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his endeavour, God will not deny him grace ; (there is their congruous merit ;) * and think they salve all, by saying [that] this endeavour must be from divine assistance. But Pelagius acknowledged that, no less than they ; and Augustine, with other his opposers, take notice of it : yet because he would have grace to be given according to merits, (though by merits was understood, not that which deserved it, but any thing done by a sinner in respect of which grace is given, as Bellarmine confesseth,) + they condemned him, as evacuating the redemption of Christ, and the grace of God.
In fine : if a man by their principles could not merit justifying grace for himself, yet still, by their doctrine, there would be no need of Christ's merits ; for they teach that any other just man may merit it for him de congruo, ["with merit of congruity,"] [ and do so much on his behalf as [that] it would be indecent and incongruous to the bounty of God to deny him grace. And this is enough to make him sure of it infallibly; seeing the Lord is as far from acting undecently or incongruously, as he is from dealing unjustly.
I need not tell you, these errors are dangerous ; unless you need be told, that there is danger in making Christ signify little or nothing in the justifying of sinners.
3. The last thing propounded is the application of this redemption, that is, of the blood of Christ, or his obedience, or his righteousness ; for: those are used by the apostle as terms of the same import. If we be accepted as righteous, it must be upon the account of some righteousness. We have none of our own that can acquit us before the Lord's tribunal : that of ours will neither satisfy for what is past, nor serve us for the future ; it cannot of itself be a good title to life which has in it just ground for condemnation. The righteousness of Christ is all-sufficient for all the exigencies of our condition. But, that it may be our justification, it must be our righteousness : (Rom. v. 18 :) and how can that be? We need no other man to tell us than Bellarmine himself. “ The sin of Adam,” says he, “is communicated in such a manner as that which is past can be communicated; that is, by imputation.” If the cardinal had not been a mere servant to his hypothesis, he would have followed this so far as the reason of it leads him ; and then it would have brought him to acknowledge no less of the righteousness of the Second Adam
by the assistance of which he may be enabled the more easily to acquire grace, and so may actually acquire it, if he be not wanting to himself."--Edit.
• Peccator per bona opera facta extra charitatem meretur de congruo primam gratiam : ibi est enim quædam congruitas, quia facit quod in se est.-- BONAVENTURA in Secundam, dist. xxvii. n. 39. † Gratiam autem secundum merita nostra dari intelligunt patres, cum aliquid fit propriis viribus, ratione cujus detur gratia, etiamsi non sit illum meritum de condigno.- De Gratiâ et libero Arbitrio, lib. vi. cap. 5, p. 659. Merito congrui potest aliquis alteri mereri primam gratiam.-- AQUINAS, Prima Secunda, quæst. 114, art. Bellarmine will have this past all doubt : Sicut certum est, non posse unum alteri ex condigno gratiam promereri ; ita non dubium est, posse id ex congruo fieri.- De Justificat. lib. v. cap. 21, p. 969. Bonaventure will have this to be meritum digni (“merit of worthiness ").-In Primam, dist. xli. n. 8. Est dignitas cum indignitate, sicut cum vir justus meretur peccatori primam gratiam : dignitas enim est ex parte viri justi.-- In Secundam, dist. xxvii. n. 39. “There is worthiness with unworthiness, as when a just man merits primary grace for a sinner : for the worthiness is on the part of the just man.”-- Edit. § Nobis verò communicatur per generationem eo inodo quo communicari potest id quod transiit ; nimirum, per imputationem.-- De Amiss. Grat. lib. v. cap. 17, p. 332.
than of the sin of the first : both are past ; and (there is] no other way to communicate what is past but by imputation.
This imputation is it which they will deny, and yet cannot but confess. And in their great champion we may see manifestly the evidence of truth struggling with the power of interest and prejudice ; and prevailing so far as to force from him three or four acknowledgments of this imputation, in that dispute where he sets himself with all his might to
oppose it. *
There are these severals considerable, about the imputing [of] this righteousness : First, substitution : Christ satisfied in our stead; that is, he tendered that which was due from us. Secondly, acceptance : the Father accepted what Christ performed in our stead as performed on our behalf. Thirdly, participation : we have the fruits and advantages of his undertaking no less than if we ourselves had satisfied. Now the first of these the Romanists assert ; the third they acknowledge ; and the second they cannot deny, unless they will deny that the Father accepted Christ's perfect performance on the behalf of those for whom he undertook it by his own appointment. And as this performance, so stated, is that we mean by“ Christ's righteousness ;" so this acceptance, as declared in the gospel in reference to those that believe, includes all that we mean by “imputation.” Nor need we contend for more than they cannot, without something like blasphemy, deny; namely, God's acceptance of Christ's satisfaction.
Then doth God impute the righteousness of Christ to a believer, when he accepts what Christ performed for him, as if he had performed it; as we say, then a creditor imputes the payment of the debt to the debtor, when he accepts of what the surety pays for him, as if bimself had paid it. There is ground enough in scripture to use this for illustration at least ; (Heb. vii. 22 ; Matt. vi. 12 ;) and by the light hereof, a mean capacity may see a clear answer to the greatest objections made by the Papists against Christ's righteousness imputed.T OBJECTION 1. “ If Christ's righteous
usness be truly imputed unto us, then we might be called and accounted ‘redeemers of the world.''
Answer. He might as reasonably say, “ The debtor may be called and accounted the surety, because the surety's payment is accepted for him."
OBJECT. II. “ If Christ's righteousness be imputed to us as if it were ours, then we ought to be accounted as righteous as Christ.”
ANSWER. He might as well argue, [that] the debtor is as rich as the surety, because the surety pays his debt.
OBJECT. III. “ If by the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, we may be said to be truly righteous; then Christ, by our unrighteousness imputed to him, may be truly called ' a sinner.'”
Answer. Which is just as if he should say, “If the acceptance of the • De Justific. lib. ii. cap. 17, p. 785: $s. quarto refellitur. Et cap. 10, p. 793 : Et hoc modo non esset absurdum, siquis nobis diceret, nobis imputari Christi justitiam et merita, cum nobis donentur et applicentur, ac si nos ipsi Deo satisfecissemus. " And in this manner it would not be absurd, it any one should say to us that the righteousness and merits of Christ are inputed to us, since they are bestowed upon and applied to us just as if we ourselves had satisfied God."-EDIT. Et p. 794 : Ss. respondeo et Ss. hac igitur falsa, &c. | Without lessening the difference betwixt debts and punishments, a surety as to either will serve our purpose.
surety's payment acquit the debtor, then the surety, because the debt is charged on him, though he contracted it not, is as bad a husband and as much a bankrupt as the debtor.”
I need bring no particular arguments for this. All the scriptures, where there is mention of Christ's dying for us, his sufferings, cleansing us with his blood, his obedience to death, &c., (since it cannot be denied but all this was well-pleasing to God, and accepted by him, as it was performed on the behalf of believers,) are undeniable proofs, that his righteousness is imputed.
And it is a wonder to me, that any who acknowledge the satisfaction of Christ should have the confidence to say, there is no evidence for this imputation in the sense expressed; but their causeless prejudice against the word makes them, it seems, so sullen, that they will not take notice of the things we mean, though they meet with it everywhere in scripture.
In short (I fear I have transgressed already, and must omit much of what I intended): If Christ's righteousness be not imputed, it is not accepted ; if it be not accepted, it is not performed ; and so there will be no satisfaction, no redemption in Jesus Christ. This is Bellarmine's own inference when he is disputing against Osiander,—to deny God's accepting Christ's righteousness for us, which is, by the premisses, his imputing it to us, is to "overthrow the whole mystery of man's redemption and reconciliation.” *
Let me admonish you, as you tender the honour of Christ and the comfort and happiness of your souls, to receive and preserve the doctrine of justification pure and untainted as the apostle delivered it. Be. ware especially of the Popish corruptions, whereby they have adulterated and wherewith they have overwhelmed it. Whereas it is, as delivered in scripture, the foundation of our hopes, and the spring of our comforts ; they have made it a sink into which a great part of their other corruptions do run and settle, or the source from which they rise and are fed. I might make this good by an account of particulars; but those I have touched already are too many. They tell you, to be justified is to be sanctified, and so sanctified as to need no further sanctification after the first infusion ; no growth in grace, no increase of holiness, no progress therein, nor mortification neither; no need of, no reason for, it. Their principles are so indulgent, as to free you from such trouble. But then you must not take notice of the many commands of God which enjoin these, and make them necessary, nor of the hazard that attends such neglects : they will assure you, there is none under the notion [under] which they represent them.
They tell you, you must be justified by your own righteousness, and that a perfect righteousness within you ; that is it you must trust to. And if you think much to be justified as never any sinner in the world was, and know not how to compass a righteousness absolutely perfect
• From his opinion, says he, certè sequitur, ut Christi justitiam Deus non acceplet ; which cannot be admitted, nisi quis velit totum mysterium humanæ redemptionis et reconciliationis evertere.- De Justific. lib. ii. cap. 5, p. 778.
within you ; they will inform you, that any degree of charity, the least, the weakest, is righteousness in perfection. Thus you may be justified in their way, if you will but have patience till your inherent righteousness in this world be perfect and spotless, or till the lowest degree of it be absolute perfection. If you think it impossible to be justified upon such terms, they will tell you there is nothing more easy : any of their sacraments will help you to it ; for they all confer justifying grace, and that by the mere external act. You may have it, though you never mind what you are a-doing, when you are at sacrament, to get it. An easy way to heaven indeed, if it were as easy to be saved as deluded !
They will have you believe that their doctrine of justification is that which we must approve, since it includes pardon ; and yet they have no pardon by their doctrine while there is one speck of sin in their souls, and so not in this world ; and the other is no world for it. And though they fancy, that fault, and stain, and desert, and the very being of sin, is abolished when they have so full pardon ; and will have none that is not lawful; yet are they not pardoned for all that, but plainly condemned, and into infernal fires they must go, and be there tortured, after they are so fully pardoned, till themselves have fully satisfied, and paid the utmost farthing, or others for them. And if they cannot do that which Christ only can do, namely, satisfy the justice of God for all sorts of sins, as to part of the punishment due to some, and the whole punishment due to others, their purgatory will prove hell, everlastingness not abated ; and they will find themselves damned eternally, and cast into hell, who, by their doctrine, were betrayed into that state, under a pretence of being punished there a while, in order to salvation. And if the demerit of sins which they call “ venial” prove greater than they believe, (without and against scripture,) they are in hell while they dream they are but in purgatory; for the partition between hell and purgatory is but the distinction made in their fancies betwixt mortal and venial sins, as to their demerit.
Thus are they in danger to be pardoned : and no wonder, since there is not one sin in five hundred which, by their doctrine, needs Christ or his blood for its pardon : there is no need of “the blood of sprinkling" (Heb. xii. 24) for the infinite numbers of their venials ; they have a sprinkling of their own [that] will serve, a holy water, conjured into such divine powers, as to wash away a world of sins, fault and punishment both. * This is the “fountain” (one of them) which themselves have “opened for sin and uncleanness ; " (Zech. xii. 1;) and the other, opened by Christ, may be shut up, unless there may be some use of it for another sort of sins, but those very few in comparison.
Indeed, it is the intolerable injury they offer to Christ, his redemption, and the free grace of God, which makes their doctrine of justification most intolerable. To strip the redemption which is in Jesus Christ of its merit or satisfaction, without which it is no redemption; to make the
• Remissio venialium, qui est effectus aquæ benedictæ, sine collatione gratiæ et sanctitatis confertur. Non pænas culparum modò, sed, id quod mihi probabilius est, culpas quoque veniales, remittet.-MELCHIOR Canus, De Sacris, pars. i. p. 751. “The remission of venial sins, which is the effect of the blessed water, is conferred without the communication of grace and holiness. It will remit, not merely the punishment of sins, bat, as seems. to me more probable, even venial sins themselves also.”—ĒDIT.
mercy of God needless, or the free exercise of it impossible, and his grace to be no grace ; is the way not to be justified, but condemned. This is to seek pardon of former offences by new crimes, as if one would not receive a pardon without interlining it with something of treasonable import against him who offers it. Yea, it seems an attempt to blot out of the pardon all that is pardoning; and to affront and deface that upon which all the hopes of a condemned sinner depend, and without which no flesh can be justified. Whenever the Lord justifies any, he doth it " freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ :” they that will not be thus justified, are in danger to be condemned.
SERMON XVI. (XIII.)
BY THE REV. BENJAMIN NEEDLER, B.C.L.
SOMETIME FELLOW OF ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE, OXFORD.
IT IS NOT LAWFUL TO GIVE RELIGIOUS WORSHIP TO ANY CREATURE WHATSOEVER.
IT IS NOT LAWFUL TO MAKE AN IMAGE OF GOD. IT IS NOT LAWFUL TO
GOD NOT TO BE WORSHIPPED AS REPRESENTED BY AN IMAGE.
Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan : for it is written, Thou
shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.Matthew iv. 10.
The first eleven verses of this chapter contain the history of the combat, or conflict, between Christ and Satan ; and in it you may take notice of these particulars :
(I.) You have the preparation to the combat : “ Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.” (Verses 1, 2.) “Then,” that is, immediately after Christ had been baptized in an extraordinary manner, and solemnly declared by “a voice from heaven,” that he was “the beloved Son of God, in whom he was well pleased ;” and after “ the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him,” (Matt. ii. 16, 17,) and was " full of the Holy Ghost,” as St. Luke records it ; (Luke iv. 1 ;)—“then," that is, immediately after this, "he was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” We should have thought that the next news might have been of his taking a solemn journey to Jerusalem, and in the temple there publicly to have declared,