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every where spoken of as enhanced and | either the light of the natural heavens, or deepened to tenfold aggravation by the the light of Heaven's revelation is around guilt of a rejected gospel. There is a you. It is thus that the will has virtually wrath that abideth on unbelievers-even to do with the ultimate belief, just because that wrath which their sins had excited in it has to do with the various steps of that the bosom of the Deity, and which they process which goes before it. Where have not escaped from by the way an- there is candour, which is a moral pronounced and intimated in the New Testa-perty, the due attention will be given; and ment. But there is also a wrath added to the man will arrive at the state of being the former, and augmented on the head right intellectually, but just because he of unbelievers, just because they have not is right morally. When there is the oppobetaken themselves to that way. In other site of candour-a thing pronounced upon words, there is a displeasure on the part by all as a moral unfairness-the due of God towards unbelief, just as there is attention will be refused; and the man a displeasure towards any moral viola- will be landed in the state of being wrong tion. The creed of the infidel is dealt intellectually, but just because he is with as his crime; and the question still wrong morally. remains, how comes it that the mere errors of the understanding should have the same sort of delinquency affixed to them, as the wilful errors either of the heart or of the conduct?
In reply to this interrogation, we fully admit that no man is punished for what he cannot help, but then we affirm that his belief in certain circumstances, (and we think that Christianity is in these circumstances) is that which he can help. We admit that a moral delinquency should be charged on that which is not wilful-but we affirm that many are the occasions in which the belief or the unbelief is wilful; and that therefore, there might be no contravention of obvious justice in pronouncing the one to be a duty, and in proceeding against the other as you would against a crime. It is utterly a mistake to imagine that knowledge and opinion and belief, and in a word the various states of the understanding, are in no way dependent upon the will. It is by an act of the will that you set yourself to the acquisition of knowledge. It is by an act of the will at the first, and by a continued act of the will afterwards, that you first commence, and then continue a prolonged examination into the grounds of an opinion. It is at the bidding of the will, not that you believe without evidence, but that you investigate the evidence on which you might believe. In all these cases the will either gives its consent, or withholds it. It cannot create the light of evidence any more than it can create the light of nature. But it lies with it whether the evidence shall be attended to or regarded with the eye of the mind, even as it lies with it whether the illuminated landscape shall be looked upon or regarded with the eye of the body. It is in your power to shut or to avert the mental eye, just as it is in your power to shut or to avert the corporeal eye. It is in no way your fault, that you do not see when it is dark. But it is in every way your fault that you do not look when
You find a most impressive exemplification of this in the history of those very Jews whom we now are considering. During the whole of our Saviour's ministry upon earth, they were plied with evidences, which, if they had but attended to would have carried their belief in the validity of His claims and credentials as a Messenger from heaven. But the belief was painful to them; and at all hazards they resolved to bar the avenues of their minds against the admittance of it. This was the attitude, the wilful, the hardy, the resolved attitude in which they listened to all His addresses and looked upon all His miracles. That unwelcome doctrine which so humbled the pride, and did such, violence to the bigotry of their nation, was not to be borne with-and, rather than harbour a thing so intolerably offensive, they shut their minds against all that truth which lay both in the words and in the works of the Son of God; and they shut their hearts against all that tenderness as well as truth which fell in softest accents from a Saviour's lips, or beamed in mildness and mercy upon them from a Saviour's countenance. Who does not see that the will had a principal concern in all this opposition-that the pride and the passion and the interest and the ease, that these propensities of man's active and voluntary nature, had undoubted sway and operation in this warfare; that their love of darkness and their hatred of light affixed to their unbelief the stigma of a moral condemnation
their love of that which left a veil over their corruptions, their hatred of that which laid them open to the display and the disturbance of an exposure which they feared? It was on the strength of these moral perversities that they resisted and withstood the Saviour, and at length perished in the delusion which themselves had fostered. Theirs was not the darkness of men whom no light had visited, but it was the darkness of men who obstinately shut their eyes-who had lulled
their own consciences asleep; and whom | last would manifest its own truth and dineither the voice of pitying friendship, vinity to the conscience of him who atnor the voice of loud and angry menace tentively regarded it. And you are not could again awaken. They were in this sending forth earnest prayer to the witstate when Christ wept over them, as He ness in heaven, that is to the Holy Spirit, pronounced the doom of their approach- whose office it is to pour the light of a ing overthrow-a doom that fell upon convincing and an affecting demonstrathem, not because of their mental delu- tion over the pages of the written record. sion, but because this delusion was the fruit You are not doing what you might if you and the forthcoming of their moral deprav so willed-and if you do not see the light ity-not because they had minds that did of that evidence which belongs to the not receive the truth, but because they had truth as it is in Jesus, it is positively behearts that did not love and would not lis- cause you are not looking for it. In ten to it. other words, if you die in mental darkness, it is because you live in moral unconcern; and whatever the damnation be which rests on unbelief it is altogether due unto yourselves. Often are you visited with the misgivings of a conscience which tells you that your present state is far from satisfactory; but these you contrive to stifle and suppress. The whole business of your souls is postponed and wilfully postponed from one day and from one year to another; and, abiding in darkness because you choose the darkness, you remain to the end of your lives in a voluntary destitution of that know. ledge for the lack of which men perish everlastingly.
And this is for our admonition to whom the latter ends of the world have come. In this our day, the want of faith is still due, we believe, as heretofore, to the want of a thorough moral earnestness. Did we only prevail upon you to seek after; to enquire as you ought, we have no doubt that you would come to believe as you ought. If blind, we fear that you are wilfully blind; and if short of that faith which is unto salvation, it is because you are not honestly and with all your heart in pursuit of salvation. You are not giving earnest heed to the witness upon earth, that is to the Bible, which is a light shining in a dark place; and which at
"For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doth those things shall live by them."
THERE should be no difficulty in fixing | righteousness there spoken of it being whether the term righteousness in this such a righteousness as could have given passage must be understood according to life, and which is viewed therefore not in its personal or its legal sense-whether the moral graces of which it is made up, that righteousness which designates a but in the rewards, even those of a blisscharacter that is marked by its virtues ful eternity, which are judicially conferred and its graces; or that which is pro- upon it-just as the ministration of death nounced by a judge, or him who is en-in 2 Cor. iii, 7, is clearly juridical, it being titled thereby to its honours and rewards. In this place, as in others, the context clears up the text. For example in Matthew, v, 20-the righteousness which is there spoken of cannot be mistaken for any other than the personal-that being made obvious by the illustrations which follow, and whence it appears that its superiority over the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees lies in the higher style of certain virtues which are there specified. And again in Galatians, iii, 21, there can be as little mistake, when we affix the legal or judicial meaning to the
termed in ver. 9, the ministration of condemnation, for death is the penalty of sin : And so the ministration of righteousness contrasted therewith must be juridical also, it being the ministration of life, even that life which is the reward of righteousness. In like manner when one looks to the verse before us in conjunction with the verses which immediately succeed, there should be no difficulty in settling the judicial import of the term righteousness throughout this whole passage of the apostle's argument as being, not the righteousness which has its place in the
character or person of a disciple, but the righteousness which can be plea'd or stated by him at the bar of jurisprudence when he stands there as a claimant for the rewards and honours of eternity. In short It is the righteousness which gives a right to eternal life or which challenges eternal life as its due-that righteousness which the Jews fell short of, because they sought to establish it by the merit of their own doings, while they refused to make use of the plea which God offered to put into their hands as a righteousness that He would accept this being a righteousness of which they were ignorant, or would not acknowledge, or would not submit themselves thereto. "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness," or of that righteousness on the ground of which or consideration of which He would take man into acceptance; "and going about to establish a righteousness of their own," ," seeking to make good their title to heaven, as rightful claimants to its inheritance on the strength or merit of their own proper services" they would not submit themselves unto the righteousness of God," but sought to be justified in their own way which was by their own works, rather than by His method of justification.
My only additional remark on this verse is, that, in the ignorance there spoken of, there is something more than the mere passive blindness of those who cannot help themselves because of the total darkness by which they are encompassed. It was very much the ignorance of those who would not open their eyes. There was an activity, a will in it, as much as there was in the other things ascribed to them in these words-in the 'going about' to establish a different righteousness from that which they would not acknowledge, or would not submit to-resisting it, in fact, because of their not liking it. This forms the true principle on which the condemnation of unbelief rests. "They love the darkness rather than the light;" and so the ignorance or unbelief is criminal-just as far as there were affection and choice in it. Even as the Gentiles "liked not to retain God in their knowledge"-even so the Jews liked not in this instance to admit God into their knowledge, or give entertainment in their minds to that way of salvation which He had devised for the recovery of a guilty world -even the transference of man's sins to the person of Christ, and the transference of Christ's righteousness to the persons of all who believe in Him. It is the part which the will has in it that makes ignorance the proper object of a vindictive retribution; and so when Christ cometh, He will take vengeance on those who know not God, and obey not the gospel
of Jesus Christ. The will has to do with the want of obedience; and so far as the want of knowledge is punishable, the will has to do with that want also. There is a wilful resistance to the light-though a resistance this it must be admitted which the light itself may overcome by the greater force of its evidence, by the greater brightness and intensity of its own manifestation-just as Paul's ignorance and unbelief were overpowered by the light that shone upon him near Damascus; and as the faith of converts in the present day is carried, when God is pleased to reveal Christ in them, by commanding the light to shine out of darkness, or by calling them out of darkness into the marvellous light of the gospel.
Ver. 4. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.' There is one obvious sense in which Christ is the end of the law; and that is when the law viewed as a schoolmaster brings us to the conclusion, as to its last lesson, that Christ is our only refuge our only righteousness-thereby shutting us up into the faith. But this is not the sort of end which is meant here. We should have a more precise understanding of the verse by taking the word end as equivalent to purpose-and that a purpose too which the law was fitted to serve not merely after it was broken; but at the time of its original institution, and when it was first set up for the moral government of men. Now that the law has been violated, and we are the outcasts of its rightful condemnation, it is good to be schooled by it into the lesson that Christ is our only hiding-place, in whom there is no condemnation; and thus to make Christ the end or the final landingplace of that educational process through which we are conducted, when studying the high precepts and authority of the law, and our own immeasurable distance and deficiency therefrom. It is not thus however that this verse is to be understood; and for the right determination of what it signifies, we should go back to one of the purposes for which the law was given at the time of its first ordination— a purpose to be gained, not after the breaking of it, but which would have been gained by the keeping of it. One of these purposes was to secure the moral rightness of man's character and conduct. But another of these purposes was to secure for him a legal right to eternal life. The one was the end of the law for his personal holiness. The other was the end of the law for his judicial righteousness, and this is what we hold to be precisely the 'end of the law for righteousness' in our text. Its direct and primary object was that man should be justified by his
obedience thereto; but man falling short of this object or end by falling short of perfect obedience, can only now obtain it in Christ, in whom alone we have righteousness, even a part and an interest in that everlasting righteousness which He hath brought in, by His obedience which righteousness, with all its associated privileges and rewards, is unto all and upon all who believe. It is the merit of His obedience imputed unto us and made ours by faith, which forms our right or title-deed of entry into the kingdom of heaven. He is the Lord our righteousness; and in receiving Him we receive that righteousness which it was the end of the law to have secured for us had it been by us fulfilled; but which we in vain seek by the law, now that it has been
Ver. 5. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doth those things shall live by them.' One expedient by which men have attempted to dilute or do away the substance of the gospel, is to represent the insufficiency of the law for salvation as attaching only to the ceremonial law of Moses. In the passage now before us however, the righteousness which is of the law is said to be superseded by the righteousness which is of faith; and the former righteousness, or that which is laid aside, attaches to the law whereof Moses said that the man which doeth those things shall live by them. This surely must include the moral as well as the ceremonial. The great lawgiver of the Jews nowhere represents the doing of the things of the ceremonial law as enough for life. "Cursed is every one," he saith, "who continueth not in all the words of the book to do them." And so far is any sufficiency of this sort from being awarded to the ceremonial alone there is many a prophetic remonstrance founded on the insignificance of the ceremonial, when compared with the worth and lasting obligation of the moral. "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? Put away the evil of your doings and learn to do well." It is not, if a man do the things of the ceremonial-it is if he do the things of the whole law, that he shall live. It is our sufficiency for the righteousness of the whole law which is here brought to the trial; and if found wanting, which eventually it will be in every instance, we must infer that man can no more attain to everlasting life by his most strenuous observation of moral righteousness, than by his most faithful and laborious discharge of the Mosaic ritual.
For a fuller elucidation of this verse, see our Sermon en Romans, x, 4, in vol. iii of our Congregational Ser. mons, being vol. x of the Series.
It is on the ground of the moral law and of it alone, that this trial for eternity now rests. We of the present day stand delivered from the obligations of the Jewish ritual, and of its burdensome services Should we decline the gospel, we shall be dealt with purely and exclusively as the subjects of the moral law; and still it holds true that the man who doeth these things shall reach everlasting life without a gospel and without a Saviour. If the law, the moral law, be sufficient to any man for this object-then to him the gospel is uncalled for. It is thus that the economy of grace may be brought to the trial of its worth and its importance; and to this very law the man who yields a perfect moral obedience may challenge for himself the right of neglecting its
offers-the claim to an inheritance in heaven without the need of a passport from Him who is represented to us as the Author of a great salvation.
The two ways to eternal life here brought into comparison are clearly and distinctly contrasted. The one is by doing
the other is by believing-The one by doing a full and finished righteousness for ourselves the other by believing that Christ has done a full and sufficient righteousness for us; and makes each and all of us as welcome to its rewards as if they had been earned in our own person, by the merit of our own services. It is either in the one or the other of these ways that heaven is at all accessible-so that should we both fall short of the first, and refuse to enter upon the second, we are hopelessly and helplessly barred from the paradise of God.
There are two places, as it were, at which these respective ways may be com pared with each other-either at the entrance of them before we set out; or anywhere, after that we have set out, along the pathway of each-whether cheered on by the encouragements, or struggling with the difficulties peculiar to the one or the other of them.
I. Let us first take a view of the state of matters at the entrance of the two ways
when man, under the first effectual visitation of earnestness, resolves to go forth in busy search and prosecution after the good of his eternity. And here a consideration meets us at the very outset of the way of doing; and that is whether the condition of eternal life in that way be not already fallen from, and so the eternal life itself already forfeited. It is he who doeth all things that shall live. Have we hitherto done all things? Are we in circumstances now, for making a clear outset on this enterprise for heaven? It is not enough that there be the purpose of unversal, of unreserved, obedience in all
time coming. There must have been the performance of an obedience alike universal, alike unreserved, throughout all the stages of the history that is past. Can the memory and the conscience of any man living depone to this? Can he lay his hand upon his heart, and say without misgiving-that throughout all the successive days of his past existence in the world, there has ascended to heaven the continuous incense of a pure and sinless offering? Has he altogether loved God as he ought? Has he altogether lived among his fellows as he ought? Has his hand done all that it might in the services of benevolence? Has his heart been filled as it should have been-If not with the sensibilities, at least with the purposes and the aspirations of piety? Has the will of the Creator, in no one instance, made place for his own way wardness? Has that law, every jot and tittle of which must be fulfilled, had this unfailing this unswerving this unexcepted fulfilment rendered to it by him? Can he appeal to every hour of his by-gone history; and confidently speak of each, having, without one flaw or scruple of deviation, been pervaded by that loyalty of principle, by that grateful recollection, by those duteous conformities of a heart ever glowing with affection and of a hand ever glowing with activity, which the creature owes to the Creator who gave him birth? These are questions which must be settled, ere he can advance one hopeful footstep on this way to heaven by the deeds of the law. Should there be one single deed either of sin or of deficiency to soil the retrospect of his past experience, it nullifies the enterprise. By a single act of disobedience the power of making good our eternity in this way is gone, and gone irretrievably. Heaven may still become ours by a deed of mercy. But that it should be ours by a judicial award of law, and of law sitting in cognizance over our deserts and our doings, is a thing impossible.
If the conscience be at all enlightened, this will be felt as a difficulty which overhangs the entrance of the proposed journey to heaven in the way of obedience. The sense of a debt which no effort of ours can possibly lessen, and far less extinguish the sense of a guilt that by ourselves is wholly inexpiable-the sense of an impassable gulf between us and God, seeing that when viewed as our Lawgiver and ere reparation for the injury of His outraged law shall have been made, His attributes of truth and justice and holiness unite to lay an interdict on any terms or treaty of reconciliationthese are what paralyse the movements of a conscious sinner; and just because
they paralyse his hopes. The likest thing to it in human experience is, when a decreet of bankruptcy without a discharge has come forth on the man who has long struggled with his difficulties, and is now irrecoverably sunk under the weight of them. There is an effectual drag laid upon this man's activity. The hand of diligence is forth with slackened when all the fruits of diligence are thus liable to be seized upon-and that by a rightful claim of such magnitude as no possible strenuousness can meet or satisfy. The processes of business come to a stand or are suspended-when others are standing by ready to devour the proceeds of business so soon as they are realised, or at least to divert them from the use of the unhappy man and the good of his family. The spirit of industry dies within him when he finds that he can neither make aught for himself, nor, from the enormous mass of his obligations, make any sensible advances towards his liberation. In these circumstances he loses all heart and all hope for exertion of any sort; and either breaks forth into recklessness or is chilled into inactivity by despair. And it is precisely so in the case of a sinner towards God. If he feel as he ought, he feels as if the mountain of his iniquities had separated him from his Maker. There is the barrier of an unsettled controversy between them, which, do his uttermost he cannot move away; and the strong though secret feeling of this is a chief ingredient in the lethargy of nature. There is a haunting jealousy of God which keeps us at a distance from Him. There is the same willing forgetfulness of Him, that there is of any other painful or disquieting object of contemplation God, when viewed singly as the Lawgiver, is also viewed as the Judge who must condemn-as the rightful creditor whose payments or whose penalties are alike overwhelming. We are glad to make our escape from all this dread and discouragement into the sweet oblivion of Nature. The world becomes our hiding-place from the Deity-and in despair of making good our eternity by our works, we work but for the interests of time; and, because denizens of earth, we, estranged from the hopes of heaven, never once set forth in good earnest upon its prepa rations.
These are the impossibilities, which, aí the very commencement, beset this way of making good your eternity by your doings; and from which there is no re lease to the spiritual bankrupt, till the gospel puts its discharge into his hands By this gospel there is a deed of amnesty made known, to which all are welcome There is revealed to us a surety who hath