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JEREMIAH, xxiii. 6. And this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD
Names are intended to distinguish persons and things. They have been classed as either descriptive or arbitrary. Most of the names borne by mem are of the latter kind. They are entirely arbitrary. That is, they have no particular meaning. They convey no expression of the characteristies, or qualities of those who bear them. At least, whatever might have been the case in the ori.. ginal application of those names, it is certainly so now. And, accordingly, they are transmitted from gneration to generation to the successive members of the same families, whatever characters their respective individuals may possess. But, it has been remarked, that a large portion of the names employed in sacred Scripture, are descriptive, or expressive. They have a sense as well as a sound. This remark may be said to apply with peculiar force to the titles given in Scrip ture to our blessed Redeemer. He is exactly what his names describe and import. These names were designed to convey a knowledge of his glorious perfections and offices. But, among all the sames given to this glorious Personage,- for that He is really the Person spoken of in this passage, it is impossible to doubt -I say, among all the names given to our divine Redeemer--we may confi. dently affirm there is none more expressive of his Mediatorial benefits, or more rich in important meaning, than that in our text. And this is the name,
- the name by way of eminence, by which He shall be called—THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
The word here translated Lord, is, in the original, Jehovah. So that the pas. sage might, and, perhaps ought to bave been rendered, JEHOVAH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. This is one of the many passages, my friends, which plainly and unequivocally teach the real and proper Divinity of Christ. That he is “
very God,” and “ very man" in the same mysterious Person. A doctrine which lies at the foundation of the Gospel, and of all the hopes and confidence of believers. Sublime and glorious doctrine! The eternal Son of God conde
VOL XI. No. 7.
scending to become incarnate! The Creator of all worlds appearing in the form of a servant! Great, great, indeed, is the mystery of godliness ; God manifest in the flesh! It is true, both the heretic and the sceptic agree in seeing nothing in this doctrine but repelling difficulty. They find in it ground for incessant objection and cavil. And even many a theoretical believer in this doctrine, who has never seen the evil, or felt the burden of sin, while he confesses that it is found in Scripture, can never appreciate its fundamental importance. But those who have been enlightened to understand and embrace the Gospel; those who have been made to see themselves miserable sioners; and who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them—all such perceive that the true and proper Divinity of our blessed Redeemer is the cor. ner stone of the whole fabric of Redemption ; that it is absolutely essential to his character as a Saviour ; a Saviour able and willing to “ save to the uttermost." The humble believer pretends not, indeed, to comprehend the mys. tery of “Immanuel, God with us." He sees in it a length and breadth, and depth and height which pass knowledge. But he believes it on the simple author- . ity of God's own word ; and he sees in it a ground of hope, consolation and joy, which must all totally vanish if this precious doctrine were expunged from the sacred volume.
This Jehovah, the Saviour, is declared to be “our righteousness.” As the former part of this name is expressive of his Divinity; so the latter is expressive of his mediatorial character, and of his gracious relation to his people in that character. It refers to his atoning sacrifice, and to the benefits resulting from that sacrifice to the members of his spiritual body. The word our, in the text, is especially emphatical. That Christ is Jehovah, is indeed, as one well observes, a glorious fact, in which all holy beings, whether in heaven or on earth, will cordially rejoice. That he is Jehovah the righteous one, or who has brought in everlasting righteousness, is, undoubtedly to all who are right minded, also a precious fact, and a further illustration of his glory. But, blessed be his name ! his people can go a step further, and claim him as their
They can say, “ He is Jehovah our righteousness." Each individual believer has a right, though he may not always be in a frame with confidence to claim the privilege--yet each individual believer has a right, to address the Saviour as Thomas did, My Lord, and my God! Or, in the endearing language of the Church-My Beloved is mine and I am his. This is the name by which He shall be called—the grand, the endearing relation in which both He and his people shall rejoice, and rejoice forever.
Let us inquire in WHAT RESPECTS, and in what sense Jehovah the Saviour is the righteousness of his people.
Righteousness is conformity to a right standard. In this case, it is conformity to the only perfect standard, the will of God. Righteousness, so far as it may be attributed to redeemed man, is contemplated by systematic writers in a three-fold sense ; -as IMPUTED, INHERENT, and PRACTICAL. Now in each of these senses the Lord Jesus Christ may be called “the righteousness" of his people.
1. Jehovah the Saviour is the righteousness of his people, because his submission to the penalty, and his obedience to the precept of the law of God, as their representative, being imputed to them, forms the sole ground of their justifcation before God.
The doctrine of our pardon and acceptance with God, in virtue of a righteousness not our own, but rendered by Christ, as our Surety, and placed to our account, is laid down in Scripture so frequently, so distinctly, and with such a clearness and force of evidence, that I see not how it can be regarded in any other light than as a fundamental doctrine of the Gospel. If this great truth be not taught in the word of God, we may despair of finding any other truth there established.
God made man upright, in full possession of all the faculties necessary to perfect moral agency, and with all the dispositions which prompted to perfect obedience. But man fell. He transgressed the holy law under which he was placed; he became liable to the dreadful penalty which it denounced against transgression; and had no plea to make, why its righteous sentence should not be executed upon him. In this fall of our first parents we are all criminal sharers. “In Adam,” says the Apostle, “all die." 1. Cor. xv. 22.
By one man's disobedience,” he again declares, “ many were made sinners." Rom. v. 19. We have all totally lost our original righteousness; so that there is now, by nature, “ none righteous, no notone." We have all become guilty before God. And yet the same Apostle, inspired by the Spirit of the living God, declares, that the “unrighteous cannot inherit the kingdom of God ; neither can corruption inherit incorruption.” Thus awfully, then, are we situated. It is an unalterable maxim of Jehovah's government, that without a perfect righteousness to justify him before God, no man can be saved. But it is manifest, both from Scripture and observation, that we are all totally destitute of such a righteousness; having transgressed times and ways without number. A perfect righteousness, therefore, must be provided for us by another, or we perish. There is no alternative. The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. Man must die, or divine justice be dishonored and prostrated, or another, able and willing, must pay the mighty debt on his behalf;—"pay the rigid satisfaction, death for death."
This amazing alternative—an alternative which, however coldly it may received by millions on earth, has filled all heaven with astonishment and praise ever since the hour in which it was proclaimed ; this amazing alterna. tive has actually been adopted in the counsels of eternal wisdom and love. A glorious Personage, able and willing ; mighty to save, and disposed to save, was provided and sent forth, to obey the precept, and suffer the penalty of the law, as our Substitute ; and, in this wonderful character, to bring in an ever. lasting righteousness for our justification. Yes, be astonished ( heavens ! and be filled with grateful, adoring admiration, thou earth! the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, in the likeness of sinful flesh, condescended, in his amazing love, to take the place of the guilty and the perishing, and to become the victim of divine justice in their stead. His language, in the eternal counsels of peace, was—"Let me suffer instead of the guilty. Let me die to save him. Deliver him from going down to the pit; I will be his ransom." This wonderful, this unparalleled offer was accepted. The Father was well pleased for the righteousness' sake of his Son. He accepted it as the price of our pardon; as that on account of which alone all who believe in his Son's name should be justified. So that Jehovah, the Saviour, may now with propriety be styled the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Or, as the text expresses it, He is the Lord our righteousness. As by the
offence of one, many were made sinners ; so by the obedience of One, many rere made righteous. Mark, I entreat you, the pointed and unequivocal language of the Holy Spirit-by the obedience of One, many are, not only pardoned, but made righteous. Rom. v, 19.
But it will, perhaps, be asked, How can the righteousness of another be made ours? How can the righteousness of Christ become our righteousness ? I answer; precisely in the same way in which we became sinners in consequence of Adam's sin ; and in which Christ was made sin for us ; that is, by IMPUTATION. The posterity of the first man did not personally commit that sin which “ brought death into the world with all our woes.” But, in consequence of their covenant relation to him, the guilt of his sin was imputed to them; in other words, they were treated as if they had committed it; and the dreadful penalty of the loss of the divine image, and exposure to God's wrath and curse, followed to them all. In like manner, the blessed Redeemer, though he suffered so deeply, and died so ignominiously, had no sin of his own. He was a Lamb without blemisk, and without spot. He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. Yet the Scriptures tell us, He was made sin for us. This expression cannot mean that he was made a sinner, or that he really be. came personally a criminal, so as either to be regarded in that light by his Father; or in such a sense as to deserve punishment on his own account. To suppose either would be impious. But the expression, doubtless, means, that He, though perfectly innocent and holy in himself, was, in virtue of his covenant undertaking in our behalf, treated on our account, as if he had been a sinner. Having undertaken, in the eternal counsels of peace, to stand in the law.place of his people, and to bear the stroke of divine justice in their stead, so that the really guilty might escape, it pleased the Father to admit the substitution, and to accept the ransom. He, therefore,
He, therefore, laid upon him the iniquities of his people, that is, he treated bim, though really innocent, as if he had committed them, and exacted from him the ultermost farthing of the penalty. Certainly nothing less than this can be considered as the import of those emphatic passages-He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.—Isaiah liii, 5. He bare our sins, (not his own.) He bare our sins in his own body on the tree.—1 Peter, ii, 24. He delivered us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us.-Galatians, iii, 13. He died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.—1 Peter,
Now the fact of Christ having been "made sin," or "a sin offering" for us, in the sense just explained, is calculated to pour a flood of light on the doctrine of imputed righteousness. The cases are exactly analogous. Precisely in the same manner, and upon the same principle, that our sin was made his, does his righteousness become ours,--that is, by imputation. Imputation means placing any thing to the account of another. What the Apostle Paul says to Philemon, concerning Onesimus, exemplifies the principle. If he owe thee aught, says the Apostle, place it to my account, I will repay thee. This is precisely the idea intended in the case before us. What Christ did and suffered as Mediator, was not personally done and suffered by us.There is no transfer of moral character in the case. This would be in. consistent with personal identity. Nay, it might be regarded as a moral absurdity. But, in virtue of the covenant of redemption, his righteous.