Copyright
Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield.

Faith and life; 'conferences' in the Oratory of Princeton seminary online

. (page 19 of 27)
Online LibraryBenjamin Breckinridge WarfieldFaith and life; 'conferences' in the Oratory of Princeton seminary → online text (page 19 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


thinkers, by which they would fain retain some
room for glorying in the flesh while yet joining
in the universal song of the saints of God, Gloria
Deo Soli.

314



THE ALIEN RIGHTEOUSNESS 315

It is clear, at once, that the forms of Paul's
language at least do not easily lend themselves
to the notion that, though Divine aid is requisite
to salvation, yet the fundamental movement
thereunto must be of man's own making; or
even that, though salvation is predominatingly
from God, yet this is not to the exclusion of the
necessity on man's part of at least assent and con-
sent to the Divine working; that if the basis of
the Divine acceptance of man is to be found in
the work of Christ, at least faith is demanded of
man as the condition on the performance of which
alone will this acceptance be accorded to him. It
is something like this that Professor Stevens
wishes to reserve to man as his part in salvation.
And it is in his effort to rescue this to man from
the obviously unwilling hands of Paul that he is
led to remark that Paul's language must be inter-
preted as that of a headlong controversialist,
who in his zeal falls into "a certain one-sided-
ness" in his representations, and keys his reason-
ings so high that they must be taken rather as
"purposely one-sided argumenta ad hominem"
and do not fairly set forth perhaps Paul's whole
thought on the subject. Whence, we say, it
seems perfectly clear that the language of Paul,
taken as it stands, excludes even so much of a
human element lying at the basis of salvation.
What he says — whatever he means — is obviously
that our own righteousness — in every item and



316 FAITH AND LIFE

degree of it — is wholly excluded from the ground
of our salvation; and the righteousness provided
by God in Christ is the sole ground of our accept-
ance in His sight. According to his express
statements, at least, we are saved entirely on the
ground of an alien righteousness and not at all on
the ground of anything we are or have done, or
can do, — ^be it even so small a matter as believing.
For the rest, true as it is that in this matter
Paul was involved in an ineradicable conflict with
the Judaizers — in what may be with good right
called indeed "the conflict of his life" — it is
very easy to press beyond the mark in our esti-
mate of the effect of this conflict upon his thought
or even upon his language. After all, Paul's in-
terest in the ground of human salvation was a
positive one, rather than a negative one. In the
providence of God he was led to develop his doc-
trine of salvation for the benefit of his disciples in
conflict with Judaizers; and we view it to-day
in the forms of statement given it under the neces-
sities of that controversy. But there is no reason
to believe that he would not have taught precisely
that same doctrine of salvation, though, doubt-
less, in different forms of statement, had he been
required to meet erroneous teaching of a totally
different kind, proceeding from a wholly different
quarter — that is, if we really believe that the
essence of his doctrine is the truth of God, given
him by revelation, and not merely his personal



THE ALIEN RIGHTEOUSNESS 317

position assumed to hold standing ground for him-
self as a determined opponent of the old Jewish
party in the Church. In other words, the con-
flict with the Judaizers was not first with Paul and
his doctrine of salvation second, either in time or
importance; but, on the contrary, his doctrine of
salvation was first and his controversy with the
Judaizers both subsequent and consequent to it.
He did not hold this doctrine of salvation because
he polemicized the Judaizers, but he polemicized
the Judaizers because he held this doctrine of
salvation. He did not attain this doctrine of sal-
vation then in controversy with the Judaizers,
but he controverted the Judaizers because their
teaching impinged on this precious doctrine.
Though, therefore, the forms in which he states the
doctrine in these epistles take shape from the fact
that he is rebutting the assaults on it and the
subtle undermining of it derived from the con-
ceptions of the Judaizers, the doctrine stated is
prior in the order of time and thought in his mind
to the rise of the danger to it which he is repelling
in these expressions. The interest and impor-
tance of this to us is that it thereby is brought to*
our clear consciousness that Paul's fundamental
interest in this matter turns not on the violence
of his conflict with the Judaizers but on the pro-
fundity of his conviction of the truth of his po-
sition. Whenever he replies to the Judaizers'
assault in whatever sharpness of rebuke and



318 FAITH AND LIFE

keenness of polemic thrust, his primary interest
is not in silencing his opponents but in uphold-
ing his teaching.

We could not have a better illustration of this
than in the passage now before us. The whole of
it is suffused with an emotion which is far deeper
and far purer than polemic zeal. Nowhere do
Paul's polemics burn more fiercely. Nowhere is
his language sharper or his expressions more "ex-
treme." But nowhere is it clearer that his heart
is set on higher things than on the refutation of
errorists whom he would correct; and nowhere is
it less legitimate to pare down his expressions to
the level of mere controversial violence. The
Apostle as he opened the third chapter of this
Epistle was contemplating drawing it to a close.
"Finally, my brethren," he says, using the familiar
formula for introducing the concluding words, —
"finally, my brethren," he says, closing the let-
ter, as is his wont, with some striking fundamen-
tal thought that would abide in the mind of his
readers as a last message to their souls, — "finally,
my brethren, let your joy be in the Lord." This
is no mere formula of farewell, as some, misled
by the "rejoice" — which is to be sure an ordinary
formula of epistolary salutation — ^have imagined.
The conception of Christian rejoicing is a funda-
mental note of this letter, and here it has all the
emphasis that this gives it. And it is not merely
the idea of rejoicing that is here emphatic, but



THE ALIEN RIGHTEOUSNESS 319

the added idea of rejoicing "in the Lord." "Fi-
nally, my brethren," says the Apostle, "let your
joy be in the Lord." Ah, this is where the
Apostle's heart is as he opens this paragraph —
this is the thought he would leave with his readers.
"Let your joy be in the Lord" — not in your-
selves, but in the Lord. We should say, perhaps,
rather. Let your boast be in the Lord; let your
glorying be only in the Lord. It means funda-
mentally the same thing. The Apostle would
bring his letter to a close by reminding his readers
of the very core of the saving proclamation.
They are saved — not self -saving souls. Let them
rejoice, let them continually joy, in the Lord !

This is not a new theme with the Apostle. It is
rather one of his favourite subjects, this of boast-
ing in Christ Jesus. He is conscious that he
harps on it. But he is not ashamed of harping
on it; it is the heart of the Gospel and he is not
ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. But he makes
a quasi-apology for so harping on it. "I know
this is repetitious," he says at once, "but I like
to say it, and it may be useful to you." "To
write the same things to you, to me on the one
hand is not irksome, but to you on the other it is
safe." It is a joy to Paul to cry over and over
and over again, "Let your joy be in the Lord";
in Him only put your boasting; in Him alone do
your glorying; and it is a safe thing to impress on
his readers. At the mention of this, the floods of



320 FAITH AND LIFE

polemics rush in. Paul remembers those who
were endangering the purity of this attitude of
dependence on the Lord alone in his flocks, and
remembering them, what can he do but burst out
with renewed warnings?

So the letter does not close, after all, at this
point, but instead, we have the sharp exhortation,
"Mark ye the dogs! Mark ye the evil workers!
Mark ye the concision!" Why does his polemic
burn so hotly against these men? Simply be-
cause they endangered that attitude which he was
impressing on his readers, and in which the whole
Gospel consisted for him — the attitude of entire
dependence on Christ to the exclusion of every-
thing in themselves. Accordingly his rapid and
clearly cut speech leaps at once into the reason:
"Mark ye the concision, — the concision I say, the
mere imitation; for we are the circumcision, the
real sealed ones to God, who worship by the Spirit
of God and boast in Christ Jesus, and put no con-
fidence in the flesh."

We do not need to follow the subsequent turns
of the polemic into which the Apostle here enters.
It is enough for us to note that the language abun-
dantly confirms the interpretation of the drift of
the paragraph and the intent of its opening words
on which we have insisted. Paul exhorts his
readers "to let their joy be in the Lord," and he
repudiates the concision on the express ground
that their claims are antagonistic to a purely



THE ALIEN RIGHTEOUSNESS 321

spiritual worship, to boasting in Christ Jesus alone
and the withdrawal of all confidence from the
flesh. This is that to which the Apostle is en-
gaged in exhorting his readers therefore — ^boasting
in Christ Jesus alone and the removal of all con-
fidence in the flesh. We all know how richly he
develops this idea in the following words — enu-
merating his own high claims in the flesh and as-
serting roundly that all of them are but as refuse
to him in the matter of salvation. Christ Jesus is
all. The language of our text is but the elabora-
tion of this vital idea in other and more precise
language. All that he is, all that he has sought
after, all that he has done, — though from a fleshly
point of view far superior to what most men can
appeal to — all, all, he counts (not merely useless
but) loss, all one mass of loss, to be cast away and
buried in the sea, "that he may gain Christ and
be found in Him." On the one side stand all
human works — they are all loss. On the other
hand stands Christ — He is all in all. That is the
contrast. And this is the contrast re-expressed
more formally in our text: "not having my own
righteousness that is out of law, but that which is
through faith in Christ, the righteousness that
is from God on faith."

The contrast is between the righteousness which
a man can make for himself and the righteousness
that God gives him. And the contrast is abso-
lute. On the one, in the height and the breadth



322 FAITH AND LIFE

of its whole idea — we cannot exaggerate here —
Paul pours contempt, as a basis or, nay, even the
least part of the basis, of salvation. On the other,
exclusively, he bases the totality of salvation.
The outcome is, that not merely polemically but
fundamentally, he founds salvation solely on an
alien righteousness, with the express exclusion
of every item of our own righteousness. The
whole contents of the passage demands this as
Paul's fundamental thought.

Now, it is not necessary for us, on this occasion,
to stop to analyze in its details Paul's thought;
to show by detailed exposition how utterly the
righteousness rejected by him is rejected and how
exclusively the righteousness laid hold of by him
is trusted in, and how completely the ground of
our trust is cleansed by Paul from every scintilla
of human works. It will suffice for the present to
accept the discrimination he makes in the large
and to try to realize how fully to him the totality
of the Gospel lay just in this discrimination. The
Gospel, to Paul, consists precisely in this: that
we do nothing to earn our salvation or to secure
it for ourselves. God in Christ does it all.

It is easy, of course, to brand such an assertion
as immoral. Men were not slow to brand it as
immoral in Paul's day, and men are not slow to
brand it as immoral ("unethical" is their way of
phrasmg it) to-day. "What," they say, "we are
to do nothing! Christ does it all! Nothing de-



THE ALIEN RIGHTEOUSNESS 323

pends on us! Not even our believing! Then, let
us eat, drink and be merry!" They do not stop
to consider that the repetition against those who
draw this doctrine from Paul's teaching, of pre-
cisely the same charge that was urged against
Paul, is the last thing which could be needed to
prove that Paul has not been misunderstood when
he is interpreted as advancing by set purpose just
this doctrine. Paul does not meet the charge by
explaining that he wishes his words concerning
the exclusion of all our righteousness from the
ground of salvation to be taken cum grano sails; but
by explaining that, being saved not indeed "out of
works" but certainly "unto good works," we
cannot walk in sin and yet be saved. This posit-
ing of a new antithesis, not out of works but unto
good works, clinches the essence of his doctrine,
and may be adopted by us as the sole defence it
needs against the accusations of men.

You remember how Mr. J. A. Froude in a
famous essay adduced as a speaking evidence of
the "immorality of Evangelicalism," the well-
known revival hymn beginning:

"Nothing either great or small.
Nothing, sinner, no;
Jesus did it, did it all.
Long, long, ago."

What was particularly offensive to him was the
assertion that



324 FAITH AND LIFE

"Doing is a deadly thing.
Doing ends in death";

and the consequent exhortation

"Cast your deadly doing down,
Down at Jesus' feet,
Stand in Him, in Him alone.
Gloriously complete."

It is, nevertheless, the very cor cordis of the Gos-
pel that is here brought under fire. The one anti-
thesis of all the ages is that between the rival
formulse: Do this and live, and, Live and do this;
Do and be saved, and Be saved and do. And the
one thing that determines whether we trust in
God for salvation or would fain save ourselves is,
how such formulae appeal to us. Do we, like the
rich young ruler, feel that we must "do some good
thing" in order that we may be saved? Then,
assuredly, we are not yet prepared to trust our
salvation to Christ alone — to sell all that we have
and follow Him. Just in proportion as we are
striving to supplement or to supplant His perfect
work, just in that proportion is our hope of sal-
vation resting on works, and not on faith. Ethi-
cism and solafideanism — these are the eternal
contraries, mutually exclusive. It must be faith
or works; it can never be faith and works. And
the fundamental exhortation which we must ever
be giving our souls is clearly expressed in the words
of the hymn, "Cast your deadly doing down."
Only when that is completely done is it really



THE ALIEN RIGHTEOUSNESS 325

Christ Only, Christ All in All, with us; only then,
do we obey fully Paul's final exhortation: "Let
your joy be in the Lord." Only then do we re-
nounce utterly "our own righteousness, that out
of law," and rest solely on "that which is through
faith in Christ, the righteousness of God on
faith."



PEACE WITH GOD

Phil. 4:7: — "And the peace of God, which passeth all under-
standing, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ
Jesus."

The exact phrase which we have given as the
subject of our reflection this afternoon, though
one of the most familiar phrases in our religious
speech, has a very slender claim to be looked upon
as Biblical. It occurs but once in the Bible
(Rom. 5:1), and then, as it seems to me (though
on this the commentators differ), not in its fun-
damental sense, or in the sense in which it is prob-
ably most prominent in the minds of most of us
here this afternoon, but in its subjective sense of
consciousness of peace with God. The thing de-
noted by the phrase is of course a frequent and
basal idea in Scripture, though not expressed by
the exact phrase now before us. The correlated
terms "enmity," "reconciliation," "peace," occur
with sufficient frequency and express what may
properly be called a fundamental idea of the
Gospel.

We are told that we are naturally "enemies" of
God, that God looks upon us as such, and that we
cherish the feelings appropriate to that condi-
tion — being enemies in our minds by wicked
works, and because of a carnal mind necessarily at

326



PEACE WITH GOD 327

enmity with the Holy God. This enmity we are
told Christ has "abolished," "slain" on His cross,
"reconciling" us with God by His propitiatory
work. As a result of this "propitiation," we are
told, He has made "peace" (Eph. 2:18); and,
therefore. He is called "our peace," and His Gos-
pel, "the Gospel of peace" (Rom. 10:15; Eph.
6:15). His whole work was "that we might have
peace in Him" (Jno. 16:33), and His gospel con-
sisted in "preaching peace by Jesus" (Acts 10:36).
Even in the Old Testament prophecy. He is prom-
ised as the "Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6), and it is
clearly perceived that He is such because the
"chastisement of our peace shall be on Him"
(Isa. 53 :5) ; in other words, because that punish-
ment by which our sins are expiated and we are
reconciled with God should be borne by Him.

There is no lack, therefore, of the most explicit
enunciation in Scripture of the fact which our
phrase expresses; it is rather one of the pervading
representations of Scripture that we are at en-
mity with God and can have peace with Him only
in the blood of Christ. Only it so happens that
the connection in which the word "peace" occurs
most frequently in Scripture is one which raises
our eyes rather to God as the giver of peace than
emphasizes the fact that it is with Him that the
peace is established. "Peace from God" hap-
pens, therefore, to be a commoner Scriptural
locution than "peace with God." "I will give unto



328 FAITH AND LIFE

him my covenant of peace" (Numb. 28:12),
though not spoken with this broad implication
may almost be represented as the primary promise
of the Old Covenant, under which the longing of
God's people expressed itself in the assurance that
"He would speak peace with His people and to
His saints" (Psa. 85:8). Wherefore that Old
Covenant saint upon whose glad eyes the dawn of
salvation had fallen, expresses his joy that the
coming of the Day-spring from on high was a
promise that now, at length, the feet of God's
people should be guided in the way of peace (Luke
1:79). Accordingly Jesus represents the result of
His work as giving peace to His followers (Jno.
16:33) — "My peace I leave with you, my peace I
give unto you" (Jno. 16:27), and His disciples
going everywhere "preached peace by Jesus"
(Acts 10:36). It is the "peace of God" that
passeth all understanding, that the Apostle would
have rule in the hearts of His converts (Phil. 4:7);
and the prayer that "peace from God" should be
on them became the fixed form of Apostolic ben-
ediction (Rom. 1:7).

This pervading longing for peace and promise
of it as one of the most precious gifts of God, cer-
tainly enhances our sense of its value. Perhaps
we may say that the chief difference in the feeling
of the two terms "peace from God" and "peace
with God" is that the primary emphasis in the
former falls naturally on subjective peace —



PEACE WITH GOD 329

though by no means to the exclusion of objective
peace; while, with the latter the reverse is the
case. When we speak of "peace from God"
coming upon us, of the peace of God that passes
all understanding "sen trying" our hearts and
thoughts, of the peace of Jesus which He left with
us, when He added: "Let not your heart be
troubled, neither let it be fearful," we necessarily
think first of all of the deep sense of inner peace
and satisfaction which pervades the hearts of
none in the world who have not "found their
peace" as we say, in Christ. On the other hand,
when we speak of "peace with God" our thoughts
go primarily back to that great transaction on
Calvary when He who is our peace reconciled us
to God by His cross, having slain the enmity
thereon; and we who were alienated in our wicked
minds from Him were brought nigh in the blood
of Christ. We cannot think of the one, indeed,
without thinking of the other; nor can one exist
apart from the other. We cannot have peace of
heart, until our real and actual separation from
God is bridged by the blood of Christ. We can-
not have the breach between God and us healed
without a sense of the new relation of peace steal-
ing into our hearts. And possibly we cannot do
better to-day than just to realize how inter-
dependent the two are and how rich the peace is
which we obtain in Christ Jesus.

To this end, let us consider (1) the utter lack of



330 FAITH AND LIFE

peace which man suffers by nature; (2) the full-
ness of peace brought to us by Jesus; and (3) the
process by which this peace is made the possession
of the mind and soul.

It is a curious thing if you look at it, how little
peace man out of Christ, that is, apart from God
and His right relation to him, has in the world;
how utterly out of joint he is — at war, in fact —
with even his physical environment. Every
other creature finds a place for itself in nature;
nature cares for them all. "She spreads a table
for the tiger in the jungle, for the buffalo on the
prairie, for the dragon-fly above the summer
brook." But she spreads no table for man.
Foxes may have holes and the birds of the air,
nests; but like his Lord, man has no place in na-
ture where he can safely lay his head. As a mere
animal, he is the weakest and most helpless of all,
with no natural covering to keep him warm, with
no natural weapons to protect himself, with no
speed for escape, and no cunning for hiding. The
sun burns him and the winter freezes him. A
brilliant writer, upon whom I am drawing very
freely in these paragraphs, calls him justly, the step-
child of time. Revelation accounts for it by the fall.
Man stood at the gate of Eden, an exile, facing a
wild world, a world of briers and thorns, of hos-
tile fears, of death. What man out of Christ
thinks of it, the myths he has invented tell us;
from the shrinking terror of the fetish worshipper



PEACE WITH GOD 331

at every old bone or bit of stick, to the weird
shapes and glowing myths of our own Scandina-
vian fathers. Man knows himself to be at war
with the world.

It is much if he can get his food. Most do not.
But food does not satisfy him. " Put an ox in a
fat pasture beside a clear stream and the ox is as
happy as an ox can be. The hungry tiger with
reeking jaws, tearing the slaughtered buffalo, is
happy to the utmost limit of tiger nature." But
after man has conquered nature, he is still not at
peace with her. He is no happier in the palace
than in the hut.

" In the cool hall with haggard eyes
The Roman nobly lay;
Then rose and drove in furious wise
Along the Appian Way.

He made a feast, drank fierce and fast
And crowned his head with flowers.

No easier and no swifter passed
The impracticable hours."

Man assuredly is at odds with nature; but not
only with nature, there is something deeper than
that. Man is at odds with himself. So that,
even though he were not the stepchild of nature
and all that is external to him existed only to do
his pleasure, so that like the lotus-eaters he could
merely lie and be happy; man would not be
happy. The deep unrest of his nature has a
deeper cause than merely his lack of physical ad-



332 FAITH AND LIFE

justment to his environment. He is out of joint
with himself. He has a conscience and knows the
right. But he also knows what is not right. And
this sense of sin, ineradicable instinct in every
soul, is the source of a restless uneasiness which
knows and can know no peace. His very dis-
quietedness with nature receives half its terror
from it. If man merely felt that he must manip-
ulate nature for his comfort, he might, at least, be
inwardly easy or troubled only by those natural
anxieties for the future that cluster around the
questions, What shall I eat, and what shall I
drink, and wherewith shall I be clothed. But his
inward unrest clothes nature with a thousand
terrors; her forces become avenging furies, her
thunders the voice of an accusing God, her light-
nings and tornadoes — her quietly working poisons
of miasma and disease — become the tools of God's
anger. Because he is a sinner, man's inward war
is inflicted on his outward environment. And
his conscience it is that will give him no peace.

But neither is conscience the ultimate fact.
As the terrors of nature are due to the fact that
they are not ultimate but point upwards and in-
wards to the war in the heart, so the terrors of
conscience are due to the fact that they, too, are


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

Online LibraryBenjamin Breckinridge WarfieldFaith and life; 'conferences' in the Oratory of Princeton seminary → online text (page 19 of 27)