His physical person with ours; and to speak thus, I should account to be horrid blasphemy. Yet it may be and must be said, that Christ, being made sin for us, and made to suffer for sin, in the room of sinners, had their sins laid upon Him; and so, was a sinner, not inherently but legally by imputation; that is, had the guilt of our sins, in order to punishment, imputed to Him, and He put to suffer for that guilt, or because a sinner by imputation. And when the Scripture says, that God made Christ sin for us, II Corinthians 5: 21, and laid on Him the iniquity of us all, Isaiah 55: 6, it is as emphatic (and to me more) as to say, God did impute our sin to Christ, which he (Mr. Baxter) some way excepts against (n. 23. page 57.)
††††††††† He adds (n. 26. page 58.) Though Christ suffered in our stead, and in a large sense, to certain uses, and in some respects, as the Representer, or in the person of sinners: yet did He not so far represent their persons, in His habitual holiness and actual obedience, (no not in the obedience of His suffering) as He did in the suffering itself. He obeyed not in the person of a sinner, much less of millions of sinners, which were to say, in the person of sinners, he never sinned. He suffered to save us from suffering; but He obeyed not to save us from obeying, but to bring us to obedience: yet His perfection of obedience had this end, that perfect obedience might not be necessary in us to our justification and salvation. Answer: Seeing Christ was appointed Mediator and Sponsor to take on manís debt and come in His law place, what reason can be given, why He should not, as well be said to represent them, in the paying of the one part of that debt, as in paying of the other? We were under the Law and obliged to perform perfect obedience, in order to the obtaining of the reward promised; and because of sin we were under the curse. Now when the Surety came to pay our whole debt, He did as much, and as well represent us, in paying of and in performing obedience, as in suffering. And why may we not say, that He obeyed in the juridical and law person of a sinner, as well as that he suffered? Though I should not use such improper and unusual expressions, as Mr. Baxter here does; yet I must tell him, that Christís obeying in the person of a sinner, says no more than that, He being the person representing sinners, His obeying was and is reputed, in Law sense, their obeying. He suffered, it is true, to save us from suffering of the curse of the Law; but Mr. Baxter will not say, that He suffered to save us from all suffering: He obeyed, it is true, to bring us to obedience, as He died also for that end, that we might have the sanctifying Spirit bestowed upon us: yet notwithstanding He obeyed to save us from obeying viz. after that manner, that we were obliged to obey under the old Covenant,
that is to obey perfectly, or never enjoy the crown, and to obey for that end, that we might enjoy the crown, as the legal reward of and due debt for our labor. And seeing Mr. Baxter grants in the following words, that Christís perfect obedience had this end, that perfect obedience might not be necessary in us to our justification; why may he not say, that to certain uses, and in some respects, Christ obeyed, to save us from obeying? Or why will he not say, that He obeyed for us, that we, who could not obey of ourselves, might be reputed to have obeyed perfectly in Him? This is all we desire.
††††††††† He says next (n. 27.) It was not we ourselves, who did perfectly obey, or were perfectly holy, or suffered for sin, in the person of Christ, or by Him: nor did we (naturally, or morally) merit our own salvation by obeying in Christ: nor did we satisfy Godís justice for our sins, nor purchase pardon or salvation to ourselves, by our suffering in and by Christ. Answer: However, Christ doing all this for us, as our Sponsor and Surety, we are so taken in a law sense, that the same is imputed unto us, and we enjoy the fruits thereof, pardon and salvation; no less than if we had done and suffered all in our own physical persons.
††††††††† As to what he says (n. 29, 30.) it is nothing to the purpose (and therefore I shall not set down his words) for we are not here speaking of relations and accidents, physically, or metaphysically rather considered, which cannot pass from one subject to another: nor do we speak of Christ, while speaking of the imputation of His righteousness, physically considered, but politically and legally, as a Sponsor and Surety some way representing us. I assent to him, that the meaning of this imputation is not, That we ourselves, in person, truly had habits, which Christ had, and did all that Christ did, and suffered all that He suffered, as by an instrument, or legal representer of our persons, in all this, meaning that we in our physical persons should have done all this, by Him, as our physical instrument. But why he adds here, or legal representer, unless he means thereby that which elsewhere he has expressed to be, as our delegate, or servant, I know not. And howsoever it seems not to me appositely here annexed, if ingenuous and plain dealing be designed. But there is another sense, in which he will yield to imputation; and he thinks there cannot be a third. Let us hear what this other sense is.
††††††††† That Christís satisfaction (says he) righteousness and the habits, acts and sufferings, in which it lay, are imputed to us, and made ours, not rigidly in the very thing itself, but in these effects and benefits. Answer: But if he shall yield to no other imputation, than this, he shall grant no imputation: for that imputation, as to effects, is no imputation at all: unless the meritorious cause be imputed, in order to the receiving of these effects, there is nothing imputed; for the effects are never said to be imputed. There is therefore a third sense, wherein neither Christís righteousness, that is, His habits, acts and suffering are said to be imputed to us merely in their effects; as Socinians say; but wherein Christís surety righteousness, consisting in His
obedience and suffering, is in a law sense, made over to believers, and put upon their score, and now accounted theirs; and they, because thereof, accounted righteous, legally and juridically; and have therefore the effects bestowed on them. This being so obvious, I wonder that Mr. Baxter cannot see it. When a debtor is lying in prison, for debt, and a friend comes and satisfies the creditor for him by paying the sum, in his place and stead; the law does not impute that payment to the debtor merely in the effects; but imputes the payment itself, not in its physical acceptation, as if it judged that he was the man, that in his own physical person, held the his own hands, and brought it out of his own purse, as the other did, but in its legal force, virtue and efficacy, unto him, and accounted him, in this legal sense, to be no more a debtor unto the creditor; and therefore one that hath right to his liberty, and must therefore be set free from prison. So, in our case, the righteousness of Christ, in a legal sense, as to its efficacy and virtue, is made over to the believer, and he thereupon is accounted righteous, and no more a debtor, and therefore free of the penalty. Further, although he say, that Christís righteousness is imputed to us in the effects; yet he knows, that that is (in his judgment) but very remotely; and that really these effects are more proximately, the effects of faith, which he calls our Gospel righteousness; and that the immediate effect and product of Christís righteousness is the New Covenant; and this New Covenant being made with all mankind (as he thinks) Christís righteousness is, in this immediate effect, imputed to all flesh, reprobate, as well as elect. And this is, in part, cleared from the words immediately following, when he says, In as much, as we are as really pardoned, justified, adopted by them, as the meritorious cause by the instrumentality of the covenant donation, as if we ourselves had done and suffered all that Christ did. For this instrumentality of the Covenant includes the performance of the condition thereof, i.e. faith; and this faith is properly imputed for righteousness, as he says: and therefore, as the Covenant is the effect of the merits of Christ; so pardon and salvation must be the effects of faith; and the effects of Christís righteousness only, in that he did procure the Covenant, which conveys these to us, upon condition of our performing of this faith, which is therefore called by him, our Gospel righteousness.
††††††††† He gives us next four ways (n. 31. page 60) wherein the Lord is said to be our righteousness (an expression that does emphatically and more than sufficiently express the meaning of the imputation of Christís righteousness.) 1. In that (says he) He is the meritorious cause of the pardon of all our sins, and our full justification, adoption and right to glory: and by His satisfaction and merits only our justification by the covenant of grace, against the curse of the law of works, is purchased. Answer: He cannot be said, by him, to be the meritorious cause of pardon, &c. But in as far as He is the meritorious cause of the Covenant, in which these benefits are promised, upon condition of faith, our Gospel righteousness, which properly and only is our imputed righteousness, according to him; and so Christ is our righteousness, in meriting that faith shall be reputed our Gospel righteousness in order to
our obtaining of pardon and right to glory. But moreover, where is our righteousness? For pardon is no righteousness; neither is justification, adoption, or right to glory properly a righteousness; but do presuppose a righteousness, after which we are enquiring, and cannot find that Christ is made to be that to us; and consequently, either faith must be it, or there is none.
††††††††† The other senses are 2. In that He is the legislator, Testator, and donor of our pardon and justification by this new covenant. 3. In that He is the Head of influx, King and intercessor, by whom the Spirit is given to sanctify us to God, and cause us sincerely to perform the conditions of the justifying covenant. 4. In that He is the righteous judge and justifier of believers by sentence of judgment. Answer: All these three will make the Father to be our righteousness, as well as the Son: for He is legislator; He draws to the Son and sends the Spirit to sanctify us, and He judges by the Son and justifies. (2.) But none of these, nor all of these give us the true import of that glorious name, according to the true scope of the place Jeremiah 23: 6, of which we have spoken above.
††††††††† In like manner (n. 32.) he gives us four senses of these words, we are made the righteousness of God in Him. The 1st is, In that, as he was used like a sinner for us (But not esteemed one by God) so we are used like innocent persons, so far as to be saved by Him. Answer: As He was used by God like a sinner, so was He legally accounted a sinner, otherwise God would not have used Him as a sinner. Therefore if we be used like innocent persons, we must be in Godís esteem, legally and juridically innocent, through Christís righteousness imputed; and so must be saved by Him. The 2nd is, In that through His merits, and upon our union with Him, when we believe and consent to His covenant, we are pardoned and justified, and so made righteous really, that is such, as are not to be condemned, but glorified. Answer: As I said, neither pardon, nor justification makes us righteous, but suppose us to be righteous; and therefore, in justification we are declared and pronounced righteous; and thereupon pardoned. Moreover, all our righteousness, that we have, in order to justification and pardon, is, according to Mr. Baxter, our Faith, which is, and is reputed to be, our Gospel righteousness; and is said to be properly imputed to us: and thus Christ suffered in our stead, that our faith might be accounted our righteousness. Though pardon will take away condemnation yet (as we have cleared above) more must be had, in order to glorification. His 3rd and 4th are In that the divine nature and inherent righteousness are for His merits. In that Godís justice and holiness, truth, wisdom and mercy are all wonderfully demonstrated, in this way of pardoning and justifying of sinners by Christ. Answer: This last hath no ground, as the sense of the words; and as for the 3rd, before he makes it the sense of the place II Corinthians 5: 21, he must say, that Christ was a sinner inherently (which were blasphemy) for otherwise that beautiful correspondence, that is between the first and the last part of the verse, must be laid aside, contrary to the manifest scope of the place.
††††††††† He tells us (n. 36. page 61.) It is an error, contrary to the scope of the Gospel, to say, that the Law of Works, or of Innocence, doth justify us, as
performed either by ourselves, or by Christ: for that Law condemns and curses us; and we are not efficiently justified by it, but from, or against it. Answer: I shall not say, that we are justified by the Law of works efficiently; yet I hope, Mr. Baxter will not say, that upon the fall, that Law, or Covenant was quite abolished and annulled; and if it was only dispensed with, in order to the admitting of a Surety, which it did not provide, or give place to, in its primitive institution, we may safely say, that it must be satisfied both as to the commands, and as to the penalty, ere we can escape wrath and obtain life: for this Law said (as he himself confesses page 63.) Obey perfectly and live, sin and die. And though it condemn and curse us sinners; yet it hath nothing to say against our Surety; nor against any clothed with His surety righteousness, whereby all the demands of this Law and Covenant were satisfied.
††††††††† Hence he infers (n. 37.) Therefore, we have no righteousness, in reality, or reputation formally ours, which consists in a conformity to the perceptive part of the Law of innocence: we are not reputed innocent; but only a righteousness, which consists in pardon of all sin, and right to life (with sincere performance of the condition of the Covenant of Grace, that is, true faith.) Answer: If by formally ours, he means inherently ours, I grant what he here says: but I deny it, if by formally ours, he means that, by which we may be denominated formally righteous: for by imputation we have a righteousness, whereby we are formally righteous, legally and juridically; and this righteousness must needs consist in conformity to the lawís commands. It is true, we are not reputed inherently innocent; yet we are reputed non-sinners legally; and hence comes our pardon and right to life, which of itself is no righteousness, but the result of a righteousness. So that with him believers have no righteousness, in order to justification, but faith, the Gospel righteousness, as was said above, and this he says here in effect, and yet more plainly and fully page 64.
††††††††††† He adds (n. 38. page 62.) our puts not away the guilt of fact or fault, but our guilt of and obligation to punishment. God doth not repute us such, as never sinned, or such, as by our innocence merited heaven; but such as are not to be damned but to be glorified, because pardoned and adopted, through the satisfaction and merits of Christ. Answer: Though pardon, as pardon, will do no more, than he here grants; yet righteousness and justification presupposing righteousness will take away the reatum culpae; not as if it would make us such as never sinned, for that is impossible; but because by righteousness imputed, we are now reputed sinless legally, that is, not guilty of the fact in order to punishment, and this must be, that we may not only not be damned, but may be glorified, according to the constitution, that said, Obey perfectly and live. And though now every pardoned man shall be glorified; yet that is not merely and formally upon the account of pardon; but because no man is pardoned, till he have the complete righteousness of Christ, consisting in obedience and in suffering, imputed to him, whereby beside pardon, he obtains a right to glory.
††††††††††† He comes to clear the matter of imputation of Christís righteousness, by
the imputation of Adamís sin, which is a good medium, the Apostle going before us herein Romans 5. And though he says some things (n. 41. page 65.) wherewith I am not satisfied, yet I pass, because not much to our present purpose, and come to (n. 42. page 66.) where he says, As Adam was a head by nature, and therefore conveyed guilt by natural generation: so Christ is a Head (not by nature, but) by sacred contract, and therefore conveys right to pardon, adoption and salvation, not by generation, but by contract, or donation. So that what was to be naturally in Adam, seminally and virtually, though not personally in existence; even that it is, in order to our benefit by Him, to be in Christ by contract, or the New Covenant, virtually, though not in personal existence, when the Covenant was made. Answer: As Adam was a head by nature, so was he by covenant; and as Christ is a head by covenant, so is He a head by supernatural influences, and conveys His blessings by regeneration, as well as by covenant; and therefore what was to be naturally in Adam, seminally and virtually, though not personally in existence, that is, to be in Christ by supernatural regeneration virtually. And as his effects of Adamís fall are conveyed by natural generation, so that we are made partakers thereof actually, by actually partaking of our natural being; so the effects of Christís righteousness are conveyed by spiritual regeneration, and we are actually made partakers thereof, when we partake of this spiritual being.
††††††††† He proceeds (n. 43.) They therefore that look upon justification, or righteousness, as coming to us immediately by imputation of Christís righteousness to us, without instrumental intervention, and conveyance or collation by this deed of gift, or covenant, do confound themselves, by confounding and overlooking the causes of justification. That which Christ did by His merits, was to procure the New Covenant. Answer: Though the instrumental intervention of a covenant be acknowledged; yet righteousness must come to us immediately by imputation of Christís righteousness; For His righteousness imputed is our righteousness, and is only that righteousness, whereby we become formally righteous in order to justification. The difference lies here between us: Mr. Baxter thinks, that Christís righteousness is imputed, in that it purchased the New Covenant (and consequently is equally imputed to all; for the covenant, with him, is equally made with all) and in and through the new covenant, which conveys pardon and life to such, as perform the conditions thereof, i.e. believe, and so are inherently righteous, these benefits are bestowed; and so Christís righteousness is only the immediate ground of the covenant, being the meritorious cause thereof; and the immediate ground, whereupon our faith is so far advanced. But our judgment is, yet the covenant itself is not purchased by His merits: and the way of conveyance is this, that He first by His Spirit works the soul up to faith in Christ, and then communicates Christ and His righteousness unto the believer; and upon that immediate ground of Christís imputed surety righteousness,
whereupon they become righteous, in the sight of God, they are justified, pardoned and receive a right to the crown. And though the difference here may appear to be but small, yet to me it is such, that by Mr. Baxterís way, the whole frame of the Gospel is changed; and such, as hold it, do in my judgment, not only confound, but alter the causes of justification. If that, which Christ did by His merits, was to procure the New Covenant, what was there in Adam, that can be said to answer this, or hold correspondence with it? With us, the parallel runs smoothly and clearly, thus. As by virtue of the first covenant, whereof Adam was the head, engaging for all his natural posterity, so soon as they partake of nature, and thereby become actual members of that political body, partake of Adamís guilt, or breach of the covenant, which is imputed to them; and there upon share of the consequences thereof, as immediately resulting there from, to wit, the corruption of the whole nature, primitive and positive, wrath and the curse, &c. This he himself asserts page 34. So by virtue of the second covenant, whereof Christ, the second Adam is head, engaging for all His spiritual posterity, they, so soon as they come to partake of His spiritual nature, and so become members of His mystical body (which is by a physical, supernatural operation, conveyed morally and covenant ways, according to the Gospel pleasure of His will, and according to His wisdom, who doth all things well and wisely) are made partakers of Christís righteousness, which is imputed to them; and thereupon do share of the consequences, which do immediately result there from, viz. of justification, pardon, adoption and right to glory.
††††††††† He adds (n. 44.) Though the person of the Mediator be not really, or reputatively, the very person of each sinner (nor so many persons as there are sinners, or believers) yet it doth belong to the person of the Mediator, so far (limitedly) to bear the person of a sinner, and to stand in the place of the persons of all sinners, as to bear the punishment they deserved, and to suffer for their sins. Answer: We do not imagine, that the physical person of the Mediator is, either really or reputatively, the physical person of each sinner. It is enough for us to say, that the Mediator is a head, surety, and public person; and so, that He and believers are one legally and juridically. And we judge also, that it belongs to the person of the Mediator, being Surety, to satisfy the whole debt of these, for whom He is Surety: and therefore must not only so far stand in the place of sinners, as to suffer for their sins, and bear the punishment they deserved; but also give that perfect obedience, which they were obliged unto, and were not able to perform, or pay.
††††††††† He grants (n. 45, page 67.) that morally it may be said, that Christís righteousness was given to us, in that the thing purchased by it was given to us, as money, given for the ransom of the captive, may be said morally to be given to the captive, though physically it be given to the conqueror. But neither this similitude, nor yet the other, of a manís being said to give another so much money, when he gives him the land, bought there with, do not come home to the point in hand: for there is a near and close union between Christ and believers, which union is not supposed in these cases.
Next Christ was in our law place, and undertook to do what He did, as our surety; neither is this supposed in the cases proposed; and again, the benefit here following viz. justification &c. doth presuppose us to be righteous, and consequently we must have a righteousness imputed, because we have none of our own; for we may not admit faith to that high dignity. We have mentioned more apposite and fit similitudes above.
††††††††† I cannot assent to what he says (n. 47. page 68.) That Christ is less improperly said to have represented all mankind, as newly fallen in Adam, in a general sense, for the purchasing of the universal gift of pardon and life, called the New Covenant, than to have represented, in his perfect holiness and sufferings, every believer, considered as from his first being to his death. For of His representing all mankind newly fallen in Adam, I read not in the Scriptures: nor yet of His purchasing the New Covenant. Whether these be not additions to the word of God, let Mr. Baxter (who oft charges others herewith) consider. Nor do I know, what Scripture warrants him to say, page 69, That Christ, the second Adam, is in a sort, the root of man, as man, as He is the redeemer of nature itself from destruction; Nor what truth can be in it, unless he think to play upon the word, in a sort.
seems to come nearer us, when he says (n. 48. page 70.) The sum of all lies,
in applying the distinction of giving Christís righteousness, or the causality
of it; as our sin is not reputed Christís sin in itself, and in the culpability
of it (for then it must needs make Christ odious to God) but in its causality
of punishment. So Christís material or formal righteousness is not by God
reputed to be properly and absolutely our own in itself
as such, but the causality of it, as it produces such and such effects. Answer:
How Christís righteousness should be the cause of our righteousness, if we
speak properly, I know not; for we are here speaking of righteousness, in order
to justification, and in this case, I know no other righteousness, but Christís
surety righteousness, imputed to us, and bestowed upon us: and it is improper
to say, that Christís righteousness is the cause of itself, as given to us. But
it may be, he means, that it is the cause of our faith; and this I grant to be
true, but I deny, that this faith is our righteousness, whereupon we are
justified, or the ratio formalis
objective of our justifications. When
we mention the imputing of Christís righteousness, we mean the righteousness of
Christ itself, not physically, but legally and juridically, and that is its
worth or legal causality; not as it produces, but in order that it may produce
such effects. Our sin is reputed Christís legally, in its demerit of
punishment, or in its reatus culpae, that He might be legally thereby
††††††††† Mr. Baxter in his following chapter 3 fearing, that by all that he had said, he had not made the state of the controversy plain enough to the unexercised reader, goes over it again, in a shorter way, that he may make it as plain, as possibly he can. And yet, I judge, (such is my dullness) that he never made the matter more obscure, at least, to the unexercised reader, nor possibly could, than he hath done here: for if any man, how understanding
so ever shall understand his exceptions, let be the matter by them, that is not very well versed both in Aristotleís Logics or Metaphysics, and the terms thereof, and in Justinianís Laws and the terms thereof, I am far deceived. He that would understand this plain discovery of the question, must understand what relations are; what reatus cuplae & poenae; what poena damni & sensus; what cessante capacitate subditi, what pro-legal righteousness; what quoad valorem & quoad ordinein conferendi, & rationem comparativam, what is terminus & fundamentum in relations; what is titulus & fundamentum juris; what causa fundamenti & donationis, †and the like: And if all unexercised readers shall be able to understand this, I doubt: and sure I am, many a poor soul, that understands nothing of these terms, gets grace of God to understand the thing, better than all this explication (how plain so ever it be called) shall ever make him do. And if this be the plainest way, that Mr. Baxter can choose to make us understand this so necessary and fundamental a truth, I shall never choose him for my teacher, as to this. It could therefore tend to no edification, at least to his inexperienced readers, (whose edification, I judge, should be sought by us all, in handling of this matter) to fall upon any examination of, or debate with him about what he hath here said, seeing it would necessarily end in a debate about logic and law terms; which I shall rather leave to others, who have delight therein. And besides, the matter itself, delivered by him in more plain and intelligible terms, (as I judge) both to exercised and more unexercised readers, is already examined.
††††††††† Notwithstanding (as we have seen) his opinion be different from what the orthodox do commonly hold, in this question: yet chapter 4, he states the question, against which he purposes to dispute, so as he may be sure, none of these will oppose him: yea and it may be doubted, if Antinomians themselves will contradict him; for thus he proposes what he denies. That God did so impute Christís righteousness to us, as to repute, or account us to have been holy with all that habitual holiness, which was in Christ, or to have done all that He did, in obedience to His Father, or in fulfilling the law; or to have suffered all that He suffered, and to have made satisfaction for our sins, and merited our own salvation and justification in and by Christ; or that He was, did, suffered and merited all this strictly in the person of every sinner, that is saved. Or that Christís very individual righteousness, material or formal, is so made ours in a strict sense, as that we are proprietors, subjects or agents of the very thing itself simply and absolutely, as it is distinct from the effects; or that Christís individual formal righteousness is made our formal personal righteousness: or that, as to the effects, we have any such righteousness imputed to us, as formally ours, which consists in perfect habitual and actual conformity to the Law of innocence; that is, that we are reputed perfectly holy and sinless, and such as shall be justified by the Law of innocence, which says, perfectly obey and live, or sin and die. And the more to secure himself from all opposition from the orthodox, he proposes this law (which is but equitable) to all that will answer him (I suppose he means the arguments that there follow) that he must keep to his words, and not alter the sense by leaving any out. I shall therefore be
none of his opposites here on these terms, but shall consider what he says elsewhere.