Henry Brown.

Arminian inconsistencies and errors; in which it is shown that all the distinctive doctrines of the Presbyterian confession of faith are taught by standard writers of the Methodist Episcopal Church online

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And fill nie with thy righteousness."



* Watson's Life of Wesley, pp. 76, 77.

f Theological Dictionary. Term, "Righteousness."

j Theological Institutes, Part II. Chap, xxiii. \ Ibid.



360 IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS.

See also in hymn 41 :

"Never shall I want it less,

When thou the gift hast given;
Filled me with thy righteousness
And sealed me heir of heaven."

Also, in hymn 468 :

"Jesus, the name high over all

In hell, or earth, or sky,

Angels and men before it fall,

And devils fear and fly.

"His only righteousness I show,

His loving truth proclaim;
'Tis all my business here below
To cry 'behold the Lamb !' "

Again, in hymn 63 :

"Cast out thy foes, and let them still,

To Jesus' name submit,
Clothe with thy righteousness, and heal
And place me at thy feet."

The connection of all these quotations shows, that
whenever the word "righteousness" is used, it means
the righteousness of Christ. More might be added,
but this is enough to show the doctrine of the Metho-
dist Episcopal Church.

We will next show that this teaching is in exact
accordance with the Scripture.

Thus the Lord, foretelling the coming of the Mes-
siah, said, " Seventy weeks are established . . to fin-
ish the transgression, and make an end of sin, and
bring in everlasting righteousness," Dan. ix. 24. The
prophet Jeremiah, speaking of the same subject says,
"*' And this is the name by which he shall be called,
the Lord our righteousness." If then, the coming of
Christ was " the bringing in of everlasting righteous-
ness," and he is the righteousness of his people, his
righteousness must be imputed to them. That it is
so, is evident from other passages. Isaiah referring



IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS. 361

to Christ says, " In the Lord have I righteousness,"
Isa. xxiv. 25. But what righteousness ? Not his
own, for "we are all as an unclean thing, and all
our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," Isa. xiv. 6.
Evidently then, as helievers are spiritually the
"members of Christ's body," Eph. v. 30, they obtain
a righteousness by having his righteousness set down
to them. As an arm of Washington, though diseased
and broken, would be honoured, on account of that
body of which it was a member; so will our heavenly
Father treat the members of the body of his Son.
For if in the words of Malachi, " he is the Sun of
righteousness," Mai. iv. 2, he must have a righteous-
ness. And if in the words of Jeremiah, he is " the
Lord our righteousness," his righteousness must be
imputed to us.

Although the doctrine of imputation is objected to,
(as we shall see after a while) we will here remark
that in practice it is acted on all over the world. Who
does not know that the iniquities of parents are impu-
ted to their children, sometimes to the third and
fourth generations? Where could the man be found,
who would feel disposed to honour a son of Benedict
Arnold ? But where could the man be found, who,
if it were possible, would not go out of his way, to
honour a son of George Washington ? Where is the
Arminian who would not delight to show kindness to
a child of Wesley ? And where is the Calvinist who
would not delight to show kindness to a child of Cal-
vin ? When Caesar was at war with the Helvetians,
he pardoned the leader of a revolt for the sake of a
brother of the culprit, who was a gallant officer in the
Roman army. When General Scott passed sentence
of death on seventy traitors in Mexico, he pardoned
a father guilty of the same crime, for the sake of a
gallant son, who had several times planted his coun-
try's flag on the ramparts of the enemy. In such a
case a pardon is more satisfactory to justice than an
31



362 IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS.

execution. In such a case the stern righteousness of
the law even, gives way before the righteousness of
the individual.

Now this same doctrine so universal among men, is
as common in the Scriptures. God would not have
destroyed Sodom if there had been ten righteous per-
sons therein, " for the ten's sake." Gen. xviii. 32.
Although Solomon "did not keep God's covenant, nor
his statutes, the Lord would not rend the kingdom
from him, for David, his father's sake." 1 Kings xi.
.12. Although a Hebrew was " an abomination to
an Egyptian," Gen. xliii. 32, for the righteousness
of Joseph, Jacob and his family met with peculiar
favour, and peculiar honour in Egypt. Now if such
things occur in the kingdoms of this world, on account
of the imperfect righteousness of men, much more
may they occur in the kingdom of God on account of
the perfect righteousness of Christ.

But how, it may be asked, are the benefits of
Christ's righteousness to be obtained ? We answer,
by faith "Justification by faith in the imputed
righteousness of Christ." Although neither Jacob
nor his children had any claim upon Pharaoh, they
went down into Egypt relying on the righteousness of
Joseph. So also must the sinner go to God for par-
don and salvation, in reliance on the righteousness of
Christ. For as Pharaoh showed favour to the brethren
of Joseph, for Joseph's sake, since God the Father
loves the Son, he will show favour to the " brethren"
of his Son, for his Son's sake. And as Joseph was
not ashamed to tell Pharaoh of his father and breth-
ren, though they were despised Assyrians, since
Christ, " who sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified
are all one," he will "not be ashamed to call them
brethren," Heb. ii. 11, though they are redeemed
and pardoned sinners. This whole doctrine is most
beautifully and forcibly expressed in hymn ^298 of
the Methodist Collection.



IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS. 363

" Jesus, thy blood and righteousness,

My beauty are, my glorious dress ;
Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

" Bold shall I stand in that great day,

For who aught to my charge shall lay ?
Fully absolved through these I am,

From sin and fear, and guilt and shame."

But notwithstanding " sinners are accounted right-
eous by the obedience of Christ," and "God pardons
the sins of believers and reckons them as righteous
as if they had perfectly fulfilled the law ;" and not-
withstanding the "believer is invested or clothed with
the righteousness of Christ," so that "by imputation
it is his," we are told that the believer is not justified
so as to be accounted righteous in the sight of God
through the imputed righteousness of Christ: but
that the " plain Scriptural notion of justification is
pardon, the forgiveness of sins;"* that this "view
is amply supported by several passages of Scripture,
in which the terms pardon, forgiveness, and remission
of sins, are used convertibly with the term justifica-
tion ;"f that "justification, pardon, and forgiveness,
as they are used in the Scriptures, obviously mean
one and the same thing ;"| and that "justification
in the sense of the forgiveness of sins is the only
import of the terms."

To this we reply, that as the sinner never receives
pardon from God, without being justified by the im-
puted righteousness of Christ, the term pardon is
frequently used, or referred to in the Scriptures, in
connection with justification : but to say they are con-
vertible terms, mean the same thing, and that "justi-
fication in the sense of the forgiveness of sins, is the
only import of the term," is about as great an abuse

* Wesley's Sermon on Justification by Faith,
f Watson's Life of Wesley, page 147.
j Bakewell's Counsels, page 16, Chap. 23.
| Theological Institutes, Part II. Chap, xxiii.



864 IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS.

of langnage and of the Scriptures, as could well be
made. The word justify is a legal term, the opposite
of condemn; both of which are intended to state a
fact. As for example, when it appears in evidence
that a man under charge of murder, acted in necessary
self-defence, he is said to be justified. When again
it appears in evidence that another has been guilty of
unprovoked, wilful and deliberate murder, he is con-
demned. Now the court in pronouncing the justifica-
tion of the one, does not make him innocent, but
simply states a fact, viz. that he is innocent. And
in pronouncing the guilt and condemnation of the
other, it does not make him guilty, but simply states
a fact, viz. that he is guilty. That these terms are
used in this sense in the Scriptures, will appear from
a few examples. Deut. xxv. 1: "If there be a con-
troversy between men, and they come unto judgment,
that the judges may judge between them, then they
shall justify the righteous and condemn the wicked."
Here the judges are directed to declare the facts of
the case, viz. that the conduct of the righteous was
conformable to law, and the conduct of the wicked a
violation thereof.

1 Kings viii. 31, 32 : " If any man trespass against
his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to cause
him to swear, and the oath come before thine altar in
this house ; then hear thou in heaven, and do, and
judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring
his way upon his head; and justifying the right-
eous."

In the former of these cases, the judges were di-
rected to declare, that the conduct of the righteous
was conformable to law, and the conduct of the wicked
in violation of it. And in the latter, the Lord was
requested to do the same thing, but in neither case
would the declaration change the character of those
concerned.

We will next adduce a few passages in which one



IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS. 365

or both of these terms are used. Matt. xii. 36, 37,
" But I say unto you that every idle word that men
shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day
of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justi-
fied, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
Luke vii. 29, "And all the people that heard Christ,
justified God," &c. Gal. ii. 16, "Knowing that a
man is not justified by the works of the law, but by
the faith of Jesus Christ." James ii. 21, "Was not
Abraham our father justified by works when he of-
fered up Isaac his son," &c. &c.

Let us now give to "justification" the meaning
contended for, and we will have the judges directed
to "pardon" the righteous, and God requested to do
the same. Again, we will have it stated in the Bible,
that men will be pardoned in the day of judgment for
words not spoken amiss that "all the people par-
doned, God," and that " Abraham was pardoned by
works." And yet we are told, that "justification is
a sentence of pardon;" "is the pardon of sin;" " the
pardon of sin by the judicial sentence of the majesty
of heaven under a gracious constitution" that "justi-
fication in the sense of forgiveness of sins, is the only
import of the term;"* that "pardon, remission, and
forgiveness of sins are used convertibly with the term
justification;" and that "the plain scriptural notion
of justification is pardon, the forgiveness of sins."
According to these divines, therefore, a man who after
being condemned ten years to hard labour in a state
prison, for arson, theft, or forgery, &c., on being par-
doned by the governor, after he has worked out five
years, is justified for his crime that is, the pafdon
justifies the offence. Why, Mr. Wesley even yields
the point. Thus commenting on Rom. viii. 30
"Whom he called, them he also justified;" he says,
" It is generally allowed that the word 'justified,' is

* Theological Institutes, Part II. Chap, xiiii.
31*



366 IMPUTED KIGHTEOUSNESS.

here taken in a peculiar sense, that it means, he made
them righteous."*

But again says Mr. Wesley, (and his statement is
endorsed by the General Conference,) " the righteous-
ness of Christ is an expression I do not find in the

Bible."f

Here the reader will be ready to inquire, Is it pos-
sible that he who said, " there is no justifying faith
which hath not the righteousness of Christ for its ob-
ject;" that "the righteousness of Christ is the whole
and sdle foundation of all our hope," &c.; and that
the Conference, who unite in an address to Christ, and
sing,

"Clothe with thy righteousness and heal,
And place me at thy feet."

"Jesus, thy blood and righteousness,
My beauty are, my glorious dress," &c.

are the persons who now say, " the righteousness of
Christ is an expression they do not find in the
Bible?"

But let us see whether, after all, this expression or
a full equivalent, is not found in the Bible. David,
speaking of Christ, says prophetically, "A seed shall
serve him ; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a
generation. They shall come and declare his right-
eousness." Ps. xxii. 30, 31.

" Shall declare his righteousness." Whose right-
eousness? Why the righteousness of Christ. Rom.
v. 18, " Therefore, as by the offence of one, judgment
came upon all men to condemnation, even so, by the
righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men
to justification of life." Mr. Wesley and the General
Conference commenting on this passage, say, " When
St. Paul says, ' by the righteousness of one . . . the

* Sermon on Predestination. f Doctrinal Tracts, p. 205.



IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS. 867

free gift came,' &c., does he not mean the righteous-
ness of Christ? Undoubtedly he does. But this is
not the question. We are not inquiring about what
he means, but what he says."*

Here then, it is admitted, that when Paul says,
"by the righteousness of one," he means "the right-
eousness of Christ." But they continue, "If by the
righteousness of Christ we mean anything which the
Scriptures do not mean, it is certain we put darkness
for light. If we mean the same which the Scripture
means by different expressions, why do we prefer this
expression to the scriptural? Is not this correcting
the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, and opposing our own
to the perfect knowledge of God."f

So then, we are to have nothing but chapter and
verse, and not to express Scripture teaching, in any
other than Scripture language. But why do not
these divines set the example, and practise what they
preach? Ye who teach others, teach ye not your-
selves? Ye who say, others should not use any but
Scripture language, do ye use no other? For the
term " righteousness of Christ," is freely used among
you.

But further, the expression objected to, is a Scrip-
ture expression. Thus 2 Peter i. 1: "To them that
have obtained like precious faith with us, through
the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus
Christ."

In the original it reads thus : " Through the right-
eousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ."

Does the reader wish to see how Mr. Wesley and
the General Conference get around this passage ?
He has seen how they garble the Confession of
Faith, he shall now see how they garble the Scrip-
tures also. But hear them : " The righteousness of
Christ is an expression I do not find in the Bible.

* Doctrinal Tracts, page 208. f Ibid.



368 IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS.

The righteousness of God is an expression I do find
there. I believe this means first, the mercy of God,
as 2 Peter 1 : " Them that have obtained like pre-
cious faith with us through the righteousness of
God."*

Here, they so break off the sentence, as to leave
out the very expression which they say they "do not
find in the Bible." And " is not this correcting
the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, and opposing their
own to the perfect wisdom of God ?" How Mr. Wes-
ley and the General Conference are to escape the
charge of "handling the word of God deceitfully,"
2 Cor. iv. 2, is not for us to say. If they had made
the Scriptures, these " sacred oracles" would no
doubt have been very different in many places. We
are reminded of a man who not long since was object-
ing very much to some of the doctrines which he said
were contained in the Presbyterian Confession of
Faith. On being asked if he had read that book, he
gave a negative answer. It was then presented to
him on condition that he would read it. Some time
after, the donor met him and inquired whether he
had read the book, and how he liked it ? In reply
he said, " he had read it; that with the large print,"
(meaning the Confession,) " he got along very well,
but that the little print below," (meaning the Scrip-
tures referred to in proof of the Confession,) "was
the very devil." And truly, it would puzzle any one
to explain how he can swallow the references, yet
choke at the Confession.

But to return. Mr. Wesley and the General Con-
ference tell us " they are the more sparing in the
use of this expression, viz. the righteousness of Christ,
because it has been so frequently and dreadfully
abused ; and because the Antinomians used it to
justify the grossest abominations." And they ask,

* Doctrinal Tracts, page 205.



IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS. 369

" doth not this way of speaking naturally tend to
make Christ the minister of sin ?"*

In reply to this, we say, it is admitted that when
Paul speaks of the "righteousness of one," he means
the righteousness of Christ, f

2. We have shown that "the righteousness of
Christ" is a Scripture expression. Since then this
phrase " expresses the meaning of the Scripture, and
is itself a Scripture expression, if Arminians will
inform us of another that will better accord with the
" wisdom of the Holy Ghost," and more conform our
own knowledge " to the perfect knowledge of God,"
and thus he less liable to Antinomian abuse, we may
consider the propriety of using it. Till then we will
not hesitate to use the inspired language of the Apos-
tle Peter, in preference to the uninspired language of
Mr. Wesley, and especially since Mr. Wesley does
not hesitate to use it himself.

Having disposed of what is said against the use of
the phrase " the righteousness of Christ," we will
notice what is said against the phrase, " the imputed
righteousness of Christ." Mr. Wesley, in a letter to
the Rev. James Hervey, says, "For Christ's sake,
and for the sake of immortal souls which he has pur-
chased with his blood, do not dispute for that particu-
lar phrase, the 'imputed righteousness of Christ.' It
is not scriptural, it is not necessary." Again he
asks, " Where is the need, where is the use of con-
tending so strenuously, for the imputaion of his
righteousness ? The nice metaphysical doctrine of
imputed righteousness leads not to repentance but to
licentiousness."

And is this from the man who elsewhere says, "
ye fools ! when will ye understand" that the preaching
of justification by faith alone ; the allowing of no
meritorious cause of justification but the death and

* Doctrinal Tracts, page 209. f Ibid, page 208.



370 IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS.

righteousness of Christ ; and no condition or instru-
mental cause but faith, is overturning Popery from
the foundation?" Is it from the same man who says,
" the righteousness of Christ is imputed to every
one that believes, as soon as he believes?" that he
"always did, and does still continually affirm that the
righteousness of Christ is imputed to every believer?"
that although "all Infidels," "all Socinians, Arians
and members of the Church of Rome deny it," " we
(Methodists) are not among those who are so dark in
their conceptions and expressions. We no more deny
the phrase than the thing." To this we can give no
other reply than that the man who wrote the former,
wrote the latter also.

We will next hear a statement from him, in which
the General Conference unite. " We are all agreed,"
says he, "as to the meaning, but not as to the expres-
sion, ' the imputed righteousness of Christ,' which
I still say, I dare not insist upon, neither require
any one to use, because I cannot find it in the Bible."
" If the very personal obedience of Christ be mine
the moment I believe, can anything be added thereto?
Does my obeying God add any value to the perfect
obedience of Christ ? On this scheme, then, are not
the holy and unholy on the very same footing ?"*

And are these the divines, who in arranging hymns
to be sung in the churches say, in addressing the
Saviour:

" Jesus, thy blood and righteousness,

My beauty are, my glorious dress ;
'Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in that great day,
For who aught to my charge shall lay ?

Fully absolved through these I am,

From sin and fear, and guilt and shame."

* Doctrinal Tracts, pages, 208, 209.



IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS. 371

To which we may add two other verses of the same
hymn, as it came from Mr. Wesley, but which the
General Conference have omitted, viz.

"This spotless robe the same appears,

When ruined nature sinks in years;
No age can change its glorious hue,
The robe of Christ is ever new.

let the dead now hear (by voice,
Bid, Lord, thy banished ones rejoice;

Their beauty this, their glorious dresa,
Jesus the Lord our righteousness."

In reference to these stanzas, we will only say, if
they do not teach that a believer is justified by the
imputed righteousness of Christ, it would be difficult
to find language that did. Although then, the Me-
thodist Church objects to the doctrine in their Doc-
trinal Tracts, as they teach it so distinctly in their
Hymn-book, the objection has no weight with them-
selves, and cannot be expected to have greater weight
with others.

As to the charge, that both the phrase and the
doctrine taught by the phrase, "lead to impenitence
and licentiousness," we remark, that if, in the face of
the clear and explicit statements, (" as many as are
led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God," Rom.
viii. 14, "and by their fruits ye shall know them,")
any one supposes that by being "born of the Spirit,"
he imbibes a love for sin, and that for it he finds a
cloak in the imputed righteousness of Christ, there is
not a doctrine in the Bible he would not pervert.
He who "is born of God" partakes of the holy nature
of God, consequently, he must feel an aversion to sin.
And although he "finds a law in his members warring
against the law of his mind, and bringing him into
captivity to the law of sin which is in his members,"
with Paul he cries out, " wretched man that I am !
who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?"
That faith in Christ which does not lead to holiness



372 IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS.

of life is a dead faith. Hence we say, with Mr. Wes-
ley, "God implants righteousness in every one to
whom he imputes it, and sanctifies as well as justi-
fies all that believe."*

When travellers get lost, they are apt to travel in
all directions, and of course, are sometimes in the
right one. While a theological writer sticks to Cal-
vinism, he steers a straight course, as has been shown ;
but when he leaves that, he wanders about through a
dense fog, until he gets back again. Having seen
the winding course of a ship when guided under an
Arminian chart, it is gratifying to see it return to the
point, by departing from which it began to err.
Take the following from the Christian Advocate and
Journal, the great organ of the Methodist Church
North, of Feb. 9, 1854.

"Pardon Justification. Are these words syno-
nymous? that is, do they each convey the same idea?
Can they be used interchangeably without impairing
correct statements of gospel truth? Do they each
equally express the action of the Deity in the case of
a repenting sinner?

"An answer to either of these questions would go
far to relieve uncertainty as to the others; and we
might, it is true, summarily dispose of the first by an
appeal to the dictionaries. But are these satisfying
authorities? We all know how common it is for dic-
tionaries to expound one word by rehearsing several
similar ones, and then, when we seek for the import
of one or more of these similar words, we find again
the same words repeated, with the addition, it may
be, of the one first explained ! so that all similar
words thus appear to be synonymous, when, strictly,
speaking, we have no synonyms.

" But may not a single and thus more direct question
be substituted for all the above, the answer to which

* Sermon on Imputed Righteousness.



IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS. 373

will present all that is important for us to know on this
subject, viz. Do the sacred penmen use these words
interchangeably? I think not. At least the New
Testament writers do not, for one of these words, viz.
pardon, is not found on its pages. This is a most
significant fact, only to be accounted for, it would
seem, on the supposition that our translators did not
find its equivalent in the Greek, and knew that the
idea which it conveys would not be a correct one in
the premises. What is this idea? What legitimate
impression does this word make when it is used?
Does it not properly convey one idea alone? If, for
instance, we hear one say, ' I beg pardon,' do we not



Online LibraryHenry BrownArminian inconsistencies and errors; in which it is shown that all the distinctive doctrines of the Presbyterian confession of faith are taught by standard writers of the Methodist Episcopal Church → online text (page 27 of 32)