« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
Because it is the vehicle of making known to us, that God is love, and that he has (in the blood and righteousness of Christ) opened a channel for his love to exert itself in the salvation of the unworthy. The lost are found; the blind see; the deaf hear; the lame walk; the leprous are cleansed; the dead are made alive; and all, without money, and without price (a).
2. Have you any part or lot in that blessedness, of which the text speaks ? Any comfortable views, or hopes of interest in God's election, and in Christ's propitiation, and in the Spirits renewivg grace ? Ask and it shall (not be sold to you for your works, and for your imaginary fulfilment of pretended conditions ; but a sense of interest shall) be given you: seek, in the alone name and for the alone righteousness sake of Christ, and ye shall find the mercies you want: knock, but let it be with an empty hand, at the door of divine clemency; and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asks, receives; and he that seeks, finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened (6). As surely as God draws you to Christ; so surely will Christ, at his own set time, make you a sharer in the blessedness of them that know the joyful sound.
3. You who have believed with your hearts unto righteousness (c), give God the whole glory; and pray that you may continually have more enlivening views of that imputed righteousness, on which he has caused you to trust. As, on one hand, nothing can warrant and animate your joy; so, on the other (to use the expression of a good man now with God),
Nothing can effectually kill sin ; but a clear be. holding of Christ's righteousness." Cleave to this sure and stedfast anchor, and you will finally rise superior both to the waves of affliction, and to the mud of your own lusts and corruptions.
(6) Matth. vii. 7, 8.
(a) Isa. lv. 1. VOL. III.
(c) Rom. x. 10.
4. Make it your predominant object of ambition, to walk in the light of God's countenance. If you are blessed with his 'smile, no matter though the whole creation were to frown.
5. But whether you walk in light or darkness, in comfort or distress, remember that you have nothing but the name, the covenant, the person, and the work of Christ, to rejoice in and to depend upon. We, says the apostle, are the circumcision, who worship God the Spirit (a), and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
6. Know from whence all your spiritual and eternal exaltation arises. Not from yourselves in any respect, nor in any degree. Free will, until sanctified by regeneration, is a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint. And works,“ done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of his Spirit, are,” as our church justly pronounces them to be," sinful and displeasing to God (6).” Nay, even the best works we can perform after conversion, fall immensely short of what God's law requires; in point both of matter and of manner, of quantity and quality, of number, extent, purity, and weight.What then would become of us, if it was not for Christ's righteousness ? St. Paul himself, with all his matchless retinue of holy works and useful labours, must have sunk even from the scaffold of martyrdom, into the nethermost hell.
Blessed, therefore, be the free grace of God, for that precious word of infallible promise, In thy righteousness shall thy people be exalted !
7. What is it which made, and will for ever continue to make, Christ's righteousness so infinitely meritorious and efficacious? The divinity of his person.
All the created beings in the universe,
(α) Οι Πνευματι Θεω λατρευοντες, Phil. iii. 3. Irrefragable proof of the personality and absolute deity of the Holy Ghost !
(6) Article XIII.
whether angelic or human, unfallen, fallen, or restored; would never, by their utmost endeavours united, be able to furnish out and make up a righteousness of sufficient value to claim the favour of God upon the footing of justice and merit, or to present any one of the chosen seed blameless before the burning eyes of infinite sanctity. Such power belongeth only to the righteousness of the God-man Jehovah incarnate. Nothing but that all-perfect and everlasting merit, which is the complex result of his obedience and of his sacrifice, can exalt and retrieve us to the dignity and felicity of heaven.
The divinity of Christ can hardly receive stronger proof from scripture, than that which our text supplies. For the whole two verses which have been the subject of our meditation this morning, are a solemn address to the Messiah ; not as man and Messiah, but in his highest capacity, as God with God, or as the eternally and the only begotten of the Father. Let us give the text a short review, and we shall immediately perceive, that it is neither more nor less than a devotional application, explicitly directed to the second person of the Trinity: an application, formed in the strictest terms of worship, even of worship absolutely and properly divine; and which cannot, without the most gross and damnable idolatry, be offered to any being inferior to God himself.
Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound of salvation by thee: They shall walk, O Jehovah, in the light of thy countenance; in thy name shall they rejoice all the day; and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.
Now, what would you think of the man that was to offer such an address as this to the highest archangel in heaven? And what was David, if he could solemnly and deliberately pen this address to a created intelligence; and cause it to be publicly sung by the Levites and chief singers of Israel, and even leave it on record for the seduction of posterity? And at a time, too, when the Jewish nation were particularly careful to execrate and shun every thing that had the least tendency to idolatry? Either Christ is truly God, or David was the sacrilegious worshipper of a false one.
If, therefore, any of you should be beset by the cunning craftiness of men who lie in wait to deceive; should you meet with such as tell you, that Christ is not Jehovah, or very and eternal God; recollect, if no other passage of scripture, yet these two verses and their context; which will alone, at any time, suffice to put to flight the sophistry of the aliens.
Can we be exalted in the righteousness of a creature? Would God the Father accept, and command us to trust in, the atonement of a finite being? By the same rule, we might (with the impudent papists) trust in the supposed merits of the Virgin Mary, or of St. any body else. And by the same rule, we might descend a step lower, and (with the still more impudent pelagians) trust in our own supposed merits, and burn incense to the withered arm of our own blasted free will. In short, there is no end to the horrible impieties which flow from trampling the divinity and the righteousness of Christ under foot.
Moreover, if Christ was not God over all, blessed for ever; each individual of mankind, who trusts in the Messiah's merits, would come within the circuit of that tremendous malediction, denounced by the lips of him who is able to save and to destroy. Thus saith Jehovah, Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh 'flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from Jehovah : for he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh, &c. Jer. xvii. 5, 6. Faith in Christ would be the most damning sin under the cope of heaven, and God's law would pronounce us accursed, for relying upon him; if he were not as absolutely Jehovah as the Father. And I must add, that this awful text concludes equally strong against Pharisees of all sorts and sizes, who trust either in angels, or in departed spirits, or in their own wretched selves, for any part of salvation, whether little or much. Christ alone is to be trusted in, for pardon, for justification, for everlasting life, and for the whole of our safety and felicity, from beginning to end. Whence it is immediately added, in the above chapter of Jeremiah, Blessed is the man that trusteth in Jehovah, and whose hope Jehovah is. For he [i. e. the man that trusts and hopes in Jesus only] shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
I perceive the elements are upon the sacramental table, And I doubt not, many of you mean to present yourselves at that throne of grace, which God has mercifully erected in the righteousness and sufferings of his co-equal Son. O beware of coming with one sentiment on your lips, and another in your hearts! Take heed of saying, with your mouths, “ We do not come to this thy table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness;" while, perhaps, you have in reality, some secret reserves in favour of that very selfrighteousness, which you profess to renounce; and think that Christ's merit alone will not save you, unless you add something or other to make them effectual. O be not so deceived; for God will not thus be mocked, nor will Christ thus be insulted with impunity. Call your works what you will, whether terms, causes, conditions, or supplements; the matter comes to the same point, and Christ is