« السابقةمتابعة »
ness. Grace must reign through righteousness, if it reign at all. Imputed righteousness, some cry; inherent righteousness, others. Neither the one nor the other, I venture to think. The apostle has a broader meaning, which covers both. Inherent righteousness is a vain show, if it be not rooted in a higher righteousness, in the perfect righteousness; while imputed righteousness is a mere fiction, if no image of itself be generated in the soul. Righteousness! Sin is the condition of grace on the one hand, righteousness on the other. Without sin it has no object, without righteousness it has no way to its end. The broad principle here, and I can only deal with the broad principle, may be thus expressed :
1. None but a righteous soul can be a blessed soul.
2. The righteousness of grace has a glory and a blessedness all its own.
1. The righteous soul alone is blessed.
To some, grace may suggest another idea. Mercy, compassion, gentleness, to the sinner; a kindly passing over his transgression, and a remission of the penalty which it had incurred. I say again, that were feasible enough if a man's worst torment and curse were not himself. Pardon is a slight thing to a man who cannot pardon himself. “Go in peace, be happy,” were but an idle word to the man who bears about the elements of a deadly discord, a crushing misery within. The man wants to be at one with himself, by finding all his powers and passions at one with God. “Unite my heart to fear thy name,” is his persistent cry. “Unloose my bands and let me be free; expel the poison and let me live.” The problem to be solved is within ; there the fountain of bitter waters has to be healed. There a law of God is inscribed on fleshly tablets, and it is exigent of its honour; a law which tells him, with a tone which all the voices of the universe hushing him to peace could not master, that till he can love and begin to live it, sin is reigning in him, and must reign unto death. And it is there that grace reigns through righteousness. An inward harmony, an inward healing, an inward quickening is its promise ; it presents to him a righteousness which is as a man's righteousness, and yet is God's; a righteousness which he can believe in and love; a righteousness not awfully, hopelessly above him; a righteousness at hand, and not afar off; a righteousness which, while his sad worn heart drinks in, as deserts drink in the dew, the love which streams from the dying sacrifice on Calvary, enters with love's “joyous entry," and enshrines itself in his heart.
2. The righteousness which is by grace has a glory and blessedness which is all its own. Grace reigns through righteousness; it is a joyous, glorious reign. The work of grace is to shrine righteousness in man's heart of hearts; to teach him not to obey it only, not to honour it only, but to love it; to love it with a passion that would die for it, as He loved it whose coronation anthem thus was sung :“ Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever : a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” It is not the shadow of His own perfect righteousness, which is unto all and upon all them that believe, which God seeks to behold everywhere. Not the shadow, but as it were the branches, spreading everywhere with a heart of life in them, and filling with living greenness the world. The righteousness came and was incarnate, that men might love it, yea, with a lover's passion. Loving Christ, clasping Christ, it is God's own righteousness which man loves and holds. Through love, he has a joy in all righteous thoughts and righteous deeds, which is part of his joy in Christ his Saviour. It is the Lord's life, into the fellowship of which he is entering; it is the Lord's great end which he is learning to pursue; it is the Lord's glory, the glory of the Redeemer, whose love has won a world to righteousness, whose lustre he is making more intense and resplendent; it is the Lord's joy, the joy of Christ in His righteous redeemed ones, of which he is filling the high measure through eternity. Grace can only bless through righteousness. The righteousness of grace has a glory and a blessedness all its own.
IV. The complete and final end of God. “Unto eternal life.”
Death is simply isolation. The cutting the body off from free communion with its world. The eye can no more drink in the sunlight, the lungs the vital air, the stomach the vital food. They are there all round it, but it is dead to them, cut off from all communion and ministry. Thrown on its own internal resources it preys on itself, wastes itself until there is no more to waste, and then drops downinto the rottenness and nothingness of the grave.
And what is life? The opposite of isolation. It is the faculty of communion with all thingsreceiving their tributes, and repaying them with fruits. The intensity of this power of communionof the eye to commune with the light, of the ear to commune with the music of the world, of the lungs to draw down into the deep recesses of the frame the universal air—is the measure of the life of the body. Nor is it otherwise with the life within The soul's death is the paralysis of its faculty to all that a soul was made to commune with, till it becomes without truth, righteousness, and holiness, without God and without hope, because without
life. The soul's quickening is the rekindling of the energy of its powers, the re-occupation of the glorious range of its faculty to commune with, to possess, and to enjoy all that God has made a soul to live for, all whereby a soul may live eternally.
The work of grace is as the baptism of a new life for man. The eye kindles again when it feels the inspiration, the blood glows, the limbs and organs of the spirit brace themselves to new vigour and swiftness, while a solemn joy fills the heart, which is unspeakable and full of glory. Alive to God! alive to all this goodly universe ! alive to all the splendour and bliss of the new creation, which God will bring forth from the womb of the death to which all things haste that they may rise transfigured; above all, alive to Him! This is the vision which He sets before Himself, beyond all the woe and the wrong of Time. The innumerable company of the living, living as He lives, and able to live like Him, who shall come forth from the great tribulation of earth, to fill His New Jerusalem with songs, to crowd His new creation with sons; prodigals come home, who shall love Him with a passionate devotion, and serve Him with a joyous energy, whose springs shall renew themselves at the fountain of His love eternally :“ And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thou