Page images
PDF
EPUB

1

ye stout-hearted that are far from righteousness; I bring near my righteousness ;" I bring it near to you: so that if we desire to know whether we be warranted to believe, on the ground of the Divine record, that this glorious righteousness is offered to us, we have only to ask ourselves, if we are sinners of mankind or not; or if we are stouthearted, or hard-hearted, and are far from righteousness or not. If we can say we are, then we are guilty of criminal unbelief the moment we refuse to believe that the offer of a justifying righteousness is made to us in particular.

Christ also may be styled, The Righteousness of his people, not only because he makes an external revelation and offer of his righteousness to them, but because he makes an internal revelation and gift of it to them, by his Holy Spirit enabling them to believe. The external offer is made to all who hear the Gospel ; but the internal gift only to those whom he represented as a Surety. In the one case, he gives it only in offer, and gives it to sinners in common who hear the Gospel : in the other, he gives it in possession, and gives it to those only whom he enables to believe on him. On these accounts, then, the Lord Jesus may be called, The Righteousness of his people.

SERMON VII.

CHRIST AS THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

This is his name whereby he shall be called, the LORD OUR

RIGHTEOUSNESS."-JER. xxüi. 6.

[ocr errors]

for us.

III. I PROCEED now to the third general head,- To point out the import of their appropriating the Lord Jesus as Jehovah their Righteousness.

" This is his name whereby he shall be called” by all who believe in him, “ Jehovah our Righteousness." This implies,

1. A real persuasion wrought in them by the Holy Spirit, that they have no righteousness of their own. We will never come to Christ, as the end of the law for righteousness to us, till we be convinced, by a saving work of the Holy Spirit, of the utter insufficiency of our own performances, to be a justifying righteousness

It is as natural for the children of fallen Adam to rely on their own works for the favour and

acceptance of God, as it is to breathe. They are naturally ignorant of the holiness and vast extent of the Divine precepts; and therefore they conclude that it is not difficult to obey them. The

young man in the gospel, ignorantly imagining that he yielded all the obedience that the law required of him, asked our Lord, What lack I yet?” They are ignorant of the universal corruption of their nature, as Paul was when he was alive without the law; and therefore they are not persuaded of their utter inability to perform the least action that is spiritually good. Hence they delay repentance from time to time, because they secretly imagine that they can repent at any time. They are ignorant of the vindictive justice of God, and therefore conclude that their own performances will not only entitle them to Divine favour, but will also make atonement for their sins. This is the lamentable case of all of you who are unregenerate, whatever convictions and desires you

may have : and if you are disposed to deny it, I would ask you, Why do ye betake yourselves to your duties, whenever you apprehend that God is angry with you, instead of coming to the blood of Jesus Christ ? And why do ye take rest to your consciences in them, instead of seeking it in him, if you did not entertain the hope that they would both pacify him and procure his favour? In few words, they are ignorant of the righteousness which the law requires, and as they are strongly attached to the way of the first covenant, “ Do and live,” they go about to establish their own righteousness; and because of the pride of their heart, they will not submit to the righteousness of God. But whenever the quickening Spirit of Christ enters the dead soul, he convinces it not only of sin, but of righteousness. He persuades the sinner, that as he hath forfeited heaven, and exposed himself to hell, by his sins, he wants righteousness to entitle him to the one, and to secure him from the other ;-persuades him that his religious attainments, his performances, and professions, are of no use at all to secure him from the wrath, or to recommend him to the favour of God. And while the Spirit of Christ convinces him that he needs a righteousness fully answerable to the requirements of the broken law, he overcomes, at the same time, his inclination to seek justification by his own righteousness; and he makes him willing to “receive the blessing from the Lord, even righteousness from the God of his salvation.”

2. It imports a spiritual and experimental discernment of the excellence and suitableness of the righteousness of the Lord Jesus.-When sinners are convinced that no blood can expiate their sins but blood of infinite value, and that no obedience can merit eternal life for them but obedience infinitely perfect, the Spirit, shining into their darkened understandings, and shining at the same time upon the Gospel report concerning Christ, discovers to their hearts the excellence and suitableness of his surety-righteousness, revealed in the Gospel ; discovers that as it is the righteousness of Him who is God as well as man, it will be more than sufficient for expiating the guilt of that punishment which they have incurred, and for meriting that eternal happiness which they have forfeited. And therefore when they are said in the text to claim the Lord Jesus as their righteousness, they are represented as expressing that name which of all others is the most expressive of his Godhead,—" Jehovah our Righteousness;" intimating, that as they are sensible no righteousness can suit their condition but a righteousness so infinitely valuable as to expiate their guilt and to merit their felicity, so this righteousness, being fulfilled by Him who is the supreme Jehovah, derives such value from his adorable Person as not only to answer all the demands of the law as a covenant in their stead, but to magnify “the law and make it honourable.” Thus when they see that the blood of Christ is the blood of God, and his righteousness the righteousness of God, they, like the merchant-man in the parable, seeking goodly pearls to enrich him, find that this pearl is of great price, and desire above all things to possess it. They begin to count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus their Lord, that they may be found in him, not having their own righteousness which is of the law, but the righteousness which is of God by faith. When they attain a spiritual view of the glory of this consummate righteousness, the glory of their own will vanish from their sight.

3. It implies also a cordial approbation of the way of a sinner's justification and salvation, through that glorious righteousness. When a man, in the common affairs of life, possesses any thing which he despises or disapproves of, he is almost ashamed to speak of it as a thing that belongs to him ; but if he values or approves of it, he will be disposed frequently to mention it as his property. Now, this is the name by which he shall be called, as if believers had rather give him this than any other appellation, “ Jehovah our Righteousness." Often have they occasion to make mention of his name; but this is the name by which they call him. They so highly ap

prove of, and they take such delight in his consummate righteousness, as their ground of hope, that they cannot forbear glorying in it, and making frequent mention of it as their righteousness. Many are so much attached to the way of the first covenant, as all unregenerate men are, that they disapprove of grace reigning through this righteousness to eternal life, and therefore they speak as little of imputed righteousness as they can. Nay, so highly do some disapprove of it, that they spend much of the precious time for which they shall one day be accountable, in labouring to persuade themselves and others that no such righteousness is necessary for them. And to strengthen such a persuasion, they labour to disbelieve the supreme deity of Jesus Christ; for if he is not a Divine person they are sure he could not work out a righteousness sufficient for the justification of a sinner. But this is the name whereby he shall be called by such as believe in him, '“ Jehovah our Righteousness;" for “ in him shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” They shall all glory in him as Jehovah their righteousness. They shall abundantly utter the memory of his great goodness, and shall sing of his righteousness.

4. To call Jesus Christ “ Jehovah our Righteousness,' imports our belief of God's grant or offer of him, in the Gospel, to us as our righteousness.-His gracious Father makes an authentic grant of him, and he makes a free offer of himself, to sinners of the human race, in common, who hear the Gospel, as Jehovah their Righteousness. This deed of grant is commonly called, The gospel-offer, because it is not a giving in possession, but a giving only in offer, in order to afford a warrant to take possession. If Christ were not offered to sinners of mankind as the Lord their Righteousness, it would be unwarrantable for any of them to appropriate him as such. It is God's offer of Christ and of his righteousness to sinners, and that alone, which renders it warrantable for any sinner of mankind to claim him as Jehovah his Righteousness. The reason why it would be unwarrantable for fallen angels to trust on Christ and his righteousness, is be

« PreviousContinue »