II. NATURE OF JUSTIFICATION.
The next great division of the subject which claims consideration is the Nature of Justification - in what does it consist? As has been already stated, the Calvinistic answer to this question is, that justification consists, first, in the pardon or non-imputation of guilt, and, secondly, in the acceptance of one's person as righteous, and his formal investiture with a right and title to eternal life. The Evangelical Arminian answer is, that justification consists in pardon. In this there is such agreement among standard writers that quotations are unnecessary. The only apparent difference arises from the opinion of some that justification also included acceptance of the person; but the acceptance intended is nothing more than is necessarily involved in pardon. Whosoever is pardoned is accepted of God. In regard to what the Calvinist denominates the first element of justification there is agreement between the parties: both hold that justification involves pardon. It is in respect to the Calvinist's second element that difference emerges between them - namely, the acceptance of the sinner's person as righteous and his investiture with a title to eternal life. This the Calvinist affirms, the Arminian denies.
In seeking for the reasons of this difference we find that they are the affirmation by one party and the denial by the other of the strict and proper representative office of Christ, and consequently of the imputation of the merit of his obedience to the believer. This is the hinge of the discussion. That Christ was strictly and properly a legal Representative has already been established in the consideration of the Objections to Election, etc. This is a point of the last importance. The earliest and best Evangelical Arminian theologians speak of representation, but it is evident that they use the term in a loose sense, a sense not justified by the scriptural statements which relate either to the scheme of natural religion or of the gospel. The account given of the office discharged by Adam in connection with his posterity, the sacrificial ritual of the Mosaic economy, and especially the argument of Paul, concerning the fundamental doctrine of substitution, and the parallel asserted by him between the first and the second Adam, in the Epistle to the Romans, together with other express declarations upon the same subject in other parts of the New Testament, enforce with the clearness of light the fact of strict and proper legal representation. This fact Evangelical Arminians do not admit. And yet they concede substitution when treating of the expiatory sufferings and death of Christ. But what is substitution but representation? What, a dying substitute but a dying representative? And if one has, under the sanction of a competent government, died as the substitute of another, how can he who was died for, die himself? Can justice require two deaths - one of the substitute and another of the principal? Would not that be equivalent to two deaths of the principal? Even human governments do not inflict this injustice. During the Napoleonic wars, a recruiting officer told a certain man that he would enroll him and send him to the field. The man replied that he was not liable to military duty, as he was dead. "How are you dead," said the officer, "when you are speaking to me?" "I hired a substitute," was the rejoinder; "he was killed in battle and I died in him." "I will report the case to the emperor," exclaimed the sergeant. He did so, and the emperor confirmed the position taken by the man. "Let him alone," said Napoleon, "the man is right." Did God appoint Christ a substitute? Did Christ accept the appointment? Then, it is impossible for those who died a legal death in him to die the same sort of death themselves. "He who does a thing through another does it himself."
In denying this Arminians reject the very genius of substitution. "Strictly speaking," says Pope, "Christ is not a Substitute for any man. He is the Representative and Vicar of humanity, and the Other Self of the race, being the Second Adam."1 Here, then, is one form of the Arminian theory of substitution ; but-
In the first place, Is not a substitute for all men, a substitute for every man? Is not the whole human race composed of individual units? Or is "humanity" an abstract entity, and not a collection of human beings? To say that Christ might have sacrificed himself for all in obedience to an impulse of love, and not in compliance with the demands of justice, is to adopt the Governmental theory of the atonement, or to occupy the ground of the Moral Influence School. But Arminian theologians reject both: they rightly contend that the atonement was necessary to satisfy the strict requirements of justice. If so, the question returns, How could Christ, as vicariously dying for all men to redeem them from the curse of the law, be contemplated as having vicariously died for no particular man? The position is self-contradictory: Christ was the substitute of every man; he was the substitute of no man! And this is the more singular, in view of the fact that Arminians insist upon the text in the second chapter of Hebrews: "he tasted death for every man." How did he taste death for every man? Why, certainly, by dying as his substitute. But it seems he tasted death for "humanity," not "for any man!"
In the second place, Did liability to death attach to the whole human race? Yea. Did that involve the liability to death of every individual? Yea. Was the liability to death of "humanity" transferred to Christ as its Substitute, Representative, Vicar? Yea or nay? If yea, did not that imply the transfer of every man's liability to death, and if so was not Christ the substitute of every man? If nay, how was Christ the substitute of humanity? Did he die under justice as the substitute of humanity without the transfer to him of its liability to death? Would justice slay one who was neither consciously nor constructively liable to death?
In the third place, Christ is said to be "the Representative and Vicar of humanity, and the Other Self of the race, being the Second Adam." Fatal appeal to analogy! Was Adam the representative of no man? Was he the representative of humanity? It is humanity then that dies in Adam, not every particular man! But in this case we have facts to constult. All die, every mother's son. In representing humanity, therefore, he represented every human being. If, then, Christ as the Second Adam was the Representative of humanity, he was the representative of every human being.
In the fourth place, Dr. Pope also says: "He is the other self also of every believer who claims his sacrifice as his own." So, then, the actual death of the substitute results in the possible life of humanity, and it depends upon faith whether any individual will attain to actual life. But if Christ were not by God's appointment and by his own consenting act a substitute of the individual believer, how could faith make him such? The statement is ineffably absurd. "Christ is not a substitute for any man," but some men, by the magical power of faith, constitute him a substitute for them. Faith in what? Why, faith in the fact that Christ as a substitute died for them. And yet Christ did not die as a substitute for them. But if men cannot believe that Christ died for them individually, the Remonstrants' Achilles pouts in his tent - that is, the argument against the Calvinist that he requires every man to believe that Christ died for him,2 when he holds that Christ died for the elect only. The Calvinist might, too, retort in this case: You require every man to believe that Christ died for him, when you hold that he died for humanity only, not for any man.
In the fifth place, as if to crown this heap of marvels, Dr. Pope says: "Christ's benefit is imparted before personal faith; and, in case of believers, their faith is the not rejecting what was before provided for them as their own."3 Christ was not a substitute for any believer, for he was not a substitute for any man. Yet the believer has only not to reject Christ's benefit before provided for him. What can this mean? Christ was a substitute for humanity and thus provides beforehand a general benefit from which each believer may appropriate his share? If this be not the meaning, the only other is that Christ was a strict and proper substitute for humanity. If so, humanity must be delivered from death. But how that could take place, without the deliverance of every man from death, it is impossible to see. If it be the meaning, then as the substitution of Christ for humanity secured a general benefit for the race, it secured a special benefit beforehand which each believer may appropriate as what was his own. Where then is the sense in saying that Christ was a substitute for humanity but not for any man? If a part of the general benefit belongs to the individual believer, the substitution which procured the benefit must have been for him; and so would have been for particular men: is he not a man? Dr. Pope entangles himself in contradictions because he will not accept the true conception of substitution. If he did, he could not remain an Arminian: he must elect either Calvinism or Universalism. There would be no middle ground between them.
Another form of the theory of substitution is thus expressed by Dr. Raymond: "It is said that it [the death of Christ] is a substituted penalty; we say it is a substitute for a penalty; it is not itself a penalty, it takes the place of a penalty." Again: "It may be said that the death of Christ is the equivalent of obedience, but manifestly it is its equivalent in no other sense than that it saves the subject from penalty as fully and perfectly as obedience would have saved him; it is not obedience itself, nor a substituted obedience."4 This lax view is answered by the judgment of Mr. Watson himself, definitely exhibited in such a passage as this: "How explicitly the death of Christ is represented in the New Testament as penal, which it could not be in any other way than by his taking our place, and stiffering, in our stead, is manifest also from Gal. iii. 13, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse [an execration] far us, for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth an a tree."5 But let Dr. Raymond answer himself: "The death of Christ," he observes, "is declarative; is a declaration that God is a righteous being and a righteous sovereign. It satisfies the justice of God, both essential and rectoral, in that it satisfactorily proclaims them and vindicates them by fully securing their ends - the glory of God and the welfare of his creatures."6
If we take Mr. Watson's view, that the death of Christ was penal, we must hold that in dying Christ endured the penalty of the law. But as that writer maintained that the death of Christ was vicarious - that it was undergone in the room and stead of others, it follows that his endurance of the penalty for others discharged them from the obligation to endure it themselves, otherwise the penalty would be twice inflicted. But Mr. Watson was wedded to the doctrine of universal atonement, and therefore did not push out his scriptural view of substitution to its legitimate extent. If we adopt Dr. Raymond's view we accept a contradiction, for he denies that Christ endured the penalty of the law in his death, and yet contends that his death declared and vindicated the justice of God. First, we have the removal of the penalty altogether, since neither Christ endured it, nor does the pardoned sinner. The penalty, an essential element of law, is sunk. Yet, secondly, we have a declaration and vindication of divine justice. Manifestly, there is a contradiction, however ingeniously the author might attempt to explain it away. The truth is, and it will not brook denial, that no moral being could, under the government of God, suffer and die, were he both consciously and putatively innocent. He might, perhaps, consent, but a just God could not. Before he could suffer and die, he must be either a conscious sinner, or with his own consent, and by his voluntary assumption of the guilt of others, be judicially accounted and treated as guilty. The latter supposition has been rendered possible under the divine government, inasmuch as God, the supreme Sovereign, has been pleased to admit the principle of substitution. In no other way could the consciously guilty escape the penalty of the law. The substitute whom God accepts must undergo the penalty in the place of the guilty. On no other tertns could pardon be extended without an outrage to justice, a dishonor to law, and an injury to the interests of the moral government of the universe.
Two qualifications were absolutely required in a substitute for sinners: first, he must be consciously, inherently, perfectly innocent previously to his undertaking the vicarious office, for, if he were guilty in any respect, he would be obliged to suffer and die in consequence of his own liability to punishment; secondly, he must be both human and divine-human, that he might represent man and sympathize with him, and that he might suffer and die; divine, that all infinite value might attach to his suffering and death; that he might adequately represent God's nature and government; that he might relieve the requirement under which he would act as a piacular victim of the appearance of excessive rigor in the eyes of beholders, and, in attaching those for whom he would devote himself as a substitute to himself by the ties of gratitude and love, to bind them by that very fact to the service of God; and, finally, that, after laying down his life, he might by a resurrection-power take it up again from the dominion of the grave. All these qualifications Christ brought to the achievement of the enterprise committed to his hands by the authority of the Father, and spontaneously elected by himself. Now either he was strictly and properly a substitute, or he was not. If he were, he incurred all the legal obligation, every whit of it, resting upon those for whom he acted in order to justification, and perfectly discharged the whole of it, completely satisfying the demands of justice in relation to that end; nothing being required of them, to that end, but to accept the substitute by faith and rely upon his righteousness for justification. If he were not strictly and properly a substitute, but in some inexplicable way he so suffered and died that the benefit of his vicarious acts accrued to all men in general, it being dependent upon their own free election, whether or not individual justification shall flow from the general fund of merit; if Christ's sufferings and death, according to the amazing statement quoted from Raymond, were "not obedience itself, nor a substituted obedience," - then the requirements of justice are not satisfied in behalf of the original transgressors, the law is defrauded of its rights, in short there has been no proper substitution at all. This whole theory, in accordance with which a provision was made, through the atoning death of Christ, for the bestowal of a general benefit upon the mass of mankind, from which each individual may by the election of his own will, with the assistance of grace, appropriate what is needed for his own salvation, whatever else it may be, is most certainly not a theory of substitution; and it is more and more vacating its claim to that designation, under the logic of the later Evangelical Arminian theologians, such as Dr. Pope and Dr. Raymond.7 It neither accords, in general, with the law of substitution, nor, in particular, with the Scripture accounts of the representative sufferings and death of Christ.
It has already been shown, by an appeal to the Oracles of God, that in eternity God the Father entered (so we speak in our human dialect) into a covenant with God the Son, as the Mediator between God and man, and as the Head and Representative of those who were given him by the Father to be redeemed, of whom Jesus said that he would lose nothing, but raise it up at the last day. For these, in compliance with the stipulation of that covenant, Christ, in the fulness of time, obeyed the law which they had violated, satisfied divine justice, and brought in everlasting righteousness, which constitutes the ground of their justification - that is, their confirmation in holiness and happiness forever. This is strict and proper substitution or representation, and necessarily supposes that the guilt of the sins of those whom Christ represented was, with his own consent and by the judicial act of the Father, imputed to him, and that the merit of his righteousness is imputed to them. This Evangelical Arminians deny. Allusion was before made to Mr. Wesley's qualified use of the phrases righteousness of Christ and imputed righteousness, but it really amounted to very little. All that he meant was that believers are pardoned for the sake of what Christ has done and suffered for them. He says: "In what sense is this righteousness imputed to believers? In this: all believers are forgiven and accepted, not for the sake of anything in them, or of anything that ever was, that is, or ever can be, done by them, but wholly and solely for the sake of what Christ hath done and suffered for them."8 "Christ therefore is now the righteousness of all them that truly believe in him."9 Further, says he: "If we take the phrase of 'imputing Christ's righteousness' for the bestowing (as it were) the righteousness of Christ, including his obedience, as well passive as active, in the return of it; that is, in the privileges, blessings and benefits purchased by it: so a believer may be said to be justified by 'the righteousness of Christ imputed.' The meaning is, God justifies the believer for the sake of Christ's righteousness, and not for any righteousness of his own." True, he confirms, in this Sermon, a scriptural testimony to the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the person of the believer, which he had years before erected in the words of a noble hymn:
"Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress:
'Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head."
But in another sermon, like Saturn devouring his own children, he eats up the glorious words of this hymn, sung alike by all believers, by Calvinists, and, with a happy inconsistency, by Arminians. "It may be worth our while," he observes, "to spend a few more words on this important point. Is it possible to devise a more unintelligible expression than this - 'In what righteousness are we to stand before God at the last day?' Why do you not speak plain, and say, 'For whose sake do you look to be saved?' Any plain peasant would then readily answer, 'For the sake of Jesus Christ.' But all those dark, ambiguous phrases tend only to puzzle the cause, and open a way for unwary hearers to slide into Antinomianism"10 Arrayed in Jesus' righteousness, he would amidst flaming worlds lift up his head with joy (and no doubt he will), but it is not possible to devise a more unintelligible expression than to stand in Jesus' righteousness before God at the last day! It is not my intention to dwell on this inconsistency - we are all more or less inconsistent - but to point out Mr. Wesley's real doctrine. In the extracts cited he indicates the ground of justification - the merit of Christ, its nature - pardon, and its condition - faith. He says nothing in regard to the mode in which God makes Christ's righteousness ours. The word impute is used, but not in its only true meaning, namely, to account or reckon to one either what he has done himself, or what another has done for him. Mr. Wesley did not intend to say that the obedience of Christ his representative is accounted or reckoned the believer's, just as though he had personally wrought it out. The passages quoted are confused and inconsistent. At one time it is said that Christ's righteousness is imputed in the sense that the believer is justified for his sake; at another, that it is imputed in the sense that it procures, "in the return of it" - Goodwin's expression - benefits for all men, which may be appropriated by faith. In both these senses the word impute is used, but in both loosely and abusively. The idea is wanting. And the school of Evangelical Arminianism has since departed to a less extent from Mr. Wesley's doctrine on this point than would at first sight appear. It has broken with his language, and adhered to his views. Neither did he, nor do they, hold the scriptural doctrine of imputed guilt and imputed righteousness. As to this matter the Evangelical Arminian doctrine is apparently self-consistent. It is, that there was no strict and proper imputation of Adam's guilt to his posterity, since he was not strictly and properly their legal representative; but inasmuch as he was in some sense their representative the disastrous consequences of his sin were entailed upon them. In like manner, there is no strict and proper imputation of the merit of Christ to all men, since he was not strictly and properly their legal representative; but seeing he was in a certain sense their representative, the beneficial consequences of his obedience are bestowed upon them. There are, however, two things which cannot escape notice in this apparently homogeneous scheme. The first is, that the disastrous consequences entailed by Adam's disobedience upon all men embraced the certain condemnation and death of all men, but the benefits conferred because of Christ's obedience upon all men do not include the certain justification and life of all men. The consistency of the scheme, therefore, exists in general statements, not in facts. The injuries inflicted by Adam are not paralleled by the benefits conferred by Christ. The second noticeable thing is, that the disastrous consequences of Adam's disobedience were justly entailed upon all men, but the beneficial consequences of Christ's obedience were graciously entailed upon all men. The principle of justice operated in the one case, the principle of grace in the other. In regard to neither of the two things noticed, is the Arminian scheme adjustable to the inspired parallelism between Adam and Christ as representatives. The principle of representation is kissed but betrayed, and consequently the principle of imputation, as its necessary corollary, shares the same fate.
This leads to a consideration, brief at least, of the questiou whether the righteousness, or, what is the same, the vicarious obedience, of Christ is strictly and properly imputed.
First, It is objected that the terms righteousness of Christ, imputed righteousness of Christ, are not found in Scripture, and the inference is that the conceptions are not there. This is remarkable. Because these terrns are not in Scripture, are the doctrines expressed by them not there: - the Trinity, Immediate Creation, Particular Providence, the Fall of Man, Original Sin, Vicarious Obedience of Christ, Satisfaction to Justice? And will Arminians grant that the doctrines signified by the following terms are not in Scripture because the terms are not expressly found there: Universal Atonement, Free Agency, Free Will, Vincible Grace, Defectibility of the Saints? The argument palpably proves too much, and is therefore nothing worth. It is frivolous.
Secondly, The principle of strict and proper legal representation enforces strict and proper imputation. So much has already been said with reference to representation that the point will not now be pressed. Convincing proof has been presented of the representative office, strictly and properly, of Adam and of Christ. If Christ sustained that office, his obedience or righteousness is imputed to those whom he represented. If there is no such imputation, Christ was not a representative. Representation - imputation; no imputation - no representation. Any other doctrine but juggles with the terms. If a man in London should have a legal representative in New York, and the latter should, as such, incur an obligation, it would in law be imputable to the former. If not, legal processes and human language are tissues of deception.
Thirdly, the Scriptures either directly or indirectly prove the imputation of Christ's righteousness to his people.
The whole Old Testament ritual of animal sacrifice proves the imputation of the believer's guilt to Christ. Unless this be admitted, that ritual loses its meaning. It were worse than folly to say that God forgives sin aud imparts life for the sake of animal blood shed in sacrifice. There was then a transfer of the obligation to die from the worshipper to the animal victim, which symbolized the transfer of his guilt to Christ, the reality symbolized actually occurring in case he believed, that is, his guilt was actually itnpttted to Christ. On the great day of atouement the guilt of the congregation was imputed to the goat that was slain, and that it was transferred and removed was proved by the ceremony in connection with the other goat which, having had the guilt of the people confessed over its head, with the imposition of the High Priest's hands, was sent away to the wilderness to return no more. Ceremonial guilt was thus, ipso facto, removed, and the guilt of conscience of every one who believed in the great sacrifice afterwards to be offered - a sacrifice preached from the gate of Eden to Calvary, from Adam to Christ - was completely purged away. That ceremonial guilt was taken away is proved by the a fortiori argument in the ninth chapter of Hebrews: "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" Now, how did the blood of animals purge ceremonial guilt? Was that blood actually applied to the worshipper? No, the guilt was imputed to the animal, and, in that way, was removed. Neither is the blood of Christ literally applied to the soul of the believer - how could it be? - but his guilt is imputed to Christ, who by his vicarious death, takes it away. This is explicitly taught in the fifty third chapter of Isaiah. The prophet says of Christ the suffering Substitute, "the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all," or, as the margin has it, "made the iniquities of us all to meet on him," and then designates those of whom he was speaking as "my people:" "for the transgression of my people was he stricken." Who "my people" are is further explained by the words, "when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed," "by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many," "and he bare the sin of many." He was made an offering for sin, not merely by philanthropically giving his life in order to secure benefits for sinners, but precisely by having their guilt imputed to him, and dying judicially as their subtitute. The same thing is asserted in the New Testament: Christ was made a curse for us, he bore our sins in his own body on the tree. It is inconceivable that this should have been true in any other way than putatively. To say that he did not really bear sins is flatly to contradict the Scriptures. The only possible supposition is that they were imputed to him as the Federal Head and Representative of his people. Now, to bring this argument to the conclusion contemplated, we have the authority of the apostle Paul for holding that in the same way in which Christ was made sin for his people they are made righteousness in him: "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."11 Was he made sin for them by imputation? Even so, by imputation are they made righteousness in him. He could not have been condemned and have died judicially unless their guilt had been imputed to him; they cannot be justified and live unless his righteousness is imputed to them.
In the passage just cited from Second Corinthians believers are said to be "made the righteousness of God" in Christ. The same truth, substantially, is declared in First Corinthians,12 and in such a connection as to render it clear that Christ is made righteousness to believers by imputation: "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." Now, in the first place, the righteousness here spoken of cannot possibly mean a sanctifying righteousness which is inherent, for it is expressly contradistinguished to sanctification. But there are only two kinds of righteousness, namely, inherent, which is infused into the soul, and imputed, which is reckoned to the soul. As the righteousness here mentioned is certainly not inherent, it must be imputed. In the second place, Christ is here declared to be made of God righteousness to us. The righteousness is in some sense made our own. As before shown, it cannot be God's essential righteousness, nor his rectoral, nor his method of justification, for they cannot be said to be made ours, as wisdom and holiness and redemption are said to be made ours. It may be urged that he is made righteousness to us, because he justifies us, just as he is made sanctification to us because he sanctifies us, and redemption to us because he redeems us. To this it is obvious to reply that a distinction must be observed between justification, sanctification and redemption as divine acts and works on the one hand, and the fruits of those divine acts and works on the other. Now, it is clear that Christ is not made to us, nor are we constituted in him those acts and works. We experience their results. In Christ we are made wise, righteous, holy, and subjects of redemption. What other meaning can attach to this righteousness, but that, since it cannot be holiness, it is a federal, representative, putative righteousness - in other words, Christ's righteousness imputed to us for justification? The only remaining supposition is that as faith, according to the Arminian, is justifying righteousness, Christ is made to us faith. It is not necessary to consider such a supposition, as it is manifestly absurd.
Of the same import is the glorious testimony in Jeremiah: "This is his name, whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness." Christ is our righteousness. How so, according to the Arminian? By faith, he answers. But if one, by a conscious act of faith appropriates the righteousness of Christ, how does that make the righteousness his? Because, he may reply, it was wrought for him. But hold! All that he gets by faith is confessedly only the benefit of Christ's righteousness, not the righteousness itself. That is Christ's, not his. It cannot be his, for, as he strenuously argues, one cannot have what is another's. How then can it be his? He is right in saying it cannot be consciously and subjectively his. There is only one other way in which it can be his - by imputation. That is vehemently rejected. Is it not plain that, on the Arminian doctrine, Christ's righteousness cannot be ours? But this grand text affirms it is ours. Faith cannot make it ours, unless God gives it to faith, and he gives it precisely by imputing it. It becomes ours in no other way. Further, the Arminian contends that the righteousness which is our own is the righteousness of faith. It is one which is consciously ours, and imputed to us as ours. Faith then is our justifying righteousness, but at the same time Christ's righteousness is the ground upon which our faith relies for justification. Here then are two justifying righteousnesses - one in us relying upon another out of us! According to Scripture, there is but one - "the Lord our righteousness." And further still, if faith be imputed to us as righteousness, not unto righteousness, and yet it is acknowledged that Christ is our righteousness, is Christ our faith? If this extravagance is disowned, then there is a righteousness which is our own besides faith, but that is denied. The only way out of these difficulties is to confess - what is true - that faith is no righteousnes at all; that there is but one justifying righteousness, namely, Christ's righteousness, and that becomes ours by imputation. Being united to Christ we have him, and in having him we have his legal and representative righteousuess which God imputes to us as ours. Thus is he Jehovah our Righteousness.
In Rom. iv. 6, Paul says, "Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works." It is not now designed to consider minutely this passage, as it will fall to be discussed under the head of the Condition of justification, but it cannot here be overlooked inasmuch as the terms imputeth righteousness occur in it, and the question in hand is whether Christ's righteousness is imputed. It will not be disputed that God imputes righteousness, for the apostle uses the very words. Now the question is, What is righteousness? It is the being and doing what is right or just. It is conformity to the standard of God's law. This supposes works - a terrn employed to signify both the state of mind and the conduct of the moral agent. There can be no righteousness which does not consist of works. To say that a man is righteous who, in no sense, possesses a righteousness of works, would be to say that he is altogether unrighteous and yet righteous at one and the same time. When, therefore, the apostle says that God imputeth righteousness, he must mean that he imputeth righteousness consisting of works. But he also says that God imputeth righteousness without works. This would involve a flat contradiction, were it not true that God may impute a righteousness of works which yet is without works. There is no contradiction, but a great truth, asserted in this passage, if God may impute the righteousness consisting of another's works to one who has no righteousness comprising his own works. And this is just what Paul says. The sinner is without works: he has no righteousness of his own. But God imputes to him the righteousness of Christ consisting of his works which he did in obedience to the law in the room of the sinner as his representative and sponsor before the divine tribunal. It is a vicarious righteousness of works, entirely independent of the conscious works of the sinner, which is imputed for justification. To take the ground that faith is the righteousness without works which God imputes for justification, is to affirm that God imputes that which is at the same time a righteousness and not a righteousness. The righteousness of another being excluded, the affirmation is confined to one's conscious righteousness, and to say that a conscious righteousness is imputed to him which is yet without works would be a contradiction in terms. Faith, then, cannot be the imputed righteousness intended by the apostle: it is the real righteousness of Jesus' works which is imputed for justification, in the utter absence of all works of his own by which the sinner might hope to be justified. This righteousness faith receives, and so faith is imputed as the sinner's act performed unto the attainment of the righteousness of another which God imputes as the sole ground of justification. It will be said that this concedes two imputations. Suppose it does, the first would be the imputation of the sinner's own act, by which he confesses he has no righteousness, and simply receives another's righteousness, and that such all act should be imputed as righteousness would be absurd; and the imputation of the righteousness received, the only righteousness the Scripture ever mentions in connection with justification.
In Phil. iii. 9, Paul speaks of "the righteousness which is of God by faith." It is evident that a righteousness which is of God by faith cannot be a righteousness which is of faith - that is, faith as a righteousness. It is a righteousness which comes by means of faith, a righteousness from God and received by faith, by faith in Christ. It is the righteousness of Christ which God imputes to the believing sinner. If faith be the righteousness imputed, then faith is imputed to faith. Surely faith does not come by faith.
The only other passage which will be appealed to, and it is decisive, is Rom. v. 17, 18, 19: "For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." The One whose righteousness is spoken of is expressly declared to be Jesus Christ. Now this righteousness of One is defined to be the obedience of One. Putting these expressions together we have the Righteousness of Jesus Christ or the obedience of Jesus Christ. Yet Arminians affirm that the words righteousness of Christ are not found in Scripture. Let this passage re-refute the allegation. This righteousness or obedience of one, even Jesus Christ, is declared to be a gift, a free gift, that is, it is bestowed upon sinners without any desert on their part. A gift is something transferred from one to another. The righteousness of Christ, therefore, is transferred from God to the sinner, and being received by the sinner becomes his own. Having no righteousness of his own, he receives another's righteousness which God gives him, and which consequeutly becomes his own; his own, not by original possession, nor by his working for it, but by a transfer which holds in law. It is legally reckoned to his account: it is imputed to him. One man makes over a piece of property to another upon no consideration of value received. It is a free gift. But the transfer is legally executed by the donor so as to assure the possession of the property to the recipient. It was not his, but it becomes his and is reckoned to him in law. Why press the matter? The apostle's teaching is as plain as day. The righteousness or obedience of Jesus Christ is accounted, reckoned, imputed as the ground of justification, as the disobedience of Adam was accounted, reckoned, imputed as the ground of condemnation.13
These considerations derived from the Scriptures establish the doctrine that Christ's vicarious righteousness is imputed to the believer unto justification. It is hardly worth while to reiterate the answer which has so often been given to the objection that the imputation of one's guilt or righteousness to another involves what is impossible - the transfer of moral character, the infusion of one's consciousness into another. The imputation of legal responsibility is not the impartation of subjective moral qualities. The distinction is stamped upon the whole Word of God, and to deny it is to reject the way of salvation revealed in that Word. To say that guilt and legal righteousness, demerit and merit, are imputable, is one thing; it would be quite another to say that conscious turpitude or conscious holiness may be imputed. If the legal righteousness of Jesus is not accounted ours in God's court, the sanctifyiug righteousness of Jesus, infused by his Spirit, will never fit us for God's fellowship. Imputation may, it is true, be abused by Antinomians; it is equally true that Infusion may be abused by Legalists. It is a poor argument against any scriptural truth, or any other kind of truth, that it is liable to abuse. It is the resort of the partisan. "It is objected," says Dr. Charles Hodge, "that the transfer of guilt and righteousness, involved in the Church doctrine of satisfaction, is impossible. The transfer of guilt or righteousness, as states of consciousness or forms of moral character, is indeed impossible. But the transfer of guilt as responsibility to justice, and of righteousness as that which satisfies justice, is no more impossible than that one man should pay the debt of another. All that the Bible teaches on this subject is that Christ paid, as a substitute, our debt to the justice of God."14
As the divine law may be regarded in two aspects, both as to its preceptive requirements and as to its penalty, the question arises whether the vicarious righteousness of Christ included obedience to it in both these relations. If only the penalty was endured, the Arminian conception of the nature of justification as consisting in pardon would seem to be defensible; if not, if the whole law was vicariously obeyed it is seen to be too narrow. Some Evangelical Arminian theologians - Wesley, for example - admit that the scope of Christ's obedience included what he did as well as what he suffered, that is, as the phrase goes, his active and his passive obedience. In this they are not consistent. For, if on the ground of Christ's obedience to the penal requirement of the law the believer is pardoned, it would follow that on the ground of his obedience to its preceptive requirements, the believer is entitled to everlasting life. Without pausing further to signalize this incongruity, we may go on to consider the question, whether if Christ's righteousness is imputed to the believer, as has been shown, his obedience to the precept of the law is imputed to him. This is usually denominated his active obedience. The term active, as differentiating, is ill-chosen, for Christ was active in suffering the penalty, and suffered while he obeyed the precept. Let it be understood that by his active and passive obedience is meant his preceptive and penal obedience, terms which, although not in current use, more precisely than any others express the distinction between the two aspects of his righteousness answering to the two aspects of the law, preceptive and penal. That Christ's obedience to the precept of the law is imputed for justification will appear from the following considerations.
First, Without the imputation to us of Christ's active obedience, the most that could be supposed is that we would be simply pardoned in consequence of the imputation to us of his passive obedience. The hypothesis is, that being fully pardoned we would be innocent. We would be restored to the condition of Adam at creation, with liability to fall, according to the Arminian, with the addition of being confirmed in innocence, according to the Calvinist. All that could be affirmed of us is that we would be without guilt. As, however, Adam was not justified on account of his innocence, but God required perfect, personal obedience to the preceptive requirements of the law, in order to his being justified, so would it be with us. We would be uncondemned, but not justified. There would be no basis of justification. It will in in the sequel be shown that the supposition of pardon without a full obedience to law is impossible.
Secondly, If it be said that the analogy, in this matter, is not between ourselves and Adam, but between Christ and Adam, it is replied: It is admitted that the analogy holds originally and principally between Christ and Adam. What, then, would certainly follow in regard to Christ? This, in the first place, that as Adam could not have been justified without obedience to the precept of the law, so neither could Christ; and if Christ could not have been justified, no sinner could be justified in him, and thus the gates of hope would be closed against a guilty and despairing world. In the second place, as Adam's obedience to the preceptive requirements of the law would precisely have constituted, had he stood, that righteousness which would have been imputed to his seed in order to justification, so Christ's active obedience must be imputed to his seed in order that they may be justified. The analogy, therefore, which is conceded to obtain between Christ and Adam, itself renders it necessary to hold that Christ wrought out active obedience for his seed, and that that obedience is imputed to them in order to their justification, as well as his passive obedience.
Thirdly, The same result is brought out clearly, if we more particularly contemplate the covenant of works in respect to its condition. It has been in the course of these remarks proved that God entered into a covenant of works with Adam, and that he also formed a covenant with Christ looking to the redemption of sinners. The latter is called the covenant of grace, because it had its origin in grace and so far as sinners, not Christ, are concerned, is executed by grace, and the covenant of redemption, because it contemplated. redemption as its end. It was a covenant of grace and redemption to us sinners, but not to Christ: he stood in no need of redeeming grace. To him it was a covenant of works, in which he engaged to fulfil the law on behalf of his seed. The covenant of works with Adam failed, and the legal probation of man came, with the failure of that covenant, to a ruinous termination. Christ, as the second Adam, a second Federal Head and Legal Representative, was, on the supposition of his voluntary susception of the enterprise of redemption at the call of the Father, under the necessity of doing what the first Adam had failed to do, and also of satisfying justice for the breach of the covenant of works by enduring the penalty of the law. To those who are so blind as not to see a revelation in the Scriptures of God's covenant dealings with man, no argument touching this matter would be convincing; to those who do see the federal form of God's government of the human race, argument would be needless.
Adam broke down in fulfilling the condition of the covenant of works in order to justification, and Christ performed it. What was the condition? Perfect, personal obedience, for a time, to the preceptive requirements of the law. Christ, therefore, was under obligation to render perfect, personal obedience to the law; and as the performance of the condition in the case of Adam would have grounded the justification of his posterity, so its performance in the case of Christ grounded, in part, the justification of his people. Now, why did Christ render obedience to the commands of the law? For himself alone? Surely not, but also for his seed. If, then, he acted as their representative in yielding obedience to the precept, they rendered that obedience in him. Where, then, is the difficulty of its being imputed to them? Is there any greater difficulty in the way of its being imputed to them than in the way of his passive obedience being imputed to them? Allow that Christ acted as the representative of his people, both in obeying the precept and in suffering the penalty of the law, and there exists as much reason for the imputation of one sort of righteousness as of the other.
This reasoning must be regarded as conclusive, unless it can be shown that the imputation of Christ's passive obedience destroys the necessity or the reasonableness of the imputation of his active. It may be said that such a result follows from the supposition, made by the Calvinist, that the endurance of the penalty of the law in the room of the elect secures for them an eternal pardon. On the admission that his passive righteousness is imputed to his seed, there is a perfect non-imputation to them of all their guilt, and consequently a perfect and eternal exemption from all the effects of that guilt. They must stand forever acquitted. Where, then, is the need or the place for the imputation of his active righteousness?
To this the answer may be returned: It is true that the endurance of the penalty by Christ as the representative of the elect secures for them a full and eternal pardon. But there is a mistake in considering that all the elect require: They need a right and title to life eternal; and mere pardon, were it possible to the sinner without a vicarious obedience to the precept of the law, would secure them only a right and title to exemption from punishment. To be pardoned is to be free from God's curse, but not to be put in possession of his favor. The soul would be uncurst, but not necessarily blest. The distinction must be taken between the negative and the positive results of righteousness: between a righteousness which secures exemption from wrath and one which merits a title to bliss. The imputation of Christ's passive obedience is the imputation of a righteousness which involves negative results. The possession of positive blessings can only accrue from the imputation of his active obedience. That positively entitles to a life which is vastly more than freedom from punishment. The positive communications of God's favor and loving-kindness are something more than his sentence which delivers from wrath. To those expressions of his love only an obedience to the precepts of his law can entitle the subjects of his government; and as Christ perfectly furnished such an obedience for his elect people, they become, in consequence of their union with him, entitled to them. They have, though in themselves worthless, a right in Christ to positive fellowship with God and the tokens of his love. In him they have fully obeyed the law in both of its essential elements - the precept and the penalty; and will, therefore, ultimately enjoy that complete and positive happiness which only such an obedience can acquire. Such results mere pardon could never secure. Not being in hell is a different thing from being in heaven. It is the difference between a negative and a positive happiness, a difference which corresponds with, and, in the case of the sinner, depends upon the difference between a preceptive and a penal righteousness, as imputed in order to justification. In the use of this distinction it is not implied that Christ in enduring the penalty did not also actively obey the law, but only that in consequence of the imputation of his passive righteousness to the sinner, the sinner becomes entitled to exemption from positive suffering of a penal nature.
Fourthly, If it be said, as has been done, to be inconceivable that the conscious, personal obedience of Jesus to the precepts of the law could be imputed to the believer, it may be replied: In the first place, no Calvinist takes the ground that the personal, subjective character of Jesus is transferred to the believer for justification, any more than that his conscious sufferings are transferred to him. But if it be admitted that his merit is imputed to the believer as having constructively and representatively done and suffered in his great Substitute what that Substitute did and suffered, it is no more inconceivable that the merit of his active obedience should be imputed than that of his passive. In both cases Christ obeyed the will of his Father administering law, and if his active obedience is not imputed, only a part of his obedience is reckoned to the account of the believer. In the second place, the division which the objection supposes to be made between the obedience of Christ to the precepts of the law, and his suffering and dying under the curse of the law, proceeds upon the unscriptural hypothesis that the Saviour in suffering and dying did not obey the law. But the truth is that he was a doer of the law, an intense actor of obedience to its demands, in the whole progress of his passion; and if he obeyed in suffering and dying, the objection to the imputation of his personal obedience would sweep away the imputation of his suffering and dying, and so there would remain no imputation of his obedience whatsoever, and the Pelagian and Socinian doctrine would be sustained.
Fifthly, Let us return to the parallelism between the first and the second Adam. If Adam had maintained his integrity during the period of his probation he would have been justified on account of his obedience to the precepts of the law. No obedience to the penalty would have been possible in his case. Now his seed would have been justified in and with him on the ground of his righteousness imputed to them, just as they are condemned on the ground of his guilt imputed to them. What kind of righteousness, then, would have been imputed to Adam's posterity? Manifestly, all active righteousness - his obedience to the precept. This would have been the only sort of righteousness which could have been imputed to them. The possibility of the imputation of active righteousness is thus conclusively evinced. It follows that the same possiblility exists in regard to the imputation of the active righteousness of Christ the second Adam.
Should it be urged that this argument only goes to show the possibility of such an imputation, and not its necessity or its actuality, the answer is: In the first place, the necessity of the imputation of Christ's active righteousness to his seed flows from the divinely taught analogy between the federal representation of the first and the second Adam. If the active obedience of Christ be not imputed to the elect, the correspondence between the two federal heads and the results of their respective representative acts would be destroyed. In the second place, the necessity of the imputation of Christ's active righteousness is grounded in the inexorable demand of divine justice for a perfect obedience to the law, that is to say, a perfect righteousness. The law must be obeyed as to its precepts, or there can be no justification. Now it is plain that the believing sinner can furnish no conscious, personal obedience to the precepts of the law. The only possible way in which he can furnish obedience to the law in this relation, is by presenting that of Christ his Substitute. But the only method by which Christ's obedience to the precepts of the law can become his is that it be imputed to him. Hence the necessity of the imputation of the active obedience of the Second Adam to his believing seed. The law, proceeding upon the principle of distributive justice, must have obedience to its commands, and the believer meets the imperative necessity by bringing Christ's to the bar.
Sixthly, The objection to the imputation of Christ's active righteousness is founded upon the supposition that in producing that righteousness he did not act as a federal head and representative of his people. He simply obeyed the preceptive requirements of the law for himself. He only acted as federal head and representative in suffering and dying. This view cannot be sustained. From the moment that he consciously rendered obedience to law, he not only rendered it as an individual but as a public person who had assumed, under covenant with God the Father, the responsibilities of his elect seed: he not only furnished individual but federal obedience. If this be so, it follows that his active righteousness, having been wrought for his seed, becomes actually theirs by virtue of its being imputed to him. Admit that it was federal, and you admit the fact of its imputation. To take any other view is to make his active obedience merely exemplary (and that only in part), so far as it is related to us, and then the passage is easy, and for aught that appears logical, to the Socinian dream that his sufferings were not expiatory but only designed to teach by a patient and heroic example.
In discussing Piscator's denial of the imputation of Christ's active righteousness, Dr. Charles Hodge well and truly says: "He argues that Christ's obedience to the law was due from himself as a man, and therefore not imputable to others . . , every man as such, in virtue of being a man, is individually bound to obey the moral law. Christ was a man; therefore he was bound to obey the law for himself He did not perceive, or was not willing to admit, that the word 'man' is taken in different senses in the different members of this syllogism, and therefore the conclusion is vitiated. In the first clause, 'man' means a human person; in the second clause it means human nature. Christ was not a human person, although he assumed human nature. He was a man in the sense in which we are dust and ashes. But because we are dust, it does not follow that all that may be predicated of dust may be predicated of us; e.g., that we have no life, no reason, no immortality . . . Piscator also argues that the law binds either to punishment or to obedience, but not to both at once. Therefore, if Christ's obedience is imputed to us, there was no necessity that he should die for us. On the other hand, if he died for us, there was no necessity that he should obey for us. The principle here assumed may be true with regard to unfallen man. But where sin has been committed there is need of expiation as well as of obedience, and of obedience as well as expiation, if the reward of perfect obedience is to be conferred."15
It is also argued, in more modern times, that much of what Christ did was of such a nature that it is impossible that it could be imputed to us, the working of miracles, for example, and other acts of Mediatorial power. What an argument! The conclusion is from some to all: because some of his acts were not imputable, therefore all were not! The statement of the argument is its refutation. And if it be meant that no act of Christ could be imputed which man might not, supposing he were holy, have consciously performed; in other words that finiteness in the acts was the measure of their imputability, that would prove vastly too much: it would sweep away the imputability of the merit of Christ's death itself, for, assuredly, no man could have died his death and lived again. The great principle is overlooked that we may be accounted to have done federally and representatively in a divine-human Substitute what it were madness to suppose that we could have done consciously and personally. No man could have rendered an infinitely meritorious obedience to God's law, could have offered an infinitely meritorious sacrifice in satisfaction to his jrtstice, but it is a cause for devoutest thanksgiving that the merit of such an obedience and such a sacrifice is imputable to us.
Seventhly, It is unwarrantable to effect a divorce, as this objection to the imputability of Christ's active obedience does, between the two elements of the Saviour's righteousness, in relation to the precept and to the penalty of the law. The scriptural view is that he obeyed while suffering and suffered while obeying. The life of our glorious Redeemer was one of suffering, his death one of obedience. His suffering obedience was active, his active was a suffering obedience. From Nazareth to Calvary he learned obedience by the things which he suffered. Like his seamless robe, his righteousness is one. We should not rend it, but by faith taking it as it is, in its wondrous and indivisible totality, dress ourselves in it for the banquet of the Lamb. It is not intended to deny that the righteousness of Christ has two aspects, active and passive. It has, but the Scriptures ordinarily speak of his righteousness as one, culminating in his sufferings and death, which are dwelt upon and signalized as the climax and crown of his obedience. The distinction adverted to deserves to be asserted and maintained when it is denied that Christ's righteousness as active may be imputed.
To all this the following objection may be urged: Depravity is the judicial consequence of imputed guilt. If, then, the guilt be removed by pardon, the depravity is also removed: the cause gone, the effect goes with it. If, consequently, Christ secured pardon of our guilt, he secures, ipso facto, the extirpation of depravity. But depravity being taken away, the necessary activity of the soul could only develop in the direction of holiness; and as the soul would by the imputation of Christ's passive obedience be confirmed in innocence, it would be forever delivered from the contingency of sinning.
The case supposed is impossible, namely, that the sinner can be pardoned simply because of Christ's fulfilment of the penalty of the law. If this can be shown, the consequence derived from the supposition made - that there is no need of the imputation of Christ's active righteousness - will be disproved. It is of vital importance to consider that pardon cannot be extended to the sinner, consistently with the divine perfections, except upon the ground of a full and perfect satisfaction rendered to justice. This may be assumed, as it is acknowledged by the best Evangelical Arminian theologians, who upon this point are more scriptural than those of the Remonstrant school. Such a satisfaction would include perfect obedience to the whole law, both in its precept and its penalty. To suppose a satisfaction rendered to justice only by the endurance of the penalty would be to suppose an incomplete satisfaction, with which the demands of justice could not consist. The mistake upon which the objection is founded is that the suffering of the penalty would be a competent satisfaction to justice. Let us conceive that Christ in suffering and dying as a substitute merely underwent the penalty of the broken law. The demand of the law for a perfect fulfilment of its claims would not have been met. This, however, for reasons already stated, is inconceivable, for in suffering and dying Christ not only comflied with the requirement of the law, but cordially obeyed the law itself. He honored the precept in honoring the penalty. There are two considerations which make this apparent. In the first place, the precept of the law requires perfect piety and perfect philanthropy: a love to God which is supreme, and a love to man which is like that one bears to himself. Viewing Christ simply as a legal substitute, this perfect, hearty love to God and man was required from him, and actually yielded by him, when he endured the penalty of the law by vicariously suffering and dying. The agony of the Cross was the highest expression which even he could give of spontaneous, affectionate obedience to that infinite law which is holy, just and good. The tragedy of Calvary was no mechanical execution. Having in the eternal covenant cheerfully consented to become the dying Substitute of the guilty, the bloody sweat of the garden, the tears, spittle and gore, the desertion and loneliness, and the experience of unmitigated wrath, of the accursed tree, occasioned no abatement of that unforced purpose, induced no faltering in its execution. He obeyed the law from the heart: he magnified it and made it honorable in the eyes of the universe in the very highest possible degree. In the second place, these views are enhanced when we contemplate him not merely as a legal Substitute, but as a Priest. It is the specific office of a priest to offer worship for the guilty through sacrifice. Jesus offered worship for the guilty through the bloody sacrifice of himself. He was the victim offered, and he the officiating Priest. His death, voluntarily undergone, was an act of sublimest worship to God, with which the praises of an innumerable company of angels and of a countless assemblage of worlds could bear no comparison. It was the homage of an Incarnate God to justice and Law. It needs no words to show that as sincere worship involves the affections of the heart, and as Jesus, the God-man, worshiped God by the sacrifice of himself to justice in the room of the guilty, he rendered in dying a free and affectionate obedience to the precept which requires perfect love to God and man. Subjection to the penalty was due from sinners, obedience to it on his part was the free suggestion of his love to God and his pity for man. Christ, in dying, obeyed both the precept and the penalty of the law. The fact is, that his obedience cannot, except logically, be divided. It is one and indivisible. The law of God, although capable of being regarded in its preceptive and penal aspects, is really one, and the righteousness of Christ, though susceptible of being considered in specific relation to these aspects of the law, is characterized by a corresponding unity. Pardon, therefore, was not acquired for the guilty simply by Christ's endurance of the penalty of the law; it is the result of his whole obedience, to both the precept and the penalty. It is incompetent to speak of mere pardon, and the consequences which would flow from it. The obedience of Jesus, as a whole, was a full satisfaction to justice in the room of those whom he represented, and it follows that believers are justified completely in him: not merely absolved from guilt, but also invested with a right and title in him to an indefectible life. His obedience, as representative, could have earned no less a reward.
If against this view the old difficulty be presented, that if justification, embracing pardon and a title to eternal life, is imparted in consequence of a perfect satisfaction to justice, it is the award of justice and not a gift of grace, the old answer is obvious: that as God, to whom the satisfaction is due, himself rendered it in the person of his incarnate Son, the whole case is one of free grace. The satisfaction itself, as conditioning pardon and eternal life, was the fruit of grace, and so, consequently, are the pardon and eternal life conditioned by it.
It has thus been shown that Christ was a Federal Representative; that his Righteousness or Vicarious Obedience is imputed to those whom he represented; that his righteousness as a whole, active and passive, is imputed, as the sole ground of their justification; and that, therefore, justification cannot, as the Evangelical Arminian theology affirms, consist in mere pardon, inestimable as that benefit is, but involves both pardon and a right and title in Christ to eternal life - to confirmation in holiness and happiness forever.