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[BOOK VIII.] CHAP. V.

1. The Apostle's care for young Christians against that Errour of thinking they may be righteous without doing righteously. 2. Their obnoxiousness to this contagion, with the Causes thereof to be searched into. 3. The first sort of Scriptures perverted to his ill end. 4. The second sort. 5. That the very state of Christian Childhood makes them prone to this Errour. 6. What is the nature of that Faith Abraham is so much commended for, and what the meaning of λογίζεσθαι εἰς δικαιοσήνην. 7. A search after the meaning of the term Justification. 8. Justification by faith without the deeds of the Law what may be the meaning of it. 9. Scriptures answered that seem to disjoin Reall righteousness from Faith; 10. And to make us only righteous by imputation. 11. Undeniable Testimonies of Scripture that prove the necessity of real Righteousness in us.

1. THAT which Plato commends in Law-givers and Institutors or Governors of Commonwealths, that they have a special and prime care of Childhood and youth; as the diligent in Husbandry make peculiar fences for their young plants to save them from the dangers their tenderness exposes them to; that also is observable in the blessed Apostle, who amongst many other provisions he has made in the behalf of all younglings in Christianity, has also armed them and fenced them with this caution against being mistaken so dangerously in Christianity as to conceit they may by a bare professing themselves Christians be righteous, though there were neither any real Righteousness in their hearts nor any fruits of it in their hands. A wicked Errour which several Seducers tempted men to, such as were Nicolaus, Marcio and Carpocrates, as Historians have taken notice of.

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2. And because there can be no better Antidote then the being convinced that there is an obnoxiousness in younger Christians to this contagion, I shall diligently search out and set forth the causes whereby they become obnoxious; that finding themselves so, they may have the greater care to keep themselves from being smitten with this pestilentiall infection.

Where we shall finde that come to pass in Spirituall things that often happens in Natural. For as weak bodies contract diseases from meats and drinks, nay, from that which is so perpetual and palpable a principle of life that we can scarce live one moment without it, I mean, the refreshing Aire, which casts many tender bodies into Agues and Feavers and other distempers: so tender and weak Souls often by ill concoction turn the very bread of Eternal life, the Word of God, into morbifick matter; and in stead of getting growth and strength by feeding thereon, weaken the Divine life in them, and sink themselves into most dangerous and desperate maladies.

3. The first cause then of the proneness of young Christians to this present Errour, is certain places of Scripture, the meaning whereof they not rightly understanding, make bold to interpret them in favour to their own carnality and fleshly desires. It would be too voluminous a business to cull out all the places that are perverted to this ill purpose. We shall content our selves in producing the chiefest, in answering to which we shall naturally satisfie all the rest.

And these I may cast into two sorts. For they are such as either seem to import, That a bare Faith will justifie us, and so we may become righteous by an empty belief; or else such as seem to say, That the righteousness of Christ becomes ours, or, That we are righteous by that righteousness that is in him.

And of the first kind is that Rom. 4. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh, is the Reward not reckoned of Grace, but of debt; but to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

And Rom. 5. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. And Rom. 10. For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth. And at the ninth verse of the same Chapter, If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Which places seem to imply, that a mere belief that Christ has done or suffered this or that is our Justification and Salvation. I might adde Galat. 2. ver. 16. But I shall defer it till its proper place.

4. We come now to the second sort of Testimonies of Scripture which seem to impute the righteousness of Christ to us, and to teach us that it is that by which we become righteous. 1 Cor. 1. 30. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us Wisedom and Righteousnesse and Sanctification and Redemption. And Rom. 5. Therefore as by the offence of one judgement came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men to justifica <378> tion of life. For as by one mans disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. From these and such like places young and unskilful Christians are prone to infer, that they may be righteous by the obedience or righteousness of Christ applied or imputed to them, though they have no real righteousness in their own Souls, nor care to act righteously. And this is the first cause of their proclivity to this unwholsome Errour. But there is another behinde, without the concurrence of which this former would be ineffectuall. For all the passages in holy Scripture are certainly both sound and true; but it is the unsoundness and corruptness of our own mindes that draws poison out of these Herbs and Flowers of Paradise.

5. I say therefore in the second place, That the main cause of the propension of Christian Childehood to this gross Errour is in the very condition it self of those that are but Children in Christianity. For this childish state I conceive to be this; When a man makes indeed a free open Profession of Christianity, and with all possible expressions of thanks to God for his rich mercy in the bloud of Christ for the remission of sins, laies fast hold (as he thinks) on this grace by faith; having also some more weak inchoations of the life of Righteousness: But the old man is still very strong, the body of Sin very little subdued or impaired, so that whensoever they are encountred, the toyl is very heavy, and a world of work still behinde, and such ungrateful work and painful, that it is no Metaphor nor Hyperbole to say, it is a perpetual death, a continued crucifixion. This being then the condition of one that is but a little young childe in Christianity, I appeal to any one if there can chuse but be a very considerable proneness in such persons to be delivered from this toil and torture of Mortification, whereby they are to enter into higher degrees of Righteousness and life. And now we being very easily drawn to believe those things which make for our own interest and the accomplishment of our desires, it must needs be that if any thing sound towards that sense, we shall easily make it up with a lusty belief that it is so indeed, and (it may be) thank God to boot for this amabilis insania, for these dear mistakes and dreams of ours. Wherefore at length to assume, The Scripture therefore seeming at first sight something to favour this opinion of being righteous without any reall Righteousness in our selves, but by that which is at a wide distance removed from us and placed in another; to save the pains of the great anguish and agony that the aspiring to inward real Righteousness will cost in this weak estate of Christian childehood, it cannot be but that he that has arrived to no higher condition, should very easily close with this so welcome a notion, and having once embraced it, be angry at the very heart at any one that would rouze him from this so pleasing repose, or dissettle him from this false ease and joy: The weak and fainting heart of this tender age chusing rather (for present avoiding of smart) an hasty palliation then a sound cure.

But that I may not rather confirm then bring off these Younglings from this dangerous Errour, by noting their most pregnant places and saying nothing to them; I shall endeavour to make it plain that, if they <379> please, they may understand those places otherwise then they do: and then, because that their gloss is not so consonant to Reason, nor the rest of the Scripture, that they ought to relinquish this unwarrantable sense which they have harboured in favour to their own vices and wickednesses.

6. And for our better preparation for this designe, we will first settle the notion of the terms that so frequently occurre in the Epistles of S. Paul, and which so nearly concern our present matter. Such as are Faith, Righteousness, Justification, Imputation, and the like.

And first of Faith, which is so highly commended by the Apostle, I say, it signifies nothing else but this in general, viz. An high sense of and confidence in the Power, Justice and Goodness of God, and a firm belief that he will assuredly bring to pass whatsoever he has promised, seem it never so unlikely and difficult to flesh and bloud. And this is that which was so commended in Abraham, as it is plain in the fourth to the Romans,[1] who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the Father of many Nations: And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, nor yet the deadness of Sara's womb; being fully perswaded that what God had promised he was able to perform. And therefore (saies the Apostle) it was imputed to him for righteousness. That is to say, God approved of him for a good and pious man, who not consulting with the natural improbability of the thing, but giving firm credence to the Promise of God, did that which was due to the Goodness and Power of God, and becoming a good and righteous man. So that λογίζεσθαι εἰς δικαιοσύνην, is nothing else but to be approved as a good man, or a doer of what is righteous and good, and that because he does that which is good and righteous. As this act of the Soul exerting her self above the low and sluggish tenour of Nature, and winging her self by lively sense of divine Power and Goodness, to the assenting to and resting in such things as the present state of Nature can never bring about, certainly is, and is esteemed and approved of God as a very righteous and good Act, and to proceed from a good and holy temper, which is called δικαιοσύνη, which signifies any vertue or goodness in a man whatsoever: So that act of Phinehas, when he so zealously did vengeance on Zimri and Cosbi, it is said in the 106 Psalm, ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην, it was looked upon by all succeeding generations as a very noble and eminent act of Righteousness, i. e. it was reputed according to its own nature. But the meaning is not, that this was in stead of all other Righteousness to him, and that he was reputed as righteous all over now, although he were not so at all in any other things.

7. Now for Justification, we shall best understand the meaning of the word from the Greek δικαιοῦν, δικαιοῦσθαι and δικαίωσις. First therefore, besides the forensal acception, δικαιοῦσθαι signifies to be just, Gen. 38.26. δεδικαίωται Θάμαρ ἢ ἐγὼ, Thamar is more righteous then I. So Eccles. 31.5. ὁ ἀγαπῶν χρυσίον, οὐ δικαιωθήσεται, He that loves gold, will not be just[2] . Secondly, it signifies to appear just, Psa. 51.4. ἵνα δικαιωθῇς, that is, that thou maist plainly appear or approve thy self to be just. And Psal. 143.2. For in thy sight no man living δικαιωσθήσεται shall appear just. <380> Thirdly and lastly, δικαιοῦν signifies to make just and pure, to free from vice and sinfulness. Psalm 73. v. 13. Ἄρα ματαίως ἐδικαίωσα τὴν καρδίαν μου, Therefore have I cleansed my heart in vain. And Eccles. 18.22. Καὶ μὺ μείνῃς ἐως θανάτου δικαιωθῆναι. Nec tuam probitatem usque ad mortem differas, saies the Translation. And Rom. 6.7. Ὁ γὰρ ἀποθανὼν δεδικαίωται ἀπὸ τὴς ἁμαρτίας, He that is dead, is freed from sin. Also Act. 13.39. And by him all they that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses: i. e. Ye are more throughly cleansed and purged from sin and wickedness then you could be ever under the Law of Moses. Which is consonant to other passages in Scripture,[3] as, That the Law makes nothing perfect; and again, If there had been a Law that could have given life, then verily righteousness might have been of the Law. And now we have found out a warrantable sense of these words, we shall be able more expeditely to discover the sense of the foregoing places of Scripture alledged for this pernicious conceit of a Christians being righteous without any real Righteousness in him.

[4]8. Wherefore, to that in the 4. to the Romans: whose force will be the greater if we adde that also which is written a little before in the 3 chap. v. 28. Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the Law; and what he inferrs also vers. 9. That Jews and Gentiles and all are under sin. Wherein the meaning of the Apostle is to magnifie, as was most fit, the ministration of the Gospel; and so he signifies to the world that whatsoever is discovered hitherto, is imperfect, lapsed and ruinous, all but weak and sinful before the coming in of Christ, even the works of the Law themselves, and that smooth external Righteousness of mere Morality and Ceremony. So that all the world are found guilty before God, and by the deeds of the Law there shall be no flesh justified in his sight. For by the Law is but the knowledge of sin, vers. 20. it gives no strength to perform.

Wherefore now reckoning nothing upon all these things, we are as it were to begin the world again, and to endeavour after such a Righteousness as is by Faith in Christ Jesus; and not to rest in any thing that may be done by the ordinary power of the flesh, but to aspire after that Righteousness which is communicable to us by that Spirit which raised Jesus Christ from the dead. But neither Abraham nor any one else can be justified by any carnal righteousness of their own; but that highly-spiritual act of Abraham reaching beyond the common rode of Nature, who against hope believed in hope, that was that which commended Abraham so much to God. And thus from the Example of Abraham would the Apostle commend the Christian faith to the world, and in particular to the Jews the Offspring of Abraham. For at the end of the fourth chapter he makes this use of Abraham's faith being imputed to him for Righteousness (that is, reputed by God as a very excellent good act,[5] as it indeed was) that we might also be brought off to believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification. In which verse are contained the two grand priviledges of the Gospel, that is, the forgiveness <381> of sins upon the satisfaction of Christs death, and the justifying of us, that is the making of us just and holy through a sound faith in him that raised Jesus from the dead. Which interpretation the 11 verse of the 8 Chapter doth sufficiently countenance, But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortall bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you, viz. to Righteousness: as is plain out of the foregoing verse, And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousnesse; that is, The body of death which we desire to be delivered from, as the Apostle speaks, appears by the presence of Christ in us to be thus deadly a body by reason of sin, we feeling for the present nothing but an heavy indisposition to all holinesse and goodnesse in the body and its affections, and all sinfulnesse and unclean Atheisticall suggestions from the flesh, which is death to the Soul. For to be carnally-minded is death. So that by reason of the sinfulnesse of our body and the sad heavinesse thereof, it appears as deadly and ghastly a thing to us as Mezentius his tying the living and the dead together, when once Christ is in us: but our Life is then that Righteousnesse which is of the Spirit, we finding a comfortable warmth and pleasure in the gratefull arrivals of that holy and Divine sensation. But he that raised Christ from the dead, will in due time even quicken these our mortall bodies, or these dead bodies of ours, and make them conspire and come along with ease and chearfulnesse, and be ready and active complying Instruments in all things with the Spirit of Righteousness.

Which belief is a chief Point in the Christian Faith, and most of all parallel to that of Abraham's, who believing in the Goodness and Power and Faithfulness of God, had, when both himself and his wife Sara were dry and dead as to natural generation, and so hopeless of ever seeing any fruit of her womb, who had, I say,[6] Isaac born to him, who bears Joy and Laughter in the very Name of him, and was undoubtedly a Type of [7] Christ according to the Spirit. For Isaac is the Wisedom, Power and Righteousness of God flowing out and effectually branching it self so through all the Faculties both of mans Soul and Body, that the whole man is carried away with joy and triumph to the acting all whatsoever is really and substantially good, even with as much satisfaction and pleasure as he eats when he is hungry, and drinks when he is dry. And thus by our entrance and progress in so holy a Dispensation, are we well approved of by God, and being justified thus by faith, we have peace with him through our Lord Jesus Christ, Rom. 5.1.

So that this Justification is not a mere belief that Christ died for us in particular, or that he was raised from the dead, whereby anothers Righteousness is imputed to us: but a believing in God, that he has accepted the bloud of Christ as a Sacrifice for sin, and that he is able through <382> the power of the Spirit to raise us up to newness of life, whereby we are encouraged to breath and aspire after this more inward and perfect righteousnesse. Which advantages God propounds to all the hearers of the Gospel, without any respect of works or former demurenesse of life, if so be they will but now come in and close with this high and rich dispensation, and be carried on with couragious resolutions to fight against and pull down the man of sin within themselves, that this living and new way of real Divine righteousnesse may be set up and rule in their hearts. I say, if they be encouraged to this holy enterprise by Faith in Christ for the remission of sins, and for the power of his Spirit to utterly eradicate and extirpate all inward corruption and wickednesse, this Faith is presently imputed to them for Righteousnesse; that is, they are, and are approved by God as dear children of his, and as good men, and are of the seed of the Promise. For they are born now not of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of the will of God; and their will is wholly set upon righteousnesse and true holinesse, which they hunger and thirst after as sincerely and eagerly as ever they did after their natural meat and drink: and God who feeds the young Ravens is not so cruell as to deny them this celestial food; which food they reach at and as it were wrest out of his hands by Faith in the power of his Spirit, whereby they account themselves able to doe[8] all things.

9. And this is the only warrantable notion that I can finde, of being justified by faith. Nor do those places above recited prove any other then this. For that which seems to make most of all for another [viz. Rom. 4.5. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness,][9] may very well be interpreted according to that tenour of sense I have already declared. For that is the great and comfortable priviledge of the Gospel, that without any respect of former works, if so be we do but now believe remission of sins in Christ, and believe in his power that justifies the ungodly, (i. e. that makes just the ungodly, and purifies and purges them from all sin and iniquity, from which by their own naturall power they could not purged, and restores them to inward reall righteousnesse by the working of his Spirit) this Faith is imputed for Righteousnesse. For they that do thus believe, are good and righteous men for matter of sincerity, so that they have peace with God through the bloud of Christ, and by the power of that Spirit that is now working in them, are renewed daily more and more into that glorious image and desirable liberty which arises in the further conquest of the Divine life in them, and makes them righteous even as Christ was righteous.

And now the hardest is satisfied, the other places alledged will easily fall of themselves by the application of what has been said concerning this nature of Faith and Justification.

10. As for those places of Scripture that seem to attribute the Righteousness of Christ to us, as where he is said to be made unto us wisedom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, the sense is only this, that he works in us wisedom, righteousness, &c. Otherwise it might be <383> inferred that we shall have only an imputative Redemption, and that we shall not be really saved and redeemed. As for that other, As by the disobedience of one man many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man many shall be made righteous, I say it is a place against themselves: For by Adam we became really sinners and sinful, contracting original corruption from his loins; therefore by Christ we are to be made really righteous. And this was the end of his obedience that was obedient even to the death of the crosse, that we being buried with him by baptisme into death, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life, Rom. 6.

Wherefore there really being no ground in Scripture for this childish mistake, and it being as unreasonable that one Soul should be righteous for another, as that one Body should be in health for another; if I shew that the Scripture it self does expresly require of us that we be righteous and holy in our own persons, there is then nothing wanting to the full discovery of this childish and ungrounded conceit of being righteous without any Righteousness residing in us.

11. And in my apprehension this very Text of S. John is a clear eviction of this Truth,[10] it plainly declaring that they are mistaken who ever conceit themselves righteous without doing righteousnesse, or without being righteous in such a sense as Christ himself was righteous. There are also several other Testimonies of the Apostles to the same purpose, some whereof I have noted already; as where he saith, That Christ was manifested to take away our sins, and that he came to destroy the works of the Devil; and that he that is born of God, sinneth not, because the seed of God abideth in him, that is, a permanent Principle of Divine life and sense, whereby he seeth and abhorreth whatsoever is wicked and unholy. And again, 1 Joh. 2. Hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandements. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandements, is a lyar, and the truth is not in him: but whose keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. Hereby know we that we are in him: He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also to walk even as he walked. Like that 2 Tim. 2.19. Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

CHAP. VI.

1. Their alledgement of Gal. 2.16. as also of the whole drift of that Epistle. 2. What the Righteousnesse of faith is according to the Apostle. 3. In what sense those that are in Christ are said not to be under the Law. 4. That the Righteousness of faith is no figment but a reality in us. 5. That this Righteousnesse is the New Creature, and what this new Creature is according to Scripture. 6. That the new Creature consists in Wisedom, Righteousness and true Holiness. 7. The Righteousnesse of <384> the new Creature. 8. His Wisedom and Holinesse. 9. That the Righteousness of faith excludes not good Works. The wicked treachery of those that teach the contrary.

1. AS for that Text which we deferred to speak to, we shall now take it into consideration. It was Gal. 2.16. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the Law: For by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified. From this place of Scripture also there are some that would inferre a superannuating and annulling of all moral honesty and reall Righteousness whatever, pretending that nothing but mere Faith is required to make us approvable before God. And indeed they fansy that this whole Epistle administers invincible arguments to maintain this mischievous Conclusion, though there be not to any indifferent Judge any solid reason of so full a confidence. Which we shall easily understand, if we take notice that the designe of this Epistle is only to reduce those Galatians again to the truth of Christianity, that were almost apostatizing to Judaisme and the Ceremonial Law of Moses. Ye observe dayes and moneths and times and years; I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed labour on you in vain, Chap. 4.10, 11.

But the main scope of the Apostle is against Circumcision, as is plain upon the very first perusall of the Epistle; which he beating down together with the Law of Moses, and extolling the Faith in Christ, seems sometimes to excuse a man from walking according to the moral Law under the pretence of Faith in Christ. But as S. Peter hath well observed,[11] there be many things in S. Pauls Epistles hard to be understood, which foolish men pervert to their own destruction. But that we be not led into the same errour and mischief, it will be of no small concernment to trace the footsteps of S. Paul, that so we may wind our selves out of this dangerous Maze or Labyrinth.

2. Whereas then he seems to nullifie or vilifie at least the Law in the advancing of that Righteousnesse that is by faith; let us see what this Righteousnesse that is by faith, and what that of the Law, is. Chap. 2.19. For I through the Law am dead to the Law, that I might live unto God: I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. I through the Law am dead unto the Law, what a riddle is this! that the Law should deprive it self of its disciples. And yet it doth so: For it is a Schoolmaster to Christ, or rather an Usher, which when it hath well tutour'd us and castigated us, removes us up higher, to be made in Christ perfect, who is the perfection of the Law. But the Law it self makes nothing perfect; and this is the reason that Righteousness is not of the Law.

And to this purpose speaks the Apostle in this very Epistle at the 21 verse of the 3. Chapter, Is the Law then against the promises of God? God forbid. For if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousnesse should have been by the Law; νόμος ὁ δυνάμενος ζωοποιῆσαι, A law that could enliven and enquicken us. But that is beyond <385> the power of the Law: That's the title and prerogative of Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die, Joh. 11. This therefore is the Righteousness of Faith or belief, far above the Righteousness of the Law or killing letter.

3. Wherefore when this Faith is come that worketh us up to a living frame of Righteousness within us, we are no longer under the servility of the Law of Moses, but are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Now none are the children of God but those that are led by the Spirit of God, as the Apostle elsewhere witnesseth in his Epistle to the Romans. And those that have the Spirit of God, what fruits they bring forth is amply set out by the Apostle in this to the Galatians, chap. 5. v. 22. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentlenesse, goodnesse, faith, meeknesse, temperance: against such there is no law. For indeed there is no need of it, they being a law unto themselves. So we see how those that are in Christ are not under the Law, because that inward fountain of obedience or living law in their hearts is above it: They do really and truly fulfill it through the Spirit that is by faith. For that Spirit is the begetter of Love, and Love is the fulfilling of the Law. For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self, Gal. 5.14.

This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary one to another, that ye may not do the things ye would. Which certainly is the true and genuine sense of ἵνα μὴ, ἃ ἂν θέλητε, ταῦτα ποιῆτε, as Grotius also has noted. And these are contrary, that is to say, oppose one the other, namely, the Spirit the flesh, ἵνα μὴ, ἃ ἂν θέλητε, ταῦτα ποιῆτ, to the end you may not do those things that your own corrupt will or carnall minde inclines you to: which naturally coheres with what follows, But if you be led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. For against such there is no law, as was said before. Which implyes, if they be not led by the Spirit, they are liable to the curse of the Law, to death, hell and damnation. For so also speaks the Apostle, when he hath reckoned up the works of the flesh, That they that do such things, shall not inherit the kingdom of God, ver. 21. And v. 25. he openly declares, That they that are Christ's, have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.

4. So we see plainly that the Righteousnesse that is of faith is not a mere Chimæra or phansie, but a more excellent Righteousness then that of the Law. For the Law is no quickening spirit, but a dead letter: But Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. And he is God our righteousness, mighty to save, and can with ease destroy the powers of death, darkness and the Devil out of the Soul of man; but we must have the patience to endure the work wrought in us by him. I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And if we will still cloak and cover our foul corrupt hearts with forged conceits of Hypocrisie's own making, and excuse our selves from being good to one another or to our selves, because God in Christ <386> is so good to us; hear what the Apostle speaks in the sixth and last Chapter of this Epistle at the seventh verse. Be not deceived, God is not mocked: For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

5. The aim therefore of the Apostle is not to extenuate or discountenance real Vertue and Righteousnesse, but to point us to it, and shew us where it may be had: Not in dayes or years, not in New Moons or Festivals, not in Circumcision nor in the dead letter of the Law; but in Christ and the Spirit of God, in the renewed Image of God, in the new birth, in the new life, in the second Adam from Heaven, in the new Creature. But God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,[12] by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. Which the Apostle elsewhere cals the[13] new man; That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, that is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the Spirit of your minde: And that you put on the new man which after God is created in righteousnesse and true holinesse, that is, not in external Ceremonial holiness or outward sanctimonious shew, but in the regeneration of the inward Spirit to a new life from the very heart. And again, Colos. 3. vers. 9. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him; where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

6. This new Creature then is nothing else but the Image of God in the Soul of man. So witness both these Texts: The new man which after God is created in Knowledge, Righteousness and true Holiness. The very same that Plato speaks at once in his Theætetus, ὁμοίωσις δὲ δίκαιον καὶ ὃσιον γενέσθαι μετὰ φροιήτεως, To be like God is to become Holy, Just and Wise. But because most men, even the old Adam in us, take themselves to be holy, just, and wise; it will be seasonable here to see what Justice, Holinesse and Wisedom this is that is in the new Creature.

7. And who can tell it so well as he that is it? Matth. 5. Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgement: But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgement; and whosoever shall say unto his brother, Racha, shall be in danger of the Councell; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Again it was said of old, Forswear not thy self: But I say unto you, Swear not at all, but let your communication be Yea, yea, and Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more then these, cometh of evil. Ye have heard it also said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, Resist not evil. Ye have heard also, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, but hate thine enemy: But <387> I say unto you, Love your enemies, Bless them that curse you, Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despightfully use you and persecute you. Behold the exact and unblameable Righteousnesse that is in the regenerate Soul far above the doctrine or thoughts of either the Legal Pharisee or mere Moralist. External Righteousness in the outward man, or to be internally just as far as corrupt Reason suggests, is but filthy rags in respect of this Righteousnesse Christ requires of us, and the new Creature doth bring into us, once grown up to its due stature in us. Let every man examine himself by this Rule.

8. And as this Justice is far above, yea, sometimes contrary to, the Justice of the Natural man (for with him to hate his enemies, to recompense evil with evil, is just;) so the Holiness is far transcending the Holinesse of either the ancient or modern Scribes and Pharisees and Zelotical Ceremonialists. For all outward Ceremonies of Time or Place, of Gesture or Vestments, Rites or Orders, they are all but Signes and Shews; but the Body is Christ. Lastly, that the natural man phansie not himself Wise, (as who is not of all precious things the most forward to appropriate that to himself?) that he phansie not himself Wise before he be Holy and Just, let him examine his Wisedom by that square in the third Chapter of S. James's Epistle. Who is a wise man and endowed with knowledge amongst you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of Wisedom. But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not and lye not against the truth. This wisedom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual and devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the Wisedom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easie to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, without hypocrisie. The Righteousnesse then of the new Creature is a Righteousness far above the letter of Moses's Law, though exactly performed; it's Holiness more resplendent then the Robe of Aaron and all his Priestly attire, or whatsoever Ceremonies else God hath instituted or man invented; it's Wisdome far above all the thin-beaten subtilties of either the wrangling Sects or disputacious Schools, without contention or bitter contradiction.

9. So that it is plain from the constant scope of the Apostle both in this Epistle and every where else, That he does not vilifie true Vertue and Morality, but drives at an higher pitch and perfection thereof; and that the Righteousness of Faith, which he prefers before the Righteousness of Works, is not by way of exclusion of Good Works out of the Righteousness of Faith, but of urging us to exacter and more perfect works of Righteousnesse then could be performed under the dispensation of the Law. How wicked a treachery therefore is it against the Church of Christ, and how impudent a piece of boldness in those false Teachers that would bear men in hand, That this doctrine of the being approved in the eyes of God by a dry and dead Faith, devoid and destitute of all real sanctity and holiness, is not only a Christian truth, but the most choice and principal doctrine in all Christianity; when there is not any footstep of any such thing in all the Instructions and Informations of either Christ or his Apostles?

[1] Rom. 4.18.

[2] See also Apocal. 22.11.

[3] Hebr. 7.19. Gal. 3.21.

[4] Sect. 3.

[5] Rom. 4.24, 25.

[6] Γέλως γὰρ ψυχῆς καὶ χαρὰ καὶ εὐφροσηνίη ἑρμηνεούεται οὗτος.. Philo in his Allegories. And in his περὶ φυτουργίας, Οὐχ ἑρᾷς ὅτι τὴν αὐτηκόου καὶ αὐτομαθοῦς καὶ αὐτουργοῦ τῆς ἑπιστήμης ἀργυσάμονον, οὐ μετέχοντα γέλωτος, ἀλλ' ἀυτὸν εἶναι γέλωτά φησιν; οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰσαάκ. See also in his περὶ ὀνείρων to the same purpose. And in his De Nominum mutatione, Οὐχ ὁ ἄνθρωπος Ἰσαὰκ, ἀλλ̓ ὁ σηνώνυμος τῆς ἀρίστης τῶν εὐπιθοιῶν χαρῶς, γέλως, ὁ ὀνδιάθετος εἱδε θεοῦ τοῦ δίδόντο αὐτὲν μοίλιγμα καὶ εὐθομίαν εἰρηνικωτά ταις ψυχαῖς.

[7] Γέλως γὰρ ψυχῆς καὶ χαρὰ καὶ εὐφροσηνίη ἑρμηνεούεται οὗτος.. Philo in his Allegories. And in his περὶ φυτουργίας, Οὐχ ἑρᾷς ὅτι τὴν αὐτηκόου καὶ αὐτομαθοῦς καὶ αὐτουργοῦ τῆς ἑπιστήμης ἀργυσάμονον, οὐ μετέχοντα γέλωτος, ἀλλ' ἀυτὸν εἶναι γέλωτά φησιν; οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰσαάκ. See also in his περὶ ὀνείρων to the same purpose. And in his De Nominum mutatione, Οὐχ ὁ ἄνθρωπος Ἰσαὰκ, ἀλλ̓ ὁ σηνώνυμος τῆς ἀρίστης τῶν εὐπιθοιῶν χαρῶς, γέλως, ὁ ὀνδιάθετος εἱδε θεοῦ τοῦ δίδόντο αὐτὲν μοίλιγμα καὶ εὐθομίαν εἰρηνικωτά ταις ψυχαῖς.

[8] Phil. 4.13.

[9] Sect. 5.

[10] 1 Joh. 3.7.

[11] 2. Pet. 3 16.

[12] Gal. 6.14.

[13] Eph. 4.22.

Cite as: Henry More, An Explanation of the Grand Mystery of Godliness (1660), pp. 376-387, http://www.cambridge-platonism.divinity.cam.ac.uk/view/texts/diplomatic/More1660-excerpt005, accessed 2020-10-21.