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removal of all enmity and cause of offence. TO SAVE, and SALVATION, are used to the same purpose. He shall save his people from their sins, Matt. i. 21. is the same with, by him all that believe are justified, Acts xiii. 39. It is also expressed by receiving the atonement, by blotting out sins and iniquities, casting them into the sea, and other expressions of similar import.
2. To justify, then, is to declare, after trial, a person just or righteous. It supposes a charge brought against any person, and that the person, after trial, is freed from that charge. And what deserves our most serious attention is, that the subject of the Lord's justification is a sinner, Rom. iv. 54-8. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Thus it is evident, it is men, considered as ungodly, that God justifies ; when he justifies, he imputes righteousness without works, he forgives iniquity, he covers sins, he does not impute sin. It is very evident no man can be justified in the sight of God on account of his own righteousness ; for we have all sinned, and come short of the glory of God, Rom. iii. 23 : There is none righteous, no, not one, Rom. iii. 10. Nothing can be more express than the word of God on this point ; and where is the man that does not feel in bis conscience this awful truth : We are the creatures of God, made to serve and glorify him under a law for this purpose, which law we have broken in instances innumerable, and thereby have treasured up wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. So far from being justified on account of our own righteousness, in whole or in part, the word of God witnesses, that there is not a just man on earth, that liveth and sinneth not. There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not, Eccles. vii. 20. We have the man after God's own heart confessing this humbling truth, Psal. cxliii. 2. Enter not into judgment with thy servant : for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. And the Apostle, in Rom. iii. 19, 20. witnesses the same humbling truth : Now we know, that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law ; that
mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight : for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
3. Therefore if any of the fallen and ruined sons of men are declared righteous in the sight of God, it must be on account of righteousness imputed, according to Rom. iv. 6. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works. And this righteousness is without doubt the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, who is for this reason called the LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. This being a truth of the last importance to the peace and happiness of men, and much opposed by some, the word of God abounds in clear and full testimonies to it. What can be more express on this point, than what the Apostle writes, Rom. x. 4. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth ; or that of Gal. ii. 21. I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness came by the law, then Christ is dead in vain? The apostle Paul was most manifestly one of the most holy men that ever lived. What abhorrence of sin ! what zeal for the glory of God ! what love to the best interests of mankind, were manifest in him! How cheerfully did he endure all kind of sufferings from the united powers of darkness, to fulfil his course of righteousness ! For him to live was Christ, and to die was gain! He was a striking image of his divine Lord ! Yet when he appears before the Lord his great Judge, he renounces all his own righteousness, and pleads that of Christ only : Phil. iji. 8, 9. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord : for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, ' not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. Compare with these testimonies unto this most interesting truth, Rom. iii. 23-26. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God ; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus : whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness : that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Are any believing sinners justified in the sight of God ? it is because the Lord Jesus has died the just for the unjust ; it is because the Lord Jesus has finished transgression, made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness. Are any of the sons of Adam made righteous in the sight of God? it is by the obedience of the second Adam ; it is by the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, the blood of the Lord Jesus, the propitiation that is found in our adorable Redeemer. What excellent properties does our Apostle assign to the righteousness of our blessed Lord in this Epistle! It is the righteousness of God ; of God our Saviour; of God over all, blessed for ever. A righteousness which God the Father provides for the justification of penitent and believing sinners. It is without the law; the law that was ordained to life, that saith, THE
that we may
MAN THAT DOETH THESE THEM ; the law that saith, CURSED THAT CONTINUETH NOT IN ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW TO DO THEM ; the law that brings in all men guilty before God. Though this righteousness is without the law, it is witnessed by the law and the prophets. The moral law witnesseth that we cannot be saved without it; and thus, through the law we become dead to the law,
be married unto Christ, and bring forth fruit unto God. Our Apostle assures us, Rom. v. 20, 21. that the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound ; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign, through righteousness, unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. The ceremonial law plainly witnessed
the necessity of this righteousness. The sacrifices teach, that without shedding of blood there is no remission ; and point, as with a finger, to Christ our Passover, sacrificed for us, to Christ the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world : and the perfection required in all these sacrifices teach, that the Lord Jesus must be as a lamb without spot or blemish. The law of ceremonies was a shadow of good things to come, of which Christ was the substance. The righteousness on account of which we are justified, is, then, the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe : for there is no difference : for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, Rom. iii. 22, 23. It is a righteousness that faith receives as the gift of God ; a righteousness that secures to all that cordially receive it as the gift of God, eternal life : see Rom. v. 17. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one ; much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.
What wonderful love, grace, and mercy, have the Father and the Son displayed, in providing this righteousness for the justification of sinners of all kinds, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether barbarians, Scythians, bond or free, young or old ! With what unutterable joy do the saints in glory sing of this righteousness and the Giver of it, as in Rev. i. 5. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood! and again, Rev. v. 9. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof : for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. Seeing our justification is through the righteousness of Christ, not our own, hence it is that we are justified freely by the grace of God; freely, or without cause, as it respects ourselves, and purely from the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Christ, not in ourselves. In this righteousness, a foundation is laid for a display of the harmony of the divine perfections, in the salvation of sinners, according to Rom, iii. 26. To declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness : that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. When Luther read and thought on this text, he could not imagine what it could mean. Had it been, THAT HE MIGHT BE KIND, OR GRACIOUS, OR MERCIFUL, he could have understood it ; but how God could be just in justifying sinful men, he was altogether at a loss to understand. But when he was taught of God to understand, that in Christ's work of salvation mercy and truth are met together, that righteousness and peace had kissed each other ; that through righteousness God can be just and the justifier of sinners ; that now, if, we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, he was filled with unspeakable delight and joy. Is it not, then, most manifest, that
our justification before the Lord unto the