Righteousness by Faith

Written by, Thomas Manton,  Circa 1670, published 1874.
Taken from, “The Complete Works of Thomas Manton”, Vol. 18.
Edited with apologies for thought and sense by Michael Pursley.

white-robe “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”
 –Gal. 5: 5.

In the context of this passage, the apostle persuades the Galatians to stand fast in the liberty of the gospel,and not to be entangled again in the bondage…

The blessedness of a christian is implied in the word ‘Hope.’

Hope is taken two ways in scripture, “for the thing hoped for,and for the affection or act of him that hopes. Here it is taken in the first sense, for the thing hoped for. As also Titus ii.13, ‘Looking for the blessed hope.’ So Col. i. 5, ‘ For the hope which is laid up for us in heaven.’

But what is The ground and foundation of this hope?  …’The righteousness of faith!’

Only here it is opposed, partly to the covenant of works, which could not give life; partly to the legal observances; for it presently followeth, ‘Neither circumcision, nor uncircumcision,’ etc. But by no means is it opposed to evangelical obedience; for the whole new testament obedience is comprised in this term, ‘The righteousness of faith;’ as appeareth by the apostle’s explication in the next verse, ‘But faith,which works by love.’

Also, in this text is shown the duty of a christian…

…’We wait.’ De jure, we ought; defacto, we do. All true christians wait for the mercy of God and life everlasting. And he calls it waiting, because a believer hath not so much in possession as in expectation. This waiting is not a devout sloth, but is accomplished by the Spirit all true christians are inclined to pursue after their hope built upon the righteousness of faith.  So we ask:

1. What is the righteousness of faith?
2. What is the hope built upon it?

3. What is the interest and work of the Spirit in bringing us to wait for this hope?

This righteousness of faith may be considered with respect to the object of faith…

…and the proper and principal object of faith is Jesus Christ and his merits; and so the righteousness of faith is the obedience and death of Christ, which, because it is apprehended by faith, it is sometimes called the righteousness of Christ,and sometimes the righteousness of faith: Phil. 3:9, ‘And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness which is by the law, but that which is by the faith of Christ, even the righteousness which is of God by faith.’ This certainly is the ground of our acceptance with God, and therefore the bottom and foundation of all our hope: Rom. 5: 19,’By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous;’ that is, by Christ’s merit and obedience; and 2 Cor. 5:21,’He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.’

This is that we rely upon Christ as the only meritorious cause of whatever benefit we obtain by the new covenant.

With respect to faith itself,whereby the merits of Christ’s obedience and death are applied and made beneficial to us. When we believe, we are qualified; and therefore it is said that ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousnes,’ –Romans 4:3.

That is, God accepted Abraham as righteous for Christ’s sake. And so he does to every one that believeth; for,Rom. 3:22, ‘ The righteousness of God is by faith of Christ Jesus,unto all,and upon all them that believe;’ without any difference. If Abraham was justified by faith, we are justified by faith. Now, if you ask me what kind of believer is qualified and accepted as righteous, I answer, It is the penitent believer and the working believer.

The penitent believer; for faith and repentance are inseparable companions:

Mark 1:15, ‘Repent,and believe the gospel;’ Acts 12:38, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost;’ Acts 11:21,’ The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.’ These two cannot be severed ; for till we are affected with that miserable estate where unto we have plunged ourselves by our sins, and there be an hearty sorrow for them, and a perfect hatred and detestation of them, and a full and peremptory resolution to forsake them, that we may turn to the Lord and live in his obedience, we will not prize Christ nor his benefits,or see such a need of the spiritual physician to heal our wounded souls; nor will God accept us as righteous while we continue in our unrighteousness. So that, though it be righteousness of faith, and the believer be only accepted as righteous, yet it is the penitent believer whose heart and mind is changed, and is willing by Christ to come to God.

So now we have herein, the basis of the working believer…

…for so it is explained in the next verse, ‘Faith working by love; and it is also so expressed elsewhere: Heb. 11:7, ‘By faith, Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark,to the saving of his house, by which he became an heir of the righteousness which is by faith We are warned of the eternal penalties threatened by God; if we do not repent and believe, we shall not be saved from wrath ; but if we believe, and prepare an ark, diligently using the means appointed for our safety, then we become heirs of the righteousness of faith, and are accepted by God, and have a right to all the benefits which depend thereupon. It was a business of vast charge, and an eminent piece of self-denying obedience, to prepare an ark. So true faith showeth itself by obedience.

Now the gospel and new covenant, called the ‘word of faith,’ Rom. 10:8; ‘The hearing of faith;’ ‘Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law,or by the hearing of faith?’ Gal. 3:2; ‘The law of faith,’ Rom. 3:27. This is the doctrine which is believed. So we may understand that all that the new covenant requires may be called the righteousness of faith. For look, as to be justified by the law, or works required by the law, is all one; so to be justified by faith, and to be justified by the new covenant, is all one also.

What is the hope built upon it, or the things hoped for by virtue of this righteousness? They are pardon and life.

1. Certainly pardon of sins is intended in the righteousness of faith, as it appears by that of the apostle, and as written in Rom. 4: 6-8.

2. There is also in it salvation or eternal life: Titus 3:7, ‘That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs, according to the hope of eternal life.

These two benefits give us the greatest support and comfort against all kinds of troubles. Against troubles of mind, or inward troubles, we are supported by the pardon of our sins : Mat. 9:2 ‘Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.’

Again, both are eminently accomplished at the last judgment, when the righteousness of faith stands us in good stead. Then by the one we are freed from the guilt of sin, and so have deliverance from eternal death; by the other we have not only right, but the entrance into God’s eternal glory.

Meet the Author and part of your Christian heritage: Thomas Manton (1620–1677) was an English Puritan clergyman. Thomas Manton was invited to preach before Parliament on at least six occasions. The first occasion was on June 30, 1647, which was a fast day for Parliament. His sermon was based on Zechariah 14:9 and entitled, “Meat out of the Eater; or, Hopes of Unity in and by Divided and Distracted Times.”

Exactly one year later, on June 30, 1648, he preached another fast sermon on Revelation 3:20, “England’s Spiritual Languishing; with the Causes and the Cure.” He also participated in the Westminster Assembly as one of three clerks, was later appointed to write a preface to the second edition of the Westminster Confession in 1658, and served Oliver Cromwell as a chaplain and a trier (an overseeing body that examined men for the ministry).

In 1656 he moved to London as he was appointed as a lecturer at Westminster Abbey and most importantly as rector of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden, succeeding Obadiah Sedgwick. During this time Cromwell died and England entered a period of great uncertainty. This led Presbyterians such as Manton to call for the restoration of Charles II in 1660, traveling along with others to Breda, The Netherlands, to negotiate his return. After Charles returned, Manton was part of the negotiations called the Savoy Conference, in which the scruples of the Presbyterians and Congregationalists concerning the Prayer Book were formally discussed. Yet since the Cavalier Parliament was filled with Laudians, 1662 saw the enactment of the Act of Uniformity 1662. All ministers were to be ordained or re-ordained by a bishop, they were to renounce the Solemn League and Covenant, promise loyalty to the Prayer Book, and subscribe the Thirty-Nine Articles. Since Manton was on favorable terms with Charles II he was offered the Deanery of Rochester, but he refused on conscience grounds.

Manton’s last years were tumultuous. The Act of Uniformity led to the “Great Ejection.” On August 17, 1662, Manton preached his last sermon at Covent Garden on Hebrews 12:1. He also continued to write even when imprisoned for refusing to cooperate for six months in 1670 in violation of the Conventicle Act. 1672 saw the Declaration of Indulgence, in which men like Manton were granted a license to preach at home. Manton then became a lecturer at Pinner’s Hall for the so-called “morning exercises.” Parliament, though, revoked this Indulgence the year after. Manton would later die on October 18, 1677, and was survived by his wife and three children.