How Faith is and may be called a Condition of the New Covenant, and of Justification, and how not
††††††††† It may be of some use to enquire in what way faith is and may be called a condition. The orthodox never denied, that it may be called a condition. Yet withal we must always look on faith as an instrument, or instrumental mean in justification, because of its being as the hand of the soul to receive, bring in, grip to and lay hold on the righteousness of Christ, as the righteousness of a Cautioner and of a public person, to the end they might be justified, absolved from the sentence of the Law, and accounted and pronounced righteous, in the sight of God.
††††††††† Upon the other hand, Socinians and Arminians, who cast the whole Gospel in a new mold of their own, deny faith to be an instrument, and assert, that it is only a condition, or a cause sine qua non, as they speak: and this they do, that their doctrine about justification (which is wholly corrupt) may appear to hang the better together. We heard how they denied the imputation of Christís righteousness; and now they must of necessity also deny, faith to be considered as an instrument; for they know that it was called an instrument merely upon the account of the Surety-righteousness of Christ, which it was to apply, to receive, and to put on. They affirmed, that faith properly taken was imputed unto righteousness, and by virtue of Christís merits was accepted of God for a righteousness, and was so accounted, and now consequentially they must say, that faith (together with new obedience, which they also add and conjoin, as making up one righteousness) is to be looked upon, as a condition, or causa sine qua non. Socinus de Justif tells us that though that obedience, which we perform unto Christ, be neither the efficient nor meritorious cause of our justification and eternal salvation, yet it is the causa sine qua non, as they say. The same he says Synops. justif. 2. p. 14. So doth Volketius de vera relig. lib. 4. c. 3. an Smalc. Contr. Frantz. disp. 4. p. 103. So the Remonstrants in their Apology s. 112. Faith (say they)
if we consider the matter aright, cannot properly be called an instrument of justification; nor can the act of believing be an instrumental action; far less can it as an instrument be opposed to faith, as an action. Corvin. cont. Tilen, Faith carries that respect unto the gift of adoption, that it is an obedience required of God, upon condition of which the gift of adoption is decreed unto the sinner for a reward, faith is not a means, or instrument, but a condition, ordained of God for obtaining of life. Simon Episcop. disp 22. faith, in this matter, comes to be considered, not as an instrument apprehending Christís righteousness imputed, but as apprehending Christ Jesus, by whom that righteousness is obtained. It cannot be called properly an instrument, but a condition prescribed by, and required in the Gospel Covenant, without which God will not pardon sin and impute righteousness.
††††††††† Lawyers, as may be seen in Spigely and Calvinilexic. jurid. tell us of various sorts of conditions; some possible, some impossible; some certain, some uncertain; some voluntary conditions, say they, do suspend the whole obligation, until they be performed. Casual (and also necessary) conditions do only prorogue the effect of the obligation, the obligation itself, and its force is instantly perfected. A condition thus taken they usually define, Suspensio, cujus de futuro effectus, vel confirmatio pendet; or futurus eventus pendet; or lex adposita hominum actionibus, eas suspendens: or Modus qui suspendit actum, donec ea existente confirmetur: or Modus vel causa, quae suspendit id quod agitur, donec ex post facto confirmetur.
††††††††† They tell us with all, that the word Conditio is sometimes, in the Law, taken pro Modo, though in many things, these two differ much; and that it is the same with ratio, lex, pactio, pactum, fortuna, status, locus jus, causa; so that it admits of various significations: and in which of these signification here definitely to take it, the Scripture gives no determination; for it is no Scripture expression, in this matter: And if it be said, that the terms used in Scripture, in this matter, such as these, believe, and thou shalt be saved, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe, if thou shall believe thou shall be saved, and the like, will sufficiently warrant the use of the word condition; I answer, so will the like terms of being justified by faith, and through faith, allow us to call faith an instrument, which yet our adversaries, as we have seen, will not suffer us to do. But moreover, we do not condemn the use of the word condition, in this affair, simply, but allow it, and also make use of it: But this however is manifest, that seeing it is no Scripture word, we are under no law to receive the word, in that determinate sense, in which our adversaries use it, and must use it according to their principles: nor are we to conceive of faith, repentance and new obedience, as such conditions, as they hold them forth to be.
††††††††† We know, how variously the word condition is used, in our ordinary language: and how sometimes that is called a condition, which is the real price, and worth of the thing given upon that condition; as when a man is willing to give his house, lands or horse to another, upon condition of so much money, which is the real price, or a valuable consideration. If we should call faith and good works such a condition, the error would be worse than
popish. But Mr. Baxter tells us Apol. ag. Mr. Black. p. 39 ß27, that he doth not understand the word de conditione contractus venditionis & emtionis, vel emphyteusis, or any the like, that is propter pretium; but I is the condition purae donationis, but somewhat partaking naturae feudi, as to some of the benefits. And yet this will not sufficiently clear the matter, especially seeing that natura feudi is not fully explained, and the feud-duties, (whether we look to the first use of these donations; or to perfect practice, or whether we speak of the highest degree, that is, of the Vassalage of Dukes, Marquises and Earls. Öand some are most personal, being but yearly pensions, which are extinct with the death of the giver, or of the receiver. Other divisions may be seen in Craig de feudis lib. 1. Dieg. 10. And as to the way of giving these: though it be said to be by donation; yet the service required in most, may be very onerous, to speak nothing of such, as are purchased by money, or by excambion; nor yet of such, as are burdened with that, which we call Ward, and Ward and Relief.
††††††††† Mr. Baxter ibid. defines for us, the condition of the Covenant, which he calls a potestative condition, thus; Actio voluntaria de futuro, a Deo legislatore & Christo Testatore, in novalege, fodere, Testamento requisita, ut ex ejus praestatione, constituatur jus actuale ad beneficium: vel, ut obligationem & eventum suspendat donec praesteture: for (he adds) ex stipulatione conditionali neque obligatio, neque actio ulla est, antequam conditio eveniat; quia quod est in conditione, non est in obligatione. But first, as to the name potestative condition, as opposed by the lawyers to what is Casual; and as importing that the person of whom that condition is required, hath full power to perform it, if he will, except some inevitable, and unforeseen impediment fall out, which is not ordinarily supposed; how can any reckon faith amongst these, unless they grant, that it is as much in manís power to believe, as it is to one at Rome to ascend the Capital, if he fall not sick, or break not his leg? Whereby to all, who are not Pelagians, Socinians and Arminians in this matter, but acknowledge faith to be the pure gift of God, and wrought by the Spirit, regenerating the soul and giving a heart of flesh, it may be manifest, that no kind of conditions spoken of by Lawyers, who treat only of compacts, and other actions, betwixt man and man, can comprehend this matter, whereof we are now speaking. Were is there such an instance, in all the law, of a person promising to give or to do such and such a favor, or courtesy, upon condition that he do something, which is not in his power, nor in his will, and which he only who promises, can make him able and willing to do? This would either be looked on by them, as an impossible condition, which is next to none, or if the promiser should possibly make him to fulfill, as a casual condition, or rather, as no proper condition at all. If a father should promise his little child an apple, on condition he should touch the crown of his fatherís head with his finger, which were impossible for him to do, unless the father were to stoop so low unto him with his head, or take him up in his arms, that he may reach his head; who would call this a potestative condition? But next, what means Mr. Baxter by this jus actuale? Is this the same with jus in re, as opposed to jus ad
rem? This jus ad rem, which yet I suppose, he will not grant. What is a potential right? Is it the same with a remote right? How very far remote must that right be (if it be at all) which the reprobate have? And is there no difference as to this Remote & Potential Right, or what way it may be called, which is opposite to an Actual Right betwixt the reprobate and the elect, before faith? It is likely Mr. Baxter will say that there is none, by reason that the redemption is universal and for all alike, and so that right, how ever it be called, that precedes the actual right, is equally common to all, if we mean that potential right, which follows upon the redemption. But to us, who affirm that Christ died only for the elect, and that he took on their debt, and in due time made full satisfaction, according to his undertaking, these elect ones for whom Christ engaged, in the Covenant of Redemption, have another sort of right, call it potential, or what you will, than the reprobate have: because Christ hath purchased all these blessings, promised in the Covenant, unto them: and he hath a right kept for them, and not for the rest: so that a right unto all these good things, being purchased by their Lord Redeemer, and Cautioner, and left unto them as his sure legacy, in his Testament, and all so ensured, that in due time, according to the method condescended upon, they shall be put in possession of the same, their right is in Christís purchase, and they are put in actual possession of Justification, when they believe; which faith is also purchased for them: all the benefits they shall enjoy concerning grace and glory are equally purchased by him, and are equally near related unto his merits and death, as to the right, though as to the actual collation, sovereign wisdom hath appointed an order, and determining of one, before another, and so hath resolved to give faith, and then justification, &c. And though it be true, that in this case, what is in conditione, non est in obligatione, as to the actual possession, yet we cannot think, but the holy and just God, having received satisfaction from the Mediator, in behalf of such, for whom it was laid down, is under an obligation (as we may conceive, and speak) unto the Mediator, to cause him see of the travail of his soul, and to give him his seed, and those he purchased, and in due time to call them effectually, and work faith in them, and then justify, adopt them, &c. and thus bestow all the benefits purchased upon them, and in the time and method wisely determined. But if Mr. Baxter understands by this jus actuale, that is constituted upon the performance of the condition, a plain, and simple right unto the benefit, we can acknowledge no such condition, lest we render the death of Christ void: for in him alone, have we all our law-title and right to all the blessings of the covenant, to faith, and all that follow upon it.
††††††††† That we may put an end to this, we shall first show, in what sense, we cannot admit faith to be a condition, and then show in what sense we do admit the denomination.
††††††††† As to the first we say, 1. We cannot admit it to be a condition, in their sense that will have justification so to depend upon it, as on a procuring cause, some way or other meriting, at least ex pacto or ex congruo, as Bellarmine
says, that benefit as a reward: for this destroys the freedom of grace that shines forth in our justification, and overturns the whole nature of the Covenant of Grace, and robs Christ of his glory; and brings man in as a sharer in the glory of that purchase.
††††††††† 2. We cannot admit it to be a condition, in their sense, who take a new obedience with it. For this takes away the special use faith and its special end, in laying hold on and refuging the soul under the wings of the Surety-Righteousness of Jesus Christ. This changes the nature of the Covenant of Grace, and makes it a new Covenant of Works, and gives ground of boasting and of glorying before men; yea and makes the reward of justification, and what follows thereupon, to be of debt, and not of grace. Such a condition in the Covenant of Grace we cannot own.
††††††††† 3. We cannot admit it to be a condition, in their sense, who make it strictly a Potestative Condition; placing it in the power and free will of man, to believe or not, as he will. For as this overturns the whole Covenant of Grace, and exalts proud man, so it also divides, at least, the glory of redemption between Christ and man, and gives man ground to sing to the praise of his own lord, free-will; and to say, he hath made himself to differ, and he owes but half-thanks, and hardly so much, to Jesus Christ, for all that he hath done and suffered, in order to the purchasing of salvation.
††††††††† We cannot own it for a condition, in their sense, who make it, or it and our new obedience together, our Gospel righteousness, and that righteousness which only is properly imputed to us, and reckoned upon our score, as the righteousness upon which we are justified: for thus the nature of the Covenant of Grace is changed. God is made to estimate that for a righteousness, which is no fulfilling of the law; and Christ is made to have procured, that it should be so; and that his own Surety-Righteousness should no otherwise be imputed.
††††††††† 5. We cannot account faith a condition, in their sense, who ascribe to it or to it with works, the same place, use and efficacy in the New Covenant, that perfect obedience had in the old Covenant of Works. †For this makes the New Covenant nothing but a new edition of the old; and shoots Christ, the Lord our Righteousness, far away, who is and should be our immediate righteousness, that in him we might be found hid, and secured from the dint of the Law-Curse; and withal gives proud man too palpable ground of boasting, contrary to the whole contrivance of the Gospel Covenant.
††††††††† 6. We cannot own it for a condition, in their sense, who reject it, and disown it for an instrument, or an instrumental mean, in our justification; because they deny that particular and special use, which it has, in our justification, and so pervert its whole Gospel nature. Its special use and work in justification being to lay hold on the Lord Jesus, and his fidejussory righteousness, to carry the man out of himself, as renouncing his own righteousness, and everything that is not Christ and his righteousness, that as poor, empty, and naked, he may lay hold on, and rest upon the Surety-Righteousness of the public person and Cautioner, Jesus Christ: for thus Christ
and his righteousness are put by, and he gets not that rent of glory that is only due to him; and the soul is made to lean upon something besides this rock of ages.
††††††††† 7. We cannot admit it for a condition, in their sense, who will have us hereby to have gotten a legal title or right unto justification and other benefits according to Ö following the same; seeing this puts the crown upon manís head, as having by his deed acquitted a jus and law right unto these blessings, which become hereby a reward not of grace, but of just debt. We acknowledge all our right and title to all the blessings of the Covenant, to be from Christ, the only purchaser; and of him must we hold all, that all may be of free grace, and he, even he alone, may have all the glory, having redeemed us with his precious blood, and purchased the whole inheritance of grace and glory for us.
††††††††† 8. We cannot account it a condition, in their sense, who plead for universal redemption; because thereby Christ is made only to have purchased something to all alike, and that conditionally, and no more grace and glory for Peter than for Judas, but Peter by his own pains and industry, by his faith and new obedience, did purchase the whole personal and immediate right unto the blessings which he enjoys; and hath received no more from Christ, than what Judas had, and so hath no more ground of exalting him for a redeemer, than those have who perish, seeing what he purchased was common to all, and no more for one in particular than for another. This sets the crown upon manís head, who hath saved himself by his sweating, pains and labor; and robs the Lord our redeemer of his glory.
††††††††† 9. Nor can we account it a condition, in their sense, who will have the whole or principal part of what Christ purchased to be the New Covenant and the terms and conditions thereof; as if Christ had been a Cautioner for none in particular, but had so far redeemed all, as to have brought them into such an estate, wherein they might now work and win for themselves, run and fight for the prize, according to the new conditions purchased; and so, if they run well, sacrifice to their own net, and burn incense to their own drag, because by their own industry and care in performing the conditions, now made easier than they were to Adam in the first Covenant, their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous.
††††††††† 10. Nor yet can we call it a condition, in their sense, who will have us look upon it, in the work of justification, purely as a work of ours and as an act of obedience to a command; and as such a work, as comprehends in it all the works of new obedience: for thus its peculiar use of applying Christ, and of apprehending his Surety-Righteousness is taken from it; and the whole nature of the New Covenant is changed into the old Covenant of Works; and Christís fidejussorie righteousness is not made our immediate Gospel righteousness; yea when we are thus justified by faith, we are justified by works; whereby the whole of the Apostleís dispute is overturned; and we are taught to lean to, and lay our weight upon a righteousness within ourselves, contrary to the whole scope of the Gospel.
††††††††† Upon the other hand, we say, faith may be looked upon, and called a
condition of the Covenant, and of justification, in this sense; that Christ having purchased all the good things of the Covenant, all the sure mercies of David, all grace, and all glory, unto the chosen ones, and the Father having promised the actual collation and bestowing of all and every one of these mercies and blessings, so purchased and procured; and Jehovah and the Mediator both, in the counsel of their will condescending on such a method and way of making the ransomed ones the owners of the blessings purchased, that is, first to give the new heart and the heart of flesh and in effectual calling, work them up to faith in and union with Christ and so draw them to the Mediator, and cause them to accept of him, and wait upon him, and rest there, for life and salvation; and then to justify, accept of as righteous, adopt them, and then work the works of holiness by his Spirit and more, in their soul; and so carry on the work unto perfection, till grace be crowned with glory: matters, say I, being thus wisely ordered, in the counsel of heaven, there is a priority of order; faith, receiving Christ, and resting on his Surety Righteousness, going before; and justification following, and a firm connection made betwixt the two, that whosoever believes thus, shall be justified, and none shall be justified who believe not thus. Now, when by virtue of this constituted order and method, explained and revealed in the Gospel, the Ambassadors of Christ, in obedience to their injunctions, call upon all, who hear the Gospel, to receive Christ and refuge themselves under his wings, and receive the atonement through his righteousness, and promise them thereupon, in their Masterís name, pardon, peace with God, reconciliation and acceptance, &c., nothing more is here insinuated, than that such a method and order is wisely determined, and that there is a fixed connection made between faith and justification; so that whoever would be saved from the wrath to come; and would enjoy God forever, must come unto God in this way, and according to this method, and must receive his blessings and favors, in this order, first believe, and lay hold on Christ and his righteousness, and then receive justification, &c. Thus we see faith is no legal, antecedent condition, no proper or potestative condition; but only a consequent, or evangelic condition, or a condition denoting a fixed and prescribed order and method of receiving of the blessings purchased by Christ, with a firm and fixed connection betwixt the performance of the condition, and the granting of the thing promised thereupon. Thus Christ hath the whole glory of the work. Man is abased, and hath nothing to glory of in himself. The reward is not of debt, but purely of grace. The wisdom and love of God is wonderful and remarkable. All ground of carnal security and self confidence is removed. A plain and powerful ground is laid for ministers to press, exhort, and obtest to faith in the first place, with all seriousness and zeal. Full security and ground of confidence of being justified and accepted of God upon our believing, is given. The difference betwixt the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace, is distinctly observed. The Antinomian mistakes, saying we are justified from eternity, or at the death of Christ, or at any time before faith, are manifestly obviated. And all grounds of accepting against, or dissatisfaction
with this way, are removed from all such, as will willingly comply with the design of free grace, in the Gospel.