« AnteriorContinuar »
says, "evil spirits," especially those into which youth are liable to fall, which cannot be expelled but “ by prayer and fasting."
Yet not only this, but with respect to sins that are past, the effects of them on the mind, the hardness of heart which they necessarily occasion, without some strong self-denying discipline of this kind, can scarcely be removed. It is prayer indeed which in such cases is the healing and restoring medicine of the soul; but the extreme value of these self-denying practices is that they so wonderfully and mysteriously, as if from some secret connection with the Cross of Christ, dispose the heart to prayer.
Add to which, that the efficacy of prayer is chiefly promised to that temper which these practices produce.
The mercies of our HEAVENLY FATHER are indeed according to His own declaration, as much beyond our poor conception as Heaven is above earth; more willing to hear than we to pray, and wont to give more than we desire or deserve.”
But let the Bible be examined from the first page to the last, and it will be found,- from its doctrines, its precepts, its examples, its histories, its types, its parables, its miracles, its promises, its blessings, its woes, from the graces which it singles out in man, and marks with approbation, from the duties it commands, and the dispositions it requires ---it will be found that those boundless mercies of our HEAVENLY FATHER are dealt out in exact proportion to our humiliation.
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
JEREMIAH xxiji. 6.
“ This is His name whereby He shall be called, The LORD OUR
Next Sunday Advent begins, and Advent is the season in which the Church turns our thoughts to the Coming of CHRIST; or, rather, to His two Comings, or Advents, both that in great humility which is past, and that in glory for which we look.
On this Sunday, therefore, the next before Advent, the Church orders that instead of a portion of one of the Epistles, or letters of the Apostles, there should be read in the Communion Service a part of the Prophecy of Jeremiah, in which our Lord's Coming had been foretold of old to the Jews.
Our Lord was there spoken of by Jeremiah, about six hundred years before He came into the world, as a King Who should
reign and prosper, and should execute judgment and justice on the earth.”
I have often endeavoured to explain to you how this prophecy of a kingdom has been fulfilled; that the Church is the Heavenly Kingdom which our LORD has set up on earth, according to what had been thus foretold; that all of us Christians are His subjects in that Kingdom, that the Bible is the written Law thereof, and the ministers of the Church bear rule therein under Christ, according to that Law.
But now I would direct your thoughts to another point. Jeremiah the Prophet said, also, that the name whereby this
Heavenly King should be called, should be “The LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."
Upon which I would have you observe, first, that when it is said in the Bible that any person should be called by any particular name, it is not so much meant, that this name should be commonly given him, but rather, that he should actually be that which the name signifies. For instance, Isaiah foretold that our LORD should be called “ IMMANUEL",” yet we do not commonly address our Saviour in prayer, or speak of Him by that name. But the meaning of the Prophet was, that that Most Holy CHILD, Whose birth he was then foretelling, should really be what the word IMMANUEL means, that is, “ God with us?,”God amongst men. And this we know and confess concerning our SAVIOUR.
And thus, in like manner, we must understand the Prophet · Jeremiah here to foretell that our LORD was to be THE LORD our RIGHTEOUSNESS, and should be so acknowledged. And so it is, this prophecy is fulfilled before our eyes; the King, the RIGHTEOUS Branch that has been raised unto David, the King Who reigns over God's Church, an Heavenly Kingdom on earth, is THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
We acknowledge Him to be the LORD, that is, the true and living God; for no less than this is meant by the word here translated “ THE LORD.” It is in the Hebrew “ JEHOVAH,” God's Most Holy Name, which no creature may share; that name which our Saviour claimed as His own, when He said, “Before Abraham was, I AM 3.” This Name God declared to be His peculiar Name, when He sent Moses to deliver the children of Israel, telling him he was thus to say unto them, “I AM hath sent me unto you 4.” For JEHOVAH, which is here rendered THE LORD,”
He is;” and was God's most sacred Name, signifying Him Who alone Is of HIMSELF, and does not depend for His Being (as all of us do) on another.
So that our Saviour is here set before us, in the language of prophecy, as the very JEHOVAH, the true and living God. But that is not all; His Name is not only the LORD, but The LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. And these two parts are closely con
1 Isaiah vii. 14.
2 Matt. i. 23.
3 John viii. 58.
4 Exod, iii. 14.
nected; if He were not the LORD, if He were not very God, then He could not be our RigHTEOUSNESS. For no man can justify his fellow-creature, or be his Righteousness; for we are all, even the best of us, miserable sinners before God. “No man,” that is, no mere man, like ourselves, “may deliver his brother, nor make agreement unto God for him ; for it costs more to redeem their souls: so he must let that alone for ever 5.” Nay, not even the holy Angels of Heaven, although they do God's pleasure, and hearken to the voice of His Word, and see His Face continually, not even they ever impart Righteousness to‘men. The LORD HIMSELF, God's own true Son, is the only RighTEOUSNESS, the only JUSTIFIER of sinful man.
We of ourselves, and as left to ourselves, are full of sin and evil; in us, that is, in our flesh, dwells no good thing. What good we would wish to do while in our natural state, we are not able to do 6. Not that God made man like this; far from it: man was made at the first in God's own image; but by sin, by setting up his own will against God's will, man corrupted his nature, and caused that the thoughts of our hearts should be from our very birth, as one may say, "only evil continually ?." The heart of man, though at first the image of God, became “ deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked 8.” We are born in sin and iniquity, and as we grow up, increase day by day and year by year the load of our corruption and wretchedness, by our own actual sins. The Devil has become prince and god of this world, and leads the greater part of those who dwell therein captive at his will, most miserably pleasing them, seducing, disquieting, and deceiving them by vain shows, and by promising to satisfy their unreasonable and unlawful desires, while thus, year
he binds his chains closer round his victims, and makes them more and more his own, marks them more and more with his own evil image.
Thus were men wretched sinners, “ enemies" to God “by wicked works”,” unjust and unholy before Him; and no man, no not one, had power
of himself to break the Devil's chain, and to turn with his whole heart unto GOD.
7 Gen. vi. 5.
5 Psalm xlix. 7, 8. 6 See Romans vii. 14-24. 8 Jer. xvii. 9.
9 Col. i. 21.
So miserable and helpless was the state of guilty man. But God had pity on us in this our misery, and God's own Son came down from Heaven to be the Righteousness of such as should be knit unto Him, and continue in Him unto the end. He came for this purpose down into this wretched world, and took
Нім our nature, that in His own Person He might restore it to more than its first Righteousness. As man HE fulfilled all Righteousness, He obeyed God's will and law perfectly in all things, and then, having no sin HIMSELF, HE submitted, of His own free will, to the sufferings and death due to sin for us, and as our HEAD. This was done in order that we, suffering together with Him here, might be afterwards partakers of His Life and Glory. For as He died for our sins, so did He rise again to justify us, that is to say, to endow us with His Righteousness.
This our Church teaches us in the Homily of the Resurrection. This is the mighty power of “the LORD, Whom we believe on. By His Death He wrought for us this victory, and by His Resurrection hath He purchased everlasting life and Righteousness
It had not been enough to be delivered by His death from sin, except by His Resurrection we had been endowed with Righteousness." And again, "He died to destroy the rule of the Devil in us, and He rose again to send down His Holy Spirit to rule in our hearts, to endow us with perfect Righteousness.”
Our Lord thus having offered a full and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of men, and being raised again, became the JUSTIFIER of all that should receive Him, believe in Him, and be knit unto one with Him.
We by Baptism were made members of Christ, or, as the Scripture saith, “We are very members of His Body, of His Flesh, and of His Bones'.” We, if we be His indeed, dwell in Him, and He in us. For, know ye not,” saith St. Paul, “your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you ??" If we then be knit unto Him, and He dwell in us, then must we needs be partakers of His Righteousness. For although we be wretched helpless sinners of ourselves, yet we have Him dwelling in us, Who is perfect Righteousness, and, by His indwelling, justifies, endows with Righteousness even us; and therefore is He well called, THE
1 Eph. v. 30.
2 2 Cor. xiii. 5.