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derers, in the very extremity of his sufferings, in a meek and loving manner, saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Let us,
II. Shew how this righteousness is received by faith. It is received and becomes ours by faith, as faith unites us to Christ. Upon this union, follows a communion with Christ in his righteousness; so Christ being ours by faith, his righteousness is ours. The soul, by faith, marries with.Christ, and the righteousness is its dowry. The soul flies to Christ as the city of refuge, and that righteousness is their cover. We now proceed,
III. To confirm the doctrine.
1. That only can shelter us from the wrath of God which satisfies his law. Now this righteousness is the only thing which can satisfy his law, and it has done it fully. The law is magnified more by his obedience and sufferings than if all the elect had gone to hell for it. The law being obeyed, and executed upon Christ, is more magnified than it could have been by them, and that because of the dignity of the person. Even as a king shews a greater respect to the law, by executing it on his own son, than upon a thousand common malefactors. They would have been ever satisfying, but never could have fully satisfied. By Christ it gets both active and passive obedience, by them only passive.
2. It is the righteousness of God. It is so called, because it is the righteousness of him who is God, Jer. xxiii. 6; therefore it is called, gold tried in the fire. Our gold is become dross, it will not abide the touchstone of the law, because imperfect, but Christ's righteousness will. Ours will not abide the fire of the judgment of the God of truth. Our obedience is not full measure, and, being weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, it will be found light.
It is the only righteousness accepted of God. "In whom," says he, "I am well pleased." It may be safely depended upon, for it is of infinite value. "Christ purchased the church with his own blood." It was the divine nature of Christ that made all his obedience so efficacious for the benefit of his people. What sins will not the blood of the Son of God purge away? "It cleanseth from all sin."
3. It is the righteousness contrived by the only wise God to save sinners, when nothing else could do it, Psal. xl. 6, 7. When there was no help among angels or men for them, he laid help on the Mediator, as one mighty to save. This was a contrivance becoming an infinite God. The mercy of God shines forth in it, finding an object in the deepest misery. To have given a deliverance from wrath, after millions of years, would have been great mercy; but
here is mercy, bringing the sinner from the lowest abyss of misery unto the highest pitch of happiness. Here, also, the justice of God shone gloriously. In the deluge, and the burning of Sodom, it appeared, but more here. It got all its demands. What are all creatures, to the Son of God suffering? The love of God was displayed. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." The Son willingly gave himself. Here is love, wonderful indeed in all its dimensions. Behold also the wisdom of God. The confused mass at the beginning was not comparable to the confusion at the fall. But truth met with mercy. Out of the sin that obscured the glory of God, is brought the greatest honour. The matter is so ordered, that man stands more firmly than under the first covenant. When the angels stood astonished, hell rejoiced at the fall. Man lay grovelling in the dust of misery, wisdom found out a way for restoring them to happiness.
USE 1. Never entertain low thoughts of sin. It is the worst of evils, which could not be remedied, but by the sufferings of Christ. It brings a heavy burden on a sinner that bears his own burdens. Behold it in the glass of Christ's sufferings, and you will think none of it little. Sin runs counter to the nature of God, and dishonours all his attributes. God is the chief good, sin the worst evil. The sinner dares God's justice, presumes on his mercy, mocks his patience, challengeth his power, despiseth his love, and invades his sovereignity. So Christ behoved to suffer the most extreme punishment, to honour his justice and glorify all his perfections.
Sin contradicts his will. The foolish contradicts the laws of infinite wisdom, casts off God's laws and make its own lusts laws, and, therefore, to blot out this dishonour, the Son is made a sacrifice.
When God had perfected the frame of the world, and it remained only that he should have his tribute of glory paid to him out of it, sin gave a rude shock to the whole work, shook the whole frame; therefore was there such dreadful work to repair it, the Mediator suffering, rocks rending, the sun not shining, &c.
USE 2. Never entertain low thoughts of pardon. Every pardon is the price of blood, more precious than a thousand worlds. Pardoning sin is one of the greatest letters of God's name, one of the greatest of his works, greater than to make a world. When God said, let such a thing be, it was. But when sin is to be pardoned, justice stands up for satisfaction; the truth of God for the honour of a broken law. Wisdom is set to work to find out a way, the Son pays down the price of his blood, Num. xiv. 17—19.
USE 3. Come to Christ for shelter under his righteousness, that you may be justified, pardoned, and accepted. Consider there is no
other way but this to the divine favour, no shelter from the sting of unpardoned guilt but here. All other will be but fig-leaf covers.
Is not pardon of sin, and acceptance with God, worth the seeking? It makes a man happy, Psal. xxxii. 1. A man may be rich and yet reprobate, great in this world and yet damned in the next. His portion fat, yet his soul lean. But a justified man is a happy man. Worldly things come from God's hand, but this great blessing from his heart. It will be sweet sauce to the bitterest dish; it will cause you to glory even in tribulation. The righteousness of Christ justifies a man, and this makes every bitter water sweet. "For there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth?"
And if you would give evidence of your interest in imputed righteousness, you must do it by inherent righteousness. Shew your faith by your works. Faith without works is dead, being alone. Amen.
MAN'S INIQUITIES TESTIFYING AGAINST HIM.
JEREMIAH XIV. 7,
O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name's sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against
In the preceding part of the chapter, there is mournful narration of a sad state in which the land was, by reason of a famine. National sins bring on national judgments. In the words of the text, the prophet prays for the removal of the judgment. In the text we have four things.
1. A concession. "Though our iniquities testify against us." He grants that their iniquities, which brought on the judgment and kept it on, did testify against them; or, as the Hebrew, answered against them. We have the same phrase, Isaiah iii. 9, and lix. 12. It is a metaphor taken from judicatories, in which witnesses being in a process, and questions being put to them, they answer, and testify against the guilty. Sin, as the devil, first tempts, then accuseth. When they came to make their address to God, they found their sins at their right, witnessing against them.
Take pity upon us, and relieve us;
2. A petition. "Do thou it." arise for our help and our relief. particular thing which they would have him to do for their relief. He knew many ways to bring it about; the prophet, therefore, would limit him to no particular way, for beggars should not be choosers, and soveregnty must be allowed a latitude.
3. We have their plea for mercy. "For thy name's sake." By this they acknowledge the truth of the testimony given in against them by their sins, and justify God in his proceeding against them. They acknowledge their own unworthiness of his favour. By the name of God, is understood God himself. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgression for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." 'Help us," says the Psalmist, "O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name; and deliver us and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake." These last words, you see, superadds this, namely, as he hath manifested himself to his people. The phrase seems to include a respect to a final cause, and that with respect to his attributes, Exod. xxxiv. 5-7, and so they plead for the manifestation of his own glory, the glory of his grace and mercy, that he would do it for them. Joshua pleads thus, when their enemies were like to overcome them, "And what wilt thou do unto thy great name?" And this is the advantage of the people of God, that his glory is joined with their interests; and particularly as to the judgment of famine. See Ezekiel xxxvi. 30, compared with ver. 32, where it appears that the glory of God suffered through their reproach. There is in this plea, also, a respect to a meritorious cause, which is none else but Messiah, Christ; of whom the Lord says his name is in him, Exod. xxiii. 21, and in whom his glory shines, 2 Cor. iv. 6. We must not think the prophet here addresseth himself to God, absolutely considered; for his majesty would dazzle and confound the eyes of the holiest on earth; but, even under the Old Testament, they directed their prayers towards the temple as a type of Christ, Psal. v. 7; and they very well knew that the glory of his name, which they urged in prayer, behoved to shine through the Messiah.
4. A confession. The prophet confesseth, in the name of the church, backsliding; a grievous sin, a returning to sin after vows, engagements, and resolutions against it; and after beginnings of a reformation. Yea, that these backslidings were many. They had often gone back in many points; and, adds he, "have sinned against thee," where the emphasis lies on the word thee. As when David says, "against thee; thee only, have I sinned." They
had lifted up themselves against the sovereign Lord of heaven; even against thee, to whom we must now come for help in our affliction. It comes in as a reason, "for we have sinned against thee;" intimating that they had no hope but in his name; and if that would not do, their case was desperate. But withal, it lays out before the Lord their deep sinfulness, as that whereby his name might be rendered illustrious, in coming over all their many backslidings.
DOCTRINE. That thongh the iniquities of the people of God, when they are awakened, do testify against them; yet it is their duty and disposition to hold on in their suit, pleading with him for a gracious answer for his own name's sake.
Though the people of God find their iniquities testify against them in their addresses to God; yet they must and will hold on their suit, improving God's own name's sake as their only plea for a favourable answer. Here I shall,
I. Shew what it is for a man to find his iniquities testify against him in his addresses to God.
II. How comes it that sin is found thus testifying against men. III. I will speak a little to the plea, "For thy name's sake." We are then,
I. To shew what it is for a man to find his iniquities testify against him in his addresses to God. Take these reflections upon it :
1. Sin is not dead when it is committed. Though it may be buried and out of mind for a time, yet it is buried quick, and lives to be a witness before the Lord, against the sinner. The act is transient, but the guilt is of a permanent nature. "If thou doest not well," said God to Cain, “sin lieth at the door." Lieth as a sleeping mastiff at the door, which will, ere long, awaken. "I will reprove thee," says God to the sinner, "and set them, (thy sins,) in order before thine eyes."
2. When the man draws near to God in the exercise of his worship, sin meets him there; appears to him as a terrible ghost. So it is in the text, Isa. lix. 11-13. Many times the Christian's siu, which was before out of his sight, meets with him before the throne of grace. When the soul draws nigh to God, the brightness of his glory makes their spots to appear. "Woe is me!" said Isaiah, "for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts." Former sins then come to mind, which makes David say, "Remember not the sins of my yonth, nor my transgressions." Present sinfulness is then also ready to stare the man in the face.