Advertisement to the Reader.* Cant. i. 3.
A Sermon preached at Whitehall, November 23. 1600.
Jeremiah xxiii. 6.
[Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord.
Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold (Ecce), I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.
And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.
Behold (Ecce), the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely.]
And this is the Name whereby they shall call him, The Lord our Righteousness.
The former Points, which the Prophet pointeth us to with his Ecce and willed us to behold, we then were so long in beholding, that we had no time to take a View of this last, which I take to be the chiefest Part of his Ecce, and the Point of all Points most worthy our beholding : This is the Name, &c.
1. The chief ; because His Name is given Him from this, and not from any of the rest ; for commonly from his chiefest Title doth every Man take his Denomination. In the Verse next following God saith, He will no more be called their Deliverer from Egypt, because He will vouchsafe them a greater Deliverance from Babylon ; and so from thence, as from the greater, have His Name given ; and as God, so Men. What Title of Honour is highest in their Style, that of all other doth each Person delight to be termed by.
Now those (in the former Part of this Verse) of Salvation and Peace which he will procure them, be great and excellent Titles : and they be no less verified of Him than this of Righteousness : (The Lord is my Light and my Salvation, by the Prophet * : and He is our Peace, by the Apostle §. Yet, of neither of these doth he take His Name. But from this of Righteousness He doth. And that both His former Name, in Metaphor and Figure, the Branch of Righteousness : ver. 5. and this His latter, in Propriety and Truth, His royal Name,
Iehova Iustitia nostra, Jehovah our Righteousness. This therefore is chief in His Account.
2. Again the chief ; because it is His peculiar. And every Man reckoneth of that, as his chiefest Title, that is not common to Him with others, but proper to Him alone ; as wherein he hath a prerogative above all. He, and none but He.
Now those in the former Verse (of executing Judgment and Justice) are such as are also given to other Kings. King David is said to have executed Judgment and Justice to all his People, 2 Sam. viii. 15. So is King Solomon likewise, 1 Kings x. 9. the Queen of Sheba giveth Him that Title. To do Justice is the Title also of others (and not many neither, but yet of some others.) But to be Justice, to be Righteousness ; that is the Name of none but Christ only. His, and His only is that Title : therefore, as well in this regard, as in the former, this is the very chief Part in the Ecce, the Name of Jehovah our Righteousness.
Which, because it is nothing but a Name, may seeme to some a Matter of no great Importance. The Deputy of Achaia (Gallio) in the Acts, chap. xviii. 14. seemeth of that Mind. If it were some weighty Matter, I would sit the Hearing, (saith he:) but, if it be a matter of Names, I take it not worth the while : hear it who will, for I will not. And to say the Truth, if it were a Name of Man’s giving, he said not much amiss. Their Names are not greatly to be looked after. The Argument taken from them, the Heathen Philosopher confesseth, is
μαρτὺς αλάζων ; an Argument that setteth a good Face upon it, but no great Substance in it ; the Reason whereof is, because with Men, there be nominals, and there be reals : Names and Things are many times two. There are, certain * things said of, which yet are not in those they are spoken of. There is learning (saith the Apostle)
ψευδώνυμος, falsly so called ; and as learning, so many Things beside. The churl is named liberal, and they worshipful that have nothing worthy worship in them, Isa. xxxii. 5. Yea, it falleth out, that some have a Name that they live, and yet are dead, Rev. iii. 1. and many Things besides,
quae dicuntur de & non insunt in, whereof we need not seek far : We have an Example here in the Prophet, of King Zedekiah, that reigned at the Time of this Prophecy, one that had neither Truth nor Righteousness in him ; a Breaker of his League and Covenant, a Falsifier of his Oath ; and yet, his name is Zedekiah, God‘s righteous one ; or the Righteousness of God. Mens Names for the most Part are false. And when they be true, empty and no great weight in them. For, what are Mens Titles but Mens Breath ; but a Blast of Air, but Wind ? If they be popular Titles, the Wind of a common Pair of Bellows : if of those of the better Sort, as the heathen Man well said
επιχρύσου φυσιτῆρος, the Wind of a gilt or wrought Pair of Bellows, but both of them Wind.
Quaedam dicuntur de, & non insunt.
But, the Names of God‘s imposition, are not so. They ever carry Truth in them. For seeing God cannnot away with those that are Title-givers, (as saith Elihu, Job xxxii. 2.) He will give none himself. With Him is not the Division that is with us, of nominals and reals. — If we be named the sons of God, we are so, (saith St John, 1 Epist. iii. 1.) and therefore from his Name, a sound and substantial Argument may be drawn, as (we see) the Apostle doth, Heb. i. 4. proving the Excellency of Christ‘s Nature above the Angels, from the Excellency of his Name above theirs.
And as they are free from falshood, so are they not empty Sounds, but have ever some Virtue in them. The Name of God (saith Salomon, Prov. xviii. 10.) is a strong Tower. So that, when some trust in Chariots and Horses, and other some in the Name of God, they that trust in Chariots and Horses, they go down ; they that trust in that Name, stand upright *. And this, not only in the Dangers of this Life ; but, there is also in the Name of God a saving Power for the Life to come. A Power to justify : Ye are justified in the Name of Christ, (saith St Paul, 1 Cor. vi. 11.) A Power for remission of Sins : Your Sins are forgiven you for his Name’s sake, (saith St John, 1 Epist. ii. 12.) A Power to save : In this Name you have Salvation, saith St Peter, Acts iv. 12.* Psalm xx. 7. 8.
And such is the Name here named, Jehovah our Righteousness. Our righteousness to justify, to forgive us our Sins, to give us Salvation. Such is this Name, and there is not under Heaven any Name given to Men, wherein they may be saved, beside it.
In the Ecce, or Beholding of it, two Things present themselves to our View. 1. The Name itself. 2. The calling Him by it. The name in these words, This is the Name. The calling in these, Whereby they shall call Him.
In either of which two others. In the Name, these two. 1. The Parts of it, and the Reason of them. 2. The Sense of it.
I. The Name.
To God himself (as the Psalmist telleth us) all the Service we can perform reacheth not. Psal. xvi. 2. The perfection of his Nature is such, as it can from us receive nothing. But two Things of his there are which he hath left to express that Duty, which we owe and bear to himself. Which two are in one Verse set down by the Prophet David. Psal. cxxxviii. 2. thou hast magnified thy Name, and thy Word, above all Things. His Name, and His Word. His Name for our Invocation ; his Word for our Instruction. And these two, as they are the highest Things in God‘s Account, so are they to be in ours. Not the Word only, but His Name also no less. For, in the setting them down the Holy Ghost giveth the first Place to the Name. Our very Assembling and coming together is in this Name *. And then, before all Things, Supplications are to be made in this Name, 1 Tim. ii. 1. with John xiv. 13. And the very hearing of the Word itself is, that we may call upon His Name : How shall they call upon His Name whom they have not heard ? How shall they hear without a Preacher ? Rom. x. 14. So that, preaching, and hearing of the Word, are both ordained for the calling on this Name.* Matt. xviii. 20.
Which Name (as you see) is compounded of three Words. 1. Jehovah. 2. Our. 3. Righteousness : All of them necessary, all of them essential, and they all three concurring, make a threefold Cord (like that which the Preacher mentioneth) that cannot be broken. But except it be entire and have all three, it loseth the Virtue, it worketh nothing. For sever any one of them from the rest, and it is no longer a Name qualified to save them that call on it. Take Jehovah from our Righteousness, and our Righteousness is nothing worth : and take Righteousness from Jehovah, and though there be worth in Jehovah, yet there is not that which we seek for. Yea, take Our from the other two, and how excellent soever they be, they concern us not, but are against us, rather than for us. So that together we must take them, or the Name is lost.
Jehovah. Touching which Word, and the Ground why it must be a Part of this Name, the Prophet David resolveth us,
Memorabor (saith he)
Iustitiae Tuae solius, I will make mention of thy Righteousness, even of thine only,
Psal. lxxi. 16. Because His Righteousness, and only His Righteousness is worth the remembring, and any others besides His is not meet to be mentioned. For, as for our own Righteousness which we have without Him, Isaiah telleth us it is but a defiled Cloth * ; and St Paul, that it is but Dung §. Two very homely comparisons ; but they be the Holy Ghost‘s own : yet, nothing so homely as in the Original : where they be so odious, as what manner of defiled Cloth, or what kind of Dung, we have not dared to translate.
יהוה(Jehovah) denotes the unoriginated, independent, self-Existent Essence : and as this incommunicable Name is that by which our Lord Jesus Christ is described in the Old Testament so frequently, it proves His Eternal Godhead beyond all Contradiction, to those who are humble enough to submit to the Testimony of God‘s Word. See The Catholic Doctrine of a Trinity. By the Rev. William Jones. Printed for J. Rivington.
II. Righteousness.* Isa. xxxii. 17. § Heb. vii. 2. ‡ 1 John iii. 4. ‖ Job v. 7.
III. Jehovah Righteousness.
Jehovah Righteousness. We are now to seek the Reason, why Jehovah is in this Name,
per modum Iustitiae, by the Way or under the Term of Righteousness, rather than of some other Attribute, as of Power, or Mercy ; That it is not Jehovah Mercy, or Jehovah Power, but (
Iehova Iustitia,) Jehovah Righteousness. God with us, (saith Isaiah;) with us, (saith Jeremy) of all his Properties, by that of Righteousness, chiefly and above other.
Not of Power (as in Isaiah) by his Name El : which is his Name of Power. For, in Power there is no true Comfort, without Justice be joined to it. For what is Power, except Righteousness go before ? We see it is a Thing very agreeable to our Nature, to have what We shall have by Justice (to choose) : and that way do even the mightiest first seek it ; and when that way it will not come, they overbear it with Power.
Nor of Mercy : not
Iehova Misericordia, by which Name David calleth Him, Psal. lix. 17. For though it be a Name of special Comfort, and St Austin saith of it — O that Name, under which none can despair ! Yet if we weigh it well of itself alone, we shall find, there is no full or perfect Comfort in it, except this (of Righteousness) be also added. For that, we have in us two Respects. 1. As Persons in Misery. 2. The other as Persons convict of Sin. And though Mercy be willing to relieve us in the one, for her Delight is to help those in Misery; yet what shall become of the other, how shall that be answered ? We have, in the Verse before the Text, mention of a King ready to execute Judgment and Justice. Now Justice is a professed Enemy to all Sin ; and Justice in her proceeding may not admit of any Respect, either of the Might or of the Misery of any, to lead her from giving Sentence according to Law.
IV. Our.* Sermon III. in Missus est, &c.
V. Our Righteousness.‡ Rom. iv. 5. *
Δεικνὺς τὸ ἄφατον τῆς δωρεας.
II. The Sense of this Name.* Phil. iii. 9.
For the more plain conceiving of which Point, we are to be put in Mind, that the true Righteousness, as saith St Paul, is not of Man’s Device, but hath its witness from the Law and Prophets ; which he there proceedeth to shew, out of the Example, first, of Abraham, and after of David. In the Scripture then there is a double Righteousness set down, both in the Old, and in the New Testament. In the Old ; and in the very first Place, that Righteousness is named in the Bible, Abraham * believed, and it was accounted to him for Righteousness. A Righteousness accounted. And again, Gen. xviii. 19. it is mentioned, Abraham will teach his House to do righteousness. A Righteousness done. In the New likewise. The former in one Chapter (Rom. iv.) no fewer then Eleven times,
Reputatum est illi ad iustitiam: a reputed righteousness. The latter in St John (1 Epist. iii. 7.) Beloved, let no man deceive you, he that doth Righteousness, is righteous. A Righteousness done. Which is nothing else but our just Dealings, upright Carriage, and honest Conversation.
Of these later, the Philosophers themselves conceived and acknowledged ; the other is proper to ‡ Christians only, and altogether unknown in Philosophy. The one is a Quality of the Party. The other an Act of the Judge, declaring or pronouncing Righteous. The one ours by Influence or Infusion ; The other by Account, or Imputation.‡ The Doctrine of the Imputation of Righteousness, is the grand Peculiarity of the Gospel. Once destroy this, the very Gospel itself is destroyed too. How striking then is this distinction of our Evangelical Prelate.
That both these there are, there is no Question. The Question is, Whether of these the Prophet meaneth in this Name ? This shall we best inform ourselves of by looking back to the Verse before ; and without so looking back, we shall never do it to purpose.
There the Prophet setteth one before us, in his royal, judicial Power, in the Person of a King, and of a King set down to execute Judgment ; and this he telleth us before he telleth us his Name. Before this King, thus set down in his Throne, there to do Judgment, the Righteousness that will stand and against the Law, our Conscience, Satan, Sin, the Gates of Hell, and the Power of Darkness ; and so stand that we may be delivered by it, from Death, Despair, and Damnation ; and entitled by it to Life, Salvation, and Happiness eternal. That is Righteousness indeed : that is it we seek for, if we may find it : and that is not this latter, but the former only, and therefore that is the true Interpretation of Jehovah our Righteousness. Look how St Austin (Cont. Cres. 4.), and the rest of the Fathers, when they have Occasion to mention that Place in Prov. xx. 8. When the just King shall sit on the Throne, who can say I have made my Heart clean ? Look how they interpret it then, and it will give us light to understand this Name ; and we shall see, that no Name will serve then but this Name. Nor this Name neither, but with this Interpretation of it.
And that the Holy Ghost would ever have it thus understood, and us ever to represent before our Eyes, this King thus sitting in his Judgment-seat, when we speak of this Righteousness, it is plain two ways. 1. By way of Position. For the Tenor of the Scripture, touching our Justification, all along runneth in judicial Terms, to admonish us still what to set before us. The usual joining of Justice and Judgment continually all along the Scriptures, shews, it is a judicial Justice we are to set before us. The terms of a, 1. Judge ; It is the Lord that judgeth me (a). 2. A Prison (b) ; Kept and shut up under the Law. 3. A judgment-seat ; We must all appear before the Judgment-seat of Christ (c). 4. A Proclamation ; Who will lay any thing to the Prisoners Charge (d) ? 5. An Accuser ; The Accuser of our Brethren (e). 6. A Witness ; our Conscience bearing witness (f). 7. An Indictment ; cursed is he that continueth not in all the Words of this Law, to do them (g) : and again ; he that breaketh one is guilty of all (h). 8. A Conviction ; that all may be
Ὑπόδικοι, guilty or culpable before God. Yea, the very delivering of our Sins, under the Name of Debts (k) : of the Law, under the Name of a Handwriting (l). The very Terms of an Advocate (m) ; of a Surety made under the Law (n) ; of a Pardon, or being justified from those things which by the Law we could not (o) : all these, wherein for the most Part this is still expressed, what speak they, but that the Sense of this Name cannot be rightly understood, nor what manner of Righteousness is in Question, except we still have before our Eyes, this same just King sitting in Judgment and doing Justice ?
2. And again by Opposition. For usually where justifying is named, there condemning (which is a Term merely judicial) is set against it. In the Law : When there shall be Strife, and the Matter shall come before thee, and Sentence to be given ; see the Righteous be justified and the Sinner condemned, Deut. xv. 1. To justify the Wicked, and condemn the Innocent, both are alike abominable before God, Prov. xvii. 15. Hear thou from Heaven, condemn the Wicked and justify the Righteous, 1 Kings viii. 32. In the Gospel : By thy Words shalt thou be justified, and by thy Words condemned, Matt. xii. 37. It is God that justifieth, who shall condemn ? Grace to Justification, as Sin to Condemnation, Rom. v. 16. All these shew manifestly, we must imagine ourselves standing at the Bar, or wee shall not take the State of this Question aright, nor truly understand the mystery of this Name.
For it is not in Question whether we have an inherent Righteousness or no ; Or whether God will accept it or reward it ; but whether that must be our Righteousness, before the just King sitting in Judgment and doing Justice.
Which is a Point very material, and in no wise to be forgotten ; for without this, if we compare ourselves with ourselves, what heretofore we have been ; or if we compare ourselves with others, as did the Pharisee, we may take a Fancy perhaps and have some good Conceit of our inherent Righteousness. Yea, if we be to deal in Schools, by Argument and Disputation, we may peradventure argue for it, and make some shew in the Matter. But let us once be brought and arraigned before the just King sitting on his Throne ; let us set ourselves there, we shall then see that all our former Conceit will vanish straight, and Righteousness (in that Sense) will not abide the Trial.
Bring them hither then, and ask them here of this Name, and never a Saint, nor Father, no nor the Schoolmen themselves, none of them but will shew you how to understand it. In their Commentaries, it may be, in their Questions and Debates, they will hold hard for the other : but remove it hither, they forsake it presently, and take the Name in the right Sense. Hast thou considered my Servant Job (saith God to Satan, Job i. 18.) how just and perfect he is ? This just and perfect Job, standing here, saith, Though I be Just, I wil not hold up my Head (or as they say,
Stare rectus in Curia) will never plead it, or stand upon it, but put up a Supplication to my Judge *.
David hath the Witness to have been, a Man according to God‘s own Heart § ; for all that he dareth not stand here ; but desireth God would not enter into Judgment with him, Psal. cxliii. 2. for that in his Sight not he, nor any other living, (which St Bernard extendeth to the Angels) shall be justified. But if he must come (as thither we must come all) then, he will not chaunt his own Righteousness, but make ‡ mention only of this Name, the Lord our Righteousness.§ 1 Sam. xiii. 14. ‡ Psal. lxx. 16.
Daniel, a man greatly beloved (as the Angel termeth him, Dan. ix. 23.) even he, after he saw the Ancient of Days sit down on his Throne, and the Books open before him, (Dan. vii. 9.) then, To thee, O Lord, belongeth Righteousness, to us Confusion of Face — not for our Righteousnesses, ver. 18. yet was that Righteousness from Jehovah ; but here it would not serve, he must wait for the Messias, and the everlasting Righteousness, which he bringeth with him, ver. 24.
And Isaiah likewise, at the Vision of the Lord sitting ‖ upon his Throne, and the Angels covering their Faces before him, cried out, Wo is me ! I am undone, for I am a Man of unclean Lips † ! And (there) he saith the very Sins of his Lips will be enough to condemn him, though he had never committed any other.‖ Isa. vi. 1. † Isa. vi. 5. * Cor. iv. 4.
Thus do the Saints both of the Old and New Testament take this Name. And do not the Fathers the like ? St Austin reports of St Ambrose, that being at the point of Death, he alledged, that the Cause why he feared not Death, was because We have a good Lord § : and doth he not give this Note upon it, that he did not presume upon his Conversation, though most holy and clean ‡ ; but only stood upon the goodness of the Lord, the Lord our Righteousness.§ Quia bonum habemus Dominum. ‡ Purgatissimis Moribus.
And doth not Austin, in his own Case, fly to the same, against Cresconius the Donatist ? Though he shunned not to have his Life sifted to the uttermost by any Donatist of them all; yet in the Eyes of God, when the just King shall sit on His Throne (these very Words he alledgeth) he saith plainly, he dares not justify himself ; but rather waited for the overflowing bounty of his Grace, than he would abide the severe examination of His Judgment. And Bernard (in his Three Hundred and Tenth Epistle, the very last he wrote, a little before his Death, to the Abbot of Chartres) concludeth he not — Take care to fortify with prayer the latter end of my Life, which is void of all merit ‖ ? Abandoneth he not then his Righteousness from the Lord, and confesseth his heel (Calcaneum) meaning the End of his Life, is bare of all Merits, and desireth to have it by Prayer commended to Jehovah our Righteousness. Thus do the Fathers conceive of it.‖ Calcaneum vacuum Meritis curate munire precibus.
Yea the very Schoolmen themselves, take them from their Questions, Quodlibets, and Comments on the Sentences, let them be in their Soliloquies, Meditations, or Devotions, and especially in their directing how to deal with Men in their last agony, when the Judge is at the Door (
quando Iudex prae foribus est) ; then take Anselme, take Bonaventure, take Gerson, you would not wish to find the Lord our Righteousness, better or more pregnantly acknowledged than in them you shall find it.
And indeed, to do them no wrong, it is true, that at this Judgment-seat, so far as it concerneth the Satisfaction for Sin, and our escaping from eternal Death, the Church of Rome taketh this Name aright, and that Term which a great while seemed harsh unto them, now they find no such Absurdity in it. That Christ‘s Righteousness, and Merits, are imputed to us ; so saith Bellarmine ‡ : And in this Manner it would not be absurd, if any one was to say, Christ‘s Righteousness and Merits are imputed to us, when they are given and applied to us, even as if we ourselves made the Satisfaction to God in our own Persons.‡ De Justific. 2. 20. 2. 11.
And again : Christ alone could satisfy for our Salvation, and indeed, of very Justice did satisfy, and that Satisfaction is given and applied to us, and accounted ours, when we are justified, and reconciled to God. So saith Stapleton *, That very Justice by which he satisfied for us, is so ours by communication, that it is imputed to us in the same manner as if we ourselves had sufficiently satisfied, in as full Terms as one would wish. Thus they understand this Name, in that Part of Righteousness which is satisfactory for Punishment ; and there they say with us, as we say with Isaiah, In the Lord have I Righteousness.* De Justific. 7. 9.
But in the positive Justice, or that Part thereof which is meritorious for reward, there fall they into a Fancy, that they may give it over : and suppose a Righteousness (from God, they grant, yet,) inherent in themselves, without the Righteousness that is in Christ, will serve them ; whereof they have a good Conceit, that it will endure God‘s Justice, and standeth not by Acceptation. So by this means, shrink they up the Name ; and though they leave the full Sound, yet take they half the Sense from it.
For I ask what is the Reason why in the other Part (of Satisfaction for Sin) we need Christ‘s Righteousness to be accounted ours ? The reason is, saith * Bellarmine, God doth not accept any Righteousness, as a satisfaction for Sin, unless it be infinite, because the Offence of Sin is infinite. Now, if that be the Reason, we argue in like manner, there must also be an infinite Merit, because the Reward is no less infinite : Else by what Proportion do they proceed, or at what Beam doe they weigh these two, that cannot counterpoize an infinite Sin but with an infinite Satisfaction, and think they can weigh down a Reward, every way as infinite, with a Merit (to say the least) surely not infinite ? Why should there be a necessary Use for the Sacrifice of Christ‘s Death for the one, and not an Use full as necessary of the oblation of his Life for the other ? or how cometh it to pass, that no less than the one will serve to free us from eternal Death, and a great deal less will serve to entitle us to eternal Life ? Is there not as much requisite to purchase for us the Crown of Glory, as there is to redeem us from the Torments of Hell ? What Difference is there, are they not both equal, both alike infinite ? Why is His Death allowed solely sufficient to put away Sin, and why is not His Life to be allowed like solely sufficient to bring us to Life ? If in that, the blessed Saints themselves, were their Sufferings never so great, yea, though they endured never so cruel Martyrdom, if all those could not serve to satisfy God‘s Justice for their Sins, but it is the Death of Christ must deliver them ; is it not the very same Reason, that were their Merits never so many, and their Life never so holy, yet by them they could not, nor we cannot, challenge the Reward ; but it is the Life and Obedience of Christ, that of Justice must procure it for us all ? For sure it is, that
Finiti ad infinitum nulla est proportio : there is no Proportion between finite and infinite. Especially, if we add hereunto, that as it cannot be denied but to be finite, so withal, that the ancient Fathers seem further to be but meanly conceited of it ; reckoning it not to be full, but defective ; not pure, but defiled ; and if it be judged by the just Judge, with strictness of Examination,
(they be Gregory‘s and Barnard‘s Words) indeed no Righteousness at all.
Not full, but defective : So saith Austin, We must confess, that we have not whole, or full Righteousness in this Life. If neither whole, but a Part ; nor full, but wanting ; then imperfect and defective. Now that which must be weighed in God‘s Balance, must not be found wanting ; and this is wanting *, saith Bernard in express Terms.* Minus habens.
Not pure, but defiled : Our Righteousness is upright perhaps, but not pure ; unless we are better than our Fathers, whose was that Expression : All our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags. Our Evil is purely Evil, but our Good is by no means pure, saith Gregory. Now (saith Chrysostome) Necessary it is, that the Righteousness that shall present itself there, have not a * Spot in it. As for ours (as Pope Adrian VI said) the Case standeth thus, We drop every Day some of the Corruption of our evil Desire upon the Web of our Righteousness, and so it is defiled.*
Κηλίδα ἀναγκη τινὰ μη Ἐυρεθῆναι.
And last of all, if it be strictly examined, indeed, no Righteousness at all.
Sancti viri omne meritum vitium est, si ab Aeterno Arbitro districtè iudicetur : All the Merit of a Saint, if it be judged strictly by the eternal Judge, is deformity ‡.
And again :
Quousque poenâ corruptionis astringimur, veram munditiam nequaquam apprehendimus : We are bound on all Sides with the Burden of Corruption, but by no means arrive at perfect Deliverance from it.
Omnis humana iustitia iniustitia esse invenietur, si districté iudicetur iniusta invenietur omnis iustitia nostra : All human Righteousness would be found Unrighteousness, if it was to be strictly examined ; all our Righteousness would be found Unrighteous.
And thus we see the Conceit these Fathers have of our Righteousness inherent ; that if it be dealt with in strict Justice,
in illo examine etiam Iustorum vita succumbet, under such an Examination the Life even of the Just themselves must sink, and cannot stand before it §.
Yea, they themselves of the Church of Rome also, upon better Examination, have begun to cry it down ; and I doubt not but the longer and further they look into it, the easier Account they will make of it.
Gregory de Valentia, after long debating the Matter, thus resolveth ‖ : that,
Seclusâ promissione divinâ, non suppetit aliquis sufficiens titulus, cur opera nostra debent compensari, Setting the divine Promise aside, we can have no sufficient Title to any Reward for our Works.
And thus he expresseth his meaning touching their Value ; that they be like to base Money, (as Princes have sometimes made leather Money current,) wherewith, Plate is bought or other Wares far exceeding the Coin in Value, which is no way in respect of itself, but because it pleased the Prince to allow of it. And what is this, but proclaiming our Righteousness base, or as I said before, a crying it down ?
Stapleton, in his seventh Proposition how the Matter standeth in our Justification *, at length is fain to resolve thus : And it is so ordered by Indulgence, that we are thereby as just before God as if we had perfectly obeyed and done all his Commandments. Now Indulgence, we know, belongeth unto Sin ; and Righteousness, if it be true, needeth none. So that he confesseth their Righteousness needeth an Indulgence, and not that neither in Justice, but Acceptation, which is meer Matter of Favour, and not of judicial Proceeding.* De Just. 6. 8.
To conclude : Bellarmine ‡, after his long Disputation, in the End, taking upon him to answer a Case of Conscience, whether a Man may repose any Trust in that he had so long argued for, and how far, compriseth the Matter in three Propositions well worth the noting. First, he very stoutly setteth down, Our Trust, or Assurance, is not the Offspring of Faith alone, but of our good Deservings. Then in the second he falleth somewhat ; In Merits (which are really found to be such) some Trust may be placed. Not unless they be found such (a Case with them Impossible:) and not in them neither wholly, but only some Trust.‡ De Just. 5. 7.
And yet, there is some : but after better bethinking himself (it may be of the Judge sitting on his Throne) he spoileth all in the third, which is, that, Because of the Uncertainty of our own Righteousness, and the Danger of Vain-glory, it is safest to repose our whole Trust in the Mercy of God alone. (
Propter incertitudinem propriae iustitiae, & periculum inanis gloriae, tutissimum est, fiduciam totam in solâ Dei misericordiâ reponere.) Mark that same
totam in solâ, our whole Trust in the Mercy of God alone ; which is quite contrary to his
aliqua, some Trust in our Merits a little before. Mark the Word
misericordia, Mercy, and that he declineth the judicial Proceeding. And mark his Reason, because his Righteousness is such that he is not sure of it, nor dare he put any Trust in it, nor plead it before the King sitting in Judgment. Which is enough (I think) to shew, when they have forgot themselves a little out of the Fervor of their Oppositions, how light and small Account they make of it themselves, for which they spoil Christ of one half of his Name.
II. The Calling Christ by this Name our Duty.
We to call Him by it. This is our Duty first : and that so to call Him by it, as by his Name. And a Name is a Note of Distinction, and we ought therefore so to use it : To apply it to Him, and to none other whatsoever, as the Nature of a Name is. The Nature of all Names, but chiefly such as be Titles of Honour. For, howsoever we dispense with others, those we will not in any wise divide with any ; I am Jehovah, that is my Name, and my Glory will I not give to another (saith God, by the Prophet ; Isa. xlii. 8.) Not unto us, and again more vehemently, Not unto us, but unto thy Name give glory, Psal. cxv. 1. And such is this Name. For, that very Place in the New Testament, where it is said, that God hath given him a Name which is above all Names, that at his Name every Knee should bow, and all Tongues confess ; that Place is taken out of the Prophet Isaiah, where the very same is said, that all Knees shall bow, and all Tongues shall acknowledge this Name * ; and that thus, by saying, in the Lord are my Righteousnesses ; and so acknowledging concludeth, that all the whole Seed of Israel, as they shall be justified, so shall they glory in the Lord. It is the very Question which the Apostle of Purpose doth propound §, Where is boasting ? as if he should admonish, that this Name is given with express Intent, to exclude boasting from us, and us from boasting. And therefore in that very Place where he saith ‡, he is of God made unto us Righteousnesses ; to this End, saith he, He is so made, that he that glorieth let him glory in the Lord. All which I put you in mind of, to this End, that you may Mark, that this nipping at this Name of Christ, is for no other Reason, but that we may have some Honour to ourselves, out of our own Righteousness.* Isa. xlv. 23, 24, 25. § Rom. iii. 27. ‡ 1. Cor. i. 30, 31.
Bellarmine doth disclose as much, and doth not stick in plain Terms to avow it. For, in answer to that Argument which is alledged by us, that after we are acquit of our Sins at this Bar, and that only for Christ our only Righteousness, we are received into God‘s Favour and made his Children by Adoption, and then have Heaven by way of Inheritance ; He answereth directly ‖, their (the Papists) meaning is, not to content themselves with that single Title of Inheritance, but they mean to lay Claim to it,
duplici iure, by a twofold Right ; that is, not only by a Title of Inheritance, but as a right of Reward ;
and thereof he giveth this Reason, because it is more honourable to have a thing by Merit ; for so (saith he) Christ had it, and they must not be behind Him, but as far as He did.
So that it seemeth, he is resolved, rather than they will lose their Honour, Christ must part with a Piece of his Name, and be named our Righteousness onely in the latter Sense. This the Prophet setteth down, ver. 27. as a Mark of false Prophets, that, by having a Dream of their own Righteousness, they make God‘s People to forget this Name. And indeed by this Means, this Part of Christ‘s Name hath been forgotten.
2. Our Benefit.
Now as to call Him by this Name is a Duty ; so to call Him by it is an Use likewise, and a Benefit there is which we receive by it. For, calling Him by that Name which God hath prescribed, and which therefore is to Him most acceptable, we shall not do it for nought ; for He will answer us, answer us and answer for us, for us as an Advocate in our Cause. So calleth Hezekiah unto Him : Lord I am oppressed, undertake for me §. So King David reposeth himself, Thou shalt answer for me, O Lord my God ‡, and this shall He do, in all Things wherein we need Him ; but above all in that which concerneth his Name in particular, to be our Righteousness against Sin, and that before the righteous Judge. And even so doth Jeremiah teach us to pray unto him ; O Lord, our Misdeeds testify against us, yet deal thou with us according to thy Name * ; Which is Jehovah our Righteousness. In thy Name we are § Justified : deal thou with us according to thy Name, and justify us. Our Sins are forgiven for thy Name’s sake ‡ : Deal with us according to thy Name, and forgive us our Sins : Let not the Remembrance of our Sins make thee forget thine own Name. And if thus we call upon Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our Sins †, to justify us, and to be our Righteousness : For so is his Name, and he beareth not his Name for nought.§ Isa. xxxviii. 14. ‡ Psal. xxxviii. 15. * Jer. xiv. 7. 9. § 1 Cor. vi. 11. ‡ 1 John ii. 12. † John i. 9.
And, if we do this, and if he be our Righteousness, we may say in respect of his other Name (Jehovah) with the Prophet, Look thou upon us, and be merciful unto us, as thou usest to do unto those who love thy Name ‖. So may we in Respect of this go further, and safely say, Be thou Righteousness, and do Righteousness ; be thou Righteousness, and enter into Judgment with thy Servant ; for with this Advocate, this Righteousness, and this Name, we may, without Fear, appear before the King executing Judgment and Justice.‖ Psal. cxix. 132.