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We are to understand, those whom the Redeemer represented, when he was set up from everlasting, was made under the law, suffered upon the cross, was buried in the grave, rose again from the power of death and the grave, and ascended up to heaven and took his seat at the Father's right hand. And those whom he thus represented were chosen in him by the Father before the foundation of the world, according to his foreknowledge of them, independent of any good done by them, either of a moral or spiritual nature, Romans ix. 11. Indeed, it was impossible for Jehovah to choose his people upon the ground of their doing something good, because he eternally ,foresaw that they could do nothing; and what wds foreseen by the eternal Three, the Redeemer declared to his followers, "without me ye can do nothing." John xv. 5. Therefore he chose them as the effect of his unmerited grace, as it is written, "even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." Rom. x. 5. And those who were thus chosen in Christ were given to him to be his bride, body, and flock, whom he accepted at the hands of the Father, and engaged to answer every charge that should be brought against them; and for these he prayed, and not for the world: "I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me." John xvii. 9. Jehovah in thus choosing a part of Adam's family, and giving them to Christ, has done as it pleased him, and what he has done in this respect is to stand for ever: " My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." The number chosen cannot be either increased or diminished; and though carnal men may fight against it and its Author, they never can overturn it. Yea, they may call their Maker's ways unjust, but he is justified by his children in this world, and on the great day of account he will justify himself before an assembled world, and will then prove that he has done right in saving some and leaving others to perish.
Secondly; we proceed to speak of "the righteousness," by which we are to understand, the active and passive obedience of Christ in fulfilling the law, and bearing the punishment due to the sins of the elect. It is called the righteousness of God, because God the Father contrived it, God the Son wrought it out, and God the Spirit reveals it. It is called the righteousness of the law, because it is answerable to all its requirements, as it is written, "the Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake, for he (Christ) will magnify the law and make it honourable." Isaiah xlii. 21. Yea, he has become the end of it for righteousness to every one that believeth, Romans x. 4. It is called the righteousness of faith, because it is seen by the eye of faith, in all its dignity, glory, perfection, and suitability, and received by the hand of faith as that which clothes the naked, justifies the ungodly, and renders the worthless sinner acceptable in the sight of God. And it is imputed to all the elect, upon the ground of their union to Jesus, as Adam's sin is imputed to all his posterity, upon the ground of their union to him. Yea, he wrought it out in their name, and on their behalf; therefore it is just in the Divine Being to impute it to them: Vol. IV.—No. 47. 2 S
"Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness, without works." Rom. iv. 6. And all those to whom it is imputed "are justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." Acts xiii. 39.
But we must take notice of the justification,—which implies a freedom from the charge of sin, in consequence of its having been charged (o the account of Christ and atoned for by him. This was represented on the yearly day of atonement, under the law, when two goats were brought before the high priest, and lots were cast upon them, in order to ascertain which was to die and which was to live, Lev. xvi. 8. which were a figure of Jesus, by whose life and death our sins are atoned for; and the casting of lota upon them was a type of the lot of God's decree falling upon him. And as the sins of Israel were confessed over the head of the goat, it was a type of our sins being laid upon Jesus as our Surety. "The Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all;" (i. e.) all our sins, past, present, and to come, in consequence of which we are freed from the charge of them. "For who shall lay any sin to the charge of God's elect," which he has not laid to the charge of Jesus as their Surety? "It is God that justifieth," Rom. viii. 33. Yea, justification before God implies being perfectly righteous in his sight, through the righteousness of his Son. "Surely, shall one say, in the Lord Jesus have I righteousness and strength." So that the church appears before God in the spotless robe of her Husband's righteousness, and appears as righteous before God as he does. "The Lord hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, nor seen perverseness in Israel." Numb. xxiii. 21. "For as he (Christ) is, so are we in this world." This perfection we have in Christ, not in ourselves, as it is written, "ye are complete in him."
And when this unalterable blessing is revealed to and received by us, so that we can say, "therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God," &c. it does not make us think lightly of sin, and be indifferent about our moral conduct in the world; but it influences us to deny ungodliness, and to live soberly and righteously,—to adorn the doctrine of God in the world, in the church, and in our respective families. Yea, we grieve because we cannot be so holy in all manner of conversation as we wish to be. Yea, we are careful to perform good works, as the effect of grace being bestowed upon us.
Birmingham, 1828. JACOB.
It is said of Mary, that by strength of love, she was dead to all the objects of the world; she had her thoughts so deeply employed on her dear Jesus, that she was almost insensible: she had eyes, and saw not; ears, and heard not; senses, and felt not: she was not where she was, for she was wholly where her Master was; though she knew not where he was. She knew no art but that of love; all in her turned to the love of him, whom she loved above all. 0 thus to love dear Jesus, is worth the name of love! How cold and frozen is ours!
THE WORD OF CHRIST.
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom."~Co\. iii. 16.
It is a sadly mistaken notion of many, that those who enter into and are bold to proclaim the glories of a full, free, and finished salvation; arising out of the unalterable favour of God, and flowing through the perfect work of the glorious Redeemer, are necessarily indifferent to a concern for the glory and honour of God. But it has been found evident in all ages, if we take the word of divine truth for our guide, that in the same proportion as the mind has been enlightened in the knowledge of Jehovah's will, and brought to an enjoyment of the precious salvation his scriptures proclaim; in the same proportion a concern for his honour and glory is manifested, with a desire to be conformed to his will and devoted to his fear. The experience of all who are led through sovereign mercy into a knowledge and enjoyment of the salvation the gospel proclaims, all to an individual admit, that till they received that precious salvation, whatever the outward appearance might have been, there was not a concern, a true concern for the divine glory and the credit of a gospel profession, which now they feel arising from what God the Lord hath done for them.
We see this exemplified in the conduct of the apostles of Christ in all they have written for the benefit of the church. The apostle Paul, more deeply read than any other man in the mysteries of the kingdom, and probably, more honoured in the enjoyment of those mysteries than any other, he of all others most earnestly labours to set forth the genuine and unalterable effects of divine grace in the heart. And this is no where more fully evident, or more clearly demonstrated, than in the epistle whence our motto is selected. He sweetly sets forth Christ as the gift of Jehovah's love for the salvation of ruined and undone sinners; and holds him up in every point of view that can possibly endear him to the enlightened mind, as the one, only, all-sufficient Saviour, or object for needy sinners hope and confidence. Then to those who through tender mercy are brought to feel their need of him, and are blest with divine light, to behold and to rest their eternal interest on him, he points out, not what is to be required of them slavishly to perform to escape hell, but as highly privileged sons and daughters they are called to the performance of that which will manifest their gratitude, and shew forth their concern to glorify in all things the doctrine they profess to hoW.
In considering the exhortation, " Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly," we are by no means to understand the apostle to signify it is in the power of a sinner either to secure any thing of the word of Christ, or to retain the indwelling of the same! No more than our blessed Lord meant to be understood, that it was in the sinner's power to secure God's love, or to retain it when possessed, when he said to his disciples, "Abide in me;" or the apostle who says, " Keep yourselves in the love of God!" St. Paul herein shews the fervent desire he possessed with respect to the privileges of the church,— that they might be fully enjoyed by her as a collective body, and individually in all her members; being convinced that by no other way than Christ dwelling in them, can the believer exhibit his character, maintain his ground, and glorify and honour his God. By this they are enabled to walk worthy their high vocation; by this alone can they live up to the enjoyment of the exalted privileges of God's dear children. Consider, then, the address, as proceeding from an earnest solicitude of the apostle for his Master's glory, and for the welfare of his Master's family.
Our Lord Jesus Christ himself is declared to be " The word of God," therefore we may not only consider the prayer as expressive of a desire * the word of Christ,' that is, that the revealed declarations of Jehovah's mind might dwell in those to whom he wrote, but also, that Christ, "The Word," might dwell in them. And, verily, the written word never has been, can, nor will be, of any essential value to the lost and ruined sinner, but as Christ dwells in the heart,—Christ essentially and emphatically, " The Word." When man sinned his bosom became the habitation of the devil, and from that time to the present satan reigns and rules in the children of disobedience. He then set up his throne there, and he continues to reign in darkness, till Christ dethrones the tyrant and takes up his residence.
It is the indwelling of Christ in the soul that constitutes the great difference between false professors, or the world at large, and the truly renewed soul. We do not understand, as some do, that Christ dwells corporeally in the believer; but faith is given him, enabling him to realize his interest in Christ, and to believe in his inhabitation in all his mediatorial characters and excellencies, in all the relations in which he stands to the church, in all the work he has done for her, and in all the sufficiency he possesses with which to maintain her safety and secure her everlasting felicity.
The apostle, also, most certainly intended the revealed will of God. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." It is only as this dwells in the heart that the other can be known or enjoyed. It is only as the Lord is pleased to make use of his revealed will, that an experimental acquaintance with Christ, as the all-sufficient Saviour is known. Thus the beauties of Christ are unfolded, the treasures of salvation are explored; and thus Christ dwells richly in the heart. The revealed will of God is Christ's word. It is his because he is the author of it: it was spoken by him. He is the substance and subject matter of it: there is not a promise through the whole but what is fulfilled, or shall be, as being his word. But for Him, nothing is expressed there that is at all calculated to do good to an immortal soul. If He be not the sum and substance of the whole, it contains nothing worthy the regard of fallen man.
By the word of Christ we understand, all that God hath been pleased to reveal for the good of the church; but more especially those glorious, leading doctrines of the everlasting gospel, which may be considered as particularly alluded to. Such as, God's sovereign, free, unmoved, unalterable favour and love to his people in Christ Jesus: as most clearly expressed in the epistle to the Romans, viii. And this is Christ's word. If, believer, you would stand fast in this day of evil, see that the weight of your eternal interests rests on a base which can sustain the whole,—on a foundation which can never fail. If you would be assured of safe conduct amidst the intricacies and troubles of your journey, see that your guide has in point of wisdom and faithfulness a sufficiency to bear you through. Seeing, then, that the safety of a renewed sinner stands in the faithfulness of a covenant God in Christ,—let this word of Christ dwell in you richly!
It is the word of Christ, that he came into the world to finish the work given him of the Father to do. That work was,—to make an end of sin, to finish transgression, to magnify the holy law, to redeem the church, and to make a way for the escape of his dear people, from the curse of the law and the threatenings of divine justice, so that God in all things might be glorified. In Christ we behold, all the lost honours of the law restored, the church of God ransomed and redeemed, the powers of darkness vanquished, and the gates of heaven opened to every believer. Let this word of Christ, believer, dwell in you richly! >
For the encouragement as well as for the information of the church, Christ has said, "Without me ye can do nothing." The sinner can neither know his need of, nor feel a desire to come to Christ, to receive comfort and enjoyment from him, without divine communication. He is as much indebted to divine influence for shedding light into the soul after regeneration, as he is for being quickened from the death of trespasses and sin into spiritual life. While the Father's love and favour is the base and bulwark of the soul's salvation, and the great Redeemer is the only medium through which that favour can be enjoyed, let the believer give all the honour of making that salvation known, and of encreased light and life, to the sovereign agency of God the Holy Ghost. Nothing will fortify the mind against the dangers and perplexities to which the child of God is exposed, as the knowledge and enjoyment of these precious truths. Is the world, the flesh, and satan, all combined against his spiritual interests?—nothing can support the mind but such a knowledge as this,—that the almighty power of Jehovah is engaged to support in and finally deliver from all its troubles, and to bring the soul to the full enjoyment of the heavenly inheritance. Then, let this word of Christ dwell in you richly!
The disciples and followers of Christ, are called, as heirs to an eternal inheritance, not only into perplexity and sorrow, and