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its end, as a righteousuess before God, attained. What the law required, he accomplished: for he has “brought in an everlasting righteousness.” With this the law is satisfied; and, like the avenger of blood, pursues the sinner only till he takes refuge in Christ; in him the believer finds a sanctuary, and the law retires, satisfied and well pleased for his righteousness' sake.
We have only now to show, in the
Third place, That this righteousness is given to every believer; or that it is by faith we become interested therein.
The righteousness wrought out by Jesus is freely given to the believer; so St. Paul says, Rom. v. 16: 6. The judgment was by one (offence) to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences to justification.”
If it be asked, How can the righteousness of another be made ours? We answer, in the same manner that our sins were made Christ's; that is, by imputation. Christ, who had no sin of his own, was made sin for us; reckoned as a sinner, and dealt with as such: so we, who have no righteousness of our own, are made the righteousness of God, in him—not in ourselves. The sins of the elect were not inherent in Christ, but put to his account; so the righteousness of Christ is not inherent in us, but imputed to us; and God is graciously pleased to deal with us accordingly; he treats us as if we had not sinned, and accepts us as perfectly righteous: so that there is no condemnation whatever to us who believe.
The nature of this imputation may be learned from the dealings of mankind with one another. We read in St. Paul's Epistle to Philemon, to whom he wrote in behalf of Onesimus, a runaway servant, who was afterwards converted, desiring him to receive him again:-“If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee aught,” saith Paul, “ impute it to me,"put it to my account. And thus it is with bondsmen or sureties, who make themselves liable to pay the debt of others; what they pay is imputed to the persons for whom they are bound, and they are reckoned to have paid it by them: and thus, as a plain man expresses it, “ The gospel is nothing but good news,—that a rich man is come into the country to pay poor people's debts.”
Now this glorious gift of righteousness becomes ours by faith ; it is therefore called “the righteousness of faith;” and “the righteousness of God, which is by faith, and which is to and upon all that believe.” Hence, also, we are said to be “ Justified by faith ; and to be saved by grace, through faith.”
The person who has been convinced of sin by the law, alarmed by his sense of danger, led to seek for salvation, and enlightened in the knowledge of Christ, gladly receives this gift of righteousness :he sees no other way :-he is pleased with this way;
- he receives this righteousness, and relies upon it for his acceptance with God.
We must always remember, that the only person who can or will receive this righteousness, is one who has been convinced that he is unrighteous in himself; and who is looking out for deliverance from that state in which the law leaves him. He hears the proposal of the gospel; assents to it as true; delights in it as good; renounces all other ways of obtaining relief, and heartily consents to be saved by grace alone. This is that faith frequently described in the Scripture by receiving Christ,-coming to Christ,—and trusting Christ.
CONCLUSION. And now, my dear friends, consider, I beseech you, the great importance of the subject. That great reformer, Luther, said that " Justification by faith is that article on which the whole church must stand or fall.” It was the pillar of the Reforination; it is the leading doctrine of the Church of England. In one of the 39 Articles, which you will do well to read, this grand truth is thus expressed:-“We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.” The Prayer-book speaks the same language. For instance :"0 Lord God, who seest that we put pot our trust in any thing that we do.” Again, “ We lean only on the hope of thy heavenly grace.” And in another place, “We do not presume to come to this table, trusting in our own righteousness."
Take also a few passages from the book of Homilies. “ Man cannot make himself righteous by his own works, neither in whole nor in part; for that were the greatest arrogancy and presumption of man, that Antichrist could set up against God; to affirm that man might, by his own works, take away his sins, and so justify himself.” In another place we have these excellent words :-" Christ is now become the righteousness of all them that do truly believe in him; He, for them, paid the ransom by his death; He, for them, fulfilled the law in his life.” Once more: “ This righteousness, which we so receive of God's mercy and Christ's merit, embraced by faith, is taken, accepted, and allowed of God, our perfect and full justification.”
Think of this matter with respect to yourselves. You must die. You must appear before a holy God, who hates sin, and has declared that the soul that sinneth shall die. Are you not asking, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and appear before the most high God?” You have now
heard,--Not by works of righteousness which you have done. These are imperfect and insufficient. The best of them is mixed with sin. Trust not to them. Renounce them all, and say with St. Paul, “ Yea, doubtless, and I count all ihings but dung and dross, that I may win Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” If you trust to any thing else, you “ frustrate,” as much as you can, “the grace of God, and in effect say that “ Christ died in vain.” This is a blasphemy which you did not intend; but all self-righteousness speaks this horrid language. Remember what is written, i Cor. ii. 11:-“ Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." This alone can bear the weight of a sinner's salvation ; every other will give way when the storm shall come, and bury the builder in its ruins. .. But I hope better things of you, my brethren,
even the things which accompany salvation. I hope you are convinced of sin, and also of righteousness; that you are hungering and thirsting after it. Be of good comfort. It is the gift of God, freely bestowed without any deservings on the part of the sinner. " Ask, and ye shall receive. Seek, and ye shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Pray to God for faith. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to produce it. Faith cometh by hearing. Continue to hear his word; and expect that, in waiting upon God, he will enable you to mix faith with it, so that it may profit your soul.
Have any of you put on the Lord Jesus? Is he the foundation of your hopes ? Is his righteousness the rock on which you resolve to appear before him? I call upon you to rejoice. Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for
they hear. Blessed is your heart, for therewith
“ Be all my heart and all my ways