« PreviousContinue »
ousness, the righteousness of God in him. He died for you, that you might live to him ; that you should not henceforth live to yourself, but to him.
Hence we may infer, that whenever the believing sinner is actually justified, the body of sin in him is actually condemned. As soon as Adam, that leading sinner, was condemned, the sentence began to be executed upon him; he began to die spiritually. In like manner, when the body of sin begins to be actually condemned in any of Christ's spiritual seed, the sentence begins to be executed upon it in him. Then it begins to be mortified and to pine away. Are you actually justified, believer? The body of sin is actually condemned in you, and the sentence is begun to be actually executed. Christ having condemned sin in the flesh, was justified in the spirit. When, therefore, you apply him and justification in him to yourself, you apply, at the same time, the sentence of condemnation to the body of sin in you. No wonder if indwelling sin be so irritated by this treatment as to distress you more than before, and to dispose you often, in the bitterness of your soul, to apply the same condemning sentence to yourself.
We may infer also the excellence of true faith: it is the great instrument of applying justification to the believing sinner. Though you, believer, are not justified for faith, yet you are justified by faith, by the instrumentality of faith. It is the office of faith to receive the forgiveness of sin, and to apply this inestimable blessing to the awakened conscience. The grace of faith humbles itself so low as to give nothing, but to take everything; and God highly exalts it above all other spiritual graces, in the affair of justification. One reason why unbelief is the most heinous sin is, that it directly strikes against the glory of God, in the method of a sinner's justification and salvation.
We may see hence an evidence of actual justification, namely, a rejoicing or glorying in Christ Jesus, and in the method of justification through him. Some one will
say, "I fear I am not justified, for I do not rejoice as I ought to do in that glorious device. I think, instead of glorying in it, that I am more displeased with it sometimes than ever." Is this your grievance, and your heaviest burden, from which you long earnestly to be delivered? To esteem the Lord Jesus and that glorious device, is another evidence. He who is actually justified, esteems the Lord Jesus above all other Saviours, and his righteousness beyond every other righteousness. David's soldiers said to him, "Now thou art worth ten thousand of us ;" and Christ's redeemed, in the day of believing, say of Him, "He is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand."
Hence learn the meaning of these expressions in the thirty-second Psalm, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven," and "blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity." The first expresses the way in which God in justification pardons past and present sins; and the last, the way in which he forgives the sins, that the justified person afterwards commits he pardons the first formally, and the last by securing the non-imputation of them.
From what has been said, the exercised Christian may see how to treat the law as a covenant, when it presents its enditement to his conscience, and demands eternal death. He is to send it to Jesus his responsible Surety, and it cannot refuse to go. He is united to Christ as his glorious Husband, and justified in him: and whatever claim the law may have upon him, he is to refer it to his Husband. It is the husband that pays the debts.
Hence, we may see the reason why the believer's good works are accepted by God: it is neither for their sake, nor his sake, but for Christ's righteousness' sake; it is because the believer's person is accepted in Christ the Beloved, in whom he is declared righteous. In the covenant of grace, acceptance begins with the person, and passes on to the work.
See hence, how brightly the glory of God's justice and
law shines in a sinner's justification. In this method of justification, his justice and law are glorified both actively and passively. Had we been justified for perfect obedience performed by the first Adam, law and justice had only been glorified actively if we had been sent to hell, to endure the eternal execution of the condemning sentence, these would only have been glorified passively. But, in the justification of a sinner, by the active and passive obedience of Christ, they are glorified in both of these ways.
How illustriously does the glory of Divine grace shine in justification! With respect to God, it is an act of pure unmixed favour; respecting the sinner, it is absolutely free, suspended on no proper condition to be performed by him. "What is there here to the condemned sinner but grace, infinite riches of grace! Grace is displayed in devising and providing a justifying righteousness; in accepting it, in imputing it, and in giving faith to receive it.
This subject suggests grounds of trial.-Are you justified or not? I do not ask if you justify yourselves, or if men justify you; but does God justify you? If you are guilty but of one sin, and have not repented, you are as certainly condemned as if you had been guilty of ten thousand. The chains of natural corruption with which you are girded declare you to be still under condemnation. Now, have you seen and felt yourselves in a state of condemnation ? Justification is a judiciary sentence, and before you can expect it, you must appear in court, and answer to libel. Do you your see your want of a perfect righteousness, the insufficiency your own performances, and at the same time, the gift, suitableness, and sufficiency of the righteousness of Jesus Christ? Do you trust cordially in Christ as Jehovah your Righteousness? and are you humbled for your unbelief? Have you ever been grieved and troubled for the legal propensity of your heart? Is your self-righteous temper a burden, and a sore grievance to you? If so, it is a favourable sign. Do you rely on
Christ's righteousness for all your title to eternal life? Believe more, trust more; for they who believe are justified from all things, &c.
Let secure sinners consider, that every sermon addressed to them is a summons put into their hands, to answer for their innumerable sins at the bar of that omniscient God whose eyes are as a flame of fire. What consternation will seize you, O condemned and impenitent sinner, when you shall see an infinitely just Judge upon his great white throne; when you shall find a strict law before you, and an accusing conscience within! Like Shimei you have broken through your rules of confinement, and are men of death. Be persuaded that you cannot be justified but on the ground of a perfect righteousness; and you have no such righteousness of your own. Rely, then, for the justification of life on the surety-righteousness of the Lord Jesus, freely offered in the Gospel to you. Renew frequently your actings of faith on Him as your righteousness and strength, and glory in his finished work.
"By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”—HEB. x. 10.
THIS epistle was originally directed to Jewish believers, who were still much attached to the ceremonial law. In the 7th verse of this chapter, the apostle, having pointed out the insufficiency of the priesthood and sacrifices under the law, recommends and extols the priesthood of Jesus Christ. He recommends him as the great High Priest over the house of God, and his atonement as the true atoning sacrifice which gave that full satisfaction to Divine justice which none of the legal sacrifices could give. He introduces him as addressing his eternal Father in the council of peace thus, "Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God." These words the apostle quoted from the 40th Psalm, and they excellently suit his design in this place. The sacrifices under the law must be considered as totally insufficient, either to satisfy the justice of God, or the conscience of a convinced sinner; for God the Father is represented as not accepting of them for that purpose, or as taking no pleasure in them. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ must be preferred to them, and be regarded as fully sufficient for those important objects; for when he covenanted to offer it, he engaged with infinite willingness: He said, "Lo, I come, I delight to do thy will, O God." This engagement was written in the volume of the book, or, at the head of the roll of eternity, the book of life. It is the principal article