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sinned, whom we had so deeply dishonoured, who now intreats lost and ruined sinners to accept of a free and full pardon; "for God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, and who hath committed the ministry of reconciliation to his servants, and in consequence of this, they beseech and pray us in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. Therefore we may well give thanks to God our heavenly Father for the unspeakable gift of his well-beloved Son.
What has been said upon this subject will not give full satisfaction to some people, who will say, 66 We must have a better righteousness than our own, when we appear in the presence of God, we must have the garment of salvation, the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, or we cannot stand before an infinitely holy God with comfort in the day of judgment. This certainly is a matter of very great importance, and well deserves our serious consideration. Will it not clearly appear if we attend to the scriptures, that in the very same sense, in which the sin of Adam is imputed to all his posterity, and in which the sins of all mankind were imputed to Christ; in this sense and in this only, is the righteousness of our Lord and Saviour imputed to those who believe in his name? How then is the sin of our first parent imputed to us ? Not actually ; no one can say with any degree of propriety, that Adam's act of eating the forbidden fruit, is our identical act and deed, and therefore we are born guilty of the first transgression. This cannot be, but Adam's sin is imputed to us in all its evil consequences, as we have descended from him, we are all born in that very state of mind, into which he by transgression fell. We are born sinful and degenerate creatures, and are as deeply defiled, as if his sin had been our own act and deed.
How then are our sinsimputed to Jesus Christ? Not liter. ally, not really, as if those acts of disobedience which we have committed are imputed to him as if they had actually been his own. Not so, but he bore the punishment due to our sins. It pleased God to bruise him in our stead, and to make his soul an offering for sin, and as it is written," He was made a curse for us," that we might inherit an everlasting blessing
In the above sense, and no other, does the scriptures justify us in saying that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. That perfect obedience which he performed personally, is not imputed to us, as if it was really our own, but it is imputed to us in the return of it, in all the gifts and blessings purchased for us thereby, and therefore it becomes as profitable to us, in every respect, and in the fullest sense of the word, as if it was actually our own, and I had almost said infinitely more so; as it is certain, all that our Lord did of suffered on our account, had infinite merit in the sight of God. Hence we are fully and freely justified, and stand in the sight of God as free from guilt as if we had never sinned against him. “Abraham believed in God and it was imputed to him for righteousness." And,“ to him who worketh not but believeth in him who jụstifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to him for righteousness.” From these, as well as from many other scriptures, it appears that faith, not the righteousness of Christ, is imputed to us for justification,
If any one will say, how can faith be of such value in the sight of God, as to be imputed to us for righteousness? It would be sufficient to answer, the Lord hinself hath so appointed, and man is not yet wiser than he. But the inestimable value of faith will in some measure appear, if we consider that it lays hold upon Christ, and we become savingly acquainted with and truly interested in him, we are spiritually united to him, and receive life and salvation from him. Faith lays hold on all the promises of God, and the exceeding riches of his
grace are measured out to us according to our degree of faith, it makes his fulness all our own. And as God hath put all this honour upon faith, we have neither right nor power to take it away, but rather we should chearfully sing,
O that our faith may never move,
Sure evidence of things unseen,
Now let it pass the years between,
My God who lived and died for me!
How may the righteousness of sanctification be said to be of God? Because it is also of his appointing. His express design in sending Christ into the world was, to destroy the works of the devil, to redeem us from the poison of that old serpent, with which we were so deeply defiled. As he hath prepared a state of inconceivable glory and blessedness for us, where we, in the full enjoyment of himself, and in the society of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, shall he eternally happy. To fit us for that holy and happy state, he creates us anew by the Power of the Holy Ghost, and perfectly sanctifies This' salvation is of God's ptocuring. Jesus died that he might sanctify us with his own blood, and hath procured for us the gift of the Holy Ghust; and that all the riches of his grace may be communicated to us, “He saith (our Saviour) shall lead you into all truth,” and “ shall take of mine and shew it unto you,” not only that we may understand, but also experience every truth which selates to the salvation of our souls.
This righteousness also is the free gift of God, it is the work of his own Spirit in the mind, and on that account 'it may justly be said of the whole, “ Not by might nor by pów, er, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord;" or as, the apostle speaks, “It is God who worketh in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure.” The serious consideration of this, that the sanctification of our souls is the work of God, will afford us strong consolation, as it will give us the best ground we could possibly have had, to believe that this work shalt cértainly be accomplished in us. Surely no one will say we are so deeply depraved that it is impossible for God himself, to sanctify us wholly, while we remain in this world. Surely he can, if such is his good pleasure, accomplish this work, by the power and grace of his own Spirit, and as he hath pro.mised this work shall be done, we can have no good reason to doubt concerning it. Hath he not given us all the encouragement we can desire, when he says, "I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people," and he adds, these soul reviving words, " I will be Father unto
sons and daughters." How then can we doubt, but that we shall be cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and may perfect holiness in the fear of God. In consideration of the above promises, well might the apostle say, “ The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down reasonings cand every high thing which exalteth itself against the knowledge of God," and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. If our blessed Lord is graciously pleased to visit and redeem his people, it is that he may save them from their enemies and from the hand of all who hate them, that they may: serve the Lord without fear in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life.” Thus then we may rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
In answer to what has been said, perhaps some will reply, “ We are so dangerously circumstanced while in this world, and the natural desires of the body are so strong, that we
are in continual danger of being tempted and overcome, by the many and powerful enemies we have to contend with, and the various objects with which we are surrounded.” To this we may reply, our gracious God is perfectly acquainted with our situation and circuinstances, and he hath said, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness."
And with respect to the body, those desires which are purely natural are perfectly innocent, and never become siniful till they are indulged. Certainly there can be nothing contrary to the highest degree of purity, to desire to eat when we are hungry, and we may eat our bread with gładness and singleness of heart, but we need not exceed the bounds of temperance. There can be nothing sinful in desiring to drink when we are thirsty, but there is no sort of necessity for us to become drunkards. We may very innocently desire rest when we are weary, but we need not 'become sluggards. And with respect to marriage itself, I would observe, Was it not instituted by the Lord himself, and that in the time of man's innocency when there was no sinful propensity in the creature to render it necessary? Is it not still the design of God that man should propagate his own species? Must it not then be his general design that men should marry, and if so, then it must follow that they should desire marriagė, and they may do this with entire resignation to the will of God. Hence saith the apostle, “ I will
that the younger women marry, yea, and bear children too." Let not any chris, tian pour contempt upon this holy ordinance, as if none could center into this honourable 'state but he must be under the ne. cessity of sinning against God. Rather let those who are inclined to marry, do it in the fear of the Lord, and with a single eye to his glory. And let those who are married, sanctify the Lord God, praise his sacred name for the children he hath graciously given them, and let them take care to train them up in the instruction and discipline of the Lord. Thus notwithstanding all the objections which can be made, we may still believe if the Lord hath promised to turn his powerful and gracious hand upon us, he will take away all our dross, and purge us from all our sin, so shall we be holy and happy.
Thirdly. Let us now consider the promises made to these servants of God.
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper. This promise may be considered, as it relates to the church of God considered as a collective body, and also 'as it relates to every particular member of that body. Let us consider the promise as it relates to the church at large. Many dangerous and powerful weapons have been formed against the church in all ages. Satan has used all his art, as well as all his
power, and has set all his agents to work, to hinder the progress of the gospel, and to overturn the spiritual kingdom of God. In different ages and nations he has raised the most dreadful storms of persecution against the followers of God, and on this account the church has been frequently compared to the burning bush in the wilderness, which when it appeared all in flames, yet was not consumed. Thus the church has often burned in the fire of persecution, but has not been destroyed. The Lord hath made good his promise, “ Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” All the storms of persecution which Satan has raised could not accomplish his design, so far from it, that it has been observed that although thousands upon thousands of the faithful servants of God have fallen by the hand of the persecutor, yet even the blood of the martyrs has been the seed of the church, and the work of the Lord hath prospered in those dreadful days as much, if not more, than at other times.
Satan does not always use the weapon of violence against the church of God, for although this is the most congenial to his own cruel disposition, yet he has learned by experience, that it is not always the most effectual. He has often laboured to destroy the work of God, by corrupting his pure and spiritual worship, leading men into dead formality, or to regard human inventions more than divine institutions. And what is still worse, bringing in, as the apostle says, damnable heresięs, unscriptural opinions, and various doctrines not according to godliness, but quite the contrary. Nay, but he has sometimes transformed himself into an angel of light, and has sent his own servants to do the work of God, or rather to undo it. And let us not think that we, any more than others, are out of danger here. He who hath prevailed against other religious bodies of men, will not suffer us to go unmolested. Many weapons have been formed against us, from the time we first became an united body, to this day. We have had all sorts of enemies to contend with, but through the infinite mercy and love of God, no weapon that has yet been formed against us hath prospered. Hitherto the Lord hath in a very remarkable manner fulfilled his own blessed word, “Behold all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded, they shall be as nothing, and they that strive with thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them, but shall not find them, even them that contended with thee, they that war against thee, shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. For I the Lord