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stopped; and all the world may become guilty before “God." His mouth is stopped. He has no plea to make. No excuse left. What the law saith, he subscribes to. The law brings him in guilty before God, and in his conscience he bears his testimony to the law. He acknowledges it to be holy, just and good, even in its penalties which he deserves to suffer. Formerly he tried, in his own strength, and took great pains to escape them, but now he gives over all those self-righteous attempts. He found, that he laboured in vain to atone for his sins, or to make himself holy. He groans, being burdened under the ruins of the fall
. His ignorance, rebellion, apostasy, his corruption in every faculty of soul and body, render him unable to take one step in his return to God. He owns it, and confesses, that without Christ he can do nothing.
O my soul, consider, whether God has taught thee this knowledge of thyself. It is absolutely necessary to reconcile thee to him and to his ways. Thou wilt never heartily agree to walk with him by faith, so long as thou hast any thing of thine own to trust in, or to draw comfort from. Examine then; art thou sensible of thy fall, and dost thou feel the sad effects of it? Dost thou know what it is to be alienated from the life of God? What! dost thou find to this day the opposition of thy sinful nature to the holy law, the flesh lusting in thee against the spirit ? Has God thus convinced thee of sin ? If he has, then in thy conscience thou submittest to what the law says of thy state. Thy mouth is stopped, and thou art guilty before God. Thou hast nothing of thine own to urge in arrest of judgment. This is an enlightened conscience'; so far it speaks for God, and is guided by his unerring word. 0
pray to the Lord the Spirit, and beg of him to guide thee into all truth, that he may bring thy conscience to submit to the righteousness of Jesus, and to be a faithful witness for him.
This is his proper work in the soul, and what he undertook in the everlasting covenant. When he is come,
says Christ, he shall convince the world of righteous ness : he shall testify of me; that I am made of God righteousness to believers ; and he shall glorify me, as Jehovah their righteousness: thus he shall teach them my righteousness, with which the Father is satisfied, and he shall through faith apply it effectually to their consciences, and they shall also be satisfied with it. Being justified by faith they shall have peace with God through their Lord Jesus Christ.
Righteousness is a perfect conformity to the law: if it be tried by the balance of the sanctuary, it is full weight; if by the standard, it is full measure; if judgment be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet, it is quite upright. There is no defect in it of any kind. This is the righteousness of the law-it must be perfect and continual, failing in no one point: for the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. And it is an adjudged case, that there is none righteous, no not one. It is left upon record that All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; therefore by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.
When the Holy Spirit has convinced a sinner of his being in this unrighteous state, then it becomes an important inquiry-how can the Judge of all the earth
upon and treat a sinner, as if he was a righteous person? To which the gospel answers directly“ God hath made Christ to be sin for us, who knew no “ sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God In him.”
This was agreed upon in the covenant of the eternal three. The Father undertook to maintain the honour and dignity of his law and justice. His coequal Son undertook for his people to come in their nature, and to stand in their place and stead ; to act for them, and to suffer for them. As their surety, he made himself answerable for their debt of obedience and for their debt of suffering. Accordingly, when the great law-fulfiller cometh into the world he saith, Lo, I COME TO DO THY WILL, O God. He did it in his infinitely
holy life, in which he magnified the precepts of the law, and made them everlastingly honourable. He suffered it in his infinitely holy passion, bearing the sins and sorrows of his people, their curse and wrath in his body and soul upon the tree, until the immense debt being paid, he cried out in the triumph of a conquering, though a dying Jesus, It is FINISHED: for through death he conquered death, and him that had the power of death, that is, the devil : he finished the transgression, and made an end of sins, and made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness.
This is the great leading truth of the gospel in which the peace of conscience is principally concerned. The justly offended God is here revealed under the character of a reconciled Father. He gave his Son to be a covenant of the people; who was to fulfil all covenant engagements for them, and he has fulfilled them all. The end of his living and dying for them is answered. He has finished the transgression, and has made peace by the blood of his cross. He has brought in eterlasting righteousness by his divine obedience, and the Lord is well pleased with him for his righteousness sake, yea he is well pleased also with his body the church. He looks upon all the members, as he looks upon the head. He accepts them in the beloved. He beholds them in him with perfect delight, and rests in his love. He is his Father, and their Father. He is related to his whole family in heaven and earth in the closest bonds of fatherly affection, and he makes his love known to them, and sheds it abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost. He would have all his children to address him under his dear name Our Father which art in heaven, and to expect from his fatherly love all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus.
When this comfortable doctrine is received into the conscience it silences guilt, and produces peace with God. The gospel comes with full authority to esta: blish it in the conscience: for it is therein revealed and purposed to our belief under the character of a divine
RECORD, made authentic and properly enrolled in the court of heaven. The witnesses are the eternal Three. Their record is in the nature of a covenant, confirmed by their joint counsel, and ratified by their joint oaththe two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie. He graciously vouchsafed to give the heirs of promise this perfect security for their salvation, that after they had Aed to Jesus for refuge, there might be an end of all strife in their consciences, and they might have strong consolation. Accordingly we read, “ There are Three that bear record in heaven, the Fa
ther, the Word and the Holy Ghost, and these Three
are One.” A record among men is an authentic testimony in writing, entered by authority in one of the king's courts, in order to preserve the proceedings had upon any suit.
This record contains the final determi. nation of the judges in that cause, and in their memorial of it, and therefore imports in itself such uncontrolable evidence, as to admit of no proof to the contrary. The matter of the record is never allowed to be tried by a jury, but is of such credit as not to be questioned in any instance. This is the nature of a record in law. And, if we receive the witness of men, certainly the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God, which he hath witnessed of his Son-namely-"He hath given “ to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." To which the Spirit beareth witness : because the Spirit is truth. He has revealed the covenant of life and
peace, which was between the Father and the Son, he has entered it upon record, and every word of the record may be pleaded : for it is allowed to be good and valid in the court of heaven. As a powerful advocate he pleads the perfect fulfilling of all righteousness in the life and death of the God-man, and the Father's perfect acceptance of what he did and suffered, as the full redemption-price for all his people, and he carries his cause in the court of conscience. The awakened sinner is convinced, that the work of Jesus is a finished salvation, and that the divine record is a sufficient warrant for him
to believe in it. Accordingly he gives it credit, and is enabled to plead it against guilt and fear. Upon which he finds peace with God. Trusting to the blood of sprinkling for pardon, and to righteousness of Jesus for acceptance: he then sees God reconciled to him, and that reconciles him to God, and by the spirit of adoption he cries Abba, Father.
But perhaps it may be said, I believe this, but I do find peace in my conscience. Nay, but
do not be lieve it; if you did, it would certainly bring present relief: for guilt comes from the broken law, and from the apprehension of punishment deserved; but the law has been restored to its dignity, and made infinitely honourable by the righteousness of Jesus, how can you believe this and yet be under guilt? The punishment was laid upon Jesus, and he suffered all that was due to his people, as their atoning sacrifice, how can you believe this, and yet fear that justice will punish you? A debtor would not fear to be arrested, if his surety had paid the sum, and got him a full discharge. A felon with the king's pardon in his pocket would dishonour it greatly, if he was to live in continual dread and terror of suffering for his crime. Examine carefully and pray for , the right understanding of your case, and depend upon it, you will find, that either you do not believe the matter of fact, or the record concerning it.
The matter of fact is the method provided for quieting the guilty conscience--a provision of exceeding rich grace and of everlasting efficacy. The Father gave the Son to be the surety for his people, and to live and to die for them, and in their stead.' The Son has finished the work, which the Father gave him to do, and is become the author of their eternal salvation.
The record of this fact is in the scripture. Father, Son, and Spirit, the three witnesses in heaven, have by covenant and oath attested, that there is life for every one who believeth in Jesus. “ God so loved the world, " that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever