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-but he considers, If I obey this voice now, which I have neglected all my life, I must die without hope of salvation ; for what can I expect after death but to meet the just judgment of Him whose voice I have so long set at nought? Would it not be the certain loss of my soul, if I were to die in this unprepared state? And would it not be better to commit this small offence now, that 80 I may prolong my life, and have opportunity of repentance, and of reconciling myself to God; and so be prepared, if such an occasion as this occurs again, to do what I know to be the will of God, without fear of the consequences ? Still the voice within him, in answer to all this, repeats, “Do it not, it is the will of God that you should not do it, you know that you ought not to do it.” He hears the voice, and feels its authority; he feels that it is the voice of one who has power; and the thought comes to him, I ought to do what is right—and if so, can it be unsafe for my soul, in any circumstances, to do what is right ; can it be unsafe for me at any moment to do the will of God? He looks up to Him who is thus striving with his conscience, and he says, I may surely trust Thee; it is impossible that the first step that I make
in obedience to Thy voice, can be a step into hell. As soon as the man has got hold of this, he feels that he has hold of a reality. His trust is not a peradventure; it is a substance. He feels that he can commit to God all the consequences of obeying God. He does not expect life, but he has hold of eternal life, as the penitent thief on the cross had hold of it. He could deliver himself from his present cross by using his own counsel, but he chooses rather to submit himself to the counsel of God, trusting God with the consequences of His own counsel.
He feels that he has nothing to trust to, except God, who calls him by the manifestation of His will to his conscience-on that will alone he takes hold, and ventures into death with it, as a man confidently leaps over board, having hold of a rope.
Reader, can you believe that God would disappoint such a trust as this ? No! Do you not feel that this man has at once, from being unrighteous, become righteous, by simply trusting himself to God ? He is justified by faith—he has become righteous by entering into God's purpose, into God's righteous
The will of God is the righteous life of God and the will of the flesh is the un
righteous condemned life of man. He had hitherto lived in this latter life, and thus he had been unrighteous, but now he is living in the former, and thus he is righteous, with God's own righteousness. This is what is meant by being born again of the Spirit, because it is the ceasing from the life of the flesh, and living by the life of God. And this is Christ's righteousness, though the man may never have heard of the blessed name —and as a proof that it is indeed so, we may observe how correctly the words of Psalm xl., describing the righteousness of Christ, apply to him—“ Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.” He has trusted in the Lord, refusing to listen to those lying suggestions of the flesh which would have urged him to save his life by substituting some other sacrifice in place of obedience. Burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” Heb. x. 9.
The man might have vowed to have made any sacrifice—he might have vowed to have fasted and prayed, and to have built churches, and to have given his goods to feed the poor -but these sacrifices were not the sacrifices which God called for, He did not reckon them righteousness—He called for a ready service, and an implicit confidence-He called for the sacrifice of the man's heart-and this sacrifice was offered. And yet the man in looking back could say, “ Innumerable evils have compassed me about, mine iniquities have taken hold of me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head, therefore my heart faileth me.”
Let me observe here, that the righteousness or justification of this man, did not rise out of the mere fact of his being ready to face death, in what he considered a good
His righteousness was a quite different thing from what we call magnanimity. It rose out of a present abandonment of every stay and support but God, and of every guidance, but His will. And thus, such an abandonment of himself to God, if in spirit and truth, would equally have been righteousness in any other circumstances—that is, though the temptation to sin had existed alone, without the
present danger of death being before him; or, though his trial had been simply an inevitable danger of death coming suddenly upon him in his state of ungodliness, containing in it a
present call on him to accept his punishment, and to submit his will to the will of God, whose will is always eternal life to man.
I have selected the circumstances solely to make this principle more apparent. His righteousness was a righteousness of faith; and his faith was a faith through blood, that is, by it he shed out the blood of man's will, and of man's confidences; and shrunk not from shedding out the blood of his natural life, because he took hold of God and his will, as the true life of man, and because he felt that that true life could not be enjoyed, except by giving up the other. And thus, also, his righteousness was not of debt but of grace, for though the righteousness was a true righteousness in itself, yet it belonged to one whose past life had been a continued sin, and who therefore, stood as a condemned criminal, with his mouth shut before God.
We see then that this righteousness does not consist in any record of past obedience or services--nor in any forms or notions, so as to be dependent on any amount of religious knowledge or instruction that can be acquired through reading or hearing—but that it consists simply in a man's personally