Calvin, Institutes, Vol.3, Part 12
(... continued from part 11)
Chapter 11. 
11. Of justification by Faith. Both the name and the reality 
    In this chapter and the seven which follow, the doctrine of 
Justification by Faith is expounded, and opposite errors refuted. 
The following may be regarded as the arrangement of these chapters: 
- Chapter 11 states the doctrine, and the four subsequent chapters, 
by destroying the righteousness of works, confirm the righteousness 
of faith, each in the order which appears in the respective titles 
of these chapters. In Chapter 12 the doctrine of Justification is 
confirmed by a description of perfect righteousness; in Chapter 13 
by calling attention to two precautions; in Chapter 14 by a 
consideration of the commencement and progress of regeneration in 
the regenerate; and in Chapter 15 by two very pernicious effects 
which constantly accompany the righteousness of works. The three 
other chapters are devoted to refutation; Chapter 16 disposes of the 
objections of opponents; Chapter 17 replies to the arguments drawn 
from the promises of the Law or the Gospel; Chapter 18 refutes what 
is said in support of the righteousness of faith from the promise of 
    There are three principal divisions in the Eleventh Chapter. I. 
The terms used in this discussion are explained, sec. 1-4. II. 
Osiander's dream as to essential righteousness impugned, sec. 5-13. 
III. The righteousness of faith established in opposition to the 
righteousness of works. 
1. Connection between the doctrine of Justification and that of 
    Regeneration. The knowledge of this doctrine very necessary for 
    two reasons. 
2. For the purpose of facilitating the exposition of it, the terms 
    are explained. 1. What it is to be justified in the sight of 
    God. 2. To be justified by works. 3. To be justified by faith. 
3. Various meanings of the term Justification. 1. To give praise to 
    God and truth. 2. To make a vain display of righteousness. 3. 
    To impute righteousness by faith, by and on account of Christ. 
    Confirmation from an expression of Paul, and another of our 
4. Another confirmation from a comparison with other expressions, in 
    which justification means free righteousness before God through 
    faith in Jesus Christ. 1. Acceptance. 2. Imputation of 
    righteousness. 3. Remission of sins. 4. Blessedness. 5. 
    Reconciliation with God. 6. Righteousness by the obedience of 
5. The second part of the chapter. Osiander's dream as to essential 
    righteousness refuted. 1. Osiander's argument: Answer. 2. 
    Osiander's second argument: Answer. Third argument: Answer. 
6. necessity of this refutation. Fourth argument: Answer. 
    Confirmation: Another answer. Fifth and sixth arguments and 
7. Seventh and eighth arguments. 
8. Ninth argument: Answer. 
9. Tenth argument: Answer. 
10. In what sense Christ is said to be our righteousness. Eleventh 
    and twelfth arguments and answers. 
11. Thirteenth and fourteenth arguments: Answers. An exception by 
    Osiander. Imputed and begun righteousness to be distinguished. 
    Osiander confounds them. Fifteenth argument: Answer. 
lo. Sixteenth argument, a dream of Osiander: Answer. Other four 
    arguments and answers. Conclusion of the refutation of 
    Osiander's errors. 
13. Last part of the chapter. Refutation of the Sophists pretending 
    a righteousness compounded partly of faith and partly of works. 
14. Sophistical evasion by giving the same name to different things: 
    Two answers. 
15. Second evasion: Two answers. First answer. Pernicious 
    consequences resulting from this evasion. 
16. Second answer, showing wherein, according to Scripture, 
    Justification consists. 
17. In explanation of this doctrine of Justification, two passages 
    of Scripture produced. 
18. Another passage of Scripture. 
19. Third evasion. Papistical objection to the doctrine of 
    Justification by Faith alone: Three answers. Fourth evasion: 
    Three answers. 
20. Fifth evasion, founded on the application of the term 
    Righteousness to good works, and also on their reward: Answer, 
    confirmed by the invincible argument of Paul. Sixth evasion: 
21. Osiander and the Sophists being thus refuted, the accuracy of 
    the definition of Justification by Faith established. 
22. Definition confirmed. 1. By passages of Scripture. 2. By the 
    writings of the ancient Fathers. 
23. Man justified by faith, not because by it he obtains the Spirit, 
    and is thus made righteous, but because by faith he lays hold 
    of the righteousness of Christ. An objection removed. An 
    example of the doctrine of Justification by Faith from the 
    works of Ambrose. 
    1. I trust I have now sufficiently shown how man's only 
resource for escaping from the curse of the law, and recovering 
salvation, lies in faith; and also what the nature of faith is, what 
the benefits which it confers, and the fruits which it produces. The 
whole may be thus summed up: Christ given to us by the kindness of 
God is apprehended and possessed by faith, by means of which we 
obtain in particular a twofold benefit; first, being reconciled by 
the righteousness of Christ, God becomes, instead of a judge, an 
indulgent Father; and, secondly, being sanctified by his Spirit, we 
aspire to integrity and purity of life. This second benefit, viz., 
regeneration, appears to have been already sufficiently discussed. 
On the other hand, the subject of justification was discussed more 
cursorily, because it seemed of more consequence first to explain 
that the faith by which alone, through the mercy of God, we obtain 
free justification, is not destitute of good works; and also to show 
the true nature of these good works on which this question partly 
turns. The doctrine of Justification is now to be fully discussed, 
and discussed under the conviction, that as it is the principal 
ground on which religion must be supported, so it requires greater 
care and attention. For unless you understand first of all what your 
position is before God, and what the judgment which he passes upon 
you, you have no foundation on which your salvation can be laid, or 
on which piety towards God can be reared. The necessity of 
thoroughly understanding this subject will become more apparent as 
we proceed with it. 
    2. Lest we should stumble at the very threshold, (this we 
should do were we to begin the discussion without knowing what the 
subject is,) let us first explain the meaning of the expressions, To 
be justified in the sight of God, to be Justified by faith or by 
works. A man is said to be justified in the sight of God when in the 
judgment of God he is deemed righteous, and is accepted on account 
of his righteousness; for as iniquity is abominable to God, so 
neither can the sinner find grace in his sight, so far as he is and 
so long as he is regarded as a sinner. Hence, wherever sin is, there 
also are the wrath and vengeance of God. He, on the other hand, is 
justified who is regarded not as a sinner, but as righteous, and as 
such stands acquitted at the judgment-seat of God, where all sinners 
are condemned. As an innocent man, when charged before an impartial 
judge, who decides according to his innocence, is said to be 
justified by the judge, as a man is said to be justified by God 
when, removed from the catalogue of sinners, he has God as the 
witness and assertor of his righteousness. In the same manner, a man 
will be said to be justified by works, if in his life there can be 
found a purity and holiness which merits an attestation of 
righteousness at the throne of God, or if by the perfection of his 
works he can answer and satisfy the divine justice. On the contrary, 
a man will be justified by faith when, excluded from the 
righteousness of works, he by faith lays hold of the righteousness 
of Christ, and clothed in it appears in the sight of God not as a 
sinner, but as righteous. Thus we simply interpret justification, as 
the acceptance with which God receives us into his favor as if we 
were righteous; and we say that this justification consists in the 
forgiveness of sins and the imputation of the righteousness of 
Christ, (see sec. 21 and 23.) 
    3. In confirmation of this there are many clear passages of 
Scripture. First, it cannot be denied that this is the proper and 
most usual signification of the term. But as it were too tedious to 
collect all the passages, and compare them with each other, let it 
suffice to have called the reader's attention to the fact: he will 
easily convince himself of its truth. I will only mention a few 
passages in which the justification of which we speak is expressly 
handled. First, when Luke relates that all the people that heard 
Christ "justified God," (Luke 7: 29,) and when Christ declares, that 
"Wisdom is justified of all her children," (Luke 7: 35,) Luke means 
not that they conferred righteousness which always dwells in 
perfection with God, although the whole world should attempt to 
wrest it from him, nor does Christ mean that the doctrine of 
salvation is made just: this it is in its own nature; but both modes 
of expression are equivalent to attributing due praise to God and 
his doctrine. On the other hand, when Christ upbraids the Pharisees 
for justifying themselves, (Luke 16: 15,) he means not that they 
acquired righteousness by acting properly, but that they ambitiously 
courted a reputation for righteousness of which they were destitute. 
Those acquainted with Hebrew understand the meaning better: for in 
that language the name of wicked is given not only to those who are 
conscious of wickedness, but to those who receive sentence of 
condemnation. Thus, when Bathsheba says, "I and my son Solomon shall 
be counted offenders," she does not acknowledge a crime, but 
complains that she and her son will be exposed to the disgrace of 
being numbered among reprobates and criminals, (1 Kings 1: 21.) It 
is, indeed, plain from the context, that the term even in Latin must 
be thus understood, viz., relatively, and does not denote any 
quality. In regard to the use of the term with reference to the 
present subject, when Paul speaks of the Scripture, "foreseeing that 
God would justify the heathen through faith," (Gal. 3: 8,) what 
other meaning can you give it than that God imputes righteousness by 
faith? Again, when he says, "that he (God) might be just, and the 
justifier of him who believeth in Jesus," (Rom. 3: 26,) what can the 
meaning be, if not that God, in consideration of their faith, frees 
them from the condemnation which their wickedness deserves? This 
appears still more plainly at the conclusion, when he exclaims, "Who 
shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that 
justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea 
rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, 
who also maketh intercession for us, (Rom. 8: 33, 34.) For it is 
just as if he had said, Who shall accuse those whom God has 
acquitted? Who shall condemn those for whom Christ pleads? To 
justify therefore, is nothing else than to acquit from the charge of 
guilt, as if innocence were proved. Hence, when God justifies us 
through the intercession of Christ, he does not acquit us on a proof 
of our own innocence, but by an imputation of righteousness, so that 
though not righteous in ourselves, we are deemed righteous in 
Christ. Thus it is said, in Paul's discourse in the Acts, "Through 
this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him 
all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could 
not be justified by the law of Moses," (Acts 13: 38, 39.) You see 
that after remission of sins justification is set down by way of 
explanation; you see plainly that it is used for acquittal; you see 
how it cannot be obtained by the works of the law; you see that it 
is entirely through the interposition of Christ; you see that it is 
obtained by faith; you see, in fine, that satisfaction intervenes, 
since it is said that we are justified from our sins by Christ. Thus 
when the publican is said to have gone down to his house 
"justified," (Luke 18: 14,) it cannot be held that he obtained this 
justification by any merit of works. All that is said is, that after 
obtaining the pardon of sins he was regarded in the sight of God as 
righteous. He was justified, therefore, not by any approval of 
works, but by gratuitous acquittal on the part of God. Hence Ambrose 
elegantly terms confession of sins "legal justification," (Ambrose 
on Psalm 118 Serm. 10). 
    4. Without saying more about the term, we shall have no doubt 
as to the thing meant if we attend to the description which is given 
of it. For Paul certainly designates justification by the term 
acceptance, when he says to the Ephesians, "Having predestinated us 
unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according 
to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his 
grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the Beloved," (Eph. 1: 5, 
6.) His meaning is the very same as where he elsewhere says, "being 
justified freely by his grace," (Rom. 3: 24.) In the fourth chapter 
of the Epistle to the Romans, he first terms it the imputation of 
righteousness, and hesitates not to place it in forgiveness of sins: 
"Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom 
God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they 
whose iniquities are forgiven," &c., (Rom. 4: 6-8.) There, indeed, 
he is not speaking of a part of justification, but of the whole. He 
declares, moreover, that a definition of it was given by David, when 
he pronounced him blessed who has obtained the free pardon of his 
sins. Whence it appears that this righteousness of which he speaks 
is simply opposed to judicial guilt. But the most satisfactory 
passage on this subject is that in which he declares the sum of the 
Gospel message to be reconciliation to God, who is pleased, through 
Christ, to receive us into favor by not imputing our sins, (2 Cor. 
5: 18-21.) Let my readers carefully weigh the whole context. For 
Paul shortly after adding, by way of explanation, in order to 
designate the mode of reconciliation, that Christ who knew no sin 
was made sin for us, undoubtedly understands by reconciliation 
nothing else than justification. Nor, indeed, could it be said, as 
he elsewhere does, that we are made righteous "by the obedience" of 
Christ, (Rom. 5: 19,) were it not that we are deemed righteous in 
the sight of God in him and not in ourselves. 
    5. But as Osiander has introduced a kind of monstrosity termed 
essential righteousness, by which, although he designed not to 
abolish free righteousness, he involves it in darkness, and by that 
darkness deprives pious minds of a serious sense of divine grace; 
before I pass to other matters, it may be proper to refute this 
delirious dream. And, first, the whole speculation is mere empty 
curiosity. He indeed, heaps together many passages of scripture 
showing that Christ is one with us, and we likewise one with him, a 
point which needs no proof; but he entangles himself by not 
attending to the bond of this unity. The explanation of all 
difficulties is easy to us, who hold that we are united to Christ by 
the secret agency of his Spirit, but he had formed some idea akin to 
that of the Manichees, desiring to transfuse the divine essence into 
men. Hence his other notion, that Adam was formed in the image of 
God, because even before the fall Christ was destined to be the 
model of human nature. But as I study brevity, I will confine myself 
to the matter in hand. He says, that we are one with Christ. This we 
admit, but still we deny that the essence of Christ is confounded 
with ours. Then we say that he absurdly endeavors to support his 
delusions by means of this principle: that Christ is our 
righteousness, because he is the eternal God, the fountain of 
righteousness, the very righteousness of God. My readers will pardon 
me for now only touching on matters which method requires me to 
defer to another place. But although he pretends that, by the term 
essential righteousness, he merely means to oppose the sentiment 
that we are reputed righteous on account of Christ, he however 
clearly shows, that not contented with that righteousness, which was 
procured for us by the obedience and sacrificial death of Christ, he 
maintains that we are substantially righteous in God by an infused 
essence as well as quality. For this is the reason why he so 
vehemently contends that not only Christ but the Father and the 
Spirit dwell in us. The fact I admit to be true, but still I 
maintain it is wrested by him. He ought to have attended to the mode 
of dwelling, viz., that the Father and the Spirit are in Christ; and 
as in him the fulness of the Godhead dwells, so in him we possess 
God entire. Hence, whatever he says separately concerning the Father 
and the Spirit, has no other tendency than to lead away the simple 
from Christ. Then he introduces a substantial mixture, by which God, 
transfusing himself into us, makes us as it were a part of himself. 
Our being made one with Christ by the agency of the Spirit, he being 
the head and we the members, he regards as almost nothing unless his 
essence is mingled with us. But, as I have said, in the case of the 
Father and the Spirit, he more clearly betrays his views, namely, 
that we are not justified by the mere grace of the Mediator, and 
that righteousness is not simply or entirely offered to us in his 
person, but that we are made partakers of divine righteousness when 
God is essentially united to us. 
    6. Had he only said, that Christ by justifying us becomes ours 
by an essential union, and that he is our head not only in so far as 
he is man, but that as the essence of the divine nature is diffused 
into us, he might indulge his dreams with less harm, and, perhaps, 
it were less necessary to contest the matter with him; but since 
this principle is like a cuttle-fish, which, by the ejection of dark 
and inky blood, conceals its many tails, if we would not knowingly 
and willingly allow ourselves to be robbed of that righteousness 
which alone gives us full assurance of our salvation, we must 
strenuously resist. For, in the whole of this discussion, the noun 
righteousness and the verb to justify, are extended by Osiander to 
two parts; to be justified being not only to be reconciled to God by 
a free pardon, but also to be made just; and righteousness being not 
a free imputation, but the holiness and integrity which the divine 
essence dwelling in us inspires. And he vehemently asserts (see sec. 
8) that Christ is himself our righteousness, not in so far as he, by 
expiating sins, appeased the Father, but because he is the eternal 
God and life. To prove the first point, viz., that God justifies not 
only by pardoning but by regenerating, he asks, whether he leaves 
those whom he justifies as they were by nature, making no change 
upon their vices? The answer is very easy: as Christ cannot be 
divided into parts, so the two things, justification and 
sanctification, which we perceive to be united together in him, are 
inseparable. Whomsoever, therefore, God receives into his favor, he 
presents with the Spirit of adoption, whose agency forms them anew 
into his image. But if the brightness of the sun cannot be separated 
from its heat, are we therefore to say, that the earth is warmed by 
light and illumined by heat? Nothing can be more apposite to the 
matter in hand than this simile. The sun by its heat quickens and 
fertilizes the earth; by its rays enlightens and illumines it. Here 
is a mutual and undivided connection, and yet reason itself 
prohibits us from transferring the peculiar properties of the one to 
the other. In the confusion of a twofold grace, which Osiander 
obtrudes upon us, there is a similar absurdity. Because those whom 
God freely regards as righteous, he in fact renews to the 
cultivation of righteousness, Osiander confounds that free 
acceptance with this gift of regeneration, and contends that they 
are one and the same. But Scriptures while combining both, classes 
them separately, that it may the better display the manifold grace 
of God. Nor is Paul's statement superfluous, that Christ is made 
unto us "righteousness and sanctification," (1 Cor. 1: 30.) And 
whenever he argues from the salvation procured for us, from the 
paternal love of God and the grace of Christ, that we are called to 
purity and holiness, he plainly intimates, that to be justified is 
something else than to be made new creatures. Osiander on coming to 
Scripture corrupts every passage which he quotes. Thus when Paul 
says, "to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth 
the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness," he expounds 
justifying as making just. With the same rashness he perverts the 
whole of the fourth chapter to the Romans. He hesitates not to give 
a similar gloss to the passage which I lately quoted, "Who shall lay 
any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth." 
Here it is plain that guilt and acquittal simply are considered, and 
that the Apostle's meaning depends on the antithesis. Therefore his 
futility is detected both in his argument and his quotations for 
support from Scripture. He is not a whit sounder in discussing the 
term righteousness, when it is said, that faith was imputed to 
Abraham for righteousness after he had embraced Christ, (who is the 
righteousness of Gad and God himself) and was distinguished by 
excellent virtues. Hence it appears that two things which are 
perfect are viciously converted by him into one which is corrupt. 
For the righteousness which is there mentioned pertains not to the 
whole course of life; or rather, the Spirit testifies, that though 
Abraham greatly excelled in virtue, and by long perseverance in it 
had made so much progress, the only way in which he pleased God was 
by receiving the grace which was offered by the promise, in faith. 
From this it follows, that, as Paul justly maintains, there is no 
room for works in justification. 
    7. When he objects that the power of justifying exists not in 
faith, considered in itself, but only as receiving Christ, I 
willingly admit it. For did faith justify of itself, or (as it is 
expressed) by its own intrinsic virtue, as it is always weak and 
imperfect, its efficacy would be partial, and thus our righteousness 
being maimed would give us only a portion of salvation. We indeed 
imagine nothing of the kind, but say, that, properly speaking, God 
alone justifies. The same thing we likewise transfer to Christ, 
because he was given to us for righteousness; while we compare faith 
to a kind of vessel, because we are incapable of receiving Christ, 
unless we are emptied and come with open mouth to receive his grace. 
Hence it follows, that we do not withdraw the power of justifying 
from Christ, when we hold that, previous to his righteousness, he 
himself is received by faith. Still, however, I admit not the 
tortuous figure of the sophist, that faith is Christ; as if a vessel 
of clay were a treasure, because gold is deposited in it. And yet 
this is no reason why faith, though in itself of no dignity or 
value, should not justify us by giving Christ; Just as such a vessel 
filled with coin may give wealth. I say, therefore, that faith, 
which is only the instrument for receiving justification, is 
ignorantly confounded with Christ, who is the material cause, as 
well as the author and minister of this great blessing. This 
disposes of the difficulty, viz., how the term faith is to be 
understood when treating of justification. 
    8. Osiander goes still farther in regard to the mode of 
receiving Christ, holding, that by the ministry of the external word 
the internal word is received; that he may thus lead us away from 
the priesthood of Christ, and his office of Mediator, to his eternal 
divinity. We, indeed, do not divide Christ, but hold that he who, 
reconciling us to God in his flesh, bestowed righteousness upon us, 
is the eternal Word of God; and that he could not perform the office 
of Mediator, nor acquire righteousness for us, if he were not the 
eternal God. Osiander will have it, that as Christ is God and man, 
he was made our righteousness in respect not of his human but of his 
divine nature. But if this is a peculiar property of the Godhead, it 
will not be peculiar to Christ, but common to him with the Father 
and the Spirit, since their righteousness is one and the same. Thus 
it would be incongruous to say, that that which existed naturally 
from eternity was made ours. But granting that God was made unto us 
righteousness, what are we to make of Paul's interposed statement, 
that he was so made by God? This certainly is peculiar to the office 
of mediator, for although he contains in himself the divine nature, 
yet he receives his own proper title, that he may be distinguished 
from the Father and the Spirit. But he makes a ridiculous boast of a 
single passage of Jeremiah, in which it is said, that Jehovah will 
be our righteousness, (Jer. 23: 6; 33: 16.) But all he can extract 
from this is, that Christ, who is our righteousness, was God 
manifest in the flesh. We have elsewhere quoted from Paul's 
discourse, that God purchased the Church with his own blood, (Acts 
20: 28.) Were any one to infer from this that the blood by which 
sins were expiated was divine, and of a divine nature, who could 
endure so foul a heresy? But Osiander, thinking that he has gained 
the whole cause by this childish cavil, swells, exults, and stuffs 
whole pages with his bombast, whereas the solution is simple and 
obvious, viz., that Jehovah, when made of the seed of David, was 
indeed to be the righteousness of believers, but in what sense 
Isaiah declares, "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant 
justify many," (Isa. 53: 11.) Let us observe that it is the Father 
who speaks. He attributes the office of justifying to the Son, and 
adds the reason, - because he is "righteous." He places the method, 
or medium, (as it is called,) in the doctrine by which Christ is 
known. For the word "da'at" is more properly to be understood in a 
passive sense. Hence I infer, first, that Christ was made 
righteousness when he assumed the form of a servant; secondly, that 
he justified us by his obedience to the Father; and, accordingly 
that he does not perform this for us in respect of his divine 
nature, but according to the nature of the dispensation laid upon 
him. For though God alone is the fountain of righteousness, and the 
only way in which we are righteous is by participation with him, 
yet, as by our unhappy revolt we are alienated from his 
righteousness, it is necessary to descend to this lower remedy, that 
Christ may justify us by the power of his death and resurrection. 
    9. If he objects that this work by its excellence transcends 
human, and therefore can only be ascribed to the divine nature; I 
concede the former point, but maintain, that on the latter he is 
ignorantly deluded. For although Christ could neither purify our 
souls by his own blood, nor appease the Father by his sacrifice, nor 
acquit us from the charge of guilt, nor, in short, perform the 
office of priest, unless he had been very God, because no human 
ability was equal to such a burden, it is however certain, that he 
performed all these things in his human nature. If it is asked, in 
what way we are justified? Paul answers, by the obedience of Christ. 
Did he obey in any other way than by assuming the form of a servant? 
We infer, therefore, that righteousness was manifested to us in his 
flesh. In like manner, in another passage, (which I greatly wonder 
that Osiander does not blush repeatedly to quote,) he places the 
fountain of righteousness entirely in the incarnation of Christ, "He 
has made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made 
the righteousness of God in him," (2 Cor. 5: 21.) Osiander in turgid 
sentences lays hold of the expression, righteousness of God, and 
shouts victory! as if he had proved it to be his own phantom of 
essential righteousness, though the words have a very different 
meaning, viz., that we are justified through the expiation made by 
Christ. That the righteousness of God is used for the righteousness 
which is approved by God, should be known to mere tyros, as in John, 
the praise of God is contrasted with the praise of men, (John 12: 
43.) I know that by the righteousness of God is sometimes meant that 
of which God is the author, and which he bestows upon us; but that 
here the only thing meant is, that being supported by the expiation 
of Christ, we are able to stand at the tribunal of God, sound 
readers perceive without any observation of mine. The word is not of 
so much importance, provided Osiander agrees with us in this, that 
we are justified by Christ in respect he was made an expiatory 
victim for us. This he could not be in his divine nature. For which 
reason also, when Christ would seal the righteousness and salvation 
which he brought to us, he holds forth the sure pledge of it in his 
flesh. He indeed calls himself "living bread," but, in explanation 
of the mode, adds, "my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink 
indeed," (John 6: 55.) The same doctrine is clearly seen in the 
sacraments; which, though they direct our faith to the whole, not to 
a part of Christ, yet, at the same time, declare that the materials 
of righteousness and salvation reside in his flesh; not that the 
mere man of himself justifies or quickens, but that God was pleased, 
by means of a Mediator, to manifest his own hidden and 
incomprehensible nature. Hence I often repeat, that Christ has been 
in a manner set before us as a fountain, whence we may draw what 
would otherwise lie without use in that deep and hidden abyss which 
streams forth to us in the person of the Mediator. In this way, and 
in this meaning, I deny not that Christ, as he is God and man, 
justifies us; that this work is common also to the Father and the 
Holy Spirit; in fine, that the righteousness of which God makes us 
partakers is the eternal righteousness of the eternal God, provided 
effect is given to the clear and valid reasons to which I have 
    10. Moreover, lest by his cavils he deceive the unwary, I 
acknowledge that we are devoid of this incomparable gift until 
Christ become ours. Therefore, to that union of the head and 
members, the residence of Christ in our hearts, in fine, the 
mystical union, we assign the highest rank, Christ when he becomes 
ours making us partners with him in the gifts with which he was 
endued. Hence we do not view him as at a distance and without us, 
but as we have put him on, and been ingrafted into his body, he 
deigns to make us one with himself, and, therefore, we glory in 
having a fellowship of righteousness with him. This disposes of 
Osiander's calumny, that we regard faith as righteousness; as if we 
were robbing Christ of his rights when we say, that, destitute in 
ourselves, we draw near to him by faith, to make way for his grace, 
that he alone may fill us. But Osiander, spurning this spiritual 
union, insists on a gross mixture of Christ with believers; and, 
accordingly, to excite prejudice, gives the name of Zwinglians to 
all who subscribe not to his fanatical heresy of essential 
righteousness, because they do not hold that, in the supper, Christ 
is eaten substantially. For my part, I count it the highest honor to 
be thus assailed by a haughty man, devoted to his own impostures; 
though he assails not me only, but writers of known reputation 
throughout the world, and whom it became him modestly to venerate. 
This, however, does not concern me, as I plead not my own cause, and 
plead the more sincerely that I am free from every sinister feeling. 
In insisting so vehemently on essential righteousness, and an 
essential inhabitation of Christ within us, his meaning is, first, 
that God by a gross mixture transfuses himself into us, as he 
pretends that there is a carnal eating in the supper; And, secondly 
that by instilling his own righteousness into us, he makes us really 
righteous with himself since, according to him, this righteousness 
is as well God himself as the probity, or holiness, or integrity of 
God. I will not spend much time in disposing of the passages of 
Scripture which he adduces, and which, though used in reference to 
the heavenly life, he wrests to our present state. Peter says, that 
through the knowledge of Christ "are given unto us exceeding great 
and precious promises, that by them ye might be partakers of the 
divine nature," (2 Pet. 1: 4;) as if we now were what the gospel 
promises we shall be at the final advent of Christ; nay, John 
reminds us, that "when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we 
shall see him as he is", (1 John 3: 2.) I only wished to give my 
readers a slender specimen of Osiander, it being my intention to 
decline the discussion of his frivolities, not because there is any 
difficulty in disposing of them, but because I am unwilling to annoy 
the reader with superfluous labour. 
    11. But more poison lurks in the second branch, when he says 
that we are righteous together with God. I think I have already 
sufficiently proved, that although the dogma were not so 
pestiferous, yet because it is frigid and jejune, and falls by its 
own vanity, it must justly be disrelished by all sound and pious 
readers. But it is impossible to tolerate the impiety which, under 
the pretence of a twofold righteousness, undermines our assurance of 
salvation, and hurrying us into the clouds, tries to prevent us from 
embracing the gift of expiation in faith, and invoking God with 
quiet minds. Osiander derides us for teaching, that to be justified 
is a forensic term, because it behaves us to be in reality just: 
there is nothing also to which he is more opposed than the idea of 
our being justified by a free imputation. Say, then, if God does not 
justify us by acquitting and pardoning, what does Paul mean when he 
says "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not 
imputing their trespasses unto them"? "He made him to be sin for us 
who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in 
him," (2 Cor. 5: 19, 21.) Here I learn, first, that those who are 
reconciled to God are regarded as righteous: then the method is 
stated, God justifies by pardoning; and hence, in another place, 
justification is opposed to accusation, (Rom. 8: 33;) this 
antithesis clearly demonstrating that the mode of expression is 
derived from forensic use. And, indeed, no man, moderately verdant 
in the Hebrew tongue, (provided he is also of sedate brain,) is 
ignorant that this phrase thus took its rise, and thereafter derived 
its tendency and force. Now, then, when Paul says that David 
"describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth 
righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose 
iniquities are forgiven," (Rom. 4: 6, 7; Ps. 32: 1,) let Osiander 
say whether this is a complete or only a partial definition. He 
certainly does not adduce the Psalmist as a witness that pardon of 
sins is a part of righteousness, or concurs with something else in 
justifying, but he includes the whole of righteousness in gratuitous 
forgiveness, declaring those to be blessed "whose iniquities are 
forgiven, and whose sins are covered," and "to whom the Lord will 
not impute sin." He estimates and judges of his happiness from this 
that in this way he is righteous not in reality, but by imputation. 
    Osiander objects that it would be insulting to God, and 
contrary to his nature, to justify those who still remain wicked. 
But it ought to be remembered, as I already observed, that the gift 
of justification is not separated from regeneration, though the two 
things are distinct. But as it is too well known by experience, that 
the remains of sin always exist in the righteous, it is necessary 
that justification should be something very different from 
reformation to newness of life. This latter God begins in his elect, 
and carries on during the whole course of life, gradually and 
sometimes slowly, so that if placed at his judgment-seat they would 
always deserve sentence of death. He justifies not partially, but 
freely, so that they can appear in the heavens as if clothed with 
the purity of Christ. No portion of righteousness could pacify the 
conscience. It must be decided that we are pleasing to God, as being 
without exception righteous in his sight. Hence it follows that the 
doctrine of justification is perverted and completely overthrown 
whenever doubt is instilled into the mind, confidence in salvation 
is shaken, and free and intrepid prayer is retarded; yea, whenever 
rest and tranquillity with spiritual joy are not established. Hence 
Paul argues against objectors, that "if the inheritance be of the 
law, it is no more of promise," (Gal. 3: 18.) that in this way faith 
would be made vain; for if respect be had to works it fails, the 
holiest of men in that case finding nothing in which they can 
confide. This distinction between justification and regeneration 
(Osiander confounding the two, calls them a twofold righteousness) 
is admirably expressed by Paul. Speaking of his real righteousness, 
or the integrity bestowed upon him, (which Osiander terms his 
essential righteousness,) he mournfully exclaims, "O wretched man 
that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom. 
7: 24;) but retaking himself to the righteousness which is founded 
solely on the mercy of God, he breaks forth thus magnificently into 
the language of triumph: "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of 
God's elect? It is God that justifieth." "Who shall separate us from 
the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, 
or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" (Rom. 8: 33, 35.) He 
clearly declares that the only righteousness for him is that which 
alone suffices for complete salvation in the presence of God, so 
that that miserable bondage, the consciousness of which made him a 
little before lament his lot, derogates not from his confidence, and 
is no obstacle in his way. This diversity is well known, and indeed 
is familiar to all the saints who groan under the burden of sin, and 
yet with victorious assurance rise above all fears. Osiander's 
objection as to its being inconsistent with the nature of God, falls 
back upon himself; for though he clothes the saints with a twofold 
righteousness as with a coat of skins, he is, however, forced to 
admit, that without forgiveness no man is pleasing to God. If this 
be so, let him at least admit, that with reference to what is called 
the proportion of imputation, those are regarded as righteous who 
are not so in reality. But how far shall the sinner extend this 
gratuitous acceptance, which is substituted in the room of 
righteousness? Will it amount to the whole pound, or will it be only 
an ounce? He will remain in doubt, vibrating to this side and to 
that, because he will be unable to assume to himself as much 
righteousness as will be necessary to give confidence. It is well 
that he who would prescribe a law to God is not the judge in this 
cause. But this saying will ever stand true, "That thou mightest be 
justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judges," (Ps. 
51: 4.) What arrogance to condemn the Supreme Judge when he acquits 
freely, and try to prevent the response from taking affect: "I will 
have mercy on whom I will have mercy." And yet the intercession of 
Moses, which God calmed by this answer, was not for pardon to some 
individual, but to all alike, by wiping away the guilt to which all 
were liable. And we, indeed, say, that the lost are justified before 
God by the burial of their sins; for (as he hates sin) he can only 
love those whom he justifies. But herein is the wondrous method of 
justification, that, clothed with the righteousness of Christ, they 
dread not the judgment of which they are worthy, and while they 
justly condemn themselves, are yet deemed righteous out of 
    12. I must admonish the reader carefully to attend to the 
mystery which he boasts he is unwilling to conceal from them. For 
after contending with great prolixity that we do not obtain favor 
with God through the mere imputation of the righteousness of Christ, 
because (to use his own words) it were impossible for God to hold 
those as righteous who are not so, he at length concludes that 
Christ was given to us for righteousness, in respect not of his 
human, but of his divine nature; and though this can only be found 
in the person of the Mediator, it is, however, the righteousness not 
of man, but of God. He does not now twist his rope of two 
righteousnesses, but plainly deprives the human nature of Christ of 
the office of justifying. It is worth while to understand what the 
nature of his argument is. It is said in the same passage that 
Christ is made unto us wisdom, (1 Cor. 1: 30;) but this is true only 
of the eternal Word, and, therefore, it is not the man Christ that 
is made righteousness. I answer, that the only begotten Son of God 
was indeed his eternal wisdom, but that this title is applied to him 
by Paul in a different way, viz., because "in him are hid all the 
treasures of wisdom and righteousness," (Col. 2: 3.) That, 
therefore, which he had with the Father he manifested to us; and 
thus Paul's expression refers not to the essence of the Son of God, 
but to our use, and is fitly applied to the human nature of Christ; 
for although the light shone in darkness before he was clothed with 
flesh, yet he was a hidden light until he appeared in human nature 
as the Sun of Righteousness, and hence he calls himself the light of 
the world. It is also foolishly objected by Osiander, that 
justifying far transcends the power both of men and angels, since it 
depends not on the dignity of any creature, but on the ordination of 
God. Were angels to attempt to give satisfaction to God, they could 
have no success, because they are not appointed for this purpose, it 
being the peculiar office of Christ, who "has redeemed us from the 
curse of the law, being made a curse for us," (Gal. 3: 13.) Those 
who deny that Christ is our righteousness, in respect of his divine 
nature, are wickedly charged by Osiander with leaving only a part of 
Christ, and (what is worse) with making two Gods; because, while 
admitting that God dwells in us, they still insist that we are not 
justified by the righteousness of God. For though we call Christ the 
author of life, inasmuch as he endured death that he might destroy 
him who had the power of death, (Heb. 2: 14,) we do not thereby rob 
him of this honor, in his whole character as God manifested in the 
flesh. We only make a distinction as to the manner in which the 
righteousness of God comes to us, and is enjoyed by us, - a matter 
as to which Osiander shamefully erred. We deny not that that which 
was openly exhibited to us in Christ flowed from the secret grace 
and power of God; nor do we dispute that the righteousness which 
Christ confers upon us is the righteousness of God, and proceeds 
from him. What we constantly maintain is, that our righteousness and 
life are in the death and resurrection of Christ. I say nothing of 
that absurd accumulation of passages with which without selection or 
common understanding, he has loaded his readers, in endeavoring to 
show, that whenever mention is made of righteousness, this essential 
righteousness of his should be understood; as when David implores 
help from the righteousness of God. This David does more than a 
hundred times, and as often Osiander hesitates not to pervert his 
meaning. Not a whit more solid is his objection, that the name of 
righteousness is rightly and properly applied to that by which we 
are moved to act aright, but that it is God only that worketh in us 
both to will and to do, (Phil. 2: 13.) For we deny not that God by 
his Spirit forms us anew to holiness and righteousness of life; but 
we must first see whether he does this of himself, immediately, or 
by the hand of his Son, with whom he has deposited all the fulness 
of the Holy Spirit, that out of his own abundance he may supply the 
wants of his members. When, although righteousness comes to us from 
the secret fountain of the Godhead, it does not follow that Christ, 
who sanctified himself in the flesh on our account, is our 
righteousness in respect of his divine nature, (John 17: 19.) Not 
less frivolous is his observation, that the righteousness with which 
Christ himself was righteous was divine; for had not the will of the 
Father impelled him, he could not have fulfilled the office assigned 
him. For although it has been elsewhere said that all the merits of 
Christ flow from the mere good pleasure of God, this gives no 
countenance to the phantom by which Osiander fascinates both his own 
eyes and those of the simple. For who will allow him to infer, that 
because God is the source and commencement of our righteousness, we 
are essentially righteous, and the essence of the divine 
righteousness dwells in us? In redeeming us, says Isaiah, "he (God) 
put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation 
upon his head," (Isaiah 59: 17,) was this to deprive Christ of the 
armour which he had given him, and prevent him from being a perfect 
Redeemer? All that the Prophet meant was, that God borrowed nothing 
from an external quarter, that in redeeming us he received no 
external aid. The same thing is briefly expressed by Paul in 
different terms, when he says that God set him forth "to declare his 
righteousness for the remission of sins." This is not the least 
repugnant to his doctrine: in another place, that "by the obedience 
of one shall many be made righteous," (Rom. 5: 19.) In short, every 
one who, by the entanglement of a twofold righteousness, prevents 
miserable souls from resting entirely on the mere mercy of God, 
mocks Christ by putting on him a crown of plaited thorns. 
    13. But since a great part of mankind imagine a righteousness 
compounded of faith and works let us here show that there is so wide 
a difference between justification by faith and by works, that the 
establishment of the one necessarily overthrows the other. The 
Apostle says, "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for 
the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I 
have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, 
that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own 
righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the 
faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith," (Phil. 
3: 8, 9.) You here see a comparison of contraries, and an intimation 
that every one who would obtain the righteousness of Christ must 
renounce his own. Hence he elsewhere declares the cause of the 
rejection of the Jews to have been, that "they being ignorant of 
God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own 
righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness 
of God," (Rom. 10: 3.) If we destroy the righteousness of God by 
establishing our own righteousness, then, in order to obtain his 
righteousness, our own must be entirely abandoned. This also he 
shows, when he declares that boasting is not excluded by the Law, 
but by faith, (Rom. 3: 27.) Hence it follows, that so long as the 
minutes portion of our own righteousness remains, we have still some 
ground for boasting. Now if faith utterly excludes boasting, the 
righteousness of works cannot in any way be associated with the 
righteousness of faith. This meaning is so clearly expressed in the 
fourth chapter to the Romans as to leave no room for cavil or 
evasion. "If Abraham were justified by works he has whereof to 
glory;" and then it is added, "but not before God," (Rom. 4: 2.) The 
conclusion, therefore, is, that he was not justified by works. He 
then employs another argument from contraries, viz., when reward is 
paid to works, it is done of debt, not of grace; but the 
righteousness of faith is of grace: therefore it is not of the merit 
of works. Away, then, with the dream of those who invent a 
righteousness compounded of faith and works, (see Calvin. ad 
Concilium Tridentinum.) 
    14. The Sophists, who delight in sporting with Scripture and in 
empty cavils, think they have a subtle evasion when they expound 
works to mean, such as unregenerated men do literally, and by the 
effect of free will, without the grace of Christ, and deny that 
these have any reference to spiritual works. Thus according to them, 
man is justified by faith as well as by works, provided these are 
not his own works, but gifts of Christ and fruits of regeneration; 
Paul's only object in so expressing himself being to convince the 
Jews, that in trusting to their ohm strength they foolishly 
arrogated righteousness to themselves, whereas it is bestowed upon 
us by the Spirit of Christ alone, and not by studied efforts of our 
own nature. But they observe not that in the antithesis between 
Legal and Gospel righteousness, which Paul elsewhere introduces, all 
kinds of works, with whatever name adorned, are excluded, (Gal. 3: 
11, 12.) For he says that the righteousness of the Law consists in 
obtaining salvation by doing what the Law requires, but that the 
righteousness of faith consists in believing that Christ died and 
rose again, (Rom. 10: 5-9.) Moreover, we shall afterwards see, at 
the proper place, that the blessings of sanctification and 
justification, which we derive from Christ, are different. Hence it 
follows, that not even spiritual works are taken into account when 
the power of justifying is ascribed to faith. And, indeed, the 
passage above quoted, in which Paul declares that Abraham had no 
ground of glorying before God, because he was not justified by 
works, ought not to be confined to a literal and external form of 
virtue, or to the effort of free will. The meaning is, that though 
the life of the Patriarch had been spiritual and almost angelic, yet 
he could not by the merit of works have procured justification 
before God. 
    15. The Schoolmen treat the matter somewhat more grossly by 
mingling their preparations with it; and yet the others instill into 
the simple and unwary a no less pernicious dogma, when, under cover 
of the Spirit and grace, they hide the divine mercy, which alone can 
give peace to the trembling soul. We, indeed, hold with Paul, that 
those who fulfill the Law are justified by God, but because we are 
all far from observing the Law, we infer that the works which should 
be most effectual to justification are of no avail to us, because we 
are destitute of them. In regard to vulgar Papists or Schoolmen, 
they are here doubly wrong, both in calling faith assurance of 
conscience while waiting to receive from God the reward of merits, 
and in interpreting divine grace to mean not the imputation of 
gratuitous righteousness, but the assistance of the Spirit in the 
study of holiness. They quote from an Apostle: "He that comes to God 
must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that 
diligently seek him," (Heb. 11: 6.) But they observe not what the 
method of seeking is. Then in regard to the term grace, it is plain 
from their writings that they labour under a delusion. For Lombard 
holds that justification is given to us by Christ in two ways. 
"First," says he, (Lombard, Sent. Lib. 3, Dist. 16, c. 11,) "the 
death of Christ justifies us when by means of it the love by which 
we are made righteous is excited in our hearts; and, secondly, when 
by means of it sin is extinguished, sin by which the devil held us 
captive, but by which he cannot now procure our condemnation." You 
see here that the chief office of divine grace in our justification 
he considers to be its directing us to good works by the agency of 
the Holy Spirit. He intended, no doubt, to follow the opinion of 
Augustine, but he follows it at a distance, and even wanders far 
from a true imitation of him both obscuring what was clearly stated 
by Augustine, and making what in him was less pure more corrupt. The 
Schools have always gone from worse to worse, until at length, in 
their downward path, they have degenerated into a kind of 
Pelagianism. Even the sentiment of Augustine, or at least his mode 
of expressing it, cannot be entirely approved of. For although he is 
admirable in stripping man of all merit of righteousness, and 
transferring the whole praise of it to God, yet he classes the grace 
by which we are regenerated to newness of life under the head of 
    16. Scripture, when it treats of justification by faith, leads 
us in a very different direction. Turning away our view from our own 
works, it bids us look only to the mercy of God and the perfection 
of Christ. The order of justification which it sets before us is 
this: first, God of his mere gratuitous goodness is pleased to 
embrace the sinner, in whom he sees nothing that can move him to 
mercy but wretchedness, because he sees him altogether naked and 
destitute of good works. He, therefore, seeks the cause of kindness 
in himself, that thus he may affect the sinner by a sense of his 
goodness, and induce him, in distrust of his own works, to cast 
himself entirely upon his mercy for salvation. This is the meaning 
of faith by which the sinner comes into the possession of salvation, 
when, according to the doctrine of the Gospel, he perceives that he 
is reconciled by God; when, by the intercession of Christ, he 
obtains the pardon of his sins, and is justified; and, though 
renewed by the Spirit of God, considers that, instead of leaning on 
his own works, he must look solely to the righteousness which is 
treasured up for him in Christ. When these things are weighed 
separately, they will clearly explain our view, though they may be 
arranged in a better order than that in which they are here 
presented. But it is of little consequence, provided they are so 
connected with each other as to give us a full exposition and solid 
confirmation of the whole subject. 
    17. Here it is proper to remember the relation which we 
previously established between faith and the Gospel; faith being 
said to justify because it receives and embraces the righteousness 
offered in the Gospel. By the very fact of its being said to be 
offered by the Gospel, all consideration of works is excluded. This 
Paul repeatedly declares, and in two passages, in particular, most 
clearly demonstrates. In the Epistle to the Romans, comparing the 
Law and the Gospel, he says, "Moses describeth the righteousness 
which is of the law, That the man which does those things shall live 
by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this 
wise, - If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and 
shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, 
thou shalt be saved," (Rom. 10: 5, 6: 9.) Do you see how he makes 
the distinction between the Law and the Gospel to be, that the 
former gives justification to works, whereas the latter bestows it 
freely without any help from works? This is a notable passage, and 
may free us from many difficulties if we understand that the 
justification which is given us by the Gospel is free from any terms 
of Law. It is for this reason he more than once places the promise 
in diametrical opposition to the Law. "If the inheritance be of the 
law, it is no more of promise," (Gal. 3: 18.) Expressions of similar 
import occur in the same chapter. Undoubtedly the Law also has its 
promises; and, therefore, between them and the Gospel promises there 
must be some distinction and difference, unless we are to hold that 
the comparison is inept. And in what can the difference consist 
unless in this that the promises of the Gospel are gratuitous, and 
founded on the mere mercy of God, whereas the promises of the Law 
depend on the condition of works? But let no pester here allege that 
only the righteousness which men would obtrude upon God of their own 
strength and free will is repudiated; since Paul declares, without 
exceptions that the Law gained nothing by its commands, being such 
as none, not only of mankind in general, but none even of the most 
perfect, are able to fulfill. Love assuredly is the chief 
commandment in the Law, and since the Spirit of God trains us to 
love, it cannot but be a cause of righteousness in us, though that 
righteousness even in the saints is defective, and therefore of no 
value as a ground of merit. 
    18. The second passage is, "That no man is justified by the law 
in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by 
faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that does them 
shall live in them," (Gal. 3: 11, 12; Hab. 2: 4.) How could the 
argument hold unless it be true that works are not to be taken into 
account, but are to be altogether separated? The Law, he says, is 
different from faith. Why? Because to obtain justification by it, 
works are required; and hence it follows, that to obtain 
justification by the Gospel they are not required. From this 
statement, it appears that those who are justified by faith are 
justified independent of, nay, in the absence of, the merit of 
works, because faith receives that righteousness which the Gospel 
bestows. But the Gospel differs from the Law in this, that it does 
not confine justification to works, but places it entirely in the 
mercy of God. In like manner, Paul contends, in the Epistle to the 
Romans, that Abraham had no ground of glorying, because faith was 
imputed to him for righteousness, (Rom. 4: 2;) and he adds in 
confirmation, that the proper place for justification by faith is 
where there are no works to which reward is due. "To him that 
worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt." What is 
given to faith is gratuitous, this being the force of the meaning of 
the words which he there employs. Shortly after he adds, "Therefore 
it is of faith, that it might be by grace," (Rom. 4: 16;) and hence 
infers that the inheritance is gratuitous because it is procured by 
faith. How so but just because faiths without the aid of works leans 
entirely on the mercy of God? And in the same sense, doubtless, he 
elsewhere teaches, that the righteousness of God without the Law was 
manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, (Rom. 3: 
21;) for excluding the Law, he declares that it is not aided by 
worlds, that we do not obtain it by working, but are destitute when 
we draw near to receive it. 
    19. The reader now perceives with what fairness the Sophists of 
the present day cavil at our doctrine, when we say that a man is 
justified by faith alone, (Rom. 4: 2.) They dare not deny that he is 
justified by faith, seeing Scripture so often declares it; but as 
the word alone is nowhere expressly used they will not tolerate its 
being added. Is it so? What answer, then will they give to the words 
of Paul, when he contends that righteousness is not of faith unless 
it be gratuitous? How can it be gratuitous, and yet by works? By 
what cavils, moreover, will they evade his declaration in another 
place, that in the Gospel the righteousness of God is manifested? 
(Rom. 1: 17.) If righteousness is manifested in the Gospel, it is 
certainly not a partial or mutilated, but a full and perfect 
righteousness. The Law, therefore, has no part in its and their 
objection to the exclusive word alone is not only unfounded, but is 
obviously absurd. Does he not plainly enough attribute everything to 
faith alone when he disconnects it with works? What I would ask, is 
meant by the expressions, "The righteousness of God without the law 
is manifested;" "Being justified freely by his grace;" "Justified by 
faith without the deeds of the law?" (Rom. 3: 21, 24, 28.) Here they 
have an ingenious subterfuge, one which, though not of their own 
devising but taken from Origin and some ancient writers, is most 
childish. They pretend that the works excluded are ceremonial, not 
moral works. Such profit do they make by their constant wrangling, 
that they possess not even the first elements of logic. Do they 
think the Apostle was raving when he produced, in proof of his 
doctrine, these passages? "The man that does them shall live in 
them," (Gal. 3: 12.) "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all 
things that are written in the book of the law to do them," (Gal. 3: 
10.) Unless they are themselves raving, they will not say that life 
was promised to the observers of ceremonies, and the curse denounced 
only against the transgressors of them. If these passages are to be 
understood of the Moral Law, there cannot be a doubt that moral 
works also are excluded from the power of justifying. To the same 
effect are the arguments which he employs. "By the deeds of the law 
there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is 
the knowledge of sin," (Rom. 3: 20.) "The law worketh wrath," (Rom. 
4: 15,) and therefore not righteousness. "The law cannot pacify the 
conscience," and therefore cannot confer righteousness. "Faith is 
imputed for righteousness," and therefore righteousness is not the 
reward of works, but is given without being due. Because "we are 
justified by faith," boasting is excluded. "Had there been a law 
given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have 
been by the law. But the Scripture has concluded all under sin, that 
the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that 
believe," (Gal. 3: 21, 22.) Let them maintain, if they dare, that 
these things apply to ceremonies, and not to morals, and the very 
children will laugh at their effrontery. The true conclusion, 
therefore, is, that the whole Law is spoken of when the power of 
justifying is denied to it. 
    20. Should any one wonder why the Apostle, not contented with 
having named works, employs this addition, the explanation is easy. 
However highly works may be estimated, they have their whole value 
more from the approbation of God than from their own dignity. For 
who will presume to plume himself before God on the righteousness of 
works, unless in so far as He approves of them? Who will presume to 
demand of Him a reward except in so far as He has promised it? It is 
owing entirely to the goodness of God that works are deemed worthy 
of the honor and reward of righteousness; and, therefore, their 
whole value consists in this, that by means of them we endeavor to 
manifest obedience to God. Wherefore, in another passage, the 
Apostle, to prove that Abraham could not be justified by works, 
declares, "that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in 
Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, 
cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect," 
(Gal. 3: 17.) The unskillful would ridicule the argument that there 
could be righteous works before the promulgation of the Law, but the 
Apostle, knowing that works could derive this value solely from the 
testimony and honor conferred on them by God, takes it for granted 
that, previous to the Law, they had no power of justifying. We see 
why he expressly terms them works of Law when he would deny the 
power of justifying to theme viz., because it was only with regard 
to such works that a question could be raised; although he 
sometimes, without addition, excepts all kinds of works whatever, as 
when on the testimony of David he speaks of the man to whom the Lord 
imputeth righteousness without works, (Rom. 4: 5, 6.) No cavils, 
therefore, can enable them to prove that the exclusion of works is 
not general. In vain do they lay hold of the frivolous subtilty, 
that the faith alone, by which we are justified, "worketh by love," 
and that love, therefore, is the foundation of justification. We, 
indeed, acknowledge with Paul, that the only faith which justifies 
is that which works by love, (Gal. 5: G;) but love does not give it 
its justifying power. Nay, its only means of justifying consists in 
its bringing us into communication with the righteousness of Christ. 
Otherwise the whole argument, on which the Apostle insists with so 
much earnestness, would fall. to him that worketh is the reward not 
reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but 
believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted 
for righteousness." Could he express more clearly than in this word, 
that there is justification in faith only where there are no works 
to which reward is due, and that faith is imputed for righteousness 
only when righteousness is conferred freely without merit? 
    21. Let us now consider the truth of what was said in the 
definition, viz., that justification by faith is reconciliation with 
God, and that this consists solely in the remission of sins. We must 
always return to the axioms that the wrath of God lies upon all men 
so long as they continue sinners. This is elegantly expressed by 
Isaiah in these words: "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, 
that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but 
your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your 
sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear," (Isaiah 59: 
1, 2.) We are here told that sin is a separation between God and 
man; that His countenance is turned away from the sinner; and that 
it cannot be otherwise, since, to have any intercourse with sin is 
repugnant to his righteousness. Hence the Apostle shows that man is 
at enmity with God until he is restored to favour by Christ, (Rom. 
5: 8-l0.) When the Lord, therefore, admits him to union, he is said 
to justify him, because he can neither receive him into favor, nor 
unite him to himself, without changing his condition from that of a 
sinner into that of a righteous man. We adds that this is done by 
remission of sins. For if those whom the Lord has reconciled to 
himself are estimated by works, they will still prove to be in 
reality sinners, while they ought to be pure and free from sin. It 
is evident therefore, that the only way in which those whom God 
embraces are made righteous, is by having their pollutions wiped 
away by the remission of sins, so that this justification may be 
termed in one word the remission of sins. 
    22. Both of these become perfectly clear from the words of 
Paul: "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not 
imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the 
word of reconciliation." He then subjoins the sum of his embassy: 
"He has made him to be sin for us who knew no sin; that we might be 
made the righteousness of God in him," (2 Cor. 5: l9-21.) He here 
uses righteousness and reconciliation indiscriminately, to make us 
understand that the one includes the other. The mode of obtaining 
this righteousness he explains to be, that our sins are not imputed 
to us. Wherefore, you cannot henceforth doubt how God justifies us 
when you hear that he reconciles us to himself by not imputing our 
faults. In the same manner, in the Epistle to the Romans, he proves, 
by the testimony of David, that righteousness is imputed without 
works, because he declares the man to be blessed "whose 
transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered," and "unto whom the 
Lord imputeth not iniquity," (Rom. 4: 6; Ps. 32: 1, 2.) There he 
undoubtedly uses blessedness for righteousness; and as he declares 
that it consists in forgiveness of sins, there is no reason why we 
should define it otherwise. Accordingly, Zacharias, the father of 
John the Baptist, sings that the knowledge of salvation consists in 
the forgiveness of sins, (Luke 1: 77.) The same course was followed 
by Paul when, in addressing the people of Antioch, he gave them a 
summary of salvation. Luke states that he concluded in this way: 
"Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and 
by him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye 
could not be justified by the law of Moses," (Acts 12: 38, 39.) Thus 
the Apostle connects forgiveness of sins with justification in such 
a way as to show that they are altogether the same; and hence he 
properly argues that justification, which we owe to the indulgence 
of God, is gratuitous. Nor should it seem an unusual mode of 
expression to say that believers are justified before God not by 
works, but by gratuitous acceptance, seeing it is frequently used in 
Scripture, and sometimes also by ancient writers. Thus Augustine 
says: "The righteousness of the saints in this world consists more 
in the forgiveness of sins than the perfection of virtue," (August. 
de Civitate Dei, lib. 19, cap. 27.) To this corresponds the 
well-known sentiment of Bernard: "Not to sin is the righteousness of 
God, but the righteousness of man is the indulgence of God," 
(Bernard, Serm. 22, 23 in Cant.) He previously asserts that Christ 
is our righteousness in absolution, and, therefore, that those only 
are just who have obtained pardon through mercy. 
    23. Hence also it is proved, that it is entirely by the 
intervention of Christ's righteousness that we obtain justification 
before God. This is equivalent to saying that man is not just in 
himself, but that the righteousness of Christ is communicated to him 
by imputation, while he is strictly deserving of punishment. Thus 
vanishes the absurd dogma, that man is justified by faith, inasmuch 
as it brings him under the influence of the Spirit of God by whom he 
is rendered righteous. This is so repugnant to the above doctrine 
that it never can be reconciled with it. There can be no doubt that 
he who is taught to seek righteousness out of himself does not 
previously possess it in himself. This is most clearly declared by 
the Apostle, when he says, that he who knew no sin was made an 
expiatory victim for sin, that we might be made the righteousness of 
God in him (2 Cor. 5: 21.) You see that our righteousness is not in 
ourselves, but in Christ; that the only way in which we become 
possessed of it is by being made partakers with Christ, since with 
him we possess all riches. There is nothing repugnant to this in 
what he elsewhere says: "God sending his own Son in the likeness of 
sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh: that the 
righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us," (Rom. 8: 3, 4.) 
Here the only fulfillment to which he refers is that which we obtain 
by imputation. Our Lord Jesus Christ communicates his righteousness 
to us, and so by some wondrous ways in so far as pertains to the 
justice of Gods transfuses its power into us. That this was the 
Apostle's view is abundantly clear from another sentiment which he 
had expressed a little before: "As by one man's disobedience many 
were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made 
righteous," (Rom. 5: 19.) To declare that we are deemed righteous, 
solely because the obedience of Christ is imputed to us as if it 
where our own, is just to place our righteousness in the obedience 
of Christ. Wherefore, Ambrose appears to me to have most elegantly 
adverted to the blessing of Jacob as an illustration of this 
righteousness, when he says that as he who did not merit the 
birthright in himself personated his brother, put on his garments 
which gave forth a most pleasant odour, and thus introduced himself 
to his father that he might receive a blessing to his own advantage, 
though under the person of another, so we conceal ourselves under 
the precious purity of Christ, our first-born brother, that we may 
obtain an attestation of righteousness from the presence of God. The 
words of Ambrose are, - "Isaac's smelling the odour of his garments, 
perhaps means that we are justified not by works, but by faith, 
since carnal infirmity is an impediment to works, but errors of 
conduct are covered by the brightness of faith, which merits the 
pardon of faults," (Ambrose de Jacobo et Vita Beats, Lib. 2, c. 2.) 
And so indeed it is; for in order to appear in the presence of God 
for salvation, we must send forth that fragrant odour, having our 
vices covered and buried by his perfection. 

Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 3, Part 12

(continued in part 13...)

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