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merit be allowed to works, there is an end of grace; and if salvation be of grace, then there is no place for the merit of works: so St. Paul speaks, Rom. xi. 6, "If by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace, otherwise work is no more work :". -so that you see salvation cannot be by grace and works mixed, it must be by one or the other alone; and we are repeatedly assured in the Scripture, that "by grace we are saved, through faith;" and "not by works, lest any man should boast." Eph. ii. 8, 9.
It is of vast importance to be rightly informed on this head. This may be inferred from what St. Paul says of the Jews, Rom. ix. 30, &c. "The Gentiles (saith he) who followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith; but Israel, which followed after righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness." This, you will say, is strange! What can be the reason of it? He tells us, ver. 32, "Because they sought it not by faith." How then?" As it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling-stone." Alas! how many thousands, called Christians, have stumbled in the same way! God preserve us from it! How earnestly did the good apostle wish for the salvation of his mistaken brethren! His "heart's desire and prayer to God for them was, that they might be saved." He saw that, while they were looking for life by their works, they were not in the way of salvation. It is true they had a great zeal for God, but it was good for nothing; it was founded in ignorance. "They were ignorant of God's righteousness," namely, this in the text; and, being ignorant of this, and yet wanting a righteousness, "they went about to establish their own ;"—they tried to set it up, and make it stand,
for their acceptance; even their own poor, imperfect ceremonial and outward works; but they were totally insufficient for that purpose; and thus, through the pride of their hearts, which scorned to be entirely beholden to free grace, they refused to stoop and submit to be saved by the righteousness of another, even of Christ, who is said in the text to be the "end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." May God keep us from this worst sort of pride, and enlighten our minds while we attend to the three following particulars :
I. Jesus Christ, by his obedience unto death, performed a perfect righteousness.
II. In so doing, he is become "the end of the law;" and,
III. This righteousness is given to every believer.
I. Jesus Christ, by his obedience unto death, performed a perfect righteousness.
"God made man upright." He gave him a law to be the rule of his actions, including a promise if he kept it, and a threatening if he broke it. If he obeyed the law perfectly, God would esteem him righteous. Adam fell, and with him all his posterity; for he was appointed their head and representative." By one man's disobedience many were made sinners." Rom. v. 19. Our nature is now corrupt; and we were born with enmity in our hearts against God. "The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be," while it remains carnal but the law is not altered. It requires what it always did, Love. This was always due from man to his Creator, and always will, whether men pay it or not. If man refuse to give it, he is a rebel and an idolater. The law being ever the same, it thunders out its dreadful curses against every sinner for every sin; but the law provides no remedy. It will not accept of sincere obedience instead of
perfect obedience: it says not a word of accepting a sinner's tears for payment, or admitting his future obedience as a recompense for past sins. No; it constantly demands supreme love and perfect obedience; and condemns the sinner for the want of it in a single instance.
"But what the law could not do, because of the weakness of the flesh, God has done" in another way. God has sent his Son to be our righteousness. As the law could not abate in its demands, and must have obedience from the creature, or punish the sinner, Jesus Christ graciously undertook to obey and suffer for his people,-to obey all the precepts of the law, and to suffer all its pains and penalties. The law required perfect obedience of them; Christ came as their surety to obey for them; and so, as it is written, "By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."
This blessed and comfortable truth may be fully proved from many Scriptures. Take the following (2 Cor. v. 21): "He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Jesus Christ "knew no sin." He was free from sin in his nature,—that holy thing which was born of the Virgin, being the Son of God. His whole life was as pure as his birth. He knew no sin in thought, word, or deed: he challenged his bitterest enemies to prove him a sinner: Which of you," said he, "convinceth me of sin?" Yea, the great enemy, the Devil, came, and "found nothing in him,' —no sin in his heart, no sin in his life! Thus was he the pure and spotless Lamb of God, qualified to become a perfect sacrifice, and prepared to bear away the sin of the world.
But Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin; that is, by imputation: it was reckoned to him,— put to his account in the same manner as his
righteousness is imputed to us, or put to our account. The sacrifice for sin, among the Jews, was called Sin; in allusion to this, it is here said, Christ was made sin. God made him to be sin for us; that is, God imputed the guilt of our sins to him. Out of his great love to his people, he became their surety, to answer for their sins, and to bear their punishment. So the prophet Isaiah speaks, in chap. liii. 4, &c. "Surely, he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities, -the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all."
The design of Christ's being made sin for us, was, "That we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Righteousness is a perfect conformity to the law of God, without which no man can be saved; for it is written, "The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Cor. vi. 9. Now we are all unrighteous, because we have broken the law. "There is none righteous" upon earth, in himself; "no, not one;" and yet without righteousness we cannot be saved! What then can we do?where can we look? Only to Jesus! Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength." It is not said, "In my own works, in my own repentance; no, nor in my own faith ; but, in the Lord Jesus have I righteousness and strength; righteousness for justification, and strength for sanctification." An imputed righteousness to procure my acceptance, an imparted strength to produce my holiness. Surely, which expresses a firm persuasion, and an unshaken affiance. To him give all the prophets witness; for "this righteousness of God, without the law, is witnessed by the law and the prophets." Hear what the prophet Daniel says of him, in chap. ix. 24: "To finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and
to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness." All this Christ actually did by his obedience unto death; and thus he became the end of the law, which is the second thing we proposed.
II. Jesus Christ, by his righteousness, is become "the end of the law;" for,
1. Hereby he put an end to the ceremonial law, or those ordinances, such as sacrifices, which were types or emblems of him: they were but the shadow,—the body is Christ. You may remember, that our Saviour, just before his death, cried out, It is finished! -as if he had said, My engagements with my Father are accomplished,-the types and prophecies are fulfilled, my dreadful sufferings are at an end,-the ceremonial law is abolished. Thus "the law came by Moses, but grace and truth"-the sum and substance of the whole-" by Jesus Christ."
2. The moral law, or the Ten Commandments, was hereby satisfied and magnified; according to the prophecy (Isa. xlii. 21), "He will magnify the law, and make it honourable." The law must have its end, and be completely fulfilled, or we cannot appear as righteous before God; but we are unable to fulfil it ourselves. What we, however, could not do, He, as our surety, has done. The law demands a righteousness for us: this is the end at which it aims: but we cannot effect it. done it for us, and is become the end of righteousness to every one that believeth. the perfect rule of righteousness. It shows precisely what righteousness God requires of man. That we should be righteous according to the law, was the first design of it. It has another design now; namely, to convince us that we are unrighteous; and so to lead us to Christ, who has perfectly fulfilled it in our stead. Christ is the perfecting end of the law. The righteousness of the law is fulfilled, and
Christ has the law for The law is