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Cheerless and disheartening, and void of all consolation, are the mere discoveries of reason, unassisted by the Bible: worse, far worse, the delusions of infidel philosophy. Here the celebrated Quintilian, in the absence of the cheering light of the Gospel, when death had deprived him of a beloved son: "What affectionate parent," said he, "would pardon me if I could any longer give myself to study? Would he not hate that strength of mind, if I, who have survived all my family, could make any other use of my voice than to blame the gods, and to testify that no Providence looks down upon the earth?" How different the language of Job! "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!"
What was the remedy devised by the celebrated Infidel, HUME, for the afflictions of life? It is to be found in his "Essay on the Propriety and Lawfulness of Suicide;" a publication so monstrous that his admirers and friends were absolutely ashamed of it, and endeavoured, in the face of positive evidence, to deny that he was the author. The vaunted discoveries of this despiser of the Bible afford no better refuge than SELF-MURDER to the brokenhearted sinner; while that blessed book points to " a blood that speaketh better things," and will at once purify and set the guilty conscience at peace.
Are you, my brethren, Infidels? You shudder at the very question. let not your abhorrence of such im
piety, or pity for such folly, conceal from your view a much more important subject-I mean the real nature and effects of the faith which you profess. In proportion as you discern the evidences for the divine origin and truth of your Bible, so is the responsibility which attaches to your profession. Faith is a matter of deep personal concern. The Gospel is a scheme of redemption in which you must have a personal interest, or worse than none at all. To believe that Jesus is the Christ, includes much of which the world of professing Christians knows but little.
Is yours a faith which has purified your hearts, which has rescued you from the trammels of the world, and caused you to live superior to its blandishments, and unawed by its frowns, a life of holy devotedness to your Redeemer? Has it subdued your evil passions and substituted the mind of Christ? Has it regulated your vain imaginations, and induced that calm sobriety of temper and demeanour, that affectionate zeal for the welfare of souls, that tender and lively solicitude for the spiritual good of all around you, which glowed within the heart, and shone forth in the spotless life of your Redeemer? Has it exalted to you, as chief amongst ten thousand, that once despised, but now highlyhonoured Messiah, in whom we have redemption through his blood," and sanctification through his spirit? Is he your wisdom and your righteousness, your friend and intercessor, your Saviour and the GOD of your worship?
O, my brethren, if this, or something of this kind, be not your faith, beware that you have but a name to live and are dead. "Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, which are ready to die," lest you should be " weighed in the balances and found wanting.”
DELIVERED BY THE REV. J. F. DENHAM,
AT ST. BRIDES CHURCH.
2 Cor. v. 21.-" For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of GOD in him.”
THE subject upon which I am about to discourse is one of supreme importance, both to your peace of mind while passing through this world, and to your happiness in that future world whither your are hastening. I take it for. granted, that all now present acknowledge, that in some measure at least they are sinners, that is offenders, against the laws of Almighty God. You will also giant that, considered merely as such, you are liable to punishment. In proportion as your views of these truths are deep and affecting, will be your anxiety to become acquainted with those means which God has revealed, whereby you may be delivered from his wrath and receive forgiveness and favour at his hands. Your minds stand in need of no argument to convince you of the importance of this doctrine, your own interest in it is sufficient for that purpose. It will be my endeavour, on this occasion, to furnish you with clear, definite, and scriptural views on a subject of such acknowledged value. And while I endeavour to enquire diligently of the Scriptures respecting that way, whereby a distressed conscience may attain peace with God, may He, who alone can give the increase, be pleased to open the hearts of all present to receive the truth, and evermore to rejoice in it as they that have found the pearl of inestimable price.
The enquiry we have in view may, perhaps, be best stated by way of question and answer :-The question is, what is that, on account of which GOD pardoneth the sins of any child
of Adam, deals with him as if he were a righteous person, and gives him an entrance into a blessed immortality? The answer is, the righteousness and sufferings of the Saviour; the sins of the believer being imputed to Christ, and the righteousness and sufferings of Christ being imputed to the believer.
In order to demonstrate that this is the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures, I shall pursue the following method. First, Shew that the justification of a sinner, in the sight of God, consists in the imputation of a righteousness unto him which is not the sinner's own. Secondly, That the righteousness thus imputed is the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, consisting of his legal righteousness or his obedience to the commands of the law while on earth, and also of his passive righteousness, when he suffered the penal curse of the law for man in his death. Thirdly, That faith or trust in Christ for these benefits is the means or instrument whereby they are received.
FIRST, I would endeavour to shew THAT THE JUSTIFICATION OF A SINNER IN THE SIGHT OF GOD CONSISTS IN
THE IMPUTATION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
TO HIM BY ALMIGHTY GOD. Before coming directly to shew this, perhaps I may be permitted to define the meaning of the two principal terms now used, namely, justification and imputation. What then is to be understood by justification? This of course is to be determined by the use made of it in the Scriptures. You find, then, that it is a term used always in reference to the proceedings
of law and judgment, and that its | tabernacle of the Lord, blood shall be
meaning is to absolve, to acquit, to esteem righteous, to declare righteous, to pronounce righteous: see Deut. xxv. 1. "If there be a controversy between men, and they come into judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous and condemn the wicked," that is, evidently, declare and pronounce the righteous man righteous, and the wicked man wicked: see Proverbs, xvii. 15. "He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD:" see Isaiah, 1. 8. "He is here that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together who is mine adversary? let him come near to me; behold, the LORD GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me?" One instance more from the 143rd Psalm, and 2nd verse: Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O LORD, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified." In these and in almost every other instance, both in the Old and New Testament, where this word is used, justification means to acquit or pronounce righteous, as the result of a trial: exactly what we now mean by a verdict of acquittal. And now what is meant by the term imputation?-It means to esteem a thing, or to account a thing, as belonging to any one. This is its simple signification: see Lev. vii. 18. “And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace-offering be eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it; it shall be an abomination; and the soul that eateth thereof shall bear his iniquity:" | so again, Lev. clxxiii. 4. "What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox or lamb or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, and bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering before the
imputed to that man-he hath shed blood-and that man shall be cut off from among his people." But it is also quite plain, that the words impute and imputation may admit of two significations. Thus I may impute—that is, reckon to a man that which really belongs to him. Thus, if I impute guilt to a man who is really guilty; or, if I impute learning to a man who is really learned. But it is also possible to impute or reckon to a man that which does but belong to him. In such a case upon some just solid ground, we reckon or account that to a man which is not really his, and deal with him accordingly. Thus, by divine appointment, the sin of Adam is imputed to his posterity. By the disobedience of one many became sinners: again, GoD speaks concerning the rebellious Israelites, Numbers, xiv. 33. "Your children shall wander forty years in the wilderness, and bear your whoredoms." Another instance you have in St. Paul's Epistle to Philemon, v. 18. where speaking of the fugitive slave Onesimus, whom St. Paul had begotten in his bonds, he says, “if he have wronged thee or oweth thee ought TOUT μλλoyes impute it to me; put it to my account. I Paul have written it with my own hand; I will repay thee." From which instances we are taught, that the meaning of the word imputation, is the reckoning or accounting something as belonging to any person: and our first head is to prove, that the justification of a sinner in the sight of God consists in the imputation of righteousness to him which is not the sinner's own. This will be evident if you reflect on the character of that | God with whom we have to do; for the Scriptures declare that it is GoD that justifieth. In coming to this trial we are greatly concerned to know the character of the judge by whom we are to be tried. In any investiga.
the clearest of all principles, that assertion of the Apostle St. Paul, iii. 20.
Therefore, by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight." And now, having brought to your recollection the proofs, that no child of Adam possesses any personal righteousness, let me add a few passages to shew that our justification before God is effected by the imputation of a righteousness, which is then necessarily not our own. The first express record of the justification of a sinner, is that of Abraham. We know from the 11th chapter of the Hebrews, that Abel, Enoch, and Noah had all of them been justified in the same way, but the instance of Abraham is the first recorded: see Genesis, xv. 6. "Abraham believed in the Lord, and it was counted unto him for righteousness;" Moses says it was counted unto him for righteousness; St. James, alluding to the same event, says, "Abraham's faith was imputed unto him for righteousness." But now hear the Apostle St. Paul, who also refers to the same precedent, Ep. to the Romans, iv. 23, 24. where, after noticing the case of Abraham, he says, "And it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed unto him, but for us also, unto whom it shall be imputed, if we believe." Here the justification of Abraham, the friend of GOD, the father of the faithful, the mirror of Old Testament piety, is said to have resulted, not from his personal righteousness, but from the imputation of it; and the Apostle St. Paul declares, that the divine dealing with Abraham is an example of his dealing with all men. To the same effect he says, Rom. iv. 5. "To him that worketh not but believeth in him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is accounted unto him for righteousness.” Further proof is unnecessary. It is clear, from the consideration of the supreme holiness of GOD, from the condition of man as guilty, and con
tion touching our obedience to the law, it is of the last importance to ascertain the nature of the law, by which our case is to be determined. Let then the greatness, the majesty, the holiness of God, and the infinite distance between ourselves and Him be considered. Hear in what strains the most holy and exalted persons have spoken in regard to Him, when an adequate discovery of his perfection has been made upon their minds. The prophet❘ Isaiah, in his vision of the Holy One, exclaimed, "Woe is me, I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips.' Job, the pattern of patience and faith Job answered the Lord and said, "behold I am vile dust; shall I answer thee; I will lay my hand upon my mouth; I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; now my eye seeth thee," and with earnestness does David pray, "enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified."
My dear brethren, place, we beseech you, your consciences in the presence of GoD and your persons before his great tribunal, and then, upon a due consideration of his greatness, power, majesty, righteousness, holiness, and the terror of his glory, and say whether your justification before Him can ever result from your own righteousThis will be still further evident, if you reflect on the explicit declarations of Scripture respecting our character in the sight of God. "That every imagination of the thoughts of our heart is only evil, and that continually;" ;" "that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked" -"that we are born in sin and shapen in iniquity;" "that as sinners we are worthy of death;" "under the curse;" "that every mouth must be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God;" "that there is none righteous, no, not one :" consider these and other declarations to the same effect, and you will be constrained to acquiesce in, as
demned in his sight, and, finally, from the plain declarations of Scripture, that when any child of Adam is justified, it is by the imputation of righte. ousness, which is not his own.
We advance, SECONDLY, to shew,
THAT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THUS IM-
Hebrews ii. 14, "Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, Christ also took part of the same, through death he might destroy him that had the power of death." It was for us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, took upon him the form of a servant, and was found in fashion as a man. Consequently, all the obedience which he wrought in our nature was on our own account, not on his own; but his obedience was HIS at one and the same time perfect, and possessing a value in the view of the Father, measured only by the condescension of the Son who rendered it. It was, therefore, at his own disposal, free to impute it to whom he would. It was also sufficient and perfectly equivalent to the moral wants of all to whom it should be imputed. And that it is imputed to them that believe, the Scriptures amply testify. See Romans, xv. 9, "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." Here the Apostle tells us, that as through means of the disobedience of one man, that is Adam, many were made sinners, so through means of the obedience of one man, Christ, shall many be made righteous: these two are opposed, one to the other; the disobedience of Adam, which was the transgression of the law-the obedience of Jesus Christ, which was the fulfilment of the law, and by this latter many were made righteous. See also 2 Cor. v. 21, "For he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Here the same authority that makes the Redeemer sin for us, also constitutes us the righteousness of God in him. For it is God that justifieth. He makes us righteous in Christ, or imputes his righteousness unto us. To the same effect St. Paul says, 1 Cor. i. 30, “* But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who
The Redeemer's righteousness, thus imputed to believers, consists in the obedience which he rendered, during his life, to the commands of the divine law. The word righteousness means legal obedience. In order to explain this, permit me to remind you of the Redeemer's state previous to his coming on earth. He was in the beginning with GOD and was GOD. He was GOD over all blessed for ever more, as such Christ was under no obligation to obey the law. He, in common with the Father and the Spirit, was the fountain of law; and though his own thoughts, perceptions, and actions would bear the most entire resemblance to the law, which originated from himself, yet he was, as far as respected himself, Lord of the whole law; as when on earth he declared himself to be Lord of the sabbath-day. Being under no personal responsibility he was at liberty to undertake what it pleased him to undertake, agreeably to the mutual will of himself and his Heavenly Father. Yet we are informed by the Apostle St. Paul, Galatians, iv. 4. "That Christ was made of a woman made under the law." That is to say he assumed our nature. But the unanimous testimony of all the writers of Scriptures is, that he did this not on his own account but on ours.