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Acts vi. 9, 10:
"There arose certain of the synagogue, which are called libertines, but they were not able to resist the wisdom of the Spirit by the which he spake."
THE DOCTRINE OF
JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH,
OPENED AND APPLIED FROM ROM. 111. 24, 25.
WHEREIN WE HAVE MANY WEIGHTY QUESTIONS BRIEFLY HANDLED (SOME OF THEM) BY THAT FAITHFUL AND EMINENT SERVANT OF CHRIST, MR. W. BRIDGE.
Never before printed, but now made public for the benefit of weak Christians.
PRIVATELY PRINTED, A. D. 1705.
"Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace, to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed."-Rom. iv. 16.
TO THE CHRISTIAN READER.
WHAT is here presented to public view, was not designed in the least by the Author, as may be seen by its being buried in oblivion all the time of his life, and its being posthumous. No doubt but we are great losers thereby, for had the Author published it, no doubt but it would have come forth with greater advantage.
Nay, the publisher had not the least thoughts, for many years, of making it public, had not importunity, and the great need he sees weak christians stand in of information in this weighty point, prevailed.
And although the whole of what you have here is not Mr. Bridge's, yet you have nothing here but what is agreeable to his manuscript.
And where there is any thing in this treatise that was taken out of any author, and the book whence it was taken not pointed to, it was because the publisher only designed it at first for private use, and afterward could not do it without great trouble.
That the God of all grace would be pleased to bless this small piece to those into whose hands it shall come, is the hearty prayer of him who is thine, in all christian love, to serve. Farewell.
ON JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH.
Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remis sion of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God."-ROM. III. 24, 25.
THE apostle is here treating of that fundamental article of the christian religion, viz. justification before God by faith in Christ, which is plainly laid down in this place; wherein he clearly opens the doctrine of justification, denying it to be by the works of the law, and affirming it to be by faith in Christ. Negatively, he shews we are not justified by the works of the law, which he proves by divers arguments.
In that all the world have sinned, and "are come short of the glory of God." The gentiles he proves have sinned against the light and law of nature, and so are condemned by that law: Rom. ii. 12, "For as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law." Here we see, though the gentiles had not the written law of Moses, yet they having the light and law of nature, should be condemned for sinning against the same.
And the Jews who had the written law of Moses, and having broke the same, should be judged by that law: Rom. ii. 12, "And as many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law." So that here is the whole world, both Jews and gentiles, concluded under guilt. Oh, what a solemn condition is poor man by the fall brought into! Rom. iii. 19, "That every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world become guilty before God," Being hereby rendered utterly unable to frame any excuse in their own defence, or to find out any righteousness of their own by which they might be justified before the holy God. And this he brings in as the inevitable conclusion of what he had been before discoursing of: verse 20,"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight."
There can be no justification for poor man, in God's sight, by the works of the law, and the reason is rendered, verse 20, "For by the law is the knowledge of sin." Here we may see, the law is so far from being our justifying righteousness, as that it convinceth us of sin, and concludes us under the guilt of the same.
the law, are
As when permissing of the
The apostle proves all men by breaking of come short of the glory of God," verse 23. sons run in a race, and faint by the way, so prize; even so hath poor man by the fall, lost the image of God, come short of heaven, and can in no wise reach eternal life by the law's righteousness. Hereon the apostle proceeds to shew how poor man may be justified, and what that righteousness is by which he only can be justified before the tribunal of God. Which
Affirmatively, he declares to be by the righteousness of God. Verse 21, "But now the righteousness of God without the law, is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets." Verse 22, "Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all that believe, for there is no difference," that is, both Jew and gentile are justified one and the same way; and in the text he comes to lay down more particularly, the true nature of justification in its several causes. As
You have the principal efficient cause, which is God: it is his work or act, chap. viii. 33, " It is God that justifieth." So in the words of my text, "being justified by his grace," that is, by God's grace. The Scripture constantly speaks of justification, as to us, in a passive sense; it is not our own, but God's act.
The impulsive or moving canse is here denoted; "freely by his grace," so that there is nothing in any man which might move God to act thus towards him, but it is free grace, from whence the motion first came.
The meritorious cause, namely, the righteousness of Christ, here said to be " through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ." His blood is the atoning sacrifice for man's sin, upon which account Christ is here called a propitiation.
The formal cause is, remission of sin, and imputation of righteousness; so that in this act of free grace, God remits all sin, and imputes Christ's righteousness to the believing