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method of effecting our salvation is evidently, in the very highest degree, calculated to excite our ardent thankfulness, and by the holiest of motives to induce the unqualified surrender of ourselves to the will of God. If the Father, in his gratuitous compassion, has, indeed, bestowed upon us the unspeakable gift of his own Son—if we are assured that "with him also," he will "freely give us all things"—how shall we refuse to offer unto God the acceptable return of a faithful and undivided heart? If The Son has, indeed, assumed our suffering nature—has, indeed, bled and died on the cross a sacrifice for our sins—how shall we not feel bound, by every tie of love, duty, honour, and gratitude, to obey his law, to promote his cause, and to devote ourselves to his service?
ON THE MERITS AND ADVOCACY OF CHRIST.
The Scripture doctrines of atonement, and of the merits of Jesus Christ, are so intimately interwoven, and are, in some respects, so very nearly identical, that we had need exercise peculiar caution when we attempt to draw any thing like systematic distinctions between them. It may indeed be justly said, ihat when Jesus Christ offered himself up on the cross a voluntary sacrifice for sin, he thereby merited all the blessed consequences by which that sacrifice has been followed. Nevertheless, a few observations respecting the righteousness of Christ, will, I trust, serve to add clearness and completeness to the view which we are now endeavouring to take of the redemption of mankind.
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST, 435
It is a position very plainly laid down by the apostle Paul, that we are justified by faith in Christ without the deeds of the law; (Rom. iii, 28 ;) or in other words, (elsewhere adopted by him) that "without works" "righteousness" is " imputed'"' to the believer in Jesus: Rom. iv, 6. 11. Now, on a comparison of this position with other scriptural declarations, of some of which the apostle is himself the author, it is easy to perceive that the righteousness imputed to the Christian is no imaginary innocence and virtue, but the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ himself; for it is Jesus who is described, by the prophets, as the "Lord our righteousness: Jer. xxiii, 6; comp. Isa. xlv, 24, 25. Christ Jesus is made unto us of the Father, " righteousness and redemption:" I Cor. i, 30. "(God) hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God In Him:" II Cor. v, 21. Again, the apostle says, "For if by one man's offence death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ As by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one,5 (the free gift) came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous:" Rom. v, 17—19; comp. x, 3. 4.
In what then did the righteousness of our Saviour consist? That Jesus Christ was perfectly devoid of sin, is a truth which the sacred writers have promulgated
5 Rom. v, 18. dl hvlg dinowifJtarog. Ar/.aiujJ.a, in verse 18, corresponds with' IwraXW) in verse 19; and as Schleusner observes, denotes an obedience to the divine will—a perfect holiness and virtue: vide lex. in voc.: No. 3.
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with equal clearness and frequency. Although tempted in all points like as we are, he was " without sin:" Heb. iv, 15. He " did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:" I Pet. ii, 22. He "knew no sin:" II Cor. v, 21. He was " holy, harmless, undefiled,' and separate from sinners:" Heb. vii, 26. He was, as distinguished from all other men, the " Holy One" of God: Luke iv, 34; Acts iii, 14. Such expressions are too clear in themselves to admit of mistake or perversion; and the fulness and perfection of their meaning, is amply evinced by the collateral consideration, that it was only on the principle of his being himself " without blemish and without spot," that Jesus could possibly be accepted as a sacrifice for sin" I Pet. i, 19; comp. Lev. xxii, 20, &c. Perfectly innocent therefore was this Lamb of God. When, however we find the sacred writers dwelling on the righteousness of Jesus Christ; when we observe it to be declared by them, that he is the "righteous branch;" (Jer. xxiii, 5;) "the king of righteousness;" (Heb. vii, 2:) "the sun of righteousness;" (Mal. iv, 2;)— that he came to fulfil " all righteousness;" (Matt. iii, 15; comp. v, 17;)—that " righteousness" was " the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins;" (Isa. xi, 5;) we must surely receive their doctrine on the subject, as declarative, not only of bis freedom from all sin, but of his positive, active, and ever-abounding piety, justice, charity, and virtue—the whole constituting a perfect obedience to the law and will of God. That obedience is emphatically mentioned by the apostle Paul; (Rom. v, 18, 19; Heb. v, 8, 9;) it characterized every particular of our Lord's moral conduct, was maintained by him unbroken through a long course of unspeakable humiliation and
TO THE BELIEVER. 4,37
suffering, and was finally consummated in his cruel and shameful death.
Such was the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ; and such is the righteousness, therefore, which through faith is imputed to the Christian. A very slight degree of reflection on the divine nature, and infinite dignity, of the Son of God, as well as on the perfections of his human character, may serve to convince us that as, on the one hand, he was, on account of his spotless innocence, entirely suited to be a sacrifice for sin; so on the other hand, his fulfilment of the whole moral law, and more especially his obedience unto death, were infinitely meritorious in the sight of God the Father. When, therefore, we read that the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to the believer, we may reasonably understand such a doctrine to import, that we are not only saved through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but rewarded through his merits. Our sinfulness may properly be said to have been imputed to Christ, because when he underwent the penalty which that sinfulness demanded, he was dealt with as if he had been himself the sinner; and it is, I apprehend, on a perfectly analogous principle that his righteousness is said to be imputed to us; because, through the boundless mercy of God, we are permitted to reap the fruits of it. IVe are regarded as if, like him, we were absolutely guiltless, and are, therefore, delivered from everlasting punishment. We. are graciously accepted, as if, like him, we had meritoriously fulfilled the whole law of God; and are, therefore, rewarded with never-ending felicity. Thus it is, that in consequence of his union through faith with Jesus, the Head of the Church, the Christian is not only protected from the pains of hell, 438 ADVOCACY
but is in possession of a well-grounded claim on the joys of heaven. Thus it is that "grace" reigns "through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord:" Rom. v, 21.
As the blood of Christ is effectual for the cleansing away of the believer's guilt, and his righteousness allsufficient for meriting the believers reward, so it is another most important feature in the glad tidings of the Christian dispensation, that Christ is himself the unfailing protector and advocate of his people.
Such an office he maintained, with a perfect consistency, during his continuance on earth. The little company of his faithful disciples were, in his presence, safe from every danger. He led them about, he instructed them, he gathered them under his sheltering wing; he defended them from the power of their enemies, so that no evil befel them; (see John xvii, 12;) and, more especially, he poured forth on their behalf, and on behalf of all those who should afterwards believe in his name, his effectual and authoritative petitions before the Father's throne of grace. "I pray not for the world" said Jesus in that solemn supplication which appears to have concluded the course of his ministry, " but for them which thou
hast given me; for they are thine" "neither pray
I for ihese alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word? John xvii, 9. 20. Such was our Lord's description of the persons on whose behalf his prayer was offered. And what was that prayer? that the Father would keep them in his own name— "keep them from the evil"—sanctify them through his truth — bind them together in the fellowship of the Gospel—bring them into a holy union one with ano