Justification through the Imputed Righteousness of Christ,
cleared out of the Old Testament, and the passages
vindicated from the exceptions of
We shall now proceed unto another use, and mention another way, how this truth, that believers in Christ attain unto a life in justification, ought to be improved, to wit secondly, óThat we may hence take notice of a loud call herein to all persons, not yet justified, to beware of a cheat in this matter, and not fix upon a wrong bottom in Justification, nor lay their weight on any thing within themselves, or on any thing else whatever, except upon the imputed righteousness of Christ alone, which they are to embrace and to lean to by faith. If they lean to their own works, and make them the condition and ground of their justification, they will be disappointed; for by the works of the Law can no man be justified, in the sight of God, as the Apostle asserts, and proves, in our text, and irrefragably concludes in Romans 3: 20, 28, and in several other places. Yea, if they lean unto faith itself, which is called for only to interesse us in the righteousness of Christ, that free grace may be exalted, and proud
man abased, they deceive themselves; and not only disappoint themselves of what they are expecting, but even destroy the very nature and ends of true Gospel justifying faith: for its native and proper works is to carry the man out of himself wholly unto Christ, for righteousness, life and salvation: for faith is the manís looking to Christ, as the stung Israelite in the wilderness did look unto the brazen serpent, John 3: 14, 15, and saying, as it is Isaiah 45: 24, In the Lord have I righteousness: and it is the believerís putting on of the Lord Jesus, that he may be found in him, and clothed with his righteousness, Philippians 3: 9. It is the manís receiving of Christ, John , and receiving of the atonement in Him, and through Him, Romans , and of abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, Romans . Therefore it is called a believing on His name, John , and on Him, whom the Father hath sent, &c. John , , , Acts , . And because faith laid hold upon this righteousness of Christ; therefore is the righteousness called the righteousness of faith, Romans 4: 11, and the righteousness, which is of faith, Romans 9: 30, and that, which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness, which is of God by faith, Philippians 3: 9. Now if this be the native work of justifying faith, (as we shall more fully clear afterward,) to receive Christ, and His righteousness; and consequently to carry the man out of himself, that he may find and partake of that all sufficient righteousness of Christ, to the end he may with confidence stand before God, and expect pardon and acceptance; then it cannot be said without destroying the native work of justifying faith, that faith is that Gospel righteousness, unto which they may lean, and upon the account of which they may expect justification. Faith, in this matter, is as the eye of the soul, that, sees not itself, but looks out to another. Beside, this would overturn the whole nature of the Covenant of Grace, and is irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Apostle Paul about justification, as shall be manifested hereafter. Therefore, all, who would live the life of justification, must betake themselves to Jesus Christ, and lean to Him, and to His righteousness: for with the robe of His righteousness must they alone be clothed, and in Christ alone must they be found; and they must think of standing before God, having on His righteousness, that God imputes unto believers, and which they receive by faith, in order to their justification.
††††††††† I know, this doctrine is not savory to many, now days, and as Papists, Socinians, and Arminians do oppose themselves with all their industry and learning unto this doctrine of the imputation of the surety-righteousness of Christ; so there are now days, and have been of late, who would not willingly be reckoned among either of these mentioned, and yet do oppose this fundamental truth, the sure ground of our hope, peace and comfort. As the principles, whereupon these mentioned go, are different, so are the grounds, upon which they plead against this truth; yet they do unanimously enough join in this, to cry down, and argue against this imputation, which the orthodox have owned and do own.
††††††††† Before I come to consider the chief (at least) of their arguments against the truth, which hath been now asserted, I shall, with what brevity
and plainness I can, lay down and vindicate the grounds and reasons of our assertion; and then take notice of their contrary objections; that this truth may be made plain and clear to such, as are concerned therein. As to our grounds, I shall first begin with Scripture authority; and here propose our reasons from the Old Testament.
the first passage to this purpose, which I shall take notice of, is Isaiah 45:
24. Surely shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness, (or in the
Lord is all righteousness) to wit, for me: and this following upon what
was said in verse 22 look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the
earth; which was an invitation and call to them, to act faith upon Him, in
order to their salvation; as the stung Israelites did look unto the brazen
serpent, in order to their recovery; this looking being clearly
explained by coming, verse 24, even to Him shall men come, (and
we know how frequently faith is held forth and expressed by ≠coming, in
the Gospel) saith, that hereby is pointed forth the rich advantage, that such
shall have, who look and come to Him by faith, and submit unto Him heartily and
cheerfully, imported by bowing of the knee, and swearing with the tongue, to
wit. That they shall have a righteousness in Him; and this they shall avow and
profess: and this being exclusive of all others, as the context clears, saying
that they should be brought to that, that they should renounce all other
righteousness whatsoever, and rest on this God alone, who is the only God,
verse 22, and on His righteousness; for in Him they shall be made to look for
it, and that in rich abundance. And upon this follows their justification, and
glorying in the Lord alone, verse 25, In the Lord shall all the seed of
††††††††† It is too narrow and scanty an interpretation, to limit this justification to the Lordís vindicating of His peopleís sincerity and innocence, in respect of their enemies, at whose hands they suffered great things, and that unjustly; and not to take in their spiritual justification, and delivery from the guilt of sin, through faith in the Messiah; especially seeing there is an invitation going before them, to lay hold on the Lord Messiah by faith, according to the Gospel method; and upon this follows their glorying in the Lord, conforming to what the Apostle says in I Corinthians 11: 30, 31, that the Lord Jesus is made of God Righteousness to His people, that he that glories, may glory in the Lord.
††††††††† Nor is there any weight in that, which John Goodwine, in his Treatise of Justification Part 2, page 129, 130, alleges, to infringe the authority of this testimony, to wit, That the meaning only is this, that they receive these favors, of the free grace and donation of God, by Jesus Christ. For, as the expressions are more emphatic; so all the circumstances of the text, point
out their eyeing of the Lord, and coming to Him, and that in order to their justification and salvation; together with their profession of owning the Lordís righteousness alone, for their righteousness, renouncing all other righteousness, in themselves, or in others, in order to justification: and thereby declaring, that they look upon it as necessary for them to have a righteousness; and that this is only the righteousness of Jehovah, or of the Messiah, where with they desire to be clothed, and rest satisfied. All which import the Lordís bestowing of this righteousness upon them, that is, imputing of it unto them; for without this they cannot have it, nor glory in it, as their own.
††††††††† Secondly, it is said, Isaiah 61: 10, I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, &c. And this coming in upon the back of what was said, in the beginning of the chapter, concerning Christís furniture for His work of Mediation, His call thereto, and His special work, or the End, for which He was sent, to wit, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, &c., points forth the sweet welcome, and hearty acceptance, that the anointed Messiah should have among His own chosen ones: for these words hold forth their expression of their sense of what they had received from Him, and of their joy upon the account thereof. They profess openly their joy and rejoicing in the Lord, because He had clothed and covered them with the garments of salvation, and with the robe of righteousness. Now this robe could not be a robe of their own making; nor can it be understood of their inherent holiness; for it is a garment put on, and where with they are covered. Thus are we said to put on the Lord Jesus, Romans 13: 14, Galatians 3: 27. And John in Revelation 19: 8 helps us to understand the meaning of this expression, when he says, And to her was granted, that she should be arrayed in white linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of Saints.
this testimony; the forenamed author John Goodwine, page 130 &c., makes
some exceptions, as 1. These expressions (says he,) concern the Jews
only, and are meant of their deliverance out of
text make it evident, this sense might be admitted; yet it cannot be so understood here, where the righteousness is said to be granted to the people, as a robe and a garment to cover them: and the very following words of the verse show, that this is meant of something bestowed upon them, for it is added, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels; or, as some render the words, He hath decked me with ornaments, as a bridegroom, and with jewels as a bride.
††††††††† 2. He excepts, If these words be taken in a spiritual sense, the promise, which is contained in them, cannot suit the Church; because the Church is at all times and always clothed with Christís righteousness, being justified in Him. Answer. This one answer will destroy all the spiritual promises, held forth by the prophets, as the fruits and effects of Christís coming; for the Church of true and faithful believers was really, in some measure answerable to that more dark dispensation, made partaker of these saving and spiritual benefits, both at that time, and before, even from the beginning: and thus there shall be no promises in all the Old Testament of spiritual things, touching pardon of sin, justification, grace, and sanctification, and the like, made unto the Church; but all of them must be interpreted of carnal things: though the New Testament teaches us the contrary, as might be evinced of multitudes of places. But the matter is clear, to wit. That this is mentioned, as the open profession of the Church, with joy and thankfulness, of what she was blessed with, and made partaker of in Christ; and had, as a fruit and effect of His performing His Mediatory work; that is, that she was clothed with a robe of righteousness, and that by Him, which was, and would be to her a ground of perpetual joy, and rejoicing in the Lord.
††††††††† Against that passage, Revelation 19: 8, which was adduced for clearing of the place, now under hand, he excepts thus, These words only point forth the honor and dignity, which Christ now confers upon the Church, in remembrance of her righteousness: for it is parallel to that other place Revelation 3: 4. Answer. This is nothing, but a plain perversion of the Scriptures; for it is not said, for her righteousness; nor for the righteousness of the saints: but in these words a reason is given, why by this arraying in fine linen, the bride is said to be made ready; and withal hereby the signification and import of that fine linen is held forth, when it is said, for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. The Spirit of the Lord is here speaking of the return of the Jews, and of their marrying of new with their former husband, from whom they had so long departed, by playing the harlot; (as worthy and judicious Mr. Durham shows, in his comment on the place) and of this new bride it is said, that she is arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; and this linen is explained to be the righteousness of saints, or justifications of saints, the word is , the same, that is used in Romans 5: 16, 18, where it is translated justification; and it is called here the righteousness, or justifications of saints, because it is no other, than that which is common to all saints; whereby is signified, that the Jews, at their conversion, shall be accepted and justified, after the same manner, that all the saints have been; even after that self same manner, at which they formerly stumbled, and
which wickedly and peremptorily they refused and rejected. This righteousness therefore can be nothing else, than the righteousness of Christ imputed: for this only is clean and white, all other having spots and defilements. This is not from within, but from without, and is put on, and is granted to the Church, and so imputed.
††††††††† Against that saying of putting on Christ, twice mentioned, he takes exception saying, That none of them speaks of justification, but that Romans 13: 14 speaks of sanctification; and that Galatians 3: 27, of profession. Answer. If we are said to put on Christ in sanctification, and as to a profession, much more may we be said, to put Him on in justification, which is the basis and ground work of sanctification, and the truth and reality of that which is professed. Without justification there is no sanctification; and except we be clothed with Christ, and put Him on in order to justification, we cannot put Him on, in order to sanctification. And as such, as are baptized in Christ, have declared, that they have put on Christ; so such have done it in truth and reality, who are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and are Christís and are Abrahamís seed, and heirs according to the promise Galatians 3: 26, 29. Nor could they be said to do this outwardly, as to a profession, in their baptism, if a real putting on of Christ were not to be found in such, as had the spiritual and inward thing imported and signified by outward baptism.
Jeremiah 23: 5, 6 Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise
unto David a righteous branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall
execute judgment and justice, in the earth. In his days
satisfaction and righteousness óand in this sense, it would not be absurd, if any should say, that the righteousness of Christ and His merits are imputed unto us, as if we ourselves had satisfied. De justif. lib. 2. cap. 10.
††††††††† Fourthly, add to this Jeremiah 33: 15, 16, where, as Junius and the Dutch translation have it, this same title is repeated, as given unto the righteous Branch: but if we take the words, as they are rendered by others, and as they are in our translation, as the stile and name of the Church, they will contribute not a little to our present purpose. And this, wherewith she shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS: for hereby is clearly imported the Churchís glorying in that title, and in having all her righteousness in and through her Head and Husband; that as she owned herself to be the Spouse of Christ, and had His name called upon her; so this would be all the name, that she would own, as her greatest glory; and by that alone would she be called; thereby professing, with glorying and satisfaction, that she had no righteousness of her own; and if any would know her aright, and give her her highest titles, they should know her under that notion, and give her that name, that should openly declare, that she were void of righteousness in herself, and were ungodly, and had all her righteousness from her husband, and would appear before God in no righteousness, but in her husbands. So that she would own that title alone, which should be a proclamation to all the world, that she was covered with her Husbandís righteousness, and with that alone, and a constant memorandum, to keep her in the fresh conviction, faith and profession of this.
††††††††† Against these clear and pregnant passages John Goodwine takes exception, page 127, saying, It is not here said, the righteousness of the Lord shall be our righteousness, or shall be imputed to us for righteousness. Answer. Though this be not said, in so many words and syllables, yet that same is said in a more clear, convincing and emphatic manner: so that he, who sees not this lying in these words, must be more blind than Bellarmine was. When this righteous Branch is raised up by Jehovah, and has gotten this name, the Lord our Righteousness, what can be more manifest, than that, He is made Righteousness to His people; Yea and all their righteousness; and that this righteousness is made over to them; so that He is, in a manner, wholly theirs, and nothing but theirs, and all that He hath is theirs; and particularly that His righteousness is all the righteousness they own, as their righteousness.
††††††††† He excepts 2. That in no tolerable sense, can Christ, being a person, be said to be imputed to us. Answer. Do we not hear, that a child was born to us, and a Son was given to us? Isaiah 9: 6, and was not that child and son a person? And may not a person be as well said to be imputed, as given, seeing imputation, upon the matter, is nothing but a giving, or bestowing? Yet we do not say, that Christ is imputed; but that this expression here used, doth manifestly evince, that we are righteous through the righteousness of Christ made ours; and that Christ is become the Lord our righteousness; and that true believers receive and own Him, as such, and rest upon His righteousness alone by faith.
††††††††† He excepts 3. The plain and direct meaning is, that He shall be generally
acknowledged and celebrated by his people of the Jews, as the
great author and procurer of that righteousness, or justification in the sight
of God, upon which abundance of outward glory, peace and prosperity should be
cast upon them. Answer. (1.) That
this is not to be restricted to the Jews, is manifest, seeing it is spoken of
Gospel times, when the righteous Branch shall be raised up unto David, and a King shall reign and prosper. (2.) It is too
carnal an interpretation, to think that the text speaks only of such a
justification, as is followed with abundance of outward glory, peace and
prosperity; while as the whole Gospel informs us of something more spiritual,
attending upon and following justification. (3.) Righteousness and
justification are here made synonymous, which ought not to be; though these two
be inseparably linked together; yet they are formally different. (4.) Wherein
stands this righteousness and justification? He tells us, in the place, to
which he here refers us, that it stands in remission of sins: But pardon of sins
is no righteousness; though a man pardoned hath freedom from the obnoxiousness
to punishment; yet righteousness is another thing, and respects the obligation
to duty, required in the Law. (5.) Though it is true, Christ is indeed the
author of our justification and pardon (which is an effect of Godís pronouncing
us righteous, and of His accepting us, as righteous in justification) as of our
peace; yet that needs not destroy what we assert, there being no inconsistency
here, but a necessary and essential agreement between the imputation of Christís
righteousness and justification; but it rather contributes to the establishment
of our assertion: Yet it is obvious, that when Christ is called the Lord our
Righteousness, there is more imported, than His being the author of our
peace and justification; even the way also, how He brings about our peace and
justification, is here denoted, to wit, His being made of God righteousness to
His people; so that His righteousness becomes theirs, in order to their peace
††††††††† But to confirm his interpretation, he tells us, 1. That the imposition of name upon either thing or person, often notes the quality, or property in either, or some benefit redounding from either, answerable thereunto, as Isaiah 9,ó His name shall be called wonderfuló that is, he shall be acknowledged and looked upon by men, as a doer of things very strange. Answer. Seeing all these names given to Christ in Isaiah 9 cannot be so interpreted, as to have this import mentioned; for who will say, that the name everlasting Father, and the mighty God can be so interpreted, as to denote only some answerable benefit redounding there from; who does not see how little this can satisfy? But (2.) be it so, that this name shall denote some benefit, redounding there from, why may it not denote this effect, which is only answerable hereunto, to wit, that His people shall be made partaker of His surety-righteousness, and have the same made over unto them, as they become united unto Him, and have His name called upon them.
††††††††† He tells us 2. That it is familiar to attribute the effect to its cause, or Author, by a verb substantive only; as when Christ is called our hope, our life, resurrection, peace and glory, meaning that he is the author and purchaser of all these. Answer. Yet this proves not, that He is the author of all these effects after
one and the same way. He is otherwise our hope, of which He is the object as well as the author, than He is our life: and He is otherwise our life and peace, which He works and creates in us, than He is our resurrection and glory. So He is our righteousness, by making us partaker of His Surety-righteousness, and imputing it unto us, that it may be reckoned on our score; for this the nature of the thing requires, seeing a righteousness we must have, ere we be justified; and a righteousness of our own we have not; and therefore must have one imputed to us: and what righteousness can suite us better than His, who is THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS?
††††††††† He tells us 3. That by righteousness is meant that justification, which stands in remission of sins: and the meaning is, that through Him God would be reconciled to them and pacified with them. Answer. Justification is something else, than pardon of sins; for a justified man is one that is declared and pronounced righteous, in order to pardon of sins; and in order to a person being declared such, by God, who always judges according to truth, he must be righteous; and righteous can no man be in the sight of God, in order to his justification, by what is in himself; and therefore he must have a righteousness from some other: and seeing Christ is called, the Lord our righteousness, it must be His righteousness, which must be bestowed upon them, in order to God being reconciled to them, and pacified with them.
††††††††† Fifthly, another passage is Daniel 9: 24 to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness. That all this is to be understood of the great and spiritual effects of power and grace, which are to be brought about by the Messiah, no Christian can deny; and among the rest we see, He is to bring in a righteousness, and a righteousness of ages, an everlasting righteousness, that shall endure forever, and shall have everlasting effects: and this righteousness is something more, than remission of sins, and is distinct from it, which is sufficiently held forth by the foregoing expressions of finishing transgressions, of making an end of sins, and of making reconciliation for iniquity: which says, that to justification there is a righteousness required, and that this righteousness is not mere remission of sins; but something beside, that must endure, when sin is taken away. This righteousness is to be brought in by the Messiah, as a favor, distinct from the preceding, and yet inseparable there from, and firmly connected therewith. This righteousness, which the Messiah is to bring in, being something beside remission of sins, must be a righteousness wrought by the Messiah, and brought in for the use and advantage of His people, who, as they are to be made partaker of the foregoing favors, are also to be made partaker of this; and consequently must have it imputed to them, seeing no other way, it can be made theirs.
††††††††† Sixthly, we may adduce to this purpose, Zechariah 3: 4, take away the filthy garments from him: and unto him he said, behold, I have caused thine iniquity to go from thee; I will cloth thee with change of raiment. Here by a vision is signified to the prophet, how the Lord would at length be reconciled to His
Church, and bring her in to His favor again, that her service might become acceptable to Him, which now was wholly defiled, and so defiled, that even their High Priest, who should wear the holy garments, whereupon was engraved Holiness to the Lord, is said to have had on filthy garments; whereby the accuser of the brethren, Satan the enemy, had no small advantage against them: and the way is set down in borrowed terms, which are in part explained. First the Lord caused to take away the filthy garments from the High Priest; and this is more plainly expressed, in these words, I have caused thine iniquity to go from thee. But beside this, there is a righteousness required, in order to acceptance with God, as was said above: therefore that this work of justification may be completed, it is added, and I will cloth thee with change of raiment. Some, it is true, would refer this to sanctification; but others unto justification. Juniusí and the English annotations take in both: and sure, if this be true of sanctification, which is wrought in us, it is much more true of the righteousness, that is required unto justification, which is without us, and must be put on. And the Chaldean Paraphrase turns it thus, behold I have taken away thine iniquity, and have clothed thee with righteousness. The word in the original, which is translated change of raiment, imports some suite of apparel, that is not for ordinary wearing, but kept for solemn times, and so may well import the saints wedding or marriage suite: and that which is added in the following verse, may be understood, as denoting sanctification, which is added with the Miter on his head, signifying the graces of the Spirit, qualifying the High Priest, for his work.