« PreviousContinue »
brings in the whole world guilty before God, and as vile criminals condemns us all to hell.
Out of the hands of this enemy, the Horir of Salvation was raised up to deliver his people. “For God sent his own Son, made of a woman, made under (that is subject to) the law, to redeem them that were under the law,” Gal. iv. 4, 5. “ The strength of sin is the law, but thanks be to God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ,' 1 Cor. xv. 56, 57. The process, or several steps necessary to be taken, in order to accomplish this deliverance, are worthy of everlasting admiration. For this great purpose, God's own Son began his life in the flesh, in perfect purity, not conceived in sin, as we do ours. “ Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child," rooted and rivetted there, Prov. xxii. 15. but the holy Jesus grew in wisdom, as in stature.
In manhood we indulge our evil appetites, and live to self.... He did always the things which pleased God, and fulfilled all righteousness. We are found full of faults, whenever our conduct is severe. ly scanned, and the accuser of the brethren, might his condemning voice be heard, can always allege with truth a thousand charges against us. Jesus challenged his eagle-eyed foes to convince him of sin, and told his cho.
sen friends immediately before he suffered the last assault from satan, “the prince of this world cometh, but hath nothing in me," not the least taint of corruption to work on, or slightest stain of evil to lay to my charge. Because, whatever the law enjoins of external obedience, or spiritual worship, as due from man to God, was in all his actions, in all his words, in every temper, in every imagination of the thoughts of his heart.
Thus did God's own Son, the Lord of all worlds, fulfil the law, in the form of a servant, that he might save his people out of its hands....that in the very manner of their redemption, and acceptance with God, through his divine obedience performed for them, the law might appear in the eyes of all intelligent creatures, more glorious than if no offence against it had ever been forgiven.
This doctrine corrects a mistake often made by many in forming an estimate of the obedience of Christ.
The rising sun in summer is not so charming to an eye of sense, as his life to a mind which can admire spiritual excellency. So complete an union of every lovely quality, without one single faw, has compelled even his blasphemers to do him honour. And it is common to expatiate on the consummate perfection of his character, as a copy for imitation. But here many stop. This indeed gives him pre-eminence above the most admired of men, yet is not half his due....for the scripture places the sinless life of Jesus in an infinitely higher light....110t only as a perfect pattern, found in no other man, or a necessary qualification to make atonement, but as a work of most efficacious beneficence ....of a kind absolutely singular, surpassing beyond all comparison every other service the Almighty ever received, and reaching in its saving virtue, through all eternity. For no creature can transfer the benefit of his own performances, since perfect obedience is due from every creature, on his own account, to God, by an indefeasible right : but the unrivalled glory of the life of Christ, consists in this peculiarity, it is the righteousness of God: by which myriads of sinners to the ends of the earth, and the end of time, are made righteous. To them his righteousness is imputed, because performed by compact upon their account, for their salvation ; accepted as such by the father, and deemed so really theirs, that the righteousness of the law is said to be fulfilled in them, because fulfilled by Christ, who is their surety, and with whom they are one.
Observe what abounding evidence the scripture affords of this truth. Look so far back as Abraham. The first time believing is ever mentioned in the Bible, imputed righteousness is mentioned too. For when he believed in the Lord, it, that is to say, what was promised....what his faith received, and on which it terminated, even Christ, was counted unto him for righteousness, Gen. xv. 6. This instance the apostle brings in proof of justification by Christ....which would have been impertinent, if not Christ's righteousness, but Abraham's act of faith, had been the cause of his acceptance with God. Many passages in the Psalms extol this divine righteousness as the glory and boast of the church....but when God would comfort his people with a more full revelation of the office and work of the Messiah, he established this doctrine by a most majestic proclamation. Jehovah beholds all nations of the world under condemnation for sin, but instead of executing vengeance upon their guilty heads, he calls from heaven with this sweet voice of mercy....“ Look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth....for I am God, and beside me there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of
my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return: unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear, surely shall one say, In the Lord have I wighteousness, and strength,” Isa. xlv. 22, 24.
That this Lord, in whom the church exults, from assurance of possessing in him both righteousness and strength, is Christ, appears plainly from the application of these words to him twice in the New Testament; and that the righteousness here intended, is for justification before God, is no less plain, because the concluding sentence of this proclamation, again affirms, “In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and in him shall they glory.”
As our everlasting welfare depends on the grace revealed in this truth, the inspired writers frequently assert it. Jeremiah, next in succession after the above proclamation, and well acquainted with it, prophesies, that the very name by which Christ should be adored is this, alluding to the proclamation, “ The Lord our righteousness,” Jer. xxii. 5. The angel appears to Daniel, and tells him, Messiah was to come at such a fixed time, not only to finish transgression, to make an end of sin, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, but to bring in everlasting righteousness, Dan. ix. 24. Our Saviour exhorts his disciples