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they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect, because the law worketh wrath, Rom. iv. 14, 15. The law itself is now such as that it cannot give life, Gal. iii. 21. If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should · have been by the law; and he gives the reason in the next verse, why it could not give life, because the fcripture conclues all under fin, that is, it is very true, and the scripture affirms it, that all men are finners, and the law speaks not one word to finners but death and destruction; therefore the apoftle tells us plainly, that God himself found fault with this way of attaining righteousness, Heb. viii. 7, 8. He complains' of it, that is, he declares ic insufficient for that end and purpose.
Now there are two confiderations that discover unto men the vanity and hopelessness of seeking righteousness in this path.
1. That they have already sinned, for all have finned and come short of the glory of God, Rom iii, 23. this they are sufficiently sensible of; that although they could for the time to come, fulfil the whole law, yet there is a score, a reckoning upon them already, that they know not how to answer for. Do they consult their guide, the law itself, how they may be easy of the account that is past; it hath not one word of direction, or consolation, but bids them prepare to die; the sentence is gone forth, and there is no efcaping,
2. That if all former debts should be blotted out, yet they are no way able for the future, to fulfil the law; they can as well move the earth with a finger, as answer the perfection thereof; and therefore as I said, on this twofold account
they conclude that this labour is lost, by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified, Gal. ii. 11, 12.
Wherefore fecondly, Being thus disappointed by the severity and inexorableness of the law, men generally betake themselves to fome other way, that may fatisfy them as to those considerations, which took them off from their former hopes; and this for the most part, is, by fixing themselves upon some ways of atonement to fatisfy God, and helping out the rest with hopes of mercy. Not to inList on the ways of atonement and expiation which the Gentiles had pitched on, nor on the many ways and inventions by works fatisfactory of their own, fupererogations of others, indulgences, and purgatory in the close, that the Papists have found out for this end and purpose, it is, I say, proper to all convinced persons, as abore, to seek for a righteousness, partly by an endeavour to satisfy for what is past, and partly by hoping after general mercy. This the apostle calls a seeking for it, as it were by the works of the law, Rom. ix. 32. not directly, but as it were by the works of the law; making up one thing with another. And he tells us what issue they have in this business, chap. x. 7. Being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they were not subject to the righteousness of God. They were by it enemies to the righteousnefs of God. The ground of this going about to establish their own righteousness, was, that they were ignorant of the righteousness of God; had they known the righteoufness of God, and what exact conformity to his will he requireth, they had never undertaken such a fruitless business, as to have compaffed it, as it were by the works of the lawyet this many will stick on a long time. Something they do, fomething they hope for, some old fault they will buy off with new obedience. And this pacifies their consciences for a feason; but when the Spirit comes to convince them of righteousness, neither will this hold's wherefore,
a fruit. hical
3. The matter comes at length to this issue, they look upon themselves under this twofold qualifica tion; as,
1. Sinners, obnoxious to the law of God, and the curse thereof; so that unless that be satisfied, that nothing from thence shall ever be laid to their charge, it is altogether in vain, once to feek after an appearance in the presence of God.
2. As creatures, made for a supernatural and er ternal end, and therefore bound to answer the whole mind and will of God in the obedience required at their hands. Now it being before difcovered to them, that both thefe are beyond the compass of their own endeavours, and the assistance which they have formerly relted on, if their eter nal condition be of any concernment to them, their wisdom is, to find out a righteousness that may an. fwer both these to the utmost.
Now both these are to be had only in the Lord Christ, who is our righteousness; this wisdom, andi all the treasures of it, are hid in him.
1. He expiates former iriquities; he fatisfies for fin, and procures remiffion of it, Rom. ii: 24, 25:Being justified freely, hy his grace, throng! the redemption that is in Jesus Chrif, zohom God hath fet forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his
blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of fins that are past, through the forbearance of God. All we like sheep, &c. lfa. liii. 5, 6. In his blood we hav redemption, the forgiveness of fins, Eph. i. 7. God spared not him, but gave him, &c. Rom. viii, 32. This, even this alone is our righteousness, as to that first part of it which consists in the removal of the whole guilt of sin, whereby we are come short of the glory of God. On this account it is, that we are assured, that none shall ever lay any thing to our charge, or condemn us, Rom. viii. 31, 34. there being no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, ver. 1. we are purged by the facrifice of Christ, so as to have no more conscience of fin, Heb. X. 2. that is, troubles in conscience about it. This wisdom is bid only in the Lord Jesus; in hiin alone is there an atonement discovered: and give me the wisdom which thall cut all fcores concerning sin, and let the world take what remains. But,
2. There is yet something more required; it is not enough that we are not guilty. We must also be actually righteous : not only all sin is to be anfwered for, but all righteousness is to be fulfilled; by taking away the guilt of sin, we are as persons inpocent, but something more is required to make us to be considered as persons obedient. I know no. thing to teach me that an innocent person fhall go to heaven, be rewarded, if he be no more but so. Adam was innocent at his first creation, but he was to do this, to keep the commandments before he entred into life, he had no title to life by innocency.
This then moreover is required, that the whole law be fulfilled, and all the obedience performed that God requires at our hands. This is the fouls second inquiry, and it finds a resolution on
ly ly in the Lord Christ; For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life, Rom. v. 10. his death reconciled us, then are we saved by his life. The actual obedience which he yielded to the whole law of God, is that rightepulness where by we are faved; It fo be we are found in him, not having on our own righteousness which is of the law, but the righteoufness which is of God by faith, Phil. iii. 9. This I shall have occasion to handle more at large hereafter.
To return then. It is not I suppose any difficult talk, to perswade men convinced of immortality and judgement to come, that the main of their wisdoin lyes in this, even to find out such a righteousness as will accompany then for ever, and abile the fevere trial of God himself. . Now all the wisdom of the world is but folly, as to the discovery of this thng. The utmost that man's wifdom can do, is but to find out most wretched, burthensome, and vexatious ways of perishing eternally. All the treasures of this wisdom are hid in Christ, He of God is made unto us wisdorn, and righteousness, 1 Cor. i. 30.
3. Come we to the last shing which I shall but touch upon, and that is judgment. The true wifdom of this also is hid in the Lord Christ; I mean in particular that judgment that is for to come; so at present I take the word in that place. Of what concernment this is to us to know, I shall not speak; it is that, whose influence upon the fons of men, is the principle of their discriminating themfelves from the beasts that perish; neither shall I insist on the obscure intimations of it, which are given by the present proceedings of providence in governing the world, nor that greater light of it, which shines in