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Published by glennpease

" For what saith the Scripture ?' And Abraham believed God,
and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness." — Romans iv. 3.

" For what saith the Scripture ?' And Abraham believed God,
and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness." — Romans iv. 3.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 09, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS BY FAITH.BY SAMUEL COX" For what saith the Scripture ?' And Abraham believed God,and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness." — Romans iv. 3.If the Lord Jesus marvelled at the unbelief of men,we, in our turn, are tempted to marvel at the immenseimportance which the Bible everywhere attaches to faith.And, above all, we marvel to hear that faith is acceptedas a substitute for righteousness. When we read thatAbraham's faith was reckoned to him for righteousness,and, still more, when we hear St. Paul arguing that inevery case " to him that worketh not, but believeth inhim that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned forrighteousness," we are apt to think that " good works "are made light of, that morality is endangered or even' The Scripture referred to by St. Paul is, of course. GenesisXV. 6, where we read, " And he believed in the Lord, and it wasreckoned unto him for righteousness." But for us the questionmay have a wider scope ; for not only in the Book of Genesis andin the Epistle to the Romans, but also in Galatians (iii. 6) and inJames (ii. 23) we find the identical words of the text, " Abrahambelieved God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness ! "2 1 2 THE RIGHTEO US NESS WHICH IS BY FA ITHundermined. Such a doctrine, it is said, abolishes theimmutable distinctions of right and wrong. If the un-godly are to be accounted righteous simply becausethey believe certain facts or truths, what profit hathgodliness ? and why should we brace ourselves to astedfast, arduous, and painful endeavour to lift our livesinto correspondence with the will of God ?
No doubt the objection is often taken, in the interestsof morality and godliness, by those who are not at allremarkable for the godliness, or even for the pure andhigh morality of their lives. None the less it is a weightyobjection, whether the lips that frame it be pure or im-pure. It sets forth a real and grave difficulty, a difficultywhich at some time and in some form, can hardly havefailed to burden and perplex our thoughts. Let uslook it fairly in the face, then, and see whether we canfind an answer to it that shall be satisfactory and com-plete.At the outset I must frankly admit that the doctrineof "justification by faith," or of "imputed righteous-ness," has often been stated in forms repugnant to humanreason and fatal to morality. Some theologians, indeed,have avowedly made it their aim so to formulate mostof the great truths of Religion as to "shock human reasonand humble human pride." And, no doubt, theologiansof this school have spoken of imputing the sins of thebeliever to Christ, and of imputing the righteousness of Christ to the believer, in terms injurious alike to Godand man. In their hands it has sunk into a legal, butinequitable, transaction — a transaction in which the letterTHE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS BY FAITH. 213of the Divine Law is used to evade, rather than to fulfil,its spirit. Just as an unscrupulous lawyer or politicianhas sometimes boasted that he could " drive a coach andfour " through an Act of Parliament intended for therestraint and punishment of crime, so even the pure andholy Son of God has been represented, by his professedfriends and advocates, as driving his coach, with all theelect crowded upon it inside or out, through the barriers
which Almighty Justice had erected against the sinfuland disobedient.No weight of authority, scriptural or ecclesiastical,can uphold such dogmas as this. The human conscienceinstinctively rejects them. Insulted reason spurns them.If no more rational account can be given of the affirma-tion of Scripture, that faith is reckoned for righteousness,so much the worse for Scripture ; for that cannot be thevoice of God which teaches a lie : and how can any manbe saved by the mere "imputation" of a goodness whichhe does not share .-* How can any man be really savedfrom evil except by being made good — good at heart,good in life ?Nor is this si.mply a question of theology and of theSchools. If it were, we might well pass it by. It isa question that comes down into the streets, into ourpractical life, and confronts us as we go about our dailybusiness. For which of us, even though it present nodifficulty to him, has not met with those to whom thisapparent confusion of faith with righteousness has beena very real and grave perplexity .'' Which of us hasnot seen it urged in Sceptical or Infidel writings as a214 THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS BY FAITH.well-nigh insurmountable objection to the Christiancreed ?I. Now in attempting to meet this objection, we shalldo well to begin, indeed we can hardly but begin, withthe call of Abraham ; for Abraham's is the premiercase in both senses of the word ; it is the first of which we have any record, and it is also of the firstimportance.In the Book of Genesis, then, we are told that Jehovah

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