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obedience, or obedience with imperfections; and therefore to have obedience attended with imperfections, is no breach of it ; for it is as much as it requires. And they cannot be a breach of their old law ; for that, they say, is entirely abolished, and we never were under it. They say it would not be just in God to require of us perfect obedience, because it would not be just in God to require more than we can perform, or to punish us for failing of it. And therefore, by their own scheme, the imperfections of our obedience do not deserve to be punished. What need therefore of Christ's dying to satisfy for them? What need of his suffering to satisfy for that which is no fault, and in its own nature deserves no suffering? What need of Christ's dying to purchase, that our imperfect obedience should be accepted, when, according to their scheme, it would be unjust in itself that any other obedience than imperfect should be required? What need of Christ's dying to make way for God's accepting such an obedience, as it would be unjust in him not to accept? Is there any need of Christ's dying to prevail with God not to do unrighteously? If it be said that Christ died to satisfy that old law for us, that so we might not be under it, but that there might be room for our be. ing under a more mild law; still I would inquire, what need of Christ's dying that we might not be under a law, which (by their principles) it would be unjust that we should be under, whether Christ had died or no, because in our present state we are not able to keep it ?"* The glaring
President Edwards on the Freedom of the Will, page 153, 159.
inconsistencies which this author has judiciously pointed out, I apprehend, can never be reconciled upon these principles. I now proceed,
III. To shew that the sinner, upon his becoming experimentally acquainted with the grace of the gospel, is thereby led to renounce all confidence in the flesh; and to expect acceptance with God, only on account of that righteousness which is through the faith of Christ.
This observation is contained in, and proved by the text. But what things were gain to me (while a Pharisee) these I counted loss for Cbrist, (upon my conversion to Christianity.) Yea, doubtless, and I (do now, as a believer in Jesus and an apostle) count all things (whether birth privileges, legal observances, submission to gospel ordinances, zeal, diligence, and fidelity in the ministry, &c.) but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things (of all things as explained above; and of all temporal good things, such as the good opinion of my countrymen, the way to wealth and preferment, a fixed and quiet habitation; and instead of these I became exposed to bonds, stripes, and imprisonment : yea, and death itself ;) and do count them but dung that. I may win Christ, (who is alpha and omega, the sum total of the Christian's treasure) and be found in him (to such there is no condemnation ; Rom. viii. 1.) not having minc own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. This
passage is plain and striking. In it St. Paul assures us what his views had been, so long
as he remained ignorant of the glorious gospel ; and declares in the most explicit manner, that the high esteem he had long entertained for his own obedience was entirely removed, by an acquaintance with the riches of grace. Observe the pains he takes to explode his own, and extol the righteousness of Jesus He views them in contrast, tramples on the one, and glories in the other. The eyes of his mind having been opened, he sees that all his attempts to obtain the divine favour, by a course of obedience, were loss; a loss of time, and a loss of labour ; and that if God had not plucked him as a brand from the burning, he should have lost his immortal soul!
It is observable, that he does not only renounce his own righteousness, which he explains as being of the law; but that he does it in the most positive manner, and with a high degree of contempt. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss—He came to this conclusion, upon the clearest conviction of its truth. In no principle was he more fully established, than that his own righteousness was loss and dung, or dogs' meat, as some choose to read the latter Greek word, oxuosena (skubala.) But the former translation conveys the apostle's idea in a more emphatic manner, it being what even dogs themselves would reject.
In language like this we find the church speaking, Isaiah lxiv. 6. But we are all us an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Rags are insufficient to cover the body, and to keep it warm : so the sinner's best righteousness is absolutely insufficient to clothe his naked soul, and to secure it from the wrath of God, and the curses of his law. Rags are an evidence of pov
erty: so man's righteousness, when compared with the law of God, manifest that he is poor, and wretched. Rags render a man slighted : so he who appears in his own righteousness will be set at nought. Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, (such a righteousness was Saul's, for he was a Pharisee) ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
But the prophet adds to the phrase, saying, all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. How loathsome must he be to you who appears in filthy rags? Infinitely more so must he appear to Jehovah, who introduces his own righteousness as the ground of his hope and the reason of his acceptance.
Here, my brethren, you observe an agreement in sentiment, concerning the sinner's righteousness, between a great prophet and a great apostle. The courtly Isaiah does not think it mean, or unbecoming, to use one of the lowest comparisons, when the nature of the subject requires it; in which he is followed by one of the most learn. ed of the apostles.
It is equally obvious in the text, that the same grace which inclined St. Paul to renounce all confidence in the flesh, did also lead him to trust alone for justification before God to the finished righteousness of Christ ; 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. This righteousness is through the faith of Christ, and of God by faith ; expressions of nearly the same import. It is of God, as he appointed it, and will accept it, as the sole reason of the sinner's discharge from condemnation, and admission to cternal glory. And it is of Christ, as he hath
manifested it; having made an end of sins, and made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in EVERLASTING RIGHTEOUSNESS.
The phrase by faith, is expressive of the use of faith in the business of justification, viz. that it is by faith in the word of God, that the sinner discovers the glory, suitableness and perfection of the divine righteousness, becomes persuaded that it is an infallible ground of hope, and is thereby influenced to venture his naked soul upon it. This is the righteousness in which the apostle prays to be found, while he peremptorily rejects all other.
The conversion of St. Paul will readily be al. lowed to be genuine; and he a pattern to them, who should after him believe in Christ to everlasting life. Consequently every true convert will be like minded. Like causes will produce like effects. All who are under the influence of the same grace, will glory' only in the cross of Christ. And however they may differ in some things of less importance, they will not differ in the grand points of the gospel. While they meet in differ. ent places for the service of God, worship in different modes, and are distinguished by different names, they are still one in Christ Jesus. Their supreme wish is to win Christ, and to be found in him ; counting their own righteousness but loss and dung. Such are the discoveries that are made to their minds, by the Spirit of God, of the extent and spirituality of the law, that they at once find it a ministration of death, and that their best obedience will not stand the trial. On the other hand, they have such clear views, by faith, of the adorable merits of Jesus, in their all-atoning