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soul, in every kind, in every degree, and at every moment of thine existence. This do, and thou shalt live :' Thy light shall shine, thy love shall flame more and more, till thou art received up into the house of God in the heavens, to reign with him for ever and ever."
6. “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise : Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven ? that is, to bring down Christ from above;" (as though it were some impossible task which God required thee previously to perform in order to thine acceptance ;) “Or, Who shall descend into the deep, that is, to bring up Christ from the dead?” (as though that were still remaining to be done, for the sake of which thou wert to be accepted ;) “But what saith it? The word,” according to the tenor of which thou mayest now be accepted as an heir of life eternal, “is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach,” the new covenant which God hath now established with sinful man, through Christ Jesus.
7. By “the righteousness which is of faith” is meant, that condition of justification, (and, in consequence, of present and final salvation, if we endure therein unto the end, which was given by God, to fallen man, through the merits and mediation of his only begotten Son. This was in part revealed to Adam, soon after his fall; being contained in the original promise, made to him, and his seed, concerning the Seed of the Woman, who should“ bruise the serpent's head.” (Gen. iii. 15.)
It was a little more clearly revealed to Abraham, by the Angel of God, from heaven, saying, “ By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, that in thy seed shall all the nations of the world be blessed." (Gen. xxii. 15, 18.) It was yet more fully made known to Moses, to David, and to the Prophets that followed; and, through them, to many of the people of God in their respective generations. But still the bulk even of these were ignorant of it; and very few understood it clearly. Still “ life and immortality" were not so “ brought to light” to the Jews of old, as they are now unto us“ by the gospel."
8. Now this covenant saith not to sinful man, 66 Perform unsinning obedience, and live.” If this were the term, he would have no more benefit by all which Christ hath done and suffered for him, than if he was required, in order to life, to “ascend into heaven, and bring down Christ from above;" or, to "descend into the deep,” into the invisible world, and “bring up Christ from the dead.” It doth not require any impossibility to be done: (Although to mere man, what it requires would be impossible ; but not to man assisted by the Spirit of God:) This were only to mock human weakness. Indeed, strictly speaking, the covenant of grace doth not require us to do anything at all, as absolutely and indispensably necessary in order to our justification; but only, to believe in Him who, for the sake of his Son, and the propitiation which he hath made, “ justifieth the ungodly that worketh not,” and imputes his faith to him for righteousness. Even so Abraham “believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (Gen. xv. 6.) “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith,—that he might be the father of all them that believe, --that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.” (Rom. iv. 11.) “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it" i. e., faith, “ was imputed to him ; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed,” to whom faith shall be imputed for righteousness, shall stand in the stead of perfect obedience, in order to our acceptance with God, “ if we believe on him who raised up
Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered” to death “ for our offences, and was raised again for our justification :" (Rom. iv. 23—25:) For the assurance of the remission of our sins, and of a second life to come, to them that believe.
9. What saith then the covenant of forgiveness, of unmerited love, of pardoning mercy ? “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” In the day thou believest, thou shalt surely live. Thou shalt be restored to the favour of God; and in his pleasure is life. Thou shalt be saved from the curse, and from the wrath of God. Thou shalt be quickened, from the death of sin into the life of righteousness. And if thou endure to the end, believing in Jesus, thou shalt never taste the second death; but, having suffered with thy Lord, shalt also live and reign with him for ever and ever.
10. Now “this word is nigh thee.” This condition of life, is plain, easy, always at hand. “ It is in thy mouth, and in thy heart," through the operation of the Spirit of God. The moment “ thou believest in thine heart” in him whom God “hath raised from the dead," and “confessest with thy mouth the Lord Jesus," as thy Lord and thy God, “thou shalt be saved” from condemnation, from the guilt and punishment of thy former sins,
and shalt have power to serve God in true holiness all the remaining days of thy life.
11. What is the difference then between the "righteousness which is of the law," and the “righteousness which is of faith ?” between the first covenant, or the covenant of works, and the second, the covenant of grace? The essential, unchangeable difference is this : The one supposes him to whom it is given, to be already holy and happy, created in the image and enjoying the favour of God; and prescribes the condition whereon he may continue therein, in love and joy, life and immortality: The other supposes him to whom it is given, to be now unholy and unhappy, fallen short of the glorious image of God, having the wrath of God abiding on him, and hastening, through sin, whereby his soul is dead, to bodily death, and death everlasting ; and to man in this state it prescribes the condition whereon he may regain the pearl he has lost, may recover the favour and image of God, may retrieve the life of God in his soul, and be restored to the knowledge and the love of God, which is the beginning of life eternal.
12. Again, the covenant of works, in order to man's continuance in the favour of God, in his knowledge and love, in holiness and happiness, required of perfect man a perfect and uninterrupted obedience to every point of the law of God. Whereas, the covenant of grace, in order to man's recovery of the favour and the life of God, requires only faith ; living faith in him who, through God, justifies him that obeyed not.
13. Yet, again : The covenant of works required of Adam, and all his children, to pay the price themselves, in consideration of which they were to receive all the future blessings of God. But, in the covenant of grace, seeing we have nothing to pay, God “frankly forgives us all :" Provided only, that we believe in him, who hath paid the price for us ; who hath given himself a “Propitiation for our sins, for the sins of the whole world.”
14. Thus the first covenant required what is now afar off from all the children of men ; namely, unsinning obedience, which is far from those who are “conceived and born in sin.” Whereas, the second requires what is nigh at hand; as though it should say, “Thou art sin ! God is love! Thou by sin art fallen short of the glory of God; yet there is mercy with him. Bring then all thy sins to the pardoning God, and they shall vanish away as a cloud. If thou wert not ungodly, there would be no room for him to justify thee as ungodly. But now draw near, in full assurance of faith. He speaketh, and it is done. Fear not, only believe; for even the just God justifieth all that believe in Jesus.
II. 1. These things considered, it would be easy to show, as I proposed to do in the Second place, the folly of trusting in the “righteousness which is of the law," and the wisdom of submitting to the righteousness which is of faith."
The folly of those who still trust in the “righteousness which is of the law," the terms of which are, “Do this, and live," may abundantly appear from hence: They set out wrong ; their very first step is a fundamental mistake : For, before they can ever think of claiming any blessing on the terms of this covenant, they must suppose themselves to be in his state with whom this covenant was made. But how vain a supposition is this; since it was made with Adam in a state of innocence ! How weak, therefore, must that whole building be, which stands on such a foundation! And how foolish are they who thus build on the sand! who seem never to have considered, that the covenant of works was not given to man when he was in trespasses and sins,” but when he was alive to God, when he knew no sin, but was holy as God is holy; who forget, that it was never designed for the recovery of the favour and life of God once lost, but only for the continuance and increase thereof, till it should be complete in life everlasting.
2. Neither do they consider, who are thus seeking to establish their “own righteousness, which is of the law,” what manner of obedience or righteousness that is which the law indispensably requires. It must be perfect and entire in every point, or it answers not the demand of the law. But which of
is able to perform such obedience? or, consequently, to live thereby? Who among you fulfils every jot and tittle even of the outward commandments of God? doing nothing, great or small, which God forbids ? leaving nothing undone which he enjoins ? speaking no idle word ? having your conversation always“ meet to minister grace to the hearers ?" and, “ whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, doing all to the glory of God?" And how much less are you able to fulfil all the inward commandments of God! those which require, that every temper and motion of your soul should be holiness unto the Lord !
Are you able to “love God with all your heart?" to love all mankind as your own soul? to “pray without ceasing ? in every thing to give thanks ?” to have God always before you? and to keep every affection, desire, and thought, in obedience to his law ?
3. You should farther consider, that the righteousness of the law requires, not only the obeying every command of God, negative and positive, internal and external, but likewise in the perfect degree. In every instance whatever, the voice of the lawis, “Thou shalt serve the Lord thy God with all thy strength." It allows no abatement of any kind : It excuses no defect: It condemns every coming short of the full measure of obedience, and immediately pronounces a curse on the offender: It regards only the invariable rules of justice, and saith, “I know not to show mercy."
4. Who then can appear before such a Judge, who is “extreme to mark what is done amiss ?” How weak are they who desire to be tried at the bar where “no tiesh living can be justified ?" -none of the offspring of Adam, For, suppose we did now keep every commandment with all our strength ; yet one single breach, which ever was, utterly destroys our whole claim to life. If we have ever offended in any one point, this righteousness is at an end. For the law condemns all who do not perform uninterrupted as well as perfect obedience. So that, according to the sentence of this, for him who hath once sinned, in any degree, “there remaineth only a fearful looking for of fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” of God.
5. Is it not then the very foolishness of folly, for fallen man to seek life by this righteousness ? For man, who was "shapen in wickedness, and in sin did his mother conceive him ?” man, who is, by nature, all “ earthly, sensual, devilish ;" altogether “corrupt and abominable ;" in whom, till he find
- dwelleth no good thing;” nay, who cannot of himself think one good thought; who is indeed all sin, a mere lump of ungodliness, and who commits sin in every breath he draws ; whose actual transgressions, in word and deed, are more in number than the hairs of his head? What stupidity, what senselessness must it be for such an unclean, guilty, helpless worm as this, to dream of seeking acceptance by his own righteousness, of living by “ the righteousness” which“ is of the law !”
6. Now, whatsoever considerations prove the folly of trusting