Imágenes de páginas

he was in the form of God, and therefore thought it no robbery to be equal with God, yet he took upon him the form of a servant, even human nature. In that nature he obeyed, and thereby fulfilled the whole moral law in our stead. And also died a painful death upon the cross, and thereby became a curse for, or instead of, those whom the Father hath given him. As God, he satisfied at the same time that he obeyed, and suffered as man; and being God and man, in one person, wrought out a full, perfect, and sufficient righteousness for all to whom it was to be imputed.

Here then we see the meaning of the word righteousness. It implies the active, as well as passive obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. We generally, when talking of the merits of Christ, only mention the latter, viz. : his death ; whereas the former, viz: his life and active obedience, is equally necessary. Christ is not such a Savior as becomes us, unless we join both together. Christ not only died, but lived; not only suffered, but obeyed, for or instead of poor sinners. And both these jointly make up that complete righteousness which is to be imputed to us, as the disobedience of our first parents was made ours by imputation. In this sense, and no other, are we to understand that parallel which St. Paul draws in the 5th of the Romans, between the first and second Adam. This is what he elsewhere terms our being made the righteousness of God in him. This is the sense wherein the prophet would have us understand the words of the text; therefore, Jer. xxxiii. verse 16, She, i. e. the church itself shall be called (having this righteousness imputed to her) the Lord our righteousness. A passage, I think, worthy of the profoundest meditation of all the sons and daughters of Adam.

Many are the objections which the proud hearts of fallen men are continually urging against this wholesome, this divine, this soul-saving doctrine. I come now, in the third place, to answer some few of those which I think the most considerable.

And first, they say, because they would appear friends to morality, “That the doctrine of an imputed righteousness is destructive of good works, and leads to licentiousness.”

And who, pray, are the persons that generally urge this objection ? Are they men full of faith, and men really concerned for good works ? No, whatever few exceptions there may be, if there be any at all, it is notorious, they are generally men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. The best title I can give them is, that of profane moralists, or moralists falsely so called. For I appeal to the experience of the present, as well as past ages, if iniquity did and does not most abound where the doctrine of Christ's whole personal righteousness is most

cried down, and most seldom mentioned. Arminian being antichristian principles, always did and always will lead to antichristian practices. And never was there a reformation brought about in the church, but by the preaching the doctrine of Christ's imputed righteousness. This, as that man of God, Luther, calls it, is Articulus stantis aut cadentis Ecclesia, the article upon which the church stands or falls. And though the preachers of this doctrine are generally branded by those on the other side with the opprobrious names of Antinomians, deceivers, and what not; yet, I believe if the truth of the doctrine on both sides were to be judged of by the lives of the preachers and professors of it, those on our side the question would have the advantage every way.

It is true, this, as well as every other doctrine of grace, may be abused. And perhaps the unchristian walk of some, who have talked of Christ's imputed righteousness, justification by faith, and the like, and yet never felt it imputed to their own souls, has given the enemies of the Lord thus cause to blaspheme. But this is a very unsafe, as well as very unfair way of arguing. The only question should be, Whether or not this doctrine of an imputed righteousness does, in itself, cut off the occasion of good works, or lead to licentiousness ? No, in no wise. It excludes works indeed from being any cause of our justification in the sight of God. But it requires good works as a proof of our having this righteousness imputed to us, and as a declarative evidence of our justification in the sight of men. And then how can the doctrine of an imputed righteousness be a doctrine leading to licentiousness?

It is all calumny. St. Paul introduces an infidel making this objection, in his epistle to the Romans. And none but infidels, that never felt the power of Christ's resurrection upon their souls, will urge it over again. And therefore, notwithstanding this objection, with the prophet in the text, we may boldly say, The Lord our righteousness.

But Satan, (and no wonder that his servants imitate him) often transforms himself into an angel of light. And therefore, (such perverse things will infidelity and Arminianism make men speak) in order to dress their objections in the best colors, some urge, “that our Savior preached no such doctrine -that in his sermon upon the mount, he mentions only morality,” and consequently the doctrine of an imputed righteousness falls wholly to the ground.

But surely the men who urge this objection, either never read or never understood our blessed Lord's discourse, wherein the doctrine of an imputed righteousness is so plainly taught, that he that runs, if he has eyes that see, may read.

Indeed our Lord does recommend morality and good works, (as all faithful ministers will do) and clears the moral law from the many corrupt glosses put upon it by the letter-learned pharisees. But then, before he comes to this, it is remarkable, he talks of inward piety, such as poverty of spirit, meekness, holy mourning, purity of heart, especially hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and then recommends good works, as an evidence of our having his righteousness imputed to us, and these graces and divine tempers wrought in our hearts. “Let your light, (that is, the divine light I before have been mentioning) shine before men, in a holy life, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven." And then immediately adds, “ Think not that I am come to destroy the moral law-I came not to destroy, to take away the force of it as a rule of life, but to fulfil, to obey it in its whole latitude, and give the complete sense of it.” And then he goes on to show, how exceeding broad the moral law is. So that our Lord, instead of disannulling an imputed righteousness in his sermon upon the mount, not only confirms it, but also answers the foregoing objection urged against it, by making good works a proof and evidence of its being imputed to our souls. He, therefore, that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the prophet says in the words of the text— The Lord our righteousness.

But as Satan not only quoted scripture, but also backed one temptation with it after another, when he attacked Christ's person in the wilderness ; so his children generally take the same method in treating his doctrine. And therefore they urge another objection against the doctrine of an imputed righteousness, from the example of the young man in the gospel.

We may state it tħus : “The evangelist, St. Mark," say they, “chap. x., mentions a young man that came to Christ, running and asking him what he should do to inherit eternal life? Christ, say they, referred him to the commandments, to know what he must do to inherit eternal life. It is plain, therefore, works were to be partly, at least, the cause of his justification; and consequently the doctrine of an imputed righteousness is unscriptural.” This is the objection in its full strength ; and little strength is in all its fulness. For, were I to prove the necessity of an imputed righteousness, I scarce know how I could bring a better instance to make it good.

Let us take a more intimate view of this young man, and our Lord's behavior towards him. Mark x. 17, the evangelist

“That when Christ was gone forth into the way, there came one running (it should seem it was some nobleman, a rarity indeed, to see such a one running to Christ !) and not only so, but he kneeled to him, (though many of his rank

tells us,

scarce know the time when they kneeled to Christ,) and asked him, saying, Good Master what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?Then Jesus, to see whether or not he believed him to be what he really was, truly and properly God, said unto him, “Why callest thou me good ? there is none good but one, that is God." And that he might directly answer his question; says he, Thou knowest the commandments : Do not commit adultery, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and thy mother." This, I say, was a direct answer to his question; namely, that eternal life was not to be attained by his doings. For our Lord, by referring him to the commandments, did not, (as the objectors insinuate,) in the least, hint that his morality would recommend him to the favor and mercy of God. But he intended thereby to make the law his schoolmaster to bring him to himself; that the young man, seeing how he had broken every one of these commandments, might thereby be convinced of the insufficiency of his own, and consequently of the absolute necessity of looking out for a better righteousness, whereon he might depend for eternal life.

This was what our Lord designed. The young man, being self-righteous, and willing to justify himself

, said, “ All these have I observed from my youth.But had he known himself, he would have confessed, "All these have I broken from my youth." For supposing he had not actually committed adultery, had he never lusted after a woman in his heart? What if he had not really killed another; had he never been angry without a cause, or spoken unadvisedly with his lips ? If so, by breaking one of the least commandments in the least degree, he became liable to the curse of God: For “cursed is he saith the law) that continueth not to do all things that are written in this book.And therefore, as I observed before, our Lord was so far from speaking against, that he treated the young man in that manner, on purpose to convince him of the necessity of an imputed righteousness.

But perhaps they will reply, it is said, Jesus beholding him, loved him. And what then? This he might do with a human love, and at the same time this young man have no interest in his blood. Thus Christ is said to wonder; to weep over Jerusalem, and say, Oh that thou hadst KNOWN, 8c. But such like passages are to be referred only to his human nature. And there is a great deal of difference between the love wherewith Christ loved this young man, and that wherewith he loved Mary, Lazarus, and their sister Martha. To illustrate this by a comparison: A minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, seeing many amiable dispositions, such as a readiness to hear

the word, a decent behavior at public worship, a life outwardly spotless in many, cannot but so far love them. But then there is much difference betwixt that love which a minister feels for such, and that divine love, that union and sympathy of soul, which he feels for those that he is satisfied are really born again of God. Apply this to our Lord's case, as a faint illustration of it. Consider what has been said upon the young man's case in general; and then, if before you were fond of this objection, instead of triumphing like him, you will go sorrowful away. Our Savior's reply to him more and more convinces us of the truth of the prophet's assertion in the text, viz. that the Lord is our righteousness.

But there is a fourth and grand objection yet behind, and that is taken from the 25th chapter of St. Matthew, “where our Lord is described, as rewarding people with eternal life, because they fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and such like. Their works therefore were a cause of their justification; consequently, the doctrine of imputed righteousness is not agreeable to scripture."

This, I confess, is the most plausible objection that is brought against the doctrine insisted on from the text. And in order that we may answer it in as clear and as brief a manner as may be, we confess, with the article of the Church of England, “That albeit good works do not justify us, yet they will follow after justification, as fruits of it; and though they can claim no reward in themselves, yet forasmuch as they spring from faith in Christ, and a renewed soul, they shall receive a reward of grace, though not of debt; and consequently, the more we abound in such good works, the greater will be our reward when Jesus Christ shall come to judgment."

Take these considerations along with us, and they will help us much to answer the objection now before us. For thus St. Matthew-Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come ye blessed children of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat. thirsty, and ye gave me drink. I was a stranger, and ye took me in. Naked, and ye clothed me. I was sick, and ye visited me. I was in prison, and ye came unto me. “I will therefore reward you, because you have done these things out of love to me, and hereby have evidenced yourselves to be my true disciples.” And that the people did not depend on these good actions for their justification in the sight of God is evident. For when saw we thee an hungered, say they, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in ? Or naked, and clothed

I was

« AnteriorContinuar »