George Downame


The following excerpt is from A Treatise of Justification and examines Robert Bellarmineís arguments for the Catholic doctrine of justification by inherent righteousness. It is a brilliant refutation. Downame argues that man is corrupt because of imputed sin, not inherent sin, and therefore man is made righteous by imputation of Christís righteousness. Downame accepts the ďfederal headshipĒ view of Adam, and many contemporary evangelicals unfortunately have failed to see the importance of this view. Its antithesis, the entrance of sin into the human race by inherent corruption, leads to the Roman Catholic concept of salvation by inherent righteousnessógood works and self-effort. Downame shows from Scripture that the total depravity of the sinner precludes the concept of inherent righteousness.


I. Now I am to examine Bellarmineís proofes.1 And first bee alleageth Rom. 5:17, 18, 19. out of which place he would prove, that to bee justified by Christ is not to be accounted or pronounced just, but to be truly made and constituted just by obtaining inherent righteousnesse; and that, a righteousnesse not unperfect, but absolute and perfect: for, that to justifie, in this place, is to make just, and not to pronounce just, appeareth; first, out of those words, verse 19. many shall be constituted or made just, unto which allegation I have heretofore answered in his due place2 so much as concerneth the signification of the word, and have maintained the exceptions of Calvin and Chemnitius,3 against his cavils. His second reason is from the Antithesis of Adam unto Christ. For thus, saith he, the Apostle writeth. As we are made unjust through the disobedience of Adam, so we are made just through the obedience of Christ.

But it is certaine, that through Adamís disobedience we are made unjust by injustice inherent, and not imputed: 4
Therefore through the obedience of Christ we are made just by righteousnesse inherent, and not imputed.

Answ. Wee confesse, that as from the first Adam we receive inherent corruption in our carnall generation: so from the second Adam wee receive inherent grace in our spirituall regeneration, but this is not our justification, but our sanctification, whereof the Apostle speaketh not in this place, whereas therefore he assumeth, that wee are made unjust through Adamís disobedience by inherent injustice onely not imputed, I deny the assumption, and returne the argument upon the Adversary.

As we are made sinners, that is, guilty of sinne and damnation by Adamís disobedience or transgression: so wee are justified, that is, not onely absolved from the guilt of sinne, and damnation, but also accepted as righteous unto salvation, by the obedience of Christ.

But wee are made sinners, that is guilty of sinne and damnation by imputation of Adamís disobedience, or transgression:

Therefore wee are justified, that is, not onely absolved from the guilt of sinne, but also accepted as righteous, by imputation of Christís obedience.

As touching the proposition: that the word sinners cloth in this place signifie guilty of sinne, and obnoxious to condemnation; it is testified by Chrysostome,5 tiv oun entauqa toj amartwloij emoi; dokei, to; upeuqunoi kolasei kai; katadedikasmenoi qanatw/ what then is the word sinners in this place? it seemeth to mee, that it is to be subject or obnoxious to punishment, and condemned to death: by Oecumenius, a;martwloi; toutestin upeuqunoi qanatw/ kai; kolasei, and by Theophylact likewise, sinners; that is obnoxious to punishments and guilty of death, which exposition is plainely confirmed by the verses going before, where the same opposition betweene the first and second Adam being made, the former part is expressed in these words, that the krima, or guilt of Adamís transgression came upon his posterity ei" katavkrima unto condemnation, especially, vers. 16. and 18.

II. The assumption, though gaine-said by Bellarmine in this place yet is taught not only by other Papists, who fully contradict Bellarmineís Assumption but elsewhere also by Bellarmine himselfe. For Durandus, Pighius,6 Catharinus,7 doe hold originall sinne to be nothing else, but the guilt of Adamís fall, or the disobedience of Adam imputed unto us, which opinion also Occam professeth, that he would hold, if he were not hindered by the authority of the Fathers. Yea, saith Bellarmine8 it seemeth to have beene the opinion of some of the ancient, as Peter Lombard,9 reporteth. In refuting this opinion Bellarmine justly findeth fault with them,10 that they held originall sinne to be nothing else, but the guilt of Adamís disobedience imputed, it being also the depravation of our nature following thereupon. But in that they say, originall sinne is the disobedience of Adam imputed unto us, that he doth approve. For Adam alone did indeed commit that sinne by actuall will, but11 to us it is communicated by generation eo modo quo communicari potest id quod transiit, nimirum per imputationem, after that manner whereby that may be communicated which is transcient and gone, to wit by imputation. Omnibus enim imputatur, &c. for it is imputed to all who are borne of Adam, because wee all being then in the loynes of Adam, when hee sinned, in him and by him wee sinned. Yea, and farther hee rightly disputeth,12 that if Adamís sinne were not ours by imputation, neither the guilt of it, nor the corruption following upon it, had belonged to us. This assertion of Bellarmine confirmeth our assumption and contradicteth his own, alleaging that wee are made sinners through the disobedience of Adam by injustice inherent, and not imputed: which also he contradicteth in other places. For he granteth13 the sinne of Adam so to be imputed to all his posterity, as if they all had committed that sinne, and to the same purpose citeth Bernard.14 Our is Adamís fault, because though in another, yet we sinned; and to us it was imputed by the just, though secret judgement of God. And againe, taking upon him to prove that the propagation of sinne may bee defended without maintaining the propagation or traduction of the soule: he saith,15 that nothing else is required to the traduction of sinne, but that a man be descended from Adam by true and ordinary generation. For generation not being of a part,16 but of the person, or whole man (for homo generat hominem) therefore the person descending from Adam (though his soule be from God) was in the loynes of Adam, and being in him originally, as in the roote, in him, and with him hee sinned, the actuall sinne of Adam being communicated unto him by imputation. For as Augustine saith, definita est sententia, &c. it is a resolved case by the Apostle, that in Adam we all sinned.

III. But what shall wee say to the inherent corruption, which Adam by his transgression contracted? By this assertion, it seemeth not to be traducted otherwise, than as the fruit and consequent of the actuall disobedience: which was the opinion of Pighius and Catharinus. For as Adam by his first transgression, which was the sinne of mankind, contracted not onely the guilt of death, but also the corruption of his nature, being both a privation of originall righteousnesse, and also an evill disposition and pronenesse to all manner of sinne, which is that macula peccati remaining in the sinner after the act is gone: so wee having sinned in Adam are not onely made guilty of death, and void of originall righteousnesse; but also are defiled with that habituall disposition and pronenesse to all manner of sinne. So that, according to this assertion, it may be defended, that nothing in our generation is communicated unto us with the humane nature but the disobedience of Adam, which is communicated by imputation. As for the guilt of death and the inherent coruption, they are not derived from Adam, but contracted by our sinning in him. And hereunto we may apply Bellarmineís distinction of sinne so properly called17 that it is either a voluntary transgression, or that blemish which remaineth in the soule, caused and contracted by the transgression, being of the same nature with it, differing no otherwise from it, than as heat from the act of heating. For in the former sense originall sinne is the voluntary transgression of Adam imputed unto us, and is one and the same in all men; in Adam actuall and personall, in us originall. For onely he by actuall will committed it, but to us it is communicated, after that manner, by which, that which is past and gone, may bee communicated, to wit, by imputation. In the latter sense it is the corruption inherent contracted and caused, as in Adam by his personall sinne, so in us by our sinning originally in him, which though it bee alike and equall in all, yet it is every manís owne.

IV. But supposing originall sinne, according to the received opinion, to be wholly communicated unto us from Adam in our generation: yet we must distinguish betwixt Adamís first transgression or actuall disobedience, which we call his fall; and the corruption or depravaation of his nature, which thereupon followed. For though we be partakers of both, yet not after the same manner. Of the transgression we can be no otherwise partakers than by imputation. For Adamís transgression being an action, and actions continuing, or having a being, no longer than they are in doing, cannot bee traducted or transmitted from Adam to his posterity. But the corruption being habituall, is derivable by propagation. Now the Apostle, Rom. 5. speaketh of Adamís actuall disobedience once committed by him, by which he saith we are made sinners, that sinne of his being communicated unto us by imputation; and not of the corruption thereupon following. So by the like reason we are made just by the obedience of Christ, which hee performed for us in the daies of his flesh, which can no otherwise be communicated unto us, than by imputation.

Object, Yea, but wee are truly made sinners by the disobedience of Adam, and truly made righteous by the obedience of Christ. Answ. As we are truly made sinners by imputation of Adamís disobedience; so we are as truly made righteous by imputation of Christís obedience. Just. Yea, but we are made sinners by injustice inherent through Adamís disobedience, and therefore wee are made just by inherent justice, through the obedience of Christ. Answ. We are not made sinners in respect of inherent justice by Adamís disobedience formally, as Bellarmine saith,18 (Inobedientia Adami nos constituit peccatores, non formaliter sed efficienter) for that only is imputed, but by the corruption which followeth and is caused by that transgression, committed by Adam, and imputed to us. In like manner, wee are not made just in respect of inherent justice, by the obedience of Christ, whether active or passive formally, for that is onely imputed; but by the graces of the Spirit merited by the obedience of Christ, performed by him, and imputed to us.

V. Thus then standeth the comparison betwixt the first and the second Adam. As by the actuall disobedience or transgression of the first Adam all his off-spring were made guilty of sinne, and subject to death, his disobedience being not inherent in them, but imputed to them, as if it were their owne, because they were in him originally: so by the obedience of the second Adam all his off-spring19 are or shall be justified from sinne and accepted to life, his obedience not being inherent in them, but imputed to them, as if it were their owne, because by faith they are in him. And this is our justification by imputation of Christís righteousnesse. And further as Adamís fall deserved, as a just punishment, the defacing of Godís image by inherent corruption in all his posterity, to whom the same corruption is by naturall generation transfused: so the obedience of Christ merited, as a just reward, the restoring of Godís image in us by inherent righteousnesse in all the faithfull, into whom the said righteousnesse is in their Spirituall regeneration infused. And this is our Sanctification by the Spirit of Christ, of which the Apostle speaketh not untill the next Chapter, where he sheweth, that our justification is alwayes accompanied with Sanctification. In a word from either of the two Adams we receive two things, which are contrary each to other. From the first Adam, his disobedience is communicated unto us by imputation, whereby wee are made sinners, that is, guilty of sinne and damnation; which guilt is opposite to justification, and secondly the corruption, which he contracted, is transfused unto us by carnall generation, which corruption is contrary to sanctification. From the second Adam, his obedience is communicated to us by imputation, whereby wee are constituted just, that is, absolved from the guilt of sinne and damnation, and accepted in Christ as righteous and as heires of eternall life which is the benefit of justification, and secondly, the graces of his holy Spirit, which hee received without measure, are, in some measure as it were by influence infused into us by our spirituall regeneration.

VI. Whereas therefore hee would prove out of this place, that justification is the obtayning of righteousnesse inherent. I answer, first, that to be constituted sinners by Adamís disobedience, is to be made guilty of sinne and subject to death and damnation: and so contrariwise, to be constituted just or justified by Christís obedience, is to be acquitted from the guilt of sinne and damnation, and to bee accepted unto life: secondly, that wee are constituted sinners by Adamís personall sinne, which is not inherent in us, but once, and that long since committed by him: so we are justified by Christís personall obedience, which is not inherent in us, but long since performed by him: thirdly, that as wee are truely made sinners by imputation of Adamís transgression which is not inherent in us: so we are truly made just by imputation of Christís obedience, which is not inherent in us: fourthly, that the disobedience of the first Adam is imputed to all his children, because they were in him originally, as the root; so in him they sinned, and therefore when he did fall, they fell: so the second Adamís obedience is imputed to all the sonnes of God, because by faith they are in him, as his members, the head and the members making but one body. This place therefore alleaged by Bellarmine, maketh wholly against him. Neither doth that, which he addeth concerning perfect, absolute and abundant righteousnesse communicated unto us by Christ, agree to that righteousnesse, which is inherent in us, unperfect and but begunne, as being the first fruits of the Spirit; but to the absolute and most perfect righteousnesse of Christ communicated unto us by imputation. On this place I have insisted the longer, because, though Bellarmine alleage it as a prime place to prove his purpose; is notwithstanding a most pregnant testimony to prove justification by imputation of Christís righteousnesse, as hereafter shall further appeare.

VII. His second Testimony is, Rom. 3:24 which I have also heretofore fully proved to make wholly against him, Lib. 3. Cap. 3. & 4.

His third allegation is out of I Cor. 6:11. to which also I have answered before20 where I acknowledged the benefit of baptisme to be here described, according to that which here he alleageth out of Chrysost. Ambrose, Theophylact and others which is noted first, generally in the word washed, and then particularly in the words Sanctified, and Justified; the former, signifying the cleansing of the Soule from the pollution of sinne; the latter, from the guilt of sinne: the former wrought by the Spirit of our God; the latter, by faith in the name of the Lord Jesus. And these two distinct benefits the Scriptures ascribe to Baptisme, viz, remission of sinnes, and regeneration, as I shewed before. And therefore these benefits which the Holy Ghost hath accurately distinguished, ought not to be either ignorantly or Sophistically confounded. And whereas he saith, that these benefits (as here it is noted) are wrought by the invocation of the name of Christ, and by the power of his Spirit, neither of which is needfull to justification, by declaration or imputation: he saith, he knoweth not what. For to justification (as we conceive of it) to be granted and sealed in Baptisme, both these are as needfull; as to Sanctification. For to the obtayning of the remission of sinnes to be sealed unto us in Baptisme, invocation of the name of God is required, Acts 22:16. and it is the Spirit of Adoption, which by Baptisme sealeth unto us the remission of our sinnes.

VIII. His fourth testimony is Titus 3:1, 6, 7. whence hee argueth to this effect:

Regeneration or renovation is formally wrought by some inherent gift: Justification according to the Apostle in this place is regeneration or renovation. Therefore justification is formally wrought by some inherent gift.

The proposition, which no man denieth, he laboreth to prove by three arguments, which he might very well have spared; but that he would have the world to thinke, that we deny sanctification to be inherent. The assumption (which we do deny) he proveth by his own authority; alleaging, that in the fifth and the sixth verses, The Apostle describeth justification (which indeed he doth not) to be regeneration and renovation wrought in us out of the bounty of God by the layer of Baptisme, and effusion of the holy Ghost. This we deny: first, because the word justifie, never in the whole Scriptures is used in that sense: secondly, here the Apostle in plaine termes saith, that we are justified and saved not by works of righteousnesse, whereby is excluded all justice inherent, but by Godís grace. How then doth he prove it? because in these words, vers. 7, that being justified by his grace wee might bee heires in hope of eternall life, the Apostle rendreth a reason, why God by the laver, and by the Holy Ghost did regenerate and renew us, and faith the cause was, that being justified, that is, saith he, that being by that regeneration and renovation justified, we might deserve21 to be made heires of the kingdome, and of life everlasting. Answ. This glosse, maketh the Apostle not like himselfe, but like a popish merit-monger, corrupteth the text, which indeed doth paralell that, I Cor. 6:11. shewing how men converted from Gentilisme to Christianity should be exhorted to the performance of Christian duties. For howsoever whiles they were Gentiles, they were addicted to many vices and sinnes: yet after they were called (which the Apostle expresseth thus; after that the bounty and humanity of God was manifested, viz by the preaching of the Gospel) God, not out of any desert of theirs, but out of his meere mercy, saved them by Baptisme (as Saint Peter also speaketh)22 that is, justified them, for that is the salvation we have here, to bee intitled to salvation, or saved in hope; that being justified by his grace, that is, (as he said before) by his undeserved mercy, they should be made heires, according to hope of eternall life, that is, they might be saved in hope. Of this sentence therefore stripped of its amplifications, as it were its garments, the naked substance is this. But after we were called, God by Baptisme justified us, that being justified by his grace, we might be saved in hope. The amplifications which are added, are to set forth and describe Baptisme unto us: which as hee had noted to be the scale of that righteousnesse which is by faith,23 when he saith, that God justified or saved us by it: so he calleth it the laver of regeneration and of the renovation wrought by the Spirit, which God hath plentifully bestowed upon us. So that these words are not a description of justification, as Bellarmine dreameth waking, but of Baptisme. And they are added according to the purpose of the Apostle in this place, as arguments to move men to Christian duties. Why? Because Baptisme, as it was a seale unto them of their justification, so also a Sacrament of their regeneration and renovation of the Spirit; which Spirit God hath poured forth plentifully upon the faithfull: which he speaketh to this end, that the faithfull which are Baptized, should make this use of their Baptisme, not onely as of a seale to assure them of their justification and salvation: but also to be a Sacrament, token, memoriall of their regeneration and renovation wrought by the Spirit plentifully poured upon them. (To which purpose the Apostle telleth the Romans,24 that so many as were baptized into Christ, were baptized into the similitude of Christís death and resurrection) whereupon the Apostle inferreth in the next words vers. 8. this is a faithfull saying, and these things I will thou shouldest affirme and confirme, that they which have beleeved in God, ought to bee carefull precedents of good workes. The Apostle therefore doth not say (as Bellarmine maketh him speake) that we are justified, or saved, or made heires of salvation by regeneration or renovation, and much lesse that thereby we merit our inheritance: but that God hath justified, or saved us Sacramentally by Baptisme, which as it is the seale of our justification and salvation; so it is also the laver of regeneration and renovation wrought by the Spirit, that being justified by his grace we might, according to hope, bee made heires of eternall life. For howsoever we are neither justified nor saved, nor made heires of eternall life, by our Sanctification: yet Sanctification is, both the way, wherein from our justification wee are to walke unto glorification.25 For God hath chosen us to salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit, II Thess. 2:13. and therefore sanctification, as it is a necessary consequent of our justification, so it is a necessary fore-runner of glorification,26 a necessary marke and cognizance of all that are justified and to be saved. And therefore our Saviour saith,27 that by faith in him wee receive remission of sinnes, and inheritance among them that are sanctified and so the Apostle also, Acts 20:32.

IX. His fifth testimony is, Heb. 11. and some other places of the Scripture, which doe give testimony to some men, that they were truly, and perfectly just, and that not by an imputative justice, but inherent: his reason is, because the Scriptures would not call them absolutely just, if they were not absolutely just. Answ. To omit, that it is one thing to be absolutely called just, and another to be just absolutely and perfectly: I answere, that the faithfull, who are commended in the Scriptures for righteous, were righteous, by a twofold justice, both imputative and inherent. The former, being the righteousnesse of justification; the latter, of sanctification: the former, absolute and perfect; the latter, inchoated and unperfect. By the former they were justified before God: in respect of the latter, though they were also called just, yet they were not justified thereby: that is, they were neither absolved thereby from their sinnes past, nor intitled to the kingdome of heaven; as may appeare by all those Arguments which before I produced against justification by inherent righteousnesse. As for those examples, which hee alleageth out of Heb. 11 (which is the Chapter of faith,) namely of Abel, vers. 4. and Noah, vers. 7. &c. it is evident, that they were justified by the righteousnesse which is of faith (as is expresly said of Noah, vers. 7) that is, by the righteousnesse of Christ apprehended by faith, and imputed to them that beleeve: for the righteousnesse, which is of faith, is imputative, Rom. 4:5. And when it is said, that without faith they could not possibly have pleased God,28 it is plainely intimated that by faith they pleased God, and that they being before justified by faith, brought forth the fruits of faith acceptable unto God, by which their faith was approved. But as they were just by imputation, that is to say, justified; so also by infusion, that is, sanctified. For the justifying faith, being a lively and effectuall faith, purifieth the heart,29 and worketh by love30 and may be demonstrated by good works.31 And where is not inherent righteousnesse concurring with faith, there is no justifying faith at all. But although sanctification doe alwaies accompany justification; yet wee are not justified by the righteousnesse of sanctification, which is inherent: because it is unperfect, and wee are sanctified but in part, whiles we have the flesh, that is, the body of sinne remaining in us. Neither was there ever any man since the fall absolute or perfect in respect of inherent righteousnesse, Christ onely excepted.

X. Yea; but saith Bellarmine the Scripture acknowledgeth some men to have been perfect, Gen. 6:9. immaculate, Ps. 119:1. just before God, Luke 1:6.

I answere, that this perfection is not legall, as being a perfect conformity with the Law, which is the perfect rule of righteousnesse; but evangelical, as being one of the properties of our new obedience, which is not to bee measured by the perfect performance, but by the sincere and upright desire and purpose of the heart. For this uprightnesse goeth under the name of perfection; and what is done with an upright heart, is said to be done with a perfect heart, and with the whole, that is entire heart. And likewise those men who were upright, are said to have been perfect. And yet notwithstanding all those men, who are said in the Scriptures to have been perfect and to have walked before God with a perfect heart, as Noah, Jacob, lob, David, Ezekias, &c. had their imperfections. Ezekias is said to have been a perfect man, and to have served God with a perfect heart: notwithstanding when God left him a little to try him he discovered his imperfections, II Chron. 32:25, 31. Of Asa it is said, II Chron. 15:17. that his heart was perfect all the dayes of his life, and yet in the very next chapter32 there are three faults of his recorded; where Zachary is said to have beene just before God, and to have walked in all the Commandments and Ordinances of God blamelesse: in the same chapter33 his incredulity is registred, for which hee was stricken with dumbnesse and deafnesse for the space of tenne moneths. So that all that are sincere and upright, that is to say, no hypocrits, are notwithstanding their imperfections called perfect, and so the word which is translated immaculate, Ps. 119:1. signifieth upright; and to be righteous before God is all one with upright. Thus the holy Ghost teacheth us to expound the word, which is translated perfect, viz. thamin and tham, that to be upright is to walke before God and to walke before God is to be perfect, Gen. 17:1. Let perfection and uprightnesse preserve me, Ps. 25:21. Ps. 37:37. Observe the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.

XI. Yea but Bellarmine will prove, that these men which are in the Scriptures called just, were endued with inherent righteousnesse, because they brought forth good workes, which were the fruits and effects of their inward righteousnesse: for he that doth righteousnesse is righteous:34 whom doth he now confute? wee doe not deny them, who are commended in the Scriptures for righteous persons, to have been endued with righteousnesse inherent: but wee deny, that they, or any of them, were justified before God thereby. As for example, Abraham, who abounded with good workes, was justified by faith without workes, Rom. 4:2, 3. and as hee was justified, so are all the faithfull. Rom. 4:23, 24. David, though a man according to Godís own heart, walking before him in truth,35 and righteousnes, and uprightnesse of heart; yet professeth, that neither he, nor any man living,36 could be justified, if God should enter into judgement with them, and therefore placeth his happinesse and justification, not in his vertues or good works, but in the not imputing of sin, and imputation of righteousnesse without workes, Rom. 4:6. Paul, though hee knew nothing by himselfe, yet professeth, that hee was not thereby justified, I Cor. 4:4. Yea, in the question of justification, hee esteemeth his owne righteousnesse of no worth, Phil. 3:8, 9. But as wee doe not deny the faithfull to bee endued with inherent righteousnesse; so we affirme, that whosoever is justified by imputative righteousnesse, is also sanctified in some measure with righteousnesse infused and inherent. In respect whereof, though they bee also sinnes in themselves, by reason of their habituall corruptions, and actuall transgressions, being in part carnall and sold under sinne, and by the Law,37 which is in the members, led captive to the Law of sinne: yet they have their denomination from the better part. Even as a wedge of metall, wherein much drosse is mingled with Gold, is called a wedge of Gold, though not of pure Gold; and an heape of Come, wherein is as much chaffe as Wheate, is called an heape of Wheate, though not of pure Wheate: So the faithfull man in whom there is the flesh and body of sinne, as well as the Spirit and regenerate part, is called of the better part a righteous man, though not perfectly, absolutely, purely, just in respect of his righteousnesse inherent. Indeed every true beleever, so soone as he is indeed with a true justifying faith, is perfectly just, by righteousnesse imputed; but at the best he is sanctified onely in part.

XII. His sixth testimony is taken out of Rom. 8:29. and I Cor. 15:49. where it is said, that the just are conformable to the image of Christ, and doe beare the image of the second Adam, as they have borne the image of the first Adam, from whence hee collecteth three reasons: The first,

As Christ was just, so are wee; and as hee was not just, so are not we. But Christ was just by inherent righteousnesse, and not by imputation: Therefore we are just by inherent righteousnesse, and not by imputation.

The proposition he proveth by the places alleaged.

First I answer to the proofe of the proposition; that the places alleaged are impertinent: For the question being of the righteousnesse of justification, never any understood the Apostle in these places to speake thereof: But either of filiation, as Chrysostome and others understand the former place, because as Christ is the Sonne of God, so also are wee: or of afflictions, because whom God bath predestinated to bee like his Sonne in glory, they shall bee conformable to the image of his Sonne in bearing the Crosse (which sense is given by our Writers and is agreeable to the scope of the Apostle in that place to the Romans) or of Glory, that when he shall appeare wee shall bee like him in glory: of which as Ambrose, Sedulius and others understand, Rom. 8:19. so the other place38 being read in the future, as it ought to bee in the latter branch (as wee have borne the image of the earthy, so wee shall beare the image of the heavenly) is necessarily to be understood. Or of holinesse as Oecumenius understandeth that place, that as hee is holy, so we should be holy also. Neither is it to be doubted, but that the image of God, according to which we are renewed, consisteth in true holines and righteousnes but that is the righteousnes of sanctification, whereby we resemble the image of Christ in true righteousnes & holines. But the righteousnes of justification is Christís righteousnes it self, not the image of it.

XIII. As touching the proposition it selfe; wee must distinguish betwixt the thing, and the manner. In respect of the thing, it is true, that Christ is righteous, and so are all his members. But in respect of the manner, it is not true, neither generally, nor adequate or reciprocally, as Bellarmine understandeth it: who from thence argueth negatively, as well as affirmatively. For things that be like are not like altogether, and in all respects: as may appeare by other resemblances, in respect whereof wee are said to beare the image of Christ. As first in respect of filiation. Christ is the Sonne of God, and so are wee. True, in respect of the thing, but not true in respect of the manner. For hee is the Sonne of God by nature, and by eternall generation: but wee are the Sonnes of God in him by grace of regeneration and adoption. Secondly, in regard of the Crosse. Christ did beare the Crosse, and so do wee. True in respect of the thing, but not true in respect of the manner. For Christís sufferings were the lutron the price of ransome which bee as our Redeemer laid downe for us. But wee doe not suffer as redeemers, neither are our sufferings lutron a price of ransome, but either paideia chastisements for sinne,39 or dokimasia trialls for our good,40 or marturion our sufferings for Christ,41 or timwria that is such chastisements or corrections as the Lord laieth upon his children having scandalously offended, to vindicate his owne honour.42 Thirdly, in respect of glory; Christ is glorified, and so shall we, who beare his image, true in respect of the thing, but not in respect of the manner: for he as the head, we as the members, according to our proportion. Fourthly, in respect of holinesse or sanctification. Christ was holy, and so are wee, true in respect of the thing, for whosoever is in Christ hee is a new creature,43 renewed according to his image in true holinesse, but not in respect of the manner. Christ was holy from his conception, and originally, so are not wee. Christ in himselfe was perfectly just and holy without blemish of sinne, so are not wee.

XIV. But as touching the righteousnesse of justification, we are not said to beare Christís image. Neither can Christ bee said truely and properly to be justified as we are. For justification properly is of a sinner, and it consisteth partly in remission of sin. But if in respect thereof wee did beare Christís image, then in imitation of Bellarmine wee might conclude: As Christ was not just, nor made just, so neither are wee. But Christ was not just, nor made just by the benefit of justification; in like manner neither are wee just or made just by the benefit of justification, which is evidently false. But in respect of our justification we may rather use that similitude of the Apostle, II Cor. 5:21. As Christ was made sinne or a sinner for us, so wee are made righteous with the righteousnesse of God in him. Christ was made a sinner for us, not by inherencie (God forbid?) but by imputation of our sinne. Therefore we are made righteous in our justification, not by inherencie, but by imputation of his righteousnesse.

XV. Secondly, he reasoneth thus: if wee bee not just by inherent righteousnesse, but by imputation onely, or as hee speaketh (like a cavilling Sophister) putative, and not indeed, being indeed unjust, then doe we beare the image of the Devill rather than of Christ. For more rightly have wee our denomination from that which we are, than from that which we are onely supposed to bee. I answer, first, that whosoever is just by imputation, he is not putative onely just, but truely and indeed. For though he bee a sinner in himselfe (as all but Papists are) yet hee is righteous, or as the Apostle speaketh the righteousnesse of God in him, II Cor. 4:21. Secondly, that the faithfull are just, not onely by righteousnesse imputed, which is the righteousnesse of justification: but also in respect of justice inherent, which is the righteousnesse of sanctification, in regard whereof all the faithfull are called Saints, as Rom. 1:7, &c.44 Thirdly, although the faithfull bee sinners in themselves, yet being regenerate and sanctified in part, they have their denomination from their better part, and are called just, though not purely and perfectly just, as I have shewed before.

XVI. His third reason: Of the earthy Adam, who was a sinner, wee have borne the true image; because sinne was not in us putative but truely and indeed: so the true image of Christ wee shall beare, if justice bee inherent in us not putative; but truely and indeed.

Answer. As wee receive two things from the first Adam, viz, the guilt of his sinne communicated, as Bellarmine himselfe confesseth, by imputation, by which we were truely made sinners, and truly obnoxious to death and damnation, which is opposite to justification, and by it is taken away: and secondly, the corruption of his nature which hee drew upon himselfe, being propagated by carnall generation, which is opposite to sanctification, and by it in some measure, and by degrees is taken away: so from the second Adam we receive also two things, the merits of Christís sufferings and obedience communicated by imputation, by which we are truely made just, and heires of eternall life; and the vertue of his death and resurrection derived unto us by spirituall regeneration; by which wee beare the image of the second Adam, as truely, though not so fully in this life, as by carnall generation wee did beare the image of the first Adam. But this withall is to bee observed, that as we doe beare the image of the first Adam in respect of the corruption derived unto us by generation, and not in respect of the participation of his transgression, for in him we sinned and were guilty of the same transgression with him, it being communicated unto us by imputation: so we do beare the image of the second Adam in respect of holinesse and righteousnesse derived unto us from him in our regeneration, by which we are renewed according to his image in true righteousnesse and holinesse and not in respect of our justification, wherein the same righteousnesse and obedience which hee performed in the daies of his flesh is communicated unto us by imputation, and accepted of God in our behalfe as if we had performed the same in our own persons. To conclude therefore, it is not the image of Christís righteousnesse and obedience by which we are justified: But we are justified by the righteousnesse and obedience of Christ it selfe.

XVII. His seventh Allegation of Rom. 6:4, 6. is scarce worth the answering, wherein hee proveth, which no man denieth, that the godly doe truly, and not putative dye unto sinne, and rise unto righteousnesse; even as Christ whose death and resurrection is represented in Baptisme, did truly dye and rise againe.

For this dying unto sinne, and rising unto righteousnesse are the two parts of our sanctification; which never any denied to bee inherent. But that justification and sanctification are not to bee confounded, I have before proved at large.45 If hee would have said any thing to the purpose, he should have proved, that our justification consisteth in our mortification and vivification: and then might he well have concluded, that we are not justified by imputation, but by inherent righteousnesse. But I cannot sufficiently wonder at the blind malice of these men, who either would perswade themselves, or would goe about to perswade others, that we hold the righteousnesse of sanctification and the parts thereof, which we acknowledge to be wrought in us by the holy Spirit, not to bee inherent, but imputative. As for these words vers. 7. he that is dead is justified from sinne: the meaning is, as I have shewed before,46 that he is freed from sinne, as our translation readeth, and as Chrysostome and Oecumenius expound it: the speciall sense of freeing from guilt opposed to condemnation, which is the proper sense of the word, Acts 13:38, 39. extended to the generall signification of freedome: he that is dead is freed from committing of sinne, according to that place of Peter, I Epist. 4:1. which Bellarmine paralelleth with this, he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sinne.

XVIII. In his eighth allegation bee patcheth divers places of Scripture together, as it were invita Minerva, out of which nothing can be concluded, but that the Papists have not one sound Argument to prove their justification by inherent righteousnesse. The places which he patcheth together are these, Rom. 8:15. That wee now by Christ have received the Spirit of Adoption of the sonnes of God, quoad animam, saith he, in respect of the Soule, the which, as it is there said, (viz. vers. 10.) liveth by reason of justification, although the body be dead, (that is, be mortall as yet) by reason of sinne. But (saith he) a little after, (viz. vers. 23.) he added, that wee having the first fruits of the Spirit, doe groane within our selves, expecting the adoption of the sonnes of God, even the redemption of our body. For as the same Apostle saith Phil. 3:20, 21. wee expect our Saviour who shall reforme the body of our humility, configured to the body of his glory. But the adoption of sonnes, which wee expect in the redemption of the body shall be most true and inherent in the body it selfe, that is to say immortality and impassibility, not putative, but true. Therefore the adoption, which now we have in the spirit by justification, must also be true, not putative, otherwise as we expect the redemption of the body, so also wee should expect the redemption of the soule. Answ. See what poore shifts so learned a man is put unto, according to the ancient profession of Sophistres noted by Plato, to;n h]ttw lovgon krevittw poeiíw to make good a bad cause. This is Bellarmineís whole dispute word for word: where with much travell he hath brought forth this conclusion that our adoption, which now we have by justification is true, and not in conceit onely: which we freely confesse. For whoever denied, that our adoption is as true, as our justification? But doth it from hence follow, that wee are justified by inherent righteousnesse? A good syllogisme concluding that assertion from those premisses had beene worth his labour. The most that can bee said in this matter, as I suppose, is this. That when our gracious God by his holy Spirit doth regenerate us, he doth beget in us the grace of faith. As soone as faith is wrought in us, wee are engrafted into Christ: to us being in Christ, the Lord communicateth the merits of his Sonne; by imputation of whose righteousnesse unto us, hee, remitting our sinnes, doth not onely accept of us, as righteous in Christ; but also in him hee adopteth us to bee his Sons and heires of eternall life.

XIX. Let this proposition then tan quam commune principium bee agreed upon betweene us. Such as is our adoption, such is our justification: and let us see, what either of us can inferre thereupon. Bellarmine assumeth thus: but our adoption is not imputative, for that I suppose is his meaning by that odious word putative, as though if it were imputative, it were but putative, which is most false. For he that either is a sinner by imputation of Adams transgression, is as truely a sinner, as by transfusion of the corruption: yea, if he had not beene truely a sinner by imputation of Adams guilt, bee should never have beene punished, either with the transfusion of the corruption, or with death, unto which by the guilt he was bound over: or hee that is righteous by imputation of Christís righteousnesse, is as truely righteous before God; yea, more truely, than by infusion of inherent righteousnesse. For that is perfect; this is stained with the flesh, and therefore is but a sinnefull righteousnesse, which cannot stand in judgment before God, judging according to the sentence of his Law. But Bellarmineís assumption, as I was saying, is this. Our adoption is not imputative, but by grace inherent: therefore our justification is not imputative, but by righteousnesse inherent. The assumption, which is utterly false, hee endevoreth to prove, because the Apostle, Rom. 8: 15 saith, that now by Christ wee have received the Adoption of the sonnes of God, quoad animam, (saith Bellarmine, that he might patch with it, vers. 10.) in respect of the soule, which, as it is there said, liveth propter justificationem, although the body bee dead, that is to say, mortall, by reason of sinne. These places Bellarmine alleaged before, to prove that the grace by which wee are justified is inherent, and namely charity: because charity is that, by which wee cry in our hearts Abba Father. Secondly, because it is said, that the Spirit liveth by reason of justification, though the body bee dead by reason of sinne: to both which I have before answered.47

XX. But here Bellarmine maketh a twofold Adoption; the one of the soule, patched out of Rom. 8:10, 15. the other of the body pieced out of Rom. 8:23. and Phil. 3:20, 21. when as indeed Adoption is not of either part, but of the person or of the whole man, who is Adopted to be the sonne of God. Neither doth the Apostle speake of the adoption of the soule, nor yet of the adoption of the body, but of the redemption of the body from the servitude of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sonnes of God, which is not the adoption of the body, but the fruite of the adoption of the whole man, which here by a Metonymy is called adoption. The former he proveth by the latter not to be imputative, but inherent. The adoption of sonnes which we expect in the redemption of the body, shall be most true and inherent in the body it selfe, that is to say, immortality and impassibility not putative but true: therefore the adoption which now we have in the spirit by justification, is also true, not putative but inherent. Ans. In this similitude he should rather have said, that as the adoption of sonnes which we doe expect at the redemption of our bodies, that is, at the resurrection, is the everlasting inheritance whereunto wee were adopted as sonnes, which a true and glorious inheritance, though not inherent, in the body but enjoyed by the whole man as adherent unto him: so the adoption which we now have in the Spirit by justification, which is the entituling of us to this inheritance, is a true adoption, though not inherent, but wrought by imputation of Christís merits unto us. But suppose the adoption of the body as bee calleth it, were inherent: how doth it follow, that the adoption of the soule, as bee calleth it, should also be inherent? he saith, it must bee so: Otherwise, saith he, as wee expect the redemption of the body: so also we should expect the redemption of the soule (which the Papists had neede to doe whose soules shall be in purgatory at the last day, but from thence to be delivered at that day by a gaole-delivery) but I say, it followeth not; for the adoption which is imputative is a most true adoption: and wee need no other, but the accomplishment thereof, which is our full redemption. As for that adoption, which he supposeth to bee inherent, it is a meere fancie.

XXI. Now let us see, what may from that proposition, which was agreed upon betweene us, be truly inferred on our part. Such as is our adoption, such is our justification: but our Adoption is imputative, and not by inherencie. For as I have shewed heretofore48 these foure benefits, reconciliation, redemption, justification and adoption doe not import any reall mutation in the subject but relative and imputative: for when God imputing to a beleever the merits of his Sonne forgiveth his sinnes, which made him an enemy to God, a bondslave of sinne and Satan, guilty of sinne and damnation, the childe of the Devill; and receiveth him into his favour, maketh him Christís freeman, accepteth of his as righteous, admitteth him to bee his sonne: he is said to reconcile, to redeeme, to justifie, and to adopt him, not by working any reall or positive change in the party, but relative, or in respect of relation. To be a father, and to be a sonne are relatives: when a man therefore hath first a sonne, hee becommeth a father, which hee was not before, not by any reall change in himselfe, but by a new relation which before he had not. When a man is adopted, he becommeth the sonne of another man, whose sonne he was not before; not by any reall mutation, but onely in regard of relation. For if the party adopted by God should by adoption bee really changed, then God, who adopteth should also seeme to bee really changed, which is impossible, because he is immutable. For as he which is adopted becommeth the sonne of God, which bee was not before: so God, when he first adopteth any man, becommeth his father, which hee was not before. Here therefore seemeth to bee a change as well in God adopting, as in the party adopted: not reall, for that is not possible, but relatively onely, which is a manifest evidence, that as our Adoption, so our justification is not any reall change wrought in us by infusion of any inherent quality, but a relative change wrought without us by imputation of Christís righteousnesse.


George Downame (also Downham) was born at Chester, where his father was a bishop. He studied at Cambridge and was elected fellow of Christ College in 1585. Later he was appointed professor of logic and granted the D.D. degree. In 1616 he became bishop of Derry. Though not as well known as some of the Puritan divines, his writings were as sound as any. His A Treatise of Justification, published in 1639, was his most outstanding work. He died in 1634 after a long and faithful preaching ministry.

Downameís other writings included: A Treatise Concerning Anti-christ (1603), An Abstract of the Duties Commanded in the Law of God (1635), The Christianís Freedom (1635), and A Godly and Learned Treatise of Prayer (1640).


  1. De iustif , lib. 2. cap.3.
  2. Lib. 2. c.5. ß.1.
  3. Ibid. ß.2.3, &c.
  4. Non in iustitia Adami nobis imputata.
  5. In locum.
  6. Controv. a. de orig. peccat.
  7. In Rom. 5. in opusc. de lapsu hominis & orig. peccat. c.6.
  8. De amiss. gratiae & stat pec. l.5. c.16.
  9. 2 Sent. dist. 30.
  10. De amiss. gratiae & stati. peccat. l.5. c.17.
  11. ibid. ß. itaque.
  12. Ibid. c. 18. Reatus cum sit relatio consequens actionem, qua ratione sieri potist, ut existat in eo, qui non est particeps actionis? iaversio habitualis, nisi precesserit actualis, ne intelligi qu dem potest.
  13. De amissi. gratiae & statu peccat. 1.4. c.10.
  14. Serm. de Dominica. I. post octavas Epiphaniae.
  15. De amis. gr. & stat, pec. 1.4. c.12. ß est aliaex Anselm de conceptu. c.7. Virg. & 10. & ex Th. in I.2.q.81 art.1. & ex Scote Durando, &c. in 2. Sent. dist. 51.
  16. Ibid. ß. porro vere.
  17. De amiss. gra. & statu. pec. 1.5. c.17.
  18. De iustif . 1.2. c.9. ß. Quartum.
  19. Heb. 2:13.
  20. Lib. 2. c.3. ß3.
  21. Effici mereamur
  22. I Peter 3:21.
  23. Rom. 4:11.
  24. Rom. 6:4, 6.
  25. Eph. 2:10.
  26. Heb. 12:14.
  27. Acts 26:18.
  28. Heb. 11:6.
  29. Acts 15:9.
  30. Gal. 5:6.
  31. James 2:18.
  32. II Chron. 16:7, 10, 12.
  33. Luke 1:20, 62.
  34. I John 3:7.
  35. I Kings 3:6.
  36. Ps. 143:2.
  37. Rom. 7:14, 23.
  38. I Cor. 15:49.
  39. I Cor. 11:32.
  40. Deut. 8:16.
  41. Phil. 1:29.
  42. II Sam. 12:14.
  43. II Cor. 5:17.
  44. Rom. 16:15; 1 Cor. 1:2; II Cor. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; 4:22; I Tim. 5:10.
  45. Lib. 2.
  46. Lib. 2. c.2. ß.8.
  47. Lib. 3. c.5. ß.5.6.
  48. Lib. 1. c.1. and lib. 2. c.6.

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