Written by Abraham Booth (1734–1806).
Edited for thought and sense
Nor is faith itself our righteousness…
…or that for the sake of which we are justified. For though believers are said to be justified by faith, yet not for faith. That faith is not our righteousness, is evident from the following considerations:
No man’s faith is perfect; and if it were, it would not be equal to the demands of divine law.
It could not therefore, without, an error in judgment, be accounted a complete righteousness. But the judgment of God as before proved, is according to truth, and according to the rights of his law. — That obedience by which a sinner is justified, is called the righteousness of faith; and is represented as revealed to faith. Rom. 13:23. Philip, 3: 9. Rom. 1:7. Consequently, it cannot be faith itself.—Faith, in the business of justification, stands opposite to all works. To him that worketh not, but believeth. Now, if it were our justifying righteousness, to consider it in such a light would be highly improper. For, in such a connection, it falls under the consideration of a worthy a condition on the performance of which our acceptance with God is manifestly suspended.
If faith itself be that on account of which we are accepted, then some believers are justified by a more, and some by a less perfect righteousness, in exact proportion to the strength or weakness of their faith.
He was strong; in faith — 0 ye of little faith. Consequently, either more of justice and less of grace must appear in the justification of some, than in that of others; or else it must be concluded, that some are more fully justified than others: each of which is absurd. — That which is the end of the law is our righteousness; which, certainly, is not faith, but the obedience of our exalted Substitute. Christ is the end of the law, for righteousness, to everyone that believeth. —That righteousness, by which, many are justified, is the obedience of One.
The believer, therefore, is not justified for the sake of his own faith; for then there must be as many distinct righteousnesses, as there are justified persons.
Were faith itself our justifying righteousness, we might, without either pride or folly, depend upon it, plead it before God, and rejoice in it.
Whatever may be so pleaded, must be esteemed a proper ground of our confidence— may be used, as an argument in prayer at the throne of grace, and as the foundation of our expecting eternal happiness; and whatever is the ground of our confidence, must be the source of our spiritual joy. So that, according to this hypothesis, not Christ, but faith, is the capital thing; the object to which we must look. The glorious Redeemer and his undertaking, would only be considered as auxiliaries in the, affair of justification. If Faith was imputed to him for righteousness in the Arminian sense, it then contradict the whole scope and design of the apostle’s argumentation, when treating upon the justification of sinners.
For Paul’s main design is to prove, that the eternal Sovereign justifies freely without any cause in the creature.
But according to this hypothesis, faith is the condition; is the cause; is that on account of which we are accepted as righteous. For it is considered under the formal notion of righteousness.
—Hence it appears, that it is not faith itself, but its glorious Object which Paul intends, when he speaks of faith being imputed for righteousness.
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Abraham Booth (1734–1806) was an English dissenting minister and author, known as a Baptist apologetical writer. Booth was baptized in 1755 by immersion, and began to preach in the Midland counties. In 1760, when the Baptists first gathered into churches, Booth became superintendent of the Kirkby Woodhouse congregation, but not their pastor. He changed views, from General Baptist to Particular Baptist, and seceded. Soon after, he began to preach on Sundays at Sutton-in-Ashfield, Chesterfield, and elsewhere in the Midland towns and villages, still keeping his school.
The Particular Baptist church of Little Prescot Street, Goodman’s Fields, in east London, invited Booth to be their pastor. He accepted the call, and was ordained on 16 February 1769. He entered a controversy with Andrew Fuller, over the 1785 book The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. In the 1790s Booth preached in the abolitionist cause, and joined the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. The Baptist Education Society was founded around 1804 by Booth and others. It led, in 1810 after his death, to the setting up of Stepney Academy in East London.
Booth died on 27 January 1806, aged 71, having been a minister 50 years. A marble tablet was erected to his memory in the Prescot Street chapel, where he had been pastor 35 years. William Jones‘s Essay on Abraham Booth was published at Liverpool, 1808.