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tang [portion) of sin, how can bad men think to men to think to be set just and righteous before
him despair of life that sees himself far from
Sixthly, “ Come unto me, all ye that labour In these words we have a relation both of per- and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," sons and things.
Matt. xi. 28. 1. Of persons.
And they are a righteous Here we have a labouring people, a people people, a righteous people put all together—"We, labouring for life; but by all their labour, you we all are," &c.
see, they cannot ease themselves; their burden 2. The condition of this people, even of all still remains upon them; they yet are heavy of them, take them at the best, are, and that by laden. The load here is, doubtless, guilt of sin, their own confession, " as an unclean thing." such as David had when he said by reason
3. Again; the things here attending this thereof," he was not able to look up," Psalm people are their good things, put down under this xxxviii. 3—5. large character, “ Righteousnesses, all our righte- Hence, therefore, you have an experiment set ousnesses. These expressions therefore com- before you of those that are trying what they can prehend all their religious duties, both before and do for life; but behold, the more they stir, the after faith too. But what are all these righte- more they sink under the weight of the burden ousnesses ? Why they are all as “ filthy rags” that lies upon them. when set before the justice of the law; yea, it is And the conclusion-to wit, Christ's call to also confessed, and that by these people, that them to come to him for rest-declares that, in their iniquities, notwithstanding all their righte- his judgment, rest was not to be had elsewhere. ousnesses, like the wind, if grace prevent not, And I think one may with as much safety adwould “ carry them away.” This being so, how here to Christ's judgment as to any man's alire; is it possible for one that is in his sins to work wherefore “men must be justified from the curse himself into a spotless condition by works done in the sight of God while sinners in themselves." before faith, by works done by natural abilities? Seventhly, “ There is none righteous, no, not or to perform a righteousness which is able to one : there is none that understandeth, there is look God in the face, his law in the face, and to done that seeketh after God. They are all gone demand and obtain the forgiveness of sins and out of the way, they are together become unprothe life that is eternal? It cannot be :“ men must fitable; there is none that doth good, no, not therefore be justified from the curse in the sight one,” Rom. iii. 10–12. of God while sinners in themselves, or not at all.” These words have respect to a righteousness
Fourthly, “ There is not a just man upon the which is justified by the law; and they conclude earth, that doth good, and sinneth not,” Eccles. that none by his own performances is righteous vii. 20; 1 Kings, viii. 46.
with such a righteousness; and it is concluded Although the words before are large, yet these from five reasonsseem far larger; there is not a man, not a just 1. Because they are not good; for a man must man, not a just man upon the earth, that doth be good before he doth good, and perfectly good good, and sinneth not. Now, if no good man, before he doth good and sinneth not. if no good man upon earth doth good, and sin- 2. Because they understand not. How then neth not, then no good man upon earth can set should they do good? for a man must know before himself by his own actions justified in the sight he does, else how should he divert himself to do? of God, for he has sin mixed with his good. 3. Because they want a heart, they seek not How then shall a bad man, any bad man, the after God according to the way of his own apbest bad man upon earth, think to set himself pointment. by his best things just in the sight of God? And 4. They are all gone out of the way; how if the tree makes the fruit either good or evil, then can they walk therein ? then a bad tree (and a bad man is a bad tree) 5. They are together become unprofitable; can bring forth no good fruit, (Matt. vii. 16,) how what worth or value then can there be in any of then shall such an one do that that shall“ cleanse their doings? him from his sin," and set him as “spotless before These are the reasons by which he proveth the face of God” ?
that there is “none righteous, no, not one.” And Fifthly, Hearken to me, ye stout-hearted, that the reasons are weighty; for by them he proves are far from righteousness: I bring near my the tree is not good; how then can it yield good righteousness," &c., Isaiah, xlvi. 12, 13.
fruit ? 1. This call is general, and so proves, what- Now, as he concludes from these five reasons ever men think of themselves, that in the judg- that not one indeed is righteous, so he concludes ment of God there is none at all righteous men, by five more that none can do good to make him as men are far from being so.
2. This general offer of righteousness, of the 1. For that internally they are as an open righteousness of God, declares that it is in vain for sepulchre, as full of dead men's bones; their
minds and consciences are defiled; how then can by which man should work is rejected ; and if sweet and good proceed from thence? ver. 13; so, then he must be justified by the righteousness Matt. xxiii. 27; Tit. i. 15; Isaiah, xliv. 12 ; Jer of God, or not at all; for he must be justified by xvii. 9.
a righteousness that is without the law; to wit, 2. Their throat is filled with this stink; all the righteousness of God. Now this righteoustheir vocal duties therefore smell thereof.
ness of God, whatever it is, to be sure it is not a 3. Their mouth is full of cursing and bitter- righteousness that flows from men; for that, as ness; how then can there be found one word that I said, is rejected, and the righteousness of God should please God ?
opposed unto it, being called a righteousness that 4. Their tongue, which should present their is without the law, without our personal obedience praise to God, has been used to work deceit ; how to it. then, until it is made a new one, should it speak The righteousness of God, or a righteousness in righteousness ?
of God's completing, a righteousness of God's be5. The poison of asps is under their lips; there- stowing, a righteousness that God also gives unto, fore whatever comes from them must be pol- and puts upon, all them that believe, (ver. 22,) a luted.
righteousness that stands in the works of Christ, Thus, you see, he sets forth their internal part, and that is imputed both by the grace and justice which being a true report, as to be sure it is, it is of God, Rom. iii. 24–26. impossible that any good should so much as be Where, now, is room for man's righteousness, framed in such an inward part, or come clean either in the whole, or as to any part thereof? I out of such a throat by such a tongue through say, where, as to justification with God ? such lips as these, Rom. iii. 11-14.
Ninthly, “What shall we say, then, that AbraAnd yet this is not all : he also proves, and ham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, bath that by five reasons more, that it is not possible found ?” they should do good
Now the apostle is at the root of the matter ; 1. “ Their feet are swift to shed blood,” ver. 15. for Abraham is counted the father of the faithThis implies an inclination, an inward inclination ful; consequently the man whose way of attaining to evil courses; a quickness of motion to do evil, justification must needs be exemplary to all the but a backwardness to do good.
children of Abraham. 2. · Destruction and misery are in their ways," Now the question is, How Abraham found ? ver. 16. Take " ways” for their “ doings,” and how he found that which some of his children in the best of them destruction lurks, and misery sought and missed ? Rom. ix. 32,—that is, how yet follows them at the heels.
he found justifying righteousness; for it was that 3. The way of peace they have not known,” which Israel sought, and attained not unto, chap. (ver. 19;) that is far above out of their sight. xi. 7. Wherefore the labour of these foolish ones will “ Did he find it (saith Paul) by the flesh ?" or, weary every one of them, because " they know as he was in the flesh ? or, by acts and works of not the way that goes to the city.”
the flesh? But what are they? why, the next 4. “ There is no fear of God before their eyes,” verse tells you—" they are the works of the law.” ver. 18. How then can they do anything with If Abraham was justified by works, that is, as that godly reverence of his holy Majesty that is pertaining to the flesh; for the works of the law and must be essential to every good work? for are none other but the best sort of the works of to do things, but not in God's fear, to what will the flesh. And so Paul calls all they that he had it amount? will it avail ?
before his conversion to Christ : “ If any other 5. All this while they are under a law that man (saith he) thinketh he hath whereof he may calls for works that are perfectly good, that will trust in the flesh, I more.” And then he counteth accept of done but what are perfectly good, and up several of his privileges, to which he at last that will certainly condemn them because they adjoineth the righteousness of the moral law, neither are nor can be perfectly good : “ For saying, “ Touching the righteousness which is in whatsoever things the law saith, it saith it to the law, I was blameless,” Phil. iii. 4-6. them that are under the law, that every mouth And it is proper to call the righteousness of may be stopped, and all the world become guilty the law the work of the flesh, (2 Cor. iii. 8,) bebefore God," ver. 19.
cause it is the work of a man, of a man in the Thus you see that Paul here proves by fifteen flesh; for the Holy Ghost doth not attend the reasons that none are, nor can be, righteous be- law, or the work thereof, as to this, in man, as fore God by works that they can do; therefore man; that has confined itself to another ministra“ men must be justified from the curse in the tion, whose glorious name it bears. sight of God while sinners in themselves.”
I say, it is proper to call the works of the law Eighthly, “ But now the righteousness of God the works of the flesh, (James, iii. 10,) because without the law is manifested, being witnessed they are done by that selfsame nature in and out by the law and the prophets,” &c., ver. 21. of which comes all those things that are more
This text utterly excludes the law,—what law? grossly so called, Gal. v. 19, 20,--to wit, from the law of works, the moral law, ver. 27,-and the corrupt fountain of fallen man's polluted makes mention of another righteousness, even a nature. righteousness of God; for the righteousness of This, saith he, was not the righteousness by the law is the righteousness of men, “ men's own which Abraham found justification with Godrighteousness,” Phil. iii. 9.
“ For if Abraham was justified by works, he hath Now, if the law, as to a justifying righteous- whereof to glory ; but not before God. For what ness, is rejected, then the very matter upon and saith the scripture ? Abraham believed God, and
it was counted to him for righteousness," see instrument or means that receiveth that righteous.
Secondly, As it respecteth the instrument that From all this, therefore, it is manifest“ that receiveth it, that faith, as in the point of justifymen must be justified from the curse of the law ing righteousness, will not work, but believe, but in the sight of God while sinners in themselves.” receive the works and righteousness of another ; But,
for works and faith in this are set in opposition, Tenthly, “ Now to him that worketh is the --" He doth not work, he doth believe," Gal. reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt,” Rom. i. 12. He worketh not, but believeth on him iv. 4.
who justifieth us, ungodly. As Paul also saith These words do not only back what went be- | in another place, “ The law is not of faith." fore, as to the rejection of the law for righteous- | And again ; Works saith on this wise; faith, far ness as to justification with God, but supposing different. The law saith, Do this, and live. But the law was of force to justify, life must not be the doctrine of faith saith, “ If thou shalt confess admitted to come that way, because of the evil with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe consequences that will unavoidably flow there in thine heart that God hat raised him from the from.
dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart First, By this means, grace, and justification man believeth unto righteousness,” &c., Romans, by grace, would be rejected; and that would be x. 5, 10. a foul business; it would not be reckoned of OBJECT.—But faith is counted for righteousgrace.
Secondly, By this, God would become the Answ.–True ; but yet consider, that by faith debtor, and so the underling; and so we in this we do oft understand the doctrine of remission the more honourable. It would not be reckoned of sins, as well as the act of believing. of grace, but of debt : and what would follow But again ; faith when it hath received the from hence? Why,
Lord Jesus, it hath done that which pleaseth 1. By this we should frustrate the design of God; therefore, the very act of believing is the Heaven, which is, to justify us freely by grace, most noble in the world ; believing sets the crown through a redemption ought in by Christ, upon the head of grace; it seals to the truth of Rom. iii. 24-26; Eph. ii. 8—13.
the sufficiency of the righteousness of Christ, 2. By this we should make ourselves the sa- (John, iii. 33,) and giveth all the glory to God; viours, and jostle Christ quite out of doors, Gal. and therefore it is a righteous act : but Christ v. 2-4.
himself he is the “ Righteousness that justifieth,” 3. We should have heaven at our own dispose, Rom. iv. 20. as a debt, not by promise, and so not be beholden Besides, faith is a relative, and hath its relation to God for it, Gal. iii. 18. It must, then, be of as such : its relation is the righteousness that grace, not of works, for the preventing of these justifieth, which is therefore called the righteousevils. Again; it must not be of works, because ness of faith, or that with which faith hath to do, if it should, then God would be the debtor, and Romans, x. 6. Separate these two, and justificawe the creditor. Now much blasphemy would tion cannot be, because faith now wants his flow from hence; as,
righteousness. And hence it is you have so First, God himself would not be his own to often such sayings as these—“ He that believeth dispose of; for the inheritance being God, as in me,-he that believeth on him,-believe in well as his kingdom,—for so it is written, “Heirs the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," of God,” Rom. viii. 17,-himself, I say, must needs John, vi. 35, 40. Faith, then, as separate from be our purchase.
Christ doth nothing; nothing neither with God Secondly, If so, then we have right to dispose nor man ; because it wants its relative,—but let it of him, of his kingdom and glory, and all; (“Be go to the Lord Jesus ; let it behold him as dying, astonished, 0 heavens, at this !") for if he be ours &c., and it fetches righteousness, and life, and by works, then he is ours of debt; if he be ours peace out of the virtue of his blood, &c., Acts, of debt, then he is ours by purchase; and then, X. 29, 31, 33; or, rather, sees it there as sufficient again, if so, he is no longer his own, but ours, for me to stand just thereby in the sight of Eterand at our dispose, &c.
nal Justice : “For him hath God set forth to be Therefore, for these reasons, were there suffi- a propitiation through faith (belief) in his blood, ciency in our personal works to justify us, it with intent to justify him that believeth in Jesus," would be even inconsistent with the being of Rom. iii. 25, 26. God to suffer it.
Twelfthly, Even as David also describeth So, then, “ men are justified from the curse in the blessedness of the man to whom God imthe sight of God while sinners in themselves." puteth righteousness without works,” Rom. iy. 6.
Eleventhly, “ But to him that worketh not, but Did our adversaries understand this one text, believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his they would not so boldly affirm, as they do, that faith is counted for righteousness," Rom. iv. 5. the words, “ impute, imputed, imputeth, imputing,"
These words shew how we must stand just in &c., are not used in scripture but to express men the sight of God from the curse of the law, both really and personally to be that which is imputed as it respecteth justification itself, as also the unto them ; for men are not really and personally
faith, yet faith is imputed to men; nay, they are Lord God made them coats of skins, and clothed not really and personally sin, nor really and per- them,” ver. 21. sonally righteousness, yet these are imputed to Hence observe, men : so, then, both good things and bad may First, That these coats were made, not before, sometimes be imputed to men, yet themselves be but after they had made themselves aprons; a really and personally neither.
plain proof their aprons were not sufficient to But to come to the point : what righteousness hide their shame from the sight of God. hath that man that hath no works? Doubtless Secondly, These coats were made, not of none of his own; yet God imputeth righteousness Adam's inherent righteousness, for that was to him. Yea, what works of that man doth lost before by sin, but of the skins of the slain, God impute to him that he yet justifies as un- types of the death of Christ, and of the righteousgodly?
ness brought in thereby—“ By whose stripes we Further, He that hath works as to justification are healed,” Isa. liii. from the curse before God, not one of them is Thirdly, This is further manifest ; for the regarded of God; so, then, it mattereth not coats, God made them; and for the persons, God whether thou hast righteousness of thine own or clothed them therewith ; to shew that as the
righteousness by which we must stand just be“ Blessed is the man to whom the Lord im- fore God from the curse is a righteousness of puteth righteousness without works." Man's Christ's performing, not of theirs; so he, not they, blessedness, then, the blessedness of justification must put it on them also, for of God we are from the curse in the sight of God, lieth not in in Christ, and of God his righteousness is made good works done by us, either before or after ours, 1 Cor. i. 30. faith received, but in a righteousness which God But, I say, if you would see their antecedent imputeth without works; as we work not, as we qualifications, you find them under two heads — are ungodly. “Blessed is the man whose iniqui- First, Rebellion. ties are forgiven, and whose sin is covered," Second, Hypocrisy: ver. 7. To forgive and to cover are acts of Rebellion, in breaking God's command ; hymercy, not the cause of our merit. Besides, pocrisy, in seeking how to hide their faults from where sin is real, there can be no perfect right- God. Expound this by gospel language, and eousness; but the way of justification must be then it shews “ that men are justified from the through perfect righteousness, therefore by an- curse in the sight of God wbile sinners in themother than our own, " Blessed is the man to whom selves." the Lord will not impute sin,” ver. 8. The first Secondly, “ The Lord had respect to Abel and cause, then, of justification before God dependeth to his offering," Gen. iv. 4, upon the will of God, who will justify because he By these words we find the person first acwill; therefore the meritorious cause must also cepted, “ The Lord had respect unto Abel.” And be of bis own providing, else his will cannot indeed, where the person is not first accepted, the herein be absolute; for if justification depend offering will not be pleasing; the altar sanctifies upon our personal performances, then not upon the gift, and the temple sanctifieth the gold, Matt. the will of God. He may not have mercy upon xxiii. 16-21; so the person, the condition of whom he will, but on whom man's righteousness the person, is that which makes the offering either will give him leave, Romans, ix. 15, 18. But pleasing or despising. In the epistle to the his will, not ours, must rule here ; therefore his Hebrews it is said, “ By faith Abel offered unto righteousness, and his only. So, then, “men are God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by justified from the curse in the sight of God while which he obtained witness that he was righteous," sinners in themselves.”
Heb. xi. 4. Righteous before he offered his gift, Having passed over these few scriptures, I as his sacrifice testified; for God accepted of it. shall come to particular instances of persons By faith he offered. Wherefore faith was prewho have been justified; and shall briefly touch cedent, or before he offered. Now faith hath to their qualifications in the act of God's justifying do with God through Christ; not with him them.
through our works of righteousness. Besides, First, By the Old-Testament types.
Abel was righteous before he offered, before he Secondly, By the New.
did do good, otherwise God would not have First, By the Old.
testified of his gift. “By faith he obtained wit“ And unto Adam also and to his wife did the ness that he was righteous,” for God approved of Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them,” his gifts. Now faith, I say, as to our standing Gen. iii. 21.
quit before the Father, respects the promise of In the beginning of this chapter you find these forgiveness of sins through the undertaking of two persons reasoning with the serpent, the effect the Lord Jesus. Wherefore Abel's faith as to of which discourse was, “ They take of the for justifying righteousness before God looked not bidden fruit, and so break the command of God,” forward to what should be done by himself, but ver, 7 to 15. This done, they hide themselves, back to the promise of the seed of the woman, and cover their nakedness with aprons. But that was to destroy the power of hell, “ and to God finds out their sin, from the highest branch redeem them that were under the law," Gen. iii. 15; even to the roots thereof.
Gal. iv. 4, 5. By this faith he shrouds himself What followeth? Not one precept by which under the promise of victory, and the merits of they should by works obtain the favour of God, the Lord Jesus. Now being there, God finds him but the promise of a Saviour ; of which promise righteous; and being righteous, “ he offered to this 21st verse is a unystical interpretation : “ The God a more excellent sacrifice than his brother;" for Cain's person was not first accepted through men, Romans, iii. 9. "Thy father was an Amthe righteousness of faith going before, although morite, and thy mother an Hittite.” he seemed foremost as to personal acts of right- (2.) Their condition, that is shewed us by this eousness, Gen. iv. Abel therefore was righteous emblembefore he did good works, but that could not be 1. They had not been washed in water. but alone through that respect God had to him 2. They had not been swaddled. 3. They had not for the sake of the Messias promised before, been salted. 4. They brought filth with them into chap. iii. 15. But the Lord's so respecting Abel the world. 5. They lay stinking in their cradle. presupposeth that at that time he stood in himself 6. They were without strength to help themselves. by the law a sinner, otherwise he needed not to Thus they appear and come by generation. be respected for and upon the account of another. Again, as to their practiceYea, Abel also, forasmuch as he acted faith before 1. They polluted themselves in their own he offered sacrifice, must thereby entirely respect blood. 2. They so continued till God passed the promise, which promise was not grounded by—“And when I passed by thee, I saw thee upon a condition of works to be found in Abel, polluted in thine own blood ;"-in thy blood, in but in and for the sake of the seed of the woman, thy blood ; it is doubled. Thus we see they were which is Christ, Gal. iv. 4; which promise he polluted born, they continued in their blood till believed, and so took it for granted that this the day that the Lord looked upon them; polChrist should break the serpent's head-that is, luted, I say, to the loathing of their persons, &c. destroy by himself the works of the devil ; to Now this was the time of love" And when I wit, sin, death, the curse, and hell. By this passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine faith he stood before God righteous, because he own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in had put on Christ ; and being thus, he offered; thy blood, Live ; yea, I said unto thee when thou by which act of faith God declared he was wast in thy blood, Live." pleased with him, because he accepted of his QUEST.—But how could a holy God say, Live, sacrifice.
to such a sinful people ? Thirdly, " And the Lord said unto her - The Answ.—Though they had nought but sin, yet elder shall serve the younger," Gen. xxv. 23. he had love and righteousness. He had, 1. Love These words, after Paul's exposition, are to be to pity them; 2. Righteousness to cover them : understood of justification in the sight of God, “ Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon according to the purpose and decree of electing thee, behold, thy time was the time of love," love, which had so determined long before that Ezek. xvi. 8. What follows ? 1. “I spread my one of these children should be received to eternal skirt over thee;" and, 2, “Covered thy nakedgrace; but mark, not by works of righteousnessness ;" yea, 3, “I sware unto thee;" and, 4, which they should do, but “ before they had done “ Entered into covenant with thee;" and, 5, either good or evil ;” otherwise “the purpose of “Thou becamest mine.” My love pitied thee; God” according to election, not of works, but of my skirt covered thee. Thus God delivered him that calleth, “could not stand,” but fall in them from the curse in his sight. “ Then I pieces, Rom. ix. 10 -- 12. But none are re- washed thee with water, (after thou wast justiceived into eternal mercy but such as are just fied ;) yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood before the Lord by a righteousness that is com- from thee, and anointed thee with oil." ver. 9. plete ; and Jacob having done no good, could by Sanctification, then, is consequential, justificano means have that of his own, and therefore tion goes before-the Holy Ghost by this scripit must be by some other righteousness, “and so ture setteth forth to the life free grace to the sons himself be justified from the curse in the sight of of men while they themselves are sinners. I God while a sinner in himself.”
say, while they are unwashed, unswaddled, unFourthly, The same may be said concerning salted, but bloody sinners; for by these words, Solomon, whom the Lord loved with special love “not washed, not salted, not swaddled,” he setteth as soon as born into the world, (2 Sam. xii. 24, 25,) forth their unsanctified state ; yea, they were not which he also confirmed with signal characters. only unsanctified, but also cast out, without pity, “He sent (saith the Holy Ghost) by the hand of to the loathing of their persons; yea, Nathan the prophet, and he called his name pitied them, to do any of these things for them;" Jedidiah, because the Lord loved him." no eye but his whose glorious grace is unsearchthis love of God extended to him because of his able; no eye but his who could look and love; personal virtues ? No, verily; for he was yet an all others looked and loathed; but blessed be infant. He was justified then in the sight of God that hath passed by us in that day that we God from the curse by another than his own wallowed in our own blood; and blessed be God righteousness.
for the skirt of his glorious righteousness whereFifthly, " And when I passed by thee, and saw with he covered us when we lay before him thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee naked in blood. It was when we were in our when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said blood that he loved us; when we were in our unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live," blood he said, Live. Therefore, “men Ezek. xvi. 6. The state of this people you have justified from the curse in the sight of God while in the former verses described, both as to their sinners in themselves.” rise and practice in the world, ver. 1-5.
Sixthly, “ Now Joshua was clothed with filthy (1.) As to their rise. Their original was the garments and stood before the angel,” Zech. iii. 3. same with Canaan, the men of God's curse, The standing of Joshua here is as men used to Gen. ix. 25. Thy birth and thy nativity is of stand that were arraigned before a judge. “Joshua the land of Canaan ; the same with other carnal | stood before the angel of the Lord, and Satan