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word, Righteousness, is therefore, the sinner's justification by faith in the merits of Christ. The doctrine of Christ's ascension to the Father does not terminate in being a proof of Christ's innocence: it proves much more. It carries us forward to the doctrine of justification, as its consequence. Jesus ascended on high, that he might plead for sinners. Having "entered into heaven,” he now “appears in the presence of God for us.” (Hebrews ix. 24.) So then, the righteousness spoken of, is the merit of our Mediator, Christ Jesus.
Righteousness, as thus explained, is by St. Paul denominated, sometimes, “the righteousness of God:” at other times, “the righteousness of God without the law:” and again, “ the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe:” (Romans i. 17. iii. 21, 22.) It is expressly revealed, as a fundamental doctrine of the Gospel, “ revealed from faith to faith.” Man's understanding never could have devised such a plan of justice and grace combined. No person is now regarded by God as “just” or “ righteous," except through a righteousness imputed to him, on account of Christ's merits. But, for Jesus' sake, righteousness is imputed, even to the chief of sinners. 66 As by one man's disobedience (i. e. Adam's) many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one (i.e. Christ), shall many be made righteous.” (Romans v. 19.)
This doctrine of righteousness imputed to the believer, was no new doctrine at the day of Pentecost. It had been, in substance, the consolation of the saints from the very beginning under the Old Testament. Thus Abel, by his faith, “obtained witness that he was righteous;" that is, accepted and justified before God. (Heb. xi. 4.) Noah, by a like faith, “became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” (Heb. xi. 7.) The example of Abraham is frequently mentioned, in proof of this doctrine: and his experience, so many hundred years before Christ, is thus connected by St. Paul with Gospel - times: “ Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans iv. 3, and 23—25.)
In what new sense, then, may it be said that the Spirit convinces the world of this doctrine, subsequently to the day of Pentecost?
We reply, by the peculiar clearness, with which this doctrine is explained in the New Testament. Many parts of the Old Testament are thus rendered more perspicuous, as statements of Gospel-truth. (Thus Romans iii. 21—26, is a lucid commentary on Isaiah xlv. 20–25; and Romans iv. 4-8, on Psalm xxxii. 1-5.) The twofold designation of Jehovah, “ A just God and a Saviour,” is made still more pointed by St. Paul, in the terms, “ Just and the justifier : (Isaiah xlv. 21; Romans iii. 26.) Blessed be God!
the Spirit “convinces” every contrite sinner, who reads his New Testament with a simple mindfirst, that there is no other way of salvation : next, that this is God's appointed way for the sinner's acceptance with him: and then, that it is a suitable way ;-for, it promotes God's glory: it supplies the sinner's need : it stirs up the believer to holiness : and it furnishes a valid title to eternal life. These are the uses of the doctrine of imputed righteousness; and the more it is studied, the more will it appear truly divine; full of comfort, moreover, and full of profit to our souls. It is the foundation of a sinner's hope in death. St. Paul accounted the knowledge of this doctrine his only gain, and all things else his loss: “ What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Philippians iii. 7–11.)
THE SPIRIT, CONVINCING THE WORLD OF
JOHN xvi. 11. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. A THIRD undertaking is here attributed to the Spirit acting on behalf of Christ: namely, the display of the judgment passed, and executed upon the prince of this world. The sentiment here intended is the same with that which is expressed in 1 John iii. 8. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” The Holy Spirit will prove to all men, that Christ is able to bruise the serpent's head.
On this subject, our Lord speaks, as though the work were already done. So likewise in xvii. 4. he declares, by anticipation, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” Here he says, “ The prince of this world is judged :” referring to a space of time extending to the most distant ages of the world, even to the last great day; every part of which period was then present to the comprehensive mind of the Redeemer.
Satan, the arch-enemy of God and man, hath been plotting and compassing mischief against our race, ever since Adam was placed in Paradise. When God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, to condemn sin in the flesh, possibly Satan imagined that he had but a second Adam, weak as the first, to tempt and overthrow: but this second Adam was mightier than he. In our nature, and on our behalf, did Jesus enter into single combat with this dreadful foe. He condemned, He conquered, and He will finally and for ever cast out this apostate Spirit; mercifully delivering believers from his cruel tyranny, as a prey out of the mouth of the lion.
It will be useful to consider the many different methods, in which Satan exerts his power: observing at each particular, how he is subdued by our Redeemer. And in pursuing this inquiry, we shall find that this passage has as clear a reference to our Sanctification, as the preceding verse had to our Justification.
1. Satan tyrrannizes over men by Ignorance. Christ therefore comes as
a light into the world.” When any turn to Christ, God delivers them from the power of darkness, and translates them into the kingdom of his dear Son.
2. Satan rules by Sin: multiplying his temptations, and adapting them to every evil passion of our nature. He sways men by 66 the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” Christ on the contrary, by the power of his Spirit, gives to believers a new nature, which shows itself in their endeavours to cast off Satan's yoke. “ We know that whosoever is born of God, sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not."
3. Satan rules by Corruptions of the truth.