I. GROUND OF JUSTIFICATION.
The Ground or Meritorious Cause of justification the Evangelical Arminian theologians assert to be Christ's "obedience unto death." This is a general statement, and, so far as it is general, it is in accord with the Calvinistic doctrine on the subject. He who would take any other ground would descend to the low level of the Pelagian and the Socinian. All who pretend to orthodoxy must hold that the atoning merit of God's incarnate Son is the ground of the sinner's acceptance before the divine tribunal. But when the general statement is analyzed into particulars, there are several points at which the differences between the Arminian and the Calvinistic systems come distinctly into view. Is the meritorious obedience of Christ the Righteousness of God which is revealed from faith to faith? Upon whom does that obedience terminate for justification ? What is the result secured by it so far as probation is concerned ?-these questions are answered very differently in the two systems.
1. The Calvinist affirms, and the Arminian denies, that "the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith" is the vicarious obedience of Christ to the requirements of the law. This phrase, "the righteousness of God," is of the most critical importance in the apostle's discussion of justification. It is the hinge upon which it turns. Why was not Paul ashamed of the gospel of Christ? Because it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Why is the gospel the power of God unto salvation? Because therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith. It is precisely the fact that the gospel reveals the righteousness of God to faith which constitutes it God's power to pardon the sinner and receive him into his favor. It is therefore of the utmost consequence to determine the question, What is this righteousness of God? As the Arminian denies that it is the vicarious obedience of Christ to the law, it behooves him to answer that question in some other way. Several answers have been returned: first, that it is the intrinsic rectitude of the divine character declared by the gospel; secondly, that it is the rectoral justice of the divine administration; thirdly, that it is God's method of justification; fourthly, that it is justifying faith; and sometimes these are mixed together in a marvellous and indescribable compound.
First, Is it the intrinsic or essential righteousness of God, declared by the gospel? In speaking formally of this righteousness Dr. Pope says: "It may be viewed objectively; and in this sense is used to describe God's method of restoring man to a state of conformity with his law: the righteousness of God, as the originating and regulative and essential principle of that method; exhibited in the work of Christ, the meritorious ground of the sinner's acceptance, or in Christ our Righteousness, and, as such, proclaimed in the gospel, to which it gives a name. Viewed subjectively, it is the righteousness of the believer under two aspects: first, it is justification by faith, or the declaratory imputation of righteousness without works; and then it is justification by faith as working through love and fulfilling the law; these however constituting one and the same Righteousness of Faith as the free gift of grace in Christ." Speaking further of the "Righteousness of God" he says: "The gospel is a revelation of God's righteous method of constituting sinners righteous through the atonement of Christ by faith: hence it is termed the Righteousness of God. Viewed in relation to the propitiatory sacrifice, it is a manifestation of God's essential righteousness in the remission of sins; viewed in relation to the Evangelical institute, it is the divine method of justifying the ungodly." This is somewhat confused and obscure, but two things are evidently set forth: in the first place, the "righteousness of God" is his essential righteousness manifested by the gospel; and in the second place, the "righteousness of God" is his method of justifying sinners. What Dr. Pope has joined together logic will take leave to put asunder, as the union was ab initio null and void. The former of these positions will be considered first, and separately from the latter, the consideration of which is reserved to another place.
It needs not many words to show that the essential righteousness, or, what is the same, the justice, of God cannot be the righteousness of God which is revealed to the faith of the guilty and despairing sinner as the ground of his hope of acceptance. It is an attribute of the divine nature, and exactly that attribute which is the most dreadful to the sinner's contemplation. It demands his punishment, visits its withering curse upon his head, and raises the flames of consuming wrath in the way of his approach to God. Nor does it at all relieve the difficulty to say that the sinner beholds the demands of this awful attribute satisfied by the suffering obedience of the Son of God, and from that circumstance derives the hope of pardon and acceptance. This aggravates the difficulty a thousand-fold. That the essential righteousness of God could be appeased only by the blood and anguish of the Cross presents it in a more fearful light than when it was revealed amidst the darkness, smoke and flame, the thunders and lightnings, the trumpet blast and the voice of words of Sinai's quaking mount. "If they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" If justice thus dealt with God's beloved Son, what will it do with the conscious transgressor of his law? It cannot be the intrinsic righteousness of God requiring such a sacrifice as that exhibited on the Cross which is revealed to faith. It is revealed to despair. But that the righteousness produced by an incarnate God satisfying the demands of God's essential righteousness which cannot be remitted, relaxed or compromised, and satisfying them in the room of the sinner - that this righteousness is revealed in the gospel to the faith of the guilty as a complete ground of acceptance with God is comprehensible. This it is which constitutes the gospel God's power to pardon, this which makes it tidings of great joy to those who sit in hopeless despair at the smoking gate of hell. To reveal the justice of God as a ground of hope to be apprehended by faith is a form of expression unknown to the Scriptures. It is what Christ has done and suffered in obeying the law which is held up to faith as the ground of acceptance with God. And as the righteousness of God is said to be revealed to faith, that righteousness must be the same with the righteousness of Christ. It certainly is not the distinguishing peculiarity of the gospel that it reveals the justice of God, or the grand office of faith that it receives that justice. The righteousness of God, therefore, which is revealed to faith, constituting the gospel the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, cannot be the justice of God. It is preposterous. Justice is rather God's power unto damnation. It would be an inversion of the grace of the gospel, did the just live by faith in the justice of God. It is true that the Publican pleaded with God for favor through atonement (i`la,sqhti,), but it is certain that he did not plead for justice; he asked for mercy. Nor is the essential righteousness of God transmuted by atonement into mercy. It abides righteousness still. It was mercy that provided the atonement, and it is mercy that extends pardon to the sinner, in consistency with the claim of unchanging righteousness fulfilled by the obedience of the Saviour. Faith in that obedience, as the righteousness provided, produced, and accepted by God, is the required condition through which the sinner's guilt is remitted, and his person admitted to favor.
Secondly, It is sometimes contended that the "righteousuess of God" which is revealed to faith is the rectoral righteousness of the divine administration.1 The rectoral righteousness of God, as the term implies, is his justice in the administration of his moral government. What is this but the attribute of justice in energy ad extra? It enforces the divine law which is a transcript, or formal expression, of his moral perfections. The same course of argument, consequently, which was employed in relation to the intrinsic or essential righteousness of God will equally apply to his rectoral righteousness. But in the case of the latter it becomes evident that righteousness or justice is the actual rendering to every one what is his due. Were there no creature in existence, God would render to himself what is due in accordance with his intrinsic justice; and the same attribute would secure to each Person of the Godhead what properly belongs to him. There would be an infinite reciprocity in the communication and the reception of what is just to each. Towards the creatures who are subjects of the moral government of God, the attribute of justice, no longer confined to the relations of the Godhead, is so exercised as to render to each his due. This administration of justice, from the nature of the case, must be perfect, for it is divine. Each subject must receive exactly what is his due. The righteous cannot be treated as sinful, nor the sinner as righteous. Either the sinner must be punished in his own person, or, upon the supposition that substitution is admitted, in the person of a substitute. The rectoral righteousness, or distributive justice, of God must be completely satisfied, else the divine government is imperfectly administered.
Upon the Arminian scheme a serious difficulty here occurs. It is upon that scheme conceded that the principle of substitution has been introduced into the moral government of God, and that the atonement was in its nature vicarious. But, in the first place, it is denied that Christ as the substitute assumed human guilt, and that it was imputed to him by God, as judge. Dr. Raymond says: "The notion - held, to be sure, by but a very few - that the sins of mankind, or any portion of them, were imputed to Christ - that is, that he took upon him our iniquities in such a sense as that he was considered guilty, or that they were accounted to him, or that he suffered the punishment due on account of those sins - in a word, the idea that the Son of God died as a culprit, taking the place of culprits and having their transgressions imputed to him, accounted as his - we have characterized as well-nigh bordering upon blasphemy; it is, to say the least, a horrible thing to think of. The term impute cannot, in any good sense, be applied in this case. If, however, it be insisted upon that the sins of mankind, or of the elect, were imputed to Christ, the only sense admissible - and even in that sense the formula is eminently awkward - is, that consequences of man's sins were placed upon him; he suffered because of sin, not at all that he was punished for sin, or suffered the penalty of sin."2 Now, it is demanded, if this were true, how, in accordance with the rectoral righteousness of God, Christ could have suffered and died. Of course he had no conscious guilt. Upon the supposition before us he had no imputed guilt. As these are the only possible ways in which one can be guilty, Christ had no guilt at all - he was perfectly and in every sense innocent. Did rectoral justice render to him his due, when as innocent he suffered and died? It may be said that he freely consented to suffer and die. But divine justice could not have consented; and as the Son of God was infinitely just, he could not have consented. To say that men sometimes elect to suffer and die for others does not in the least relieve the gigantic difficulty; for no man has the right to suffer and die for others unless it be his duty to do so. But the Son of God was, in the first instance, under no obligation to offer himself as a sacrifice for sinners. Further, to say that Christ consented to suffer and die is to suppose a covenant between God the Father and God the Son. This, however, is denied by Arminians, who admit only a covenant between God and men. The difficulty is insuperable upon the Arminian scheme. The rectoral righteousness of God was overslaughed or thrown out of account in relation to the stupendous fact of Christ's sufferings and death. And yet it is contended that the rectoral righteousness of God is revealed, declared, manifested by the gospel through the atonement of Christ! The abettor of the Moral Influence theory, which discards the distributive justice of God, may be consistent in maintaining that the sufferings and death of Christ were a sacrifice made by love with which justice had nothing to do; but as the Arminian admits retributive justice and yet denies that Christ was putatively guilty, he is involved in flat self-contradiction. Either rectoral justice had nothing to do with the sufferings and death of Christ, or it had to do with them. If the former, the Arminian doctrine under consideration - namely, that the "righteousness of God" which is revealed to faith is his rectoral righteousness mauifested by the gospel, is fatuously absurd. If the latter, the rectoral righteousness of God did not render Christ his due as a perfectly innocent being. On either horn the Arminian doctrine is impaled. In the second place, if the imputation of the sinner's guilt to Christ as his Substitute is denied, it follows that his guilt remains upon himself. It is in no way removed. But, it is contended that he is pardoned, if he believes in Christ. How, then, in accordance with rectoral righteousness, does he receive his due? Rectoral righteousness absolutely requires the punishment of guilt. There is no principle clearer in the moral government of God than the inseparable connection of guilt and punishment. To say that he is pardoned is to say that his guilt has not been punished. For, if pardoned, he is not consciously punished; and if Christ, as his Substitute, was not punished, his guilt has in no sense been punished. The inseparable connection between guilt and punishment no longer exists; rectoral justice has been defrauded of its rights. The sinner has not had his due rendered to him. If Christ was not the Substitute of the sinner, and if his death was not a penalty substituted for the death-penalty due the sinner, but simply, as we have seen it stated, a substitute for the penalty, then the penalty demanded by rectoral justice has been dispensed with. For it is as clear as day that the penalty has not been endured at all: not by the sinner - he is pardoned; not by Christ - he endured no penalty. The rectoral righteousness of God may have its precept, but in this case is shorn of its penalty: a mutilated righteousness, surely! Yet the rectoral righteousness of God is that which is revealed to faith in the gospel, seeing the sinner is pardoned because it has been fulfilled in the suffering and death of Christ!
Thirdly, It is maintained that the "righteousness of God" which is revealed from faith to faith, which without the law is manifested, is God's method of justification. Says Watson: "The phrase, the righteousness of God, in this [Rom. iii. 21, 22] and several other passages in St. Paul's writings, obviously means God's righteous method of justifying sinners through the atonement of Christ, and, instrumentally, by faith."3 This is hardly a true construction of the apostle's words.
In the first place, there would be no progress in the statement: it would return upon itself. For it would amount to this: God's method of justification is through faith in his method of justification. The question still presses, What is God's method of justification? If one should ask by what means he might reach a certain place, it would be a poor answer to tell him, Take the road that leads to that place. The sinner asks, What is God's method of justification? or, what is the same thing, How shall I be justified? It would be an equally poor answer to tell him, Accept by faith God's method of justification. But if the answer should be, God has revealed the righteousness of Christ to faith; accept that righteousness by faith, and thou shalt be justified, it would be satisfactory, and it is the only satisfactory answer that can be given to the inquiry. To reply to it by saying, The righteousness of God is his method of justifying the sinner; accept that method by faith, and thou shalt be justified, would be tautological and to no purpose. Nothing would be explained.
In the second place, righteousness without works is said to be imputed: "Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works."4 But it is out of the question to speak of a method of justification being imputed. To this the Arminian will reply by saying that it is faith which is described as the righteousness without works, and it is declared that faith is imputed. Now we have just heard Watson saying that God's righteousness is his method of justifying the sinner. It seems then that there are two justifying righteousnesses: God's method of justification, and faith. This is utterly inadmissible. Either it is God's method of justification which is the righteousness without works that is imputed, and that is absurd; or it is faith which is that righteousness, and that will be disproved as the argument is developed. Meanwhile, it cannot be allowed to the Arminian to play fast and loose with the all-important terms justifying righteousness. He cannot in one breath, as Watson does, signify by those terms God's rectoral justice, God's method of justification, and the sinner's faith. This is "confusion worse confounded." The righteousness which justifies cannot possibly be all three, or any two, of them. If it be one of them, let the Arminian adhere to that one alone, and he will at least be consistent with himself, however inconsistent with Scripture.
In the third place, the righteousness which is of God by faith is contrasted with the righteousness which is one's own. But there would be no meaning in the comparison of one's personal righteousness with God's method of justification. Let us hear Paul: "Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith."5 By his own righteousness he certainly could not have intended his own method of justification, but his conscious, subjective obedience to the law; and that he should have contrasted that with the obedience of Christ is intelligible. The former could constitute no ground, the latter is a perfect ground, of justification. The same comparison is instituted by Paul in describing the zeal of his countrymen which was not according to knowledge. "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."6 By their own righteousness is meant their legal obedience, "for Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them."7 Their legal obedience is contrasted, not with the divine method of justification, but with the obedience of Christ by which he is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
In the fourth place, our sin imputed to Christ is contrasted with his righteousness imputed to us. "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."8 Will it be said that Christ was made God's method of condemnation for us, that we might be made God's method of justification in him? That would be the natural antithesis, if the righteousness of God mean God's method of justification. It most certainly cannot here mean faith, for it would be asserted that we are made faith in him! Both these constructions are so outrageous that they are rejected by Arminians themselves. Refusing to see the doctrines of imputed guilt and imputed righteousness which are so plain on the face of the passage that a blind man might perceive them, they say that Christ was made a sin-offering for us. Well then, we were made a righteousness-offering to God in him. That would be the antithesis required. No; we are justified in him. Between a sin-offering for us and being justified in him, what conceivable comparison is there? But let us not be hasty. Let us see whether some one of the various Arminian interpretations of the phrase "righteousness of God" will not meet the demands of the case? Are we made the essential righteousness of God in Christ? Are we made the rectoral righteousness of God in him? Are we made God's method of justification in him? Are we made faith in him? Are we made all these in him? No, answers the Arminian, we are justified in him. It follows that the righteousness of God here spoken of is neither God's essential righteousness, nor his rectoral righteousness, nor his method of justification, nor faith, nor all these together. What, then, can it be? The answer is, justified and sanctified. So it would appear that justified and sanctified9 is another of the senses in which the phrase righteousness of God is employed.
A parallel passage is that in which Christ is declared to be made of God to us - righteousness: "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."10 It will scarcely be contended that Christ is of God made unto us God's method of justification. If it be asked, Who ever asserted such an absurdity? it may be inquired in reply, How then is Christ made righteousness to us? Is he made to us God's essential righteousness, or his rectoral righteousness, or faith? Are these suppositions too absurd to ascribe to the Arminian? If so, the question recurs, How is Christ made righteousness to us? The answer cannot be, Because he is our sanctification, for the plain reason that in this passage righteousness is discriminated from sanctification. It will hardly do to say that he is made to us wisdom, and sanctification, and sanctification and redemption. A first and a second blessing of sanctification are surely not taught here. In what sense then is Christ made righteousness to us? There is but one other answer. It is that of the Calvinist: Christ's righteousness is ours by imputation.
Another passage which cannot be harmonized with the view under consideration is the powerful one in Jeremiah:11 "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." There can be no doubt that this statement refers to Christ. How he could be called Jehovah, God's method of justification made ours, it is impossible to see. Even John Wesley, in his celebrated sermon on these words, acknowledged that the doctrine of Christ's imputed righteousness is, in a certain sense, taught in them, and he defined that righteousness to be what Christ did and suffered - what is usually termed his active and passive obedience. But from Richard Watson to the present day, the Evangelical Arminian theology has gone beyond its leader and discarded the phrase imputed righteousness of Christ. Be the interpretation of these glorious words what it may, it most assuredly cannot be: The Lord, our divine method of justification! No more can it be our divine essential righteousness, or our divine rectoral righteousness, or our faith.
Still another statement may be emphasized. It is that in which Gabriel tells Daniel, "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness."12 Illustrious testimony to the obedience of Christ! Who can resist the conviction that the righteousness here signalized is the "righteousness of God" which Paul magnified as the fundamental feature of a sinner's justification, the revelation of which constituted the gospel the power of God unto salvation, redeemed it from contempt and rendered it an object of glorying in the splendid capital of the Roman empire? And if this be so, the everlasting righteousness, the bringing in of which was foretold by an angelic prophet, cannot be regarded as God's method of justification, unless it be held that Jesus first brought in a method of justification which had been employed since the promise of redemption was delivered to Adam and Eve, and unless it be maintained that God will be everlastingly employed in justifying sinners after the sentences of the Final Judgment shall have forever sealed the doom of men. An everlasting method of justification is something hard to be understood, except it be by those who regard anything more tolerable than imputed righteousness; but that an obedience of a divine-human Substitute, brought in when he suffered and died for his people on earth, should, according to the purpose of God, have grounded their justification from the beginning of sin, and will everlastingly continue to ground their justified standing in heaven, - this is not only intelligible, but is the most glorious doctrine of the glorious gospel of the blessed God. The wonder is that any Protestant, that any believing sinner conscious of the sin that mingles even with his faith, should ever question it. This, and this alone, is the righteousness which finishes transgression, makes an end of sins, and effects a reconciliation. for iniquity, that perpetuates the light of God's face and forever removes the shadow of contingency from the bliss of heaven. So much for the position that the righteousness of God, without the law, which is revealed from faith to faith is God's method of justifying the sinner.
Fourthly, It is, with a remarkable versatility of interpretation, held that the righteousness of God is the righteousness of faith. Mr. Fletcher says of "our own righteousness of faith": "We assert that it is the righteousness of God."13 Dr. Ralston in professedly discussing the question, What is the righteousness of God? quotes with approval from a learned commentator a passage in which this view is expressed. "In reference," he observes, "to this phrase, which occurs in Rom. i. 17, Whitby remarks: 'This phrase, in St. Paul's style, doth always signify the righteousness of faith in Christ Jesus's dying or shedding his blood for us.'" And then Ralston goes on to shift his terms, and curiously italicises the scriptural words which annihilate this view. "To this," he continues, "we might add the testimony of Paul himself, who, in Rom. iii. 22, gives precisely the same comment upon the phrase in question. 'Even,' says he, 'the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ."14 That is, the righteousttess of God is the righteousness of faith, and the righteousness of faith is the righteousness which is by faith. This is not Paul's confusion; it is Dr. Ralston's. He seemed unconscious that a righteousness which inheres in faith and a righteousness which comes by faith are not, cannot be, the same thing. That the righteousness of God is the righteousness that justifies not even the Arminians deny. That faith is the righteousness that justifies, they vehemently contend; for, was not Abraham's faith imputed to him for righteousness? Was he not righteous because he believed? His faith was the righteousness imputed to him. If this is not their doctrine, language can convey no meaning. When the relation of faith to justification comes in its place in the general scheme of the argument to be examined, this doctrine will be more particularly considered. At present, it is relevant to prove that the righteousness of faith, or faith as righteousness, cannot be the righteousness of God. The appeal will be taken directly to the Scriptures, and if they do not show this, the plainest declarations are incapable of being understood.
Rom. i. 17: "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith." If faith be the righteousness of God, the statement would be exactly equivalent to this: the righteousness of God is revealed from the righteousness of God to the righteousness of God; or, faith is revealed from faith to faith. This cannot be the apostle's statement. If it be repudiated by the Arminian, it may be asked, For what reason? Is it urged that the righteousness of God is different from the righteousness of faith? The difficulty is only changed, not removed; for the statement would be: the righteousness of God is revealed from the righteousness of faith to the righteousness of faith. What meaning can be attached to such an utterance? If the righteousness of God and the righteousness of faith are different expressions for the same thing the first difficulty remains: God's righteousness is certainly not revealed to itself; neither is faith revealed to itself. So far as this cardinal statement of the mode of justification is concerned, it is perfectly clear that faith is not the righteousness of God.
Rom. iii. 21, 22: "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe." If faith be the righteousness of God, the statement here would be tantamount to this: the righteousness of God which is by the righteousness of God; or faith which is by faith. This cannot be escaped except by a denial of the position that faith is the righteousness of God - the very affirmation resisted in these remarks. Moreover, what sense can be extracted from the sentence: faith is unto all and upon all them that believe? Yet, if faith be the righteousness of God, that sentence is virtually put into the apostle's mouth.
Phil. iii. 9: "And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." The apostle contrasts his own righteousness which is of the law with another righteousness which is through faith. That other righteousness he describes as that which is of God, and as imparted through faith or attained by faith. Now, if faith be the righteousness of God, he is represented as desiring to have that faith which is through the faith of Christ, the faith which is of God by faith. This construction of the solemn language of Paul is so palpably inadmissible, that we are obliged to reject the view that the righteousness of God is faith, or, what is the same, that the righteousness of God is the righteousness of faith - the righteousness which faith is reckoned to be.
The question whether faith, in relation to justification, be any righteousness at all, legal or evangelical, imputed or inherent, will be considered in another place; but the passages of Scripture which have been adduced incontestably prove that the righteousness of God which is revealed from faith to faith, which is through faith, which is by faith, and which is unto all and upon all that believe, cannot be faith itself or any righteousness involved in it.
It has now been shown that the righteousness of God which is revealed to faith by the gospel is not God's intrinsic or essential righteousness, nor his rectoral righteousness by which he administers his moral government, nor his method of justification, nor faith. What, then, is it but the vicarious righteousness of Christ - his obedience to the precept, and the penalty of the law in the sinner's stead, wrought out in his life and in his death? The Arminian holds that the ground of justification is the merit of Christ, but fails to make the righteousness of Christ that righteousness of God which faith apprehends as the ground of acceptance. He is right in general, and wrong in detail.
2. To whom is the merit of Christ, according to the Arminian, made available as a ground of justification? Who stand upon that ground? This question is relevant because its answer throws some light upon the whole Arminian conception of justification. It behooves to be considered somewhere, and it may be well to take it up here. Arminian divines and commentators generally concur in holding that the guilt of Adam's sin is removed at birth from all men. They differ, it is true, in regard to the use of the term guilt in connection with the first sin; some contending that all men are in some sense guilty in respect to that sin, and therefore suffer the penal consequences of it. As punishment necessarily supposes guilt, men universally contracted guilt in Adam. Others hold that men suffer the consequences of Adam's sin, but that those consequences are not penal. Raymond scoffs at the notion that men are guilty in respect to Adam's sin in any proper sense. But although the tendency of the Evangelical Arminian theology seems to be now in the latter direction, it call scarcely be regarded as fairly representing the standard views of that theology as a whole. Be that as it may, all concur in admitting, what only Pelagians and Infidels deny, that men are in some way implicated in the Fall of Adam. This connection with the first sin is destroyed, in the case of all men, by the effect of Christ's atonement. They are absolved by the blood of Christ from the guilt (taken strictly or loosely) of Adam's sin. They are, so far as their connection with that sin is concerned, pardoned; and as, according to the Arminian doctrine, justification is exactly pardon, they are justified from that guilt. Indeed, this is, in terms, contended for in the expositions of the apostle's comparison of Adam's disobedience and Christ's righteousness in the fifth chapter of Romans. We have, then, the justification of all men at birth frotn the guilt of original sin. Now,
In the first place, this necessarily supposes two jttstifications, separated by an interval of time. The case of infants dying in infancy being left out of account, those who reach maturity, and who believe on Christ, were first justified at birth from the guilt of original sin, and afterwards, upon exercising faith, are justified from the guilt of their conscious, actual sin's.
In the second place, until the adult believes on Christ, he is a partially justified man; for be has been, confessedly, justified from the guilt of Adam's sin. How is this made consistent with the position that justification is conditioned upon faith? If it be replied that only justification from the guilt of actual sins is so conditioned, it is demanded upon what scriptural ground his justification is thus split into parts - the one conditioned, the other unconditioned, by faith?
In the third place, should the adult die without believing in Christ, he dies justified in part and unjustified in part, partly pardoned and partly condemned; pardoned for the guilt of original sin, condemned for that of actual. But as actual sin springs from the principle of original, he is condemned for a sin the guilt of which supposes a sin which has been pardoned. If not, the man must, like Adam, have from innocence fallen into sin, since he must have been innocent - free from guilt - in the interval between his birth when the guilt of Adam's sin was removed and his first voluntary, conscious, actual sin. This, however, is denied, and no wonder; for were it true there would be as many falls from innocence into sin, like that of the first man, as there have been, are, and will be human beings born of ordinary generation. But it must be so, if the premise be true that the guilt of Adam's sin is non-imputed to every soul of man, at his birth. He begins life innocent, for the guilt of the first sin is pardoned, and no infant is capable of contracting guilt by conscious transgression. If it be still contended that the man does not fall from innocence when he commits actual sin, because the principle of depravity is in him and occasions actual sin, it is insisted upon that he must be innocent since he is free from all guilt. And then the answer is still further insufficient, for the reason that it is impossible to see how freedom from all guilt and the principle of corruption can co-exist. If it be supposed that the man loses the justification which was secured for him by the atonement, it is replied that the Arminian is not at liberty to make that supposition; for the precariousness of justification for which he contends results from the contingent exercise of faith. One who has been justified by faith may cease to be in a justified state because he fails to exercise faith: the condition gone, the thing conditioned goes with it. But here is a justification which was not conditioned upon faith, as no infant at birth can exercise faith. It cannot, therefore, fail, since the uncertain condition of continuance is non-existent. Given without faith, why should it not continue without it?
The only relief from this difficulty would seem to lie in a theory akin to that of Placaeus, who held that the imputation of Adam's guilt is mediated through conscious sin. So, although that guilt has been removed, ipso facto, through the virtue of the atonement, it may be incurred afresh by actual sin. But Placaeus did not hold that Adam's sin was in any sense directly entailed upon his posterity, and consequently could not have maintained that it is removed by virtue of the atonement from all men at birth. The Arminian has to account for the re-incurring of a cancelled obligation. If he decline that office, the difficulty returns of two justifications, with the consequences by which that view is embarrassed.
The Arminian doctrine broadens the application of the ground of justification beyond the warrant of Scripture. It places in part upon it the whole race of man, many of whom never hear of its existence; while many others of them, who know of it through the gospel, fail to receive any benefit from it, but are swept away from it by the tempestuous floods of sin. The Calvinistic doctrine of a virtual justification through the representation of his people by Christ, and an actual, conscious justification through faith, is not liable to such objections. It is self-consistent, walking in a narrow way, indeed, but one which surely leads to life. No one is represented as being only in part on the Rock of Ages, and every one who was ever wholly upon it remains there, unshaken by the vicissitudes of life and the stormy agitations of death and judgment.
3. In connection with the point last noticed, of the extent to which the ground or meritorious cause of justification is applied, the question occurs, What is its result so far as probation is concerned? It is one of momentous importance. As the subject of probation is rarely handled with anything like thoroughness in systems of divinity, and as it deserves to be looked at in all its bearings, let us contemplate it, first, in relation to the condition of man under the scheme of natural religion, and secondly, in respect to his state as affected by redemption.
First, What was the nature of man's probation, so far as his relation to Adam was concerned? To this question Evangelical Arminian theologians give no consistent answer. It were idle to attempt the formulation of any doctrine upon this point from their confused and heterogeneous utterances. Some citations will be furnished, which will serve to put this allegation beyond doubt. Says Wesley: "In Adam all died, all human kind, all the children of men who were then in Adam's loins. The natural consequence of this is, that every one descended from him comes into the world spiritually dead, dead to God, wholly dead in sin: entirely void of the life of God, void of the image of God, of all that righteousness and holiness wherein Adam was created."15 "Unless in Adam all had died, being in the loins of their first parent, every descendant of Adam, every child of man, must have personally answered for himself to God."16 "But it is the covenant of grace, which God through Christ hath established with men in all ages (as well before and under the Jewish dispensation, as since God was manifest in the flesh), which St. Paul here opposes to the covenant of works made with Adam, while in paradise."17 "One thing more was indispensably required by the righteousness of the law, namely, that this universal obedience, this perfect holiness both of heart and life, should be perfectly uninterrupted also, should continue without any intermission, from the moment when God created man, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, until the days of his trial should be ended, and he should be confirmed in life everlasting."18 "The covenant of works required of Adam and all his children, to 'pay the price themselves' in consideration of which, they were to receive all the future blessings of God."19 The fact may be noticed, although it is not pertinent to the present purpose that it should be dwelt upon, that Wesley did not hold the doctrine of strict federal representation. All men were in Adam's loins. He seminally contained them, and because of this fact represented them. The legal results of his sin are derived to them through parental propagation. How this consists with a legal probation of the race in him, it is impossible to see. Yet, he taught a covenant of works in some sense, and meant, it appears, to teach the probation of the race in Adam. They had a "trial" in him. Otherwise each would have had to answer for himself.
In like manner Watson intended, it would seem, to assert a probation of the race in the first man, for he contends that they suffer penally for his sin: "the full penalty of Adam's offence passed upon his posterity."20 But how a proper probation is made out, let the following utterances evince. Speaking of the effect of the "federal connection between Adam and his descendants" upon the latter, he says: " By immediate imputation is meant that Adam's sin is accounted ours in the sight of God, by virtue of our federal relation. To support the latter notion, various illustrative phrases have been used: as, that Adam and his posterity constitute one moral person, and that the whole human race was in him, its head, consenting to his act, etc. This is so little agreeable to that distinct agency which enters into the very notion of an accountable being, that it cannot be maintained, and it destroys the sound distinction between original and actual sin."21 "It is an easy and plausible thing to say, in the usual loose and general manner of stating the sublapsarian doctrine, that the whole race having fallen in Adam, and become justly liable to eternal death, God might, without any impeachment of his justice, in the exercise of his sovereign grace, appoint some to life and salvation by Christ, and leave the others to their deserved punishment. But this is a false view of the case, built upon the false assumption that the whole race were personally and individually, in consequence of Adam's fall, absolutely liable to eternal death. That very fact, which is the foundation of the whole scheme, is easy to be refuted on the clearest authority of Scripture; while not a passage can be adduced, we may boldly affirm, which sanctions any such doctrine."22 "What then becomes of the premises in the sublapsarian theory which we have been examining, that in Adam all men are absolutely condemned to eternal death? Had Christ not undertaken human redemption, we have no proof, no indication in Scripture, that for Adam's sin any but the actually guilty pair would have been doomed to this condemnation; and though now the race having become actually existent, is for this sin, and for the demonstration of God's hatred of sin in general, involved, through a federal relation and by an imputation of Adam's sin, in the effects above mentioned; yet a universal remedy is provided."23 All this is very curious. Men are condemned to death, spiritual, temporal and eternal, for Adam's sin; but he was not strictly speaking their representative, they were not one with him in law, and they would not have been condemned to death had it not been for the provision of redemption in Christ!24 It were folly to denominate this a proper probation. The whole case is unintelligible.
The views of Fletcher seemed to have been in accord with those of Wesley and Watson with, as usual, some peculiar refinements of his own, as the following quotation will show: "We were not less in Adam's loins when God gave his Son to Adam in the grand original Gospel promise, than when Eve prevailed upon him to eat of the forbidden fruit. As all in him were included in the covenant of perfect obedience before the Fall, so all in him were likewise interested in the covenant of grace and mercy after the Fall. And we have full as much reason to believe, that some of Adam's children never fell with him from a state of probation, according to the old covenant, as to suppose that some of them never rose with him to a state of probation, upon the terms of the new covenant, which stands upon better promises.
"Thus, if we all received an unspeakable injury, by being seminally in Adam when he fell, according to the first covenant, we all received also an unspeakable blessing by being in his loins when God spiritually raised him up, and placed him upon Gospel ground. Nay, the blessing which we have in Christ is far superior to the curse which Adam entailed upon us: we stand our trial upon much more advantageous terms than Adam did in paradise."25
Strict legal representation, the only competent ground of probation proper, is here discarded, and only such probation is asserted as may be collected from the notion of a seminal union with Adam - that is, from his parental headship viewed as representative. The hypothesis that we were also seminally contained in Adam as a restored, believing sinner, is something extraordinary. Of course, if according to the law of propagation all were condemned and died in Adam sinning, it would follow that according to the same law all are justified and live in Adam believing. What then of Cain and his followers? and what need of union to Christ? Is he a third Adam, and believing Adam the second, seeing we must have been in somebody's loins, as redeemed, and we certaiuly are not in Christ's? Christ redeemed Adam, in order that a justified race might be generatively propagated from him.
Under the head of "The Original Probation," Pope, speaking of Adam's relation to his posterity, says: "He represented his posterity; but not as a mediator between God and them; and therefore the ordinance of probation had not the nature of a covenant. The so-called COVENANT OF WORKS has no place in the history of paradise."26 "Original sin," he remarks, "is the sin of Adam's descendants as under a covenant of grace. What it would otherwise have been we can never know: there would then have existed no federal union of mankind."27 Treating of Mediate and Immediate Imputation he makes this sweeping assertion, in which Wesley's view is consigned to the class of unscriptural hypotheses: "Such speculations as these stand or fall with the general principle of a specific covenant with Adam as representing his posterity, a covenant of which the Scripture does not speak. There is but one Covenant, and of that Christ is the Mediator."28
The following passages from Raymond will show how the Evangelical Arminian theology is running down at the heel. "We feel no partiality for the idea of federal headship or representation; but with proper explanation, it may be admitted; it is at best but a figurative illustration, and is of doubtful service. Adam was the head of his race, and represented his race, just as a father is the head and representative of his family. Consequences of the character and conduct of parents naturally accrue to their children. . . . But can any man say that these disadvantages are punishments? Does God consider the children guilty of their parent's sins? Certainly not."29 "Adam was not the race, nor did he represent the race in such a sense that they could be justly doomed to eternal death for his sin."30 "It is not true that the race, as individuals, stood their probation in Adam."31 This is followed by an attempt to prove that had Adam stood, there is no evidence to show that the probation of the race would have terminated happily in him.
Whedon's views may be gathered from the following paragraphs: "If for the fall of Adam, or any reason whatever, the whole human race is born unable to do good, it cannot, then, be damned for not doing good."32 "On Adam's sin, moral subversion and mortality obtained full sway over him, and so of all his descendants by the law of propagation: the law by which throughout the entire generative kingdoms, whether vegetable, animal, or human, like nature begets like nature, bodily, mental, and moral."33 "How does the apostle mean that all have sinned? Theologians have replied, All have sinned in Adam. But no such phrase as sinned in Adam occurs in Scripture. The phrase In Adam all die does occur. This does not mean, however, that any man's body or person was physically, materially or morally present, or so incorporated in the body of Adam as to expire with him when he expired. No more was any person present in Adam to eat the forbidden fruit when he ate. Every man dies conceptually in the first mortal man, just as every lion dies in the first mortal lion; that is, by being subjected to death by the law of likeness to the primal progenitor. The first lion was the representative lion, in whose likeness every descended lion would roar, devour, and die; and so in him the whole lion race die."34 "The clause all have sinned, therefore, means just the same as all sin - thus stating a fact which (allowing for volitional freedom) is as uniform as a law of nature . . . Not because they literally sinned in Adam; not because Adam's personal sin is imputed to them, but because such is their nature that in this scene of probation, hemmed in with temptations on all sides, sooner or later they will sin; and of whatever act a being is the normal, if not absolutely universal, performer, of that he is normally called the doer; if of sin, then a sinner."35
First, It is obvious from these views of prominent theologians that no consistent doctrine in regard to a probation of the race in Adam can be collected from them. They are incapable of being reduced to systematic shape. It is useless to enlarge upon this point: the foregoing extracts speak for themselves. Wesley, Watson and Fletcher allow some sort of covenant with Adam, and a corresponding probation of his descendants in him: Pope explicitly denies a covenant. Raymond as expressly rejects a probation of men in Adam, and Whedon affirms that there is no proof from Scripture that men sinned in Adam.
Secondly, Wesley contended that perfect obedience was required of Adam "until the days of his trial should be ended, and he should be confirmed in life everlasting." This is a curious statement, coming from him, and one difficult of comprehension. Did he intend to include in it Adam's descendants? If he did not, he denied what he admitted - their probation in him. If he did, there are four suppositions possible. First, did he mean by the end of the trial the close of Adam's life? But had he stood, there would have been no close of his life. Secondly, did he mean the end of a certain, definite period during Adam's life? If he did, he affirmed the Calvinistic doctrine and asserted the theory of strict legal representation. But how could he do that, and at the same time hold to a losable justification? Or, how could such a justification consist with "confirmation in everlasting life"? Thirdly, did he mean by the end of the trial, the close of each man's life? That would be tantamount to denying that each man, under the first covenant, had a probation in Adam, a thing which he admitted. Every man would have stood on his own foot. Besides, had Adam stood in integrity, how could any man have died? If in Adam as sinning they died, in Adam as not sinning they would have lived. Fourthly, did he mean by the end of the trial the close of the whole earthly history of Adam and his posterity, supposed to continue in holiness? That would be attended with the same difficulties as the supposition of the trial's terminating at the expiration of a certain, definite period. Moreover, how can it be maintained that there would have been an end of the earthly history of Adam and his descendants, had they remained holy? What proof is there for it? The expression sounds well in a Calvinist's ear, but what does it mean in an Arminian's month?
Thirdly, A probation supposed to terminate in an "amissibie" - a losable justification would have been no real probation at all. For, according to the supposition, the probation would have been both finished and not finished: finished by justification; not finished, since justification might have been lost. And further, had Adam secured justification for his posterity, they might have subsequently lost it, for if they may lose the justification merited by Christ, they surely may have forfeited that won by Adam. If so, what probation would have remained to the race, but one finished and yet unfinished, which is a contradiction in terms?
Fourthly, A seminal union of Adam and his posterity, involving such a representative feature as that union would carry with it, could have been no proper ground for a legal probation. Adam would have differed from ordinary parents simply by the circumstance of his being the first father of mankind; and no one talks of children having a strict, legal probation in their parents. The former are not adjudged to temporal death for the crimes of the latter, much less to eternal death. Those writers, therefore, who hold merely to the seminal relation, and deny probation, are consistent. According to the most accomplished Evangelical Arminian theologians of recent times, the seminal union will not account for legal probation and its tremendous results. The fact is worthy of attention. Asserting the one, they deny the other.
Fifthly, The defect common to all the writers who have been cited, is that their doctrine falls short in not affirming a federal headship of Adam involving strict legal representation, superadded by divine appointment to a headship naturally belonging to the parental relation, and implying only such a federal and representative element as necessarily attaches to that relation. It is true that some admit a covenant, but it was not such a covenant as constituted a competent ground for the legal probation of the race. As the Calvinistic view of probation is denied, and as it stands or falls with the doctrine of the covenant of works, it behooves that proof be furnished of the fact that such a covenant existed.
First, The most prominent and conclusive proof is derived from the fifth chapter of Romans. It establishes an analogy between Christ and Adam. If Christ was a representative, so must have been Adam. The scriptural proofs in favor of Christ's representative character were presented in the foregoing discussion of the Objections to Election. They will not, therefore, be stated here. If it be denied that Adatn was a representative, the only point at which the analogy holds between him and Christ is obliterated. Adam,, although not an instituted type, was a real figure, of Christ. That is, although he was not made a representative for the purpose of typifying Christ as a representative, as Aaron was constituted a priest in order to typify the sacerdotal function of Christ, yet, in consequence of the unity of plan characterizing God's moral government of the human race, which from the beginning proceeded upon the principle of federal representation, Adam as a representative was an analogue of Christ. He was only a type of Christ by reason of the fact that he was a representative of his seed, as Christ is of his. In this respect there is a parallelism between the first and second Adam, in others an antithesis. The passage affords a brief, but pregnant, proof of the representative character of Adam.
But, if Adam were a representative, it is clear that he must have acted under a covenant. In what other way could he have been constituted a representative of his posterity? His concreated relation to a naked dispensation of law could not account for the fact. He would have been obliged to answer for himself alone, so far as the judicial results - the reward or punishment - of his conduct were concerned. It may be urged that as God made him by creation a parental head, there was no need of the superaddition of covenant headship to constitute him a representative. This point has already been elaborately argued, but it is briefly replied here:
In the first place, he was not made simply a parental head. The proof is plain. Christ was not simply a parental head, and as Adam was a type of Christ he could not have been. As Christ certainly was not carnally a parental head, there is no analogy in that regard ; and as he is spiritually a parental head by a supernatural and sovereign influence, it is hard to see how the likeness obtains in that respect. It remains that the analogy is grounded in a federal and representative headship different from parental.
In the second place, if Adam had stood and been justified as a mere parental head, and not as a federal and representative head, his justification would not have secured the justification of his seed; for the righteousness of a parent cannot ensure the standing in righteousness of his children. According to the supposition that Adam was not a federal head and legal representative appointed under a constitution different from the act by which he was created a parent, each one of his posterity would have stood upon his own foot in law, and consequently the standing of each would have been contingent upon his own personal, conscious obedience. Arminians themselves acknowledge the forensic character of justification. The same must be true of condemnation. The propagative channel alone will not account for the derivation of either. A good child is not punished for his father's crimes; nor is a bad child rewarded for his father's virtues. And as it is a fact that a child of good dispositions, humanly speaking, is sometimes born of a bad parent, and a child of bad dispositions of a good parent, it is evident that the seminal principle is not adequate to meet the demands of the case. The universal and undeniable fact of native depravity clearly proves guilt in the progenitor of the race, descending, in consequence of a representative and not a merely parental headship, to those who were his legal constituents, and not merely the fruit of his loins.
But if it be admitted, it may be suggested, that Adam was a representative as well as Christ, it is not proved that his posterity would have been justified in him, on the supposition that he had stood and been justified. It is proved, because:
There could have been no meaning in his being constituted a representative of his seed, had not the possible justification of them through his acts been a consequence of the appointment.
Further, his condemnation involved the condemnation of his seed. Pari ratione, his justification would have involved theirs.
Again, the obedience of the second Adam secured the justification of his seed. The principle is the same in both cases.
The same view is presented, though not so expressly, in the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians and the second chapter of Hebrews. The death of all in Adam and the life of all in Christ depend upon the operation of the same principle. Now it is certain that men do not live because they were seminally contained in Christ. To say that they were in his loins were to blaspheme. Neither, then, the analogy holding, do men die because of a seminal connection with Adam. A federal and representative union is necessitated, and that supposes a covenant originating in the constitutive and appointing prerogative of God. It is nothing short of an impeachment of the moral government of God to assert that men die morally and spiritually, or die at all, in Adam, just as all lions die in the first mortal lion - that the seminal relation accounts for both classes of facts. The Scriptures explicitly declare, in regard to man, that "the wages of sin is death," that "by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin." Infants die before they consciously sin. Their death is the wages of sin. Of what sin? Not their own conscious sin, unless they die in anticipation of it, as if a man were hanged for prospective murder. Of another's sin, therefore. How? As young lions die because the old lion died? Is the death of young lions the wages of an old lion's sin? See, what the seminal principle of Wesley, Watson and Fletcher comes to in the hands of Whedon! N0, death is a judicial infliction in consequence of the sin of a legal representative acting under a legal covenant, and its penal element can only be removed in consequence of the obedience of another and a better Representative under another and a better covenant.
The second chapter of Hebrews proves the necessity of the incarnation of the Son of God, of a community of nature between him and his brethren, the seed of Abraham. Why this necessity? That he might be of the same blood with his seed, inasmuch as the first Adam was of the same blood with his. The principle of representation is probably broad enough to admit of an application in every case in which the subjects of government may be logically collected into unity; but Christ as the representative of his human seed behooved to be made like unto them by taking their nature, because the first representative of men, Adam, sustained that relation to them. The representative must, in this instance, partake of the nature of the represented because of the Adamic law. This settles the question that both Christ and Adam were representatives. The law of representation proceeding by the tie of race controlled both cases. This evinces the difference between a merely seminal union, and a representative union. Christ was not a seminal head of his people, as was the first Adam of his posterity. In that respect therefore the second Adam did not conform to the law of the first. It was in the fact that they were representatives that a common principle obtained. Now as Christ acted as a representative under the economy of a covenant, so likewise must Adam.
Secondly, There could have been no justification without a covenant. Had no covenant existed limiting the time of probation, the demand of the naked law would forever have been, Do and live; and the promise, As long as you do, you shall live. Probation would necessarily have been everlasting, unless closed by sin, and justification involving confirmation in holiness and happiness unattainable. But-
In the first place, God promised justification to Adam as the reward of obedience, because he promised him life as that reward. It is scarcely supposable that God promised not to kill Adam, or not to allow him to die, as long as he continued obedient. It would have been a necessary inference from the character of God and of man's relation to him, that he would preserve the existence of au obedient and loving subject. If any conclusion, however, could be collected from the threatening, In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die, bearing the nature of a promise it would simply be a promise of exemption from death, or the continuance of existence. This is not the highest and most significant sense in which the Scriptures employ the term life, as might be evinced by numerous passages. In connection with the enjoyment of God's favor it is used to signify perpetual, indefectible well-being: it is life everlasting. That God promised this kind of life to Adam in the event of his continuing obedient during the time of probation assigned him, is conclusively shown by the consideration that as, according to the Scriptures, there was an analogy between Christ and Adam, the life promised to Christ on condition of obedience must have been the same in kind, however different in degree of fulness, with that which was promised to Adam in case he stood his trial. But the life promised to Christ and in him to his seed was everlasting life. That supposes justification. As, therefore, God promised justification to Adam, a covenant is proved; since without a covenant justification would have been impossible.
In the second place, the analogy between Christ and Adam directly proves that justification was the reward promised to Adam. As it certainly was promised to Christ, so must it have been to Adam. Otherwise there is no analogy between the two. A covenant with Adam is thus clearly proved to have existed.
It has thus been shown that all men had a legal probation in Adam as their legal representative under the covenant of works. As their representative failed in standing the trial, they all failed in him, and are, therefore, no longer in a state of legal probation. There is no possibility of their obeying the law in order to justification. How, in themselves and by their own efforts, call the condemned be justified? "Therefore, by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified; for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
Secondly, The question next arises, What is the probationary relation which men now sustain to the government of God? Upon this subject the Calvinistic doctrine is: that by virtue of a covenant between God the Father and God the Son, the Son was appointed the Federal Head and Legal Representative of those sovereignly elected by the Father to be redeemed; that the Son accepted the commission, became incarnate, and undertaking to fulfil the covenant of works which Adam had failed to keep, as well as to satisfy the justice of God for its infraction, perfectly obeyed the law in its precept and its penalty, in his life and in his death, in the place of his seed, and rose again for their justification; and that thus their legal probation was finished in him: they, as sinners, being convinced of sin by the Holy Spirit, and by him persuaded and enabled to renounce all legal efforts to secure acceptance with God, and simply to believe in Jesus Christ as the condition of their actual justification.
There is also, in consequence of the indiscriminate offer of salvation to all who hear the gospel, what may be termed an evangelical probation. Those to whom the sound of the gospel comes are tested in regard to their willingness to embrace Christ, and rest upon his righteousness alone for salvation. In this sort of probation there is no legal element. It is, in deed, not probation proper. It is evident that it is confined to those who are in contact with the gospel and does not, therefore, refer to the case of the heathen.
There is, in addition, a subordinate species of probation to which those who are believers in Christ and adopted children of God are subjected, under the operation of the rule which is exercised over God's own house in accordance with the principle of fatherly justice. They are proved or tested with reference to their faithfulness, and correspondingly with the degree of it which they exhibit will that justice mete out to them the rewards won by Christ, and assign them their stations in the kingdom of glory. Salvation - the salvation of Paul and the penitent thief - is entirely of grace, the rewards of the heavenly state are all purchased by the merit of Christ alone; but the proportion in which the rewards will be administered to individuals will be determined by fatherly justice in accordance with the fidelity of the saints on earth. In this paternal rule over God's own house there is no element of retribution. The government is wholly disciplinary. Punishment gives way to chastisement. The Ruler and Judge is both Father and Saviour. It is needless to say that this sort of probation is not legal in the sense that it it is in order to justification. Justification is presupposed. Nor is it in order to salvation. It is in order to the degree in which glory shall be experienced.
It is obvious that the Calvinistic position in regard to probation since the Fall, which has thus been briefly stated, depends upon the doctrines of Unconditional Election and Federal Representation, the proofs of which have been furnished in the preceding discussion. If those doctrines are true, the view of probation which has been given follows as a necessary consequence.
Let us turn now to the Evangelical Arminian doctrine. It is: That concurrent with the decree to permit the Fall was a decree to provide redemption from its effects for all the fallen race; that, accordingly, the atonement of Christ was offered to make the salvation of all men possible; that by virtue of the atonement the free gift came upon every man unto justification of life; that the guilt of Adam's sin is removed from every man at or after birth; that a degree of spiritual life and of free-will is imparted to every man, whereby he is assisted to work righteousness, in case he has not the gospel, to repent and believe in Christ, in case he has it; and that God has entered into a covenant of grace with all men, in which he promises them justification in the event of their fulfilling the above-mentioned conditions, and persevering in that fulfilment to the end. All men are thus in a state of "new and gracious probation." All these positions except that concerning the working of righteousness apart from the knowledge of the gospel, and that in regard to the covenant of grace with all men, have been subjected to minute examination in the previous discussion of Election and Reprobation. There are two questions that fall to be considered here: first, in respect to the covenant, and, secondly, in relation to the way in which, on this theory of probation, justification may be attained.
First, Calvinists affirm, and Arminians deny, that there was a covenant between God the Father on the one side, and on the other God the Son as Mediator, Federal Head and Representative of an elect seed given to him to be redeemed. The only covenant, contemplating salvation, which is admitted by Arminians is a covenant directly made with men. The covenant as viewed by Calvinists was conditioned, so far as merit was concerned, upon the obedience of the Son; and is therefore, as to the certainty of its accomplishment, entirely unconditioned upon the qualities, acts and conduct of men. Faith is required from men in order to their conscious union with Christ the covenant-head, and their actual justification in him. But this is no uncertain, contingent condition. It is a gift of God made certain to the human covenantees by the perfect fulfilment of his federal engagements by Christ and the unchanging promises of God the Father to him. The covenant of redemption or grace has two faces - one looking directly to Christ the Federal Head and Representative, the other indirectly or mediately through him to the elect constituents who were with him and in him a party to the covenant. Hence it has an immediate administration by the Father to Christ, and a mediate administration, of a testamentary character, through and by Christ to the elect. The question now is in regard to the fact of a covenant between God the Father and God the Son. Is there such a covenant, or is there merely a covenant between God and men? The question is one which can only be settled by a reference to the testimonies of Scripture. That there is a covenant between the Father and the Son is provable, either directly or inferentially, by an appeal to them.
In the first place, such a covenant is expressly affirmed. Ps. lxxxix. 28-34: "My mercy will I keep for him forevermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips." Isa. xlii. 6: "I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles." These passages refer to Christ, and especially the first asserts explicitly the existence of a covenant between the Father and him.
In the second place, all the passages are in proof which set forth an unconditional covenant to save. Isa. lix. 21: "As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord: My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever." Isa. lv. 3: "Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." Jer. xxxi. 31-34: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord; but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." The use made of this promise by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews forbids its restriction to a merely national sense. Here then is an unconditional covenant to save, which cannot possibly be such a covenant as the Arminian describes - one conditioned upon the conduct of men.
In the third place, the passages are appealed to which declare the promises made by the Father to the Son. A few only will be cited: Psalms ii. 8: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." Ps. lxxii. Zech. vi. 12, 13: "And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is the BRANCH: and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both." Gal. iii. 15, 16: "Brethren, I speak after the manner of men: Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." This is very clear. The promises to Christ, are said to belong to a divine covenant, which must, of course, have been made with him. The covenant contains the promises, and the promises are expressly declared to have been made to Christ. He receives the promises; in him they are not yea and nay, but yea and amen; and he administers them to sinners, their fulfilment to them experimentally being conditioned upon their acceptance of the gracious invitations of the gospel. They must come to Christ ere they can partake of the promises. Nothing without Christ: he stands between them and God, as the depositary of his promises contemplating the salvation of sinners. The promises suppose a covenant between the Father and the Son, by virtue of which they are first made to the Son, and through him administered to believing sinners. He who denies this denies the gospel. Let one example suffice. "Come unto me," said the Lord Jesus, "and I will give you rest." The sinner is invited to come to Christ, and the promise of rest, conditioned upon the acceptance of that invitation, is administered by Christ: "I will give you rest." But in the immediate context Jesus declares, "All things are delivered unto me of my Father." The Father delivers the promises of salvation to the Son, who dispenses them to the believing sinner. The same thing is explicitly asserted in the seventh and eighth verses of the seventeeuth chapter of John. What is this but a covenant betwixt the Father and the Son?
In the fourth place, those passages may be adduced in which it is taught, that the Father, whose own the elect are, gives them to the Son that he might die for them, redeem them, and keep them to everlasting life, and that the Son voluntarily accepted the trust and consented to fulfil the great commission. In that wonderful allegory in the tenth chapter of John in which his pastoral office is so beautifully and affectingly depicted, the Lord Jesus speaking of his sheep, and expressly discriminating them from those who refused to believe in him because they were not of his sheep, says, "My Father which gave them me is greater than all." In the seventeenth chapter of the same gospel he speaks more definitely still to this point: "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me . . . I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine . . . Holy Father, keep tltrough thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are." The trifling gloss which would restrict this awfully solemn prayer to the apostles is destroyed by the Saviour's express extension of it to all his believing people: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." These statements absolutely establish the fact that the Father gave those who were by his sovereign election his own to the Son to be his and to be by him redeemed. The context in the tenth chapter of John also shows that the Son, as a co-equal party in the august transaction, voluntarily accepted the gift, and engaged to fulfil the commission which he had received of his Father. "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man [Greek: none] taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." The Father nominated the Son as Redeemer; the Son accepted the nomination. The Father commissioned the Son to undertake the stupendous office; the Son, a sovereign actor, master of his life, freely consented. His compliance was not extorted from him as a necessitated obedience to resistless authority; it was freely rendered as an expression of love to his Father and charity towards sinful man. O inconceivable manifestation of love to God and pity for man, blended into unity in the spontaneous outgoing of an infinite heart! No wonder the Father loved him, since he cheerfully consented to become incarnate, and to lay down his life amidst the shame and anguish of the Cross. One would be blind indeed who did not see in this ineffable counsel between the Father and the Son the elements of a covenant! We have also a plain testimony to the same effect from the fortieth Psalm, confirmed in the Epistle to the Hebrews: "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." Called of the Father to the sacrifice of himself in order to the purgation of a guilt which no accumulation of lesser victims could remove, he cheerfully assented to the divine vocation. It is perfectly evident that there was a mysterious but real agreement between the Father and the Son touching an enterprise which proposed to secure the glory of the divine name consistently with the salvation of the guilty. A theology which does not recognize this fact shoots, like " a deceitful bow," short of the mark.
In the fifth place, those Scriptures are referred to, which assert an analogy between Christ and Adam, and those which show that God has always dealt with men upon the principle of Federal Representation. Enough has already been said to prove that the fact of a parallelism between Christ and Adam is affirmed in the fifth chapter of Romans, the fifteenth of First Corinthians and the second of Hebrews. This will be denied by none but Pelagians, Socinians and Rationalizers. It has also been proved that there was a covenant between God and Adam, in which he was appointed the head and representative of his posterity. That being granted, and the analogy between him and Christ being allowed, it follows that there was also a covenant between God and Christ, the second Adam, in which he was coustituted the Head and Representative of his posterity. All who under the covenant of works were represented by Adam were implicated in his disobedience and died; under the covenant of grace all who were represented by Christ partake of his righteousness and live. That the principle of federal representation is fundamental in both cases is too plain to be successfully gainsaid. What is taught is not only that there is generally a covenant embraced in both cases, but specifically a covenant between God and Adam in the first case, and a covenant between God and Christ in the second. In neither case was there a covenant between God and men apart from a federal head. The Calvinistic position is proved, that God enters into covenant with men only as they are considered in Christ a federal Head and Representative; and the Arminian is disproved that God institutes a covenant with men considered in themselves, apart from implication with Christ in that capacity. God has never entered into a covenant relation to man except through a federal head.
Further, all the statements of Scripture - and their name is legion - which evince the possibility of justification to sinners, prove the existence of a covenant, and a covenant between God and a representative head. Attention is again called to the fact - so often and so strangely overlooked - that, theoretically, justification is impossible without a covenant, and, historically, it is impossible without federal representation. Had it pleased God at first simply to require of man obedience to law, the subject could never have been justified, for the plain reason that justification supposes a close of probation and confirmation in life, and no period in an immortal existence could have been reached at which the subject could claim that he had finished his legal obedience and had become entitled to the reward of confirmation, so as to be beyond the contingency of a fall into sin. This has been already argued, and is so obvious that it need not be again insisted upon. Without a covenant limiting the time of trial and freely proposing the reward of confirmation when it should expire, justification would be impossible. This is what is meant by its theoretical impossibility. But it did not please God to enter into a covenant with every individual of the race, in which he limited his time of probation, and promised to him the reward of justification in the event of his continuing to obey during that time. He collected the race into legal unity upon the first man as the representative of all men, and entered into covenant with him in that capacity, limiting his and their period of probation and making justification possible to him and to them in him. Had he stood and been justified, they would have stood and been justified in him; virtually justified when he was justified, actually justified when each had consciously appropriated his vicarious and representative obedience. This is what is meant by the historical impossibility of justification without federal representation. Under the actual plan of government which God adopted, no man could have been justified except upon the foot of representation.
Just so now. No man can be justified without a covenant; and so far the Calvinist and the Arminian appear to agree, with the important exception that, on the supposition of a covenant, the former means by the justification which might be attained indefectible life, the latter, a precarious and losable life, which really is no justification at all. As to the theoretical impossibility of justification in some sense, they are in accord. Here, however, they part, the Calvinist denying and the Arminian affirming that men may be justified without having been represented by Christ under a covenant between the Father and him, in which he was appointed a federal head and representative. And in parting doctrinally with the Calvinist at this point, the Arminian parts doctrinally with the first Adam, the Second Adam, the Word of God, and the history of the divine dispensations towards the race.
The proof from Scripture which has now been furnished of a covenant between God the Father and God the Son as the Representative of his people, is vital to the question in hand. If such a covenant existed, the Calvinistic doctrine as to probation is established, and the Arminian refuted. For, if it existed, it is clear that the legal probation of his people was finished by the perfect obedience of Christ their Representative, just as, had Adam stood, the legal probation of his descendants would have been successfully concluded by his obedience, and, as he fell, it was brought to a disastrous close by his sin. There are two alternatives to the Arminian: If he admit a covenant between the Father and Christ, and hold that all men were represented by Christ under that covenant, he must concede the close of legal probation to all men, and their certain salvation. If he contend that all men have a legal probation, he is bound to deny such a covenant. He may say, that he declines each of these alternatives, and holds that all men are in a state of "gracious probation," which Christ as Mediator of the new covenant has merited for them. Their doctrine on this subject is utterly confused and inconsistent with itself as well as with Scripture, as will be evinced in the consideration of the remaining question in regard to this branch of the subject.
Secondly, What is the way in which, upon the Evangelical Arminian theory of probation, justification may be attained?
In the first place, the ground is explicitly taken that Christ was made a second general Parent and Representative of the whole human race. "In this state we were," says Wesley, "even all mankind, when 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, to the end we might not perish but have everlasting life.' In the fulness of time he was made man, another common head of mankind, a second general Parent and Representative of the whole human race."36 Pope says: "He was the Representative of sinful mankind."37
In the second place, it is expressly maintained that there can be no justification except by faith. "By affirming," remarks Wesley, "that this faith is the term or condition of justification, I mean, first, that there is no justification without it."38 Again he says: "Who are justified? None but those who were first predestinated. Who are predestinated? None but those whom God foreknew as believers. Thus the purpose and work of God stand unshaken as the pillars of heaven, 'he that believeth shall be saved: he that believeth not shall be dammed.' And thus God is clear from the blood of all men; since whoever perishes, perishes by his own act and deed. 'They will not come unto me,' says the Saviour of men; 'and there is no salvation in any other.' They will not believe: and there is no other way to present or eternal salvation."39
Watson approves the views just cited from Wesley,40 and uses these words of his own: "On the one hand, therefore, it is the plain doctrine of Scripture that man is not, and never was in any age, justified by works of any kind, whether moral or ceremonial; on the other, that he is justified by the imputation and accounting of 'faith for righteousness.'"41
In the third place, it is asserted that men ignorant of Christ may, by prevenient grace assisting them, be justified by complying with the law of conscience, that the heathen may be justified without believing in Christ. This is a most extraordinary allegation, and needs to be substantiated by decisive proof. The words of Watson, in which Wesley is quoted, are cited in its support: "If all knowledge of right and wrong, and all gracious influence of the Holy Spirit, and all objects [N. B.] of faith, have passed away from the heathen, through the fault of their ancestors 'not liking to retain God in their knowledge,' and without the present race having been parties to this wilful abandonment of truth, then they would appear no longer to be accountable creatures, being neither under law nor under grace; but, as we find it a doctrine of Scripture that all men are responsible to God, and that the 'whole world' will be judged at the last day, we are bound to admit the accountability of all, and with that, the remains of law and the existence of a merciful government toward the heathen on the part of God. With this the doctrine of St. Paul accords. No one can take stronger views of the actual danger and the corrupt state of the Gentiles than he; yet he affirms that the divine law had not perished wholly from among them; and though they had received no revealed law, yet they had a law 'written on their hearts;' meaning, no doubt, the traditionary law, the equity of which their consciences attested; and, farther, that though they had not the written law, yet, that 'by nature,' that is, 'without an outward rule, though this, also, strictly speaking, is by preventing grace,' (Wesley's Notes, in loc.) they were capable of doing all the things contained in the law[!]. He affirms, too, that all such Gentiles as were thus obedient, should be 'justified, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, by Jesus Christ, according to his gospel.'"42 The same marvellous view is expressed by Ralston: "St. Paul, in the second chapter to the Romans, clearly shows that 'there is no respect of persons with God;' and that 'the Gentiles, which have not the law,' may [!] 'do by nature (that is, by the assistance which God affords them, independent of the written law) the things contained in the law,' act up to the requirements of 'their conscience,' and be esteemed as 'just before God.'"43 "Pious heathen - such as Melchizedek, Job, and Cornelius," are appealed to as instances of this justification by law through the help of prevenient grace!
Did ever theology travail in birth to be delivered of such a batch of prodigies? Well might she have cried again in pain to be delivered from them! First, Christ is the Head of all mankind. Well, then, all his members live because their Head lives. No, myriads of his members confessedly perish forever. Christ is the common Parent of all mankind. But how are they his children? By natural birth? He was never married, as was Adam, and left no carnal issue. By regeneration? No, these theologians admit that all men are not regenerated. By a miraculous act of creation? No, they of course hold that all men, since Adam, are born according to natural law. How, then, is Christ the parent of all men? In the name of Scripture and of reason, How? Christ is the Representative of all men. Of course, then, all men as his constituents are justified and live in consequence of his obedience, just as all men, the constituents of Adam their representative, were condemned and died because of his disobedience. Not at all; infants dying in infancy are justified and live, but innumerable multitudes of adults are not justified and die eternally. Yes, but justification is offered to all through Christ as their Representative. Was, then, condemnation offered to all through Adam as their representative? How comes it to pass that representation means actual condemnation in one case, and possible justification in the other, certain death in one, and contingent life in the other? Who can tell? Can these theologians?
Next, justification is possible only to those who believe: faith in Christ is its indispensable condition. That is most true: it is the doctrine of Scripture. It follows, then, that those who never heard of Christ cannot be justified, for Paul speaking by the Holy Ghost says, How can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? They cannot believe in Christ unless they have heard of him: they cannot be justified unless they believe in Christ. Consequently, the heathen who have never heard of Christ, and therefore cannot believe in him, cannot be justified. By no means does this mournful consequence follow, say the Arminian theologians. The heathen may be justified through the help of common grace by obeying the law written on their hearts; otherwise they would not be accountable. What! May some men be justified by the deeds of the law, when the Scripture says, "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified?" Yes, by the help of grace. Their justification would not be by works of law but by grace, eliciting into exercise the "principle" of faith in "some objects of faith," though not in Christ as one of them. Well, then, would Adam, if he had stood and wrought obedience during his time of probation, have been justified by grace, because he would have had the help of grace in "working righteousness?" Was the Pharisee justified by grace, when he ascribed his righteousness to the assistance of grace? Did he not say, "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are?" Oh, no, could the heathen, by the help of grace, obey the law of nature, they would not be justified by grace, but by the works of the law. The ground of their justification would not be another's righteousness, but their own, not Christ's merits, but their own works. The thing is utterly impossible, and without its being discussed further, it is sufficient to use against it the Arminian's own argument, backed by the unanimous suffrage of Protestants: Without faith in Christ there is no justification. Was it not said with truth, that the Arminian doctrine of probation is confused and inconsistent with itself as well as with the Scriptures? According to the teaching of God's word, and to the admission of Arminian theologians themselves with reference to original sin and the necessity of faith in Christ in order to the justification of sinners, the legal probation of the heathen was finished when Adam fell; and their evangelical probation begins only when they come in contact with the gospel. When they believe they are brought into conscious union with Christ, who, as the Second Adam, finished the legal probation of his people, and merited for them eternal life.
This, according to the plan proposed, completes the discussion of the Ground of justification.