« PreviousContinue »
cause neither he nor it is offered to them; and the very reason why fallen men have a right of access to him, or a right to call him Jehovah their Righteousness, is, because in the word of grace he is freely tendered to them. And, indeed, if sinners as such had not a right in consequence of that, to believe in Christ, or to claim him as the Lord their Righteousness, they could not justly be condemned for not believing on him in this character; for no man can justly be condemned for not doing that which he has no right to do;-" but he that believeth not is condemned already; because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God." When believing sinners, then, call Jesus Christ Jehovah their Righteousness, this appropriating persuasion, as it is grounded, not on good qualities in themselves, but on the unlimited offers and invitations of the gospel alone, implies their belief that he is freely offered to them as sinners; else it would be highly unwarrantable for them to lay the smallest claim to him. As it would be accounted presumption for a person to take what belongs to another, except it were offered to him, so, supposing it to be offered to him, yet if he is ignorant of the offer, or does not believe it, it is justly accounted presumption in him to attempt taking possession of it, and he is guilty of vicious intromission the moment he does it. In like manner, though Christ is offered in the Gospel to sinners of mankind, it would be high presumption for any of them to claim him as his Saviour, or to claim him as the Lord his Righteousness, if he did not believe that this offer was directed to him. If it be asked, What foundation have sinners to believe that it is addressed to them? I answer, They are to believe this, on the ground of God's faithfulness in those places of Scripture in which the offer is expressly mentioned, and in those other passages which contain invitations to accept of it: such as Isa. ix. 6. "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given." Chap. xlii. 6. "I will give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles." And chap. xlvi. 12, 13. "Hearken, ye stout-hearted, that are far
from righteousness; I bring near my righteousness." John iii. 16. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." In Chap. vi. 32. Christ, speaking to a promiscuous multitude at Capernaum, expresses these remarkable words,-" My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven." This last passage contains the Father's offer of Christ and his righteousness to sinners, in the most explicit terms. He does not say, My Father hath given to those of you who are believers, or, he will give to such of you as shall believe, upon condition of your faith and repentance, the true bread from heaven; but, He giveth you presently the true bread; he giveth it to you who, instead of seeking salvation by me, seek me only for the loaves; to you who, instead of hungering and thirsting after righteousness, or desiring to be fed with the true bread, murmur, because I said, I am the bread of life? He said to the woman of Samaria, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water;" intimating that himself was the gift of God to sinners. "In this mountain," says the prophet Isaiah, "shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things," &c. And in Prov. viii. 4. the personal Wisdom of the Father saith, "Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of men." In these passages, and many others which might be cited, we have express mention made of a free offer of Christ, and of his righteousness, to sinners of mankind, who are denominated the people, the Gentiles, the world, men, and the sons of men, &c., which are all indefinite terms; not, indeed, a giving of him in possession, else every sinner who hears the Gospel should possess him, and be saved by him; but a giving in offer, so that every sinner has hereby a right to take possession; and he is guilty of unbelief if he do not avail himself of this right.
Now, when by a true faith we call Jesus Christ Jehovah our Righteousness, we believe that he is freely offer
ed to us as unworthy sinners, not on the ground of our attainments or evidences, but on the ground of God's faithfulness in those and similar passages of Scripture and we believe that he is the Lord our Righteousness; ours in the offers of the Gospel; so that it is warrantable for us as lost sinners to make use of his righteousness, and depend on it for a title to salvation, with as much freedom as though it had been fulfilled by ourselves. This is the way to take home and apply to ourselves that which before lay in common in the Gospel offer. And indeed, if we were better acquainted with God's gracious offer of his Son to us as sinners, and with believing by the direct exercise of faith, that he is the Lord our Righteousness, in consequence of that offer, there should be more liveliness, holiness, and comfort among us than we can at present pretend to.
Lastly, To call the Lord Jesus, Jehovah our Righteousness is, to trust in him and on his righteousness as ours, for all our salvation. The main design of a justifying righteousness to lost sinners is, to entitle them to salvation; and if they had a perfect righteousness of their own, they might safely trust to it for this purpose. But, seeing believers are convinced that they have none, and are enabled to call Jesus Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth, Jehovah their Righteousness, they do so for this very end, that they may have his righteousness to rely on for a title to eternal life. They are sensible that they cannot be justified and saved without it, and at the same time that it is unwarrantable for them to trust to it as theirs, till they believe that it is theirs in the offer of the Gospel. When, therefore, they call the Lord Jesus Jehovah their Righteousness, they not only believe that he and his righteousness are graciously offered to them, but they cordially rely on his consummate righteousness as the sole ground of their title to complete salvation, and present it to God in all their addresses to him as the only meritorious cause of grace and glory. They not only make it a ground of confidence in their approaches to God, but build all their confidence for a
title to life upon it. They confide in Christ for his whole salvation, and devise liberally of Him, saying with the holy psalmist, "Thou wilt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies; thy right hand shall save me:" "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me:"" Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me:"" He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness." Thus they confide in Jesus Christ for all his salvation ; but this confidence they found on his surety-righteousness as theirs in the gospel offer. They not only renounce their own righteousness in the affair of justification, and acquiesce in that of Christ, but they rely on this solely for a right to grace in time and to glory in eternity. They cordially trust that they shall be exalted in his righteousness; that God will not only bring their souls out of trouble, but be well pleased with them, and bless them, for his righteousness' sake: they trust that for his righteousness' sake all the precious promises of the new covenant shall be fulfilled to them: thus they embrace the promises. They trust that for that spotless righteousness, in fulfilling which their Divine Surety obeyed the law as a covenant, all necessary grace shall be communicated to them, to enable them to obey it acceptably as a rule. On that ground they trust that Christ will graciously supply them with present strength for present duty, and for maintaining the conflict with corruption within, and temptation without; in a word, that he will supply all their wants according to his riches in glory, and fill them with fruits of righteousness, which are by Him to the glory and praise of God. Sometimes, indeed, when unbelief is prevailing against them, they find that they cannot hold fast this confidence. But this is no more a proof that doubting is of the nature of faith, than that darkness is of the nature of the sun when he is under an eclipse. The believer, when unbelief prevails against him, is almost ready to cast away his confidence ; but instead of thinking this to be his duty, he thinks it
both a sin and a shame to him. Sometimes he is so foolish as to make his pleasant frames and evidences grounds of his confidence and comfort, instead of the righteousness of Jesus Christ; but when Christ, who is always jealous of his own honour, casts a vail over those evidences, and suffers him to discern nothing within him but confusion and corruption, he learns by degrees to act more wisely. Instead of making his experiences a ground of trust, he learns to consider them only as encouragements to him to rely with more assured confidence on Christ as Jehovah his Righteousness.
Now, from what has been said on this subject, we may see, 1. the inexpressible greatness of redeeming love. How admirable is the love of the eternal Father to sinners, in giving his only-begotten Son, in giving his Son who never offended him, but was his eternal delight, who was the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person; in giving him up to the most direful anguish, agony, and death, that he might make reconciliation for iniquity! How transcendently great the love of God to vile rebellious sinners, which could vent itself to them through the vital blood of his own dearly beloved Son!" God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son :" "He commended his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." Here also we may see the amazing love of the eternal Son, who not only consented to fulfil all righteousness, to endure the most exquisite anguish in our stead, but consented with infinite cheerfulness. In the making of the everlasting covenant he said, "Lo, I come: I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart." The law requires us only to love our neighbour as ourselves; but the Lord Jesus loved his enemies, in some sense, more than himself. He willingly consented to endure death in all its direful extent, that they might be exalted to endless life. His blessing the sacramental elements in the night in which he was betrayed, is called his giving of thanks; for he loved his people so much, that he was thankful he had their boundless