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" them.” Thus the innocent and the perfect personally righteous, shall surely be justified by the law. The nature, justice, and truth of God declare this. No danger of an innocent person, if such an one can be found ; he will never suffer pain, sorrow, disease or death in this world, much less will he be liable to perish in a future. But this is not the case of any mere child of Adam. “ There is none of them innocent or righteous, no not so much " as one ; all have sinned and coine short of the glory of God.”
Where the government of God has been assaulted, and his laws transgressed, then there must not only be innocence, but 2 suffering of the penalty, in order to form a righteousness requisite to justification.
Secondly, Observe the righteousness of Christ Jesus is the 011ly righteousness in this world, to which the preceding description can be applied. He was perfectly innocent, and compleatly suffered all that penalty which the justice and law of God required. Never was his life stained with the least blemish. Guile was never found in his mouth. He drunk up the full cup of divine wrath against sin ; trod the winepress of his Father's indignation, and there were nove with him.
He was God as well as man ; in his human nature, he obeyed and suffered; but being only one person, that which was performed in one nature was attributed to the other, and derived value and importance from it. Hence the obedience and sufferings of the Mediator, the Godinan Christ Jesus, were of infinite worth and merit. All that the Saviour did in this important business, were mere acts of grace. His whole humiliation was an act of grace. His assumption of human nature, subjection to the moral law, his obedience, death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession in heaven were and are the most free and sovereign acts of giace. He was under no natural obligation for the perform, ance of any of these things. Therefore, all that Christ did, must necessarily have been on some other account, and oot on his own, Christ, in his original character, was God, and placed above all obligation ; yet, in wonderful compassion, grace and love, condescended to a state of existence, that from the nature of it, subjected him to this obligation. If Jesus Christ had been originally subject to the law, and owed it obedience on his own account, then he could not have rendered it for others. But all the obedience and sufferings to which he submitted, he actually rendered for others. Hence it is declared, he was made under the law for this very purpose. “ When the fullness of the time was " come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under " the law, to redeem those that were under the law, that we "might receive the adoption of sons." Thus saith God by the prophet Isaiah, “ The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness
sake ; he will magnify the law and make it honorable." And by Daniel it is said, “ He shall bring in everlasting righteous.
ness." Now all that righteousness which Christ wrought out upon earth, in his obedience to the preceptive and penal requirements of the law, was not for himself or on his own account, but in the room and place, and on the account of sinners of mankind.
The obedience of Christ was of infinite moment and value ; because it was of infinite dignity. The Godhead did not obey or suffer, but he who was very God did both. The iniquities of us all were laid upon him. He was made an offering for sin ; made a curse. He was stricken, smitten and afflicted of God, despised and rejected of men, and became obedient unto death, even the painful and ignominious death of the cross. He died the just for the unjust. He was made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in hima The chastiseinent of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed - It is with regard to the whole of his satisfaction in all the branches of it, he is affirmed to be the end of the law for righteousness. Thus Christ's fulfillment of the law formed an infinite fund of righteousness ; whereby the whole debt due to the law by the sins of men, might have been cancelled, paid off, or sunk at once, had the divine constitution authorised it, or the covenant of grace admitted of such a method of discharge.Therefore, the sinner remains as much a debtor to the law, and as liable to punishment as ever, until he has a right and interest in this fund, and all the benefits of it are inade his, agreeably to the constition of the gospel.
Thirdly, It must be observed, that the divine and constitutional method by which a sinner becomes entitled to the advantages and blessings of this fund, or interested in and partaker of this righteousness for justification before God, is by faith in the gospel or by faith in Christ. Saving or justifying faith, accorda ing to the covenant of grace, is the uniting act of the soul to Christ Jesus. This faith makes the believer and Christ one by the constitution of this precious covenant. The sins of the former are laid upon the latter, and the righteousness of the latter is attributed, accounted or imputed to the former.
A world of controversy has been raised about the word imputation, imputed sin and imputed righteousness. But one thing is certain, after all the modern theological wrangling about it, it was always in use among the best reformers, and still is where vital and evangelical religion prevails. Where true religion has failed and only the shadow of christianity left, there this term is discarded, together with the righteousness of Christ, justification by faith, and all that is dependant upon free and sovereign grace in the salvation of men. But where it is believed we must be saved by the atonement of Christ, interested in his righteousness, and be dependant upon, and beholden to him for the forgivness of sin and eternal life, there is no word in our language so adapted to express the mode of the participation of the benefits of his righteousness as this. Moreover, it is a term we frequently meet with in the sacred oracles, and it is used in two senses ; the one to express the ascription of actions both good and evil to the doer of them. « Blood shall be imputed to that man, he hath “shed blood, Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not
«.impute sin.” It is also employed to express the attributing of actions performed by one person to another, and in this sense it is always taken, when we speak of the righteousness of Christ imputed to believers. “For us also," says St. Paul, “ to whom «it, to wit, righteousnes shall be imputed, if we believe on “ him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. God im“puteth righteousness without works.” In these and many other places, the righteousness imputed cannot be a person's own works, and nothing can constitute a righteousnoss but good works, or acts of holy obedience but this is most explicitly denied by the Apostle. Therefore, the imputed righteousness of which he treats, must be the righteousness of another—and it can be nothing else, but the works or acts of the holy and perfect obedience of Christ, or what is stiled his righteousness.
The Greek word every where used to express this idea, is logezetal, which is rendered, reckoned to, accounted, ascribed or imputed. But in whatever way we exhibit the matter of our justification, and the form of our becoming partakers of it or interested in it, one thing is absolutely certain, we are not justified before God by our own works or deeds of the law, but solely by the righteousness of the Redeemer. The sincere and pious man, who can submit to read Taylor on the Romans, and others of that class down to Whitby, will see the various exertions of great geniuses, and exuberant literature, to establish some other mode of justification variant from St. Paul, whom all parties lug into their service. But the simple, sincere, and even learned believer, will be more confirmed in this truth, that we are justified by the righteousness of Christ, and become participants of it, and interested in it by faith alone. And this faith is neither a bare perception of the mind, a simple assent of the understanding, nor is it struck into us like a clap of thunder, as a modern sect assert ; neither is it blindly believing we are good men, nor persuading ourselves Christ is ours, and his berefits ours without scripture, sense or reason, as some have foolishly affirmed. But a gospel or justifying fish, is a sinner's cordiad consent to take
Jesus Christ in all his mediatorial offices, as the Lord his riglit: eousness, and to give and commit himself wholly to the free mercy of God in Christ, looking for the pardon of sin, and acceptance to eternal life, only through bis merits. I know the cloud of objections against this doctrine, but time will not admit my attention to them. The pious man, and the man of experimental acquaintance with religion, will easily clear his way. through the dark mist raised to obscure his path, and firmly hold his ground upon the righteousness of Christ received by faith, as the rock on which he builds all his hopes.
Fourthly, It ought to be observed, that this justifying faith, is not a dead faith. It is not a solitary exercise of the human mind, but it is a living operative principle, works by love, purifies the heart, and overcomes the world. It powerfully disposes the heart in devotion towards God, and in mercy, love, and righteousness towards men. The fruits of true faith are godliness, charity, honesty and all holy living.
But it is time, and more than time, I should close the subject, which shall be done in a few very brief deductions.
The First deduction from this subject is, that it is impossible for any of the children of men to be pardoned, justified, and accepted of God by any rigliteousness, works, duties or obedience of their own, however splendid, showy, and apparently good as to the matter of them. This was the ruin of the pharisees, many jews, and multitudes of professed christians. They depend upon themselves. The blindness of their mind, and pride of their heart, cannot bear such self-denial and self-renunciation. To be absolutely beholden to free grace and the righteousness of Christ, involves such a depreciation of, and sense of unworthiness in themselves, that unrenewed nature can neither conceive, believe, nor endure. The Apostolic conclusion is, “That a 4 man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. As ma.
ny as are of the works of the law are under the curse, for it is