Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism

John L. Girardeau



The third and last general division of the subject now comes up for consideration: The Condition or Instrumental Cause of justification. 

The question here does not relate to the nature of faith in general. There is sufficient agreement in the view that faith comprises in its unity the assent of the understanding, the trust of the heart and the consent of the will, when not only is abstract truth contemplated, but personal relations and interests are involved. Nor is the question whether faith conditions justification. Upon that point Calvinists and Evangelical Arminians are in accord. Whether the latter invariably and consistently contend that faith is the sole condition or instrumental cause of justification may be made a question. It will not, however, be now considered. The questions that here claim attention are: What is justifying faith? and What is the office which faith discharges in relation to justification? These questions are really distinct, but as we shall see, they practically coalesce in the Evangelical Arminian theology: at least the answer to one largely determines the answer to the other. 

The Calvinistic reply to these questions may be given with sufficient definiteness in the terms of the Westminster Standards. Speaking of the way in which God justifies those whom he effectually calls, the Confession of Faith says, among other negative assertions: "Not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience, to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God. 

"Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified,1 but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love."'2 

The Larger Catechism gives this answer to the question, "What is justifying faith?" - "Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner, by the Spirit and word of God; whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and His righteousness therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation."3 

It thus answers the question, "How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?" - "Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it; nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for justification; but only as it is an instrument, by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and His righteousness.4 

The following citations are made from Evangelical Arminian authors of recognized standing. 

"By 'the righteousness which is of faith,'" says Mr. Wesley, "is meant that condition of justification (and in consequence [consequently] of present and final salvation, if we endure therein unto the end) which was given by God to fallen man, through the merits and mediation of his only begotten Son."5 He also says: "Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it (i. e., faith) was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed (to whom faith shall be imputed for righteousness), shall stand instead of perfect obedience, in order to our acceptance with God." "Faith, therefore, is the necessary condition of justification.6 Yea, and the only necessary condition thereof. This is the second point carefully to be observed; that the very moment God giveth faith (for it is the gift of God) to the 'ungodly, that worketh not,' that 'faith is counted to him for righteousness.' He hath no righteousness at all antecedent to this, not so much as negative righteousness, or innocence. But 'faith is imputed to him for righteousness' the very moment that he believeth. Not that God (as was observed before) thinketh him to be what he is not. But as 'he made Christ to be a sin offering for us,' that is, treated him as a sinner, punished him for our sins; so he counteth us righteous, from the time we believe in him; that is, he doth not punish us for our sins, yea, treats us as though we were guiltless and righteous."7 

In the first place, notice that Mr. Wesley asserts the righteousness of faith to be the condition of justification. Now either this is a righteousness inherent in faith, or imputed to faith, or neither. If inherent in faith, our inherent righteousness is the condition of justification, which is utterly unscriptural; if imputed to faith, the Calvinistic position is conceded; if neither inherent in faith, nor imputed to faith, there is no righteousness which is of faith, none which it can claim, no righteousness which is ours. To say that faith relies upon it, is not enough. Jesus would not be the Lord our righteousness. His righteousness would be something foreign to us on which we depend. To say that faith appropriates it is to say that it makes it its own. Its own how? By inherence or by imputation? In no other than one of these two ways can it become our own by faith. If, as Mr. Wesley says, God gives it to us - then how? Does he make it inherent in us by his gift, or does he impute it to us as his gift? Either inherent or imputed this righteousness must be; and each of these suppositions is damaging to the Arminian doctrine. 

In the second place, observe that Mr. Wesley says, this faith "shall stand instead of perfect obedience." Faith, then, is not perfect obedience, it only stands instead of it. But if it stands instead of it, it discharges the office of perfect obedience. The believer is accepted as if he had perfectly obeyed: his faith justifies in the stead of a perfect obedience which would justify him, but is wanting. But how faith can be reputed to have the value of perfect obedience and discharge the office it would perform if possessed, and yet faith relies upon the perfect obedience of Christ for justification which nevertheless is not imputed to the believer, this is what Mr. Wesley does not explain, and could not have explained. What is now emphasized is that the great founder of Evangelical Arminianism expressly declared that faith is imputed for righteousness in the sense that it stands instead of perfect obedience. 

In the third place, Mr. Wesley misses an obvious and necessary distinction, and is consequently betrayed into confusion of thought, when he remarks that in imputing faith for righteousness God does not think the sinner to be what he is not. It is a truism to say that God does not think the sinner to be consciously and inherently righteous, but he does think him to be, because he adjudges him to be, putatively and legally righteous. Were the sinner neither, how could God, consistently with justice and truth, count him "as righteous" and treat him as such? This overlooked distinction is necessary to the understanding of the gospel. Further, if God counts the sinner as righteous, he must either regard him as inherently or as putatively righteous. The former supposition is not possible, according to Mr. Wesley's admission and to the facts of the case. The latter must, therefore, be true, and the imputed righteousness of another is confessed. But as faith is undeniably inherent, faith cannot be that imputed righteousness, since the righteousness cannot be inherent in us and another's imputed to us at the same time. Faith, consequently, receives the imputed righteousness, on account of which God regards and treats the sinner as righteous. Still further, Mr. Wesley, having declared - what is true - that God "counteth" the believer "as righteous", adds that God "treats" him "as though" he "were guiltless and righteous." In these last words he must be understood as meaning that God treats the believer as though he were inherently guiltless and righteous. This is true; and it is equivalent to saying that the believer is not inherently guiltless and righteous. God, however, pardons him and treats him as having righteousness. Now, either this righteousness is faith or it is not. If it is, then as faith is inherent, the believer is accounted righteous as having inherent righteousness. But that is contrary to the supposition that the believer is not inherently righteous. If it is not faith, it must be a righteousness which is in no sense inherent. It remains that it is the imputed righteousness of another, even the righteousness of Jesus Christ, which faith receives, and on account of which God treats the believer "as righteous." 

The next writer who shall speak is Mr. Fletcher, a contemporary of Mr. Wesley and the staunch defender of his views. "You confound," says he, "without reason, the inherent righteousness of faith with Pharisaic self-righteousness. I have already proved that the latter, which is the partial, external, and hypocritical righteousness of unbelieving formalists, is the only righteousness which the prophet compares to filthy rags. With respect to the former, that is, our own righteousness of faith, far from setting it up in opposition to imputed righteousness rightly understood, we assert that it is the righteousness of God, the very thing which 'God imputes to us for righteousness;' the very righteousness which has now the stamp of his approbation, and will one day have the crown of his rewards."8

This is sufficiently, it is refreshingly explicit. It is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain what most Evangelical Arminian theologians mean by the phrase "the righteousness of faith." They are strenuous in asserting, what no Calvinist denies, that faith is imputed for righteousness, since the Scriptures affirm this in so many words. But when the question is, Is faith this righteousness, or is the righteousness which is imputed different from faith itself as a righteousness? no definite answer can be extracted from their writings: they may mean this, they may mean that. But Mr. Fletcher talks in no uncertain tones. He definitely asserts that the righteousness of faith is inherent righteousness. He discriminates this kind of inherent, from another kind of inherent righteousness - the righteousness of the Pharisee. Generically they both come under the denomination of inherent righteousness, but specifically they are different. Mr. Fletcher is not incorrect in supposing that there are different sorts of inherent righteousness. There is a good and a bad sort. The inherent righteousness produced by the Spirit of God in His sanctifying work is a good inherent righteousuess. But that there is a good righteousness of that denomination which is in order to the justification of a sinner is news to one who reads the Scriptures, or is acquainted with the facts of consciousness. The distinction is valid, because scriptural, between a legal, inherent righteousness which cannot avail to justification and an evangelical, inherent righteousness, which after justification avails to sanctification; but there is no scriptural ground for a distinction between a legal and an evangelical inherent righteousness in order to justification. All inherent righteousness previously to the justification of a sinner is legal, and is, by the apostle Paul, absolutely ruled out from the possibility of securing, or in any way conducing to, justification. But without further argument upon the point just here, let it be noted that Mr. Fletcher clearly, unmistakably makes the righteousness of faith inherent righteousness. 

Next, he declares in the most positive terms that this, "our own," " inherent" righteousness is not to be set up in opposition to imputed righteousness; on the contrary it is imputed righteousness. Here the distinction, the Protestant distinction, between an inherent righteousness as our own and an imputed righteousness as another's, is emphatically denied. Our own inherent righteousness is that which God imputes to us. The imputation to us of another's righteousness is, indeed, everywhere in his writings rejected and ridiculed; and as this is done by others we are shut up to the conclusion that the catholic Evangelical Arminian doctrine is opposed to the distinction between inherent righteousness as our own and imputed righteousness as another's, and asserts the imputation alone of our own inherent righteousness, either as real or constructive. 

This is not all. Mr. Fletcher affirms that this inherent righteousness of faith is the righteousness of God which is imputed. "We assert," he dogmatically says, "that it is the righteousness of God, the very thing which God imputes to us for righteousness." Mr. Fletcher must be held to his undoubted positions. He says that the righteousness of God is imputed: "The righteousness of God, the very thing which God imputes to us for righteousness." He says that the righteousness of faith is the righteousness of God: "Our own righteousness of faith . . . is the righteousness of God." He says that the righteousness of faith is inherent righteousness: "You confound the inherent righteousness of faith with Pharisaic self-righteousness." The conclusion is undeniable that the righteousness of God imputed is our own inherent righteousness of faith. In the discussion already had of the question, What is the righteousness of God? all the answers which have been given were considered, namely: The essential righteousness of God; the rectoral righteousness of God; God's method of justifying sinners; faith; the vicarious obedience of Christ. Now as even Mr. Fletcher would not have contended that God's essential righteousness, or his rectoral righteousness, or his method of justification, or the vicarious obedience of Christ, is or can be inherent in us, the only remaining supposition is that the righteousness of God is faith; for that is inherent, the only thing that is inherent in all these possible cases. It would be idle to attempt a distinction between faith itself and the inherent righteousness of faith. If faith be not that righteousness, what is the righteousness which is distinct from faith and yet belongs to it? It must, according to Fletcher, be an inherent righteousness; it cannot therefore, be God's essential, or his rectoral, righteousness, or his method of justification. To call either of them inherent is to speak absurdly. The righteousness of Christ is of course excluded. There is only one other conceivable supposition, and that is so ridiculous that no Arminian, so far as I know, makes it, to wit, that the righteousness of faith is God's act of justification. There is no other conclusion than that the righteousness of faith and faith itself are one and the same. This is Mr. Fletcher's only possible meaning. The righteousness of God is faith imputed to us; and against this position the irresistible reductio ad absurdum already employed is hurled. It is out of the question that faith, as God's righteousness, is revealed from faith to faith, is by faith, is through faith. A faith which is from, to, by, and through, faith is more unspeakable than "the unspeakable Turk." 

The passages in which Mr. Watson speaks most expressly to this point are these: "Justification is a gratuitous act of God's mercy, a procedure of pure 'grace,' not of 'debt.' That in order to the exercise of this grace, on the part of God, Christ was set forth as a propitiation for sin; that his death, under this character, is a 'demonstration of the righteousness of God' in the free and gratuitous remission of sins; and that this actual remission or justification, follows upon believing in Christ, because faith, under this gracious constitution and method of justification, is accounted to men for righteousness; in other words, that righteousness is imputed to them upon their believing, which imputation of righteousness is, as he teaches us, in the passages before quoted, the forgiveness of sins; for to have faith counted or imputed for righteousness is explained by David, in the psalm which the apostle quotes (Rom. iv.), to have sin forgiven, covered, and not imputed."9 "From this brief, but, it is hoped, clear explanation of these terms, righteousness, faith, and imputation, it will appear, that it is not quite correct in the advocates of the Scripture doctrine of the imputation of faith for righteousness, to say, that our faith in Christ is accepted in the place of personal obedience to the law, except, indeed, in this loose sense, that our faith in Christ as effectually exempts us from punishment, as if we had been personally obedient. The scriptural doctrine is rather, that the death of Christ is accepted in the place of our personal punishment, on condition of our faith in him; and that when faith in him is actually exerted, then comes in, on the part of God, the act of imputing, or reckoning righteousness to us; or, what is the same thing, accounting faith for righteousness, that is pardoning our offences through faith, and treating us as the objects of his restored favor."10 

Mr. Watson's doctrine that faith is the condition of pardon, however incomplete in a discussion of justification, would be very simple and unexceptionable, were it not for the critically important and troublesome terms righteousness and imputation. But faith must be adjusted to the notions expressed by these terms, in any adequate consideration of its justifying office. 

In the first place, Mr. Watson, in explaining the phrase faith imputed for righteousness, expressly says: "Righteousness is imputed to them upon their believing, which imputation of righteousness is . . . the forgiveness of sins." The imputation of righteousness is pardon. There are two obvious and formidable objections to this statement. The first is that pardon is the non-imputation of guilt, and to treat it formally as imputation is to make imputation and non-imputation precisely the same! The second is, that as pardon is the non-imputation of guilt, and pardon is said to be the imputation of righteousness, the non-imputation of guilt and the imputation of righteousness are made exactly the same! In the second place, Mr. Watson's theory evidently accounts only for the non-imputation of guilt. He was not entitled to the use of the terms imputation of righteousness. They are illegitimately introduced. The assumption that justification consists simply in pardon has in the foregoing remarks been considered and refuted. Although, then, faith is a condition of pardon - which, of course, is admitted, so far as the conscious reception of pardon is concerned, though not the pardon secured by Christ at the completion of his representative work, which is a condition precedent to the sinner's conversion and reconciliation to God - faith is not thereby shown to be a condition of justification, which not only pronounces the sinner pardoned but righteous. Are not guiltlessness and righteousness different things? We have seen that Mr. Wesley perceived and noted the difference between them. The truth is that if faith be simply the condition of pardon, there is no imputation of righteousness whatsoever, unless the view is maintained that the righteousness imputed is faith itself; but this does not appear to be the view expressed by Mr. Watson. He contends that the imputation of righteousness is pardon; and he could scarcely have meant that pardon is the imputation of faith as righteousness. Still, if faith be not the righteousness imputed, as Fletcher contends, then there is no righteousness which is imputed, for Mr. Watson denies that Christ's righteousness is imputed, and he could not have held that the righteousness of God, which he says is God's method of justification, is imputed. He was shut up then to the alternatives, either of admitting that faith is imputed as righteousness, or that no righteousness at all is imputed. If the former, he was reduced to Fletcher's absurdity of the imputation of inherent righteousness for justification, or to the theory of the imputation of faith as a quasi righteousness,. If the latter, he verbally contradicts himself, and really contradicts Scripture. 

Dr. Pope's general doctrine on this subject it passes my ability to bring into consistency with itself, but he has this special utterance which may be considered as sufficently indicating his position; "Faith is not righteousness, as justifying: it is counted for righteousness. It is put to the account of man in the mediatorial court as righteousness; not as a good work, but reckoned instead of the good works which it renounces."11 All that it is necessary particularly to notice is that Dr. Pope's view is distinctly that while faith is not itself a justifying righteousness, it is accounted, imputed as righteousness, in the stead of a legal righteousness which would be competent to justify, It is not Christ's righteousness which is imputed. Faith is imputed in lieu of righteousness. In this he differs with Fletcher, at least nominally, as the latter boldly maintained that faith is righteousness. We shall see that while Fletcher's view is contradictory to Scripture, Pope's contradicts common sense and Scripture alike. One makes faith all inherent righteousness, the other makes it an inherent nothing: it is a substitute for inherent righteousness, but not itself an inherent righteousness. 

Dr. Raymond's view of the nature and office of faith may be collected from the following passages: "The above will suffice to show in what sense the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith only, is both rational and Scriptural. Faith is said to be that condition of justification, or the pardon of sin, which, if a man have, no matter what else he is destitute of, he can not be lost, and without which, whatever else he may have, he can not be saved. Though faith be that only, and that alone, that justifies, it is not solitary and arbitrary; it is that which, in the nature of the case, is essential, as meeting an indispensable requirement, and is, in itself, such as secures, atonement having been made, all the remaining interests involved. It is not a mere speculative belief in the doctrines of Christianity. It is confidence in Christ, as the Son of God and Saviour of men. It is a state of mind, which naturally, intuitively assimilates the believer to the Spirit of Christ, adopts his sentiments, co-operates with his plans, takes him as a leader and guide. Faith in Christ is a voluntary act, by which Christ is accepted as prophet, priest and king. The moment, therefore, a man exercises this confidence in Christ, he is a saved man. This is itself the spirit of loyalty; it is in harmony with law; it seeks the ends of government; it approves, admires the righteousness of God; in it rebellion against God dies. The carnal mind, at enmity with God, and not subject to His law, is put away, is displaced by its opposite; faith is the spirit of filial obedience. It implies repentance, sorrow on account of sin, together with a turning from sin; it brings forth fruits meet for repentance. It implies, further, a purpose of righteousness." After acknowledging that faith "considered as a volitionating power, is the gift of God," he goes on to say: "But the exercise of man's God-given powers is with the man himself, and is made within limits subject to his own free choice. God no more believes for a man than he breathes and eats, walks and works, for him; faith, as a power to believe, is the gift of God; believing, the exercise of faith, is the act of man.12 This act he must put forth or be damned; if he put it forth, he will be saved; he can not be lost while believing in Christ. If any choose to call that act of faith works, we shall not contend; if they still affirm that, in asserting that this faith is an act of the human will, we teach the doctrine of salvation by works, very well; we care not by what name it is called; we abide the affirmative of the doctrine that a man's eternal destiny is dependent upon a somewhat which he himself may do or leave undone [N. B.], and that somewhat is called, in the Bible, faith. To those to whom the Gospel is preached, it is a cordial confiding in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Saviour of men; to those who have not heard the gospel, it is the same faith in the form of a filial trust in the mercy of God; or, as it has been designated, 'the spirit of faith with the purpose of righteousness.'"13 

When the question is, What is the condition of justification? Dr. Raymond answers with all Protestants, It is faith alone. But when the question is, How is faith this condition? he replies, in substance, that it is especially adapted to this office, because it assures the rectitude of God in the administration of redemption. Why? Not because it accepts and rests upon the obedience of Christ imputed, by which justice has been satisfied, the law magnified and God's government vindicated and sustained: he scouts the notion of the imputed righteousness of Christ as the substitute of sinners. Not because faith in Christ as a justifying Saviour is in order to the impartation of the sanctifying grace of the Spirit, the author and determiner of all holiness. Why, then? Because faith contains within itself the seeds of every Christian virtue, the germs of all inherent righteousness or holiness. It is this aptitude, intrinsic to itself, to secure and promote the moral interests of God's government that adapts it to be the condition of justification. He does not say, with Fletcher, it is inherent righteousness, but he maintains that it is the seed or germ from which inherent righteousness is developed. The difference is in degree, not in hind. Faith is inchoate holiness from which all holiness springs; unless it breaks its neck after its first bound towards development, when the bright dawn of incipient grace expires in the darkness of nature's night, and the development becomes what the Frenchman pronounced it, with the accent on the first syllable. This view of the mode in which faith discharges its office as a condition of justification is supported by a distinction between the power to believe which is confessed to be the gift of God and the act of believing which is entirely man's, an act which he may or may not perform. If he perform it, it is a righteous exercise of his own "volitionating" power. It follows that man practically determines his justification. The merits of Christ afford him the opportunity of justifying himself. Upon this supposition justification cannot be purely of grace, and it is no wonder that Dr. Raymond coolly says, that if this is supposed to teach salvation by works, he will not contend: it is very well. The apostle Paul says to the Philippians: "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake." No, intimates Dr. Raymond, it is not given to us to believe, only the power to believe is given. Paul says: "It is God which worketh in you, both to will, and to do, of his good pleasure." God works in you to will, declares Paul. Oh, no, suggests Dr. Raymond, God works in you the power of willing, but not to will: the volitionating is yours. But Paul says, God worketh in you to do. On the other hand, Dr. Raymond says that to do, to act belongs to man, not to God. God cannot believe in Christ. Mighty distinction! It overthrows the doctrine of an apostle, and establishes the sovereignty of the sinner's will. God says He will raise the dead at the last day. But God will not rise from the dead: man will rise; therefore God cannot raise the dead. Yes, God will give the power to rise, but the dead body must exercise it; and so having the power, it will of itself lift the earth or the marble and emerge from the grave! Christ says He will raise the spiritually dead soul. But Christ will not rise from spiritual death. The soul must rise. Therefore Christ cannot raise the dead soul. Ay, but Christ gives the power to rise and the soul exercises it. And so the sinner having the power of regeneration regenerates himself. God furnishes the ground of justification in the obedience unto death of his Son; he gives the sinner the power to place himself on that ground; but he cannot put the sinner there: he cannot determine the sinner's will to believe. He may "yearn over" the unwilling soul, he may long for its salvation; but he cannot save it. Why is this denied to almighty power and infinite love? Because God does not need to be saved and cannot exercise faith! God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the atoning Blood - all depend for efficacy upon the sinner's volitionating act! 

Having endeavored to gather from the statement of Evangelical Arminian theologians of repute what is their doctrine in regard to the nature and office of justifying Faith, the way is open to sum up the results, and to subject them to a final examination. 

They are professedly agreed in holding that faith is the sole condition of justification. It is not, however, to be supposed that this is the same as to assert, with the body of Protestants, that faith is simply the instrument, and nothing more, by which a justifying righteousness is received and relied upon. True, it is maintained that faith is the sole condition or instrumental cause of justification, but if the question be, whether faith discharges this office merely and solely as it is faith, as it is simply assent and trust, or whether, as justifying, it involves in it or carries along with it some elements which are not, strictly speaking, of the very nature of faith, - the answers to these questions by the Evangelical Arminian theology are indistinct if not positively inaccurate. In the first place, there is a confusion of the condition of faith with the condition of justification. Conviction of sin and misery14 is ordinarily a condition precedent to faith, but it is in no sense or degree an instrument whereby Christ is received and rested upon. It does not enter into or qualify the instrumental office of faith. In the second place, a quality of inherent righteousness is represented as entering into faith, adapting it to secure the moral interests of the divine government. Faith, as justifying, is not nuda fides - naked, simple, mere faith. But if it be not, it is not suited to be, what justification requires, a bare receiver of Christ. To the extent to which, as justifying, it embraces or exhibits any extraneous quality, to that extent Christ is displaced. Holiness is in its place indispensable, but faith, so far as it is the instrument of justification, has nothing to do with it; it has no eye, no ear for anything but a justifying Saviour: it reaches out both empty palms to him. The dread of Antinomianism, real or imaginary - and the imaginary is the Calvinistic Federal Theology - generates a wisdom superior to God's, a concern for righteousness more conservative than his, and clamors for a little infusion of ethics into faith, for fear a simple reliance upon Christ and His righteousness for justification might prejudice sanctification and damage the interests of holiness.15 

The witnesses disagree, to some extent, in respect to the nature of justifying faith, and the imputation of it for righteousness. Mr. Fletcher explicitly, and Dr. Raymond implicitly, maintain that it is our own inherent, though evangelical, righteousness. Mr. Wesley and Dr. Pope hold that it is accepted instead of a perfect righteousness, and Mr. Watson is in substantial agreement with them on this point. For although, as we have seen, he pronounces this view "not quite correct," yet he says in connection with that mild stricture: "Except, indeed, in this loose sense, that our faith in Christ as effectually exempts us from punishment, as if we had been personally obedient." One call detect no substantial difference between the affirmations: faith is accepted in the place of personal obedience; faith is accepted as if we had produced personal obedience. They are obviously tantamount to the same thing. I shall not undertake to decide which of these views, that of Mr. Fletcher and Dr. Raymond on the one hand, or that of Mr. Wesley, Mr. Watson and Dr. Pope on the other, is the received doctrine of Evangelical Arminianism; nor will they be examined in detail beyond what has already been done. They are alike exclusive of the truth of God touching the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, and the simple instrumentality of faith in receiving that righteousness, and the arguments which will be used will be directed against them both. 

(i.) The Evangelical Arminian theology illegitimately distinguishes between the Ground and the Matter of justification; or, in other words, it unwarrantably splits into two parts the one Material Cause of justification. The efficient cause of anything is that by which it is produced; the material cause, that out of which, on the ground of which, on account of which, it is produced; the instrumental cause, that through which, by means of which, it is produced; the formal cause, the thing itself so and so formed and configured, and contra-distinguishing it to other things, if physical made out of the same material, if moral or intellectual belonging to the same general kind; the final cause, the end for which it is produced. The efficient cause of the table on which this writing is done is the workman's skill, that produced it; the material cause, the wood out of which it was constructed, that grounded its construction; the instrumental cause, the implements through which, by means of which, it was constructed; the formal cause, the table itself so and so formed and configured, distinguishing it from other articles of furniture made out of the same material; the final cause, the end for which it was produced, say, that it might be used for writing. These causes, founded in an analysis for the most part as old as the gigantic intellect of Aristotle, and perfected by the intelligence of subsequent ages, are not to be sneered at as abstruse and scholastic. Their value has been tested by many a thinker, as he struggled to find his way through the confounding intricacies of a difficult and perplexing subject. They play havoc with ingenious but sopltistical speculations, and with brilliant but illogical declamation: they are the Lapis Lydius of reasoning. The thinker who is acquainted with them knows their utility, and he who is ignorant of them unconsciously employs them to the extent to which he thinks at all. 

In applying these causes to justification, the Calvinist holds, that its efficient cause is the free grace of God - it is that by which it is produced, or, what is the same, that which produces it; its material cause is the righteousness out of which, on account of which, on the ground of which, it is produced, and as one's own inherent righteousness is out of the question, it is the imputed righteousness of another, even Jesus Christ the Righteous, the Lord our Righteousness; its instrumental cause is faith - it is that through which, by means of which, it is produced, that which simply receives and relies upon the justifying righteousness of Christ; its formal cause is justification by the imputation of another's righteousness, as contra-distinguished to other kinds of justification proceeding upon the imputation of one's own, inherent righteousness; its final cause is, proximately, the salvation of the sinner, ultimately, the glory of God's grace. It will be perceived that the Calvinist makes no unphilosophical, no untenable distinction between the ground, and the matter, of justification. They are regarded as one and the same. It is the same thing to say that Christ's righteousness is the ground, and that it is the matter, of justification. That righteousness is its material cause. The material cause is one; it cannot be divided into two parts, the ground and the matter. Nor can there be two material causes of justification, one the righteousness of Christ, the other the faith of the sinner as righteousness. If the material cause is Christ's righteousness, it cannot be faith as the sinner's righteousness, or faith in any aspect; if it be faith, it cannot be Christ's righteousness. It must be either one or the other, not both, not one in one respect, and the other in another. 

The Arminian, if asked, what is the ground of justification? answers, The righteousness of Christ. Well, then, Christ's righteousness is the righteousness that justifies, that out of which justification is produced. No. If asked, What is it that justifies? he replies, The righteousness of faith, or faith accepted as righteousness. This, then, is that out of which justification is produced. Faith either as righteousness or accepted instead of righteousness is the matter of justification. Faith as the matter is distinguished from the righteousness which is confessed to be the ground. There are, consequently, either two material causes of justification, or one and the same material cause is split into two parts, and these two parts are intrinsically different - as different as the righteousness of another and one's own subjective quality or conscious act. The Arminian's distinction is untenable. If Christ's righteousness is the ground of justification - and that is admitted - it is also its matter, the righteousness out of which it is produced. It may be asked, Where is the difficulty of supposing two material causes concurring to the production of justification? There might be, for example, two kinds of wood used in the construction of this table. The answer is, that how many soever may be the materials, or, to speak more broadly, the sorts of matter, which go to produce anything, physical, intellectual or moral, their union constitutes its one ground or matter - its material cause; and the Arminian would violate his own doctrine if he held that faith enters into the ground of justification. Even were it supposable that there might be two material causes, they would jointly be the ground. If, then, the obedience of Christ be one material cause of justification and faith another, the difficulty would be presented of mingling faith with the merit of Christ to constitute the ground of justification - a result which the Evangelical Arminian could not accept. 

If this view be correct, it is evident that the Arminian theology not only makes an illegitimate distinction between the Ground and the Matter, but also unjustifiably confounds the Material Cause, and the Instrumental Cause, of justification. Faith is admitted to be the instrumental cause, but if, as has been shown, it is held to be the thing itself which justifies, either as a righteousness, or accepted as if it were a righteousness and judged to discharge its office, it is held to be the matter - in some sense the material cause - of justification; hence the material and instrumental causes are obviously confounded. 

(2.) Either, faith is a real, substantive righteousness; or, it is an unreal, constructive righteousness, treated as though it were a real, substantive righteousness, and accepted in its place; or, it is no righteousness at all, but simply receives and rests upon a righteousness. The first view is that of some Evangelical Arminian writers; the second is that maintained by others, following Wesley, and is the one usually accredited to the Evangelical Arminian theology; the third is that held by Calvinists. Let us consider them in the order in which they have been stated. 

First, Is faith a real, substantive righteousness, imputed to us in order to justification? The theologians who hold this view are acquitted of claiming that it is a legal righteousness: they claim that it is not legal, but evangelical. The view, however stated, cannot be sustained.  

In the first place, it is opposed to the very nature of faith, as justifying. The Evangelical Arminian theologians contend that faith, as justifying, is an act. When it is performed the believer is immediately justified. But it is clear that as an act expires upon its performance, it cannot be a righteousness. It may be a righteous act, but the act is not a righteousness, which not only supposes a series of acts, but a series of works, each of them composed of acts. Further, faith, from its very nature, has no intrinsic excellence. Its excellence is derived from the object to which it is related, and as that object, so far as justification is concerned, is admitted by Evangelical Arminian divines to be Christ, faith borrows its beauty and glory from him. But that which has no intrinsic excellence or virtue, which possesses only a relative value, cannot with propriety be represented as a righteousness. To these considerations it must be added that faith involves a confession of unworthiness, of impotence, of nothingness. It flees to Christ, it lays hold on him, it depends upon him. It is the veriest of parasites. Detached from Christ, like a vine stripped from the tree to which it clings, it collapses and ceases to live. 

In the second place, even were it supposed to be a righteousness, it would be necessarily an imperfect righteousness; and it must be acknowledged that a righteousness to be justifying behooves to be perfect. It is no answer to this to say that although in itself imperfect it relies upon the perfect righteousness of Christ. That would be to postulate two justifying righteousnesses, one perfect, the other imperfect; and three absurdities would emerge: the first, more than one justifying righteousness when one is enough; the second, the superfluity of an imperfect justifying righteousness in addition to a perfect; the third, an inconceivable reliance of one righteousness upon another righteousness for justification! 

In the third place, no inherent righteousness can possibly be imputed to us in order to justification. Certainly no inherent legal righteousness can be so imputed, if the Scriptures are received as authority; and no evangelical righteousness can exist previously to justification, for such a righteousness is, from the nature of the case, sanctifying, and it will not be contended that a sanctifying righteousness is in order to justification. If it be urged that there may be an evangelical righteousness which is not sanctifying, it must be admitted that it exists before justification for if it existed after it, it would be sanctifying, which is contrary to the supposition. Now, it is sufficient to say in answer to this that the Evangelical Arminian theology expressly confesses that works done before justification have no value for justification. This inherent righteousness, therefore, which it is claimed is imputed to us in order to justification must at the same time, if consistency is observed, be acknowledged to have no value for justification. A contradiction ensues. Between the contradictories who can hesitate to elect that which asserts the worthlessness of all inherent righteousness, of all works, of all acts, of an inherent denomination existing before justification? The theory is a paradox. It not only gainsays Scripture, but traverses the Evangelical Arminian theology itself. Every righteousness must consist of works: righteousness without works is a solecism. These works are either the fruits of sanctification or not. If they are, they are evangelical and not legal. If they are not, they are legal and not evangelical. This righteousness in question consists of works which are not fruits of sanctification. It consists, therefore, of legal works; and no legal work can conduce to justification. That the advocate of this theory should urge that faith is not a legal work avails nothing. He makes it a legal work by making it a righteousness. Of course faith is not legal, in fact; it is the very opposite of works, but it is legal in his theory, and that destroys the theory. I affirm that it is not legal, he replies. So you do, it is rejoined, but you affirm that it is inherent righteousness conducing to justification; it is therefore legal. You affirm that it is and is not legal, in the same breath. Meanwhile the truth is that it is no righteousness. It merely receives a righteousness wrought by another and imputed for justification. 

In the fourth place, an argument employed by John Owen on this point is decisive. "Faith," he observes, "as we said before, is our own; and that which is our own may be imputed unto us. But the discourse of the apostle is about that which is not our own antecedently unto imputation, but is made ours thereby, as we have proved; for it is of grace. And the imputation unto us of what is really our own antecedently unto that imputation, is not of grace, in the sense of the apostle; for what is so imputed is imputed for what it is, and nothing else. For that imputation is but the judgment of God concerning the thing imputed, with respect unto them whose it is."16 The thought suggested by this testimony of the venerable Puritan which it is now intended to emphasize is, that if faith, as a justifying righteousness, is imputed to us, the imputation is made by justice, not by grace. For it is just, not gracious, to impute to us what is our own. The imputation of righteousness is manifestly referred to justice and not to grace; and this is contrary to the specific declarations of the Scriptures and to the whole genius of the gospel. 

An effort may be made to blunt the edge of this consideration in two ways. It may be urged, that faith is the gift of grace, and therefore its righteousuess is imputed to us as a gracious and not a legal righteousness. This is the plea of the Pharisee and the Romanist. The former thanks God for his righteousness. Grace produced it, but produced it in him. It was therefore his righteousness, and was pronounced by our Lord not justifying. The latter admits the merit of Christ, admits the grace of the Spirit, procured by that merit, as enabling him to be righteous. It was the position of Adam, had he been justified. His righteousness would have been wrought in the strength of grace, but would notwithstanding have been ituputed to him as his own, legal righteousness. A righteousness receives its denomination not from the source in which it originates, but from the end which it contemplates.17 Again, it may be urged, that while faith is imputed as righteousness, it is not the ground of justification, but relies on Christ's righteousness as the ground. This hypothesis of two righteousnesses, one the ground, the other the matter, of justification, and the absurd notion of one righteousness relying on another righteousness, have already been disposed of. 

The testimony of Paul to the Philippians is decisive, and that shall be allowed to give the finishing stroke to this Semi-Pelagian hypothesis. He declares that he counted all things but loss, that he might win Christ, and be found in him, not having his own righteousness. The abettor of this view says, I have my own righteousness. Then you contradict Paul, says the Calvinist. No, answers the Arminian, Paul says that the righteousness he did not have "is of the law," but the righteousness which I have, and which he had, is faith. Hear Paul further, rejoins the Calvinist: He declares that the righteousness he did have is that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. Certainly faith cannot be through faith and by faith. The righteousness which Paul says he did not have is the inherent righteousness which you say you have, and the righteousness which he says he would have is the imputed righteousness of Christ which comes through faith, the very same which you say you would not have. Thus does an inspired apostle inflict upon this theory of inherent righteousness a literal coup de grace

Secondly, Is faith an unreal, constructive righteousness, treated as if it were a real, substantive righteousness, and accepted in its stead? No injustice is done by this statement of the question. For, if faith is regarded as if it were righteousness, and accepted in the stead of righteousness, it is all unreal, constructive righteousness. The view is labelled precisely according to its import. 

This doctrine involves the rejection of a great and fundamental principle of the divine government. It is that, in order to justification, one must have, must himself possess, a perfect righteousness of works which satisfies the demands of justice and law, and is pleadable before the bar of God: either one which is his because he consciously produced it, or one produced by another, as his substitute, which is made his by imputation. The possibility of the sinner's possessing such a righteousness consciously produced by himself is denied alike by the Arminian and the Calvinist. The possibility of his possessing one produced by another as his representative, and made his by imputation, is denied by the Arminian and affirmed by the Calvinist. They both insist upon the necessity of a saving connection between the sinner and the meritorious obedience of Christ, but differ as to the mode in which the connection is realized. The Arminian contends that it is enough that Christ should have vicariously acted in behalf of the race in general, and that the sinner should by faith rely upon him. The Calvinist replies that this is not enough; that upon this theory Christ is not the Substitute of any individual man, and that it is impossible that faith alone should effect such a relation of the sinner to Christ as to make the righteousness of Christ pleadable by him in the divine court; and further, that it is utterly inadmissible to consider the mere pardon conditioned by faith, and that a losable pardon, as being justification. He maintains that there is needed a legal procedure on God's part, over and beyond the sinner's faith, to constitute the righteousness of Christ the sinner's righteousness in law, to pass over its merit to his account, and to reckon it to him as his, and that this is accomplished by judicial imputation, based upon the great principle of federal representation. He asks, Where, upon the Arminian theory, is there any legal union between the sinner and Christ, which would warrant even acquittal of guilt, consistently with the demands of justice and law? The Arminian himself acknowledges that pardon is not dispensed by virtue of the arbitrary prerogative of a Sovereign. Mr. Watson elaborately proves this.18 There must be substitution. But substitution necessarily supposes a legal unity between the original transgressor and the substitute. Faith itself cannot possibly achieve that result, particularly a faith which, according to the Arminian, precedes regeneration, and "must," as Dr. Pope says, "be distinguished from the grace of faith which is one of the fruits of the regenerating Spirit." 19 This, urges the Calvinist, is to make the faith of the unregenerate man the sole factor of union with Christ in the moment of justification; for, an the order of thought, faith as justifying is made to precede the regenerating act of the Holy Spirit which spiritually unites the soul with Christ; and it follows that at the moment of justification there is neither legal nor spiritual union with Christ. There is only such connection as faith accomplishes. The soul does not grow up a living stone out of the foundation, but simply lies down upon it; and no wonder it is liable to be thrown from it by the shocks of inward temptation and of satanic rage. 

In nothing, except in its assertion of the supremacy of the sinner's will in the matter of practical salvation, and its consequent rejection of the sovereignty of God's electing grace, is the Arminian theology more conspicuously defective than in its denial of the great principle, that God requires in the sinner, in order to justification, the possession of a real, substantive, perfect righteousness of works. The question, then, is, Does God require of the believing sinner the possession of no real righteousness in order to justification? or, Does he require of him the possession of a real, though vicarious and imputed righteousness, to that end? The latter is the true doctrine. 

In the first place, it is established by the very nature of the justifying act. Both parties are agreed in holding that it is forensic: it pronounces or declares the sinner righteous. Both are agreed that it does not infuse righteousness, or, what is the same, make holy. Both, then, are agreed that it does not declare the sinner to be inherently righteous: it does not declare him to be, in himself, righteous, or holy. But it does declare him to be righteous. How righteous? Not inherently, not as viewed in himself. How, then? The Arminian cannot answer that question. He contends that it would be a legal fiction to declare him righteous by the imputation to him of another's righteousuess. The Calvinist retorts, it would then be a legal fiction to declare him righteous, for, according to the Arminian, he is neither inherently nor putatively righteous, neither righteous in himself nor righteous in another. He is absolutely in no sense righteous. How, therefore, can he be declared righteous, without a legal fiction? The doctrine now under consideration admits that the sinner's faith is not a righteousness: it is only accepted and imputed as if it were. There is no call, consequently, to discuss the question whether the sinner is righteous because he believes. This theory confesses that he is not. To declare him righteous, then, because he believes, is to declare him to be what the theory admits he is not. Is this not a legal fiction? It is evident that the sinner cannot, consistently with justice, truth and law, be declared righteous, unless in some sense he is. The very nature of justification, by which, e concesso, the sinner is divinely declared righteous, demands the possession by him of a real righteousness. As an inherent righteousness of his own is out of the question, he must possess another's righteousness, made his by no fiction, but by God's judicial act of imputation. Christ is made of God righteousness to him; he is made the righteousness of God in Christ. 

In the second place, This is true in regard to Adam and his posterity. It was always true in God's government of the race. Had Adam been justified he would have been declared righteous on account of a real and a perfect inherent righteousness which was required of him. His posterity would also have been justified: they would have been declared righteous. How? Because they would have had an inherent righteousness? How could they? An inherent righteousness must have been consciously produced by them. But they would have been justified before they could have consciously produced righteousness: they would have been born justified. Both parties admit that Adam was condemned on account of his own conscious act of sin. Were his posterity condemned on the same ground? They were not, as Arminians admit, for infants are born condemned. If not, how could their condemnation, as Arminians contend, have been removed through the virtue of Christ's atonement? How could that have been removed which never existed? Now, if they were condemned they were declared guilty. How guilty? Not by their own conscious acts, but because they possessed a guilt contracted by another who was their representative, and judicially imputed to them by God. Otherwise they have been declared guilty and treated as guilty, without their having any guilt at all. The inference to the analogous case of justified sinners, mutatis mutandis, is so obvious that it need not be pressed. God has never declared men to be what they are not. There must be some real sense in which they are what he declares them to be. If he declares them guilty, they must be either inherently guilty, or guilty by the imputation of another's guilt. If he declares them righteous, they must be either inherently righteous, or righteous by the imputation of another's righteousness. 

But conceding this to have been the original requirement of the divine government, the Arminian will say that its operation has been modified by the mediation and atoning death of the Incarnate Son of God. God has entered into a new and gracious covenant with man, so that, in view of the fact that Christ has endured the penalty of the violated law as the substitute of sinners, as some say, or in view of the fact that he has suffered and died for the benefit of sinners, as others say, faith in him is accepted in the place of, or as if it were, a legal righteousness strictly conformed to the demands of the law. With reference to the view that the Lord Jesus was not in any sense a substitute for the guilty, that he did not stiffer penally, but simply died in some unexplained way for the benefit of sinners, it is not requisite that anything be here added to the comments before made. It treats with contempt principles fundamental to the divine government. The law is represented as summarily dispensed with, and justice and truth sacrificed. The salvation of the sinner is a compliment to the chivalry of a friend and benefactor. An aureole of beneficence encircles the theory; that is about all. A Systematic Divinity which propounds such an hypothesis rather deserves the title of Systematic Philanthropy. But the other view mentioned, which, it is believed, still prevails as a feature of that theology to which those great men, Wesley and Watson, gave shape, merits serious consideration - the view that Christ endured the penalty of the law as the substitute of sinners, and in consequence of that fact faith in him is accepted by God in the place of, or as though it were, a real legal righteousness. It is held, in accordance with this doctrine, that the divine law has not been dispensed with, but its requirement of a perfect righteousness complied with; that justice has been satisfied and truth fulfilled. 

Let us hold strictly to the question. It is not, whether Christ obeyed the requirements of the divine law and brought in perfect righteousness. Nor is it, whether in God's intention a saving connection was designed between the Saviour's obedience unto death and human sinners. Nor still is it, whether faith is required and treated as an unmeritorious but indispensable condition of justification. But it is, whether the sinner can be justified, that is declared to be righteous in God's court, without being in some sense righteous, without possessing a real righteousness. Now there being no dispute between the Evangelical Arminian and the Calvinist as to the fact that in justification God declares the sinner righteous, it is incumbent on the former to show how the sinner who is declared righteous is really so. He justly throws out of account an inherent legal righteousness: the sinner cannot possibly be declared inherently righteous. He also rejects the righteousness of Christ as becoming the sinner's by imputation: the sinner, he holds, cannot be declared righteous for that reason. Moreover, according to the doctrine under consideration, the sinner's faith is no real righteousness: he cannot, therefore, be declared righteous on that account. The Evangelical Arminian would seem, then, to be shut up to the acknowledgment that the sinner is in no sense righteous, and consequently, cannot be declared righteous: that is, to the contradiction of affirming and denying the fact of a sinner's justification. 

How shall he escape from this predicament? There is but one way conceivable, to my mind at least, by which he might attempt to avoid it, although I do not remember to have seen it suggested by any Evangelical Arminian writer, and might therefore omit to mention it. It is that faith puts the sinner, by a divine grant, in possession of the righteousness of Christ. It might be thus argued: God, in the promise of the gospel, conveys Christ to the sinner upon condition of his believing; he fulfils the condition, believes, and therefore possesses Christ as his Saviour; and in possessing Christ he possesses Christ's righteousness. There is, consequently, no fiction in his being declared righteous: he has Christ's righteousness. But, first, he is debarred from this resort by self-consistency; for he holds that faith justifies because it is accepted in the place of a real righteousness, or is treated as if it were a real righteousness. He would be obliged to withdraw this statement and say that faith justifies because in possessing Christ it possesses a real righteousness. Secondly, even were this change made, it would not succeed in relieving the difficulty. A tremendous sweep of function would be attributed to faith, to which it is not justly entitled. It is true that it puts the sinner in conscious possession of Christ and his righteousness, but it is far, infinitely far from being the sole or even the chief agency in investing him with that rich, that inestimable possession. Union with Christ, the wonderful oneness of the believer with Christ of which the Scriptures speak, is principally effected by a divine agency operating immediately, and not mediately through faith. For example, faith puts the sinner in conscious possession of Christ as a sanctifying Saviour, and, in a measure, of the inherent holiness which springs from him: but the spiritual union with Christ in that capacity is chiefly accomplished by the direct operation of the Holy Ghost in regenerating the soul, and thus binding it to Christ by the bond of a spiritual life. Of God Christ is made to us sanctification. There is beneath consciousness a mysterious oneness of the soul with Christ in spiritual life, of which true, saving faith is the conscious expression. In like manner, faith puts the sinner in conscious possession of Christ as a justifying Saviour and of his justifying righteousness, but there is a federal and representative union ordained by God the eternal Father between Christ and his constituents, directly grounding a legal life in him of which faith is on the sinner's part a conscious expression and acknowledgment. So, to pursue the inspired analogy in Romans, had men been justified in Adam, their conscious acts of holiness would have been preceded by that federal and representative union ordained of God, which, on the supposition, would have issued in their legal life. And so, in fact, their conscious acts of sin have been preceded by that federal and representative union constituted by God between them and their first father, the abuse of which by him resulted so disastrously to them. Faith is mighty indeed - mighty, because of its worthlessness which receives Christ's meritorious righteousness; mighty, because of its weakness which embraces Christ's strength; mighty, because of its emptiness which absorbs and fills itself with Christ's fulness; but faith does not, cannot, originate the legal life springing from the federal union with Christ, or the inherent life flowing from spiritual union with him, of which it is, by the grace of the Spirit, the conscious appropriation and confession. These considerations show that the scheme of redemption could not have so modified an original, fundamental principle of the divine government as to make it possible that God should declare one righteous who has no righteousness at all, one who is neither inherently nor putatively righteous. It cannot make God inconsistent with himself. The sinner's faith, without any real righteousness attaching to him, cannot be accepted in lieu of such a righteousness, or be regarded as if it were. 

In the third place, The principle that God requires, in order to justification, a real, substantive, perfect righteousness of works as possessed by him who seeks to be justified, is confirmed by the declaration of the apostle that the law is not made void, but established, through faith: "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law."20 He meets the objection that if we are justified freely by grace, without the works of the law, the demand of the law for a righteousness of works in order to justification is nullified. He affirms that, on the contrary, it is established. How? The point is one of infinite importance. Let it be distinctly noticed, that Paul is not here treating of sanctification. His argument must not be wrested from its track. It is true that faith establishes the law as a standard of sanctification. But while that may be implied in his affirmation in this place, it is not its immediate and principal point. That point is that the law, as a standard of justification, far from being nullified, is established, through faith. As such it cannot be dispensed with or relaxed. Its demand for a perfect righteousness in order to justification must be complied with in every jot and tittle. It is eternal, indestructible, incapable of modification. And yet the sinner convicted of guilt, the sinner condemned on two grounds: his federal disobedience in Adam his representative, and his own conscious, subjective disobedience, the convicted, condemned sinner may be justified, may be declared righteous, in consequence of his exact conformity with the unchangeable demand of the law for a real, substantive and absolutely perfect righteousness. Is there a key to this apparently insuperable difficulty, involving what seem to be point-blank contradictions? - no righteousness, perfect righteousness; condemnation, justification, meeting in one and the same person; the law indestructible as a standard of justification, the law destroyed as a standard of justification; the law living, active, thundering with the voice of God, the law dead, buried, and silent as the grave. There is such a key, a great key, a divinely-furnished key, a key suspended from the golden girdle about the paps of the glorious Mediator. It is the principle of Federal Representation

The sinner can produce no conscious, subjective, inherent righteousness in order to justification. The thing is preposterous. By such a performance of the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified. The law which convicts cannot acquit, the law which condemns cannot justify, the law which kills cannot confer life. The sinner can be no doer of the law; but there is a complete Doer of its requirements - Jesus Christ, the divine and human Substitute of sinners. He perfectly obeyed the law, conformed his life to its precepts, exhausted its penalty in his death, rose from the dead and ascended to the heaven of heavens justified, glorified and enthroned. He produced perfect, unimpeachable, everlasting righteousness. For whom? For his federal constituents, of whom by God the Father he was appointed the Head and Representative. Legally one with him by the ordination of the eternal covenant "ordered in all things and sure," what he did they did, what he suffered they suffered. When he obeyed the precept of the law they obeyed it, when he died they died, when he rose and was justified they rose and were justified. What fatuous ravings! it will be said by many. How could they? "Hearken, men and brethren!" I am not mad, but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. Not consciously and subjectively; who ever had so wild a dream? but federally, representatively, legally. Just in the same sense, and just as surely did they perform this obedience in him, as Adam's constituents committed his disobedience in him.21 When they are passing through their conscious earthly existence the gospel is made known to them, they are effectually called by the Holy Ghost, they exercise faith in Christ the justifying Saviour, and are thus consciously united to him their Federal Head and Representative. United to him by the bond of the covenant and by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, they are now by their act of faith brought into conscious union with him. The perfect righteousness of Christ the representative which God imputes to those represented by him is now received by faith. Not having their own inherent righteousness which is of the law, but having the righteousness which is of faith, that is, the righteousness of Christ received by faith, God, consistently with his justice, truth and law declares them righteous. They are consciously, actually justified. Thus faith establishes the law. The demands of the law as a standard of justification were fully met by Christ's obedience. That obedience is his people's obedience - wrought by them representatively in him, imputed to them by God, and consciously received by their faith. Faith confirms the requirements of the law for justification. On the other hand, the law, having been thus perfectly fulfilled by Christ's obedience imputed to believers, is not a standard of justification to them, so far as their own conscious obedience is concerned. In that respect it is dead to them and they to it, as says the apostle in the seventh of Romans. Christ - he declares in the tenth - is the end of the law as a rule of justification, demanding from us conscious, subjective obedience. The paradox is explained. The Calvinistic theology is the only one that shows how a sinner can be declared righteous before the awful bar of God. It sings gratefully and triumphantly: 

"Jesus, how glorious is thy grace!
When in thy Name we trust,
Our faith receives a righteousness
That makes the sinner just."

Finally, Much is made of the declaration that Abraham's faith was imputed for righteousness - evlogi,sqh eivj dikaiosu,nhn, as proving that faith is accepted in place of righteousness, or as if it were righteousness. Among the last words upon this subject are those of the "Professor of Sacred Literature in Yale College," Timothy Dwight, who cites numerous passages from the Old and New Testaments to show "that the phrases evlogi,sqh eivj and el) wvj are substantially equivalent to each other." He remarks that "they differ only as our expressions: to count a person for a wise man, and to count him as a wise man . . . We have here a peculiar phrase, used by many of the Scripture writers. They all employ it with a single and definite meaning. They never, when using it, give the telic sense to the preposition. If they do not give it this sense where there is no reference to the case of Abraham, the conclusion is irresistible that they do not where there is such a reference. When Abraham believed, therefore, - such is the Apostle's statement - his faith was reckoned to him by God for, i.e., as if it were, actual righteousness. Faith is not actual righteousness, but, in- view of the provision made by the grace of God for the forgiveness of sins, it is accounted as if it were." Just after this, he says that "faith, in the Christian system, is thus accepted of God in the place of the perfect righteousness which, on the legal method, was required for justification."22 

To this re-statement of the old Arminian denial of the imputation of Christ's vicarious righteousness to the believer for justification, only a brief answer will here be given. One is enough if it be true, as one puncture of the heart is sufficient to destroy life. A self-contradictory construction of the words "imputed for righteousness" cannot Possibly be a valid construction. The construction furnished by the learned Professor is self-contradictory; for, in the first place, it interprets the words to mean: imputed as righteousness, that is, as being righteousness. This is plain from his own illustration, which is that when we count a person for a wise man we count him as a wise man, that is, as being a wise man. But, in the second place, the construction interprets the words to mean: imputed as if it were, in the place of righteousness, that is, as not being righteousness, but accepted notwithstanding the fact that it is not. These two elements of the construction are flatly contradictory to each other. The construction itself, therefore, being self-contradictory cannot be the true interpretation of the critically important words of inspiration - "imputed for righteousness." 

Nor are we shut up by the law of Excluded Middle to accept as true either of the contradictories involved - namely, faith is imputed as being a real righteousness; faith is imputed as a supposititious righteousness in the place of a real. For, there are two other suppositions which not only may be made, but have been actually maintained. One is, that in this declaration faith is metaphorically employed for its object, which is the righteousness of Christ as justifying. The other is, that faith is imputed unto, in order to, to the attainment of, righteousness. Neither of these interpretations is exposed to the insuperable objection, opposing each of those propounded by the Professor, of making the inspired apostle reduce to naught his own argument touching justification, and violate the whole genius, strain and tenor of the Scriptures in relation to that all-important subject. 

Whether we adopt one or the other of these interpretations, the catholic teachings of the Scriptures make one thing certain: that faith is not the righteousness which justifies, that the only justifying righteousness is "the righteousness of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ," the only Fulfiller of the Law, the only Substitute for poor, lost, despairing sinners; to whom, with the Father of eternal mercies, and the Spirit of all grace, one ever-blessed God, be glory by the Church throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.


  1. Sola non solitaria.
  2. Ch. xi., secs. i. and ii.
  3. Questions, 72, 73.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Serm. on the Righteousness of Faith.
  6. How then are the heathen salvable?
  7. Serm. on Justification by Faith.
  8. Works, New York, 1849, vol. i. p. 313.
  9. Theol. Inst., vol. ii, pp. 235, 236.
  10. Ibid., p. 242.
  11. Comp. Chris. Theol., vol. ii, p. 412.
  12. The same distinction, put forth by Dr. Whedon, was considered somewhat at length in the preceding discussion on Election, etc.
  13. Syst. Theol., vol. ii. pp. 331, 332, 335, 336.
  14. This is erroneously and absurdly termed Repentance by Arminian theologians.
  15. See an extract from a sermon of Mr. Wesley quoted by Waston, Theol. Inst., vol. ii, p. 225; Ibid., pp. 101, 213, 214, 250; and Raymond's Syst. Theol., vol. ii, pp. 327-332, 335, 336.
  16. Works, vol. v, p. 319, Goold's Ed., On Justification.
  17. See Thornwell's masterly discussion of the point in his Validity of the Baptism of Rome, Coll. Writ., vol. iii, p. 352, ff.
  18. Inst., vol. ii., pp. 94, 213.
  19. Comp. Chris. Theol., vol. ii, p. 376.
  20. Rom. iii, 31.
  21. "We obeyed in him, according to the teaching of the apostle in Romans v. 12-21, in the same sense in which we sinned in Adam." Hodge, Syst. Theol., vol. iii, p. 143.
  22. Note to American Edition of Meyer's Commentary on Romans.