« PreviousContinue »
26 That glory may on earth appear,
“ That Jesus in our hearts may dwell.**
: Thirdly, What are we to understand by the righteousness of God, and when may a person be said to make mention of this, and of this only?.
By the righteousness of God, we frequently understand the truth and faithfulness of God, his faithfulness in fulfilling all the promises, which he hath made to them who walk in his way: “ He is a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he: He is not a man that he should lie, or the son of man that he should repent ; hath he said it, and will he not do it? hath he spoken it, and will he not bring it to pass ?” Sooner shall heaven and earth pass away, than the word of God can fail. Accordingly David prays in the beginning of this Psalm, “Deliver me in thy righteousness, or according to those gracious promises upon which thou hast caused me to hope, fulfil thy own faithful word to my soul.”
By the righteousness of God some suppose is intended, the righteousness of Christ, our Redeemer; all that he hath doné and suffered, in order to procure present and everlasting redemption for us. There is no harm in understanding the word in this sense, but on the contrary, it may be spiritually improved.
The righteousness of God thus explained, a person may be said to make mention thereof, when drawing near to him in prayer, he pleads his promise on the one hand, and the merits or righteousness of Christ on the other, considered as that which hath purchased for him the blessing he prays for, which the promise of God contains : He draws near to God, as it were, with the promise of God in one hand, and pleads his truth and faithfulness, and with the righteousness of Christ in the other, and pleads the merit thereof, in order to obtain the promise. No one will ever make. mention of the righteousness of God; till his mind is truly enlightened by the Spirit of God, so that herë we leave the unenlightened part of mankind quite behind, having neither part nor lot in this mat
A penitent sinner may draw near to God in prayer and in so doing, may make mention of the righteousness of God; he may take any one of those promises in which the God of Love offers him that pardon and peace which he so deeply feels the want of. For instance : Supposing he fix upon that word of God, " He that confesseth and forsaketh his sin, shall find
mercy.” With this promise he thus pleads with God, “O Lord, thou hast here declared, that he who confesseth and forsaketh his sins, shall find mercy; in a full reliance upon thy truth and faithfulness, I confess my sins, to, thee, with the deepest sorrow of heart ; and by the power of thy grace, I forsake and renounce them for ever : 0. then let me find mercy according to thy word.” Thus he makes mention of the righteousness of God in the former sense of the word; but being deeply convinced of his exceeding sinfulness, that he may obtain the blessing he prays for, he makes mention of the righteousness of God according to the latter sense of the word; that is, he comes to God in the Name, and pleads the blood and righteousness, of Christ, as the only foundation, of his hope, being that which procured for him the pardon, he feels the want of: The language of his very soul is, “Lord, grant me that mercy. I seek, for the alone sake of Jesus Christ, my Redeemer." And whosoever shall thus come to God, deeply sensible of their want of pardon, and truly and earnestly desirous to enjoy it, shall not be sent empty away ; but shall surely find the blessing they want ; for the Lord will certainly regard his own gracious promise, and the merits of his well-beloved Son,
So likewise the christian believer, convinced of his want of higher degrees of spiritual light, or of being more fully estar blished in the truth or in the love of God; or supposing he feels the want of protection from any particular enemy, of support under afliction or temptation ; let him take that promise which contains the blessing which he more immediately wants, and let him plead it before the Lord, and make mention of his righteousness, as before observed, and he shall surely find the promise of God fulfilled, and his soul blessed according to his present necessities..
Supposing the believer to be convinced of the necessity of being wholly sanctified; he feels the want, and in some mea. sure the worth of this salvation ; he is convinced the Lord Jesus Christ came to save us to the uttermost, and that God for his sake, hath promised to bestow full salvation upon us ; he earnestly desires and diligently seeks this grace, and in order to attain it, makes mention of the righteousness of God : He draws near to the throne of grace, with this blessed: promise, “I will sprinkle, clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean ; from all your idols, and from all your filthiness, will I cleanse you; a new heart will I also give you, and a right spirit. will I. put within you.” Thus he pleads with God,
Lord, here is thy gracious promise, O sprinkle me with clean water, and I shall be clean; from all my idols, and from all my filthiness, do thou cleanse my soul, 'even mine; O give Me a new heart and a right spirit:" And at the same time he makes mention of the righteousness of God, in the latter sense of the word; he pleads the righteousness or the merits of Christ, saying "Lord, ġrant me this salvation for the alone take of what Christ hath done and suffered on my account:" At the same time exercising faith in that gracious God to whom he prays, endeavouring with his whole soul to embrace the promise which he thus pleads; he shall find the Lord faithful and true to his word,
Once more : Supposing a faithful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ deeply sensible of the want of divine assistance in his work, makes mention of the righteousness of God on this wise, he takes hold of this blessed declaration, “ And lo I um with you always, even unto the end.” “Lord,” saith hè, * thou hast graciously promised, that thou wilt bé present with thy ministers even to the end of the world, o fulfil this blessed word to me, only grant me thy presence, and I ask no more ; I will then chearfully labour for thee in thy vineyard.” Will not the Lord fulfil his own word? Surely he will.
In a word, whatsoever straits or difficulties we are in, whatever our spiritual wants and necessities are, if we can only find a promise in the word of God, which agrees with our present state and circumstances, then we have nothing to fear, but we may carry this promise, and plead it before the Lord in prayer, and we shall find the help we want,
We are not sufficiently sensible of the exceeding great pria vileges; considered as christian believers, we are invested with. The serious consideration of that one declaration is enough to fill our whole soul with wonder, love, and praise: “ All things are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." What a door of salvation is here opened unto us, and what abundant encouragement may we derive from these gracious words ! The Lord Jehovah is on our side, and the Most High God is our helper, and through faith in his allpowerful name, we may sing with Moses, the man of God, with David, the sweet singer of Israel, and with Isaiah, the evangelical prophet, “ The Lord is my strength and my song, and he is become my salvation;" Ex. xv. 2. Ps. cxviii. 14. Is. xii. 2. If the Lord is our strength, what need we fear all the combined powers of darkness? What is all the united wisdom or strength of wicked men or evil spirits, while we go in the strength of the Lord God? What powerful enemy is it that we cannot conquer, what danger that we cannot escape, what mighty difficulty, cross, or affliction is it that we cannot bear, and what religious duty that we cannot perform, in the strength of the Lord God? 1. Whatever we may be called to suffer, in the order of divinę providence ; whatever trials our particular calling may expose us to; let us only be fully satisfied that we are in the path of duty, and we may chearfully say," The Lord is my strength!” And we may go on our way, rejoicing in họpę, that the word of the Lord shall be fulfilled,
Whatever the Lord may call us to do for his glory, it matters not how arduous the task may be, or what difficulties may be in the way, provided we are only satisfied that it is the call of God, we may claim the promise, “My presence shall go with thee," saith the Lord. This is enough, we may reply, "I will go in the strength of the Lord God.”
“Go in this thy might," said the Lord to Gideon, and thou shalt save Israel from the hands of the Midianites; have not I sent thee?” Judges vi. 14. So our gracious Lord sends forth his servants to contend with the powers of darkness, and he who gave Gideon that wonderful victory with only three hundred men, will give us the victory also; for who is he that shall contend with God, who can say upon good ground, "The Lord is my strength !" 0. how encouraging a consideration is this to the faithful ministers of Christ ! Let them only be satisfied that the Lord hath sent them to labour in his vineyard, and then they may be equally satisfied that he will both qualify them for their work with spiritual gifts and graceş, and he will stand by them in their work, and who is he that shall molest them "Let the potsherds contend with the potsherds of the earth, but woe to the pian that strives with his Maker."
Some years ago the late Rev. John Wesley was about to engage in a very difficult piece of business, respecting that great work which the Lord had evidently called him to: His brother Charles, though engaged in the same work, was exceedingly apt to fear; in conversing with Mr. Wesley upon this undertaking, and looking upon it to be impossible, he said, “Why, brother, if the Lord would give me wings, then I would fly ...MrWesley mildly replied, “Nay, brother, but if the Lord commands me to fly, I ain sure he will give me wings !". It was this confidence in God, which enabled that great man chearfully to dare every danger, to surinount every difficulty, was it ever so great, and that gave him a complete victory over all that opposed hin, through the wlole course of his astonishing labours !
Let us, then, on the one hand, ever remember, that, the help which is done upon earth, the Lord doth it himself,” and that “ without him we can do nothing” to any good purpose and on the other, let us never lose sight of that blessed word of God, " And ló I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” By' faith in this promise we máy go forth in the spirit and power of Elias, not fearing our many and powerful enemies, but trusting in our great and gracious Master, we may chearfully sing,
“ Righteous I am in him, and strong,
“ My saviour and salvation too:
pure in heart shall see his face,
" The Lord's right-hand exalted is:
“ And Jesus is the Prince of Peace.” To conclude: As all our sufficiency for every good word and work is of God, and being deeply sensible of this, it must be the language of our heart, from the beginning of our Christian course to the end, “I will go in the strength of the Lord God;" and then we shall do valiantly: And as the Lord communicates his strength to us, in the way we have set forth, we must wait upon him in his own house, and in every means of grace, so shall we receive strength from him; yea, strength according to our day, a sufficiency thereof for all occasions, then shall we never be cast down or confounded : And drawing near to God, who hath pleasure in our prosperity, making mention of his righteousness, we shall be made living and dying witnesses of the truth and faithfulness of him to whom we pray, and he will be All in All to us,