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ness of some kind or other in which he hopes. He feels that he needs one ; ay, and he contrives somehow to find one. I have read of a famous infidel who, when dying, had his windows flung open towards heaven, and, looking upwards, exclaimed “I give back this soul into the hands of its Maker unspotted as it came from Him." Wretched delusion of a miserable man! Nevertheless, there was conscience, bearing testimony to a great and momentous truth. Rousseau was miserably deceived in fancying that his soul was righteous; but he felt, and rightly felt, that, going to the bar of God, he needed a righteousness. He felt that the great moral Governor of the universe, having placed him—a rational, a responsible being-under a law, could not fail, when they met, to ask him for His fulfilment of that law. He deluded himself with the imagination that he had fulfilled the law, and that he was rendering his soul back to God pure as he received it. There he was wrong; but he was right in deeming this to be his duty, right in believing this to be God's demand. And so it is that every one who thinks of God, who thinks of a judgment-seat, who thinks of a coming eternity, cannot do so without looking out for some righteousness. Some men, casting their eyes anxiously about, perhaps, in times of sickness, when the shadows of death seem to be already stealing over the chamber in which they lie, find their righteousness in their natural dispositions. Oh! they have been kind, and gentle, and ingenuous, and harmless, and generous, and sincere, and with that righteousness they will go to the bar of God. Some, again, place their hopes in the fact that they have maintained a character without reproach in the world, and, in their intercourse with their fellow-men, have been just, and sober, and temperate, and liberal, and benevolent; and that is their righteousness. Others, again, seek for it in their strict observance of the rites and ceremonies of religion, or in their careful performance of its outward duties. They have been baptized; they have been admitted members of the visible Church of Christ; they pray; they hear the Word ; they read the Scriptures; they receive the sacrament; and in some way or other they observe the Sabbath-day; and that is their righteousness. Others mainly look to acts of charity, to their good intentions, to the circumstance that they have always meant well—have often felt sorrow when they did wrong; that they have submitted, it may be, to penances, and self-inflicted austerities, and have always attempted to make some compensation for their offences; and that is their righteousness. And some, again, console themselves with the belief that they have not been very wicked; that they have not been as other men, "extortioners, unjust, adulterers, covetous, ambitious, proud;" and that is their righteousness. And others, that they have suffered for their religion, such as it is, have been jeered at, and reproached, and persecuted, for their creed or their profession ; and that is their righteousness. Perhaps the merits of Christ are called in, to combine with all or any of these, to furnish out the righteousness of others still. And, indeed, the shapes and forms are endless which man's own righteousness assumes. Now, in opposition to all these, God comes forth and says—“Here, in the work of the Lord Jesus, is my righteousness.” All others are delusions ; this is a reality. The one, God's righteousness, is a perfect robe, fit clothing for a prince; the other, man's righteousness, is mere tatters, a very beggar's garb. The one is a robe that not only enwraps, but adorns the soul that wears it; the other “rags,” unable to clothe its nakedness—“filthy rags” that pollute, that defile, instead of adorning it. “God's righteousness," is like some strong hiding-place from the wind, like some firm covert from the tempest, - a safe inviolable sanctuary; the other, man's righteousness, an imaginary refuge, an altar to whose horns it is vain to cling, and where God, finding the sinner, will say to justice, as did Solomon of old to Joab, “Go, fall upon him," and slay him there. Man's righteousness—that which the sinner would in vain offer to God as a ransom for his soul ; God's righteousness that alone which God will and can accept for justification of life.
who devised, and provided, and accepted it, as the ground of a sinner's pardon and acceptance and salvation. God devised it; therefore it is His righteousness. He planned it all out in the councils of eternity before the world began. God provided it; and therefore it is His righteousness. When man had cast away and trampled in the dust the righteousness which God gave him in creation, when he stood naked and defenceless before the Lord, a trembling culprit, without even a fig-leaf to cover his guilty and polluted soul, God did not leave him thus. He announced the provision of another covering for him, of a more glorious righteousness still. It was witnessed by the law and the prophets ;” and “when the fulness of the times was come,” God fulfilled His ancient promise, and “sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made nnder the law,” to obey that law in the room of man who had broken it, and to endure the penalty in the room of man who had incurred it; and in every step of his arduous way and work God upheld and supported His beloved Son, until upon the cross He could say, “ It is finished !"-the righteousness is perfected : and then God put His seal upon it; that is, He solemnly and judicially accepted it; He declared his satisfaction with it; for He raised up Christ from the dead, He glorified his Son Jesus; He declared that the debt was paid for; He set the Surety at liberty; He declared that his work was honourable and glorious-for, as a reward, and in token of his satisfaction, He exalted Him to His right hand in high and heavenly glory, a Prince, a Saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins.
Oh! dear friends, what security is there here for a soul that feels it is without a righteousness, and looks out for such a one as God will approve? What a security to have revealed in the Gospel, God's own righteousness; that which God Himself has provided, accepted, and approved; a righteousness set before him by the very Being with whom he has to do; a grand discharge provided by the great Creditor himself; a plea put into his lips by the righteous Judge of all !
And once more, thirdly, it is called God's righteousness, not only because God devised it, and provided it, and accepted it, but because God himself wrought it out in the person of his co-equal and co-eternal Son. Who is the Lord Jesus Christ? Immanuel, God with us; and this is perhaps the highest ground for the title which is thus given to it of God's righteousness, that God Himself accomplished, and wrought it out. It differs, therefore, entirely from the righteousness of men and of angels; for that is the righteousness, not of a creature; it is the righteousness of the Creator. “I, the Lord,” says he, “ have created it.” It is as much the work of God as is the world itself. By His Son, we are told, He made the world; and by His Son He wrought out this righteousness. It is God's, therefore, in this highest, this most mysterious sense, that it was the obedience of One, and the suffering of One, who was God; of One who, having for this very purpose taken upon Himself a created nature and become manifest, visible in the flesh, did in that flesh accomplish this righteousness, a righteousness without a parallel ; the only obedience ever rendered to the law on earth, and rendered by God Himself—an obedience strictly Divine ; a righteousnesss at once human and Divine-human in the matter of it, Divino in the Author and the infinite excellence of it; human, inasmuch as it was the true and proper obedience of a man, born of a woman, made under the law; Divine, inasmuch as the man was the very fellow of the Lord of Hosts, the Creator of all worlds, God over all, blessed for ever. “Surely,"sball one say, "in Jehovah have I righteousness;" not only from Him, but in Him. It is His own work; it is His very work. “This is the name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our righteousness.” And thus is the glory of the expression of the text complete, “the righteousness of God.” It stands forth the grand central word in Divine revelation. It not only tells us what alone it is that God will accept as the sinner's plea, in opposition to all the inventions of men; but it tells us why this righteousness is so worthy to be accepted for the justification of all that put their trust in it
. It is, as the Apostle calls it, “the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Well, then, may Paul exclaim, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
This is the grand discovery of the Gospel. Where else is this discovery of a Divine righteousness to be found? Human philosophy never dreamed of it; human reason never approached it. Some dim conceptions of the Divine mercy have been formed by the human mind, but Divine righteousness,—God's own obedience to the law, that on account of it sinners might be forgiven,—this never entered into the heart of man to conceive. It is therefore pre-eminently a righteousness “revealed ;” and it is the glory of the Gospel that it reveals it; that it manifests it, and fully discloses it. It was the glory of Columbus that, with daring genius, he pierced the night of ages and disclosed to his wondering followers another world. It was the glory of Newton that, with sagacious and philosophic mind, he penetrated the secrets of the heavens, unlocked the cabinet in which lay hid the greatest of nature's laws, and laid open those forces which at once rule the motions of the spheres and bind into one harmonious family the remotest stars that spangle the nightly sky. But oh! what were such disclosures in comparison with that which the Gospel makes, when it “reveals the righteousnes of God," a righteousness that opens to our lost and ruined race a new and better world than earth contains, a happier existence than earth e'er knew-a righteousness that sheds around the Christian, not the glories of the starry firmament that shall one day pale its fires and depart as a scroll, but the light and blessedness of heaven itself, immortal as the soul of man, eternal as the throne of God! Well did the Apostle say, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ : for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith ; as it it written, The just shall live by faith.”
And this, while it constitutes the glory of the Gospel, imparts to it its divine, its saving power. And why? Because the law of God, infinitely dishonoured by sin, this rightousness infinitely magnifies. Because the law of God, denouncing death upon transgressors, this righteousness completely satisfies. For man's rebellion, it offers to that law divine obedience; for man's unholy life, it offers to that law Christ life, wondrously holy, divinely pure. It thus removes every obstacle interposed by justice and the law out of the way of man's salvation, and opens up a channel, deep and broad, down which, forth from the fountain, full and overflowing, of the Godhead, might roll into our guilty world a tide of Divine benevolence and saving mercy. And only let a man become possessed of this righteousness, only let a man be able in very truth to say, “This Divine righteousness is mine; it is the robe in which my soul is arrayed, it is my plea for pardon, for acceptance, for eternal life,"—I say, only let a man become possessed of that righteousness, and the Gospel will prove itself to be to him “the power of God unto salvation." He shall be pardoned, and accepted, and receive a title to eternal life. Do
you ask, How you can obtain it? In what way you can became possessed of it? I answer, no price on earth can purchase it; "the merchandize thereof is better than the merchandize of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.” It is “ without money," it is "without price.” It is the free, the unmerited gift of God. It is offered to you,
earnest invitations and calls. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in to him.” “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come; and let him that heareth say, Come; and whosoever will, let him take it.” “I will bring it.” “Hearken unto me, ye that are stout-hearted and far from righteousness," says God; “I bring near my righteousness." He lays it before you; he lays it at your feet; T, and you cannot pass from this house this right without trampling it under foot, unless you accept it.
“How,” say you, " are we to accept it? It is faith that accepts it. This righteousness is said to be revealed to faith. It is faith that receives it. It is ‘unto all and upon all them that believe.' What are we to believe ?” Believe that you are guilty, undone, condemned, and lost. Receive in yourselves, within your own consciences, the sentence of death, as having broken, ten thousand times over, the law. Believe that you have no righteousness of your own to plead in arrest of judgment, and that you are already unable to work out any such righteousness as the law demands. Waste, then, no more time in that attempt. Renounce all hope and expectation from that quarter. Believe that God Himself has, in Divine compassion and in wondrous love, provided for you such a righteousness as you need-ordained and appointed His own Son to perform it--set Him forth as a propitation, that He might accomplish it—accepted it when performed, now honestly and earnestly makes you an offer of it, and is ready, if you will but accept it, to lay it to your account, to deal with you, because of it, just as though it were your work. “He hath made Christ to be sin for us, though he knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." He has dealt with Christ as if He had been the sinner-(let the cross of Calvary be the proof)—that He might deal with you as if you were the righteous, the worker of righteousness—“that you might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” Believe that, and fall in with God's gracious design, and with thankful heart accept His gift. Cast yourself upon Christ. Take Him as your Saviour. Venture on His righteousness for salvation ; rely upon it; make it your only trust, your habitual plea; feel convinced that you must perish if it does not save you, but equally convinced that, in relying on it, you cannot perish, for it will save you.
And make no delay. There is neither time nor need for delay. Time is precious ; come as you are. Were you summoned, indeed, into the royal presence, you would change your garment; you would cast off your working dress; you would wash away the marks of dusty toil, and you would put on your best; but here you have no need to change a rag, nor to wipe away a stain. God is ready to receive you as you are; come, therefore, as you are.
He has provided for you, at a great price, a costly garment—a robe of righteousness-arrayed in which you will be glorious in the sight of angels, and glorious in the sight of God Himself. Why should you hang back? Why not this night accept and put it on ? Great will be your deliverance: for “there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” And great will be your peace, for this will be the commencement of a trust that will establish your heart in comfort, and the commencement of a grateful affection that will establish your heart in the love and in the habit of hol Are any of you, in your secret souls, resolving to continue yet a little longer as you are, and to delay the consideration of God's offer thus made to you till “a more
and the majesty of the God from whom it comes brook no delay. I have read in ancient history of the ambassador of a Roman power who was sent to a hostile prince to make known to him the terms upon which peace might be procured. The warlike monarch, having listened to terms, demanded some time for the consideration of a matter so weighty. When this was refused, he named a shorter period. That also was denied. He then asked that he might at least retire and consult with his chief and chosen men of state ; upon which the ambassador took his rod, and drawing a circle in the sand around the place on which the monarch stood, exclaimed, “Before you overstep this bound, peace or war must be your choice.” Dear friends, in God's name I put within your reach this night God's righteousness, and I draw around you that circle, and I conjure you, in God's name, not to overpass it without accepting God's offer,-ay, before you quit this house, to lay hold of God's righteousness. “Now is the accepted time, and now is the day of salvation."