even the righteousness which is of God by faith. The righteousness which the law demands is perfect, if by it we would obtain the promise. In that case we are debtors to do the whole law; and failing, as we necessarily must, to discharge the debt of obedience which we owe, our destruction must be inevitable. The law, however, having lost all power to justify and save us, the divine mercy hath devised a new and a different plan of salvation; not by contracting the demands of the law, for the severity of its requirements never can be mitigated, nor the inflexible strictness of its obligations ever be relaxed; not by withdrawing the original demand of perfect obedience, but by interposing a Mediator whose righteousness constitutes the ground of justification. Thus it is that "grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life." On this truth we are called to believe; on this salvation we are invited to depend.

The belief in such truths must evidently include, not merely a conviction of their necessity and a perception of their suitableness to our condition, but also a confidence in the faithfulness of God, that a righteousness hath been obtained by the obedience of Christ unto the death. Thus we have a complete knowledge of the necessity and nature of the fulfilment of the law by Jesus Christ as Mediator, yet if we do not discover such a connection established by God between the expiation for sin and the pardon

proclaimed in consequence, as to put confidence in the one as much as in the other, we do not truly believe in Jesus as the atonement for the sins of the world. Again, if acquittal at the bar of the Almighty is not believed, on the authority of God, to follow the imputation of the perfect obedience of Christ to us, how can we pretend to declare our belief in Christ as the end of the law for righteousness? To trust the faithfulness of God therefore as pledged to fulfil what He has promised, must form an essential part of saving faith. The nature of the object in which our belief is required is not more necessary to be known than is the security of the foundation on which our belief rests. And indeed no man can believe, in any sense, in Christ as his righteousness, without a realizing certainty that his justification is secure. So intimately connected is this righteousness with all that is interesting or important to him either in time or eternity, that if he knows and believes at all in Christ as his hope, he cannot fail to place a habitual trust in the Divine promise which hath connected atonement with pardon and imputed righteousness with justification; we say, a habitual trust, for true faith is not a shadowy evanescent feeling, but a living and ever-growing principle. Every moment we exercise faith in the all meritorious righteousness and propitiatory sacrifice of Christ as the sole ground of hope, the spiritual discernment of its truth becomes more acute,


the spiritual feeling of its importance more vivid, and the whole man more submissive to its influence. Moralists have talked much of a ruling principle or rather passion in the soul, which imparts a peculiar unity to the character of individuals. Now faith in Christ is the ruling principle prompting to love, which is the ruling passion in the heart of the Christian. If we habitually repose confidence in Christ as the Lord our righteousness, we enjoy a peace which the world knoweth nothing of, which it can neither give nor take away. We are no longer influenced by the Spirit of bondage again to fear, but we have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry Abba, Father." Actuated by a principle of faith, and invested in the righteousness of Christ, it will be our desire to walk in Him, cultivating holiness in heart and life. Thus will our faith be manifested by our works, and walking with Christ upon the earth it will be every day more and more apparent that the life which we live in the flesh is by the faith of the Son of God. Justification is inseparable from sanctification. Let no man therefore flatter himself that he has obtained a title to heaven's blessedness if he is not striving and praying to attain a growing assimilation to heaven's purity. Without an inherent as well as an imputed righteousness, we cannot enter the kingdom of God, for it is plainly declared by the word of Him who cannot lie, that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord."



« VorigeDoorgaan »