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meet on this ground * What then shall we wrangle about? A man of peace here proposes terms of accommodation to all the contending parties. We desire no better: we accept of the terms: we subscribe to them with heart and hand. Whoever refuses so to do, set a mark upon that man! He is an enemy of peace, a troubler of Israel, a disturber of the Church of God.
19. In the mean time, what we are afraid of is this;—lest any should use the phrase, The righteousness of Christ, or The righteousness of Christ is imputed to me, as a cover for his unrighteousness. We have known this done a thousand time*. A man has been reproved, suppose, for drunkenness: "O," said he, "(pretend lo no righteousness of my own; Christ is my Righteousness." Another has been told, that "The extortioner, the unjust, shall not inherit the kingdom of God :" He replies with all assurance, " I am unjust in myself, but I have a spotless righteousness in Christ." And thus, though a man be as far from the practice as from the tempers of a Christian; though he neither has the mind which was in Christ, nor in any respect walks as he walked; yet he has armour of proof againsl all conviction, in what he calls The Righteousness of Christ.
20. It is the seeing so many deplorable instances of this kind, which makes us sparing in the use of these expressions. And I cannot but call upon all of you, who use I hem frequently, and beseech you in the name of God our Saviour, whose you are, and whom you serve; earnestly to guard all that hear you, against this accursed abuse of them. O warn them, (it may be they will hear your voice,) against "continuing in sin that grace may abound!" Warn them against making " Christ the minister of sin;" against makin» void that solemn decree of God, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord," by a vain imagination of being holy in Christ! O warn them that if they remain unrighteous, the righteousness of Christ will profit them nothing! Cry aloud, (is there not a cause?) that for this very end the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, that "the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in us;" and that we may " live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."
It remains only to make a short and plain Application. And, first, I would address myself to you who violently oppose these expressions, and arc ready to condemn all that use them as Antinomians. But is not this bending the bow too much the other way? Why should you condemn all who do not speak just as you do? Why should you quarrel with them, for using the phrases they like, any more than they with you, for taking the same liberty? Or, if they do quarrel with you upon that account, do not imitate the bigotiy which you blame. At least, allow them the liberty which they ought to allow you. And why should you be angry at an expression? "O, it has been abused." And what expression has not? However, the abuse may be removed, and at the same time the use remain. Above all, be sure to retain the important sense which is couched under that expression. All the blessings I enjoy, all I hope for in time and in eternity, are given wholly and solely for the sake of what Christ has done and suffered for me.
I would, secondly, add a few words to you who are fond of these expressions. And permit me to ask, Do not I allow enough? What can any reasonable man desire more? I allow the whole sense which you contend for; that we have every blessing through the righteousness of God our Saviour. I allow you to use whatever expressions you choose, and that a thousand times over; only guarding them against that dreadful abuse, which you are as deeply concerned to prevent as I am. I myself frequently use the expression in question, Imputed Righteousness; and often put this and the like expressions into the mouth of a whole congregation. But allow me liberty of conscience herein: allow me the right of private judgment. Allow me to use it just as often as I judge it preferable to any other expression; and be not angry with me if I cannot judge it proper to use any one expression every two minutes. You may, if you please; but do not condemn me because I do not. Do not, for this, represent me as a Papist, or "an enemy to the Righteousness of Christ." Bear with me, as I do with you; else how shall we " fulfil the law of Christ?" Do not make tragical outcries, as though I were "subverting the very foundations of Christianity." Whoever does this, does me much wrong: the Lord lay it not to his charge! I lay, and have done for many years, the very same foundation with you. And indeed "Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, even Jesus Christ." I build inward and outward holiness thereon, as you do, even by faith. Do not, therefore, suffer any distaste, or unkindness, no, nor any shyness or coldness of your heart. If there were a differente of opinion, where is our religion, if we cannot think and' let think? What hinders but you may forgive me as easily as I may forgive you? How much more, when there is only a difference of expression? Nay, hardly so much as that? All the dispute being only, Whether a particular mode of expression shall be used more or less frequently? Surely we must earnestly desire to contend with one another, before we can make this a bone of contention! O let us not any more, for such very trifles as these, give our common enemies room to blaspheme! Rather let us at length cut off occasion from them that seek occasion! Let us at length, (O why was it not done before?) join hearts and hands in the service of our great Master. As we have "One Lord, one Faith, one Hope of our calling," let us all strengthen each other's hands in God, and with one heart and one mouth declare to all mankind, "Thk Lord Our Rightkousnkss."
UPON OUR LORD'S SERMON ON THE
"And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain; and
when he was set, his disciples came unto him; "And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, "Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted." Matt. v. 1—4.
1. Our Lord had now "gone about all Galilee," (Matt. iv. 23,) beginning at the time " when John was cast into prison," (ver. 12,) not only " teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom," but likewise "healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people." It was a natural consequence of this, that "there followed him great multitudes from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from the region beyond Jordan. (Ver. 25.) "And seeing the multitudes," whom no synagogue could contain, even had there been any at hand, "he went up into a mountain," where there was room for all that came unto him, from every quarter. "And when he was set," as the manner of the Jews was, "his disciples came unto him. And he opened his mouth," [an expression denoting the beginning of a solemn discourse,] "and taught them, saying."—
2. Let us observe, Who it is that is here speaking, that we may take heed how we hear. It is the Lord of heaven and earth, the Creator of all; who, as such, has a right to dispose of all his creatures; the Lord our Governor, whose kingdom is from everlasting, and ruleth over all; the great Lawgiver, who can well enforce all his laws, being "able to save and to destroy," yea, to punish with "everlasting destruction from his presence and from the glory of his power." It is the eternal Wisdom of the Father, who knoweth whereof Ave are made, and understands our inmost frame; who knows how we stand related to (rod, to one another, to every creature which God hath made, and, consequently, how to adapt every law he prescribes, to all the circumstances wherein he hath placed us. It is He who is "loving unto every man, whose mercy is over all his works;" the God of love, who, having emptied himself of his eternal glory, is come forth from his Father to declare his will to the children of men, and then goeth again to the Father; who is sent of God "to open the eyes of the blind, and to give light to them that sit in darkness." It is the great Prophet of the Lord, concerning whom God had solemnly declared long ago, "Whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him ;" (Dent, xviii. 19;) or, as the Apostle expresses it, "Every soul which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people." (Acts ii. 23.)
3. And Whai is it which He is teaching? The Son of God, who came from heaven, is here showing us the way to heaven; to the place which he hath prepared for us; the glory he had before the world began. He is teaching us the true way to life everlasting; the royal way which leads to the kingdom; and the only true way,—for there is none besides; all other paths lead to destruction. From the character of the Speaker, we are well assured that he hath declared the full and perfect will of God. He hath uttered not one tittle too much,— nothing more than he had received of the Father ; nor too little,—he hath not shunned to declare the whole counsel ol God; much less hath he uttered any thing wrong, anything contrary to the will of him that sent him. All his words arc true and right concerning till things, and shall stand fast for ever and ever.
And we may easily remark, That in explaining and confirming these faithful and true sayings, he takes care to refute not only the mistakes of the Scribes and Pharisees, which then were the false comments whereby the Jewish Teachers of that age had perverted the Word of God, but ail the practical mistakes that arc inconsistent with salvation, which should ever arise in the Christian Church; all the comments whereby t