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sure ; who may justly say, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy," namely, on him who believeth in Jesus. “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth," to choose the condition on which he shall find acceptance; " but of God that showeth mercy;" that accepteth none at all
, but of his own free love, his unmerited good“Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy,” viz. on those who believe on the Son of his love ; "and whom he will,” that is, those who believe not, " he hardeneth ;" leaves at last to the hardness of their hearts.
8. One reason, however, we may humbly conceive, of God's fixing this condition of justification," If thou believest in the Lord Jesus Christ, thou shalt be saved," was to hide pride from man. Pride had already destroyed the very angels of God, had cast down “ a third part of the stars of heaven.” It was likewise in great measure owing to this, when the tempter said, “Ye shall be as gods,” that Adam fell from his own steadfastness, and brought sin and death into the world. It was therefore an instance of wisdom worthy of God, to appoint such a condition of reconciliation for him and all his posterity, as might effectually humble, might abase them to the dust. "And such is faith. It is peculiarly fitted for this end: for he that cometh unto God by this faith, must fix his eye singly on his own wickedness, on his guilt and helplessness, without having the least regard to any supposed good in himself, to any virtue or righteousness whatsoever. He must come as a mere sinner, inwardly and outwardly, self destroyed and self condemned, bringing nothing to God but ungodliness only, pleading nothing of his own but sin and misery. Thus it is, and thus alone, when his mouth is stopped, and he stands utterly guilty before God, that he can look unto Jesus, as the whole and sole propitiation for his sins. Thus only can he be " found in him," and receive the "righteousness which is of God by faith."
9. Thou ungodly one, who hearest or readest these words, thou vile, helpless, miserable sinner, I charge thee before God, the Judge of all, go straight unto him, with all thy ungodliness. Take heed thou destroy not thy own soul by pleading thy righteousness more or less. Go as altogether ungodly, guilty, lost, destroyed, deserving and dropping into hell; and thou shalt then find favour in his sight, and know that he justifieth the ungodly. As such thou shalt be brought unto the blood of sprinkling, as an undone, helpless, damned sinner. Thus look unto Jesus! There is the Lamb of God, who taketh away thy sins! Piead thou no works, no righteousness of thine own! No humility, contrition, sincerity! In no wise. That
in very deed, to deny the Lord that bought thee. No : plead thou, singly, the blood of the covenant, the ransom paid for thy proud, stubborn, sinful soul. Who art thou, that now seest and feelest both thine inward and outward ungodliness? Thou art the man! I'want thee for my Lord! I challenge thee for a child of God by faith! The Lord hath need of thee. Thou who feelest thou art just fit for hell, art just fit to advance his glory; the glory of his free grace, justifying the ungodly and him that worketh not. Oh come quickly! Believe in the Lord Jesus ; and thou, even thou, ars reconciled to God.
SERMON VI.-The Righteousness of Faith.
« Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man that doeth those things shall live by them.
“But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise ; Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above :)
“ Or, Who shall descend into the deep ? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
“ But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart : that is, the word of faith which we preach,” Rom. x, 5-8.
1. The apostle does not here oppose the covenant given by Moses to the covenant given by Christ. If we ever imagined this, it was for want of observing, that the latter, as well as the former part of these words, were spoken by Moses himself to the people of Israel, and that concerning the covenant which then was, Deut. xxx, 11, 12, 14, But it is the covenant of grace, which God, through Christ, hath established with men in all ages, (as well before, and under the Jewish dispensation, as since God was manifest in the flesh,) which St. Paul here opposes to the covenant of works, made with Adam, 'while in paradise, hut commonly supposed to be the only covenant which God had made with man, particularly by those Jews of whom the apostle writes.
2. Of these it was that he so affectionately speaks, in the beginning of this chapter ; “My heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they may be saved. For I bear then record, that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness," (of the justification that flows from his mere grace and mercy, freely forgiving our sins, through the Son of his love, through the redemption which is in Jesus, "and seeking to establish their own righteousness,” (their own holiness, antecedent to faith in “him that justifieth the ungodly," as the ground of their pardon and acceptance,) " have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God," and consequently seek death in the error of their life.
3. They were ignorant, that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth ;"—that by the oblation of himself once offered, he had put an end to the first law or covenant, (which, indeed, was not given by God to Moses, but to Adam in his state of innocence, the strict tenor whereof, without any abatement, was, "Do this and live;" and, at the same time, purchased for us that better covenant, " Believe and live;" believe, and thou shalt be saved ; now saved, both from the guilt and power of sin, and, of consequence, from the wages
of it. 4. And how many are equally ignorant now, even among those who are called by the name of Christ ! How many who have now a zeal for God, yet have it not according to knowledge ; but are still “ seeking to establish their own righteousness,” as the ground of their pardon and ac ceptance; and, therefore, vehemently refuse to "submit themselves unto the righteousness of God!" Surely my heart's desire, and prayer to God for you, brethren, is, that ye may be saved. And, in order to remove this grand stumbling block out of your way, I will endeavour to show, first, I. what the righteousness is which is of the law, and what the righteousness which is of faith : secondly, the folly of trusting in the righteousness Y. of the law, and the wisdom of submitting to that which is of faith.
I. 1. And, first, “the righteousness which is of the law saith, The man which doeth these things shall live by them.” Constantly and perfectly observe all these things to do them, and then thou shalt live for ever. This law, or covenant, (usually called the covenant of works) given by God to man in paradise, required an obedience perfect in all its parts, entire and wanting nothing, as the condition of his eternal continuance in the holiness and happiness wherein he was created.
2. It required, that man should fulfil all righteousness, inward and outward, negative and positive: that he should not only abstain from every idle word, and avoid every evil work, but should keep every affection, every desire, every thought, in obedience to the will of God: that he should continue holy, as he which had created him was holy, both in heart, and in all manner of conversation; that he should be pure in heart, even as God is pure; perfect as his Father in heaven was perfect: that he should love the Lord his God, with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his strength; that he should love every soul which God had made, even as God had loved him: that by this universal benevolence, he should dwell in God, (who is love,) and God in him : that he should serve the Lord his God with all his strength, and in all things singly aim at his glory.
3. These were the things which the righteousness of the law required, that he who did them might live thereby. But it farther required, that this entire obedience to God, this inward and outward holiness, this conformity both of heart and life to his will, should be perfect in degrec. No abatement, no allowance, could possibly be made, for falling short in any degree, as to any jot or tittle, either of the outward or the inward law. If every commandment, relating to outward things, was obeyed, yet that was not sufficient, unless every one was obeyed with all the strength, in the highest measure, and most perfect manner, Nor did it answer the demand of this covenant, to love God with every power and faculty, unless he were loved with the full capacity of each, with the whole possibility of the soul.
4. One thing more was indispensably required by the righteousness of the law, namely, that this universal obedience, this perfect holiness both of heart and life, should be perfectly uninterrupted also, should continue without any intermission, from the moment wherein God creatrd man, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, until the days of his trial should be ended, and he should be confirmed in life everlasting.
5. The righteousness, then, which is of the law, speaketh on this wise: “ Thou, oh man of God, stand fast in love, in the image of God wherein thou art made. If thou wilt remain in life, keep the commandments, which are now written in thy heart. Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. Love, as thyself, every soul that he hath made. Desire nothing but God. Aim at God in every thought, in every word and work. Swerve not, in one motion of body or soul, from him, thy mark, and the prize of thy high calling. And let all that is in thee praise his holy name, every power and faculty of thy soul, in every kind, in every degree, and at every moment of thine existence. This do, and thou shalt live :' thy light shall shine, thy love shall flame more
till thou art received up into the house of God in the heavens, to reign with him for ever and ever.'
6. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise : say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven! that is, to bring down Christ from above;" (as though it were some impossible task, which God required thee previously to perform, in order to thine acceptance;) “or, Who shall descend into the deep, that is, to bring up Christ from the dead ?" (as though that were still remaining to be done, for the sake of which thou wert to be accepted ;) “ but what saith it? The word,” according to the tenor of which thou mayest now be accepted as an heir of life eternal, “is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that is, the word of faith, which we preach;" the new covenant which God hath now established with sinful man, through Christ Jesus.
7. By “the righteousness which is of faith,” is meant, tnat condition of justification (and, in consequence, of present and final salvation, if we endure therein unto the end,) which was given by God, to fallen man, through the merits and mediation of his only begotten Son. This was in part revealed to Adam, soon after his fall, being contained in the original promise, made to him and his seed, concerning the seed of the woman, who should "bruise the serpent's head,” Gen. iii, 15. It was a little more clearly revealed to Abraham, by the angel of God, from heaven, saying, “ By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, that in thy seed shall all the nations of the world be blessed," Gen. xxii, 15, 18. lt was yet more fully made known to Moses, to David, and to the prophets that followed ; and, through them, to many of the people of God, in their respective generations. But still the bulk even of these were ignorant of it; and very few understood it clearly. Still “ life and immortality” were not so brought to light” to the Jews of old, as they are now unto us“ by the gospel.”
8. Now this covenant saith not to sinful man, “ Perform unsinning obedience, and live.". If this were the term, he would have no more benefit by all which Christ hath done and suffered for him, than if he was required, in order to life, to “ascend into heaven, and bring down Christ from above;" or, to “descend into the deep,” into the invisible world, and “ bring up Christ from the dead.”'. It doth not require any impossibility to be done: (although to mere man, what it requires would be impossible; but not to man assisted by the Spirit of God :) this were only to mock human weakness. Indeed, strictly speaking, the covenant of grace doth not require us to do any thing at all, as absolutely and indispensably necessary, in order to our justification; but only to believe in Him, who, for the sake of his Son, and the propitiation which he hath made,“ justifieth the ungodly, that worketh not,” and imputes his faith to him for righteousness. Even so Abraham “ believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness," Gen. xv, 6. he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith,--that he might be the father of all them that believe,--that righteousness might be imputed unto them also," Rom. iv, 11. “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it [i. e. faith] was imputed to him, but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed,” to whom faith shall be imputed for righteousness, shall stand in the stead of perfect obedience, in order to our acceptance with God, “ if we believe on him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead: who was delivered [to death] for our offences, and was raised again for nur justification,
Rom. iv, 23-25: for the assurance of the remission of our sins, and of a second life to come, to them that believe.
9. What saith then the covenant of forgiveness, of unmerited love, of pardoning mercy ? "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” In the day thou believest, thou shalt surely live. Thou shalt be restored to the favour of God; and in his pleasure is life. Thou shalt be saved from the curse, and from the wrath of God. Thou shalt be quickened, from the death of sin, into the life of righteousness. And if thou endure to the end, believing in Jesus, thou shalt never taste the second death ; but, having suffered with thy Lord, shalt also live, and reign with him for ever and ever.
10. Now“ this word is nigh thee.” This condition of life is plain, easy, always at hand. "It is in thy mouth, and in thy heart," through the operation of the Spirit of God. The moment“ thou believest in thine heart” in him whom God“ hath raised from the dead,” and “confessest with thy moutli the Lord Jesus," as thy Lord and thy God, thou shalt be saved from condemnation, from the guilt and punishment of thy former sins, and shalt have power to serve God in true holiness all the remaining days of thy life.
11. What is the difference then between the "righteousness which is of the law," and the “ righteousness which is of faith ?” Between the first covenant, or the covenant of works, and the second, the covenant of grace? The essential, unchangeable difference is this: The one supposes him to whom it is given, to be already holy and happy, created in the image and enjoying the favour of God; and prescribes the condition whereon he may continue therein, in love and joy, life and immortality: The other supposes him to whom it is given, to be now unholy and unhappy; fallen short of the glorious image of God, having the wrath of God abiding on him, and hastening through sin, whereby his soul is dead, to bodily death, and death everlasting. And to man in this state it prescribes the condition, whereon he may regain the pearl he has lost; may recover the favour and image of God; may retrieve the life of God in his soul, and be restored to the knowledge and the love of God, which is the beginning of life eternal.
12. Again, the covenant of works, in order to man's continuance in the favour of God, in his knowledge and love, in holiness and happiness, required, of perfect man, a perfect and uninterrupted obedience to every point of the law of God. Whereas, the covenant of grace, in order to man's recovery of the favour and the life of God, requires only faith; living faith in him, who, through God, justifies him that obeyed not.
13. Yet, again : The covenant of works required of Adam, and all his children, to pay the price themselves, in consideration of which they were to receive all the future blessings of God. But, in the covenant of grace, seeing we have nothing to pay, God "frankly forgives us all :" provided only, that we believe in him, who hath paid the price for us; who hath given himself a “propitiation for our sins, for the sins of the whole world.”
14. Thus the first covenant required what is now afar off from all the children of men; namely, unsinning obedience, which is far from those who are conceived and born in sin.” Whereas, the second requires what is nigh at hand; as though it should say, Thou art sin ! God is love! Thou by sin art fallen short of the glory of God; yet there