Sermon 19The Trial and Triumph of Faith (27 Sermons) by Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661)
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“Christ’s honeycombs drop honey and floods of consolation upon my soul; my chains are gold. Were my blackness and Christ’s beauty carded through other, His beauty and holiness would eat up my filthiness. The secret formula of the saints: When I am in the cellar of affliction, I look for the Lord’s choicest wines.”
Answer. It is true, the gospel speaketh no contradictions, and maketh not sin to be no sin, or David’s adultery not to be a violation of the Seventh Commandment: indeed, it maketh Peter’s denial of Christ, not to be Peter’s sin in a legal and forensic way; but that Peter, believing in Christ, who justifieth the ungodly, shall not be condemned for that, nor for any other sin—that, and all his other sins with that, are counted upon Christ’s score. But the denial of Christ, in another relation, is the sin of Peter only, to wit, according to the physical inherency of it, in that it proceeded from Peter’s lust, and body of sin dwelling in him, and not any way from Christ Jesus, and in that it is against Christ’s express commandment, who charged Peter to confess his Lord and Master.
But Antinomians, and by name Dr. Crispe, teach us, that not only the guilt of sin, but sin itself, really, and inherently, was laid upon Christ, in regard Christ was not, by way of supposition only, or imagination, counted the sinner, but made sin. And (2.) In regard, not only the guilt of sin, but sin itself, was laid upon Christ; for, saith Dr. Crispe, ‘The guilt of sin, and sin itself, are all one.’ “When Joseph’s brethren were accused for spies, they say, “We are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear.” (Gen. 42:21). Reuben expoundeth the meaning, “Did not I say to you, Sin not against the lad? But you would not hearken unto me; and, therefore, behold, we are guilty.” (verse 22.) What is that? We did sin against the child. To be guilty, therefore, and to commit a sin, is all one; they are but two words expressing the same thing. (2.) Suppose a malefactor be asked, Guilty, or not guilty? He answers, Not guilty: What doth he mean? He means, he hath not done the fact that was laid to his charge. When the jury is asked, Guilty, or not guilty? the jury saith, Guilty. What do they mean? Do they mean any thing in respect of punishment? No: The jury hath nothing to do with that, but only in matter of fact; that is, whether the fact be done, or not done?—It had been extreme injustice to punish Christ, if sin had not been on him, and if he had been at his arraignment, completely and absolutely innocent; even as if a judge should hang a man, though there were nothing found against him. Man is a broken debtor, and Christ a surety: God is content to take Christ’s single bond, and looketh for no other paymaster but Christ: Sin was really translated upon Christ, else it was false, that the Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all; yea, by this transaction of sin, Christ doth now become, or did become, when our sins were laid on him, as really and truly the person that had all these sins, as those men who did commit them, really and truly, had them themselves. So Christ was made sin itself; we are made righteousness in him:—this is no imagination. But as we are actual and real sinners in Adam, so here is a real act: God doth really pass over sin upon Christ, still keeping this fast, that Christ acted no sin; so that, in respect of the act, not one sin of the believer is Christ’s: But in respect of transaction, in respect of passing of accounts from one head to another, in respect of that, there is reality of making of Christ to be sin. If a judge will think such a man to be a malefactor, and by reason of his thoughts that he is a malefactor, he will actually hang this man, is there any justice in such an act? If God will but suppose Christ to have sin upon him, and knows that he hath it not, but others have the sins upon them, and upon this supposition will execute Christ, what will you call this? “He shall bear the sins of many;” (Isa. 53). Doth a man bear a thing on him in a way of supposition? Or, where there is bearing, is there not real weight? The Lamb of God taketh away the sins of the world, (John 1:29). Can it sink into a reasonable person, that a thing should be taken away, and yet be left behind? It is a flat contradiction. If a man be to receive money at such a place, and he doth take this money away with him, is the money left in the place where it was, when he hath taken it away? Although I have searched the Scripture as narrowly as possibly I may, yet this I find, that throughout the whole Scripture, there is not one scripture that speaketh of imputing our sins to Christ; but still the Holy Ghost speaketh of sin not imputed to us, and of righteousness imputed to us.”
Let me answer, That in all this, you shall find grace turned into wantonness. In all this man’s sermons, there is not one word to stir up to the duties of sanctification and holiness; but there is much in these words, and several other passages of his two little volumes of sermons, to depress, and cry down holiness and walking with God. I shall therefore say a little on this, and deliver truth shortly in these positions:
POSITION 1. No believer’s sin is so counted upon Christ’s score, as that it leaveth off to be the believer’s sin, according to its physical and real indwelling. It is true, it is Christ’s sin by law-imputation, and legal obligation to satisfactory punishment, and only laid upon Christ in that notion. Yet it is so the believer’s sin, as he is to mourn for this very thing, that Christ was pierced and crucified to remove the guilt, and the obligation to satisfactory punishment: “And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son.” (Zech. 12:10.) Yea, it is so the believer’s sin, even when he believeth that his original corruption is pardoned; yet it dwelleth in him, having the complete essence and being of sin; so as if he should say, he had no sin, and nothing in him contrary to the holy law of God, he should deceive himself, and the truth should not be in him, (1 John 1:8). Yea, let him be a Paul, not under the law, but being dead to the law, (Rom. 7:6,) as touching all actual obligation to eternal death; yet in regard of the real essence of sin and proper contrariety that sin hath to God’s righteous law, he crieth out, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, and sold under sin,” (verse 14,) “Now it is no more I,” (verse 17,) (sanctified and pardoned I,) who am in Christ, “dead to the law,” (Rom. 8:1;) freed from condemnation that “do sin, but sin that dwelleth in me.” (Rom. 7:6.) If there were no sinful I (to speak so) and no corrupt self in Paul, which breaketh out into sin, and this indwelling sin were as really in its essence, and its being, removed, and taken close out of Paul, as money taken really out of a place, is no more left in that place than if it had never been there; surely, then, justified saints were as clean as these, who are up before the throne, clothed in white. And when Paul saith, “It is no more I that do sin, but sin that dwelleth in me,” he should speak contradictions, and say, It is no more I that do sin, but it is I that do sin: there should be in justified Paul, no law in his members warring against the law of his mind, as he saith, (Rom. 7:23); no body of death leading him captive to the law of sin, (verse 24); no flesh lusting against the spirit, hindering the regenerated to do the good that they would. As Paul speaketh, (Gal. 5:17,) there should be no members on earth to be crucified; as it is in Col. 3:5; no old man to be put off, no corruption, no deceitful lusts in us to be abated; as we are charged, Eph. 4:22,23; no fleshly lusts in us, which war against the soul, as 1 Pet. 2:11; no weight, no sin that doth so easily beset us, to be laid aside by the regenerated and justified, who are to run their race with patience: contrary to the Spirit of God, speaking the contrary, (Heb. 12:1,2). Yea, there shall be no original sin remaining in the justified person, which can be named sin; nothing in them lusting against the spirit, nothing to be mortified, crucified, resisted; nothing to be work for the grace of God; nothing to be a field and plat of ground to be laboured on by the spirit by faith; nothing to be the seed and rise of humiliation: the sinner may go to heaven, and be nothing in Christ’s debt, to help him against indwelling sin, for that guest is so taken away, as money that was in a place, and is every penny really removed to another place: Yea, it is a flat contradiction (say Antinomians) “to be a pardoned soul, and yet to have sin dwelling in the soul.”
POSITION 2. The guilt of sin, and sin itself, are not one and the same thing, but far different things. That I may prove the point, let the terms be considered. There be two things in sin very considerable: (1.) The blot, defilement, and blackness of sin; which, I conceive, is nothing but the absence and privation of that moral rectitude, the want of that whiteness, innocency, and righteousness, which the holy and clean law of the Lord requireth to be in the actions, inclinations, and powers of the soul of a reasonable creature. (2.) There is the guilt of sin; that is, somewhat which issueth from this blot and blackness of sin, according to which, the person is liable and obnoxious to eternal punishment. This is the debt of sin, the law obligation to satisfaction passive for sin: just as there be two things in debt, so these two are in sin. For when a man borroweth money, and profusely and lavishly spendeth it, this is injustice against his brother, in matter of his goods, and a breach of the Eighth Commandment. Again, this breach in relation to policy, to the magistrate and the law of the land, putteth this broken man under another relation, that he is formally a debtor; and so, it is just, that he either pay the money, or suffer for this act of injustice, and satisfy the law of the Fifth Commandment, which is, that he satisfy the law and the magistrate, the public father, tutor of a wronged and oppressed brother. Now, here be two things in debt: (1.) An unjust thing; a hurting of our brother in his goods: this is a blot, and a thing privately contrary to justice. (2.) A just thing, a guilt, a just debt, according to which it is most just, that the broken man either pay or suffer. Now, these two, as all contraries do, they make a number, as just and unjust must be two things, and two contrary things. I know there be cavils and subtleties of schoolmen, touching the blot [macula peccati], and the guilt [Reatus] of sin; but this is the naked truth which I have declared. Some say, ‘the blot of sin, is that uncleanness of sin which is washed away by the blood of the Lord Jesus; and this is nothing but the very guilt of sin, which is wholly removed in justification,’ But I easily answer, The blot of sin hath divers relations, and these contrary one to another: As,
1. There is the blot of sin in relation to the holy law, as it is a privation of the rectitude and holiness that the spiritual law requireth; and it is formally sin, and not the guilt of sin; in which consideration, as nothing removeth blindness but seeing eyes, or deafness but hearing ears, so nothing formally removeth sin, but only the perfect habit of accomplished sanctification; and so, the blot of sin, is not that which is formally removed in justification, but only in perfected sanctification.
2. The blot of sin in relation to God, as offended and injured, putteth on the habit of guilt, and so, it is washed away in the “fountain opened to the house of David,” and formally removed in justification; but now, it is not formally considered as sin, but according to that which is accidental in sin; viz., obligation to punishment, which may be, and is removed from sin, the true essence and nature of sin being saved whole and entire. Hence sin hath divers considerations: (1.) As sin is contrary to the righteousness and holiness of the law, it is formally sin, and this essential form and life of sin remaineth in us while we live, sin being in the act of dying, or a passion rather to be crucified, and in the way to its grave and perfect destruction, which shall be when glory shall grow up out of the stalk of grace, and sanctification shall be perfected; for grace is the bud, glory the fruit; grace the spring and summer,—glory the harvest. (2.) As sin is a blackness contrary to the innocency that the law requireth, and as it blotteth and defileth the soul, it is a spot, a filthy and deformed thing, abasing the creature, making the creature black, crooked, defiled like the skin of the Ethiopian, or spotted like the leopard, (Jer. 13:23.) (3.) As sin is a blot that maketh the creature impure, unclean, and contrary and hateful to God; so it is a blot and unclean thing to God, and that two ways:—[1.] As it is contrary to God’s holy law, it is formally sin, as is before said. [2.] As it offendeth and injureth God in his honour and glory of supreme authority, to command what is just and holy, it is an offence and a provocation, (Isa. 3:8; Psalm 78:17,) a displeasing of God, (1 Cor. 10:5; 2 Sam. 11:27,) a grieving of him and his Spirit, (Eph. 4:30; Gen. 6:6; Psalm 95:10,) a tempting of God, (Psalm 78:18; 95:9; Acts 15:10,) a wearying of the Lord, and making him to serve, (Isa. 43:24; 7:15,) a loading of the Lord, (Isa. 1:24,) a pressing of the Lord, as a cart is pressed under a heavy load of sheaves, (Amos 2:13,) and so is punished with everlasting punishment.
Hence there is a two-fold guilt, one fundamental, potential, the guilt of sin as sin; this is all one with sin, being the very essence, soul, and formal being of sin; and this guilt of sin you cannot remove from sin, so as sin shall remain sin; take this away, and you take away sin itself. But this is removed in sanctification as perfected, not in justification. As all the arguments of Dr. Crispe go along in their strength, to prove that the guilt of sin, the fundamental guilt of sin, and sin itself, are all one, so we shall yield all to him, but with no gain to his bad cause. For Joseph’s brethren say, Truly we sinned, or were guilty against our brother. (Gen. 42:22.) This is nothing, but we trespassed against our brother; this is not spoken so much of guilt, as of sin itself. And the malefactor saying he is not guilty, meaneth of fundamental guilt, or the guilt of sin, and that he hath not committed the crime charged upon him.
But there is another guilt in sin, called the guilt or obligation to punishment, the actual guilt, or actual obligation of the person who hath sinned to punishment; and this guilt is a thing far different from sin itself, and is separable from sin, and may be, and is removed from sin, without the destruction of the essence of sin, and is fully removed in justification. Now that this guilt is different from sin, I prove,
1. Because that which our blessed Surety took upon him for our cause, without taking to him any thing which is essential in sin, such as is to be a sinner like us, to do violence, to be justly accused of sin, that is different from sin; but Christ took on him the guilt of our sin, that is, the actual obligation to be punished for sin, while as he bare our sins in his own body on the tree, (1 Pet. 2:24,) “And was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, and did bear on him the chastisement of our peace,” (Isa. 53:5,) “and died for our offences,” (Rom. 4:25; 5:6). And this punishment Christ could not have borne, except by law he had obliged himself, as our Surety, to pay our debts, (Heb. 10:4-8, and 7:22.) Now that in all his life and sufferings he did no violence, committed no sin, nor touched any contagion of sin in his own person, is evident; because he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separated from sinners, (Heb. 7:26; 4:15; Isaiah 53:9). The proposition is sure; for if Christ was so made sin, and punished for sin, and liable to suffer for sin, and yet had not any sinful or blameworthy guilt on him; then that guilt of the person by which any is liable to punishment for sin, is some other thing than sin, and the blame-worthy guilt that is in sin; forasmuch as they are really separated, the one being in Christ, and the other not being in him, nay, nor could it be in him.
2. The cause cannot be one and the same with the effect, nor the subject and foundation one with the adjunct, and that which resulteth from the foundation. But sin is the cause, foundation, and subject, from which guilt, or actual obligation to punishment issueth, because therefore is the sinner under guilt-personal, and actual obligation to punishment, because he hath sinned, and is under the guilt of transgression. As he is therefore in law and justice a guilty debtor to suffer evil of punishment, because against law and justice he is a bad deserving sinner, in doing against, and so by a sin-guilt, hath transgressed a law;—for all evil of punishment is a daughter which lay in the womb of the evil of sin; and the guilt of the latter ill of punishment must flow from the former; to wit, from the ill of sin;—so, to be guilty, or obliged to eternal punishment, is a fruit and result, or consequent of the fundamental and intrinsical guilt of sin.
3. An unjust and sinful deviation from the holy will of God revealed in his law, and hateful to, and punishable by God, cannot be one and the same thing with that which is just, and agreeable to the just and holy will of God: but sin itself, in its formal being, is a deviation from the holy will of God revealed in his law, sin being defined by John, “A transgression of the law,” and is hateful to, and punishable by the Lord. But the guilt of sin, of which we now speak, is nothing but the demerit, and actual obligation to eternal punishment, and is no unjust thing, no transgression of God’s will revealed in his law: yea, the demerit of sin is a most just thing, and the actual obligation to punishment is most just and holy, and agreeable to God’s just will: and obligation to punishment can neither be punishable nor hateful to God; yea, it is just with God, that the sinner be under law-obligation, to eat the fruits of the tree of his own planting, to have his teeth set on edge with the sour grapes which he ate himself.
4. He that borroweth money, and profusely and lavishly spendeth it, is in that a transgressor against the Eighth Commandment; he committeth an act of injustice against his brother. Now this act of injustice cannot formally or intrinsically be the sin or sinful guilt of the innocent surety. No law of God or man can make actions evil and sinful, that are physically, inherently, intrinsically, really, the unjust actions of the doer, the formal sin, or intrinsical and fundamental sinful guilt of another man, who, in that action, is innocent, and is not a member, a hand, or a foot of the man that committed that fault, which I speak for. The sons of Adam, who intrinsically sinned in Adam, and, by God’s supreme will, were made a part of Adam, yet the surety is formally made a debtor, and by law obliged to pay the debt; and it is an act of justice that he pay the debt: his promise to the creditor maketh him a debtor; but his promise to the creditor putteth no act of injustice in lavishly spending his neighbours goods on him, for in that, he is innocent, and cannot be charged morally, as a faulty and a broken bankrupt; the fruit and effect of the broken man’s injustice, doth only lie upon him, in regard of his promise. There be three brethren born of the same parents, Adam, John, Thomas. Suppose we then, that the law of the city or kingdom is so, that one brother may die for his brother. John murdereth Thomas traitorously, under trust; by law then John ought to die. The elder brother, Adam, out of love, interposeth himself to the judge, to die for his younger brother, John: in this case, Adam by law ought to die, and he is in law reputed and counted the murderer; but truly, not morally, not intrinsically, for he can be reproached formally with no act of treacherous dealing, as if under trust he had stabbed his brother, for he did no such act. If shame by accident accompany his public laying down of his life, it is morally no reproach, no intrinsical blot to him; yea, that Adam dieth for John the murderer, it is through his own free consent, an act of extreme love; in relation to the judge, it is a most just act, and in law only, in imputation and legal account, he is the murderer. But, poor soul! he never thought, nor acted any treachery or cruelty against his brother.
POSITION 3. Hence this position: Christ was made sin, or imputed the sinner, and died for us sinners. The second Adam, “the First-begotten among many brethren,” suffered for his younger brethren, and so, by free consenting to be our Surety, and to die for us, (Psalm 40:6-8; Heb. 10:5-7; John 10:17,18; 14:31; Matt. 26:46; Mark 14:42; John 18:7,8,) he was made by law-account sin for us, as the sinner, (John 15:13; 2 Cor. 5:21,) to die for us, (Rom. 4:25,) and the Lord laid upon him the iniquities of us all, (Isa. 53:6; 1 Pet. 2:24,25). But I judge it blasphemy to say, ‘By this transaction of sin upon Christ, Christ doth now become, or did become, when our sins were laid on him, as really and truly the person that did all these sins, as these men who did commit them, really and truly had these sins on them themselves.’ For the elect believers in Christ were intrinsically, formally, inherently adulterers, murderers, “disobedient, serving divers lusts;” (Titus 3:3); “Dead in sins and trespasses; by nature the children of wrath,” (Ephes. 2:1); and in their own persons acted all these acts of wickedness, so as sin doth formally denominate them sinners; as whiteness in snow, in milk, in the wall, denominateth all these white. But Christ never is, never was, intrinsically, formally, inherently the adulterer, a disobedient person; nor is sin personally in Christ, to denominate him as really and intrinsically a sinner, as David, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, for whom he died; for “He did never violence; neither was there any deceit in his mouth,” (Isa. 53:9). There was no fundamental guilt, nor any bad deserving in him. How then was he a sinner, or made sin for us? I answer, By mere imputation, and law-account, and no other way.
But the libertine saith, It were the greatest injustice in the world, to punish Christ, if sin had not been on him really. If he had been at his arraignment completely, and absolutely innocent, and if only in imagination, and by a lying supposition, which wanteth all reality in the thing, God should put Christ to death for these sins that he knoweth Christ to be free of, this were as if a judge should hang a malefactor, whom in conscience he knew to be free from all sin, and could find nothing against him.
But I answer, law-imputation is a most real thing, and no imagination, nor any lying supposition; as a man that is surety for his broken brother, who hath wasted the creditor’s goods, is truly surety and really the debtor, and his obligation to pay for his broken friend is real, and most just, on two grounds: (1.) That he gave faith and promise, and writ and seal, that, his friend failing, he should pay. (2.) The creditor accepted him as a real law-debtor and paymaster in that case, and yet the surety in his person did neither borrow the money, nor lavishly waste it, and he hath in his person neither conscience nor guilt of injustice toward his brother. And, in regard of personal contagion of sinful guilt, Christ was completely and absolutely innocent in his arraignment, as one that neither acted sin, nor could he be the formal subject of sin, in whom the blot of it was intrinsically, or really inherent. But, in regard that Christ was willing to strike hands with God, and to plight his faith and soul in pawn, and did willingly sign with his hand an act of cautionry as our Surety, (Psalm 40:6-8; Heb. 10:3-10), and the Lord accepted him as Surety, and “laid our sins on him,” (Isa. 56:6; 2 Cor. 5:21; John 3:19; Rom. 5,) he “was made sin;” that is, he was made a debtor and a law-paymaster, so constituted by his own and his Father’s will. So that God did no act of injustice in punishing Christ, nor was he in law absolutely innocent, but nocent and guilty; that is to say, in regard of his law-place, or law-condition, he was by imputation liable and obnoxious to actual satisfaction and punishment for our sins; yet he was Debitor factus, non intrinsice; debitor legaliter, non personaliter; debitor ratione conditionis & officii, non ratione personæ, a sinner, a debtor by imputation, a debtor by law, by place, by office, and served himself heir to our sins, and the miseries following sin. Now, he was not in imagination, and in a false and a lying supposition, made sin: imputation is not a lie, but as truly and really a real law-deed, as Judah offered himself surety for Benjamin, and was in law, and really, a bondman to Joseph, and might have been so dealt with as a real slave, if he had plighted himself instead of Benjamin. And the surety, by the words of his own mouth, and by his covenant and promise, is really and truly ensnared, as a true and real debtor in law; as a roe is really in the hand of the hunter, and a bird in the fowler’s net, being once caught and in hands, (Prov. 6:1-5.) He is no debtor by imagination; he is not supposed to be what he is not indeed by the law of God, and nature, and all laws, Promissum cadit in reale debitum, A man’s promise fetcheth him within the law-compass of a real debtor. So Christ was under bail, and a law-act of surety by his own act, his own word of promise and covenant: ‘Thou hast given me a body, I have taken the debts and sins of my poor brethren on me; crave me, Lord, as only pay-master.’ “Lo, here am I, to do thy will,” (Psalm 40:6-8; Heb. 10:4-8; John 10:18).
Now, there are but these two in sin,—(1.) The act committed against the law of God: (2.) The debt and obligation to punishment is clear; and though Dr. Crispe denies that sin was imputed to Christ, at least, he cannot see or read it in all the Scripture, yet he granteth the thing itself. But I prove both the one and the other.
And, (1.) That Christ committed and did no act nor deed against law, for which he should be intrinsically and inherently the sinner, is clear: because that “holy thing Jesus,” being God-man, could not sin, nor did he ever any violence or deceit. (Isa. 53:9; Heb. 4:15; 8:26.) (2.) The inherent viciousness, and sinful blot of sin, which followeth upon the physical act of sin, being once done and committed by David, Peter, and all the elect of God, cannot come out by a real transmigration, and true and physical derivation, or removal from one agent and subject to another, to inhere in and denominate another subject: the same whiteness in number that was in milk, cannot remove out of it, and reside and dwell in another subject. It is a principle of nature, Idem numero accidens, non migrat è subjecto in subjectum: No law in the world, no covenant, no transaction imaginable can effectuate this, that the real wickedness once committed by David, should really and truly remove out of him, and go in, and reside in, and denominate the man Christ a wicked person. It is an everlasting contradiction, that the treacherous murdering of innocent Uriah should remove out of him into the Son of David, Jesus Christ, and denominate him the murderer of Uriah, so as the same murder can be said to be committed by David only, and not by David only, but by the man Christ. It must then be a lie, a dream, and palpable untruth, to make Jesus Christ intrinsically the sinner and murderer.
Judge, then, if this doctrine be of God, which Dr. Crispe, right down, hath asserted to the world in print, Sermon 3, volume 2, p. 84, God made Christ a transgressor. No transgressor in the world was such a transgressor as Christ was. P. 88, You will never have quietness of spirit in respect of sin, till you have received this principle, “that it is iniquity itself that the Lord hath laid on Christ.” Now, when I say with the prophet, It is iniquity itself that the Lord hath laid on Christ, I mean, as the prophet doth, it is the fault or the transgression itself; and to speak more fully, that erring and straying like sheep—that very erring, and straying, and transgressing, is passed off from thee, and is laid upon Christ. To speak it more plainly, Hast thou been an idolater? Hast thou been a blasphemer? Hast thou been a despiser of God’s word, and a trampler upon him? Hast thou been a profaner of his name and ordinances? Hast thou been a murderer, an adulterer, a thief, a liar, a drunkard? Reckon up what thou canst against thyself; if thou hast part in the Lord Christ, all these transgressions of thine, become actually the transgressions of Christ, and so cease to be thine, and thou ceasest to be a transgressor from that time they were laid upon Christ, to the last hour of thy life. Mark it well. Christ himself is not so completely righteous, but we are as righteous as he was; nor we so completely sinful, but Christ became, being made sin, as completely sinful as we. Nay, more, the righteousness that Christ hath with the Father, we are the same righteousness, for we are made the righteousness of God: that very sinfulness that we were, Christ is made that very sinfulness before God.
Answer 1. No scripture calleth Christ the thief, the murderer, the adulterer, the idolater; God avert from pious hearts such blasphemies! He may by a figure be called Sin, and be said to “be made sin for us,” but that is by mere imputation; as if you would say, ‘The surety is the broken and riotous waster.’ All that have common sense, know this to be a figurative and improper speech; that is, he is in law liable to pay the debts of the broken waster; and the law-guilt and law-obligation that was in the broken man, is transferred on him by his own promise. But no man in his right wits can say, that the broken man is as intrinsically just, as sober a manager of his goods, as free from all intrinsical fault, and sin of injustice, and breach of the Eighth Commandment, as the innocent surety. No sober wit can say, that the injustice and injury done by the broken man to his brother, and against the Eighth Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” is nothing formally, but the very just and real debt that the surety hath taken upon him; and that the surety is as guilty of the same very fault and sin of wastery that is inherent in the broken bankrupt, as the bankrupt himself. And it is as great blasphemy to say, Christ is as guilty, and as inherently faulty, and no less a transgressor of the Sixth and Seventh Commandment, by killing Uriah, and deflowering Bathsheba, than ever David was; and that David was as free from the inherent fundamental guilt of these sins from eternity (for libertines will needs have our sins from eternity to lie on Christ, and our persons before all time justified) as Christ himself is. (1.) God made Christ sin; God made not David to murder Uriah. Then Christ must be one way a sinner, David another way; the one by imputation, the other by real inherency. (2.) David was intrinsically a transgressor of a law, Christ not so. (3.) David was washed and pardoned in the blood of Christ, Christ not so. Then David’s righteousness is but borrowed, and Christ’s righteousness his own.
2. There is an essential righteousness that Christ hath with the Father, and it is communicable neither to men nor angels, no more than God can communicate with the creature any other of his essential attributes, such as are infinite justice, infinite mercy, infinite grace, holiness, goodness, omnipotence, eternity, immensity. It is only the cautionary, the surety-righteousness of Christ-God, that is made ours; and that we are as completely righteous as Christ, is divinity not borrowed from the fountain of the holy Scripture, but the man’s own dream: for the broken debtor is never so righteous as the surety, except in this sense, he is æque, but not æqualiter—he is righteous as the surety who has paid the sum for him, in regard that the creditor can no more in law charge him with the sum, than he can in law charge the surety who hath completely paid it: So are we in Christ freed from the guilt of eternal wrath, in that the Lord can no more in law charge sin to actual condemnation in the believer, than he can put Christ to death again, or give a new ransom for us.
But this is but formally a righteousness, in regard of freedom from the punishment of sin. But, as I have said, the surety is more righteous, simply, (1.) In regard the surety never broke faith to the creditor; the broken debtor hath broken to him. (2.) The surety never injured the creditor by injustice done against the Eighth Commandment, but the broken man hath failed in this. But I would be resolved what truth can be in those: “Who can say, I have made my heart clean?” (Prov. 20:9.) “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No, not one,” (Job 14:5). “There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not,” (Eccl. 7:20). “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” (1 John 1:8).
If we be completely as righteous as Christ, and if as Crispe divines, all the idolatry, thefts, murders of the redeemed, become actually the transgressions of Christ, and so cease to be the transgressions of the sinners, from that time they were laid upon Christ, to the hour of their death, can he determine the time, when persecuting Saul’s blasphemies, and bloody outrages to the saints, were laid upon Christ? I conceive he will say, from eternity they were laid upon Christ, and before he believed: certainly this was an untruth then, “Saul made havoc of the church,” even when he did make havoc of the church, and ere he believed; for if Saul persecuting, and all the elect unconverted, yet disobedient, and boiling in their lusts, be as righteous as Christ all their life, it is most false that ever they were dead in sin, or sometimes disobedient. If it be said, The elect considered in themselves and in nature are sinners, but considered as men in Christ, they are as righteous as Christ, it helpeth not: for we must not dream of and fancy considerations, that have no reality and truth in them; for all now born since our Lord died, I am persuaded, by the doctrine of Antinomians, were never, nor can they be real and true objects of this consideration; for, from that time that their sins were laid upon Christ, to the last hour of their life, they are as righteous as Christ, and so washed and justified. Now, their sins were laid upon Christ, as some libertines say, from eternity; as others, from that day that he died on the cross.
Sins taken away by Christ’s blood, saith Dr. Crispe, are no sins of the saints: ‘Christ did take them away, and bear their weight, even in the fault and sin itself, and not the guilt only, and not by supposition or mere imputation only, and that from eternity.’ But when Antinomians confess that Christ acted no sin, so that in respect of the act (the sinful act against the law of God must be here understood), not one sin of the believer’s is Christ’s, but only in respect of passing accounts from one head to another. This is all the truth we here plead for; because the act (or somewhat answerable to that) done against the spiritual law of God is sin itself, and essentially sin: if this was never upon Christ, then sin itself was never upon Christ. Now, there is no other thing remaining in sin but the debt, guilt, or obligation of sin that can be laid on Christ; and the truth is, the Scripture expoundeth the laying our sins upon Christ, to be nothing but God punishing Christ for our sins, as Isa. 53:4. The cause and formal reason, why Christ did bear our griefs and carry our sorrows, is, “Because the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all,” (verse 6,) and is so expounded in 1 Pet. 2. Whereas it is said, that “Christ suffered for us,” (verse 21,) and an objection is removed, (verse 22,) Why should he suffer? did he sin? The apostle answereth, by concession of the antecedent, and by denying the consequence: “He did no sin (personally), neither was guile found in his mouth.” But it followeth not, that he should not suffer legally, and for others, the punishment due to them; so his sufferings are expounded, (verse 24,) “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” Now, how did Christ bear our sins? On the tree; that is, by suffering. And Paul evidently distinguisheth, (Gal. 3,) between two sorts of persons that are cursed; the sinners that abide not in all that is written in the law to do them, (verse. 10,) these are intrinsically, and in their person cursed, as being sinners in their person, and so, the intrinsical objects of divine hatred, and a curse and abominable to God.
Yea, but Christ was also cursed—but how? Not intrinsically. God is never said to hate his Son Christ, nor to abhor him, as he doth sin, which personally resideth in the man who acteth sin in his own person; therefore the Lord’s forsaking of Christ his Son, is not an intrinsical detesting, or a moral abhorring of Christ, but an extrinsical, a penal, or a judicial suspending of the beams and rays (as Cyril saith), or the overclouding of his favour, in the comfortable shining on the soul of his own Son. And it is not said that Christ was cursed, but only, “He was made a curse for us,” (verse 13); that is, the fruits and effects of God’s curse, the punishment due to sinners, even that satisfactory and penal curse and punishment which infinite justice requireth, was laid upon Christ, while, as he died upon the cross, and suffered the effects of God’s wrath upon his soul for our sins. Then he must be the sinner only by imputation, except Antinomians show to us, how a person is made sin, or accounted the sinner, and yet, is neither a sinner, by inherent and personal acting of sin, nor yet by law-imputation. And truly it is bad divinity for Dr. Crispe to say, ‘As we are actual and real sinners, in Adam, so here, God passeth really sin over upon Christ.’ For we sinned intrinsically in Adam, as parts, as members, as being in his loins, and we are thence “by nature the children of wrath,” (Ephes. 2); but it is blasphemy to say, that our blessed Saviour sinned intrinsically in us, as part or member of the redeemed, or that he is a son of God’s wrath, for sin intrinsically inherent in him, as it is in us.
Further, Christ’s bearing of our iniquities is an obvious Hebraism, and all one with the bearing, not of the intrinsical and fundamental guilt of sin, but of the extrinsical guilt, or debt and punishment of sin. So Exod. 28:38, “A mitre shall be on Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things;” Heb. (Venasa) signifieth to carry, or the seventy turn it, exairei, Aaron shall take away or bear the punishment of the violation of the holy things. Moses saith to Aaron’s sons, “God hath given you the sin-offering, to bear the iniquity of the congregation.” (Lev. 10:17.) Aaron and his sons did bear the sins of the people, as types of Christ, not by an intrinsical guilt put on them, but by mere imputation: “And the goat shall bear upon him all the iniquities of the children of Israel unto a land not inhabited,” (Lev. 16:22). The priest prayed that the sins, that is, the punishment of the sins of the people, might be laid on the goat. “Aaron and his sons are to bear the iniquity of the sanctuary,” (Numb. 18:1); that is, the punishment of their iniquity, in that they were punished, if any of the sanctuary polluted the holy things of God: “The witness who seeth and heareth a swearing, and doth not utter it, he shall bear his iniquity,” (Lev. 5:1); that is, saith Vatablus, and all the interpreters, “the punishment of his iniquity.” Yet say ye, “Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father?” (Ezek. 18:19.) “The soul that sinneth shall die, the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father,” (verse 20). “Because thou hast forgotten me,—bear thou also thy lewdness and thy whoredom,” (Ezek. 23:35). In the same very sense, Christ “was once offered to bear the sins of many,” (Heb. 9:28): “He did bear our sins on his body on the tree,” (1 Pet. 2:24): “He did bear the sins of many,” (Isa. 53:12); he did bear heavy punishment, death, and the wrath of God, for the sins of many: “The Lord laid the iniquity of us all on him,” (verse 6). And “He was oppressed, he was afflicted, yet opened he not his mouth,” (verse 7). He was exacted, or payment of violence sought of him. Christ was put to a fine, condemned to pay an amercement or forfeit, or Christ was pursued as paymaster and surety for us: the Father pursued Christ’s bond, that he should now, at the appointed day, tell down the sum, the great ransom-money of his life for sinners, who were broken men. Justice gave in a broad and large claim against Jesus Christ, in which were written all the sins of the elect; and Christ opened not his mouth, but was dumb as a lamb led to the shambles, and his silence was as much as, ‘Lord, I grant, I yield to all the accounts in this sad claim.’ You will not confess your guiltiness, O sinners in Christ! nor take with riots, murders, oaths, and all your sins; but the surety Christ was craved, and all your accounts demanded of him, and he confessed debt, and granted all,—”He was numbered,” (verse 12,)—he was reputed, and written up in the count amongst thieves: This was mere imputation, he was not a wicked man indeed. And consider how, he is called “despised and rejected of men,” (verse 3). Christ in himself, and intrinsically, was the glory, the flower, the prince of men, even at his lowest; he must then be abased below all men, in regard of imputation, and that penal degrading of Christ. He was in himself the mighty God, the Prince of Peace, more than above men and angels; the chief of the kindred of men, the fairest among the sons of men, even at his lowest: but in regard of his low condition, he was made the off-scouring, or the dross or refuse of all men, as if not a christianed creature.
When our divines say, Christ took our place, and we have his condition; Christ was made us, and made the sinner; it is true only in a legal sense: as we say, the advocate is the client, or the guilty man, because the advocate beareth his name and person; and what the accused man could in law say before the judge, in his own defence, that the advocate saith for him. The advocate saith, ‘I cannot in law die for this crime, for such reasons.’ So the surety in law, or in a legal substitution, is the broken man. The surety saith, ‘The debt is mine, all the wants, all the poverty, all the debts and burdens of my broken friend be on me;’ —and the rich surety having paid all, can say, ‘I have paid all; I am in law free.’ My friend and surety hath done all, and paid all for me; and that is as good, in the court of justice, as if I had paid in my own person all. For the truth is, there be not two debts, and two bonds, and two sums, nor two debtors; the broken man and the surety are in law but one person, one party addebted—which of them pay, it is all one to law and justice: it is all one sum they owe. The believer in Christ is put in Christ’s law-place, and Christ by law is put in his place. Christ, made surety, saith, ‘I am the sinner, O Justice, all my broken friends’ wants, all their debts be upon me; my life for their life, my soul for my brethren’s souls, my glory, my heaven, for my kinsmen’s glory and heaven.’ The law’s bloody bond, was the curse of God upon the sinner, upon the debtor: Christ changed bonds and obligations with us, and putteth out our name, and putteth in his own name in the bloody bond; and where the law readeth, ‘the curse of God upon the debtor,’ Christ is assignee to this bond, and the gospel readeth it, ‘the curse of God upon the rich surety.’ (Gal. 3:13.) Hear then the boldness of faith: “Now, then, there is no condemnation to those that are in Jesus Christ.” What challenges Satan or conscience can make against the believer (for justice being put to silence by Christ, maketh none) hear an answer: ‘I was condemned, I was judged, I was crucified for sin, when my surety, Christ, was condemned, judged, and crucified for my sins; and what would you have more of a man than his life? It was a man’s life and soul, my life, that my surety offered up to God for sin, and I have paid all, because my surety hath paid all.’ And the truth is, it is not two debts, one that the believer owes to God’s justice, and another that Christ paid; but the debt that Christ paid is our very debt, and sins, which he did bear on his own body on the tree, (1 Pet. 2:24). But though it be true in a legal sense, that the surety is the broken man, yet it is true only in regard of the law punishment, or ill of punishment that is laid upon him: for I take Doctor Crispe’s words from his own pen. “Suppose (saith he) a malefactor be asked, Guilty or not guilty? he answereth, Not guilty,—what doth he mean? He meaneth, he hath not done the fact that was laid to his charge.” Then, not to do the fact of sin, to Dr. Crispe, is not to be guilty. Now, I assume, that Jesus Christ did never any sinful fact, as he also confesseth: then Christ was punished for sin, and yet was never guilty of sin. This must be the greatest injustice in the world to punish a man for sin, altogether free of the guilt of sin. Except Antinomians distinguish, with us, between sinful guilt and penal guilt, they shall never expede themselves.
Now, though it be true, that in law, the debtor and the surety be both one legal person, yet intrinsically they are not one. The broken debtor, as such, may be an unjust man, and the surety a faithful and just man; so that the surety, as a satisfying surety, removeth only the punishment due to the debtor for his injustice; but he removeth not formally injustice, except he be such a surety as Christ, who can both pay the debt, and so remove the ill of punishment; and also, infuse holiness, and sanctify, and remove the evil of sin. Hence, in justification formally, Christ only taketh away the punishment of everlasting fire, and eternal condemnation due to sin. But he removeth not sin itself: sin itself is removed in sanctification, and by degrees. Justification taketh the sting out of the serpent, but doth not formally kill the serpent; the serpent is killed by another act of grace, by infused and perfected sanctification. Justification is a forensical and a legal act, and removeth the power of the law, which involveth the sinner in a curse. Now, the strength, or the legal sting of sin, is the law, (1 Cor. 15:56;) so we may judge how false this divinity is, which Dr. Crispe asserteth, “You will never (saith he) have quietness of spirit, in respect of sin, till you have received this principle, that it is not the guilt of iniquity only, but iniquity itself, that the Lord laid on Christ;” for it is true, quietness and peace of faith with God floweth from justification, (Rom. 5:1;) and the assurance that Christ hath pardoned sin, and hath removed the penal guilt, the punishment of eternal condemnation from sin; but that the conscience should be quiet, that is, that it should not have also a care to believe that Christ will sanctify thoroughly, and perfect his good work in us, is most false. For though a soul be justified and freed from the guilt of eternal punishment, and so, the spirit is no more to be afraid and disquieted for eternal wrath and hell, which should never have been feared as the greatest evil, in regard that sin, as sin, is more to be feared than hell as hell;—yet there be two other acts of disquietness of spirit, laudable and commendable, even in the saints after they are justified, and the guilt of eternal punishment removed. As, (1.) The believer is to have a holy anxiety and care of spirit (I do not call it a troubled conscience) to improve his faith, in believing that Christ will perfect what he hath begun. (2.) He is to be grieved that sin dwelleth in him, and to groan and cry as a captive in fetters, out of the sense of his wretched estate, as Paul doth, (Rom. 7:23,24).
Antinomians will have the justified to be so quiet in spirit, as if Christ had removed sin in root and branch, buds and stump; whereas, only the eternal punishment, and fear of eternal condemnation, is removed in justification. But there is a worse thing remaining in sin after this, and more to be feared, and a more real and rational ground of disquietness of spirit; and that is the fundamental, intrinsical, and sinful guilt of sin, which Christ never took on him, and is not removed in justification, but only in the gradual and successive perfection of sanctification. And so, being justified, I am to be secure, and to enjoy a sound peace and quietness of spirit, in freedom from eternal wrath. But yet am I to be disquieted, grieved, yea, to sorrow that such a guest as sin lodgeth in me and with me; even as an ingenuous and honest-hearted debtor is to rejoice and be glad in the goodness and grace of his gracious surety, who hath paid his debt, and never to fear that the law or justice can go against him, to arrest and imprison him for that debt, which is now completely paid by his surety. But if the surety gave his back-bond to pay him service of love, and service of sorrow and remorse, for his injustice and sinful lavishing of his neighbour’s goods, which did necessitate his loving surety to hurt himself, and be at a great loss for him; he owes to his surety the debt of love, and disquietness of spirit, insofar as the blot of his wastery, and the shame of his riotous youth, lieth on him all his days. Antinomians conceive, that there ought to be no disquietness of spirit, no remorse, no trouble of mind, but that which hath its rise and spring from sins apprehended as not pardoned, and from the fear of eternal punishment to be inflicted for these sins: and it is true, that such a troubled and perplexed soul, which is once in the state of justification, is but the issue and brood of unbelief, and ariseth from the flesh prevailing over the spirit in such sorrow: Yea, or if confession of sin arise from this spring of servile and slavish fear, it is not a work of faith, except that a conditional fear of eternal wrath, if a David fallen in adultery and treacherous murder, or a Peter overtaken with a denying of his Saviour before men, shall not renew his repentance: and faith in Christ is required in all the justified, for the perfecting of their salvation, and final perseverance. But there is another remorse and sorrow, according to God, required in all the justified, and it is this; that though they are not to fear condemnation with a legal fear, so as to distrust God, and be afraid of eternal wrath, yet he who is ransomed by Christ, though he can never recompense the free grace, nor pay a satisfactory ransom for so great and rich a love, he is under a back-bond, or a re-obligation of love, service, and obedience to him that ransomed him. And this law of love and thankfulness is not, as libertines and others conceive, a positive and simply supernatural gospel-obligation; for the law of both nature and nations requires, that the captive be thankful to the ransom payer.
I grant that the particular commandments are positive and supernatural; so the justified is obliged by this back-bond and gospel re-obligation to confess sin dwelling in him, to groan, and sigh, and sorrow under it to be troubled and grieved in spirit, for sin as sin dwelling in his members, and rebelling against the law of his mind, and keeping him in bondage; to walk humbly and softly all his days, by reason of the running issue of sin, and to strive by all means to walk worthy of Christ. And this in the general, is the law of nature, from which Christ hath in no sort exempted us, (Matt. 7:12; 1 Cor. 11:14; Eph. 5:28,29). Now, as a man having fallen from a high place upon a rock, and hath broken bones of thighs and legs; though he be cured, and can walk abroad, yet all his days he halteth in his walking: or like one that is cured of an extreme fever, tertian [re-occurring], at such and such seasons some fit of the disease recurreth, yet is he not to doubt of the fidelity and love of the surgeon and physician, who hath really cured him, in so far as he is in capacity in this life to be cured;—and, therefore, as he is to walk warily, and with circumspection all his days, caring for his crazed body, so is he to be thankful to those who recovered him; and may be sad and heavy now and then, that by his own folly and temerity he hurt his body. For even sins pardoned, as concerning their eternal guilt, by our sovereign physician Christ, in justification, lay a law on us to serve our physician, Christ, in these positive commandments of obedience, love, sorrow, softness of spirit, with a care to sin no more, though we must needs halt and slip all our days; yet not so to sorrow, as to call in doubt the reality of pardoning grace.
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Christian Directions by Rev. Samuel Rutherford
- That hours of the day, less or more time, for the Word and prayer, be given to God; not sparing the twelfth hour, or mid-day, howbeit it should then be the shorter time.
- In the midst of worldly employments, there should be some thoughts of sin, death, judgment, and eternity, with at least a word or two of ejaculatory prayer to God.
- To beware of wandering of heart in private prayer.
- Not to grudge if ye come from prayer without sense of joy. Downcasting, sense of guiltiness, and hunger, are often best for us.
- That the Lord’s Day, from morning to night, be spent always either in private or public worship.
- That words be observed, wandering and idle thoughts be avoided, sudden anger and desire of revenge, even of such as persecute the truth, be guarded against; for we often mix our zeal with our wild-fire.
- That known, discovered, and revealed sins, that are against the conscience, be avoided, as most dangerous preparatives to hardness of heart.
- That in dealing with men, faith and truth in covenants and trafficking be regarded, that we deal with all men in sincerity; that conscience be made of idle and lying words; and that our carriage be such, as that they who see it may speak honourably of our sweet Master and profession.