Friday, October 24, 2014

Christ's Active Obedience: The End of the Law Unto Righteousness To Everyone That Believes

Last excerpt from Thomas Jacomb, a contemporary of John Owen, on this topic. This post and three previous posts from his 17th century work explain clearly and convincingly the Reformed understanding of the imputation of Christ's active obedience to believer's as held by the Divines of that era.
But 'tis queried, Was not Christ's passive obedience, without the active, sufficient for both of these? for righteousness and for life? To which they of the Opinion answer, No; they say upon Christ's death and suffering we are freed from guilt, but upon that (abstractly from his active obeying of the Law) we are not strictly and positively made righteous: So also, upon his death and suffering (they say) we are saved from wrath and Hell, but yet upon that alone we are not entitled to Heaven: they grant in Christ's death alone we are not entitled to Heaven: they grant Christ's death a fulness and sufficiency of Satisfaction, but as to merit for that they must take in the holiness and obedience of his life
I do but recite; not undertaking (at present) to defend what is here asserted: only let me close this Head with one thing which (to me) is observable. Our Lord being both to do and to suffer, to obey actively and passively (that he might fully answer the Law's demands for the justification and salvation of Sinners); 'tis considerable how the New Testament, in two eminent places, speaks distinctly to both these parts of his Obedience, in their distinct reference to both the parts of the Law under the old Testament, and in their distinct influence upon the Sinner's good. Gal. 3:13. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one & c. or as 'tis Vers. 10. Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things & c. --- here is Christ's passive Obedience (with respect to the old curse or penal part of the Law here mentioned), and the benefit which we reap thereby viz. deliverance from the Law's curse. That's one place; the other is Rom. 10:5. Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth: for Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the Law, that the man which doth these things shall live by them: here is Christ's active Obedience (with respect to the mandatory part or doing righteousness of the Law here mentioned also), and the imputation and benefit of this to believers viz. righteousness and life: Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness, (that is to convey that righteousness which the Law could not, or to perform the Law in order to righteousness which the Sinner could not); take it as you will, it must have reference to the Moral Law and to the preceptive part thereof, for so the Apostle opens it in that which follows Vers. 5.  
Now Christ's active Obedience thereunto is imputed to believers, otherwise why is it said that he is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth? All that I drive at is (1.) That the imputation of the passive obedience in Gal. 3:13. must not justle out the imputation of the active obedience in Rom. 10:5. (2.) That as the imputation of the one is necessary to free from the Law's curse, so the imputation of the other is necessary for the having of righteousness and life.
4. If Christ actively fulfilled the Law for us then his active fulfilling thereof must be imputed to us, but so he did, ergo. The Consequence I judge to be good and strong; for surely whatever Christ did on our behalf, in our stead, as designing and aiming at our good as his main end, that must needs be imputed to us; otherwise he and we too might lose that which he principally designed in his Obedience (which is not to be imagined). As to the Assumption that Christ actively fulfilled the Law for us, that is generally asserted and defended by Divines against SOCINIANS and Others: For whereas these affirm, that Christ fulfilled the Law for himself (he as a Creature being under the obligation of it), they prove the contrary (of which before); shewing, that Christ was not, in that way wherein he fulfilled the Law, at all obliged so to fulfil it for himself; but that all was done by him purely upon our account: he obeyed not merely as a Subject but as a Surety therefore his Obedience must be for us, and so imputable and imputed to us. And whereas others affirm, that Christ actively fulfilled the Law that he might thereby be fitted and qualified for his Mediatory Office, two things are answered:
(1.) The Scripture, where it speaks of Christ's subjection to the Law and accomplishment of it, doth not lay it upon this end or upon what refers to Christ himself, but upon that which refers to us (as the proper end thereof): He was the end of the Law for righteousness to them that believe; ---&c. made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of Sons
(2.) They say, that Christ's fitness for his Mediatory Office did result from his Person, from the personal Union of the Divine and Humane Natures in him, rather than from his active Obedience to the Law; else he could not have been looked upon as one fit to be a Mediator till he had finished his whole Obedience to the Law; whereas from the first instant of the personal Union he was fit for that Work and Office
'Twas fit, nay necessary, that Christ the Mediator should conform to the Law; but these are two different things, what was fit for the Mediator to do and what must fit him to be the Mediator. These Ends therefore respecting Christ himself being removed, it follows that it was wholly for us that he fulfilled the Law: whence then I infer that that must be imputed to us, otherwise the end of it would not be attained; for without the imputation of it we should neither be the persons designed in it nor profited by it. To prevent mistakes and to give this Argument its full strength, I would state it thus: Whatever Christ did that we were obliged to do and which was to be our righteousness before God, that certainly must be imputed to us; I do not say that all which Christ did is strictly and properly imputed to us, but whatever he did if we were bound to do it, and if the doing of that was to be our righteousness, that must be imputed (or else we are in a sad case). He was incarnate for us yet that is not formally imputed, why? because Sinners were not under any obligation to any such thing; so I might instance in his working of Miracles, Intercession &c. But now if our Lord will be pleased to put himself under the Law and to fulfil the Law, that must be made over to us because that was a thing which we ourselves (according to the capacity of Creatures) were bound unto, and this was to be our righteousness before God: what is so circumstantiated, must be imputed; therefore this being taken in the Argument is good. [emphasis in the original except for bold type] 
 Eighteen Sermons on Romans 8:1-4, pp 591-93 ( 1672). Thomas Jacomb

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