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a meritorious righteousness of their own, and will not submit to the righteousness of God!
But, besides the Papists, we have other enemies lo the doctrine in the text, The careless sinner treats it with great contempt: for he does not see its value, nor his own want of it, and therefore he lives easy and secure in the practice of sin. The scripture has revealed the wrath of heaven against all his unrighteousness, but he does not regard the revelation. The law brings him in guilty, and condemns him, but he gives himself no concern about the threatenings of the law. The gospel offers him mercy, and its ministers entreat him to accept of it, but he stops his
Neither the grace of the gospel, nor the terrors of the law, can prevail upon him. Although he has no righteousness of any kind, yet he lives as if he was in no danger. Oh, deluded man! If thou didst but know thy state, thou wouldst cry earnestly to the Redeemer, and seek to be accepted in his righteousness. May he take pity upon thee, and send his good Spirit to convince thee of sin, and to convince thee of righteousness!
The formalist is another enemy to the doctrine in the text. He will not receive justification by imputed righteousness, but will have his own righteousness seated on the throne along with Christ. He falls into this great mistake from his ignorance of the perfect nature of God's law, which has made no provision for any failing, but for the very first passes sentence, “ cursed is every one who continueth not in all things,” &c. and since all have failed, consequently all are under the curse, and can never be justified by that law which has condemned them. And his mistake arises also from his ignorance of the gospel. He takes the gospel to be a proposal of terms and conditions, mitigating the rigour of the law, and so he makes Christ only a milder lawgiver than Moses, requiring not perfect but sincere obedience of his creatures. Whereas Christ came to redeem us from the curse of the law, by obeying its. precepts, and by suffering its penalties, and our righteousness comes to us from him, as the fulfiller of the law, and is received by faith, without any of our works, or deservings.
If any of you, my brethren, have fallen into this mistake, weigh and consider attentively what has been before said upon the moral law, and upon the law of faith, and if you are not convinced, can you ask God to direct you in the right way? If you can, he has promised to give you wisdom; he will teach you the true doctrine, and will enable you to submit to the true righteousness of God. But if you are convinced, are you waiting for the precious gift of faith? If you are waiting for it, remember whose gift it is. The Holy Spirit alone can work faith in your heart. It requires his power, even that almighty power which raised up Jesus from the dead. The scripture ascribes to him the office of convincing sinners of Christ's righteousness, and of giving them faith to rest upon it for their justification. Look up to him for this blessing. Wait in his appointed ways, hoping for it. And when the Spirit shall be poured upon you from on high, then you will be justified by faith in Christ's righteousness, and the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever.
Happy are you, my Christian brethren, who have received the righteousness of faith, and know in whom you have believed. Since Christ's righteousness is yours, bring forth its proper fruits, and
show publicly that there is an inseparable connexion between justifying faith, and sanctifying grace. By justifying faith the believer is united to Christ, and receives life from him, as a graft does from the stock upon which it grows. By virtue of this union Christ liveth in the believer, and enables him to put forth the proper acts of spiritual life, as the stock upon which the graft grows supplies it with sap and juices to put forth leaves, and blossoms and fruit. This is the certain effect of the abiding of a branch in the vine; it
will bring forth fruit; and if any one fancies himself to be a believer, and neither brings forth, nor is seeking to bring forth any fruit, he only deceives himself, and the truth is not in him: for whosoever has Christ for a Saviour will have the Holy Spirit for a sanctifier, and will bring forth fruit to the glory of God.
See then, my Christian brethren, that ye value and prize this righteousness, and give it its proper honour, both with your hearts and lives. While you are bringing forth its peaceable fruits, you will continually find the comforts of it. This righteousness is one of the pieces of Christian armour. It is called a breastplate, because it is the proper armour for the vital parts. Your life is always safe while you have your breast-plate on; you need not fear the terror by night, nor the arrow that flieth by day. Let thousands fall, you are safe. You are defended from outward attacks: for although many be the afflictions of the righteous, yet the Lord delivereth him out of them all; and you are kept in inward peace; for the work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. In time of sickness this righteousness will be a perpetual cordial. It will not suffer the heart to sink, although the body grows weak and faint; for this breast-plate is not only proof against the pains of sickness, but also against the weapons of death., “Righteousness delivereth from death ;" (Prov. xi. 4,) not by keeping the justified person from dying, but by keeping him from the fear of the first, and from the power of the second death. The righteous man, armed with this invulnerable breast-plate, can challenge all his enemies. Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or death?
Nay, clothed in the robe of Christ's righteousness, I shall not be afraid to go through the valley and shadow of death, nor yet to stand at the awful bar of God's infinite justice. Why should he fear to stand there to be tried? for who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God himself that justifieth ; who is he then that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again for their justification, and in his righteousness they shall stand holy and unblameable and unreproveable before the judgment-seat of God.
Since these are some of the benefits of having on the breast-plate of righteousness, let us, my Christian brethren, keep it always in use. Since we are fighting under the captain of our salvation, let us be ever armed with his righteousness ; and may we all wear it upon our breasts, that neither guilt within, nor troubles without, may ever separate us from the love of Christ Jesus our Lord; but may we in life and death find the blessedness of this armour, by its protecting us from the threatenings of the broken law, and from the vengeance of almighty justice; and may we, in time and in eternity, live to his glory, who humbled himself to be made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him ! Grant this, holy Father, for the sake of thy dear Son Jesus Christ: to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, three persons in one Jehovah, be honour and glory, and blessing and praise, for ever and everAmen.
On being Righteous over-much
“Be not righteous over-much."-EccLEs. vii. 16.
to get into heaven. They have never tried in earnest to get in, and therefore they are not sensible of any difficulty. Scripture may speak contrary to their opinion, but they will not hear it. Plain matter of fact may be against them, but they will not regard it. They sit down easy and unconcerned about their eternal state, resolved to enjoy the present world, like the fool upon record —" soul, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be inerry." Live jovially at present; give thyself no trouble about religion, and let not one thought of death disturb thee. It will be time enough to prepare for eternity at some future period. Thus they think and act. Nay, many have arrived at such an absolute indolence that they are angry and provoked, if any one tells them they are certainly in the wrong, and they will not bear it-no, not from their minister, whose office and duty it is to try to convince them of the necessity of striving to get into the king, dom of heaven. But if such careless creatures will not hear us, yet they ought to hear bim who has the power of life and death, and who says, " strive to enter in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and