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death of Christ was according to the sentence of the law, and his obedience to its precepts perfect. To which we add, that it is established, with re. spect to all who have been brought to believe in the Son of God: they look upon it as the rule of life, to which they are bound to pay a sacred regard, from love to God, whose law it is, and who gave his only begotten Son, that he might become the end of it for righteousness; from love to Jesus, who both obeyed its precepts, and suffered its penalty, and thus delivered the criminal; and from love to the law itself, as it is a transcript of the divine nature. Their obedience is truly evangelical, originating from that faith which is of the operation of God, and accompanied with that love which is a fruit of the Spirit.
3. There is one thing more to be considered before we proceed to the next head, viz. that this righteousness is imputed without works : i. e. without works in him who is the subject of justification ; or to whom the righteousness spoken of is imputed. The obedience of the sinner is no cause why God justifies him. Neither is it any part of that righteousness by which he is justified. Justification is an act of the pure, sovereign grace of God, exercised toward sinners and the ungodly. The design of this phrase, without works, is to exclude every thing from the matter and cause of justification but the perfect righteousness of Christ. I proceed,
III. To consider the blessedness of such, to whom this righteousness is imputed. Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will
not impute sin. The blessedness spoken of may be comprised in these three things,
1. A freedom from the wrath to come. If sin be pardoned, there is no condemnation. And this, my brethren, is the immensely rich blessing, which God bestows on all to whom righteousness is imputed. He pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage : he retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy. The exceeding greatness of this blessing may be more fully discovered, by a consideration of that misery to which sin has exposed us. Hell, damnation, everlasting torments, are words that convey most shocking ideas. And thus saith the Lord, The wicked shall be turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God. They that have done evil shall come forth to the resurrection of damnation. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment. Thus you see that the wages of sin is death, yea, eternal death ; consisting, not in a loss of being, but of happiness. It is nothing less than a banishment from God, and all the glories of his kingdom, into the bottomless pit; there to be confined with devils and damned spirits, without the least glimpse of hope ! This wretchedness is inconceivable as to its degree ; consequently is inexpressible. How great then must be their blessedness, whose iniquities are forgiven, seeing they obtain an absolute deliverance from all this ; and
2. Are entitled to the enjoyment of God in heaven. These are connected in one verse ; That they may receive the forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among
them that are sanctified by faith that is in me. God pardons none but such as he intends to admit into his everlasting kingdom. The connexion
between the several blessings of the well-ordered covenant is inseparable. Whom he did predestinate, them he also called : and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. They are pardoned and sanctified, on purpose that they may be received into the presence of God and of the Lamb, where is fulness of joy. Oh infinite felicity! There is the absence of all evil, and the fruition of all good. Jesus Christ will there be beheld in all his dazzling glories, while all the hosts of angels bow before him; and the spirits of just men made perfect unite in one grand ascription of praise to him, who loved them, and washed them from their sins in his blood! Glory be to God, for this astonishing display of his grace; that these inestimable blessings may be conferred on guilty, hell-deserving men!
3. I would add, That God blesses those whom he justifies with a comfortable sense of their own interest in him, which the scriptures call good hope through grace, the full assurance of hope, &c. A privilege for which they are indebted to the Spirit of God, who is said to seal the believer unto the day of redemption ; to witness with his spirit that he is a child of God; to abide in his heart as the earnest of his inheritance.
In which places it is clearly taught us, that believers, at least some of them, are favoured with a sense of the pardon of their sins through the blood of Christ. The Holy Ghost witnesseth to their spirits that they are the children of God, and thus confirms the wavering, doubtful mind. He is also said to be an earnest of their inheritance. The design of an earnest, which is a part in hand, is to ascertain the whole : so the Spirit of God, at times, enables the believer, as he did St. Paul, to say, I know whom
I bave believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day. Thus he rejoices in the prospect of the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ; and at times is ready to say, Why tarry the wheels of thy chariot? Verily, blessed is the man whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
I now proceed to some reflections.
1. Let us from hence learn to distinguish between faith, and the righteousness of Christ, in the great affair of acceptance with God. That righteousness which justifies, is altogether the work of Christ : it was finished by himself; and is properly his own. He had no coadjutor. He trod the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with him. Nevertheless, it becomes ours, by the gracious act of God imputing it to us.
Faith, according to the beloved disciple John, and the great St. Paul, is the belief of the truth; the believing that Jesus is the Christ; or a giving credit to the record that God gave of his Son. These definitions are all of the same import, and are all divine being dictated by the Spirit of God, they cannot be contradicted by any, however some have glossed upon them, till they have brought in a sense diverse from the inspired writers. This faith, when it is real, as distinguished from that uninfluential assent to the gospel, which crowds who hear it profess to have, is an effect of the divine influence in us ; hence said to be of the operation of God; and that it is with the heart man believeth anto righteousness. As the righteousness by which the sinner is justified, is the sole work of Christ for him, so this is the work of the Holy Ghost in him, and no less necessary in its proper
place ; it being that, without which a sinner cannot apprehend, receive, and rest upon Christ for eternal life. By faith, as before observed, he becomes acquainted with
the glories of the character of Jesus, the fulness of grace in him, and the suitableness and perfection of his righteousness; in consequence of this faith, he admires the saviour's personal excellencies, flies to him, ventures all upon him, and rejoices in him. These, to speak plainly, are all so many effects of faith. The sinner must have a view of the Saviour's excellency, before he will admire it. He must be persuaded, that Christ is the only safe refuge, before he will Ay to him. He must know that there is in Christ sufficient matter of consolation, before he will rejoice in him. Of all these he is entirely satisfied by faith in the testimony of God: subsequent to which is his coming, or flying to him, trusting in, or venturing all upon him, rejoicing in him, &c. e. g. Joseph's brethren heard that there was corn enough in Egypt; they believed the report: this was faith; upon this they went down for a supply. Doubtless this was an effect of their faith ; for had they not believed the tidings, they would never have gone. So a sinner must believe that Christ is a full and complete Saviour, before he will run or Ay to him. Sense of misery, and faith in his sufficiency, are the main stimulus. Or, I am sick, I hear of an able physician, I believe him to be so, upon which I apply to him : my application to him, and my belief of his character, are as distinct as any two things can be: my trusting my life in his hands, is an effect of my believing him to be an able physician. This distinction is obvious in the sacred writings, as well as in the nature of things. He that COMETH to God, must BELIEVE that he is.