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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 law is, Thou shalt serve the Lord thy God with all thy strength. It allows no abatement of any kind : it excuses no defect : it condemns erery coming short of the full measure of obedicnce, 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 Judgc, who is “ertreme to mark: what is done amiss ?” How weak are they wlio desire to be tried at the bar, where “no flesh 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 wbo liath once simned, in any degree, “there remaineth only a fearful looking for of fiery indignation, which shall derour the adrersaries” of God.
5. Is it not then tlic very foolishness of solly, for fallen man to seek life by this rigtiicousness ? For man, who was “shapen in wickedness, and in sin did his mother conceive him ? " Man who is, by nature, all “ earthly, sensual, devilishi ;” altogether “ corrupt and abominable;” in whom, till he find grace, “duelleth no good thing ;” way, who cannot of himseli think one good thought ; who is indeed all sin, a mere lump of ugodliness, and who commits sin in every breath he draws; whose actual trangressions, in word and deed, are more in number than the hairs of his bead? What stupidity, what senselessness must it be for sucii an unclean, guilty, helpless worin as this, to dream of seeking acceptance by “his own righteousness,” of living by the righteousness which is of the law!
0. Now, whatsoever considerations prove the folly of trusting in the “Rigliteousness which is of the Law," prove qually the wisdom of submitting to the “Righteousness which
is of God by Faith.” This were easy to be shown with regard to each of the preceding considerations. But to waive this, the wisdom of the first step hereto, the disclaiming our own righteousness, plainly appears from hence, that it is acting according to truth, to the real nature of things. For, what is it more, than to acknowledge with our heart, as well as lips, the true state wherein we are ? To acknowledge that we bring with us into the world, a corrupt, sinful nature; more corrupt, indeed, than we can easily conceive, or find words to express? That hereby we are prone to all that is evil, and averse from all that is good; that we are full of pride, self-will, unruly passions, foolish desires, vile and inordinate affections ; lovers of the world, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God? That our lires have been no better than our hearts, but many ways ungodly and unholy; insomuch, that our actual sins, both in word and deed, have been as the stars of heaven for multitude; that, on all these accounts, we are displeasing to Him, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; and deserve nothing from him, but indignation, and wrath, and death, the due wages of sin? That we cannot, by any of our righteousness, (for, indeed, we have none at all,) nor by any of our works, (for they are as the tree upon which they grow,) appease the wrath of God, or avert the punishment we have justly deserred; yea, that, if left to ourselves, we shall only wax worse aod worse, sink deeper and deeper into sin, offend God more and more, both with our evil works, and with the evil tempers of our carnal mind, till we fill up the measure of our iniquities, and bring upon ourselves swift destruction ? And is not this the very state wherein by nature we are ? To acknowledge this then, both with our heart and lips, that is, to disclaim our own righteousness, “ the righteousness which is of the law,” is to act according to the real nature of things, and consequently, is an instance of true wisdom.
7. The wisdom of submitting to" the Righteousness of Faith," appears farther, from this consideration, That it is the righteousness of God: I mean here, it is that method of reconciliation with God wbich hath been chosen and established by God bimself, not only as he is the God of Wisdom, but as he is the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, and of every creature wbich he hath made. Now, as it is not meet for man to say unto God, What doest thou ?-as none, who is not utterly void of understanding, will contend with one that is mightier than he, with Hiin whose kingdom ruleth over all; so it is true wisdom, it is a mark of sound understanding, to acquiesce in whatever be hath chosen ; to say in this, as in all things, “ It is the Lord: Let him do what scemeth him good.”
8. It may be farther considered, that it ras of merc grace, of free love, of undeserved mercy, that God liath vouchsafed to sinful man any way of reconciliation with limself, ihat we were not cut away from his hand, and utterly bloited out of his remembrance. Therefore, whatever method he is pleased to appoint, of his tender mercy, of his unmerited goodness, whereby his enemies, who have so deeply revolted from him, so long and obstivately rebelled against him, may still find favour in his sight, it is doubtless our wisdom to accept with all lbankfulness.
9. To mention but one consideration more. It is wisdom to aim at the best end by the best means. Now the best end which any creature can pursue, is happiness in God. And the best end a fallen creature can pursue is, the recovery of the favour and image of God. But the best, indeed the only means under heaven given to man, whereby he may regain the fatour of God, which is better than life itself, or the image of God, which is the true life of the soul, is the submitting to the “ Righteousness which is of Faithi," the believing in the only begotten Son of God.
ul. 1. Whosoever, therefore, thou ari, who desirest to be forgiven and reconciled to the favour of God; do vot say in thy heart, “I must first do this ; I must first conquerevery sin ; break off every evil word and work, and do all yood to all men; or, I must first go to Church, receive the Lord's Supper, hear more sermons, and say more prayers." Alas, my brother! thou art clean gone out of the way. Thou art still "ignorans of the righteousness of God," and art “ seeking to establish thy own righteousness," as the ground of thy reconciliation. Knowest thou not, that thou canst do nothing but sin, till thou art reconciled to God? Wherefore, then, dost thou say, " I must do this and this first, and then I shall believe.” Nay, but First Believe! Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Propitiation for thy sios. Let this good foundation first be laid, and tben thou sbalı do all things well.
2. Neither say in thy heart, “ I cannot be accepted yet, because I am not good enough.” Who is good enough, who ever was,-to merit acceptance at God's hands? Was eres any child of Adam good enough for this ? ' Or, will any, till the consummation of all things? And, as for thee, thou art not good at all: there dwelleth in thee no good thing. And thou never wilt be, till thou believe in Jesus. Rather thou" wilt find thyself worse and worse. But is there any need of being worse, in order to be accepted? Art thou not bad enough already ? Indeed thou art, and that God knoweth. ' And thou thyself canst not deny it. Then delay not. All things are now ready. “ Arise, and wash away thy sins.” The fountain is open. Now is the time to wash thee white in the blood of the Lamb. Now he shall purge thee as with hyssop, and thou shalt be clean : he shall wash thee, and thou shalt be whiter than snow.” . 3. Do not say, “ But I am not contrite enough: I am not sensible enough of my sins.” I know it. I would to God thou wert inore sensible of them, more contrite a thousand fold than thou art. But do not stay for this. It inay be God wilk make thee so, not before thou believest, but by believing. It may be, thou wilt not weep much, till thou lovest much, because thou hast had much forgiven. In the mean time, look unto Jesus. Behold, how he loveth thee! What could he hare done more for thee which he hath not done?
“ O Lamb of God was ever pain,
Was ever love like thine!”
Look steadily upon hiin, till he looks on thee, and breaks thy hard heart. Then shall thy head be waters, and thy eyes fountains of tears.
4. Nor vet do thou say, “I must do something more before I come to Christ.” I grant, supposing thy Lord should delay his coming, it were meet and right to wait for his appearing, in doing, so far as thou hast power, whatsoever he hath commanded thee. But there is no necessity for making such a supposition. How knowest thou that he will delay ? Perhaps he will appear, as the day-spring from on high, before the morning light. O do not set hin a time! Expect him every hour. Now he is nigh! Even at the door!
5. And to what end wouldst thou wait for more sincerity, before thy sins are blotted out ? To make thee more worthy of the grace of God ? Alas, thou art still “establishing thy own righteousness.” He will have mercy, not because thou art worthy of it, but because his compassions fail not; not
because thou art righteous, but because Jesus Christ hati atoned for thy sins.
Again, if there be any thing good in sincerity, why dost thou expect it before thou hast Faith ?-seeing Faith itself is the only root of whatever is really good and holy.
Above all, how long wilt thou forget, that whatsoever thou dost, or whatsoever thou hast, before thy sins are forgiven thee, it avails nothing with God, toward the procuring of thy forgiveness? 'ca, alid that it must all be cast behind thy back, trampled under foot, made no account of, or thou wilt never find farour in God's sight; because, until then, thou canst not ask it, as a mere sinner, guilty, lost, undone, having nothing to plead, nothing to offer to God, but only the merits of his wellbeloved Son, who loved thee, and gave himself for thice.
6. To conclude. Whosoever thou art, O man, who hast the sentence of death in thyself, who fcelest thyself a condemned sinner, and hast the wrath of God abiding on thee: mto thee saith the Lord, not, “ Do this,”-perfectly obey all my commands, " and live;” but, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” The word of Faith is nigh unto thee: now, at this instant, in the present moment, and in thy present state, sivner as thou art, just as thou art, believe the Gospel; and “ I will be mierciful unto thy unrighteousness, and thy iniquities will I remember no more.”