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Such is the evidence of the innocency, the spotlessness, the righteousness of our crucified Lord. Is there a command in all the Book of God for man to obey, that does not find an example and fulfilment in the life and obedience of our KING OF RIGHTEOUSNESS?
I shall now proceed to consider the use, which the Apostles made of this great and glorious doctrine.
The great Apostle of the Gentiles, addressing the Church at Philippi, says of himself, "If any man thinketh he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more :"—that is," he had more reason to trust in self-righteousness, than any other man ;" and yet he adds, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God, by faith." Such are the apostle's views in respect to his personal interest in the righteousness of Christ. In his very first epistle, to the pagan church in Galatia, he says with great emphasis, "a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. Even we, in Hebrews, have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law, for by the works of the law, shall no flesh be justified.”
In the Epistle to the Romans, his first great object is to prove"that by the deeds of the law, no flesh shall be justified in the sight of God, but by the righteousness which is by faith of Jesus Christ."
Paul says, he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for therein the righteousness of God is revealed. He says, also, that by one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and as by the offence of one, to wit, the disobedience of Adam, judgment came upon all men, to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one, that is the obedience and righteousness of Christ, the free gift came apon all men, unto justification of life.
He speaks of those who, ignorant of God's righteousness, go about to establish their own, and have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of Christ; for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
His Epistles to the Corinthians, to Titus, to the Hebrews, and indeed all his writings abound with contrast and antithesis, and almost every form of figure and of speech, to illustrate and enforce the great doctrine of justification, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but by faith in the righteousness of Christ. How the rags of human righteousness appear, and how gloriously the robes of our Redeemer shine, in the mirror which the apostle holds up!
But last of all, this great apostle, when near the close of his life, as he looks back upon the race he had run, and forward to the scenes before him, in the future worid, exclaims-" I have fought a good fight, I have finished the faith, henceforth there is laid up for me, a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give
me in that day." Then, the crown at which Paul aimed, was the crown of the Redeemer's righteousness. Much is said in the Bible of the crown of life! The apostles loved to dwell upon it. But the Christian believer too often, alas, reads of that crown with a vague and indefinite conception of its nature and meaning. They conceive it to be a figurative expression, meaning almost anything that is bright and glorious in heaven. But Paul gives it a clear, definite and distinct signification. We need not doubt what it is. Paul says to the Corinthians, "that they ran in the Christian race, not to gain a corruptible, but an incorruptible crown." James speaks of the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Peter says, "when the chief shepherd shall appear, the faithful shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." John, in the vision of the apocalypse, delivers the message from the Son of Man to the church of Ephesus, saying to its members, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life!-the crown of righteousness, of glory, and of life, which the Lord, the righteous judge, gives to his penitent and believing children." There are also other beautiful scripture figures, which seem to illustrate this same truth.
Isaiah describes the Messiah as going forth on his redeeming mission among men, with "righteousness as the girdle of his loins," and calls the trophies of his work, which adorn the hill of Zion, the trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. He represents the ransomed church, in their exulting praise, as saying of their Lord, "He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness." And John, in one of the glorious visions of the apocalypse, beholds the church at the marriage of the Lamb, arrayed in fine linen, the righteousness of the saints.
REMARKS.-1. We see in this Scripture delineation, one of those striking and wonderful points of view, in which the Bible represents the character of our Redeemer. Unlike every other being that has appeared among our race, He stands forth solitary and alone, distinguished from all the rest of mankind, as the fulfiller of God's eternal law. Let your imaginations roam along the track of ages, from Adam's day to the flood, from the flood to the coming of Christ, from his death to our time, and from the present down to the end of the world; and among all the countless myriads of all generations, JESUS CHRIST is represented as the ONLY ONE who ever has kept, or ever will keep the holy law of heaven!
The fairest and brightest specimens of human character that adorn the pages of history, stand at an immeasurable distance below him. Patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and saints, of all ages, with all the undistinguishable multitude of sinners of every degree, stand together, the wretched, guilty, condemned violators of the eternal law of heaven. Christ Jesus stands, and will forever stand alone, pure and holy, the sublime and glorious spectacle of ONE, AND ONE ONLY, amidst the countless throng of this ruined race of ours, who has kept God's law!
2. I have said nothing of Christ's sufferings and death, as the ground of our pardon. I have designedly spoken only of his RIGHTEOUSNESS, as the ground of justification. To set forth the scripture view of his character and passion, as the LAMB SLAIN from the foundation of the world, illustrated by types and observances, from the time of the first sinner's sacrifice, to the time of his own expiring cry, would require a discourse of itself, more extended than this. And none of my hearers will forget, in this contemplation of his character, that he also bore our sins in his own body on the tree. He is the LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, and he is also the Lord, our ransom and our sacrifice.
3. We see here the true scripture doctrine of perfection. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. If righteousness came by the law, then Christ were dead in vain. But now, there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. The righteousness of Christ is counted unto them; for He is the righteous branch; He is the Lord their righteousness; and they are the trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. It is his perfection and not ours, by which we must be saved. His spotless righteousness and perfect sacrifice, are the only grounds of salvation!
4. We see also the error of all the forms of false religion. Human ingenuity has devised a thousand expedients to make amends for sins. Mankind have resorted to sacrifice and penance, and innumerable acts of self-mortification, in the vain hope of expiating sin, and justifying themselves in the sight of God. But all such attempts are founded in erroneous and defective views of the Divine law, of the nature of true obedience, and of the means of justification, which God has provided.
The law requires a perfect righteousness. The law demands that the whole life of man, from the cradle to the grave, should be spent in constant and unceasing exercise of supreme love to God and love to man. But all mankind have failed in this, and are utterly destitute of righteousness in the sight of God. Not a single individual of all the race of Adam, (Christ only excepted,) has ever obeyed the first command, embracing in its spirit every duty which man owes to his Maker. And the second like unto it, comprehending every duty which human beings owe to each other, has received no better obedience. The world have trampled them under foot. They have rejected the commands of their Almighty Maker, and laid them in the dust. They have said with Pharaoh, "Who is the Almighty that we should obey his voice?" The broken fragments of the tables of stone are scattered among all nations.
But when Christ came, he came, saying, "Lo, I come to do th will, O God." And he did it. He obeyed the law. And it is by his obedience, "THE OBEDIENCE OF ONE, THAT MANY MUST BE MADE RIGHT
EOUS." He has magnified the law and made it honorable. Christ has restored the broken tablets. The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake.
My dear Redeemer and my Lord,
And this shows us, finally, what a debt, what a weight of obligations, we are under to our Lord Jesus Christ. The whole world is indebted to him. The whole human race, from the first man that was made to the last that shall be born, are under unspeakable and everlasting obligations to our Lord and Savior. And ten thousand times ten thousand repudiate their debt.
I call upon you, my fellow-immortals, to consider what you owe to the Son of God. I call upon you, by all that he has done and suffered for you, to make him the due returns. I know full well that you owe him ten thousands of talents, and have nothing to pay. And, therefore, I beseech you, to give him all that you can give, and all that is not his already, your gratitude, your love, your services, and your praise. Be thankful and love him, serve and praise him.
I call on every heart. Have you ever, in sincerity and truth, offered your poor tribute of thanks and praise to him, who has obeyed the law for you, and for you borne your sins in his own body on the
O, praise him, every heart and voice! Praise your Redeemer. Let every thing that hath breath, praise the Lord.
No. 8. VOL. XVII.]
[WHOLE NO. 200.
BY REV. JOHN S. C. ABBOTT,
PASTOR OF THE FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH IN NANTUCKET.
THE FUTURE TRIUMPHS OF THE GOSPEL.
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it."-Isaiah ii. 2.
THIS poetic imagery delineates the final and universal prevalence of religion. Christianity is a temple majestic and conspicuous, and all the nations crowd its courts in united adoration. There are many interesting indications that this prophecy is soon to be fulfilled. This moral transformation is now in rapid and visible progress. I invite your attention to some of the most conspicuous of the evidences that this world is soon to be christianized.
I. The political aspect of the globe indicates this approaching change. The councils of cabinets, the tramp of armies, the sweep and conflict of hostile navies, are all subservient to the designs of Deity. A few centuries ago, the name of Christ had never been heard by the uncounted millions who roamed over the prairies and through the forests of this vast continent. Then God raised up Columbus with his enquiring mind and adventurous spirit; and overruled the political ambition of the united courts of Castle and Aragon to supply him with ships for his voyage of discovery; and permitted the proud spirit of the English Church to drive our pilgrim fathers into exile, and sent the submissive tempest to blow them to the rock of Plymouth, where he had previously prepared for them a home by the ministry of the plague which had swept away the savage inhabitants. And now nearly every vestige of heathenism is obliterated from the