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Written by W.S. Craig   


JUSTIFICATION BEFORE GOD; Together With Some Other Important Subjects.

(The subject of Justification is of such very great importance that I feel I should write more upon it than I have in the short chapter on this subject in my Triumphs of Grace, and in doing
I have used considerable material from that chapter.)

“Justification; (Theol.) Act of justifying, or state of being justified, in respect to God’s requirements.”—Webster. “To regard and treat as righteous on the ground of Christ’s mediatorial
work.”—Funk and Wagnal's~ -

“Justify The act of God’s free grace, whereby He freely pardons the sinner, and justifies him in Christ, notwithstanding all his own unworthiness and transgressions; delivering him both from the guilt of sin, the dominion of sin, and the punishment due to sin; accepting him in Christ, and thus blessing him in and through the finished salvation of Jesus Christ our Lord.”—Hawker, Con., 457.

“By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.”— Is. Iiii. 11. “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”—Rom. iii 24 “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”— Born. iv. 5 “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
—Rom. iv. 25. "It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condenmeth ? “—Born. viii. 33-4.

“And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”—Acts. xiii. 89.  “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”—Rom. iii. 20.  For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before Me, saith the Lord God.”—Jer. ii. 22.

Justification means to legally declare free from guilt or blame. It implies acquittal on the grounds of innocence before the law, for it is a judicial term and means the declaring of a person righteous according to law. And no doctrine of the Bible is more important, for it involves the whole and only method of the salvation of sinners. Jesus Christ has accomplished that through His vicarious sacrifice by which elect sinners are actually considered as being freed from all the claims of divine justice. As sin is a transgression of law, the satisfaction for sin must be in full harmony with all the exacting demands of the law that has been violated. And as sinners are lawful captives under sin, it must be a lawful act which frees them from it.
The meritorious work of our blessed Saviour, called in the Bible "the righteousness of God,” (Rom. iii. 21, 22, 25, 26; etc.), is most graciously imputed to all those whom He justifies, as the sole and only grounds or cause of their justification before His tribunal. And this righteousness is so imputed to them or divinely placed to their account and credit, that in His eyes they are legally considered as though they had themselves made that full satisfaction for sin which Jesus Christ has really and actually made for them. Their many Sins were imputed to Him, and His glorious righteousness is imputed to them, so that they are both acquitted from guilt and accepted as being spotlessly righteous by the Great Lawgiver. And yet at the same time it must always be remembered, that while our Saviour suffered so very greatly for sin, He was only legally bearing the great debt of imputed sin or curse for sin, and none of the pollution or defilement of sin.
The blessed doctrine of justification is a very distinguishing characteristic of that gracious religion which comes from above, and therefore is most surely a capital article of that God-given faith which was once delivered to the saints. And it is very far from being a speculative point, for it spreads its influence through the whole body of divinity, runs through all Christian experience, and operates in every part of practical godliness. Its grand importance is so plainly shown in that it actually sets forth the gospel way of the sinner’s acceptance with God. And also it is so inseparably connected with many other evangelical truths, that If it be not understood the others will be greatly clouded with darkness.

Sinners need two things to take them to heaven —a title to it, and a meetness for it. For most positively without a good and valid title they cannot possess it, and without a proper and sufficient meetness or fitness for it, they could not enjoy it. Redemption through Jesus Christ is what procures this perfect title, and the work of the Holy Spirit prepares the redeemed to enjoy those everlasting pleasures at God’s right hand.

Pardon must not be confounded with justification, for strictly speaking, they are not the same thing though quite closely related. A guilty person may be pardoned, but he cannot be justified by any earthly court. Such courts may justify the innocent and condemn the guilty. They can only pardon the guilty by setting justice aside, Pardon removes condemnation. Pardon, alone and of itself, simply releases from the legal obligations to suffer punishment while remaining guilty, because the guilt of condemnation and desert of punishment remains. So pardon does not clear from guilt, but only removes the penalty; while justification actually clears from guilt. But yet it must be noted that while this clear-cut distinction can so plainly be applied to earthly courts, it cannot as distinctly be applied to the Court of Heaven. Because its pardon represents a freedom and acquittal through the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ, and therefore all those thus pardoned have their guilt removed. So in this it seems that pardon and justification are practically made to appear as almost the very same thing. Some writers say they are the same. And it must be admitted that in the work of our Saviour, both pardon and justification is brought to view.

Neither must sanctification be confused with justification. The primary meaning of sanctification is to set apart to a holy use, and which is plainly exemplified in the gracious election of sinners to eternal life and salvation. Its secondary meaning is to render or make holy. And in this
last sense it begins in regeneration, as a principle of holiness implanted in the heart, and which is first discovered by an actual hatred of sin together with a desire after righteousness and love to God. It is a work of degrees, and will finally be completed in full glorification. And through this finished work of the Holy Spirit, in which the Covenant or Mediatorial righteousness of Jesus Christ is given or imparted, all the chosen and redeemed subjects of salvation will finally be purified, made spotlessly free from all sin, and given such an actual holiness of nature as will really fit and entitle them for the holy presence of God, and their blessed Redeemer.

But justification is not a work of degrees. Because it is a single act of redeeming grace and is instantaneous and complete. They whom God Justifies are perfectly delivered from all charges of guilt and condemnation of the divine law. And finally, they will be fully delivered and rescued from all the terrible bondage and curse of sin.

Justification is most intimately connected with redemption, for redemption is actually the procuring cause of justification. “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in
Christ Jesus.”—Rom. iii. 24. And it should always be remembered that it is the sinner, the guilty person, the ungodly character, that is the subject of justification. For an innocent person could not
be a subject of divine justification, because there would be no crime laid to his charge to wipe
away, nor guilt and condemnation to be removed. Neither could an innocent person, considered as such in and of himself, be a subject of salvation.  Accordingly we find that Jesus Christ died for the salvation of sinners, 1 Tim. i. 15; and “for the ungodly,”  Rom. v. 6. “It is God that justifieth.”—Rom. viii. 23. And this justification includes his full pardon, or the perfect and divine acquittal of all condemnation. So that His holy law retains no charges against His justified ones. It must never be forgotten that it is God alone who justifies the sinner, for there is absolutely no method among men whereby the guilty and justly condemned can become innocent and holy before His broken law. And even their suffering the penalty will most positively not remove the least particle of the damning stains of their guilt, for the whole of this guilt will remain in spite of all that they can possibly do, endure or suffer.

“The fall of man is among the first of the portraits in the Bible on the great subject of redemption. When Adam came out of the hands of his gracious Creator, we are told, that he was created in the image of God. By the fall he lost this resemblance, and all his faculties became ruined and defiled; yea, his whole nature virtually all sin. Hence the Scriptures, under the strongest expressions, speak of the mighty ruin. His understanding became darkened, so as to lose the knowledge of God; Eph. iv. 18-9. His affections became carnal, sensual, and devilish; Eph. ii. 1-3; James iii. 15. His will stubborn, rebellious, proud, and disobedient; 1 Pet. iv. 3. Yea, his whole mind enmity against God; Rom. viii. 7. The Psalmist, and after him the apostle Paul, hath given some of the more striking features of fallen man, when he saith, ‘The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand and seek after God.’ But the result of the divine enquiry was, that ~they were all gone aside, they were altogether become filthy, there was none that did good, no, not one.’ Ps. xiv. 23, with Rom. iii. 10-19. Such is the Scripture account of the fall.”—Hawker, Con., pages 242-4.

“The third chapter of Paul’s epistle to the Romans is nothing but a description of original sin.”
—Calvin, Ins., 1-230.

“SIN: The Hebrews had in use several words by way of expressing the nature of sin in the diversities of it. But the truth is, that sin doth not consist in this, or in that act of it, for the acts of sin are but the branches; the root is within: so that strictly and properly speaking, in the fallen and corrupt nature of man, sin itself is alike in every son and daughter of Adam. And that it doth not break out alike in all is not from any difference in the nature of man, but in the power of the divine restraints. If this doctrine, which is wholly Scriptural, were but thoroughly and fully understood by all men, what humbling views would it induce in all!“—Hawker, Con., page 859. Com.,

Original sin must be viewed from three general heads: 1. The awful guilt of the first sin in God’s holy eyes. 2. The sad corruption and defilement of the whole Adamic nature, including the affections and the will, as resulting from this first sin. And which leads to the 3. or actual transgressions, as a part of the natural consequences of this first sin. People quite generally look far too lightly upon sin. For surely they should always view it as a most damnable thing in God’s sight, and never in any way as being trivial.

“In Adam was the first spring and fountain of evil. We are but filthy drops of the same filthy stream.”—Gadsby-, 2-295.

“The first sin in the world was on many accounts the greatest sin that ever was in the world.”
—John Owen, by Shedd, 8-262.

“When man fell, then sin brought sorrow, in the ten thousand miseries which the body suffers, and in the entire corruption of the faculties of the soul, particularly the will, now at enmity against the will of God. Hence our crosses. Sin is their fruitful parent, and while we are in a body of sin and death, we cannot be exempted from suffering, for man is born to trouble as naturally as the sparks fly upwards; but the unregenerate man does not feel the cause of this. Be has no spiritual sense. He is dead to God. He does not know why he suffers, and is not sensible of what he deserves to suffer, therefore he goes on merrily, laughing and singing under a load of guilt, enough to ruin a thousand worlds.”—Romaine, pages 221-2.

“Many a man hugs himself in his sins till death cuts him down, as believing that he can at any time forsake them; or wraps himself up in his own righteousness, in the secret persuasion of his mind that he can or will, one day or other, certainly be a better man, live a religious life, and prepare himself for death. Alas! he is not acquainted with that fatal secret that man has lost his power to serve God acceptably; and does not see that his very deferring the day proves that he
has no will, for we do not put off what we love to do, but do it at once.”—Condensed from Philpot,

If there be one sin which is greater and more damnable than another, it surely must be the Adamic-sin, since that is the very genesis of all other sins. Its criminality becomes so very great because it was so positively such a plain and wilful transgression of that very positive law which God personally gave to Adam. Indeed, it was the greatest and most wilful, direct and awfully gross affront made in positive defiance of the high authority, sovereign dominion and heavenly majesty of the Great Jehovah; and herein the very heinous nature of Adam’s transgression lies.

“No one thinks of a little cure for the deadly bite of a serpent, a little cure for the leprosy, a little cure for an eating cancer. The cure for these must be miraculous, if it be effectual. Because it must be so perfect in every way that there will remain no particle of venom or hidden roots to break out again. So we must lay this down, therefore, as a foundation point that if the work of redemption by the Son of God be not as complete as the sin from which He came to save, it would be as regards us utterly valueless.”—Condensed from Philpot, 2-189.

How a sinful character can be just before God’s holy eyes, is indeed a very interesting question to the anxious inquirer. But man’s wisdom could never have solved the great problem. For it is the Lord alone that can exercise and make known the wonderful riches of His saving grace and mercy to His rebellious creatures. And He frequently reveals this glorious truth to those who are esteemed fools and the most unworthy by the wise and self-righteous of this world.

Justification is the opposite of condemnation. In justification the condemned party is pronounced righteous in the eyes of the law, he is judged worthy to live as being innocent of what was charged against him, and his right to life is declared. Agreeable to which, Paul declares the divine justification of which he is treating, to be a “justification of life.”—Rom. v. 18.

Justification may be divided into legal and evangelical. If a person could be found who had never broken the divine law in any way whatever, he would be justified by his obedience to it in a manner strictly legal, and of course it could never condemn him. But in this way not one of Adam’s sin-ruined race can possibly be justified before God’s judgment bar, “For all have sinned,” Rom. iii. 23; “There is none righteous, no not one,” verse 10; and 11 to 19; Ps. xiv. 2-3; Ecc. vii. 20; ix. 3; Isa. lxiv. 6; etc. On legal grounds therefore, every offender is positively excluded from being savingly justified in His sight. Because a sinful creature cannot really merit any blessing or good thing from Him.

“Salvation in general is denied to be of works; this is the current language of Scripture. They are not in any rank and class of causes respecting salvation; they are neither efficient, nor moving, nor meritorious, nor adjuvant causes of salvation; nor even conditions of it; they do not go before any part of salvation.”—Gill, Body Div., 3-424.

The justification of which I wish to treat is of an evangelical nature, and it is a blessed fruit of the redemption of Jesus Christ. It comes from His imputed righteousness, and is especially suited to reach down to the penitent sinner’s case; for it is a righteousness without law.—Rom. iii. 21. And in this blessed work there is the most wonderful display Of divine justice and of boundless grace. Of divine justice, if we regard the meritorious cause and ground on which the Justifier proceeds, in absolving condemned sinners and pronouncing them righteous. And of amazing and boundless grace, if we consider the awfully sin ruined nature and character of all those persons upon whom this wonderful blessing is bestowed.

“Justice will be known to be justice, and dealt with upon its own terms; and grace will be acknowledged to be free grace, throughout the accomplishment of our salvation. And accordingly in Christ’s death He deals with justice, by laying down a sufficient price; and in His intercession, He entreateth free grace, and thus both come to be acknowledged.”—Thomas Goodwin, (1600-79), 138.

“We cannot define the value of Christ’s death, nor its exact mode of satisfying Divine justice, but we know it was 'precious blood’ in God’s sight, and therefore appointed as the propitiation adequate to atone for sin.”—Fausset’s Cy., page 618.

Again, justification may be further distinguished as being either at the judgment bar of God, or as being before the eyes of our fellow mortals. The first is by His redeeming grace alone, while the later is by our works. But in these pages I wish to treat of that justification before the Great Lawgiver.

It is exclusively a divine prerogative to justify guilty and condemned criminals from their sins, for “It is God that justifieth.”—Rom. viii. 83. The Great Lawgiver of the universe whom we have so very greatly offended, and whose laws we have so often broken by so many daring acts of rebellion against Him, has in the way of His own sovereign appointment and gracious purpose, the exclusive privilege and heavenly right and authority of acquitting the guilty and pronouncing them righteous. He alone is the justifier of all that believe in Jesus; Acts x. 43; xiii. 89. And there is absolutely no way of reversing His judgments or setting them aside.

The gracious Lord, as was in Covenant arranged, pronounces the sinner acquitted in full harmony with the exacting demands of His violated law and the full rights of His justice. And yet it is plain from the Bible that all three of the Divine Persons (“and these Three are One;”—l John v. 7) have a hand in this graciously saving work. The Father appoints the way by giving His only begotton Son as a redeeming sacrifice for elect sinners. The Son, as a Covenant Surety, engaged to suffer the curse of the broken law, make a full and perfect sin-atonement and provide that Mediatoral righteousness through His own obedience, by which all the Father gave to Him were to be justified. And the Holy Spirit applies the gracious blessings of this saving work of our Redeemer. Also the Spirit reveals to penitent sinners the perfection, suitableness and gracious freeness of
our Saviour’s work,as exhibited in the gospel. And well may the blest subjects ask with Paul, “Who is he that condemneth ? “—Rom. viii. 84. For if Jehovah declare a sinner acquitted, who in heaven, earth or hell can reverse that sentence? If the Most High justifies him, who can bring in a second charge? There is no higher court to appeal for a different verdict. So this justification is in every way perfect and complete, shall never be rendered void nor reversed, but will forever stand firm as the throne of God. This most gracious favor of “justification of life” is filled with all the blessings of the “Everlasting Covenant,” and with all the happiness of the celestial world of glory.

The wonderful blessing of justification is most graciously bestowed upon elect sinners—those whom Jesus Christ died to save, 1 Tim. i. 15, and who are not only so plainly called sinners, but as plainly called “the ungodly.”—Rom. iv. 5. And also, this justification is just as plainly declared to be without works upon their part, - while the whole grounds of this wonderful favor is ascribed to the redeeming work of Jesus Christ.

“Now to him that worketh is the reward” (of justification) “not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth” (the good? the holy? the eminently pious? No! but) “the UNGODLY, his faith” (or that in which he trusts and believes) “is counted for righteousness.”—Rom. iv. 4-5. From this remarkable Scripture we positively learn that the favored subjects of justification, as here considered, (and we all, in God’s eyes, are equally as destitute), are not only destitute of righteousness, but have really performed no good works sufficient to justify them at all. They are very plainly called “ungodly” when this heavenly blessing is bestowed upon them. So, the sinner, the ungodly person, him that worketh not, is the favored subject towards whom God’s saving grace reigns in justification. And be it plainly and forever remembered that “him that worketh not,” is “HIM THAT WORKETH NOT,” let all the worldly wise and self-righteous say what they will and dispute as long as they may.

“Being justified freely by His grace.”—Rom. iii. 24. If these words do not plainly teach that justification is entirely free, and without regard to any holy qualities or good works previously performed by its favored subjects, we think it indeed difficult to tell what such plain words do mean. And therefore we affirm, and that without the least fear of successful contradiction, that such language clearly means that divine justification is an act of God’s pure and unmixed grace, and wholly exclusive of all human worthiness and merits. And here His saving grace appears and reigns in glorious wonder, for it is so well calculated to silence the fears and raise the hopes of all poor, mourning, contrite-hearted, and penitent souls, who know by heart-experience that they are indeed sinners, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”—Matt. v. 3. This kingdom is, theirs because of the Lord’s free and gracious justification, and they are secured in the blessings of that inheritance. And it is to be noted that this gospel sentence has no element of conditionality about it, for they are not blessed upon their performance of certain conditions. Neither do these words imply or suggest that they have voluntarily become poor in spirit.

Men often talk of “conditions of justification,” but the only condition of a sinner’s acceptance of God is a full redemption from all his sins and a perfect righteousness. The law not only requires but demands a perfect obedience, nor does, the gospel substitute another, for it does not in any way or degree whatever make void the law’s demands. Yes, perfect obedience was even demanded of Adam before his fall. Perfect obedience God’s law still demands of all men, though in an awful state of sin. And full and perfect satisfaction for every disobedience His law must have, either from their own hands or from the hands of the Covenant Surety, or they must all fall eternally under the awful curse of their sins. The performance of their duties does not set aside the law’s hold upon them, for they as creatures of God are obligated to perform these, and to live morally upright and honorable lives. The full guilt of past offences will remain in spite of all that they can do.

But “a man is not justified by the works of the law. “—Gal. ii 16. “Therefore by the deeds of the law” (by his own obedience to it, however sincere) “there shall no flesh be justified” (accepted and pronounced righteous) “in His sight:” (because) “for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”— Rom. ii!. 20. And so it is impossible for the sinner to be justified by it, because a law which proves him guilty is very far from pronouncing him righteous or sinless in the eyes of the Lawgiver. “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound,” v. 20, or that the offender’s great sinfulness might plainly appear. “Because the law worketh wrath,” iv. 15, it worketh a painful sense of well deserved wrath in the heart of the quickened and penitent sinner. And is so very far from justifying him that it fastens a charge of damning guilt upon his conscience, and unsheathes the sword of divine vengeance. ‘For as many as are of the works of the law” (who are expecting and looking to their keeping of it for their justification before God) “are under the” (dreadful) “curse,” Gal. iii. 10, of it. So they must certainly be very far from being in a promising way to obtain acceptance of God upon such grounds. “For it is written,” (by the pen of infallibility and therefore is most surely, though so awfully, expressive of Jehovah’s great and wrathful displeasure against sin) “Cursed is every one” (without any respect of persons or regard to their pleas) “that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”—Gal. iii. 10. From this very plain and pointed text we learn that there never was nor ever can be, any acceptance of God without a perfect obedience; for he who fails in one single point has broken the law, is guilty before God and is therefore exposed to its curse.

“But that no man” (however excellent and righteous in his own estimation, he may feel to be) “is justified by” (his own obedience to) “the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just” (the truly righteous and justified person in God’s sight) “shall live by faith. And” (that he does not attain that character, or enjoy the blessedness connected therewith by virtue of his own obedience must plainly appear, for) “the law is not of faith:” (it makes no mention of salvation by the blessed Redeemer, or of believing in Him) ‘but,” (it declares that) “The man that doeth them” (that punctually performs the duties enjoined and entirely avoids the things prohibited, he and he only) “shall live in them,” or find peace and acceptance through such obedience. Gal. iii.
11-12. But “if righteousness came by the law,” (if men either were or could be justified by it), “then” (it would inevitably follow that) “Christ is dead in vain.”—’-Gal. ii. 21. For all His careful obedience and bitter sufferings were quite useless, since there was no need for them if they could be justified without such. Again, “if they which are of the law be heirs” (if they who look to and rely on their own works, he accepted of God and given a title to the heavenly inheritance) “faith” (in the Redeemer’s blood) “is made void, and the promise” (of eternal life and salvation by Him) “made of none effect.”—Rom. iv. 14. So it must quite plainly appear that Paul’s design was to clearly set aside all of man’s obedience to the law, and all his works and duties of every kind, so far as a procuring cause of God accepting and justifying him, “that it might be” (wholly) “by grace.”— verse 16. And this is so strongly and plainly supported by the following: “God imputeth righteousness without works,” verse 6; “For by grace are ye saved Not of works,” Eph. ii. 8-9; “Not by works of righteousness which we have done,” Tit. iii. 5; “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”—2 Tim. 1. 9. Now of what are men so ready to boast about, especially from a religious point, than their own good works and pious performances? or what they consider to be good and pious? But all these are plainly excluded, because salvation is “Not of works, lest any man should boast.”—Eph. ii 9. While there are many duties which men are obligated to perform in this life, but the performance of duties however important they may be in other respects, most positively will not cause God to accept of and justify them.

Nor is faith the sinners righteousness, or that for which he is justified. While believers are said to be justified by faith, yet not for faith. Faith of itself does not create a righteousness. It is only the hand which receives the justifying righteousness of Jesus Christ. To believe in God or to have faith in Him, is to actually trust in Him for salvation, and this trust appears through the discovery of something which is really calculated to support that trust. True faith is the work of God.—John vi. 29; Eph. i. 19; 1 Pet. i. 21. It is a gift of God.—Phils. i. 29; Eph. ii. 8. Jesus is its author and finisher.—Heb. xii. 2. And it is a fruit of the Spirit.—Gal. V. 22. ‘~Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”—Heb. xi. 1.

Man is the author of opinion and presumption, but he is most positively not the author of true faith. Neither can he make anything true by wishing or believing it from his own power. Simply
believing in that sense does not make anything either true or false. To so believe either truth or
error does not in any degree whatever change or reverse them. But true faith accepts that which was actually true before it was believed, though it be but now received and acknowledged. That Jesus Christ died for the salvation of sinners is most positively a blessed fact of itself, and not dependent upon the later work of the Spirit in leading penitent sinners to believe it in order to make it so. Faith does not change positive facts, but leads and enables the believer to accept them simply on divine testimony. And the Author of true faith must increase it also.

“Faith is principally and mainly to look unto the end, meaning, and intent of God, and Christ in His sufferings, and not simply at the tragical story of His death and sufferings. It is the heart, and mind, and intent of Christ in suffering, which faith chiefly eyeth, and which draweth the heart on to rest on Christ crucified. When a believer sees that Christ’s aim in suffering for poor sinners agrees and answers to the aim and desires of his own heart, and that that was the end of it that sinners might have forgiveness, and that Christ’s heart was as full in it, to procure it, as the sinner’s heart can be to desire it, this draws his heart in to Christ, to rest upon Him. And without this, the contemplation and meditation of the story of His sufferings, and the greatness of them, will be altogether unprofitable.”—Thomas Goodwin, 1600-79, 48. And it is a blessed fact that true faith will not admit that there are any flaws or weak places in the work of Jesus Christ.

That obedience by which a sinner is justified Is called “the righteousness of faith,” Rom. iv. 13; ix. 30; and “righteousness by faith,” GaL v.5; and is revealed to faith.—Rom. i. 17. Consequently, It cannot be faith itself. Faith, in the important matter of justification before God, stands opposed to all works—”to him that worketh not, but believeth.”—Rom. iv. 5. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that be~ lieveth,”—x. 4. And that righteousness by’ which many are justified is “the obedience of One,”—v.19.

So it is not faith itself, but its glorious Object which Paul intends when speaking of faith being imputed for righteousness. Not the act of believing, but the thing believed, for the believer’s righteousness is the Lord Jesus.—Jer. xxiii. 6. Consequently, no one should try to put his faith in the place of Christ, nor his obedience in the place of Christ’s obedience. Love is the moving principle of all acceptable and pleasing obedience In God’s eyes, and this heavenly affection is not a product of the human heart, but is a “fruit of the Spirit.”—Gal. v. 22. Yet, obedience even under the influence of this divine principle, is included in the believer’s “own righteousness,” and therefore must be laid aside as a procuring cause of his justification. Paul’s desire was to “be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness. * * but the righteousness which is of God.”—Phil. iii. 9.

And as a further distinction, it should be care’ fully noted that there is a vast difference between coming before the Lord, with nothing at all in our hands, and in coming before Him with nothing of our own. The sinner must have good and fully sufficient grounds for his justification, if he is net pronounced righteous by the Court of Heaven, and these heaven-purchasing grounds are only to be found in Jesus Christ and His finished work True faith always looks to Him, and to Him alone, for all justifying merits and fitness for heaven. Because the sinner has absolutely nothing whatever of his own in the way of heaven purchasing merit or law-satisfying value to plead. So of himself he is empty handed, and has nothing at all to offer or plead as a reason why Divine Justice should not inflict upon him the full penalty for his sins. But the believer has all the justifying fullness of Jesus Christ to shield and protect him against the broken law’s condemnation. “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”—Rom. iv. 25. Our many sins, if we are what we hope we are in God’s sight, have all been laid upon or translated to Jesus Christ by imputation, and His justifying righteousness imputed to us.

I confidently affirm that justification before God is wholly unconditional, and that sinners are saved because of Christ’s saving work alone, and that the Father laid the whole of their salvation from the beginning to end upon Him. For if the subjects of such gracious blessing be in themselves “ungodly,” Rom. iv. 5, and a perfect righteousness is required, they must certainly look wholly to Jesus Christ for it, because this wonderful favor cannot be obtained upon the grounds of their own personal merit. Only in His finished work can they find that righteousness which is actually perfect in all requirements, for only the redeeming work of the Son will command the approving smile of the Father. That amazing work which the incarnate Son wrought out in His great and meritorious sacrifice, and which was fully completed when He rose from the dead, is the grand requisite for justification before the tribunal of God. For to this, and to this alone, the eternal Sovereign has respect when He pronounces the shiner righteous and acquits him in judgment. “So by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.”—Rom. v. 19. Sinners are “justified by His blood,”—verse 9. And by the blood of Christ is meant the blood of His atoning sacrifice, together with the full power and efficacy of it. His blood was shed as a redemption price for their salvation, arid His great redemption actually procures their full justification. Jesus Christ, as a Covenant-substitute, suffered and died for elect sinners. It was wholly on account of His people that He so died, and it is wholly on account of His active and passive obedience that they are justified. Re loved them so well that He was anxiously willing to drink all of that bitter cup to procure their salvation.

“For had not God worn out the rod of vengeance, even to the very stumps, the remainder would have been upon our backs, and that would have pierced our souls with an everlasting sting,”
—Tobias Crisp, 1634, page 331.

“Behold a scene of matchless grace,—
‘Tis Jesus in the sinner’s place.”

Abraham “was called the Friend of God,” James ii. 23, and the Bible records his obedience which was pleasing to God. His works proved his faith to be genuine, that they sprang from proper motives, and were not the works of a dead faith which might be professed by a graceless person. And his obedience justified him in our eyes, and in this sense he was “justified by works,”—verse 21. But however much he may be justified and praised by man for what he did, that is very far from being placed to his account as the cause of his justification before God. “For if Abraham were justified by” (his own) “works, he bath whereof to glory; but not before God, For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted” (imputed) “unto him for righteousness.”—Rom. iv. 2-3. And Paul concludes that “it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification;”— verses 23-25. “So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”—Gal. iii. 9. And If Abraham did not stand justified before God because of his good works, surely none others should expect acquittal and justification front that source.

“Paul takes the most unexceptionable character the Scriptures of the Old Testament could furnish, and in the, instance of Abraham he shews, that this great father of the faithful, considered in himself, had nothing more to recommend him to God than the greatest sinner. Abraham, when beheld in relation to the Adam-nature in which he was born, was equally involved with all mankind in a fallen state, and belonged as much as any to that race, of whom the word of God had decidedly declared, that there is none righteous, no, not one.
Paul treats this subject (justification) in an unanswerable manner, as proved in the case of Abraham. He shews that when the Lord first called Abraham, to make known to him His sovereign grace and Covenant-mercy in Christ; Abraham at that time was an Idolater, dwelling in Ur of the Chaldees. Of consequence there could be nothing in the conduct of the Patriarch, which prompted and called forth the mercy of the Lord. It began ,therefore, on the part of God; and was altogether free, unmerited, unlooked for, and unsought by Abraham.”—Hawker, S-2e3.

David “describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”—Rom. iv. 6-8. And it is to be noted that the blessed man is here described to be a sinful character, and that all his heavenly blessedness arises from an imputed righteousness, This is very plainly the doctrine that Paul preached, and therefore such must have been the faith of the Primitive Church. Justin Martyr in the second century writes: ‘What else could cover our sins, but His righteousness? in whom could wt transgressors be justified, but only in the Son of God? 0 sweet exchange; 0 unsearchable contrivance! that the transgressions of many should be hidden in one righteous Person and the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors.’ “—Fausset, page 410. But in the present unbelieving age, this glorious doctrine of the divine imputation of righteousness is plainly treated with contempt, cashiered as obsolete and declared to be “imputed nonsense.”

The belief that human merits and works is necessary to salvation, has always been an underlying principle of all heathen religions, and the idea accordingly entertained that man’s good and evil works were placed in opposite sides of some kind of an imaginary balance, and whichever way the scales tipped determined his future state. But the doctrine of the Christian Religion is (though often so lightly held by many who profess its principles) that sinners are saved wholly for the sake of Jesus Christ, or because of that meritorious redemption through His blood. And the meaning of the blood of Jesus as used in the Bible, plainly means the blood of His wonderful sacrifice, together with all the saving power and virtue of it. Though the Scriptures is so plain as to the one and only way of salvation through the finished work of our blessed Saviour (Matt. 1. 21; Acts iv. 12; x. 43; 1 Tim. i. 15; etc.), yet many in this unbelieving age will quite strongly insist on incorporating more or less of the principles of heathen belief into their conceptions of the doctrine of the Christian Religion. And in their views completely overlook the Bible fact that salvation was actually wrought out and completely finished by Jesus Christ, though the full possession of the heavenly inheritance by the redeemed is yet to come.
It must be plain that if the sinner be actually guilty before God, that lie must appear before Him clothed in the righteousness of another, for he must stand faultless before His judgment bar, if acquitted. Jesus Christ most graciously furnishes this justifying righteousness, which is called the righteousness of God, and in no other way can it be so transferred to sinners as to become theirs, only but by imputation. Adam’s offence is placed upon all his descendents, because of their blood relation to him. And that saving obedience or justifying righteousness of Jesus Christ is freely placed upon all His people, because of that relation-interest so graciously given them in Him in that glorious Covenant of saving Grace.
As Jesus Christ was as to all legal effects “made to be sin” for His people, so are they as to all legal effects “made the righteousness of God in Him.” For it is plain that as Christ the Surety was made sin, so are His people made righteous; their sins were laid upon Him, and His righteousness laid upon them. And wherever this glorious doctrine of imputed righteousness is not believed or held only in name, there will Jesus Christ be very lightly esteemed, His praises faintly declared and sung, and as a certain consequence human excellence as a procuring fitness for heaven, will stand quite highly exalted.

That righteousness by which sinners are justified is a free and gracious gift, “the gift of righteousness.”.—Rom. v. 17. And believers by faith receive it, instead of performing it. Our blessed Redeemed is called, “The Lord our Righteousness.”—Jer. xxiii. 6. We are “made the righteousness of God in Him.”—2 Cor. v. 21. He is made unto us righteousness.—1 Cor. 1. 20, His people are declared to be justified in Him. —Is. vI. 25.  Accepted in Him — Eph. 1. 6. Complete in Him — Col. ii. 10. And saved in Him.—Js. vl. 17. Such is the divinely appointed means for the justification of sinners. Reader, do you think that this grand and heavenly arrangement will result in their salvation? And do not forget that there is a curse resting upon all earthly creation, outside of the Lord Redeemer’s redemption.

It is the office of true faith to look to and receive His righteousness as being absolutely sufficient to fully justify the believer, and as entirely free for his use. For true faith is the receiving of by trusting in Jesus Christ and His righteousness, or a full dependence upon Hint alone for eternal salvation. Such is the faith of God’s elect, and the comforting evidence of its truthfulness and reality in the heart, is the felt love of God, peace of conscience and hope of glory.

“Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”—Rom. ii. 22-4.

“But, what I beg the reader also not to overlook, in this precious. statement, of the righteousness of God our Saviour, is, that it is a righteousness so universally suited to the Lord’s people, in every department, whether babes in Christ, or old saints of God, that it is unto all, and upon all, that believe, for there is no difference. Reader, calculate, if you can, the immense blessedness of what is here said. First, of the righteousness itself, which is wholly of God. Not of man’s providing, but of God’s appointing. Not of man’s merit, but of God’s free grace. No predisposing cause but the everlasting love of God in Christ, having anything to do in the matter. Yea, faith itself, by which a child of God is made to possess it, and enjoy it, hath nothing of merit by way of recommendation. The Lord, who is the sole Author and Giver of this righteousness, is the sole Author and Giver of faith to receive, believe, and enjoy it. So that faith, as an act of ours, is but the effect and not the cause; the hand to receive, and not to promote the vast mercy. The highly favored soul who is made a rich partaker of the blessing; to him it is given, to feel his want of righteousness in himself, to behold Christ’s righteousness as every way suited to himself and his wants, to accept on his betided knees the proffered mercy, and to receive it to the divine glory, and his own happiness.

“This righteousness is said to be, unto all, and upon all that believe, for there is no difference. No difference in the thing itself, neither in the application of it. For the Lord, whose it is, gives it to all with an equal hand, and loves all with an equal love, and justifies all with an equal freeness of grace. For, it is not what they are in themselves, but what they are in Christ, which makes them the objects of the divine favor. It is blessed, yea, very blessed, to have a large hand of faith to receive the larger portions of the grace of belief, to enjoy the Lord’s blessings of every kind, with a greater fulness. But our enjoyment is one thing, and the Lord’s righteousness which justifies, another. He that hath little faith, and is in Christ, is as completely justified by Christ, as he that hath the largest portions of faith to apprehend with greater delight His mercies. By Rim all that believe, whether strong believers or weak ones, whether babes in Christ, or fathers in the strength of Christ; are justified from all things.—Acts xiii. 89. And the reason is given~ For the righteousness which justifies, is alike justifying, Unto all, and upon all. It is unto them, and upon them; not within them, nor from them. And therefore, being wholly out of themselves, and nothing within, no inherent holiness in the creature, which some men talk of, but none know; there can be no difference in the receiver, or in the act of justification by the Giver. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And therefore, the justification of all, cannot but be alike the free gift of God, and not the smallest difference in man. Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”—Hawker, 8-258-9.

In justification the law-satisfying, law-justifying, and Covenant-Surety righteousness of Jesus Christ’s Mediatorial obedience is imputed. While in sanctification, the holiness of this righteousness through the work of the Spirit, is imparted. It should never be supposed or considered that the divine holiness of Christ, as God, is that which is imparted. For the redeemed will always remain very far from being made equal to God in this respect, though exalted to that high and holy position of being “holy and without blame before Him in love.”—Eph. 1. 4. They will always remain as His children, saved and cleansed and fully delivered from all the curse and defilement of their many sins. When they are glorified, then they will be “equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.”—Luke xx. 36. And when clothed “with the garments of salvation,” Is. lxi. 10, they will “shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”—Matt. xiii. 43.

“Those who have a legal spirit dare not put their whole trust and confidence in the righteousness of Christ imputed unto sinners, and made theirs by faith. They have many fears about imputed righteousness, although Paul has not scrupled to mention it eleven times in one chapter; Rom.
iv. From whence can men’s opposition to this way of justification arise, but from their not being convinced of the necessity of Christ’s righteousness ?“—Romaine, page 24.

And often it seems that one of the hardest things that so many of the people of God have to contend with in their experience, is this same legal and fleshly spirit of self-justification. It appears that they will be more or less continually  trying to find something in or about themselves that possesses some merit that will justify them or remove some of their guilt in some way. But
most surely all work of this kind is a very hope less task, and well indeed it is so, for no man can
by any means whatever justify himself before God. And of course the people of God should
never look for justification in a different way from what the Bible declares, for in no other way can they possibly be justified. The sinner is “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”—Rom. iii. 24. The Lord’s people should ever remember that it is not what they are in and of themselves, but what they are in and of Christ, which makes them the blest subjects of justification, as well as of all other divine favors. And as God is so well pleased with the atoning sacrifice of our blessed Saviour as to fully justify millions of redeemed sinners, even the whole election of grace, surely those who have a hope in Him should rest satisfied in the saving merits of His wonderful redemption. 

It is to be noted that this Bible manner of justification is well calculated to pull down the pride of the self-righteous professor, who always considers himself as standing on far more respectable terms with his Maker, than what he considers as his more ungodly neighbors. And it is especially adapted to raise and cheer the drooping spirits of the poor, penitent, trembling, sinner, who feels to know that he has no good thing of himself to plead. For here all may freely come “that labor and are heavy laden,” Matt xi. 28, and are wearied with going about to establish their own righteousness, Rom. x. 8, or grounds of divine acceptance. The blessed gospel proclaims their welcome to Christ, and that He has all they need to fit them for heaven, however much impoverished they may be, and also that He so graciously gives all His blessings with the most liberal hand. “All the fitness He requireth, is to feel your need of Him.”

1 John i. 8-9. “Perfection in Christ the Scriptures are full of; perfection in man the Scriptures know not. The whole testimony of God in His word is to perfection in Christ. Every Scripture that speaks of His Godhead declares His perfection: for what is there but perfection in Godhead? And every passage that speaks of His humanity declares His perfection: for if He had not had a perfect human nature, He could not have offered that nature a sacrifice for sin. If there is any perfection in the church, it is only found in Christ. But as to man that fallen creature, the whole testimony of God’s word is to the depth of his apostacy. The Scripture positively declares, ‘There is none righteous, no, not one.’ Etc. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.’—Jer. xvii. 9. And lest we should fancy, that when the blessed Spirit had regenerated and taken possession of a man, making his body His temple, then there was some perfection to be found in his heart, the Scripture brings before our eyes the awful falls and sad departures of God’s most highly favored saints—Noah, Lot, Abraham, Moses, David, and Solomon. These blots are recorded against God’s eminent saints, to put down that false notion, that there is anything like perfection in the creature. And yet there are those who indulge in the wild dream of human perfectibility. There are those who even boast that they have attained to perfection. And there were such doubtless in John’s day. There were in his time, proud, ignorant, blind, deluded wretches, who said that they had cleaned their heart from all evil, that perfection dwelt in them, and that sin was no more to be found in them. Some of these were Pharisees, completely ignorant of the requirements of God’s holy law, thoroughly unacquainted with the depth of man’s fall. And others were dry doctrinalists, who could speak much about Christ; but, knowing nothing of the workings of depravity in their own nature, overlooked all the heavings and boilings of the corrupt fountain within; and because they read of the church’s perfection in Christ, claimed unsinning perfection to themselves. Against these characters John deals this heavy blow; against those who claim this perfection he brings out this sharp sword, and cuts them down with this overwhelming stroke, ‘If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’ Talk about your Christianity—talk about your religion—talk about your standing—and say, ‘I have no sin!’ you are a deceiver, John boldly declares: ‘so far from being as you think you are, a perfect Christian, the very truth is not in you; you are nothing but a deceived, awfully deceived character.’ But he brings out, with the other hand, consolation for the people of God, who feel distressed on account of their inward guilt and sin. Thus whilst, on the one hand, he cuts down the perfectionist, legal or evangelical—on the other, he raises up the poor, condemned, drooping saint, who is bowed down with a sense of his guilt and shame; and opening the rich cordial of gospel consolation, says, ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ “—Philpot, 8-94-5.

“It is among the precious testimonies of our enjoying communion with God, that we confess our sins before Him. * * His love, not our deservings, becomes the standard of His favor.”— Hawker, 9-422.

Kind reader, may I ask you, What are the grounds you are looking to for justification before God? As sure as any person is trusting in their own merits and righteousness for heaven, just that sure they are not only ignoring but treating with actual contempt, the righteousness of Jesus Christ and His great atonement for sin. In conclusion, I most confidently affirm that only the Lord’s own work will justify and save sinners, for I do not believe that the blessings of heaven are suspended upon the brittle thread of man’s obedience.


This is a very important doctrine, not only to the Bible believer, penitent sinner and contrite-hearted mourner, but it actually underlies the eternal salvation of all dying infants as well. And a proper understanding of this doctrine is very necessary to a correct understanding of the nature of the work of Jesus Christ in the salvation of His people from sin. For this imputation must not be in name only, but must be in a way of actual reality in God’s sight, if anyone is to receive any benefits or blessings from it. While in this unbelieving age this wonderful doctrine is not only ignored, but actually denied and deridingly called “imputed nonsense,” nevertheless this bible truth is just as important today as In any other period of time.

Imputation may be said to be of a threefold nature. First, the Adamic sin to us. Second, our sins to Jesus Christ. And third, His righteousness to us. The Imputation of Adam’s am is a sovereign act of divine justice, while the imputation of Christ’s righteousness Is a sovereign act of Covenant grace and mercy.

Adam’s ~in is imputed to all his posterity. This very sorrowful Bible fact is true from the very plain fact that all, even infants and who never have actually sinned themselves, often are seen to suffer in this world at least a part of the great Adamic penalty, in the sickness, sufferings and sometimes death of their bodies. All the members of the human family without exception, Inherit a corrupt Adamic-nature, because of their blood relation to Adam. And the fact of the matter is and ever remains, and that too in spite of all Pelagian denials, that God looks down upon us as being a very sinful and guilty race; for we all are exposed and partakers of suffering and misery while w~ live, and death is to close the scene.

The imputation of the Adamic sin is the direct and first great cause of all the great and sorrowful penalty that our sinful flesh is heir to. And by natural birth is the way in which this defilement is imparted, transferred and its penalty imputed to us. This sinful birth is the primary cause of all actual sin, for man is first a sinner by nature, and as a consequence becomes a sinner by practice. Yet, this imputation Is not an Infusion, neither is Adam’s sin ours in the same sense as our personal sins. But original sin is as a hereditary disease, descending from Adam, the first transgressor, and by blood descent to all his posterity. And personal or practical sins springs from this corrupt root within the heart.

“Imputation; The vicarious attribution of personal guilt or personal righteousness on account of the sin or the righteousness of another; as the imputation of the sin of Adam to his posterity, or the righteousness of Christ to believers.”—.Webster.

I have given this definition of Webster because he is generally considered as good authority. I now wish to make some observations especially on the later part of this definition. Imputation is most intimately connected with justification, and may be defined as being God’s gracious accounting of the righteousness of Jesus Christ to believers, and His acceptance of their persons as righteous because of it. Their sins being laid upon or translated to Jesus by imputation, and Ills justifying righteousness being laid upon them because of Ills meritorious redemption. So that by virtue thereof they are both acquitted from guilt and accepted as righteous before God. The many sins of the whole election of grace was so imputed to Jesus as to become His in a way that lie was le-. gaily charged and became responsible, as a Covenant-Surety, unto the law and justice of God, to make full satisfaction by a proper atonement for all their great debt of guilt and condemnation. For Jesus as a Covenant-substitute, acted in the room and law-place of His chosen people, and suffered by way of full divine satisfaction the punishment that their sins merited. As sin i~ a transgression of law, the satisfaction for sin must be made in conformity with the demands of the law violated. God most graciously laid the sins of I4is people upon Jesus by Covenant-imputation. Is. liii. 6; 2 Cor v. 19, 21. Our Saviour’a bearing ~in has a positive reference to a previous agreement He had with the Father. But it must always be remembered that while He suffered so greatly for sin, He was only bearing the great debt of sin or divine curse for sin, and none of the pollution or defilement of sin.

In justification His Mediatorial righteousness is imputed to His chosen people. It was wholly on their account that He suffered and died, and it is also wholly on His account that they are justified. His saving work being strictly vicarious. So It is not what they are in and of themselves, but what they are in and of Him, that makes them the actual recipients of such divine blessings. For they find salvation wholly outside of themseIves, and wholly in and through their gracious Redeemer. And therefore all praise must be given to Him, because all grounds of boasting on account of any of their own works and self-righteousness, is most positively excluded. The wonderful plan of salvation was divinely conceived and intended to “praise the glory of His grace,”Eph. i. 6, instead of giving praise to man.

Justin Martyr was a native of Samaria, born in the year 89, and suffered martyrdom in 163.
Several of his writings have been preserved, and which plainly tend to show the faith of the Primitive Church. “Justin Martyr in the second century writes: What else could cover our sins but His righteousness? in whom could we trangressors be justified, but only in the Son of God? 0 sweet exchange! 0 unsearchable contrivance! that the transgressions of many should be hidden in one righteous Person and the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors.’ “—Fausset’s Cy., page 410.

“For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”—Rom. iv. 3-8. “That righteousness might be imputed unto them also.”—verse 11.

Abraham staggered not at the promise of God, but was $0 strong in faith that he was fully persuaded that what He had promised, He was fully able to perform. “And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our olfencess and was raised again for our justification.”— Rom. iv. 22-5.

It is quite plainly seen that Paul does not scruple to continually repeat the word imputation in this chapter. He very positively declares that Abraham was justified by a righteousness which was graciously imputed. “That it is God’s righteousness, and not man’s. For, what is imputed from another, cannot in the nature of things be his, to whom it is imputed, until by imputation it is made so.”—Hawker, 8-265.

“If there be a doctrine of the gospel with which we should desire to be acquainted, a doctrine on which our salvation and comfort depend, it is that of the translation of our sins to Christ. From this fountain the streams of salvation flow. If sin itself were not transferable, He could not have borne all the effects and consequences of our iniquities. The principal part of the punishment of sin, consists in a sense of guilt, and of divine wrath; but neither of these could Immanuel have endured, unless He had borne our sins themselves. If sin be not transferable, then infinite justice still finds guilt upon believers and glorified saints, and will ever do so. But contrary to this, the Scripture represents it as the glory of salvation, that the guilt of sin itself is done away in the blood of the Lamb. Our sins were so transferred to Christ, that had He not conquered and
destroyed them, they would have destroyed Him. flu5 resurrection was proof that sin was on Him no longer.”—Abridged from Rushton’s Redemption, pages 64-5.

“To impute, is to charge a thing upon a person. The apostle Paul (Rom. iv. 8) declares them blessed to whom the Lord ‘will not impute sin.’ This is the general sense of imputation. But in the case of the imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ to His people, and their sins imputed to Him, the sense of imputation goes farther, and ascribes to Christ, and to the sinner, that which each hath not, but by the very act of imputing ft to them. Jesus has sin imputed to Him, when He knew no sin; and the sinner is said to be righteous, when he bath no portion of righteousness in himself. ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.’—Gal. iii. 13. Here Christ stands with all the curse of a broken law charged upon Him, as the sinner’s Surety; yea, as the curse itself. And consequently, as in the doing of this, He takes it from His rely upon and trust in such things as actually paving their way in some manner to heaven and immortal glory. For years I was a Pharisee and I speak from experience, when I say that I well know how Conditionalism leads people to trust and rely on the performance of those conditions which they believe will secure a home in heaven for them. And in those years I had no true faith in Jesus Christ at all.

True faith in Jesus Christ when in lively exercise, always leads its possessors to trust wholly and fully in Him, and in Him alone, for everything that fits them for heaven. No duties, however important and necessary to their obedience in this life, can be allowed in any way or degree whatever, to take the place of the heaven-purchasing blood and righteousness of the blessed Redeemer. Sinners are saved by His redeeming grace. His saving work ia perfect, and therefore secures an actual salvation. People are expressly declared not to be saved by works, neither according to works. It was divinely arranged this way to give God all the glory of their salvation. “Not of works, lest any man should boast.”—Eph. ii. 9. But it was plainly the belief in the saving virtue of their good works which led the Pharisees to so loudly and proudly boast, and to trust in themselves that they were righteous and so safely on the road to heaven.

Phariseeism (the doctrine of the Pharisees) quite plainly leads to Formalism, for these two great errors are inseparable. Neither the Pharisee nor Formalist have true faith in Jesus Christ, though they may so loudly claim to be His most devoted followers. And the same objections made to the one will well apply to the other of these Unbelievers.

“The Formalist has not true faith. He is content with a form of godliness, and denies the power of it. The veil of unbelief is upon his heart, and the pride of his own good works and duties is ever before his eyes, that he finds no want of the salvation of Jesus, and is averse to
the grace of the gospel. All his hopes arise from what he is in himself, and from what he is able to do for himself. He neither believes God speaking in the law, nor in the gospel. If he believed His word in the law, it would convict him of sin, and forbid him to go about to establish a righteousness of hi~ own; because by the works of the law shall not flesh be justified; yet this he does not believe. If he believed the word of God in the gospel, it would convince him of righteousness, of an infinitely perfect righteousness, wrought out by the God-man Christ Jesus, and imputed to the sinner Without any works of his own, for Unto him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is imputed for righteousness. To this he dare not trust wholly for his acceptance before God; therefore he has not true faith.”—Romaine, page 8.

The Pharisees possess such a striking character in the Scriptures that I have felt to collect the following extracts as further illustrative of it. And it must be remembered that they were the most bitter enemies of the meek and lowly Lamb of God. For no set of men, not even the openly profane, so greatly hated the dear Saviour of
people; they are redeemed from it. The original debtor, and the Surety, who pays for that debtor, cannot both have the debt at the same time charged upon them. This, therefore, is the blessed doctrine of imputation. Our sins are imputed to Christ His righteousness is imputed to us. And this by the authority and appointment of Jehovah; for without this authority and appointment, the transfer could not have taken place. It would have been totally beyond our power to have made it. But surely not beyond the right and prerogative of God. And God accepts such a ransom; yea, He Himself appoints it. Nothing can be more blessed than the doctrine of imputation, and nothing more important that the cordial belief of it, to bring consolation and joy to the heart of every believer.”—Condensed from Hawker, Con., pages 423-4.

I have in a previous part of this booklet, said considerable about the wonderful doctrine of imputation, but feel that its great importance demands that I should add the foregoing as further
descriptive of it, and hope I have made this subject at least measurably plain to my readers.


Jesus Christ so very plainly declared His positive hatred against the doctrine of the Pharisees, so it surely becomes very important to all those who in any way profess to be His followers, that they most earnestly and carefully try to avoid all manner of Pharisaical religion, and its resulting practices. And very plainly the leading fruit of that doctrine, and which was so awfully hateful In our Saviour’s eyes, was self-righteousness. Therefore, it must be as plain that the chief tenet of their doctrine was that very erroneously supposed merit which they attached to their actions, and which they so strongly relied upon as actually possessing heaven-purchasing merit and value.

While of course none would now care to come out and boldly say that they are Pharisees and believed their doctrine, yet it must be admitted (and that scripturally, too) that anyone, whatever their religious claims may be, is actually a Pharisee in belief to the very same and full extent that they hold to Pharisaical principles.

And it will have to be logically admitted, however stoutly it may be denied, that all forms of Conditionalism actually attach a saving merit and heaven-securing value to the performance of conditions (whatever these conditions may be supposed to be) and thereby really lead such believers to sinners as these self-righteous professors of religion, and against them He hurled His bitterest invectives. And most surely we have all good reasons for believing that Pharisaical doctrines are just as repulsive before His eyes today, as when Be was on earth. “That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”—Luke xvi. 14.

“Pharisees, a famous sect of the Jews, who distinguished themselves by their zeal for the tradition of the elders, which they derived from the same fountain with the written word itself; pretending that both were delivered to Moses from Mount Sinai, and were, therefore, both of equal authority. From their rigorous observance of these traditions, they looked upon themselves as more holy than other men, and therefore separated themselves from those whom they thought sinners or profane, so as not to eat or drink with them.”—Henderson-Buck, page 602.

“When our Saviour appeared in Judea, the Pharisees were then in great credit among the ~people, because of the opinion they had conceived of their great learning, sanctity of manners, and exact observance of the law. They fasted often, made long prayers, paid their tithes scrupulously, distributed much alms. But all this was vitiated and corrupted by a spirit of pride, ostentation, hypocrisy, and self-love. Like to whitened sepulchres, they appeared beautiful without, whilst within was nothing but corruption and deformity, Matt. xxiii. 27. They wore large rolls of parchment upon their foreheads and wrist&. on which were written certain words of the law; and affected to have fringes and borders at the corners and hems of their garments, broader than the other Jews wore, as a badge of distinction, and as greater observers of the law than others. In matters of religion, the traditions of the ancients Were the chief subject of their studies; and to these they made additions of their own, as they thought fit, making their own opinion to pass for traditions of the ancients. By this means they had overburdened the law of God with a vast number of trifling observances.”—Cruden, page 429.

“Pharisee. A sect in the days of our Lord, remarkable for their scrupulous exactness to certain points, while relaxed in the higher. principles of real ~vital godliness. The name Pharisee is derived from a root signifying separation, and suited to them, from being very singular in their order. For the character of the Pharisee I refer to Matt. xxiii. throughout. The modern Pharisee of the present hour is he that prides himself upon the rectitude of his heart, and ventures his everlasting welfare upon the merit of his good works before God; or, in less degree, takes to himself the consolation of being part his own Saviour, and hoping that Christ will make up the deficiency. The portrait of such an one we have~ Luke xviii. 9-14.”—Hawker, Con., page 674.

“The principal doctrines of the Pharisees are as follows: That the oral law, which they suppose God delivered to Moses by an angel on Mount Sinai, and which was preserved by tradition, is of equal authority with the written law. That by observing both these laws, a man may not only
obtain justification with God, but perform meritorius works of supererogation. That fasting, almsgiving, ablutions, and confessions, are a sufficient atonement for sin. That thoughts and desires are not sinful, unless they are carried into action.”—Ency. Rel. Knowl., page 931.

Matt. xxiii. “This chapter, if there were no other in the whole Book of God, to alarm the mind on the awful consequence of Pharisaical righteousness, is enough, in itself, to awaken the most serious apprehensions on that account. Jesus, who knew what was in man, and to whose divine knowledge every heart was open, beheld in those men such false sanctity, that no language appeared sufficiently strong, to mark His severe displeasure at their conduct. Every thing done by them was done, the Lord said, with a view to the approbation of men. And the strong images of whited sepulchres, blind guides, and the like, which the Lord represented them by, may serve to shew in what light He considered them. In these first verses of the chapter, the Lord Jesus cautions His hearers against the imitation of their conduct. In the following Re pronounceth the most awful woes upon them.”—Hawker, 7-154.

“Here are no less than eight solemn woes denounced upon the very men who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others. And what made the woes more terrible, they were pronounced by One that was meekness itself. And what is, if possible, yet more awful, the same Almighty Judge, who cannot err, in the close of this solemn denunciation, calls them by the several names which mark their character, and explains the whole: Ye serpents, ye generation of Vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? That is, ye cannot escape it. The phrase is a stronger way of expressing a thing, by way of question, than if in so many words the thing was said.”—Page 156. “How did this generation of vipers manifest their serpentine hatred to Christ, and bring upon themselves those awful denunciations? Not for their immoralities, for they prided themselves in being highly moral. Not for their neglect of the public or private worship. For they did both. Neither were they chargeable, as far as outward actions went, with
the common vices of drunkenness, adultery, and the like. What was it then, which brought down upon them the Lord’s severest judgments? Certainly, nothing more or less, than by their Than~a1cal righteousness, teaching the people to slight the Person and work of Jesus, as what were Unnecessary for acceptance with God. They compassed sea and land the Lord told them, to make one proselyte, and when this was done, they made him two-fold more the child of hell, than themselves. That is, they labored to undermine the necessity of salvation by Christ, in setting up, and teaching others to do the same, a righteousness of their own: and thus by denying the fall of man and the necessity of a recovery by grace, they set the kingdom of Satan, and like children of hell, fought against the kingdom of grace.”—Page 157.

‘Pause Reader! pause my soul, over the contents of this chapter. Surely nothing can be more
solemn, nothing more affecting. Behold the Son of God, who came to seek and save that which was lost; pronouncing sure and certain destruction upon a class of men, who in every age have stood up with pretentions for greater holiness than others, and like one of them in the Parable, all of them more or less ready to exclaim: God! I thank Thee that I am not as other men are! Hear the Lord calling them serpents; a generation of vipers, which cannot escape the damnation of hell. And what were they considered in their deportment among men? How were they distinguished then? How are they known flow? The Lord calls them Pharisees. Men unhumbled in their minds. Who never felt the plague of their own heart. Uncircumcised in heart and ears. They never tasted the wormwood and gall of a fallen state. They never were pricked to the heart under the deep conviction of a fallen state. Arid not feeling the want of Christ, they utterly despised Him.”—Page 159.

Luke xv. 1-2. “The imagination can hardly form to itself a more striking portrait than what these verses represent. Figure to yourself, Reader, a company of poor, despised outcasts of society, in a body, of publicans and sinners, drawing nigh, with looks of hope and desire to Christ, as if to say, Can there be mercy for us? And on the other side of the representation, look at the proud disdainful, self-righteous Pharisees and Scribes withdrawing from the Lord, with countenances of the most sovereign contempt, as if Jesus and His company should pollute their holiness. This Man (they say) receiveth sinners, sad eateth with them. Precious Jesus! Well is it for me that Thou dost; for what must have become of me had this not been the case? How truly lovely doth the Son of God appear by such marvelous condescention! And what can more endear Christ to His. people?”— Hawker, 7-442.

“And yet we find the Scribes and Pharisees were indignant beyond measure at our Lord’s favorable reception of poor sinners. This Man (said they) receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And who is it now that takes most offence at the free and full preaching of the Gospel? Not the world at large; for the pleasurable part of the world, the busy part of the world, the high ill rank of the world, all these are for most part, like Gallio, they care not for such things. But it is the self-righteous Pharisee, like the elder brother in the parable, who wishes to be no further obligated to Christ than according to his view is barely necessary. This is the character which takes most offence at the preaching of a free and full Gospel; and like the brother whom the Lord Jesus describes, takes the confidence to say, Lo, these many years do I serve Thee, neither at any time transgressed I Thy command. Of all the awful deceptions of the human mind, this, perhaps, is the greatest; and it is worthy the most serious consideration, that against such Christ expresseth Himself most angry. Matt. xxiii. throughout.”— Hawker, 7-448.

“The Reader, If his views are at all in correspondence with mine, will not be offended that I so often call him, to remark the awful character of those Pharisees It is not surely without design, that God the Holy Ghost hath interspersed so much of their history, worthless as it is, with that of Christ, which is so infinitely endearing, but with an eye to the Church a improvement. The Lord knew, that such characters from generation to generation would arise, like weeds, in the garden of the Church; and scatter their baneful seeds In every direction. The Lord therefore bath marked their prominent appearances, that they may be everlastingly distinguished from plants of the Lord’s right hand planting, and separated from what is pure. Ye shall know them by their fruits. They profess great sanctity of character, great zeal for promoting their own tenets, they long to proselyte the world; they abound, or would have the world suppose they abound, in good deeds, almsgiving, and unbounded charity. But in the same moment, they burn with the bitterest rancor of heart against that faith in Christ, as their forefathers, the Pharisees in Christ’s days, did before
 them; which hangs the whole salvation upon the Person, Blood, and Righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ only. They desire it may be considered, that they profess Christ, and hope to be saved by Christ: but they consider their good works, as partly recommendations. To rob them of these, would be like Micah’s gods taken from him, having nothing left. Judges xviii. 24, They have never known, neither felt, the plague of their own hearts; and therefore are more at enmity against the faith once delivered to the saints, than the openly profane. May the Lord the Spit, who bath so graciously watched over His Church, in holding forth so frequently the awful history of such men, keep His people free from being tainted with their doctrine. Luke xli. 1.”—Hawker 7-

“We find not Christ, in all His preaching, so severe upon any class of people as upon the Scribes and Pharisees; for the truth is, nothing is more directly opposite to the spirit of the gospel than the temper and practice of that generation of men, who were made up of pride, worldliness, and tyranny, under a cloak and pretense of religion; yet these were the idols and darlings of the people, who thought, if but two men went to heaven, one would be a Pharisee.”—Henry, 4-220.

“The Pharisee and Publican are as much living characters now, as then, in the days of our Lord.
 Every man is a Pharisee that is seeking acceptance with God, either whole or in part, who prides himself upon his own good deeds, and prayers, and sacraments, and almsgivings; and hath recourse to Christ no further according to his will than to make up (if there should be any) his own deficiency. And every man may be called a Publican, in the sense of this parable, who from the teaching of God the Spirit hath been led to behold the Adam-nature in which he was born, and the condemnation in which he is involved, both by original, and by actual transgression; and led by the Holy Ghost to God in Christ, acknowledgeth himself unmeriting forgiveness, while in sorrow and contrition he seeks it. Justification is of God in Christ. And therefore the self-condemned, and not the self-righteous, find justification before God.”—Hawker, 7.465.

“They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance “—Mark Ii. 17 “Which seems to be a proverbial expression, signifying that He was a physician, that these publicans and sinners were sick persons, and needed His company and assistance; but that they the Scribes and Pharisees, were whole, and in good health, in their own esteem, and so wanted no relief; and therefore ought not to take it amiss, that He attended the one, and not the other. These words give a general view of mankind in their different sentiments of themselves and of Christ; and of the usefulness of Christ to one sort, and not another. There are some that cry up the power of man’s free-will, and plead for the strength and purity of human nature, and extol its excellencies and abilities; and t is no wonder that these see no need of Christ, either for themselves or others: hence preachers of this complexion leave Christ, out of their ministry for the most part; and generally speaking, lesson the glory and dignity of His Person, depreciate His offices, reject His righteousness, and deny His satisfaction and atonement: and such reckon themselves the favorites of heaven, and are ready to say, whom Shall God delight to honor, but us, who are so pure and holy? They therefore trust in their own righteousness, and despise others, and make their own works their saviours.”—Gill, 7-892.

“Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him.”— Matt. xii. 14. “It is striking to observe that those very scrupulous persons who professed so high a regard for the Lord’s day, yet scrupled not to consult on that day, how they might destroy the Lord of life and glory.—Reader! did you ever notice any of the Pharisee~ of the present hour, (for they are the same in all ages). Oh! what vast regard they would have you suppose they have for the morality of the gospel! But the Lord Jesus who reads under this covering the heart of such men, tells us that notwithstanding all this, they should receive the greater damnation. Matt. xxiii. 14. Now observe this was not for any immoralities, or for the neglect of prayers, and the like; for they were rigid to an excess in duties as they called them. But it was for setting up a righteousness of their own, against the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Beware ye (saith Jesus) of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy! Luke xii. 1.”—Hawker, 7-83.

I hope that my readers may be profited by these many extracts.


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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.