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CHAP. tice, and that all the creatures have little or rather no strength to help him in his misery. It is not possible, but that hence there must arise a compunction of mind, grief for sins committed, and for the offence given to God, despair concerning himself and other creatures, and finally, that anxious desire, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me!
VII. To the soul trembling in this manner, Jesus, the most merciful Saviour discovers himself, with all the abundance of his grace and glory, which he spontaneously and freely offers to all who desire it; nor does he offer it only, but also gently invites, and in a pathetic manner requests them to embrace it; and in the mean time, penetrating the inward parts by the secret efficacy of his Spirit, he with a gentle power, allures the mind, together with the will: hence it is, that the soul, surrounded with the lustre of this celestial light, and so allured, with all its might receiveth Jesus for its Saviour, and by this reception ratifies this inestimable gift and renders it irrevocable: this is the faith of God's elect, the praises of which is so often commended in the holy scripture.
VIII. And since it consists in receiving The order Christ, it is evident, that when we accept of of saving application. him by faith, then only he is ours, not simply
in right, but also in possession. In accepting him, we likewise accept, and, by accepting, make all that righteousness which he fulfilled
for us our own; which in the secret counsel CHAP. of God was of old, indeed, put to our account, but in reality is offered to possession in effectual calling, and is possessed with saving benefit after it is accepted by faith.
in a con
IX. Further, as soon as the righteousness IX. The of Christ is made ours by faith, we are justi- their regefied on its account: that is, God declares with neration are a particular appropriation to our persons, that demned now we have passed from a state of wrath state. into a state of favour, and that whereas we were lately enemies, now we are reconciled to him, and made friends, and shall hereafter enjoy his saving favour. This is the order of application taught both by holy scripture, and by the evidence of the thing itself. Hence it follows, that an elect person, before his regeneration, while he gives himself up to luxury, lasciviousness, and all ungodly lusts, is in the way of perdition and destruction, and in his sins appears before God as odious, abominable, most deserving of all his wrath and curse; and it is impossible for him to escape impending wrath, if he continue with obstinacy to go on in the way of wickedness. Truly, it is much safer and far more candid by sober speech to infuse these doctrines, and such as these, into a man, however certainly elected, that by the terror of the Lord he may be excited to faith, than to fill him with a persuasion, that provided. he be elected, God has no more to impute to him, though he live ever so wickedly, than
CHAP. if he were already received into heaven. Accurately speaking, such an elect person is in reality in a condemned state, not only in the court of his own conscience, but also in the court of God, to which that of conscience should never be contrary. [9.] Then only is he absolved from damnation, as to his person, when he begins to be in Christ, not according to the foreknowledge of God, but in actual union by the Spirit. Till that time, he was under the law of sin and death; then he begins to be under the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, Rom. viii. 1, 2. This is the perpetual and the constant doctrine of the scriptures, from which we must not depart, no not in the form of words.
Whether the Elect are united to Christ before faith, and whether not only the fruits of his righteousness, but also the righteousness of Christ itself is imputed
II. III. IV. Various manners or degrees of the union of the elect unto Christ, before and after faith. V. The righteousness of Christ itself is imputed to believers. VI. As the sin of Adam to his posterity. VII. Even the holiness of Christ is imputed. VIII. It may be said in a sound sense, that believers are perfectly righteous and holy in Christ. IX. And because they are righteous by the righteousness of Christ, yet they are as righteous as Christ himself. X. The Palatine Catechism not differing.
F these things be properly considered, it will not be difficult to explain, Whether, and in what way, the elect are united to Christ be fore faith, or whether they are not., Doubtless ners or _dethey are united to him, 1. In the eternal de- the union cree of God, which, however, includes nothing, of the eexcept that their actual union shall take place; Christ, beas was already demonstrated.
fore and af
II. By an union of eternal consent, wherein Christ was constituted by the Father the head of all those who were to be saved, and that he should represent their persons; hence it was, that Christ obeying the commandment of the Father, and suffering for them, they are reckoned in the judgment of God to have
CHAP. obeyed and suffered in him. All these things, however, do not hinder, but that considered in themselves, before their regeneration, they are far from God and Christ, according to that their present state.
III. By a true and a real union, (but which is only passive on their part,) they are united to Christ when his Spirit first takes possession of them, and infuses into them a principle of new life: the beginning of which life can be from nothing else but from union with the Spirit of Christ; who is to the soul, but in a far more excellent manner, in respect of spiri tual life, what the soul is to the body in respect of animal and human life. As therefore the union of soul and body is in order of nature prior to the life of man; so also the union of the Spirit of Christ and the soul is prior to the life of a Christian. Further, since faith is an act flowing from the principle of spiritual life, it is plain, that in a sound sense, it may be said, an elect person is truly and really united to Christ before actual faith.
IV. But the mutual union, (which, on the part of an elect person, is likewise active and operative), whereby the soul draws near to Christ, joins itself to him, applies, and in a becoming and proper manner closes with him without any distraction, is made by faith only, And this is followed in order by the other benefits of the covenant of grace, justification, peace, adoption, sealing, perseverance, &c. Which if they be arranged in that manner