Whether love, purpose of obedience, or perseverance be conditions of Justification
††††††††† By what is said, in our foregoing discourse, we may know, what is to be answered unto these questions, so that we need not insist long, in the discussing of them. Some of late lay down for a ground (and hereby give occasion to discuss these and like questions) that whatever is or may be called, a duty of the Covenant of Grace, is, upon that account, and may be called, the Condition of Justification; thus confounding the whole order of the Gospel, and making all duties, required of such, as are in Covenant, and ordained of God for other ends and uses, to be required as conditions of entering into Covenant, and to have the same use and end in and unto justification, which faith hath; contrary to express Scripture, saying that we are justified by faith, and not by works of righteousness, which we do, and contrary to the whole method of the Gospel, and grounds laid down therein, for an acceptable performance of obedience.
††††††††† As to love, Papists make it the form (as they speak) of faith, not in itself simply considered, but in order to justification and salvation thereby, saying that faith without love is dead: And it is true, that true and saving faith worketh by love: and that faith cannot be called saving or justifying, which doth not excite unto acts of love, and many may deceive themselves with a faith, that will not be found, when tried, to be of that right stamp, as the Apostle James teaches. But yet they put no specific difference, commonly, betwixt this dead faith and faith informed; for both (as to what is essential and intrinsic to faith, which they hold to be an assent unto all things, revealed by the Lord unto men, upon the account of the veracity and authority of the Revealer) are one and the same; so as one and the same faith may be sometimes dead, when not working by love, and sometimes lively, when formed with love. But of these things we need not here speak: only we see, that with them, love is in a manner more necessary unto justification, than faith; and must be looked on, as a necessary condition thereunto, even as that, without which faith can do nothing. And to confute this here is but vain, seeing it shall serve nothing to our purpose; because with them justification is the very same, as that which we call sanctification.
††††††††† But others, who have more sound and distinct apprehensions of justification, tell us that love is the condition of justification, because a condition
of the Covenant of Grace; as if all the duties of such as are in marriage relations, were conditions of making up the marriage relation. Others, who distinguish between faith and evangelic obedience, as between consent to a manís sovereignty, and obeying him as sovereign, as Mr. Baxter does, Confess. pg. 89, 90, yet say, that love is comprised in faith, and is some degree of justifying faith, and not properly a fruit of it; because the Willís apprehension of a good thing, or earnest willing and accepting of it, is the same with love; so is the Willís consenting, electing, and accepting; and all this being in faith, love must be comprehended in it. Yea, they say that as love and faith are propounded in the Gospel, as of the same necessity, so they are necessary in justification, and concurrent in apprehending Christ. So spoke Mr. Baxter in his Aphorisms. And in his confession, p. 34, 35, he says, Though charity, as it respects other objects, is no part of faith, yet as it respects an offered Savior, it is as much essential to faith, to receive Christ with love, as it is essential to a Savior (the object of faith) to be good for us; for good as good is received by love. Nor was it ever the intent of the Holy Ghost, to take faith in Christ, in so narrow a sense, as includes not love to him, when it is saving faith that is spoken of.
††††††††† In reference to all of which, we need say but these few following things.
††††††††† 1. The Scriptures do plainly enough distinguish between faith and love. They are reckoned as distinct fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5: 22, Love, joy, faith. Yea faith is said to work by love, Galatians 5: 6. We hear of work of faith, and labor of love, I Thessalonians 1: 3. We hear of Charity out of a pure heart, and of faith unfeigned, I Timothy 1: 5. And the grace of our Lord (says Paul, I Timothy 1: 14) was exceeding abundant, with faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus. We hear of the breastplate of faith and love, I Thessalonians 5: 8.
††††††††† 2. The Scriptures do plainly tell us, that we are justified by faith, as we heard, but never say that we are justified by love: and surely, as it is best for us to regulate our expressions, according to the Lordís revelation of this mystery; so it cannot but be offensive to use such expressions, as not only are not scriptural, but also seem inconsistent with scriptural expressions. When the Scriptures say expressly and frequently, that we are justified by faith, and that in opposition to works, and not only say it, but prove it, it cannot be justifiable in us to say, that we are justified by love; seeing that would at least seem to cross the Apostleís assertion, the force whereof is (as ours abundantly evince against the Papists) that we are justified only by faith, and consequently by no other grace: neither by love, nor by hope, nor by patience, &c.
††††††††† 3. By the Scriptures telling us, that we are justified by faith, and never saying, that we are justified by any other grace, as by love, &c. we are given to understand, that faith hath other operations, uses and ends, in the office of justification, than love, or any other grace hath: And therefore to insinuate, that love hath the same interest and office in and about justification, that faith hath, is to deny, or overturn the proper and specific actings of faith, in order to justification: and, however small a matter this may appear to be at first, yet, when it is further prosecuted, or the ground
of this searched into, or its design and tendency considered impartially, it will be found to be of a deeper consequence, and to tend to the alteration of the whole specific nature of the Covenant of Grace, as it is distinct from the Covenant of works: for though both faith and love may and must be looked upon, as acting upon the same object ĖChrist, yet when faith is conceived as acting no other way, than love, and both, as potestative conditions, or as parts of one potestative condition, and no other way; it is plain enough, how the special actings of faith, in compliance with the design of Godís wisdom, grace, and love in the Gospel contrivance, and thereupon in receiving and resting upon Christ, as the alone propitiating sacrifice, and on his Surety righteousness, as that alone, by virtue of which they are to expect justification and acceptance with God, and to receive the atonement, are laid aside: And the believing soul is supposed not to act on Christ, nor apply him and his righteousness in order to being acquitted from the sentence of the law, and from the curse, due for the breach of the same, in that particular manner, that both its case and condition require, and the Gospel points forth, and the experience of soul, attaining hereby to peace, doth confirm.
††††††††† 4. It is true, there is love to Christ, in the soul that believes, and it must be so; and it is true also, that this love is called for in the Gospel, but hence it will not follow, that love is the condition of justification, or that everything, that is present with, or accompanies faith in justification, hath the same use, ends, and interest in justification, or the same influence thereupon, that faith hath; far less will it follow, that that which follows faith, and whereby faith works through all the after-carriage of the believer, hath the same place, power and interest in and about justification, that faith hath, as we showed above of repentance.
††††††††† 5. If by this love nothing else were meant, but that love of desire, that necessarily accompanies the soulís accepting, and closing with what is good, or offered as good; surely, it would have given no ground of offense to have called it so, and would have been more acceptable, than to have called it otherwise, even though speaking strictly, the love of desire may be called love, and is a love, in its own kind: and therefore, I judge, that denomination might have been rather chosen, which would have given no offense, than the other, which to avoid suspicion and offense, calls for so much waste of words, to render the expression less noxious, especially, seeing for all that is said, in clearing of the same, all ground of suspicion is not removed, but that some other thing was intended, than that mere love of desire, that is inseparable from the Willís earnest pursuit after, or embracing any good thing offered; especially when it is said, that John 16: 27 and 14: 21 make love the antecedent condition of Godís and Christís love to the person, and that that goes with remission, and is a love of reconciliation, and reconciliation comprehends remission. At least you will never show out of Scripture that procuring Godís love, and procuring remission and reconciliation have not the same conditions: for hereby it is manifest, that love, even as distinct from faith (as
it is in John 16: 26 Ėbe cause ye loved me and have believed that I am come out from God) is made as full and formal a condition of reconciliation and pardon, and consequently of justification, as faith is; Yea and that both faith and love are made conditions procuring Godís pardon and reconciliation. Thus speaks Mr. Baxter against Mr. Cartwright, page 202. But lest any should think, that either of these places cited should prove what Mr. Baxter alleges them for, it would be considered: (1.) That in John 14: 21 he is speaking of such as are already believers and justified, when he is speaking of such as have already Christís commandments and keep them. (2.) He speaks of the Fatherís and of his own love of such, in the future time, which cannot be meant of his disciples, unless we think, they were not yet justified, contrary to the very foregoing verse, and many other passages in that discourse, particularly chapter 14: 1, and 15: 3, 4, 5, 9. (3.) This is meant of a love of manifestation; as Christís own words added exegetically declare. And I will love him and will manifest myself unto him. (4.) This same sort of expression of love is also to be understood of John 16, as the whole scope clears, this being spoken to persuade them, that they should receive the return of their prayers and should not ask the Father in vain; for such a love carries he towards you (as if he had said) that, in a manner, I need not intercede for you. (5.) And so the love of the disciples here mentioned, is that love of complacency, which they had in Christ, in abiding still in his company, and delighting in him, whom they had followed as their Master, all along; and the cause from whence this flowed is added, and have believed, that I came out from God.
††††††††† As to the second particular, purpose of obedience, Mr. Baxter in his Aphorisms told us that as the accepting of Christ for Lord (which is the heartís subjection) is as essential a part of justifying faith, as accepting him for Savior, so consequentially, sincere obedience (which is the effect of the former) hath as much to do in justifying us before God, as (some) affiance, which is the fruit of the latter. Hereby he would seem to give the same interest unto actual obedience, in justification, that he gives unto affiance, which cannot be wanting unto justifying faith, yea he himself confesses to be an essential act of faith, in the margin of these words, printed with Mr. Cartwrightís observations and his reply, page 204. But in his confession (as we heard above) p. 89, 90, he puts as great a difference betwixt faith, and evangelic obedience, as betwixt the consent to marriage relation, and the conjugal fidelity and obedience of a wife to her husband: so that hereby it is manifest, that with him, all obedience cannot be comprised in faith, and so cannot be a condition with faith of justification: and this he says expressly, page 90, So that I do no more (as I am accused) comprise all obedience in faith, because I comprise a love to the Redeemer, and a consent to be governed by him, than I comprise all conjugal obedience and fidelity of a woman to her husband, in the marriage covenant or consent, because I comprise in it love to the man and a covenant of fidelity and obedience to the future. His meaning is not then, that actual obedience is either a part of faith, or hath the same interest of a condition in justification, that faith hath. Therefore he tells us more plainly and positively
his meaning, as to this, Confess. page 38, 39, n. 22 This Covenant (says he, meaning the covenant that a believer enters with Christ, as a Savior, and in him, with the offended majesty) contains an engagement to future obedience: so that though our first faith be not the same thing with obedience to Christ Ėyet in taking Christ for king, it essentially contains a resolution and covenant to obey him. Hereby we see, that a resolution, promise, or covenant to obey Christ, for the future, is essentially included in faith, as justifying, and consequentially that this must be as kindly a part of the condition of justification, as anything in faith. And next, that the ground of this is, because justifying faith, as justifying, doth as kindly and really take Christ for king, as for priest. This is further explained by what he says immediately before in n. 21. The very nature of this saving faith, is to be a heart-covenanting of a sinner with Christ, as a Savior, even as is a covenant of a woman to her husband, a soldier to his commander, a subject to his prince, a scholar to his master, it is our becoming his disciples.
††††††††† By which we see these things laid down, as truths to be received.
††††††††† 1. That the soul covenanting with Christ, or accepting of him, as offered in the Gospel, is like the covenanting of a woman with her husband, of a soldier with his commander, a subject to his prince, &c.
††††††††† 2. That as the woman, soldier, or subject, resolve, covenant and promise to perform obedience unto the husband, commander, or king, so the sinner, in covenanting with Christ, doth resolve, covenant and promise to perform obedience unto him.
††††††††† 3. That therefore, this resolution, covenanting and promising to perform obedience, being essential to justifying faith, is a formal condition of justification, and the meaning of faith being a condition of justification must be this; the manís resolution, covenanting, and promise to perform obedience, is the condition of justification; or at least this part of faith, as well as others, is the condition.
††††††††† 4. And the ground of this is, because justifying faith, even as justifying, or in order to justification, acts as directly and expressly on Christ as King, as on Christ as priest.
††††††††† In answer to which, I shall but briefly say these things.
††††††††† 1. The similitudes adduced halt in one thing, and that one thing, is all, as to our business. A woman covenanting with her husband, and thereby promising obedience, or a soldier with his commander, or a subject with his prince, presuppose and acknowledge, power and strength in themselves to perform the obedience promised, and upon the supposition and conviction of this power and ability in themselves to perform what shall be commanded, they willingly and of their own accord, promise to put forth that power, strength and ability of theirs, unto the performance of obedience, that shall be required. But it is not so in our case, the sinner, who is now supposed to be about covenanting with Christ, through the Spirit of conviction, and humiliation, is put far from all his natural Pelagian conceits and apprehensions of himself, and of his own abilities; he is now made to see, that as he hath nothing at present, wherewith to satisfy God,
for the sins that are charged upon him; nor to allure Christ, to do for him; unless it be wretchedness and misery, that may move Christ to compassion in his case, so he can do nothing for the future that can be accepted of God, till he be renewed; He is made to see, that there is a natural impotency (I mean not a physical impotency, as if he wanted a soul, or faculties) in him to do anything that is good, and a pravity of will, whereby it is impossible, that he can do anything, conformed to the will of God, until he be regenerated, made willing by an omnipotent power, and have a new active principle of life and grace, given unto him, or infused in him, by the Spirit of Jesus.
††††††††† 2. Whereupon, it is manifest, that a sinner in that plight (and in that condition we must consider him to be, who is now seeking to be justified, and to be delivered from the wrath of God for sin) in fleeing to Christ for refuge, cannot be thought to be making any such promises, or having any such resolutions, in order to his justification, and freedom from the curse of the law. He, that is thoroughly convinced of his total impotence, will not think (while he is under the power of these convictions) of making any engagements for obedience in time to come: Yea, where any such things really were, it might be feared, that the work of conviction was not keep enough; and that such, so acting, would not receive Christ freely, as he is offered in the Gospel; but rather came with a price in their hand, a parcel of fair promises for the future, of doing that, which was not in their power. But it will possibly be said that though there be no express and explicit engaging and promising here, yet there cannot but be a virtual engaging; as in the making of marriage, though the woman does not expressly promise obedience, yet her engagement is included in her acceptance of the person. I answer: Let us suppose, that the woman is every way as unable to obey her husband, as the sinner, not yet converted, is to obey the commands of God; and that from her husband alone she must receive that, whereby she shall become able: and then see, if her consenting to the match formally includes, even virtually, her engagement to future obedience. I do not suppose, by all this, that the believer is under no obligation, or engagement to obedience. For as he hath received a principle of obedience, even the new heart, the willing mind, and the renewed faculties, so he is under many obligations, promises, vows and engagements explicit and virtual, to carry as devoted unto God, in all obedience: but we are speaking here of a person, not yet out of the state of nature, but being under the terrors of the Lord, and convictions of guilt and misery, seeking after a relief, unto his present case, how he may be freed from the curse of the Law, and put in a justified state, and in favor with God.
††††††††† 3. Hence, it is much to be doubted (however it be put beyond all doubt or dispute with Mr. Baxter) whether faith, saving and justifying, includes essentially any such formal engagement and resolution unto obedience; seeing the person, of whom we are speaking, flees to Christ, for relief, as one, that is thoroughly convinced of his own impotency, inability to do
anything less or more for his own help, or for pleasing God. This resolution unto new obedience is rather included in repentance (which is distinct from faith, as we saw above) and so it is mentioned, in the description of repentance, given in our Shorter Catechism.
††††††††† 4. But it will be said, How then is Christ received by faith as a king? I answer: Not to debate that here, which is to be spoke to afterward, (whether justifying faith, while it is acing, in order to justification, doth receive Christ, as a king?) for this is more properly the question, whether a person under conviction of sin and wrath, and seeking for pardon and acceptance in and through Christ, doth fix the eye of his soul upon Christ as King, or as Priest? Or whether there is that in Christ, considered as King, or considered as Priest, that is more suitable unto the present case of the convinced sinner? Or whether, or not, the person, in the condition mentioned, seeks relief rather from Christ, as a Priest, offering himself up, as a sacrifice, giving his blood for a ransom to satisfy the justice of God for sins: or as a king, endued with authority to subdue sin? And if the question thus were proposed unto the experienced Christians, or unto the persons in such a condition, it would, I suppose, receive a very quick answer. Unto the question now proposed I say, that though it were granted that faith, in order to the manís justification, did act as well on Christ as King, as on Christ as Priest, (which yet cannot be granted; as is already hinted, and shall be cleared afterward) yet it would not follow, that this faith did essentially include a resolution and engagement to future obedience: for it is not here, as in persons receiving a person for their king, as was said already, whose persons or subjects, have power and ability, and their will (as to these things) in their own hand, and may therefore promise obedience, according as the relation made up, formally engages unto. And yet, Mr. Baxter , Ludiomaeus Colvin. ß 15. says, This is but to consent to the relation, or to his Sovereignty, that they may obey him, and love, honor and obedience come after. But if we should suppose a company of men, lying bound in chains, in dungeons, under the feet of cruel tyrants and enemies, and in that case receiving one for their king; would their receiving of him for their king firstly and primarily import a formal engagement, on their part, to obey him? I suppose, it would import some other thing, anterior to that, to wit, their ready consent, that he, by all the power and might he can make, shall loose their bands, and set them at liberty, and put them in the case and condition of free subjects. Now the case is so here with us, with advantage; for not only, are we in bands, and lying in prison, and so unable to perform any obedience; but naturally, till a change be made, we are utterly unwilling and averse from performing any acts of obedience, though it were in our power, so that before we be in case to yield obedience, the whole man must be renewed, judgment, will and affections. When, therefore, we, in such a case, receive Christ, as our King, it is firstly and chiefly, that he may make us willing in the day of his power; that he may make us his subjects, willing and obedient, and ready to do his will; that he may loose our bands, deliver us
from the bondage and slavery of sin, bring us out of captivity, and from under the power of Satan, and work in us both to will and to do, according to his good pleasure. These are acts of Christís kingly power. These are benefits that answer the present necessity of wakened souls. These therefore must be the good things their souls must seek after, and for these things must they go to him, as King, and in reference to these must they lay hold on him: So that this is mainly implied in their receiving of Christ, as King. In like manner, when they receive him as a prophet, they do not come unto him as other students do their masters, bringing a capacity, a faculty, and an engine with them for learning, without which all the Masterís pains in giving instructions, and theirs in studying hard, will be in vain. But they come unto him, in the thorough conviction of their blindness, incapacity to learn, want of understanding to perceive the things of God, and to take up the mysteries of the kingdom: that he may teach them, as never man taught, by giving them a hearing ear, and an understanding heart, by opening their eyes, to see the mysteries of God and of Christ; that he may so teach, as to write his laws in their heart; cause their hearts to come to wisdom, and cause them to know the way wherein they should walk. It is true, the receiving of Christ as King includes also their obligation to own him as such, by receiving his laws, subjecting unto his dispensations, &c. And the receiving of him as prophet, includes their obligation to acknowledge him for their only teacher, and to depend on him for their instruction: But yet I say, as this speaks out no formal promise or engagement to actual obedience and actual learning, but rather an engagement and resolution to be willing that he may act the part of a prophet and of a king towards them, and so cause them carry and look like students and subjects; so that the thing that is firstly and mainly in their eye, in their coming to Christ, is that which suits their present case, and answers their present felt necessity, and is a help to their present pinch. What engagements may be laid upon them by these relations, or what resolutions they may have, after they are renewed in the spirit of their minds, and united unto Christ unto actual obedience, in the power and strength of the Lord, is not to the present purpose, while we are speaking of what the soul doth, in order to justification.
††††††††† 5. Hence we see, how groundless it is to say, that a resolution to actual obedience is a condition of justification: This we find no where required in order to justification: This is no where called a condition of justification. We are no where said to be justified by this resolution. This is inconsistent with the frame of a poor wakened soul seeking justification. This would in part make the gift of justification not free and of free grace, but to be of works, or of a resolution for works; and so would give ground (in part at least) of boasting and of glorying, contrary to the whole frame of the Gospel. And so this would lessen the difference betwixt the Old Covenant of Works, and the New Covenant of Grace.
††††††††† Having thus dispatched with the second particular, we come unto the third, to wit, to enquire, whether perseverance be a condition of justification.
And of this we need not speak much, seeing by what is already said, it is apparent how false this is. Everything that is required of such, as are believers, cannot be called a condition of justification. It is said, that a condition suspends the obligation to bestow the benefit promised upon condition, until it be performed. And so it will hence follow, that if perseverance to the end be the condition of justification, no man can be justified until he has persevered to the end; and so no man shall be justified in this life; whereby an end is put to all our present debate, the subject thereof being taken out of the way.
††††††††† If it be said, that faith is the condition of justification, as it endures to the end, I answer: That this faith, which will endure to the end, is the condition, I grant. But I deny that faith is the condition of justification, as it endures to the end. We nowhere read of faith being the condition under this reduplication, as enduring to the end; for then it would follow, that no lively faith, how strong soever, could unite a soul to Christ, until it had endured to the end, and no man upon his first believing, let his faith be never so lively and strong, can be said to be justified, to have passed from death to life; contrary to all Scripture. And this would too much assimilate the New Covenant unto the Old, wherein Adam was to work out his days work to the end, ere he had right to his wages. Yea and hence it would follow, that in this life, there were none of the fruits of justification to be had, such as peace with God, access to God, glorying in tribulations, joy and comfort, contrary to experience, and the Scriptures. Romans 5: 1 Ė 5, 8: 35 to the end, Luke 7: 50, Matthew 9: 2, II Thessalonians 2: 16, Hebrews 6: 18, 19, I Peter 1: 4.
††††††††† So that in a word, from what hath been said, it is evident, how little ground Mr. Baxter hath to glory in this way of his, and though to an inadvertent person it may appear plausible, what is adduced for a reason, yet when considered, it will be found froth and a flourish of words: for be it so, that justifying faith receives whole Christ (which we do not deny: for Christ is not divided: for as there is but one faith, so but one Christ. And I will have occasion to speak more fully to this matter afterward.) Yet what doth Mr. Baxter gain? Hath he gained his pepper-corn of faith or Gospel obedience to be imputed unto us for righteousness according to the new law (he should say, the new edition of the old covenant, or rather the old covenant newly established?). No, by no means. For be it granted, that justifying faith as such respects Christ equally as King and Prophet, as it doth him as Priest (which yet I deny, and shall, without dividing Christ, make it appear.) I ask him, how doth it receive Christ Jesus the Lord? Surely he cannot but say, as he is offered in the Gospel; well then, the Lord, who knows what we are, offers him to us, and makes him to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, so that God in the offer of his Christ as a King, †looks upon the sinner in the same capacity to obey him, as in the offer of him as a Priest, he is to pay his debt, and that is not only in no capacity, but as opposite to such a thing of himself. Hence it is evident that faith receives Christ as a King not by promising or purposing to obey him, but from a conviction
of it own aversion to purpose to please God, that he by his Kingly power shall kill the enmity, conquer the soul, bring it to purpose, as well as practice, work in it to will as well as to do, cast down imaginations that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, and bring every thought in captivity to his obedience, so when faith acts on him as a Prophet, there is in this act neither purpose nor promise to obey him as a teacher, &c. But from a conviction that the mind is not only void of light, but it is prepossessed with corrupt principles, so that the man that hath nothing but the soul of a man, takes up the whole Gospel mystery as foolishness. And it is impossible for him, to know these things, since they must be spiritually discerned. I say from this conviction he receives Christ as his wisdom, as he that shall give him an understanding, to know him that is true; and to make him that is not only as a beast, but so much worse, that his light is darkness, of a quick understanding in the fear of the Lord, and wise to salvation. Now this exactly answers the sinnerís need, and hath all his wants made up by Jesus Christ according to his riches in glory, and Godís end in making his Christ to poor sinners wisdom, righteousness, &c. that so he, who glories may glory in the Lord. Now if Mr. Baxter will consider this, he will even lay aside his peppercorn as of no price; for here all is without money and without price to the poor soul, &c. and he is considered as a receiver of all from Christ.