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Son ? - Shall we not then at least, if not before, find the need of having a better righteousness than our own! And what other can that be, than the righteousness of God our Saviour?" The late pious and ingenious Mr. Hervey descants largely upon this: particularly in his elaborate Dialogues between Theron and Aspasio.
6. Another elegant writer, now, I trust, with God, speaks strongly to the same effect, in the preface to his comment on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans: “We certainly,” says he, “shall need a better righteousness than our own, wherein to stand at the bar of God in the day of judgment.” I do not understand the expression. Is it scriptural? Do we read it in the Bible? Either in the Old Testament or the New? I doubt, it is an unscriptural, awkward phrase, which has no determinate meaning. If you mean by that odd, uncouth question, “In whose righteousness are you to stand at the last day,”—For whose sake, or by whose merit do you expect to enter into the glory of God? I answer without the least hesitation, for the sake of Jesus Christ, the righteous. It is through his merits alone that all believers are saved, that is, justified, saved from the guilt, sanctified, saved from the nature of sin, and glorified, taken into heaven.
7. It may be worth our while, to spend a few more words on this important point. Is it possible to devise a more unintelligible expression than this._ In what righteousness are we to stand before God at the last day?” Why do you not speak plainly, and say, “ For whose sake do you look to be saved ?” Any plain peasant would then readily answer, “ For the sake of Jesus Christ.” But all those dark, ambiguous phrases tend only to puzzle the cause, and open a way for unwary hearers to slide into Antinomianism.
8. Is there any expression similar to this of the wedding garment to be found in Holy Scripture? In the Revelation we find mention made of " linen white and clean, which is the righteousness of the saints." And this too
many vehemently contend, means the righteousness of Christ. But how then are we to reconcile this with that passage in the seventh chapter, “ They have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Will they say, “ The righteousness of Christ was washed and made white in the blood of Christ ?” Away with such Antinomian jargon. Is not the plain meaning this? It was from the atoning blood, that the very righteousness of the saints derived its value and acceptableness with God.
9. In the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation, at the ninth verse, there is an expression, which comes much nearer to this :-“ The wedding-supper of the Lamb.” There is a near resemblance between this, and the marriage feast mentioned in the parable. Yet they are not altogether the same; there is a clear difference between them. The feast mentioned in the parable belongs to the Church Militant. That mentioned in the Revelation, to the Church Triumphant. The one to the kingdom of God on earth; the other to the kingdom of God in heaven. Accordingly in the former there may be found those, who have not a wedding garment. But there will be none such to be found in the latter. No, not " in that great multitude, which no man can number, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” They will all be kings and priests unto God, and shall reign with him for ever and
10. Does not that expression, “ The righteousness of the saints, point out, what is the wedding garment in the parable ? It is the “ Holiness, without which no man can see the Lord.” The righteousness of Christ, is, doubtless, necessary for any soul that enters into glory. But so is personal holiness too for every child of man. But it is highly needful to be observed, that they are necessary in different respects. The former is necessary to intitle us to heaven: the latter to qualify us for it. Without the righteousness of Christ we could have no claim to glory ; with
out holiness, we could have no fitness for it. By the former we become members of Christ, children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. By the latter, “ we are made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”
11. From the very time that the Son of God delivered this weighty truth to the children of men, That all who had not the wedding garment would be cast into outer darkness, where are weeping and gnashing of teeth, the enemy of souls has been labouring to obscure it, that they might still seek death in the error of their life: and many ways has he tried to disguise the Holiness, without which we cannot be saved. How many things have been palmed, even upon the Christian world, in the place of this! Some of these are utterly contrary thereto, and subversive of it. Some were no ways connected with or related to it, but useless and insignificant trifles. Others might be deemed to be some part of it, but by no means the whole. It may
be of use to enumerate some of them, lest ye should be ignorant of Satan's devices.
12. Of the first sort, things prescribed as Christian Holiness, although flatly contrary thereto, is idolatry : how has this, in various shapes, been taught, and is to this day, as essential to holiness? How diligently is it now circulated, in a great part of the Christian church? Some of their idols are silver and gold, or wood and stone, graven by art and man's device : some, men of like passions with themselves; particularly the Apostles of our Lord, and the Virgin Mary. To these they add numberless saints of their own creation, with no small company of angels.
13. Another thing as directly contrary to the whole tenor of true religion, is, what is diligently taught in many parts of the Christian church: I mean, the spirit of persecution : of persecuting their brethren even unto death. So that the earth has been often covered with blood by those who were called Christians, in order to make their calling and election sure." It is true, many even in the Church of
Rome, who were taught this horrid doctrine, now seem to be ashamed of it. But have the heads of that community as openly and explicitly renounced that capital doctrine of devils, as they avowed it in the Council of Constance, and practised it for many ages ? Till they have done this, they will be chargeable with the blood of Jerome of Prague, basely murdered, and of many thousands, both in the sight of God and man.
14. Let it not be said, “ This does not concern us Protestants : we think and let think. We abhor the spirit of persecution, and maintain, as an indisputable truth, that every rational creature has a right to worship God, as he is persuaded in his own mind.” But are we true to our own principles ? So far, that we do not use fire and faggot. We do not persecute unto blood, those that do not subscribe to our opinions. Blessed be God, the laws of our country do not allow of this : but is there no such thing to be found in England as domestic persecution. The saying or doing any thing unkind to another for following his own conscience, is a species of persecution. Now, are we all clear of this? Is there no husband, who in this sense persecutes his wife? Who uses her unkindly in word or deed, for worshipping God after her own conscience? parents thus persecute their children: no masters or mistresses their servants ? If they do this, and think they do God service therein, they “ must not cast the first stone at the Roman Catholics."
15. When things of an indifferent nature are represented as necessary to salvation, it is a folly of the same kind, though not of the same magnitude. Indeed it is not a little sin, to represent trifles as necessary to salvation : such as going on pilgrimages, or any thing that is not expressly enjoined in the holy Scripture. Among these we may undoubtedly rank Orthodoxy, or right Opinions. We know indeed that wrong opinions in religion naturally lead to wrong tempers or wrong practices; and that, consequently, it is our bounden duty to pray, that we may have a right
judgment in all things. But still a man may judge as accurately as the devil, and yet be as wicked as he.
16. Something more excusable are they, who imagine holiness to consist in things that are only a part of it. (That is, when they are connected with the rest; otherwise they are no part of it at all :) Suppose in doing no harm. And how exceedingly common is this ? How many take holiness and harmlessness to mean one and the same thing? Whereas were a man as harmless as a post, he might be as far from holiness, as heaven from earth. Suppose a man, therefore, to be exactly honest; to pay every one his own, to cheat no man, to wrong no man, to hurt no man, to be just in all his dealings : suppose a woman to be uniformly modest in all her words and actions : suppose the one and the other, to be steady practisers of morality, that is, of justice, mercy, and truth : yet all this, though it is good, as far as it goes, is but a part of Christian holiness. Yea, suppose a person of this amiable character to do much good, wherever he is, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, relieve the stranger, the sick, the prisoner ; yea, and to save many souls from death: it is possible he may still fall far short of that holiness, without which he cannot see the Lord.
17. What then is that holiness, which is the true Wedding Garment, the only qualification for glory? In Christ Jesus, (that is, according to the Christian Institution,) whatever be the case of the heathen world, “neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation,” the renewal of the soul “ in the image of God wherein it was created." In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love." It first, through the energy of God, worketh love to God and all mankind; and by this love every holy and heavenly temper. In particular, lowliness, meekness, gentleness, temperance, and long suffering. “ It is neither circumcision,” the attending on all the Christian ordinances, “nor uncircumcision,” the fulfilling of all