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righteously responsible for not believing in Jesus, unless he had the capacity of so doing, any more than he could be responsible for not being born a Jew; and he is only deceiving himself, when he allows any form of words to pass upon him as an explanation of the contrary supposition.
And now let us inquire what that righteousness of God is, which is revealed in the
gospel, and which makes it the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth it. And let us begin our inquiry by considering what instruction is conveyed to us on the subject, by the prophecy of Habakkuk, to which we are referred by the quotation, “ the just shall live by faith.” For, to that prophecy the apostle undoubtedly refers us, by this quotation, and by his prefixing it in this way to his whole argument as its text, and summary, he evidently commends it to us, as a passage containing an elementary explanation of that same righteousness which is more fully revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ ; and therefore we should be manifestly neglecting the most obvious way of ascertaining the meaning of the apostle, if we did not compare his argument with that prophecy.
The prophecy of Habakkuk, like every
other complete prophecy, contains an anticipated view of the history represented by the spectacle which Jeremiah saw at the house of the Potter, in as much as it announces the breaking down of the first vessel, (the present state of man,) and declares that breaking down to be not only the righteous punishment of sin, but also to be the necessary preparation for the glorious building up of the second vessel, the resurrection state. The book commences with a complaint of the prophet against the sinful state of Israel; in answer to which, he is forewarned of the complete overthrow and ruin of the nation, by the invasion of the Chaldeans, as the reward of their multiplied transgressions. He is much overwhelmed by this announcement, but yet he stays himself upon the faithfulness of God, in the confidence that this scourge is not sent for destruction but for correction, i. 12; and he sets himself to look to God, and to wait for something from him that may reconcile this fearful message with the covenant of mercy to Israel. Whilst he is thus waiting, the word comes to him, and he is desired to write down distinctly, a vision which is shown him of that final glorious redemption which was to rise out of, and to ter
minate all these calamities : “And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up (or the unbeliever, as the vulgate renders it), is not upright in him : but the just shall live by his faith.” The just man—the man who trusts God, who is the giver of the vision—shall be sustained by the belief of it, through all the calamities that are to come-he shall live through them, as a good ship through a storm. This is the preface to the word of consolation, which proceeds to denounce a woe against the conqueror, who had made Israel and the nations of the earth to drink out of the wine-cup of the Lord's anger. He had “ transgressed by wine;" he had transgressed in ministering the cup of wrath which had been committed to his ministry, serving therein his own pride, and not God's glory—and his downfall is foretold as the reward of his transgression. And then it is declared that the Chaldeans should labour in the fire, and weary themselves for very vanity,
failing in their own projects, and being made subservient to an object which they never contemplated—for that instead of setting up an empire for themselves, the issue of all their schemes and operations should be, that “ the earth should be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea.” And then, in the 3d chapter, follows the glorious vision of the Lord's coming to bring and establish redemption for His people, as the prophet saw it, which is so written that those who run may read—it is the accomplishment of all the promises the fulness of the deliverance.
This vision set the prophet's own heart at rest in God; for, as soon as he understood that the destruction and calamities that had been denounced, were by the divine control to be made subservient and preparatory to the coming glory, he immediately found himself prepared to welcome them, whatever they might be ; for he did not any longer judge of them by the present feeling of the flesh, but by God's purpose in them, which he saw, as it were, shining through them. He was thus justified by faith,—he was brought into submissive conformity to the will of God. For the joy set before him, he
was ready to endure the cross. And thus having the mind of Christ, he had the righteousness of Christ; and he sang the song of the righteous, “although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine, &c., yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” That is, let the Chaldeans come, let all calamities come; I know who sends them, and why they are sent; I know that there is a blessing contained in them which outweighs them far -let the first marred vessel be broken, I know that God will make out of the same clay a new vessel unto honour, meet for the master's use.
This is the only prospect by the faith of which man is brought to submit himself rightly to the will of God, in the trials and desolations of life, which are here typified and represented by the Chaldeans. It is by this faith then, that he becomes righteous,for conformity to the will of God is righteousness, and the more he realizes the vision, the more will he feel the truth of that word : “the just, or the man who trusts God, shall live by the faith of the purpose of God revealed in it."
It is quite evident from the use made of