The former points, which the Prophet pointeth us to with his Ecce, and willed us to behold, we then were so long in beholding that we had no time to take a view of this last; which I take to be the chiefest part of his Ecce, and the point of all points most worthy our beholding. Hoc est Nomen, &c.
1. The chief, because His Name is given Him from this, and not from any of the rest. For commonly, from his chiefest title doth every man take his denomination. In the verse next following God saith, He will no more be called their deliverer from Egypt, because He will vouchsafe them a greater deliverance from Babylon; and so from thence, as from the greater, have His Name given. And as God, so men. What title of honour in their style, that of all other doth each person delight to be termed by.
Now those in the former part of this verse, of salvation and peace which He will procure them, be great and excellent titles, and they be no less verified of Him than this of righteousness: 'The Lord is my light and my salvation,' by the Prophet; and, 'He is our peace,' by the Apostle; yet of neither of these doth He take His Name. But from this of [104/105] righteousness He doth. And that, both His former Name, in metaphor and figure, 'The branch of righteousness;' and this His latter, in propriety and truth His royal Name, Jehova justitia nostra. This therefore is chief in his account.
2. Again, the chief because it is His peculiar. And every man reckoneth of that as his chiefest title that is not common to him with others, but proper to him alone, as wherein he hath a prerogative above all. He, and none but he.
Now those in the former verse--of 'executing judgment and justice'--are such as are also given to other kings. King David is said to have 'executed judgment and justice to all his people;' so is king Solomon likewise, the queen of Sheba giveth him that title. To do justice is the title also of others--and not many neither, but yet of some others; but to be justice, to be righteousness, that his the name of none but Christ only. His, and His only, is that title. Therefore as well in this regard as in the former, this is the very chief part in the Ecce, the Name of 'Jehovah our righteousness.'
Which, because it is nothing but a name, may seem to some a matter of no great importance. The Deputy of Achaia, Gallio, in the Acts, seemeth of that mind: 'If it were some weighty matter, I would sit the hearing,' saith he, 'but if it be a matter of names, I take it not worth the while;' hear it who will, for I will not. And to say the truth, if it were a name of men's giving he said not much amiss. Their names are not greatly to be looked after. The argument taken from them, the heathen philosopher confesseth, is m£rtnj ¢lazën, an argument that setteth a good face upon it, but no great substance in it. The reason whereof is, because with men there be nominals and there be reals, names and things are many times two. There is, quædam dicuntur de, et non insunnt. There is learning, saith the Apostle, yeudènumoj, falsely so called.' And as learning, so many things beside. The churl is named liberal, and they worshipful that have nothing worthy worship in them. Yea it fallethh out that some have a name 'that they live and yet are dead;' and many things besides, quæ dicuntur de, et nonn insunt in. Whereof we need not seek far; we have an example here in the Prophet of king Zedekiah that reigned at the time of this prophecy. One that had neither truth nor righteousness in him, a breaker of his league and [105/106] covenant, a falsifier of his oath, and yet his name is Zedekiah, God's righteous one, or the righteousness of God. Men's names for the most part are false.
2. And when they be true, empty, and no great weight in them. For what are men's titles but men's breath; but a blast of air, but wind. If they be popular titles, the wind of a common pair of bellows. If of those of the better sort, as the heathen man well said, picrÚsou fushtÁroj, the wind 'of a gilt or wrought pair of bellows,' but both of them wind.
But the names of God's imposition are not so. They ever carry truth in them. For seeing God cannot away with those that are title-givers, as saith Elihu, He will give none Himself. With Him is not the division that is with us, of nominals and reals; of quædam dicuntur de, quædam insunt in. If we be named 'the sons of God,' we 'are' so, saith St. John: and therefore from His Name a sound and substantial argument may be drawn, as we see the Apostle doth; proving the excellency of Christ's nature above the Angels, from the excellency of His Name above theirs.
And as they are free from falsehood, so are they not empty sounds, but have ever some virtue in them. 'The Name of God,' saith Solomon, 'is a strong tower.' So that, when 'some trust in chariots and horses,' and other some 'in the Name of God;' they that trust in chariots and horses, they 'go down;' they that in that Name, 'stand upright.' And this not only in the dangers of this life, but there is also in the Name of God a saving power for the life to come. A power to justify; 'Ye are justified in the Name of Christ,' saith St. Paul. A power for remission of sins: 'Your sins are forgiven you, for His Name's sake, saith St. John. A power to save: 'In this Name you have salvation,' saith St. Peter.
And such is the Name here named, 'Jehovah our righteousness.' 'Our righteousness,' to justify, to forgive us our sins, to give us salvation. Such is this 'Name:' and 'there is not under heaven any Name given to men, wherein they may be saved, beside it.'
In the Ecce, or beholding whereof, two things present themselves to our view: I. The 'Name' itself; II. The calling Him by it. The Name in these words: Hoc est Nomen. The calling in these: quo vocabant Eum.
[106/107] In either of which, two others. In the Name, these two: 1. The parts of it, and the reason of them; 2. The sense of it.
In the calling Him by it, likewise two: 1. As it is our duty so to call Him; 2. As we have an use or benefit by so calling Him. The duty and the use.
To God Himself, as the Psalmist telleth us, all the service we can perform reacheth not. The perfection of His nature is such, as it can from us receive nothing. But two things of His there are which He hath left to express that duty which we owe and bear to Himself. Which two are in one verse set down by the prophet David: 'Thou hast magnified, 1. Thy Name, and 2. Thy word above all things;' 1. His Name, and 2. His word. His Name for our invocation, His word for our instruction. And these two, as they are the highest things in God's account, so are they to be in ours. Not the word only, which carrieth all away in a manner in these days, but His Name also no less. For in the setting them down, the Holy Ghost giveth the first place to the Name. Our very assembling, and coming together, is in this 'Name.' And then, 'before all things, supplications are to be made' in this Name. And the very hearing of the word itself is, that we may call upon His Name. How shall they call upon His Name Whom they have not heard?' 'How shall they hear without a preacher?' So that preaching and hearing of the word are both ordained for the calling on of this Name.
Which being so high in God's account, of very civility, if there were nothing else, we are not to be ignorant what His Name is that He is to be called by. No man that maketh any, yea but common, account of a party, but he will learn by what name to call him. And so requisite doth Solomon holds this, as he affirmeth there is little more in that man than in a beast, yea there is not 'the understanding of a man' in him; of God--of Him That stretcheth out the heavens, and 'gathereth the winds in His fist, bindeth the waters in a garment, establisheth all the ends of the earth'--not to know 'what is His Name, or what is His Son's Name,' that His Name is Jehovah, and His Son's Name Jehova justitia nostra.
[107/108] This were we bound to get notice of it were but civility, or, as Solomon reckoneth it, even humanity. But that is not all. For seeing, as the heathen man confesseth, Panth f_ DiÕj kecr»meqa p£utej, 'we all either have or may have need of God' in our necessities of this life, but specially in our last need, of very necessity it will stand us in hand to know how to call unto Him. There is no client but will be sure how to call unto Him. There is no client but will be sure how to call unto Him. There is no client but will be sure to learn his advocate's name, nor no patient but will tell his physician's. Nor, in a word, any of them of whom we are to have any special use, but we will be careful as to learn his true name, that we miss not in it; so, if he have divers names, and love to be called by any one rather than other, to be sure to be perfect in it, and ready to salute him by it. And such is this Name here; and we therefore not to be to seek in it, seeing not only courtesy but very necessity commendeth it to us.
Which Name, as you see, is compounded of three words: 1. Jehova, 2. justitia, 3. nostra; all of them necessary, all of them essential. And they all three concurring, as it were three twists, they make 'a threefold cord,' like that which the preacher mentioneth, 'that cannot be broken.' But except it be entire, and have all three, it loseth the virtue; it worketh nothing. For sever any one of them from the rest, and the other are not of moment. A sound, but not a name; or name, but not hoc Nomen, 'this Name,' a Name qualified to save them that call on it. Take Jehova from justitua nostra, and justitia nostra is nothing worth. And take justitia from Jehova, and though there be worth in Jehova, yet there is not that which we seek for. Yea, take nostra from the other two, and how excellent soever they be they concern us not, but are against us rather than for us. So that together we must take them or the Name is lost.
1.To see this the better, it will not be amiss to take it in sunder, and to see the ground of every part in order. Why, 1. Jehova, 2. Why justitua, 3. Why Jehova justitia, 4, why justitia nostra, 5. Both nostra and justitia.
Jehova. Touching which word, and the ground why it must be a part of this name, the prophet David resolveth us: Memorabor, saith he, justitiæ Tuæ solius. Because His righteousness, and only His righteousness, is worth the remembering, and other's beside. His is not meet to be mentioned. [108/109] For as for our own 'righteousness' which we have without Him, Esay telleth us 'it is but a defiled cloth,' and St. Paul that it is 'but dung.' Two very homely comparisons, but they be the Holy Ghost's own; yet nothing so homely as in the original, where they be so odious, as what manner of defiled cloth, or what kind of dung, we have not dared to translate.
Our own then being no better, we are driven to seek for it elsewhere. 'He shall receive His righteousness,' saith the Prophet; and 'the gift of righteousness,' saith the Apostle. It is then another, to be given us, and to be received by us, which we must seek for. And whither shall we go for it? Job alone despatcheth this point. Not to the heavens or stars; for they are 'unclean in His sight.' Not to the Saints; for in them He found 'folly.' Nor to the Angels; for neither in them found He any steadfastness. Now if none of these will serve, we see a necessary reason why Jehova must be a part of this Name. And this is the reason why Jeremy here expressing more fully the Name given Him before in Esay--'Immanuel, God with us'--instead of the name of God in that Name, which is El, setteth down by way of explanation this Name of Jehova. Because that El, and the other Names of God are communicated to creatures. As the name of El to Angels, for their Names end in it; Michael, Gabriel, &c. And the name of Jah to Saints, and their names end in it; Esaiah, Jeremiah, Zachariah. To certify us therefore that it is neither the righteousness of Saints nor Angels that will serve the turn, but the righteousness of God and very God, he useth that Name which is proper to God alone; ever reserved to Him only, and never imparted by any occasion to Angel or Saint, or any creature in heaven or earth.
2. Justitia, 'righteousness.' Why that? If we ask, in regard of the other benefits which are before remembered, salvation and peace, why 'righteousness' and not salvation nor peace? It is evident. Because--as in the verse next before, the Prophet termeth it--'righteousness' is the 'branch;' and these two, salvation and peace, are the fruits growing on it. So that, if this be had, both the other are had with it. Of 'righteousness' and 'salvation,' Esay saith 'they grow both together,' as it were out of one stalk. And of peace, that [109/110] opus justitiæ pax, 'the very work' or proper effect 'of righteousness is peace.' For which cause the Apostle interpreting the name of Melchisedek, 'King of Salem;' first, saith he, 'King of Righteousness;' and after, 'King of Peace.' Even as on the contrary part, sin which is nothing else but ¢noma, iniquity or unrighteousness, as saith St. John, is that root of bitterness from whence shooteth forth both perdition of the soul contrary to salvation, and unquietness of the conscience opposite to peace. And both they and all other miseries are, as Job termeth them, 'sparks' of this brand of hell; as health and peace, and all blessings, are the fruits of this 'branch of righteousness.' Now because there is vana salus, 'a vain salvation,' as saith David; and a peace falsely so called, 'a peace which is no peace,' as saith Jeremy; to the end therefore that our salvation might be substantial, and our peace uncounterfeit, it behoveth us to lay a sure ground-work of them both, and to set a true root of this branch, which is the Name Jehovah. For such as the root of the branch is, such will salvation and peace, the fruits thereof, be. If it be man's righteousness which is vain, it will be also vana salus hominis, vain and soon at an end; and the peace, like the world's peace, vain and of no certainty. But if 'Jehovah' be 'our righteousness,' look how He is so will they be, everlasting salvation, a 'peace which passeth all understanding.'
3. Jehova justitia. We are now to seek the reason why Jehova is in this Name per modum justitiæ, by the way or under the term of 'righteousness,' rather than of some other attribute, as of power or mercy; that it is not Jehova misericordia, or Jehova potentia, but Jehova justitia. 'God with us,' saith Esay; with us, saith Jeremy, of all His properties, by that of 'righteousness' chiefly and above that.
Not of power, as in Esay, by His name El; which is His name of power. For in power there is no true comfort without justice be joined to it. For what is power, except righteousness go before? We see it is a thing very agreeable to our nature to have that we shall have by justice, to choose; and that way do even the mightiest first seek it, and when that way it will not come they overbear it with power.
Nor of mercy; not Jehova misericordia, by which name David calleth Him. For though it be a name of special comfort, [110/111] and St. Augustine saith of it, O Nomen sub quo nemini desperandum! Yet if we weigh it well of itself alone, we shall find there is no full or perfect comfort in it except this also be added, for that we have in us two respects: 1. One, as persons in misery; 2. The other, as persons convict of sin. And though Mercy be willing to relieve us in the one, for her delight is to help those in misery, yet what shall become of the other, how shall that be answered? We have in the verse before, mention of a King ready to 'execute judgment and justice.' Now justice is professed enemy to all sin; and justice in her proceeding may not admit of any respect, either of the might or of the misery of any, to lead from giving sentence according to law.
True it is, mercy is ours, our wholly there is no doubt; but justice is against us, and except justice may be made ours too, all is not as it should be. But if justice, if that in God which only is against, might be made for us, then were we safe. Therefore all our thought is to be, either how we may get mercy to triumph over justice with the Apostle; or how, at the least, we may get them to meet together and be friends in this work. For except justice be satisfied, and do join in it also, in vain we promise ourselves that mercy of itself shall work our salvation. Which may serve for the reason why neither Jehova potentia, or Jehova misericordia are enough, but it must be Jehova justitia, and justitia a part of the Name.
4. Nostra: and neither may this be left out; for without this Jehova alone doth not concern us, and Jehova justitia is altogether against us. But if He be righteousness, and not only righteousness but ours too, all is at an end, we have our desires; verily this last, this possessive, this word of application, is all in all. By it we have interest in both the former, and without it our case is as theirs, Quid nobis et Tibi?' 'what have we to do with Thee,' Jehova justitia? Which is most fearful, and nothing but terror and torment in the consideration of it. Therefore we must make much of this; for if once He be nobiscum, 'with us,' and not against us, and not only nobiscum, with us, but noster, 'our own,' all is safe. Otherwise it falleth out oft there be many nobiscum that be not nostri; 'with us,' talk with us, eat with us, sit with us, which [111/112] yet are not 'ours' for all that. And in this point also doth this name of Jeremy more fully express the name of Esay's Immanuel no less than in the two former; first of Jehova, which is more than El, and then of justitia, which is more agreeable than that of potentia; and now in this here, that there it is nobiscum, which is well, and here it is noster, which is better, and more sure by a great deal. For if He be, as the Apostle saith, factus nobis, 'made unto us righteousness,' and that so as He becometh ours, what can we have more? What can hinder us, saith St. Bernard, but that we should uti Nostro in utilitatem nostram, et de Servatore salutem operari, 'use Him, and His righteousness, use that which is ours to our best behoof, and work our salvation out of this our Saviour.' So that nostra may not be spared, no more than the other part of the name. For all is in suspense, and there is no complete comfort without it.
To which comfort this may be added for a conclusion of this part, no less effectual than any of the former. That it is justitia nostra in the abstract, and not in the concrete Justificans, or Justificator noster; 'our justice or righteousness,' For thus delivered, I make no doubt it hath much more efficacy in it; and more significant it is by far to say, 'Jehovah our justice,' than Jehovah our Justifier. I know St. Paul saith much; that our Saviour Christ shed His blood 'to shew His righteousness, that He might not only be just, but a justifier' of those which are of His faith. And much more again in that when he should have so said, To him that believeth in God, he chooseth thus to set it down, 'To him that believeth in Him That justifieth the ungodly;' making these two to be all one, God, and the Justifier of sinners. Though this be very much, yet certainly this is most forcible, that 'He made unto us by God, very 'righteousness' itself. And that yet more, that He is made 'righteousness to us, that we be made the righteousness of God in Him.' Which place St. Chrysostom well weighing, this very word, dikaiosÚnh saith he, the Apostle useth, deikn_j tÕ ¥faton tÁj dwre©j, 'to express the unspeakable bounty of that gift,' that He hath not given us the operation or effect of His righteousness, but His very righteousness, yea His very self unto us. Mark, saith he, how every [112/113] thing is lively, and as full as can be imagined. Christ, one not only that had done no sin, but 'That had not so much as known any sin, hath God made (not a sinner, but) sin' itself; as in another place (not accursed, but) 'a curse' itself; 'sin' in respect of the guilt, 'a curse' in respect of the punishment. And why this? To the end ' that we might be made (not righteous persons; that was not full enough, but) righteousness' itself; and there he stays not yet--and not every righteousness, but the very 'righteousness of God' Himself. What can be further said, what can be conceived more comfortable? To have Him ours, not to make us righteous but to make us 'righteousness,' and that not any other but 'the righteousness of God;' the wit of man can devise no more. And all to this end, that we might see there belongeth a special Ecce to this name, that there is more than ordinary comfort in it; that therefore we should be careful to honour Him with it, and so call Him by it; 'Jehovah our righteousness.'
There is no Christian man that will deny this Name, but will call Christ by it, and say of Him that He is Jehova justitia nostra, without taking a syllable or letter from it. But it is not the syllables, but the sense that maketh the Name. And the sense is it we are to look unto; that we keep it entire in sense as well as in sound, if we mean to preserve this Name of justitia nostra full and whole unto Him. And as this is true, so is it true likewise that even among Christians all take it not in one sense; but some, of a greater latitude than other. They are that take it in that sense which the Prophet Esay hath set down; In Jehovâ justitia mea, that all 'our righteousness is in Him; and we to be found in Him, not having our own righteousness,' but being 'made the righteousness of God in Him.' There are some other, that though in one part of our righteousness they take it in that sense, yet in another part they shrink it up, and in that make it up a proposition causal, and the interpretation thereof to be, A Jehova justitia mea. Which is true too, 1. Whether we respect Him as the cause exemplary, or pattern--for we are to be made 'conformable to the image' of Christ; 2. Or whether we respect Him as the cause efficient; for of all his righteous works the Prophet truly protesteth, [113/114] Domine, universa opera nostra Tu operatus es in nobis; and the Apostle when he had said Ego, correcteth himself presently and saith, Non ego sed gratia Dei mecum; 'Not I, but the grace of God.' This meaning then is true and good, but not full enough. For either it taketh the Name in sunder, and giveth Him not at all, but a part of it again, or else it maketh two senses, which may not be allowed in one name.
For the more plain conceiving of which point we are to be put in mind that the true righteousness, as saith St. Paul, is not of man's device, but hath his witness from 'the law and prophets;' which he there proceedeth to shew out of the examples first of Abraham and after of David. In the Scripture then there is a double righteousness set down, both in the Old and in the New Testament.
In the Old, and in the very first place that righteousness is names in the Bible: 'Abraham believed and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.' A righteousness accounted. And again, in the very next line, it is mentioned, Abraham will teach his house to do righteousness. A righteousness done. In the New likewise. The former, in one chapter, even the fourth to the Romans, no fewer than eleven times, Reputatum est illi ad justiam. A reputed righteousness. The latter in St. John: 'My beloved, let no man deceive you, he that doeth righteousness is righteous.' A righteousness done. Which is nothing else but our just dealing, upright carriage, honest conversation.
Of these, the latter the philosophers themselves conceived and acknowledged; the other is proper to Christians only, and altogether unknown in philosophy. The one is a quality of the party. The other an act of the judge, declaring or pronouncing righteous. The one ours by influence or infusion, the other by account or imputation.
That both these there are, there is no question. The question is, whether of these the prophet here principally meaneth in this Name?
This shall we best inform ourselves of by looking back to the verse before, and without so looking back we shall never do it to purpose.
There the Prophet setteth one before us in His royal judicial power in the person of a King, and of a King set [114/115] down to execute judgment; and this he telleth us, before he thinks meet to tell us his Name. Before this King, thus set down in His throne, there to do judgment, the righteousness that will stand against the law, our conscience, Satan, sin, the gates of hell and the power of darkness; and so stand that we may be delivered by it from death, despair and damnation; and entitles by it to life, salvation, and happiness eternal; that is righteousness indeed, that is it we seek for, if we may find it. And that is not this latter, but the former only; and therefore that is the true interpretation of Jehova justitian ostra. Look but how St. Augustine and the rest of the Fathers, when they have occasion to mention that place in the Proverbs, Cum Rex justus sederit in solio, quis potest dicere, Mundum est cor meum? Look how they interpret it then, and it will give us light to understand this Name and we shall see that no Name will serve then but this Name. Nor this Name neither, but with this interpretation of it.
And that the Holy Ghost would have it ever thus understood, and us ever to represent before our eyes this King thus sitting in his judgment-seat, when we speak of this righteousness, it is plain two ways. 1. By way of position. For the tenor of the Scripture touching our justification all along runneth in judicial terms, to admonish us still what to set before us. The usual joining of justice and judgment continually all along the Scriptures, shew it is a judicial justice we are to set before us. The terms of 1. A judge: 'It is the Lord That judgeth me.' 2. A prison: Kept and shut up under Moses. 3. A bar: 'We must all appear before the bar.' 4. A proclamation: 'Who will lay any thing to the' prisoner's 'charge?' 5. An accuser: 'The accuser of our brethren.' 6. A witness: Our 'conscience bearing witness.' 7. An indictment upon these: 'Cursed be he that continueth not in all the words of this law to do them.' And again, he that breaketh one 'is guilty of all.' A conviction that all may be ØpÒdicoi, 'guilty' or culpable 'before God.' Yea the very delivering of our sins under the name of 'debts,' of the law under the name of a 'hand-writing,' the very terms of 'an advocate,' of 'a surety' 'made under the law;' of a pardon, or 'being justified from those things which by the law we could not;' all these, wherein for the most part this is still expressed, what speak they but that [115/116] the sense of this Name cannot be rightly understood, nor what manner of righteousness is in question, except we still have before our eyes this same coram Rege justo judicium faciente.
2. And again by way of opposition. For usually where 'justifying' is named, there 'condemning,' which is a term merely judicial, is set against it. In the law: 'Where there shall be strife, and the matter shall come before thee, and sentence to be given, see the righteous be justified and the sinner condemned.' 'To justify the wicked and condemn the innocent, both are alike abominable before God.' 'If man cannot judge, hear Thou from heaven, condemn the wicked and justify the righteous.'
In the Gospel: 'By thy words shalt thou be justified, and by thy words condemned.' 'It is God that justifieth, who shall condemn?' Grace to 'justification,' as sin to 'condemnation.' All these shew manifestly we must imagine ourselves standing at the bar, or we shall never take the state of this question aright, nor truly understand the mystery of this Name.
For it is not in question whether we have an inherent righteousness or no, or whether God will accept it or reward it; but whether that must be our righteousness, coram Rege justo judicium faciente.
Which is a point very material, and in no wise to be forgotten. For without this, if we compare ourselves with ourselves, what heretofore we have been; or if we compare ourselves with others, as did the Pharisee; we may take a fancy perhaps, and have some good conceit of our inherent righteousness. Yea, if we be to deal in schools by argument or disputation, we may peradventure argue for it, and make some show in the matter. But let us once be brought and arraigned coramm Rege justo sedente in solio, let us set ourselves there, we shall then see that all our former conceit will vanish straight, and righteousness in that sense will not abide the trial.
Bring them hither then, and ask them here if this Name, and never a Saint nor Father, no nor the Schoolmen themselves, none of them but will shew you how to understand it aright. In their commentaries it may be, in their questions [116/117] and debates, they will hold hard for the other. But remove it hither, they forsake it presently, and take the Name in the right sense. 'Hast thou considered My servant Job,' saith God to Satan, 'how just and perfect he is?' This just and perfect Job standing here, 'Though I be just,' saith he, 'I will not hold up my head'--or as they say, Stare rectus in curiâ--will never plead it or stand upon it, but put up a supplication to be relieved by Jehova justitia nostra.
David hath the witness to have been 'a man according to God's own heart.' For all that he darethh not stand here, but desireth God would not 'enter into judgment with him;' for that in conspectu Tuo, in his sight, not he, 'nor any other living'--which St. Bernard extendeth to the Angels--'shall be justified.' But if he must come--as thither we must come all--them Memorabor justitiæ Tuæ solius, he will never chant his own righteousness, but make mention only of this Name, Jehova justitia nostra.
Daniel, Vir desideriorum, as the Angel termed him, even he that 'man so greatly beloved,' after he saw the 'Ancient of days' set down in His throne, and the books open before Him, then Tibi domine justitia, nobis autem confusio faciei. Non in justificationibus nostris, 'not in our righteousness'--yet was that righteousness a Jehovâ, but there it would not serve; he must wait for the Messias, and the 'everlasting righteousness' which He bringeth with Him.
And Esay likewise, at the vision of the Lord sedentis super thronum, and the Angels covering their faces before Him, crieth out Væ mihi, 'Wo is me, I am a man of polluted lips;' wo is me, for I have held my peace; and there he seeth the very sins of his lips, and the very sins of omission will be enough to condemn him, though he had never in act committed any.
To end this point. St. Paul, 'a vessel of election'--so God Himself doth name him--saith plainly, if it were before the Corinthians, or any assize of man, he would stand upon his righteousness; but, seeing Qui me judicat est Dominus, he will give it over and confess that though Nihil mihi conscius sum (and so had justitia a Domino) yet for all that in hoc non sum justificatus; it is another righteousness, and not that must acquit him.
[117/118] Thus do the Saints, both of the Old and of the New Testament, take this Name. And do not the Fathers the like? St. Augustine's report it is of Ambrose, that being now at the point of death he alleged that the cause why he feared not death was, quia bonum habemus Dominum; and doth he not give this note upon it, that he did not presume de suis purgatissimis moribus, 'of his conservation, though most holy and clean,' but only stood on the goodness of the Lord, 'the Lord our righteousness.'
And doth he not in his own case fly to the same against Cresconius the Donatist? Then he shunned not to have his life sifted to the uttermost by any Donatist of them all. Yet in the eyes of God, cum Rex justus sederit in soli, (these very words he allegeth) he saith plainly he dare not justify himself; but rather waited for the overflowing bounty of His grace, than would abide the severe examination of His judgment. And Bernard, in his three hundred and tenth epistle, the very last he wrote, a little before his death, to the Abbot of Chatres, concludeth he not, Calcaneum vacuum meritis curate munire precibus? Abandoneth he not them his justitia a Domino, and confesseth his heel, meaning the end of his life, is bare of all merits, and desireth to have it by prayers commended to Jehova justitia nostra. Thus do the Fathers conceive of it.
Yea, the very schoolmen themselves, take them from their questions, quodlibets, and comments on the sentences, let them be in their soliloquies, meditations, or devotions, and specially in directing how to deal with men in their last agony, quando judex præ foribus est; then take Anselm, take Bonadventure, take Gerson, you would not wish to find Jehova justitia nostra better or more pregnantly acknowledged than in them you shall find it. But this is by virtue of this Ecce Rex faciet judicum; out of whose sight when we be, we may fall into a fancy, or as the Prophet saith, we may have a dream of justitia nostra a Jehova.
But framing ourselves as before Him, we shall see it is not that righteousness will consist there; but we must come to justitia nostra in Jehovâ. It is the only way how to settle the state of this controversy aright, and without this we may well miss of the interpretation of this Name. And this, they that do not, or will not now conceive, the Prophet telleth them after, [118/119] at the twentieth verse, quod in novissimo intelligetis plane, 'at the end they shall understand' whether they will or no.
And indeed, to do them no wrong, it is true that at this judgment-seat, so far as it concerneth the satisfaction for sin and our escaping from eternal death, the Church of Rome taketh this Name aright; and that term which a great while seemed harsh unto them, now they find no such absurdity in it; that Christ's righteousness and merits are imputed to us. So saith Bellermine: Et hoc modo non esset absurdam, si quis diceret, nobis imputari Christi justitiam et merito, cum nobis donetur et applicentur, ac si nos ipsi Deo satisfecissemus. And again: Solus Christus pro salute nostrâ satisfacere potuit, et re ipsâ ex justitiâ satisfecit, et illa satisfactio nobis donatur et applicatur et nostra reputatur, cum Deo reconciliamur et justificamur. So saith Stapleton: Illa sane justitia quâ satisfecit pro nobis per communicationem sic nostra est,, ut perinde nobis imputetur ac si nos ipsi sufficienter satisfecimus:--in as full terms as one would wish. So that this point is meetly well cleared now. Thus they understand this Name in that part of righteousness which is satisfactory for punishment; and there they say with us, as we with Esay, In Jehova justitia nostra.
But in the positive justice, or that part thereof which is meritorious for reward, there fall they into a fancy they may give it over, and suppose that justitia a Domino, 'a righteousness from God' they grant, yet inherent in themselves, without the righteousness that is in Christ, will serve them; whereof they have a good conceit that it will endure God's justice, and standeth not by acceptation. So by this means shrink they up their Name, and though they leave the full sound, yet take they half the sense from it.
Now as for us, in this point of righteousness, if we both go no further than the former, of taking away sin, then as much as we strive for they do yield us. And therein we think we have cause to blame them justly, for not contenting themselves with that which contented the Prophet: Hic est omnis fructus--mark that omnis ut auferatur peccatum. Which contented St. John Baptist; Ecce Agnus Dei, Qui tollit peccata mundi. Which contented the Angel: Hic servabit populum Suum a peccatis eorum. Which contented the Fathers: St. Augustine [119/120] Puto hoc esse, Justus sum, quod peccator non sum. St. Bernard, Factus est nobis justitia, sapienta, &c. Sapientia in prædicatione, justitia in pecctorum absolutione. So that too be absolved from sin with him is our righteousness. And yet more plainly in his hundred and ninetieth epistle to Innocentius the Pope himself, Ubi reconciliatio, ibii remissio peccatorum, et quid ipsa nisi justificatio? Which the very name and nature of a judgment-seat doth give, which proceedeth only in matters penal.
And as we blame them for that, so likewise for this no less, that if they will needs have it a part of justice, they allow not Christ's name as full in this part as in the former. For there they allow imputation, but here they do not.
For I ask, What is the reason why in the other part of satisfaction for sin we need Christ's righteousness to be accounted ours. The reason is, saith Bellarmine, Non acceptat Deus in veram satisfactionem pro peccata nisi justitiam infinitam, quoniam peccatum offensa est infinita. If that be the reason, that 'it must have an infinite satisfaction, because the offence is infinite,' we reason a pari, there must also be an infinite merit, because the reward is no less infinite. Else by what proportion do they proceed, or at what beam do they weigh these twain, that cannot counterpoise an infinite sin but with an infinite satisfaction, and think they can weigh down a reward every way as infinite with a merit, to say the least, surely not infinite? Why should there be a necessary use of the sacrifice of Christ's death for the one, and not a use full as necessary of the oblation of his life for the other? Or how cometh it to pass, that no less than the one will serve to free us from eternal death, and a great deal less will serve to entitle us to eternal life? Is there not as much requisite to purchase for us the crown of glory, as there is to redeem us from the torments of hell? What difference is there? are they not both equal. both alike infinite? Why is His death allowed solely sufficient to put away sin, and why is not His life to be allowed like solely sufficient to bring us to life? If in that, the blessed saints themselves--were there sufferings never so great, yea though they endured never so cruel martyrdom--if all those could not serve to satisfy God's justice for their sins, but it is the death of [120/121] Christ must deliver them; is it not the very same reason, that were their merits never so many, and their life never so holy, yet that by them they could not, nor we cannot, challenge the reward; but it is the life and obedience of Christ that de justitiâ must procure it for us all? For sure it is, that Finiti ad infinitum nulla est proportio. Especially if we add hereunto, that as it cannot be denied but to be finite, so withal that the ancient fathers seem further to be but meanly conceited of it; reckoning it not to be full but defective, nor pure but defiled; and if it be judged by the just judge, districte or cum districtione examinis--they be St. Gregory's and St. Bernard's words--indeed, no righteousness at all.
Not full, but defective. So saith St. Augustine: Neque totam neque plenam, in hac vitâ, justitiam nos habere, confitenndum nobis est. If neither whole but a part, nor full but wanting, then imperfect and defective. Now which must be weighed in God's balance, must not be found minus habens; and this is minus habens, saith St. Bernard in express terms.
Not pure, but defiled. Nostra recta forsan, sed nonn pura justitia, saith Bernard, nisi forte meliores sumus quàm patres nostri, quorum illa vox, Omnes justitiæ nostræ sicut pannus menstruatæ. Mala nostra, pura mala; bona nostra, pura nequaquam, saith Gregory. Now khlida ¢n£gkh tin_ eÙreqÁnai, saith St. Chrysostom; 'necessary it is that the righteousness that shall present itself there, have not a spot in it.' As for ours, as pope Adrian the Sixth said, the case standeth thus, that stillamus quotidie super telam justitiæ nostræ saniem concupiscenntiæ nostræ, and so it is defiled.
And last of all, if it be straitly examined, indeed no righteousness. Sancti viri omne meritum vitium est, si ab Æterno Arbitro districte judicetur. And again: Quousque poenâ corruptionis astringimur, veram munditiam nequaquam apprehendimus. And, Omnis humana justitia injustitia esse invientur; si districte judecetur, injusta invenietur omnis justitia nostra. And th4s we see the conceit these Fathers have of our righteousness inherent; that if it be dealt with according to righteousness, in illo examine etiam justorum vita succumbet, 'in that examination it will sink and cannot stand before it.' Yea, [121/122] they themselves of the Church of Rome also, upon better examination, have begun to cry it down; and I doubt not but the longer and further they look into it, the easier account they will make of it.
Gregory de Valentia, after long debating the matter, thus resolveth : that, Seclusâ promissione divinâ, non suppetit aliquis sufficiens titulus, cur opera nostra debent compensari. And thus he expresseth his meaning, touching their value; that they be like to base money (as princes have sometime made leather money current) wherewith plate is bought or other wares far exceeding the coin in value, which is no way in respect of itself, but because it pleased the prince so to allow of it. And what is thus but a proclaiming our righteousness base, or as I said before, a crying it down?
Stapleton, in his seventh proposition, how the matter standeth in our justification, at length is fain to resolve thus: Facitque indulgendo, ut perinde simus coram Deo, justi, ac si universa ad amussin omnia mandata eademque perfectissime fecissemus. Now indulgence, we know, belongeth unto sin, and righteousness, if it be true, needeth none. Therefore he telleth us it is perinde ac si justi; it is not justi, as they defend it. So that he confesseth their righteousness needeth an indulgence; and it is but perinde ac si, and not that neither in justice but acceptation, which is mere matter of favour and not of judicial proceeding.
And to conclude, Bellarmine after his long disputation in the end taking upon him to answer a case of conscience, whether a man may repose any trust in that he had so long argued for, and how far, compriseth the matter in three propositions well worth the noting. 1. For first, very stoutly he setteth down, Fiducia non ex fide solâ nasscitur, sed ex bonis meritis. 2. Then in the second he falleth somewhat: In meritis (quæ vere talia compertum est) fiducia aliqua collocari potest. Not unless it be compertum they be talia--a case with them impossible; and not in them neither, but only aliqua fiducia.
3. And yet there is some; but after better bethinking himself, it may be, of the Judge sitting in His throne, he spoileth all in the third, which is, that Propter incertitudinem propriæ justitiæ (against his compertum est) et periculum inanis gloriæ [122/123] tutissimum est fidiciam totam in solæ Dei misericordiâ reponere. Mark that same totam in solâ, which is clean contrary to his aliqua a little before. Mark his misericordia; and that he declineth the judicial proceeding. And mark his reason because his righteousness is such as he is not sure of it, nor dare not put any trust in it, nor plead it coram Rege justo judicium faciente. Which is enough, I think, to shew when they have forgot themselves a little out of the fervour of their oppositions, how light and small account they make of it themselves, for which they spoil Christ of one half of His Name.
This is then the interpretation or meaning of this Name, that as well in the one sense as the other Christ is 'our righteousness;' and as the prophet Esay putteth it down, in the plural number, in Domine justitiæ nostræ, as it were prophesying of these men, 'All our righteousness,' this as that, that one as well as the other 'are in the Lord.' No abatement is to be devised, the Name is not to be mangled or divided, but entirely belongeth to Christ full and whole, and we to call Him by it, Jehova justitia nostra.
We to call Him by it; this is our duty first: and that so to call Him by it, as by His Name. And a name is a note of distinction, and we therefore so to use it; to apply it to Him and to none other whatsoever, as the nature of a name is; the nature of all names, but chiefly of those which be titles of honour. For howsoever we dispense with others, those we will not in any wise divide with any. Gloriam meam alteri non dabo, saith God by the Prophet; which maketh the Prophet to protest he will not meddle with it. Non nobis Domine: and again more vehemently, Non nobis, sed Nomini Tuo da gloriam. And such is this Name. For that very place in the New Testament where it is said, that 'God hath given Him a Name which is above all names, that in His Name all knees should bow, and all tongues confess;' that place is taken out of the Prophet Esay, where the very same is said, that 'all knees shall bow, and all tongues' shall acknowledge this Name; and that thus, by saying In Jehovâ justitiæ meæ; and so acknowledging concludeth, that all the whole 'seed of Israel,' as they shall be 'justified,' so shall they 'glory in the Lord.' It is the very question which the Apostle of purpose [123/124] doth propound, Ubi ergo est gloriatio tua? As if he should admonish us that this Name is given with express intent to exclude it from us, and us from it. And therefore in that very place where he saith, He is 'made unto us from God, righteousness;' to this end, saith he, He is so made, ut qui gloriatur, in Domino glorietur. All of which I put you in mind of this end, that you may mark that this nipping at this Name of Christ is for no other reason but that we may have some honour ourselves out of our righteousness.
Bellarmine doth disclose as much, and doth not stick in plain terms to avow it. For in answer to that argument which is alleged by us, that after we are acquit of our sins at this bar, and that only for Christ our only righteousness, we are received into God's favour, and made His children by adoption, and then have heaven by way of inheritance; he answereth directly, Their meaning is not to content themselves with that single title of inheritance, but they mean to lay claim to it duplicit jure. That is, not only titulo hæreditatis, but jure mercedis too. And therefore he giveth this reason; Quoniam magis honorificum est habere aliquid ex merito, 'for that it is more for their honour to have it by merit.' For so, saith he, Christ had it, and they must not be behind Him, but go even as far as He did. So that it seemeth he is resolved that rather than they will lost their honour, Christ must part with a piece of His Name, and be named justitia nostra only in the latter sense. Which is it the Prophet after, in the twenty-seventh verse of this chapter, setteth down as a mark of false prophets; that by having a pleasant dream of their own righteousness, they make God's people to forget His Name. As indeed, by this means, this part of Christ's Name hath been forgotten. And so much doth Pighius confess: [De Fid et Just. Cont. f.64 Ed. Venn 1:541] Dissimulare non possumus, hanc vel primam doctrine Christianæ partem obscuratam quam illustratam magis a scholasticis spinosis plerisque quæstionibus, 'that being the very chief part of a Christian doctrine, hath rather been obscured than received any light by the Schoolmen's questions and handling of it.' As much to say, as they had made the people in a manner to forget His Name.
Now as to call Him by this Name is a duty, so to call Him by it is a use likewise, and a benefit there is which we [124/125] receive by it. For calling Him by that Name which God hath prescribed, and which therefore is to Him most acceptable, we shall not do it for nought, for He will answer us; answer us, and answer for us; for us, as an advocate in our cause. So calleth Ezekias to Him: Domine vim patior, responde pro me. So king David reposeth himself: 'Thou shalt answer for me, O Lord my God.' And this shall He in all things wherein we shall need Him; but above all in that which concerneth His Name in particular, to be 'our righteous Judge.' And even so doth Jeremy teach us, to pray unto Him: 'O Lord our misdeeds testify against us, yet deal Thou with us according to Thy Name,' which is Jehova justitia nostra. In Thy 'Name' we are 'justified:' deal Thou with us according to Thy Name, and justify us. Our sins are forgiven for Thy name's sake; deal Thou with us according to Thy name, and forgive us our sins. Et noli ita reminisci peccatum nostrum, ut velis propterea oblivisci Nomen Tuum; 'Let not the remembrance of our sins make Thee forget Thine own Name.' And this if we do, this if we call on Him, fidelis et justus est, 'He is faithful,' saith St. John, 'and just to forgive us our sins,' to justify us and to be 'our righteousness.' For so is His Name, and He beareth not His Name for nought.
And this if we do, and if He be 'our righteousness,' as we may say in respect of His other Name with the Prophet, 'Look Thou upon us and be merciful unto us, as Thou usest to do unto those that love Thy Name;' so may we in respect of this go further and safely say, Esto justitia et fac justiam, esto jusititia et intra in judicium cum servo Tuo. For with this advocate, with this righteousness, with this Name, we may without fear appear before the King executing judgment and justice.
So for that duty which we are bound to acknowledge, we have this benefit which we shall be sure to receive; the greatest benefit that can be received for importance in itself, and the greatest in respect of the most dreadful place and time wherein we shall need to receive it, wherein heaven and earth and all in them shall not be able to stand us in stead, but 'Jehovah our righteousness' only. And this is the view of [125/126] His Name whereby we are called to Him, as well for our duty to it as for our benefit by it, which is that the Prophet by his Ecce willeth us to behold, and the sum of this Scripture.