John Bunyan.

The entire works of John Bunyan (Volume 2) online

. (page 78 of 122)
Online LibraryJohn BunyanThe entire works of John Bunyan (Volume 2) → online text (page 78 of 122)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

because the first duty that a Christian performeth
to God must be accepted, not for the sake of the
principle from which in the heart it flows, nor yet
for the sake of the person that acts it, but for the
sake of Christ, whose righteousness it is, by which,
before, the sinner stands just before God. And
hence it is said, " By faith Abel offered unto God
a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." "(Heb. xi. 4.)
By faith he did it ; but faith hath respect to the
righteousness that justifies. For we are justified
by faith, not by faith as it is a grace, nor by faith
simply as it is an acting grace ; but by the right-
eousness of faith ; that is, by that righteousness that
faith embraceth, layeth hold of, and helpeth the
soul to rest upon, and to trust to, for justification
of life, which is the obedience of Christ. Besides,
it is said, by faith he offered ; faith, then, faith in
Christ was precedent to his offering.

Now, since faith was in being and in act before
his offer, and since before his offer he had no
personal goodness of his own, faith must look out
from home ; I say, it must look out to another
than to him in whom it resided for righteousness ;
and finding the righteousness of Christ to be the
righteousness which by God was designed to be
performed for the justification of a sinner, it em-
braces it, and through it offereth to God a more
excellent sacrifice than Cain.

Hence it follows, "by which he obtained wit-
ness that he was righteous." By which, not by his
offering, but by his faith. For his offering, singly
as an offering, could not have made him righteous,
if he had not been righteous before ; " for an evil
tree cannot bring forth good fruit." Besides, if
this be granted, why had not God respect to Cain's
offering as well as to Abel's ? For, did Abel offer ?
so did Cain. Did Abel offer his best ? so did Cain
his. And if with this we shall take notice of the
order of their offering, Cain seemed to offer first,
and so with the frankest will and forwardest mind ;
but yet, saith the text, " The Lord had respect to
Abel, and to his offering." But why to Abel ? Why,
because his person was made righteous before he
offered his gift : " By which he obtained witness
that he was righteous." God testifying of his
gifts, that they were good and acceptable, because
they declared Abel's acceptation of the righteous-
ness of Christ, for his justice, through the riches

By faith, then, Abel offered to God' a more ex-
cellent sacrifice than Cain, He shrouded himself
under the righteousness of Christ, and so, as out
of that righteousness, he offered to God ; God also
looking and finding him there, (where also he could
not have been, as to his own apprehension, no
otherwise than by faith,) accepted of his gift;
by which acceptation, for so you may understand
it also, God testified that he was righteous. For
God receiveth not the gifts and offerings of those
that are not righteous, for their sacrifices are an
abomination unto him. (Prov. xxi. 27.)

Abel, then, was righteous before ; he was, I say,
made righteous first, as he stood ungodly in him-
self ; God justifieth the ungodly. (Rom. iv.) Now,
being justified, he was righteous ; and being right-
eous, he offered his sacrifice of praise to God, or
other offerings which God accepted, because he
believed in his Son, as also other scriptures mani-
fest abundantly. But this our Pharisee under-
standeth not.

3. Righteousness by imputation must be first,
because we are made so, to wit, by another : " By
the obedience of one shall many be made right-,
eous." Now, to be made righteous implies a pas-
siveness in him that is so made, and the activity of
the work to lie in somebody else ; except he had
said, they had made themselves righteous ; but that
it doth not, nor doth the text leave to any the least
countenance so to insinuate ; nay, it plainly affirms
the contrary, for it saith, by the obedience of one,
of one man Jesus Christ, many are made right-
eous ; by the righteousness of one. (Rom. v.) So,
then, if they be made righteous by the righteous-
ness of one ; I say, if many be made righteous by
the righteousness of one, then are they that are
so, as to themselves, passive and not active, with
reference unto the working out of this righteous-
ness. They have no hand in that ; for that is
the act of one, the righteousness of one, the obe-
dience of one, the workmanship of one, even of
Christ Jesus.

Again ; if they are made righteous by this
righteousness, then also they are passive, as to
their first privilege by it; for they are made
righteous by it ; they do not make themselves
righteous ; no, they do not make themselves right-
eous by it.

Imputation is also the act of God. Even as
David also describeth the blessedness of the man
unto whom God imputeth righteousness. The
righteousness, then, is the work of Christ, his own
obedience to his Father's law ; the making of it
ours is the act of his Father, and of his infinite
grace ; " But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of
God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness ;"
" For he (God) hath made him to be sin for us,
who knew no sin, that we might be made the
righteousness of God in him." And both these
things God showed to our first parents, when he
acted in grace towards them after the fall.

There it is said, the Lord God made unto Adam,



and unto his wife, coats of skins, and clothed them.
(Gen. iii. 21.)

Whence note,

(1.) That Adam and his wife were naked, both
in God's eye and in their own. (ver. 10, 11.)

(%.) That the Lord God made coats of skins.

(3.) That in his making of them he had respect
to Adam and to his wife, that is, he made them
for him.

(4.) That when he had made them, he also
clothed them therewith.

They made not the coats, nor did God bid them
make them ; but God did make them himself to
cover their nakedness with. Yea, when he had
made them, he did not bid them put them on, but
he himself did clothe them with them. For thus
runs the text; " Unto Adam also and to his wife
did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed
them." Oh, it was the Lord God that made this
coat, with which a poor sinner is made righteous !
And it is also the Lord God that putteth it upon
us. But this our Pharisee understandeth not.

But now, if a man is not righteous before he is
made so — before the Lord God has, by the right-
eousness of another, made him so — then, whether
this righteousness come first or last, the man is
not righteous until it cometh ; and if he be not
righteous until it cometh, then what works soever
are done before it comes, they are not the works
of a righteous man, nor the fruits of a good tree,
but of a bad. And so, again, this righteousness
must first come before a man be righteous, and
before a man does righteousness. Make the tree
good, and its fruit will be good.

Now, since a man must be made righteous be-
fore he can do righteousness, it is manifest his
works of righteousness do not make him righteous,
no more than the fig makes its own tree a fig-tree,
or than the grape doth make its own vine a vine.
Hence those acts of righteousness that christian
men do perform, are called the fruits of righteous^
ness, which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and
praise of God. (Phil. i. 11.)

The fruits of righteousness they are by Jesus
Christ, as the fruits of the tree are by the tree
itself. For the truth is, that principle of right-
eousness, of which mention has been made before,
and concerning which I have said, it comes in, in
the second place ; it is also originally to be found
for us nowhere but in Christ.

Hence it is said to be by Jesus Christ ; and
again, " of his fulness have all we received, and
grace for grace." (John i. 16.) A man must then
be united to Christ first, and so being united, he
partaketh of this benefit, to wit, a principle that is
supernatural, spiritual and heavenly. Now, his
being united to Christ is not of or from himself,
but of and from the Father, who, as to this work,
is the husbandman ; even as the twig that is
grafted into the tree officiateth not, that is, graft*
eth not itself thereinto, but is grafted in by some
other, itself being utterly passive as to that. Now,

being united unto Christ, the soul is first made
partaker of justification, or of justifying righteous-
ness, and now no longer beareth the name of an
ungodly man, for he is made righteous by the
obedience of Christ ; he being also united to Christ,
partaketh of the root and fatness of Christ ; the
root, that is, his Divine nature ; the fatness, that
is, that fulness of grace that is laid up in him to
be communicated unto us, even as the branch that
is grafted into the olive-tree partaketh of the root
and fatness of the olive-tree. Now, partaking
thereof, it quickeneth, it groweth, it buddeth,' and
yieldeth fruit to the praise and glory of God.
(Rom. xi. 17.)

But these things, as I have often said, the poor
Pharisee was ignorant of, when so swaggeringly
hej with his " God, I thank thee," came into the
temple to pray ; and, indeed, in that which hath
here been said, is something of the mystery of
God's will in his way with his elect ; and such a
mystery it is, that it lieth hid for ever to nature
and natural men ; for they think of nothing less
than of this, nor of nothing more, when they think
of their souls and of salvation, than that something
must be done by themselves to reconcile them to
God; Yea, if through some common convictions
their understandings should be swayed to a con-
senting to that, that justification is of grace by
Christ, and not of works by men ; yet conscience,
reason, and the law of nature, not being as yet
subdued by the power and glory of grace unto the
obedience of Christ, will rise up in rebellion
against this doctrine, and will overrule and bow
down the soul again to the law and works thereof
for life.

4. Righteousness by imputation must be first,
because, else faith, which is a part, yea, -a, great
part of that which is called a principle of grace
in the soul, will have nothing to fix itself upon,
nor a motive to work by. Let this, therefore, be
considered by those that are on the contrary side'.

Faith, so soon as it has being in the soul, is like
the child that has being in the mother's lap, if
must have something to feed upon, not something
at a distance, afar off, or to be purchased ; I speak
now as to justification from the curse ; but some-
thing by promise made over of grace to* the soul;
something to feed upon to support from the fears
of perishing by the curse for sin. Nor can it rest
content with all duties and performances, that other
graces shall put the soul upon ; nor with any of
its own works, until it reaches and takes hold of
the righteousness of Christ. Faith is like the dove,
that found no rest anywhere in all the world* until
it returned to Noah into the ark. But this our
Pharisee understandeth not.

Perhaps some may object, that from this way of
reasoning it is apparent that sanctification is first,
since the soul may have faith, and so a principle
of grace in it, and yet, as yet it cannot find Christ
to feed and to refresh the soul withal.

Am. From this way of reasoning it is not at all



apparent that sanctification, or a principle of grace
is in the soul before righteousness is imputed, and
the soul made perfectly righteous thereby. And
for the clearing up of this let me propose a few

Justifying righteousness, to wit, the obedience
of that one man Christ, is imputed to the sinner to
justify him in God's sight. For his law calls for
perfect righteousness, and before that be come to,
and put upon the poor sinner, God cannot bestow
other spiritual blessings upon him ; because by
the law he has pronounced him accursed ; by the
which curse he is also so holden, until a righteous-
ness shall be found upon the sinner, that the law,
and so divine justice can alike approve of, and be
contented with. So, then, as to the justification of
the sinner, there must be a righteousness for God ;
I say, for the sinner, and for God. For the sinner
to be clothed with, and for God to look upon, that
he may, for the sake thereof in a way of justice,
bless the sinner with forgiveness of sins. For forr
giveness of sins is the next thing that followeth
upon the appearance of the sinner before God in
the righteousness of Christ. (Rom. iv, 6, 7.)

Now, upon this forgiveness follows the second
blessing. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse
of the law, being made a curse for us; and so,
consequently, hath obtained for us the forgiveness
of sins ; for he that is delivered from the curse
hath received forgiveness of sins, or rather is made
partaker thereof; now being made a partaker
thereof, the second blessing immediately follows,
to wit, the blessing of Abraham, that is, " the pro-
mise of the Spirit through faith." (Gal. iii. 13, 14.)
But this our Pharisee understandeth not.

But now, although it be of absolute necessity
that imputed righteousness be first to the soul ;
that is, that perfect righteousness be found upon
the sinner first by God, that he may bestow other
blessings in a way of justice ; yet it is not of
absolute necessity that the soul should see this

Let God then put righteousness, the righteous-
ness of his Son upon me ; and by virtue of that,
let the second blessing of God come in to me ; and
by virtue of that, let me be made to see myself a
sinner, and Christ's righteousness, and my need of
it, in the doctrine of it, as it is revealed in the
Scriptures of truth. Let me then believe this
doctrine to be true, and be brought by my belief
to repentance for my sins, to hungering and
thirsting vehemently after this righteousness ; for
this is " the kingdom of God and his righteous-
ness." Yea, let me pray, and cry, and sigh, and
groan day and night to the God of this righteous-
ness, that he will of grace make me a partaker.
And let me thus prostrate before my God, all the
time that in wisdom he shall think fit. And in
his own time he shall show me that I am a justi-
fied person, a pardoned person, a person in whom
the Spirit of God hath dwelt for some time, though
I knew it not.

So, then, justification before God is one thing,
and justification in mine own eyes is another : not
that these are two justifications, but the same
righteousness by which I stand justified before
God, may be seen of God, when I am ignorant of
it ; yea, for the sake of it I may be received, par-
doned, and accounted righteous of him, and yet
I may not understand it. Yea, further, he may
proceed in the way of blessing, to bless me with
additional blessings, and yet I be ignorant of it.

So that the question is not, Do I find that I am
righteous ? But, am I so ? Doth God find me
so, when he seeth that the righteousness of his
Son is upon me, being made over to me by an act
of his grace ? For I am justified freely by his
grace, through the redemption which is in Jesus
Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a propitia-
tion through faith in his blood, to declare his
righteousness for the redemption of sins that are
past, through the forbearance of God. (Rom. iii.
25.) But this our Pharisee understandeth not.

I am then made righteous first, by the right-
eousness of another ; and because I am thus right-
eous, God accepteth of my person as such, and
bestoweth upon me his grace ; the which, at first,
for want of skill and experience in the word of
righteousness, I make use of but poorly, and have
need to be certified that I am made righteous, and
that I have eternal life, (Heb. v. 13 ;) not by faith
first and immediately, but by the written word,
which is called the word of faith ; which word
declareth unto me, to whom grace, and so faith in
the seed of it is given', that I have eternal life ;
and that I should with boldness, in peace and joy,
believe on the Son of God. (Rom. xv. 13. 1 John
v. 13.) But,

Again ; I, in the first acts of my faith, when I
am come at Christ, do not accept of him, because
I know I am righteous, either with imputed right-
eousness, or with that which is inherent: both
these, as to my present privilege in them, may be
hidden from mine eyes, and I only put upon taking
of encouragement to close with Christ for life and
righteousness, as he is set forth to be a propitiation
before mine eyes, in the word of the truth of the
gospel ; to which word I adhere as, or because I
find I want peace with God in my soul, and be-
cause I am convinced that the means of peace is
not to be found any where but in Jesus Christ.
Now, by my thus adhering to him, I find stay for
my soul, and peace to my conscience, because the
word doth ascertain me, that he that believeth on
him hath remission of sins, hath eternal life, and
shall be saved from the wrath to come.

But, alas ! who knows the many straits, and, as
I may say, the stress of weather, I mean the cold
blasts of hell, with which the poor soul is assaulted,
betwixt its receiving of grace and its sensible
closing with Jesus Christ ? None, I dare say, but
it and its fellows. " The heart knoweth his own
bitterness, and a stranger doth not intermeddle
with his joy." (Prov. xiv. 10.) No sooner doth


Satan perceive that God is doing with the soul in
a way of grace and mercy, but he endeavoureth
what he may to make the renewing thereof bitter
and wearisome work to the sinner. Oh what mists,
what mountains, what clouds, what darkness, what
objections, what false apprehensions of God, of
Christ, of grace, of the word, and of the soul's con-
dition, doth he now lay before it, and haunt it
with ; whereby he fighteth, dejecteth, casteth
down, daunteth, distresseth, and almost driveth it
quite into despair. Now, by the reason of these
things, faith, and all the grace that is in the soul,
is hard put to it to come at the promise ; and by
the promise to Christ, as it is said, when the tem-
pest and great danger of shipwreck lay upon the
vessel in which Paul was, they " had much work
to come by the boat." (Acts xxvii. 16.) For
Satan's design is, if he cannot keep the soul from
Christ, to make his coming to him and closing
with him as hard, difficult, and troublesome as he
by his devices can. But faith, true justifying faith,
is a grace that is not weary by all that Satan can
do ; but meditateth upon the word, and taketh
stomach, and courage, fighteth, and crieth, and by
crying and fighting, by help from heaven, its way
is made through all the oppositions that appear so
mighty, and draweth up at last to Jesus Christ,
into whose bosom it putteth the soul, where, for
the time, it sweetly resteth after its marvellous
tossings to and fro.

And besides what hath been said, let me yet
illustrate this truth unto you by this familiar simi-

Suppose a man, a traitor, that by the law should
die for his sin, is yet such an one, that the king
hath exceeding kindness for ; may not the king
pardon this man of his clemency ; yea, order that
his pardon should be drawn up and sealed, and so
in every sense be made sure ; and yet, for the pre-
sent, keep all this close enough from the ears or
the knowledge of the person therein concerned ?
Yea, may not the king after all leave this person,
with others under the same transgression, to sue
for, and obtain this pardon with great expense and
difficulty, with many tears and heart-achings, with
many fears, and dubious cogitations 2

Why, this is the case between God and the soul
that he saveth ; he saveth him, pardoneth him,
and secureth him from the curse and death that to
him is due for sin, but yet doth not tell him so,
but ascends in his great suit unto God for it.
Only this difference we must make in this between
God and the potentates of this world : God cannot
pardon before the sinner stands before him right-
eous by the righteousness of Christ ; because he
has in judgment, and justice, and righteousness
threatened and concluded that he that wants right-
eousness shall die.

And I say again, because this righteousness is
God's, and at God's disposal only ; it is God that
must make a man righteous before he can forgive
him his sins, or bestow upon him of his secondary

blessings ; to wit, his Spirit, and the graces thereof.
And I say again, it must be this righteousness ;
for it can be no other that must justify a sinner
from sin in the sight of God, and from the sentence
of his law. But,

(2.) This is, and must be the way of God with
the sinner, that faith may not only have an object
to work upon, but a motive to work by.

Here, as I said, faith hath an object to work
upon, and that is the person of Christ, and that
personal righteousness of his, which he in the days
of his flesh did finish to justify sinners withal.
This is, I say, the object of faith for justification,
whereunto the soul by it doth continually resort.
Hence David said to Christ, " Be thou my strong
habitation ;" or as you have it in the margin, "Be
thou to me for a rock of habitation, whereunto I
may continually resort." (Ps. Ixxi. 3.) And two
things he inserts by so saying.

The first is, that the Christian is a man under
continual exercises, sometimes one way, and some-
times another ; but all his exercises have a ten-
dency in them more or less to spoil him, if he
deals with them hand to hand ; therefore he is
rather for flying than standing ; for flying to
Christ, than for grappling with them in and by
his own power.

The second is, that Christ is of God provided
to be our shelter as to this very thing. Hence his
name is said to be a strong tower, and that the
righteous run into it and are safe. (Prov. xviii.
10.) That also of David in the 56th Psalm is
very pregnant to this purpose : " Mine enemies,"
saith he, " would daily swallow me up, for they be
many that fight against me, O thou Most High."
And what then ? Why, " What time I am afraid,"
saith he, " I will trust in thee." Thua you see
faith hath an object to work upon to carry the soul
unto, and to secure the soul in, in times of diffi-
culty, and they are almost continually, and that
object is Jesus Christ, and his righteousness.

Again, as faith hath an object to work upon, go
it hath a motive to work by ; and that is the love
of God in giving of Christ to the soul for right-
eousness. Nor is there any profession, religion, or
duty and performance, that is at all* regarded,
where this faith, which by such means can work,
is wanting. " For in Jesus Christ neither circum-
cision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision ; but
faith which worketh by love." (Gal. v. 6.) So he
saith not here, but faith which acteth lovely, or but
faith whose fruit is love, though true faith hath love
for its offspring, but faith which worketh b]j love ;
that is true, saving, justifying faith, as it beholdeth
the righteousness of Christ, as made over to the soul
for justification, so it beholdeth love, love to be the
cause of its so being made over. It beholdeth love in
the Father, in giving of his Son ; and love in the
Son, in giving of himself to be made soul-saving
righteousness for me. And this seeing, it worketh,
or this apprehending, it worketh by it; that is, it



is stirred up to an holy boldness of venturing all
eternal concerns upon Christ, and also to an holy-
endeared affecting love of him for his sweet and
blessed redeeming love. Hence the Apostle saith,
" The love of Christ constraineth us ; because we
thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all
dead : and that he died for all, that they which
live should not henceforth live unto themselves,
but unto him which died for them, and rose again."
(2 Cor. v. 14, 15.)

Thus then is the heart united in affection and
love to the Father and the Son, for the love that
they have showed to the poor sinner, in their thus
delivering him from the wrath to come. Nor doth
this love of God cause that the faith of the poor
man should work by it to him alone : no ; for by
this love faith worketh, in sweet passions and pangs
of love, to all that are thus reconciled, as this sin-
ner seeth he is. The motive, then, whereby faith
worketh, both as to justification and sanctification,
the great motive to them, I say, is love, the love
of God, and the love of Christ : " We love him
because he first loved us." That is, when our
faith hath told us so : for so are the words above,
" We have known and believed the love that God
hath to us." And then, ft We love him because he

Online LibraryJohn BunyanThe entire works of John Bunyan (Volume 2) → online text (page 78 of 122)