Irish Articles (1615): The Covenant Of Law, Christ’s Merits, And Grace To Sinners

21. Man being at the beginning created according to the image of God (which consisted especially in the wisdom of his mind and the true holiness of his free will), had the covenant of law engrafted in his heart, whereby God did promise unto him everlasting life, upon condition that he performed entire and perfect obedience to His commandments, according to that measure of strength wherewith he was indued in his creation, and threatened death unto him if he did not perform the same.

34. We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, applied by faith and not for our own works or merits. And this righteousness, which we so receive God’s mercy and Christ’s merits, embraced by faith, is taken, excepted and allowed of God for our perfect and full justification.

35. Although this justification is free unto us, yet it comes not so freely on to us that there is no ransom paid therefore at all. God showed his great mercy in delivering us from our former captivity, without requiring of any ransom to be paid, or amends to be made on our parts, which thing by us had been impossible to be done. And where as all the world was not able of themselves to pay any part towards their ransom, it pleased our heavenly Father, of his infinite mercy, without any dessert of ours, to provide for us The most precious merits of His own son, whereby our ransom might be fully paid, the law fulfilled, and His justice fully satisfied; so that Christ is now the righteousness of all who truly believe in Him: He for them paid their ransom; He for them fulfilled the law in His life; That now in Him, and by Him, every true Christian man may be called a fulfiller of the law; forasmuch as that which our infirmity was not able to effect, Christ’s justice has performed; and thus the justice and mercy of God do embrace each other, the grace of God not shutting out the justice of God in the matter of our justification, but only shutting out the justice of man (that is to say, the justice of our own works) from being any cause of deserving our justification.

—Irish articles (1615) in Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, ed. James T dennison Jr (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014), 95–96.

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