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We agree, that all the righteousness which is in the spiritual world, is as much Christ's righteousness, as all the light that shines in the natural world at noon, is the light of the suu. And we equally assert, that, when God justifies a sinner who believes in Christ, he freely pardons his past sins, graciously aocounts him righteous, and, as such, admits him to his favour, only through faith in the Redeemer's meritorious blood and personal righteousness.
To see clearly wherein we disagree, let us consider both your doctrine, and ours; touching, as we go along, upon the capital arguments by which they are supported.
Consistent Calvinists beliere, that if a man is elected, God absolutely imputes to him Christ's personal righteousness, that is, the perfect obedience unto deathr which Christ performed upon earth. This is reckoned to bim for obedience and righteousness, even while he is actually disobedient, and before he has a grain of inherent righteousness. They consider this imputation, as an unconditional and eternal act of grace, by which, not only a sinner's past sins, but his crimes present and to come, be they more or be they less, be they small or be 'they great, are for ever and for ever covered. He is eternally `justified from all things.' And therefore, under this imputation, he is perfectly righteous before God, even while he commits adultery and murder. Or, to use your own expressions, whatever lengths he runs, whatever depths he falls into, “ he always stands absolved, always complete in the everlasting righteousness of the Redeemer.” (Five Let. ters, p. 26, 27, 29.) In point of justification, there. fore, it matters not how unrighteous a believer actually is in himself; because the robe of Christ's personal righteousness, which, at his peril, he must not attempt to patch up with any personal righteousness of his own, is more than sufficient to adorn him from head to foot; and he must be sure to appear before God in no other. In this rich garment of finished salvation, the greatest apostates shine brighter than
angels, though they are “ in themselves black” as the old murderer, and filthy as the brute that actually wallows in the mire. This “ best robe," as it is called, is full trimmed with such phylacteries as these,
« Once in grace, always in grace :-Once justified, eternally justified :-Once washed, always fair, undefiled, and without spot.” And so great are the privileges of those who have it) on, that they can range through all the bogs of sin, wade through all the puddles of iniquity, and roll themselves in the thickest mire of wickedness, without contracting the least spot of guilt, or speck of defilement.
This scheme of imputation is supported, 1. By scriptural metaphors, understood in a forced, unscriptural
Thus when a sound Calvinist reads about the breast-plate of righteousness,' and the garment of salvation ;' or about putting on Christ, walking in him, being in him, being found in him, or being clothed with righteousness,' his prepossessed mind directly runs upon his imputation. And if he reads in the Psalms, I will make mention of thy righteousness, and thine only,' he immediately concludes, that the Psalmist meant the personal righteousness of the man Christ: As if David really made mention of 110 other righteousness but that, in all the Psalms ! Or God had had no righteousness, before the Virgin Mary • brought forth her first-born Son!'
2. By the parable of the man, who was bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness, because he had not on a wedding garment;' that is, upon your scheme, because Christ's personal righteousness was not imputed to him : As if the Prince of Peace, the mild Jesus, who says, * Learn of me, for I am meek,' had kindly invited a man to the feast, and then commanded him to be thrust into hell, merely because he had not on a garment, which he never could procure ; a robe, which none but God could clothe him with ; and which God determined should never be for him, when he decreed, that Christ should never work out an inch of righteousness for one single reprobate.
Does not this exceed Ovid's description of the iron age ? Non hospes ab hospite tutus. The bare mention of such a dreadful reflection cast upon God's goodness, and our Lord's hospitality, will amount to a strong argument against your imputation, with those who are yet concerned for God's adorable perfections, and our Lord's amiable character.
3. By the parable of the prodigal son, who, it is supposed, was clothed with the best robe' of Christ's personal righteousness. But this notion is overturned by the context itself. For the Father had met, forgiven, and embraced his returning son in his own ragged garment, before the best robe was called for, and put upon him. Whence it would follow, that a sinner may be forgiven without the garment of righteousness; and as completely accepted out of Christ, as the prodigal was without the best robe.'
4. By the goodly raiment of Esau, in which Jacob got his father's blessing. But Moses's account of the cheat put upon the short-sighted Isaac, entirely overthrows the scheme of the Calvinists. The robe which they recommend, is made of Christ's complete and personal righteousness; it is long and wide enough, perfectly to cover even a giant in sin ; nor must it be patched with any thing else. But Jacob's dress, far from being all of a-piece, was a mongrel sort of human and beastly garment. For, when Rebekah had clothed his body with Esau's raiment, 'she put goat skins upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck,' to make them feel like Esau's hairy hands and shaggy ueck. And the worst is, that the goat-skins, and not Esau's borrowed dress, deceived the aged patriarch, and got the blessing. Hear the historian.
Jacob went near to his father, and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau ; and he discerned him not because his hands were hairy ; so he blessed him.' (Gen. xxxvii. 22.) Thus the skin of a goat, the emblem of a reprobate, unfortunately comes in to patch up your best robe. And I doubt not but, as the typical garment was
too scanty to cover Jacob's hands and neck; so the fancied antitype will prove too short to cover the hands of those, who, like “ Onesimus, rob their masters ;" and the neck and heels of those, who, like David, are
swift to shed blood,' and climb up into their veighbours' bed; if they do not get a more substantial righteousness than that, in which you suppose they stand complete, while they commit their enormous crimes.
5. Plain scripture is also brought to support this imputation. David says, “ Blessed is he, whose sin is covered : Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord im. puteth not iniquity.” (Psalm xxxii. 1, 2.) But, alas for your scheme! it is thrown down by the very next words, 'And in whose spirit there is no guile.' Thus, although you would make us believe the contrary, David's own doctrine shows, that he was not the
blessed man, whose sins are covered by non-impatation of iniquity,' when his spirit was full of guile, adultery, and murder. And, indeed, he tells us so himself in this very Psalm, · When I kept silence,' says he, when I harboured guile and impenitency, day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: But when I acknowledged my sin unto thee,' when I parted with my guile, thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin."
6. However, if David's words are flatly against yone imputation, it is supposed, that as prefaced by St. Paul, they make greatly for it, ' David describeth the blessedness of the man to whom God inputeth righteousness without works.' (Rom. ir. 6.) I have already observed, that as the apostle cannot contradict David and himself, he only means, without the works of the law, as opposed to faith and to the work of faith. That this is the true meaning of St. Paul's words, is evident by those which introduce them, “To him that worketh not, but believeth, his faith is counted for righteous.
Who does not see here, that believing, which is the good work that begets all others, is opposed to the faithless works, about which the Pharisees made so much ado to so little purpose ? Who does not perceive, that a mau must believe, that is, do the work of
God, before his faith can be counted for righteousness ?'-And consequently, that righteousness is imputed to him who believes, not absolutely without any sort of works; but only without the works of the law, emphatically called by the apostle, works, or
deeds of the law,' when he contradistinguishes them from faith, and the work of faith?'
7. To the preceding scriptures our Calvinist brethreu add a plausible argument. “ God,” say they,
may as well impute to us Christ's perfect righteousness in all our sins, and account us completely righteous without one grain of inherent righteousness; as he imputed the horrid crimes of the elect to Christ in all his obedience, and accounted him completely guilty without one single grain of inherent sin. To deny, therefore, that God imputes righteousness to an elect, while he is full of unrighteousness; or to suppose that he imputes sin to an apostate, who is sold ander sin,' is but a decent way of denying the imputation of our personal sins to Christ and the vicarious satisfaction which he made on the cross."
To detect the fallacy of this argument, we need only observe, (1.) That God never accounted Christ 66 pletely guilty.” Such expressions as these, “ He made him sin for us : He laid upon him the iniquities of us all,' &c., are only Hebrew idioms, which signify, that God appointed Christ a sacrifice for sin; and that (the chastisement of onr forfeited peace was upon him ;' which no more implies, that God put on his back, by an absolute imputation, a robe of unrighteousness, woven'with all the sins of the elect, to make him completely guilty ; thau St. Luke, when he informis us, that the Virgin Mary offered two young pigeons for her purification, supposes her ceremonial uncleanness was, some how, woven into a couple of little garments, and put upon the back of the two young pigeons, which, by that mean, were made completely unclean.
I hope the following illustration will convince you, Sir, that such refineinents as these are as contrary to sober reason, as to scripture duly compared with