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virtue, that they rejoice in him, having no confidence in the flesh.
I pass now to some practical improvement.
1. Having proved the universality and danger of this spirit of self-confidence, it seems necessary to caution you against it. Nothing, we find, is more natural to man, neither can any thing be more hazardous, thap to trust in himself. This spirit, if permitted to govern, will lead you into inconceivable misery ; because under its influence you trust to something for acceptance with God that is essentially wrong; a righteousness that will not bear the trial. And at the same time that you run this dreadful risk, you despise the riches of God's goodness in providing a better righteousness than your own; and contemn the Author of eternal salvation. Such wickedness, depend upon it, will not pass with impunity.
2. From the preceding discourse it is plain in what sense the apostle renounced all works done by him, whether before or after believing, viz. in point of dependence. He had no intention to teach us that the law was relaxed, or that our obligation to obedience was in any degree weakened. Far be it from him to lead men to treat the divine law with indifference. The point he laboured in his several epistles, with the greatest perspicuity, is to beat men off, not from obedience to the law, considered as duty, but from trusting in it for justification, either in whole or in part. It was no grief to him that he had lived a sober life ; of this he did not repent: but he repented bitterly, that he had made so great a mistake in the matter of acceptance with God, as to look for
the divine favour on the footing of his own doings. By this conduct he robbed God of his honour, Christ of the glory of his complete righteousness, and entirely set aside the glorious plan of redemption revealed in the gospel. In the same sense should every man absolutely reject his best obedience : and doubtless he will do it, if he is acquainted with the nature of the law and the grace of the gospel. As to the law, it condemns for one failure ; consequently, he who is sensible of thousands in the course of his obedience, will not dare to introduce it as the reason of his
acceptAnd as to the gospel, it reveals a righteousness for the justification of the ungodly, that was wholly finished by Jesus Christ, and to which no sinner has any claim, on account of what he has done or can do. Not of works, lest any man should boast.
3. From hence I observe, that the real believer will as fully reject all self-confidence as open profaneness. A man may turn from swearing, un. clean ness, drunkenness, &c. to the profession and practice of godliness, and remain at the same time warmly attached to his own righteousness. That very
alteration of his conduct, of which he is sensible, and others observe, is a ground of his confidence. He is pleased with it, and secretly thinks himself better than others. Such were the Phari. sees, in the days of Christ : they looked upon themselves as holy, and despised their neighbours. This self-confidence was their bane.
I beseech you, suffer the word of exhortation. Examine yourselves, whether you have ever been led to count all but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord ? 'Ye old
professors, ye long established Christians, are you built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone? Do you rest infinitely satisfied with him? and is he dearer to you than every other object ? Have you been brought to rejoice in the glories of his character, and his spotless righteousness? and are you anxious to place the crown on his head? Or have you some secret reserve? Do your hearts suggest some plea besides Christ? Paul renounced every thing for him ; he had nothing to desire but to be found in him. May this be your case; may this be mine! For should we hold up both hands against the flagrant vices of the day, and bear open testimony against growing profaneness, and at the same time indulge this self-righteous spirit, we shall finally be placed with the workers of iniquity.
IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS ONE OF THE GLORIES
OF THE GOSPEL.
ROMANS, iv. 6.
Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto
whom God imputeth righteousness without works.
St. Paul's design in this chapter, and in a great part of this epistle, is to distinguish between justification by the deeds of the law, and by the righteousness of faith. The former sentiment he had early imbibed, and warmly promoted, till it pleased God to call him by his grace ; after which he, with equal zeal and diligence, preached the very faith he had laboured to de stroy. The text and context afford us a striking instance of his alteration of mind, and solicitude to propagate his new opinion ; between which, and the principles of his education, there is an evident contrast. The language of one is, Do and live : the other speaketh expressly, Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 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, bis faith is counted for righteousness ; q. d. the labourer is wor. thy of his hire. What a man receiveth as a reward for his industry, is not of grace, but of debt. He wrought for it, and may claim it. So,
if any man should insinuate that the sinner is justified before God in consequence of good works done by him, he destroys the doctrine of grace ; and the testimony of David is introduced to confirm the important truth-Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.
The authority of Abraham and David had great weight with many to whom St. Paul was called to preach and write. Abraham, the father of the faithful, was justified by faith without the deeds of the law; and David, a man after God's own heart, and an inspired prophet, describes the blessed man to whom a righteousness is imputed without works, saying, Blessed is the man whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. This quotation is out of Psalm xxxii. The text is St. Paul's comment on it; who, as he was inspired by the same Spirit, must be allowed to understand the meaning of the royal prophet infallibly. So far then is our apostle from treating the doctrine of imputed righteousness as novel, unscriptural, or absurd, that he assures us it was an article of David's creed, and taught in the verses he had cited. David speaks of the forgiveness of sin, and of its non-imputation, but does not use the phrase imputed righteousness. St. Paul informs us, in his exposition of the words, that this is their import-Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness without works. Here we have,
I. A righteousness spoken of,