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ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaten; whereas their righteousness was of the exactest kind according to the law. James i. 25. being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed. Heb. xii. 14. follow peace with all men, and holiness. without which no man shall see the Lord. Hence perhaps Rev. ii. 26. He that keepeth my words to the end, to him will I give power— 1 John iii. 7. little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness, is righteous.
Nor does this doctrine derogate in any degree from Christ's satisfaction; inasmuch as, our faith being imperfect, the works which proceed from it cannot be pleasing to God, except in so far as they rest upon his mercy and the righteousness of Christ, and are sustained by that foundation alone. Philipp. iii. 9. that I may be found of him, not haring mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. Tit. iii. 5–7. not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs—. 1 John ii. 29. ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.
The Papists argue, that it is no less absurd to say that a man is justified by the righteousness of another, than that a man is learned by the learning of another. But there is no analogy between the two cases, inasmuch as mankind are not one with each other in the same intimate manner as the believer is one with Christ his head. In the mean time they do not perceive the real and extreme absurdity of which they are themselves guilty, in supposing that the righteousness of the dead, or of monks, can be imputed to others.
They likewise contend, on the authority of a few passages of Scripture, that man is justified by his own works. Psal. xviii. 20, 24. Jehovah rewarded me according to my righteousness. Rom. ii. 6. who will render to every man according to his deeds. But to render to every man according to his deeds is one thing, to render to him on account of his deeds is another; nor does it follow from hence that works have any inherent justifying power, or deserve anything as of their own merit; seeing that, if we do anything right, or if God assign any recompense to our right actions, it is altogether owing to his grace. Hence the expression in the preceding verse of the same Psalm, he delivered me, because he delighted in me; and Psal. lxii. 12. unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy, for thou renderest to every man according to his work. Finally, the same Psalmist who attributes to himself righteousness, attributes to himself iniquity in the same sentence; xviii. 23. I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.
As to the expression in Matt. xxv. 34, 35. inherit the kingdom...for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat, &c. our answer is, that the sentence which Christ shall pass on that day will not have respect to faith, which is the internal cause of justification, but to the effects and signs of that faith, namely, the works done in faith, that he may thereby make the equity of his judgement manifest to all mankind.
When a man is said to be perfect and just in the sight of God, as Luke i. 6 of Zacharias and his wife, they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless, this is to be understood according to the measure of human righteousness, and as compared with the progress of others; or it may mean that they were endued with a sincere and upright heart, without dissimulation, (as Deut. xviii. 13. thou shalt be perfect with Jehovah thy God) which interpretation seems to be favoured by the expression in the sight of God. Gen. xvii. 1. walk before me, and be thou perfect. Psal. xix. 13. keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins, let them not have dominion over me; then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Eph. i. 4. he hath chosen us... that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Or, lastly, it may mean that they were declared righteous by God through grace and faith. Thus Noah found grace in the eyes of Jehovah, Gen. vi. 8. compared with v. 9. Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God, and Heb. xi. 7. he became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
With regard to Luke vii. 47. her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much, it is to be observed that this love was not the cause, but the token or effect of forgiveness, as is evident from the parable itself, v. 40. for the debtors were not forgiven because they had loved much, but they loved much because much had been forgiven. The same appears from what follows; to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little; and still more plainly from v. 50, thy faith hath saved thee. That which saved, the same also justified; namely, not love, but faith, which was itself the cause of the love in question. Compare Book II. Chap. i. on the subject of merit.
From a consciousness of justification proceed peace and real tranquillity of mind. Rom. v. 1, &c. being justified by faith, we have peace with God. 1 Cor. vii. 15. God hath called us to peace. Philipp. iv. 7. the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Coloss. iii. 15, let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body. This is that peace for which the apostles pray in their salutations addressed to the church.
C H A P. XXIII.
We have considered Justification, the first of those particulars connected with the increase of the regenerate which bear reference to the Father; that which remains to be treated of is ADoPTION.
ADOPTION is that act whereby GoD ADOPTs As His chILDREN THOSE WHO ARE JUSTIFIED THROUGH FAITH.
In one sense we are by nature sons of God, as well as the angels, inasmuch as he is the author of our being; Luke iii. 38. which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God. But the sense here intended is that of adopted children, such as those probably were, though in profession only, who are mentioned Gen. vi. 2. the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair.” I Chron. xxviii. 6. I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. Isai. lvi. 5. I will give them a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.
* This interpretation of the passage, which is now generally received, is adopted in the eleventh Book of Paradise Lost:
To these that sober race of men, whose lives Religious titled them the sons of God, Shall yield up all their virtue. 621. But elsewhere Milton understands it of the fallen angels becoming enamoured of the daughters of men: Before the flood thou with thy lusty crew, False titled sons of God, roaming the earth, Cast wanton eyes on the daughters of men. Paradise Regained, II. 179. Compare also Paradise Lost, III.463. W. 447.
THROUGH FAITH. John i. 12. as many as received him, to them gate he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. Gal. iii. 26. ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Eph. i. 5. having predestinated us into the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. Heb. ii. 10...for it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Gal. iv. 4–6. God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons; and because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
His chILDREN. Rom. viii. 15, 16. ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father: the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. v. 23. waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. Philipp. ii. 15. that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God. 1 John iii. 1, 2, behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. We are also said to be like God, v. 2. and chap. iv. 17. herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgement; because as he is, so are we in this world.
From adoption is derived, first, liberty;" a privilege which, in virtue of their title as children of God, was not unknown to the posterity of Abraham, Deut. xiv. 1. even under the law of bondage. In the spirit of this liberty, they did not scruple even to infringe the ceremonies of religion, when their observance would have been inconsistent with the law of love. Thus they did not circumcise all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way, Josh. v. 5. and David when he was an
‘‘I will now show the wrong it doth, by violating the fundamental privilege of the gospel, the new birthright of every true believer, christian liberty.’ Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes. Prose Works, IV. 337. .... ‘ that they meddle not rashly with christian liberty, the birthright and outward testimony of our adoption.” Ibid. 341.