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that are all listed under the banner of “the Prince of Peace;” and are, therefore, peculiarly engaged, “ as much as lies in them, to live peaceably with all men.”
3. It would be a considerable step toward this glorious end, if we could bring good men to understand one another. Abundance of disputes arise purely from the want of this; from mere misapprehension. Frequently neither of the contending parties understands what his opponent means; whence it follows, that cach violently attacks the other, while there is no real difference between them. And yet it is not always an easy matter to convince them of this; particularly when their passions are moved : it is then attended with the utmost difficulty. However, it is not impossible; especially when we attempt it, not trusting in ourselves, but having all our dependence upon Him, with whom all things are possible. How soon is He able to disperse the cloud, to shine upon their hearts, and to enable them both to understand each other, and “ the truth as it is in Jesus!”
4. One very considerable article of this truth is contained in the words above recited, “ This is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our RighTEOUSNESS;” a truth this, which enters deep into the nature of Christianity, and, in a manner, supports the whole frame of it. Of this, undoubtedly, may be affirmed, what Luther affirms of a truth closely connected with it; it is, Articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiæ ; the christian church stands or falls with it. It is certainly the pillar and ground of that Faith, of which alone cometh salvation ; of that Catholic or Universal Faith which is found in all the children of God, and which“ unless a man keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.”
5. Might not one, therefore, reasonably expect that, however they differed in others, all those who name the name of Christ should agree in this point? But how far is this from being the case! There is scarce any wherein they are so little agreed; wherein those who all profess to follow Christ, seem so widely and irreconcileably to differ. I say seem; because I am thoroughly convinced, that many of them only seem to differ. The disagreement is more in words than in sentiments : they are much nearer in judgment than in language. And a wide difference in language there certainly is, not only between Protestants and Papists, but between Protestant and Protestant; yea, even between those who all belicve Justification by Faith; who agrec, as well in this, as in crery other fundamental doctrine of the Gospel.
6. But if the difference be more in opinion, than real erpe. rience, and more in c.pression than in opinion, how can it be, that even the children of God should so vehemently contend with each other on the point? Several reasons may be assigned for this : The chief is their not understanding one another; joined with too keep an attachment to their opinions, and particular modes of expression.
In order to remove this, at least in some measure; in order to our understanding one another on this head; I shall, by the kelp of God, endeavour to shoir,
1. What is tlic Righteousness of Chrisi: II. When, and in what sense, it is Imputed to us : And conclude with a short and plain Application.
And, I. What is the Rightcoustiess of Christ? It is twofold, cither bis Divine or his liuman Rightcousness.
1. His Divine Righteousness belongs to his Divine Nature, as he is O wv, He that cxisteth; “over all, God, blessed for ever;" the Supreme; the Eternal; “Equal with the Father, as tonching his Godhead, thouzlı inferior to the Father as touching his manhood.” Now this is his eternal, essential, immutable holiness; liis infinite justice, mercy, and truth; in all which, He and the Father are One.
But I do not apprehend that the Divine Righteousness of Christ is immediatcly concerned in the present question. I belicve few, if any, do now contend for the imputation of this righteousness to us. Whoerer believes the doctrine of imputation, understands it chicfly, if not solely, of his luman Rightcousness.
2. The Human Rightcousness of Christ, belongs to him in his buman natud; as he is the “Vcdiator between God and mall, the Man Christ Jesus.' This is cither internal or external. His internal righteousness is the inage of God, stamped on crcry power and faculty of his soul. It is a copy of his divine rightcousness, so far as it can be imparted to a human spirit. It is a transcript of the divine purity, the divine justice, mercy, and truth. It includes love, reverence, resignation to his father; hwility, meckness, gentleness; love 10 lost mankind, and every other holy and hearculy temper; and all these in the bighest degree, without any defect, or mixture of upholiness.
3. it was the least part of his calcrual rightcoustess, ibat lie did nothing amiss; that he knew not outward sin of any kind, peither was "guile found in his mouth;” that he never spoke one improper word, nor did one improper action. Thus far it is only a negative righteousness, though such an one as never did, nor ever can, belong to any one that is born of a woman, save himself alone. But even his outward righteousness was positive too : He did all things well : In every word of his tongue, in every work of his hands, he did precisely the “ will of Him that sent him.” In the whole course of his life, he did the will of God on earth, as the Angels do it in heaven. All he acted and spoke was exactly right in every circumstance. The whole and every part of his obedience was complete. “He fulfilled all righteousness.”
4. But his obedience implied more than all this: It implied not only doing, but suffering ; suffering the whole will of God, from the time he came into the world, till " he bore our sius in his own body upon the tree;" yea, ţill having made a full atonement for them, “ he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” This is usually termed the passive righteousness of Christ; the former, his active righteousness. But as the active and passive righteousness of Christ were never in fact separated from each other, so we never need separate them at all, either in speaking or even in thinking. And it is with regard to both these conjointly, that Jesus is called “The Lord our Righteousness.”
II. But when is it that any of us may truly say, “The Lord our Righteousness ? " In other words, when is it that the Righteousness of Christ is Imputed to us, and in what sense is it imputed ?
1. Look through all the world, and all the men therein are either believers or unbelievers. The first thing, then, which admits of no dispute among reasonable men is this : To all believers the righteousness of Christ is imputed ; to unbelievers it is not.
But when is it imputed? When they believe: in that very hour the righteousness of Christ is theirs. It is imputed to every one that believes, as soon as he believes : faith and the righteousness of Christ are inseparable. For if he believes according to Scripture, he believes in the righteousness of Christ. There is no true faith, that is, justifying faith, which hath not the righteousness of Christ for its object.
2. It is true, believers may not all speak alike; they may not all use the same language. It is not to be expected that they should: we cannot reasonably require it of them. A thousand circumstances may cause them to vary from cach other, in the manner of expressing themselves; but a differcncc of expression does not necessarily imply a difference of sentiment. Different persons may use different expressions, and yet mean the samc thing. Nothing is more common than this, although we seldom make sufficient allowance for it. Nay, it is not easy for the same persons, when they speak of the same thing at a considerable distance of time, to use exactly the same expressions, cven though they retain the same sentiments : how then can we be rigorous in rcquiring others to use just the same expressions with us ?
3. We may go a step farther yet : Mch may differ from us in their opinions, as well as their expressions, and nevertheless be partakers with us of the same precious faith. It is possible they may not have a distinct appreheusion of the very blessing which they enjoy: thcir ideas may not be so clear, and yet their experience may be as sound as ours. There is a wide difference between the natural faculties of men, their understandings in particular ; and that difference is exceedingly increased, by the inanner of their education. Indeed this alone may occasion an inconceivable difference in their opinions of various kinds ; and why not upon this head, as well as on any other ? But still, though their opinions, as well as expressions, may be confused and inaccurate, their hearts may cleave to God through the Son of his Love, and be truly interested in his righteousness.
4. Let us then make all that allowance to others, which, were we in their place, we would desire for ourselves. Who is ignorant (to touch again on that circumstance only) of the amazing power of cducation ? And who that knows it, can expect, suppose a member of the Church of Rome, either to think or spcak clearly on this subject? And yet, if we bad hcard even dying Bellarmine cry out,—when he was asked, “Unto which of the saints wilt thou turn?”— Fidere meritis Christi tutissimum ; “ It is safest to trust in the merits of Christ ;” would we have affirmed that, notwithstanding his wrong opinions, he had no share in his righteousness?
5. But in what sense is this righteousness imputed to believers ? In this : All believers are forgiven and accepted, not for the sake of any thing in them, or of any thing that ever was, that is, or ever can be done by them, but wholly and solely for the sake of what Christ hath done and suffered for them. I say again, not for the of any in them, or done by
them, of their own righteousness or works : “ Not for works of righteousness which we have done, but of his own mercy he saved us.” “ By grace ye are saved, through faith, not of works, lest any man should boast ;” but wholly and solely for the sake of what Christ hath done and suffered for us. We are “ justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.” And this is not only the means of our obtaining the favour of God, but of our continuing therein. It is thus we come to God at first; it is by the same we come unto him ever after. We walk in one and the same new and living way, till our spirit returns to God.
6. And this is the doctrine which I have constantly believed and taught, for near eight and twenty years. This I published to all the world in the year 1738, and ten or twelve times since, in those words, and many others to the same effect, extracted from the Homilies of our Church :-" These things must necessarily go together in our justification ; upon God's part, his great mercy and grace; upon Christ's part, the satisfaction of God's justice; and on our part, faith in the merits of Christ. So that the grace of God doth not shut out the righteousness of God in our justification, but only shutteth out the righteousdess of man, as to deserving our justification.” “ That we are justified by faith alone, is spoken to take away clearly all merit of our works, and wholly to ascribe the merit and deserving of our justification to Christ only. Our justification comes freely of the more mercy of God. For whereas all the world was not able to pay any part toward our ransom, it pleased Him, without any of our deserving, to prepare for us Christ's body and blood, whereby our ransom might be paid, and his justice satisfied. Christ, therefore, is now the righteousness of all them that truly believe in him.”
7. The Hymns published a year or two after this, and since republished several times, (a clear testimony that my judgment was still the same,) speak full to the same purpose. To cite all the passages to this effect, would to be transcribe a great part of the volumes. Take one for all, which was reprinted seven years ago, five years ago, two years ago, and some months since:
“ Jesu, thy Blood and Righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress :