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itself. Gallio gets drunk, and as he reels home from his midnight revels, he breaks thirty-six lamps in the streets, and sends out vollies of curses to the number of two hundred. He is brought before you, and you insist on his going to the House of Correction, or paying so much money to buy three dozen of lamps, beside the usual fine for his profane language. As he is not worth a groat, his sober brother Mitio kindly offers to lay dowu the sum for him. You accept of the “vicarious satisfaction,” and binding the rake to his good behaviour, you release him at his brother's request. Now, Sir, would you be reasonable, if you reckoned Mitio completely guilty of getting drunk, swearing two hundred oaths, and breaking thirty-six lamps ? Far from supposing him guilty of breaking one lamp, or swearing one oath, even while he makes satisfaction for his brother's wildness, do you not esteem him according to his own excellent character ?
And will you defend a doctrine which charges God with a mistake ten thousand times more glaring, than that you would be guilty of, if you really reckoned Mitio an abandoned rake, and Gallio a man of an exemplary conduct? Will you indeed recommend still as gospel, an opinion which supposes, that the God of everlasting, unchangeable Love once loathed and abhorred his beloved Son ? And that the God of invariable Truth could once say to the holy Jesus, “Thou art all foul, O thou defiled object of my hatred, there is no purity in thee :" While he addresses a bloody adul. terer with, “Thou art all fair, my love, my undefiled, there is no spot in thee?'
A variety of scriptural and rational arguments I have, directly or indirectly, advanced, in every Check, against that capital doctrine of yours, “ the absolute imputation of Christ's personal righteousness to believers ;" whether they live chastely with their own wives, or entice away other men's wives : Whether they charitably assist their neighbours, or get then treacherously murdered. All those arguments centre in this : If that-doctrine is true, the divine perfections suffer a
general eclipse; one half of the Bible is erased; St. James's Epistle is made void ; defiled religion justly passes for “pure gospel;" the Calvinian doctrine of perseverance is true; and barefaced Antinomianism is properly recommended as the “ doctrine of grace."
Having thus considered your doctrine of imputed righteousness, permit me, honoured Sir, to submit to your inspection, the harmonizing views that we have of God's perfections; while we see him impute righteousness to a man (i. e., reckon a man righteons) so long as he actually believes with a faith working by obedient love; and impute iniquity to an apostate (i. e., reckon him unrighteous) as soon as he departs from the faith, to work iniquity, and walk in the ways of unrighteousness.
We firmly believe, that God's imputation, whether of sin or righteousness, is not founded upon sovereign caprice, but upon indubitable truth. As we are partakers by generation of Adam's original pollution, before God imputes it to us, that is, before he accounts us really polluted; so are we partakers by regeneration of Christ's original righteousness, before God imputes righteousness to us, that is, before he accounts as really righteous. And, therefore, a positive and substantial communication of Christ's righteousness, apprehended by faith, no less precedes God's imputation of righteousness to a believer, than Bartimeus's receiving his sight, and admitting the light, were previous to God's reckoning that he actually saw.
Although we grant the Almighty calls the things that are not, as though they were ,' and that, according to his foreknowledge, he frequently speaks of them in the prophetic style, as if they were now, or had been already; yet when he reckons what is, in order to pass sentence of absolution or condemnation, he cannot deny his truth, and reckon a man actually chaste and charitable, that actually commits adultery and murder. Wc dare not impute this flagrant unrighteousness to God. And as 'no guile was found in the Lord's. mouth' while he was upon earth, we cannot
admit the most distant thought of his being full of guile in heaven : Which we apprehend would be the case, if he reckoned that a man, who actually falls from adultery into murder, is actually undefiled, and completely righteous.
Again, as Christ bore no manner of vicarious punishment for us; or, which is the same, as our iniquities were not actually laid upon him, till he partook of our frail nature, and was positively interested in our corruptible blood ; so, by a parity of reason, we are not indulged with the pardon and acceptance which he merited for us, till we partake of his light and righteousness. Hence appears the weakness of that argument, “ Righteousness may as well be imputed to us, without any participation of the divine nature; as sin was imputed to Christ, without any participation of our fallen nature." We absolutely deny the fact on which this argument is founded, and assert, with St. Paul, that Christ ‘was made sin for us, (i. e., a proper sacrifice for our sins,) not by an imaginary robe of unrighteousness put upon him according to your imputation ; but by being really ‘ made of a fallen mortal woman,' and sent in the likeness of sinful flesh,' that he might suffer and die for us ; which he could not have done, if he had not assumed our fallen nature; unfaller man being quite above the reach of pain and death. It is not less certain, therefore, that he was made in the likeness of sinful flesh,' than it is indubitable, that “he was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.'
As sure, then, as Christ was not made sin [i, e., a sin-offering] for us,' by a speculative imputation of our personal sins; but by being actually made flesh, clothed with our mortality, and 'sent in the likeness of sinful flesh ;' so sure are we made the righteousness of God in him,' not by a speculative imputation of his personal good works, but by being made partakers of the divine nature, begotten of God, and clothed with essential righteousness ;' which is the case when we put on the new man, who after God is created in
righteousness and true holiness. Thus it appears to us that your imputation may be demolished, only by returting, 2 Cor. v. 21, the scripture with which it is chiefly supported; and, if we are not mistaken, the venerable fabric raised upon that passage, like Mabomet's venerable tomb, hangs in the air without one single prop
That the seed of righteousness, by which we are first interested in Christ, is universal in all infants, appears to us evident from St. Paul's words, “As by one man's (Adam's] disobedience, the many, [the multitudes of mankind,] were made sinners,' by a seed of sin ; ' so by the obedience of one [Christ] shall the many, [the multitudes of mankind,] be made righteons,' by a seed of righteousness, to the end of the world. (Rom. v. 19.) Heuce it is, that righteousness is imputed to all infants, and that, as I have proved, Letter X, they stand justified before God, according to the inferior dispensation they are under.
When they grow up, and hold the truth in unrighteousness,' by sinning against their light ; personal iniquity is imputed to them; and till they believe again in the light, and renonnce the evil deeds which it reproves, they are 'condemned already. But the moment they truly repent, and unfeignedly believe the gospel belonging to their dispensation, condemnation vanishes; God again imputes righteousness to them ; that is, for Christ's sake he agaiu pardons their sins, accepts their persons, and considers them as branches that admit the righteous sap of the true Vine, and bear the fruits of righteousness.'
Once more ; if these branches do not believingly abide in Christ the Vine, they become such branches in him, as bear not fruit. Nay, they bear the poison of unrighteousness ; iniquity therefore is again imputed to them; and so long as they continue in their sip and unbelief, they are every moment liable to be taken away, cast into the fire, and burned.' (John xv.) Nevertheless, through the Redeemer's intercession, God 'bears long with them ;' and, if they despise not
to the last the riches of his forbearance and longsuffering,' duly considering how his goodness leadeth them to repentance,' their backslidings are healed : They believe again with the heart unto righteousness :' The righteous sap of the true Vine has again a free course in their hearts : They again receive Christ, who is the end of the law,' and the sum of the gospel, ‘for righteousness to every one that believeth :' And their faith, which once more admits the beams of the Sun of Righteousness, is once more imputed to them for righteousness.'
This, honoured Sir, is the holy imputation of righteousness, which we read of in the oracles of God: And we prefer it to yours for three reasons: (1.) It hatb truth for its foundation; but your imputation stands upon a preposterous supposition, that Christ, the righteous, was an execrable sinner, and that an elect is perfectly righteous, while he commits execrable iniquity.—(2.) Because it perfectly agrees with St. James's undefiled religion, which your scheme entirely overthrows.-And, (3.) Because it is supported by the plainest scriptures.
The Popes have at least the letter of one passage to countenance their monstrous doctrine of transubstantiation. They save appearances, when they make their dupes believe, that a bit of bread is really the body of Christ : For, say they, Christ took bread, and declared, This is my body. But, О tell it not in Paris, lest the subjects of the triple crown triumph over us in their turn! The personal righteousness of Christ is not so much as once mentioned in all the Bible with the doctrine of imputation : And yet some divines can make whole congregations of me, who protest against the impious absurdities of the Church of Rome, believe, that the imputation of Christ's personal right. eousness is a scriptural doctrine, and the rery marrow of the gospel! This garment of their own weaving they cast over, adulterers and murderers, and then represent the filthy, bloody wretches, as complete in