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2. It is apparent that Christ finished the work, by the discharge or acquittance God the Father gave him, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand. If Christ the sinner's surety, be, as such, discharged by God the creditor, then the debt is fully paid. Now Christ was justified and cleared, at his resurrection, from all charges and demands of justice; therefore it is said, 1 Tim. 3:16, that he was "justified in the Spirit," that is, openly discharged by that very act of the Godhead, his raising him from the dead. For when the grave was opened, and Christ arose, it was to him as the opening of the prison-doors, and setting a surety at liberty, who was confined for another man's debt. To the same sense Christ speaks of his ascension. The Spirit shall convince the world of righteousness; John, 16: 10; that is, of a complete and perfect righteousness in me, imputable to sinners for their perfect justification. And whereby shall he convince and satisfy them that it is so? By this, "Because I go to the Father, and ye see me no more. ." There is a great deal of force and weight in those words, "because ye see me no more :" as if he had said, By this you shall be satisfied that I have fully and completely performed all righteousness, and that, by my active and passive obedience, I have so fully satisfied God for you, that you shall ne ver be charged or condemned; because, when I go to heaven, I shall abide there in glory with my Father, and not be sent back again, as I should if any thing had been omitted by me. And this the apostle gives us also in plain words, "After he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God." Heb. 10:12-14. And what doth he infer from that, but the very truth before us, that " by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified ?"
3. It is evident Christ hath finished the work, by the blessed effects of it upon all that believe in him: for by
virtue of the completeness of Christ's work, finished by his death, their consciences are now pacified, and their souls, at death, actually received into glory; neither of which could be, if Christ had not in this world finished the work. If Christ had done his work imperfectly, he could not have given rest and tranquillity to the laboring and burdened souls that come to him, as now he doth. Matt. 11:28. Conscience would still be hesitating, trembling, and unsatisfied; and had he not finished his work, we could not have had entrance through the veil of his flesh into heaven, as all that believe in him have. Heb. 10: 19, 20.
INFERENCE 1. Hath Christ perfected and completely finished all his work for us? How sweet a relief is this to them that believe in him against the defects and imperfections of all our services. There is nothing finished that we do: all our duties are imperfect. Oh there is much sin and vanity in the best of our duties: but here is the grand relief, and that which answers to all our doubts and fears upon that account; Jesus Christ hath finished all his work, though we can finish none of ours: and so, though we be defective, poor, imperfect creatures in ourselves, yet we are complete in him. Col. 2:9, 10. Though we cannot perfectly obey, or fulfil one command of the law, yet is "the righteousness of the law fulfilled in us that believe." Rom. 8:4. Christ's complete obedience makes us complete, and without fault before God. It is true, we ought to be humbled for our defects, and troubled for every failing in obedience; but we should not be discouraged, though multitudes of weaknesses be upon us, and many infirmities compass us about, in every duty: though we have no righteousness of our own; yet, of God, Christ "is made unto us righteousness;" and that righteousness is infinitely better than ours: instead of our own, we have his. Oh blessed be God for Christ's perfect righteousness!
2. Did Christ finish his work? How dangerous is it to join any thing of our own to the righteousness of Christ, in point of justification before God! Jesus Christ will never endure this; it reflects upon his work dishonorably: he will be all, or none, in our justification. If he have finished the work, what need of our additions? And if not, to what purpose are they? Can we finish that which Christ himself could not? But we would fain be sharing with him this honor, which he will never endure. Did he finish the work, and will he ever divide the glory and praise of it with us? No, no, Christ is no half Saviour. Oh it is a hard thing to bring these proud hearts to live upon Christ for righteousness. God humbles proud nature, by calling sinners wholly from their own righteousness to Christ for their justification.
3. Did Christ finish his work for us? then there can be no doubt but he will also finish his work in us. As he began the work of our redemption, and finished it; so "he that hath begun the good work in you, will also finish it" upon your souls. Phil. 1:6. Jesus Christ is not only called the author, but the finisher of our faith. Heb. 12:2. If he begin it, no doubt he will finish it. And indeed the finishing of his own work of redemption gives full evidence that he will finish his work of sanctification within us; and that because these two works of Christ have a respect and relation to each other; such a relation, that the work he finished by his own death, resurrection, and ascension, would be in vain to us, if the work of sanctification should not in like manner be finished. Therefore, as he presented a perfect sacrifice to God, and finished redemption; so will he present every one perfect and complete, for whom he offered up himself; for he will not lose the end of all his sufferings. To what purpose would his meritorious work be, without complete and full application? Therefore be not discouraged at defects and imperfections in
yourselves: be humbled for them, but not dejected: this is Christ's work as well as that: that work is finished, and so will this be.
4. Is Christ's work of redemption a complete and finished work? How excellent and comfortable is the method of salvation by faith! Surely the way of believing is the most excellent way in which a poor sinner can approach God; for it brings before him a complete, entire, perfect righteousness; which must be most honorable to God, as well as most comfortable to the soul that draws nigh to him. Oh how complete, finished, and perfect is the righteousness of Christ! the searching eye of the holy and jealous God can find no defect in it. Let God or conscience look upon it; turn it every way; view it on every side; thoroughly weigh and examine it; it will appear a pure, a perfect work, containing in it whatsoever is necessary for the reconciling of an angry God, or calming the distressed and perplexed soul. How pleasing then, and acceptable to God, must be that faith which presents so complete and excellent an atonement to him! Hence the acting of our faith upon Christ for righteousness, the approaches of faith to God with such an acceptable present, is called the work of God; "This is the work of God that ye believe." John, 6: 29. One act of faith pleases him more than if you should toil all your lives at the task of obedience to the law. As it is more for God's honor and thy comfort to pay all thou owest him at one payment, in one full sum, than to be paying by very small degrees, and never be able to make full payment, or see the bond cancelled; so this perfect work alone produces perfect peace.
5. Did Christ work, and work out all that God gave him to do, till he had finished his work? How necessary, then, is a laborious working life to all that call themselves christians! The life of Christ, you see, was a la
borious life. Shall he work, and we slumber and sleep? Oh work, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Phil. 2 : 12.
Will any one say, But if Christ's work was complete, we may sit still? If he finished the work, nothing remains for us to do?
I answer. Nothing of that work which Christ did remains for you to do, but there is other work for you to do; yea, store of work lying upon your hands. You must work as well as Christ, though not for the same ends Christ did. He wrought all his life long, to work out a righteousness to justify you before God. But you must work to obey the commands of Christ, into whose right you are come by redemption: you must work to testify your thankfulness to Christ, for the work he finished for you: you must work, to glorify God by your obedience; "let your light so shine before men.' For these, and divers other such ends and reasons, your life must be a working life. May God preserve all his people from the gross and vile opinions of antinomian libertines, who cry up grace and decry obedience.
Reader, be thou a follower of Christ, imitate thy pattern; yea, let me persuade thee, as ever thou hopest to prove thine interest in him, imitate him in such particulars as these that follow:
Christ began early to work for God; he employed the morning of his life, even the very beginning of it: "How is it (said he to his parents, when he was but a child about twelve years old) that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" Reader, if the morning of thy life be not gone, Oh devote it to the work of God as Christ did: if it be, ply thy work the closer in the afternoon of thy life.
As Christ began early, so he followed his work closely; he was early up, and he wrought hard, so hard, that "he forgat to eat bread." John, 4: 31, 32. So zealous