Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.—Rev. 1.7


True Doctrine




By ANTHONY BURGESSE Paſtor of the Church

at Sutton-Coldfield in Warwickshire.


Of the Imputation of the Righte-

ouſneſſe of Chriſt both Paſ-

ſive and Active.


The Doctrine of the Imputation of Righteouſneſſe demonſtrated; With Anſwers to the Objections a­gainſt it.

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ROM. 4.11.

That Righteousness might be Imputed to them also.

VVE have laid down several Propositions to clear this Doctrine about imputed righteousness; Let us now consider what Arguments may be brought to establish it.  And

First, This present Chapter will evidently confirm it, where Imputation of righteousness is so often mentioned, The Scripture calls it several times an accounted or imputed righteousness: Now if it be an imputed righteousness, it must be either our own or another’s.  It cannot be our own for these Reasons.

1. Because it’s a righteousness imputed without works; if then it were our own righteousness, it must be by works; but we are passive in our Justification, not active; we are not to look into our selves, but on Christ without us.

2. It cannot be our own righteousness imputed, because this is made to be of the like nature with remission of sins. Now it’s plain, That remission of sin is not any work of ours, but a gracious favour and act of God’s. {296}

3. It cannot be our righteousness that is imputed, because the subject who is here said to be justified, is called an ungodly man [Rom. 4.5], one that hath not such a perfect and complete righteousness that the Law requireth; if then a man hath it not of his own, it must be another’s that is accounted to him.

4. It cannot be our righteousness that is imputed, for then it would be an imputation of debt, and not of grace. Thus the Apostle argueth, Rom. 4.4, To him that worketh the reward is accounted of debt, not of grace.  For although to work be of grace in a sanctified person, yet so far it is of debt, as it is a work done by us. But the Apostle in this point doth attribute all to grace, giving it the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end of all.  If therefore it be not ours that is imputed, whose can it be but Christ’s? and that it is Christ’s appeareth by chapter 5.19, By one man’s obedience shall many be made righteous; and at the 24th verse in this Chapter, It shall be imputed to us also, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.  Thus this Chapter seemeth to give clear light in this Point.  As for those who would make the very work of believing the το credere, to be the imputed righteousness; that hath been sufficiently confuted already.  Only let us hear what may probably be replied.  Socinus considers the word λογιζεται, and saith, the word is either used simpliciter and absolutely in itself, or relatively; if simply in itself, then it signifieth no more than to have an account or regard of a thing, as when God is said not to impute sin, that is, not to take notice of it, not to put it in his account to punish it.  And it is readily granted, that the Hebrew word doth sometimes signify thus, as Psalm 8.4, What is man that thou art thus mindful of him? There is the same Hebrew word.

But in the next place, it may be understood relatively, where the Proposition εις in or ad is understood, and then he saith it is not to be translated imputata, but reputata.  But this is a mere logomachy [dispute of words], for we take to repute and impute all one in this sense, although indeed when it signifieth to repute or account strictly taken, its put absolutely, as Rom. 6.11, {297} Account your selves dead to sin, 1 Cor. 4.1, Let a man account or judge of us, as the Ministers of the GospelSanderus the Jesuit (Lib. de Justif. pag. 50,) refuseth this translation of the word, because the Apostle when he would use a word to signify impute, he useth a compound word, not a simple one, as Philem. verse 18, If he have wronged thee, put that on mine account, τουτο εμοι ελλογει.  Thus Romans 5.13, sin ουκ ελλογειται, is not imputed without the Law; but this observation is not universal, for the simple word is used, where imputation must necessarily be understood, as Mark 15.28, He was accounted amongst transgressours, What is that? But sin was imputed to him.  Rom. 2.26, His uncircumcision shall be accounted to Circumcision.  There is the simple word λογισθησεται.

But it’s further objected, That though righteousness be said to be imputed, yet not Christ’s righteousness, Proferant vel unum locum, &c. Let them bring but one place, say Bellar. Socinus, where Christ’s righteousness is said to be imputed.

To that we answer, That it’s necessarily implied, for righteousness is said to be imputed, and that cannot be our own, as the context hath cleared; and besides, It’s Christ’s obedience by which we are made righteous, yea we are made the righteousness of God in him. [Rom. 5.19; 2 Cor. 5.21.]  And therefore it cannot be any other righteousness but that; and whereas it’s said, it would be a kind of blasphemy to say, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us for righteousness, as if that were not of itself perfect and complete, but needed a gracious imputation or acceptation:  This ariseth from a mistake; for we say not, That Christ’s righteousness is imputed to be a righteousness, as if that of itself were not so, only there needed some gracious condescension on God’s part to accept of it for us.  But we say, it’s imputed to us for righteousness, that whereas we needed a righteousness, and had none of our own; what Christ did, is as if we had done it in our own persons.

A second Argument shall be drawn from that notable collation the Apostle makes with Christ the second Adam, and the first {299 [298]} Adam, Rom. 5.12,17,18, where the Apostle doth thus argue, that as all men are made sinners by Adam’s sin, so all believers are made righteous by Christ’s obedience.  Now how is Adam’s sin made ours? Is it not by imputation? Indeed by his sin we come also to have inherent corruption, and this is propagated to every one; and this is called originale peccatum originatum, but then Adam’s actual sin is ours by imputation, and this is called originale peccatum originans, therefore at verse 13, it’s said, In whom we have sinned, or if we translate it, In as much as we have sinned, it comes all to one; Adam’s sin must needs be ours by imputation; for what reason can be given, why the sins of all Parents are not made their children’s, as well as Adam’s is made ours? but because of the Covenant made with Adam, and so all mankind in him.  Indeed Bellarmine bringeth this Argument against the Orthodox, and he frameth it thus, As through Adam all are made sinners inherently through corruption dwelling in them; so through Christ all are made righteous inherently by an inward renovation of the mind.  Now all this may be granted, as part of truth, but the Apostle’s comparison is to be extended further; Neither doth he so much intend the sin that is in us, as that we were guilty of in Adam’s disobedience: So that here we see the Apostle mentioning two common persons or representatives, and what they do is to be attributed to all that are contained in them.  Thus as Adam’s imputed sin is the cause of all our inherent corruption; so Christ’s imputed righteousness is the fountain of all our inward happiness.

Thirdly, Christ’s righteousness is made ours, as our sins were made his, and that is only by imputation.  This Argument seemeth to be built on a Rock, even that Text 2 Cor. 5.ult. [verse 21,] He was made sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him;—He was made sin for us; How is that but by imputation? For he was reckoned amongst transgressours, and God laid upon him the iniquity of us all.  So that although in himself there was not found any guile, and he was the unspotted Lamb of God, yet as he was our Surety, and bore our sins, so our iniquities were imputed {298 [299]} to him, and he bore the wrath of God, because of them.

If it be said, That by sin is meant a Sacrifice for sin, according to the usual phrase of the Scripture;

It is answered, first, There is no necessity of taking it in that sense, yea the context seemeth to encline another way, for in the same verse is added, He who knew no sin, he became sin; Now sin in the former place is taken properly, so that the expression would lose its grace; if in the latter place it be not also taken properly.  Again, sin is opposed to righteousness in the Text, he became sin that we might become righteousness; But sin as it is sin, not as a Sacrifice doth in its proper nature oppose righteousness; Neither doth it at all tend to Christ’s dishonour to expound it so, seeing the Prophet of old said, God had laid our iniquities upon him, which must necessarily be understood of sins as sins; and indeed the more Christ was humbled and debased, this argued his greater love, and did the more exalt his Mediatorship.

In the second place, Grant that “sin” be taken for the Sacrifice for sin, yet still the Argument stands valid, For he could not be made a Sacrifice for sin, if sin were not imputed to him.  When the Sacrifice of the Old Testament was offered, the laying on of hands upon it, did signify the translation of the sins of the person offering, upon the beast to be sacrificed; and thus it was with Christ, who was typified by those Sacrifices, as the Apostle sheweth at large.  Therefore though it be granted, that the sense of this place is, Christ was made a Sacrifice for sin, yet this doth not exclude, but necessarily include, that our sins were imputed to him; and indeed, How could it come about, that Christ should be thus bruised and wounded, that he should die such an ignominious death? but because sin was laid to his charge, for death is the wages of sin; seeing therefore he had none of his own, they must be ours; not that therefore Christ was to be denominated a sinner, because he took them upon him, to bear them away.

Fourthly, Christ’s righteousness is made ours, because in him {300} only we are accepted.  Notably to this doth the Apostle speak, Ephes. 1.6, Wherein he hath made us accepted in his beloved, εχαριτωσεν; So that it is neither our persons, or our duties absolutely as so, can have any acceptance any further than God looketh upon them through Christ; He is the Altar that sanctifieth all, Revel. 8.3. This is the Incense upon the golden Altar, which was to be added to the prayers of all the Saints.  It’s therefore very much derogatory to the glorious fulness of Christ, to think that he hath only merited and purchased grace for us, in which, and by which we are to stand justified.  No, the very satisfaction and obedience of Christ, must be made ours; We must be looked upon, as if we had done it in our persons.  A believer and Christ is to be considered as one mystical person, when God looketh upon us and Christ, as two in this sense, then woe be unto us. All the grace and favour we have is in the beloved.

Fifthly, The righteousness we have to be justified by, is often called the righteousness of God; Therefore that cannot be any other ways in us, but by imputation.  It’s often called the righteousness of God, Rom. 1.17, Rom. 10.3, 2 Cor. 5.21, Phil. 3.9.  Here we are to have the righteousness of God, and it is opposed to our own righteousness; yea we are said to be made this righteousness of God.  It’s true, in what sense it is called the righteousness of God, may be controverted, and it is agreed upon by all hands (except Osiander, who had few followers, and his opinion lasted but two years, though Andreas Osiander doth labour to excuse him, and saith, the Orthodox kept communion with him, as if his errours were more in his words, than in his mind) that it is not the essential righteousness of God, whereby he is just in himself.  Neither is it the righteousness of God in a causal sense merely, because God is the Author of it, for our inherent righteousness is wrought by God, yet it cannot be called the righteousness of God in this sense, because it’s said to be revealed from him, and we are said to be the righteousness of God in Christ, therefore not in our selves: it’s always opposed to the righteousness of the Law, which righteousness is of God in this sense, that he was the author of it in Adam, {301} and doth still begin it in believers, and will consummate it in heaven; therefore it’s called the righteousness of God, partly, because it is that, which he doth approve of, which can endure his sight; for whereas the Scripture saith, In God’s sight no man can be justified; implying thereby, that before man they may; Therefore this righteousness of God is such as may be brought before his severe Tribunal, such as God himself cannot refuse as imperfect and insufficient: But especially its called the righteousness of God, because it was the righteousness of him who was God as well as man; and therefore 1 Cor. 1, he is said to be made of God righteousness, &c. Neither can this Text be so slightly passed over, as some would; That as Christ is said to be wisdom, because he is the author of it, so of righteousness, because he works inherent righteousness in us, for this is comprehended in that expression, when Christ is said to be made sanctification to us; Therefore righteousness is here taken for another thing than inward holiness, and if so, it can be no otherwise than thus,  Christ is made to us righteousness, because in and through him we are accounted righteous. Now this is so clear, that in the point of Satisfaction, all our adversaries (except Socinians) agree, for there we are righteous as to the Law of God, not in our selves, for we were not able to discharge the penalty, but in another, who was Christ our Surety.  The righteousness then of God is in the same sense used, as the blood of God, viz. the righteousness of him who was God and man, and so becoming our full and complete Mediatour, brought such a righteousness as was not in the world before: for Adam’s righteousness and the Angels’ righteousness, cannot be called the righteousness of God, as Christ’s is: if then it be the righteousness of God, it cannot be ours by infusion or acquisition.

Sixthly and lastly, Our righteousness must be imputed by which we are justified, because that which is inherent in us, is imperfect, subject to much dross and pollution, and therefore doth provoke and offend God, if strictly and severely examined. It is true, we have an inward righteousness which may be called so truly and properly, yea in some sense perfect, but {302} never so perfect as to be the matter of our Justification, to be that which we may rest upon before God; if therefore our own inherent will not serve, an imputed one must be assigned.

But I shall no longer be on the affirmative part, because in the Discourse of Christ’s active obedience many of these things must be reassumed: I shall therefore proceed to answer such Objections as are brought against imputed righteousness, and it’s good to take notice of this, That the Socinians they oppose all imputed righteousness, whether it be by Satisfaction or Obedience to the Law; so that this use we may make of it, That there is not scarce any one Argument brought by Authors against the imputed active obedience of Christ, but the same is urged against the imputed passive obedience of Christ; and when we come to that subject, shall give you the parallesme of the Arguments which are against imputed passive, and imputed active obedience.

For the present, That which is [taken] from Scripture [as] most opposed against this truth, is, those several places of Scripture (and they are almost innumerable, that I need not mention them) wherein believers are called righteous, and God is said to approve of them, and to give them eternal glory in reference to their righteousness, all which looketh as if God did regard inherency and not imputation.

But to such places as these are, there is a free and ready concession, That all justified persons are renewed, are made righteous, walk in the ways of righteousness, give up themselves as servants to righteousness, and that God makes glorious promises both of this life, and the life to come, to that godliness and righteousness which they abound in: But what then? Is it therefore the matter for which they stand justified before God? Doth this righteousness answer the Law of God.  Thus both Scripture and experience is against it. Consider Job excellently clearing this, Job 9.2,3, How should man be just before God? If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand; and truly for a man to think otherwise, or to bear up himself against God, is called hardening, {303} and such an one shall not prosper: And verse 15, Though I were righteous (i.e. though I know nothing by my self) yet I would not answer, but make supplication, and the reason of this is laid down, verses 20,21.

For reasons which they bring, they are like the Apples of Sodom, they have a specious colour, but when touched are nothing but dust.  And truly it may be great grief of heart, that whereas formerly imputed righteousness was oppugned only by the professed Adversaries of the Reformed Churches; Now from our own selves arise men that with great forwardness oppose it.  What uncivil passion doth a late Writer shew against this Doctrine of imputed righteousness? calling it to him an unintelligible notion, empty and truthless words and fancies (Justification Justified, [by T. Clendon,] page 20) Surely it’s very uncharitable to make such a number of learned men, pillars in the Church, in all their books to have written, empty and truthless words, and to have delivered unintelligible fancies.  But let us see where his strength lieth. And

1. [Objection:] “If the righteousness of Christ be made formally ours, then we are as perfect as Christ, need no more faith or repentance than Christ.”  To this effect also the greatest Papists, Bellarmine and others, especially Sanders, is large upon this, that then we should be made equal with Christ.  But doth not the weakest and most distempered eye see the feebleness of this consequence? For the righteousness of Christ is not received by us, as if it were subjectively inherent in us, as if there were such a communication of Christ’s righteousness to us, as the Lutherans say, There is of the divine Attributes to the human nature, to make it infinite, omniscient, &c. but it is imputed to us, so far as we needed it.  It’s not made ours in the infinity of it, or the extension of it, but according to our necessity; so that we cannot be said to be as righteous as Christ, as perfect as Christ, for we are but the Subjects receiving of his fulness, he is the Agent that communicates of this his fulness to us; Shall we say, the Stars are as glorious as the Sun, and have as much light as the Sun, because every Star shineth with a borrowed light {304} from the Sun?  But because the Antinomian doth affirm this as a truth naturally deducted from the Doctrine of imputed righteousness; and because the Adversaries also fasten this upon the Orthodox, as an unavoidable consequence, I shall answer it more largely when we come to assert Christ’s active obedience imputed to us.

2. It’s objected, If Christ’s righteousness be formally made ours, this would make God’s judgment to be otherwise than according to truth.  For (say they) by imputed righteousness we should be pronounced just, and accounted as righteous, when yet we are in our selves imperfect; and that God should at the same time look upon us, and account us to be both perfect and imperfect, is that which is exceedingly wondered at.

But (not to say any thing of being made formally righteous by Christ’s righteousness, which is acknowledged an expression subject to misconstruction) will not this overthrow the Doctrine of Christ’s Satisfaction also? For how can we at the same time be looked upon by God, as having the debt paid in our Surety, and yet in our selves guilty? How at the same time doth God blot out our sins, and yet sin remaineth in us?

2. If it be impossible to be accounted imperfect in Sanctification, and yet perfect in Justification, then one of these absurdities must necessarily be maintained, either that our Justification is imperfect, and if so, then we can have but imperfect peace and joy, seeing our pardon and righteousness is imperfect, or else our sanctification is perfect, which yet is expressly denied by that Author of the Sermon, page 17. It’s therefore necessary that God should look upon our sanctification as imperfect, though our Justification be perfect.

3. God’s judgment is according to righteousness and truth, we be pronounced righteous in Christ, though sinners in ourselves, for there is a righteousness whereby we are made righteous, and this righteousness is by God made ours, we being in the number of those whom Christ undertook to be made a Surety for; So that we are not to account this imputation a mere bare thought in God without any foundation {305} of truth, for as truly and as really as Christ died, and rose again; so real are the benefits which a believer partaketh of by him.  Therefore imputation is grounded upon the sure performance of that which Christ undertook for us, and if a tittle of the Law shall not fall to the ground, [Matt. 5.18,] much less shall any of those benefits he hath purchased.  Now there cannot be imagined any way how Christ’s benefits should be derived to us, but by imputation.

3. Castellio objects, That this imputed righteousness, or the Doctrine of it is very pleasing to flesh and blood; Every one will in a carnal manner be glad of this, for hereby we shall not be troubled about our own righteousness, we will not much matter how or what we do, because Christ hath done all for us.  But this is as the Papists object against justifying faith, they say, This Doctrine is a ground of all carnal security and presumption, let a man live as he list it’s but believing, and then he shall be saved.

Now to all this we answer truly, That the way of faith and imputed righteousness is most contrary to flesh and blood, we see Rom. 10.3, That the Jews would not submit to the righteousness of God, but went about to establish their own righteousness, and they spake the natural inclination of all, who said, What shall we do that we might be saved?  It was long ere Paul could renounce all the things that were gain to him, and prize the righteousness of Christ only.  It’s not then a doctrine pleasing to flesh and blood, but altogether contrary, for it driveth a man into self-judging, a self-abhorrency, a self-renunciation, and makes Christ to be all in all.  By Pharisaical and Popish doctrines we see, that it’s more pleasing to flesh and blood to set upon some extraordinary works, and to make them the matter of our righteousness before God. What else is considerable in this Doctrine of imputed righteousness, will be more largely handled hereafter.