Lecture 7. The Characteristics of the Gift of Righteousness

{155} IT is not uncommon in Scripture, as all readers know, to represent the especial gift of the Gospel as a robe or garment, bestowed on those who are brought into the Church of Christ. Thus the prophet Isaiah speaks of our being "clothed with the garments of salvation, covered with the robe of righteousness," as with a rich bridal dress. A passage was quoted in a former place from the prophet Zechariah to the same purport; in which Almighty God takes from Joshua the high priest his filthy garments, and gives him change of raiment, and a mitre for his head. In like manner, when the prodigal son came home, his father put on him "the best robe," "and a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet;" agreeable to which is St. Paul's declaration that "as many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ."

Now such expressions as these in Scripture are too forcible and varied to be a mere figure denoting the profession of Christianity; as if our putting on Christ were a taking on us the name and responsibilities of a Christian:—this I shall take for granted. It is much the same kind of evasion or explaining away, to say that by God's clothing us in righteousness is only meant His {156} counting us as if righteous; all the difference being that in the former interpretation the clothing is made to stand for our calling ourselves, and in the latter for God's calling us, what really we are not.

Nor, again, can these expressions be very well taken to mean newness of life, holiness, and obedience; for this reason, if for no other, that no one is all at once holy, and renewed, in that full sense which must be implied if the terms be interpreted of holiness. Baptized persons do not so put on Christ as to be forthwith altogether different men from what they were before; at least this is not the rule, as far as we have means of deciding. Thus there is a call on the face of the matter for some more adequate interpretation of such passages of Scripture, than is supplied either by the Roman or the Protestant schools; and this surely is found in the doctrine of the last Lecture. If that doctrine be true, the robe vouchsafed to us is the inward presence of Christ, ministered to us through the Holy Ghost; which, it is plain, admits on the one hand of being immediately vouchsafed in its fulness, as a sort of invisible Shekinah, or seal of God's election, yet without involving on the other the necessity of a greater moral change than is promised and effected in Baptism.

With this, too, agrees what is told of our own duties towards this sacred possession, which are represented as negative rather than active; I mean, we are enjoined not to injure or profane it, but so to honour it in our outward conduct, that it may be continued and increased in us. For instance, our Lord says, "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments; {157} and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy." [Rev. iii. 4.] Such words are more naturally interpreted of an inward gift than of a mere imputation; and scarcely admit of being explained of a moral condition of heart, attained (under grace) through our own exertions. They are parallel to St. Paul's warning against "grieving the Spirit of God;" which may just as reasonably be interpreted of mere moral excellence, as in some heretical schools has been done. Of the same character are exhortations such as St. Paul's, not "to defile the temple of God;" to recollect that we are the temple of God, and that the Holy Ghost is in us.


Moreover, it may throw light on these metaphors to inquire whether (considering we have gained under the Gospel what we lost in Adam, and justification is a reversing of our forfeiture, and a robe of righteousness is what Christ gives) it was not such a robe that Adam lost. If so, what is told us of what he lost, will explain to us what it is we gain. Now the peculiar gift which Adam lost is told us in the book of Genesis; and it certainly does seem to have been a supernatural clothing. He was stripped of it by sinning as of a covering, and shrank from the sight of himself. This was the sign of his inward loathsomeness; and accordingly all through Scripture we find stress is laid on one especial punishment, which is hereafter to result from sin, of a most piercing and agonizing character, the manifestation of our shame. When we consider what our feelings {158} are now as connected with this subject, we may fancy what an inexpressibly keen anguish is thus in store for sinners, when their eyes shall be opened, who at present "glory in their shame, and mind earthly things." Such then was Adam's loss in God's sight, as visibly typified; and, therefore, such as what he lost is the nature of the Gospel gift, so far as it is a return to what he lost. And as such our Lord speaks of it in the Apocalypse, warning us, as of our natural destitution, so of His power and willingness to remedy it. "I counsel thee," He says, "to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayst be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayst be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear." [Rev. iii. 18.] And again, "Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." [Rev. xvi. 15.] Christ then clothes us in God's sight with something over and above nature, which Adam forfeited.

Now that Adam's supernatural clothing was not a mere imputed righteousness, need not formally be proved; it was a something, of the loss of which he was himself at once conscious, which he could not be of acts passing in the Divine Mind. Nor was it real inherent holiness; at least we may so conjecture from this circumstance, that such a habit is the result of practice and habituation, and, as it would be attainable but gradually, so when attained it would scarcely yield at once to external temptation. But whether or not we may trust ourselves to such arguments, the early Church supersedes the need of them by explaining, that what {159} Adam lost on sinning, was in fact a supernatural endowment, and agreeably with the view of justification already taken, was nothing less than the inward presence either of the Divine Word, or of the Holy Ghost.

The Catholic fathers, as Bishop Bull has collected their testimony [Note 1], teach that the principle of sanctity in Adam, to which was attached the gift of immortal life, was something distinct from and above his human nature. That nature, indeed, did look towards such a perfection, but could not in itself reach it. Without this heavenly possession, man was not able to keep the Law according to the Covenant of Life, but with it he could serve God acceptably, and gain the reward set before him.

This interpretation of the Scripture account of man's original nature and fall is confirmed by various passages of St. Paul. For instance, he speaks of man as being by mere creation what he calls a sou1; "The first Adam was made a living soul;" now just before, he has used a derived form of the same word, though in our version it does not appear. He says, "there is a natural body," that is, "a body with a soul." Elsewhere he says, "the natural man," that is, the man with a soul, "receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God." [1 Cor. xv. 44, 45; ii. 14, 15. 1 Thess. v. 32.] Human nature then, viewed in itself, is not spiritual, and that neither in soul nor body. Accordingly St. Paul contrasts with this mere natural state that which is spiritual, which alone is pleasing to God, and which alone can see Him. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit {160} of God; for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned; but he that is spiritual discerneth all things." In like manner, after saying there is a natural, he adds, "there is a spiritual body;" and after saying that Adam in himself was but a living soul, he adds, that Christ, the beginning of the new creation, is "a quickening Spirit." In accordance with this distinction, in another Epistle he prays for his disciples, that their whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless.

Whatever else, then, Adam had by creation, this seems to have been one main supernatural gift, or rather that in which all others were included, the presence of God the Holy Ghost in him, exalting him into the family and service of His Almighty Creator. This was his clothing; this he lost by disobedience; this Christ has regained for us. This then is the robe of righteousness spoken of by Isaiah, to be bestowed in its fulness hereafter, bestowed partially at once: less at present than what Adam had in point of completeness, far greater in its nature; less in that he had neither decaying body nor infected soul, far more precious in that it is the indwelling and manifestation in our hearts of the Incarnate Word. For what in truth is the gift even in this our state of humiliation, but a grafting invisibly into the Body of Christ; a mysterious union with Him, and a fellowship in all the grace and blessedness which is hidden in Him? Thus it separates us from other children of Adam, is our badge and distinction in the presence of the unseen world, and is the earnest of {161} greater good in store. It is an angelic glory which good spirits honour, which devils tremble at, and which we are bound reverently to cherish, with a careful abstinence from sin, and with the offering of good works. Well then may Prophets and Apostles exult in it as the great gift of Divine Mercy, as the rich garment of salvation, and the enjewelled robe of righteousness; as linen clean and white, or, as it is elsewhere expressed, as "Christ in us," and "upon us," and around us; as if it were a light streaming from our hearts, pervading the whole man, enwrapping and hiding the lineaments and members of our fallen nature, circling round us, and returning inward to the centre from which it issues. The Almighty Father, looking on us, sees not us, but this Sacred Presence, even His dearly beloved Son spiritually manifested in us; with His blood upon our door-posts, in earnest of that final abolition of sin which is at length to be accomplished in us.

Such is the great gift of the Gospel conveyed to us by the ministration of the Spirit, partly now, fully hereafter, and to it a number of passages in the New Testament seem to refer. I shall now proceed to consider it, under two chief designations which are there given to it; by attending to which we shall conceive more worthily of our privilege, and gain a deeper insight into the sacred text; I mean glory and power. Both these titles are applied to the gift in the following passages:—

"It," the human corpse, "is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in {162} power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."

St. Paul prays to God for his brethren, "that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all Saints what is the breadth and length, and depth and height."

Made powerful with all power, according to the might of His glory, unto all patience and long-suffering with joy, giving thanks unto the Father, who hath made us equal to sharing the inheritance of the saints in light."

"It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the Heavenly Gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance." [1 Cor. xv. 43, 44; Eph. iii. 16; Col. i. 11,12; Heb. vi. 4-6.]


Let us then consider this great gift, first as it is glory, then as it is power.

1. Besides the usual sense which the word glory bears in Scripture in relation to our duties to Almighty God, as when we are told to "do all to the glory of God," it has also, I need hardly say, in a number of places a mysterious sense, denoting some attribute, property, virtue, or presence of the Divine Nature manifested {163} visibly. Thus we read of the glory of the Lord appearing over the Tabernacle, and entering into the Temple; and in like manner of the glory of the Lord shining round about the shepherds. Cases of this kind must occur to every attentive reader of the Scriptures. In the places just referred to it seems to mean a presence of God; but sometimes it stands for His moral attributes. Moses gained leave to see the skirts of His glory, and the permission was conveyed in these words, "I will make all My goodness pass before thee." Accordingly, Almighty God was proclaimed, as He passed by, as "the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth."

Now as long as Scripture uses the word glory to denote the general awfulness attendant on the presence of Almighty God, there is nothing to surprise us, for every thing that attaches to Him is mysterious; but it becomes remarkable, when we find, as in other passages, the same mysterious attribute, which belongs to Him, ascribed to us.

In considering this point, it is obvious first to mention our Saviour's words to His Almighty Father in His prayer before His passion:—"The glory which Thou gavest Me, I have given them." [Exod. xxxiii. 18, 19; xxxiv. 6. John xvii. 22; xi. 40. Rom. vi. 4.]

What is this glory which has passed from Christ to us? It is some high gift which admits of being transferred, as is evident. What it was in Christ, we see in some degree by the following words of St. Paul:—"Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." {164} Whatever else it was, it appears hence that it was a presence or power which operated for the resurrection of His body. In this connection it may be well to direct attention to a passage which, otherwise, with our present notions, we should explain (as we should think) more naturally. Before our Lord raises Lazarus, He says to Martha, "Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" What He had said before to her was simply, that He was the Resurrection and the Life.

And when granted to us, it is characterized by the same operative power; St. Paul speaks in a text already cited of "the might of God's glory in us;" of our being "strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, according to the riches of His glory." And elsewhere of "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the Saints;" and St. Peter of our being called "to glory and virtue;" of the "Spirit of glory and of God resting on us;" and St. Paul again of our being "changed from glory to glory." The gift then is habitual; both permanent and increasing. Again: "Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light." "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." "The God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." To these may be added a text, which we now understand differently, "All have sinned, and come short of," or are in need of, "the glory of God." [Eph. v. 8, 14. 2 Cor. iv. 4. Rom. iii. 23. [Note 2]] {165}

Lastly, these mentions of glory are distinctly connected with the gift of "righteousness." St. Paul speaks indifferently of the "ministration of the Spirit," and "of the ministration of righteousness, exceeding in glory." [2 Cor. iii. 8, 9.]

Now, without knowing at all what "glory" means, all these passages seem to show that it is a gift directly proceeding from God's nature, and intimately united to the Christian. Here then is additional evidence that an endowment is bestowed upon us distinct from any moral gift, or any mere external title or imputation; and that this endowment thus distinguished is nothing else than our righteousness.


2. The same general conclusion will follow from considering the gift as power.

Properly speaking, the word "power," denotes a divine attribute or prerogative. As glory seems to designate the inherent perfection of Almighty God from eternity (as, for instance, when the Son is called "the brightness of God's glory"), so "power" is a characteristic of that perfection as manifested in time. Creation is the offspring of His power; again, He "upholds all things by the word of His power."

Next, it is used to denote the particular attribute manifested in the Economy of Redemption and in the {166} Person of the Redeemer; for instance,—"The power of the Highest" overshadowed the Blessed Virgin in order to the Incarnation. "Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee." Christ was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." St. Paul speaks of "knowing Him and the power of His resurrection," "Jesus immediately perceived that virtue" or power (for the word is the same in the original), "had gone out of Him." "There went power out of Him, and healed them all." "Mighty works do show forth themselves in Him," that is, "these virtues or powers do energize, act, live, or work, in Him." [Luke i. 35; iv. 14. Rom. i. 4. Phil. iii. 10. Mark v. 30. Luke vi. 19. Mark vi. 14.]

Next, let it be observed that this virtue or power was given by Him to His disciples, and then in our Version the word is commonly translated miracle. It is true, it does sometimes mean precisely the miraculous act or work itself; but it often means, not the work, but as the word virtue implies, the faculty or gift of power within the agent which effects the work. For instance: "He gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases." "Ye shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you." "My speech, and my preaching, was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." In like manner Simon Magus, when he bewitched the Samaritans, was called by them "the great power" or virtue "of God." [Luke ix. 1. Acts i. 8. 1 Cor. ii. 4. Acts viii. 10.] {167}

Further, the effects of this indwelling gift in the Apostles are described as similar to those which our Lord allowed to appear in Himself; I mean, it showed itself as a virtue going out of them, so as to take away all pretence of its being considered a mere act of the power of God, external to themselves, accompanying their word or deed, and not an effect through them and from them. Thus of St. Paul it is said, that "God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul, so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs and aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them." Again: "By the hands of the Apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them." [Acts xix. 11, 12; v. 12-15.] The instance of the virtue of Elisha's bones in raising the dead is another remarkable instance of the inward gift of the Spirit, and anticipates Gospel times.

And, lastly, such in kind, though not miraculous (in the common sense of the word), is the gift bestowed upon the Christian Church and its members. The same word being used, we may well believe that it is an inward yet not a moral gift, but a supernatural power or divine virtue. Thus, for instance, our Lord speaks of it as being in the body or Church; and says, on one occasion, that there were some about Him, "who should not taste of death, till they had seen the kingdom of God come with power." The Gospel is said to be "the power {168} of God unto salvation;" Christ, "unto the called, both Jews and Greeks," is "the power of God and wisdom of God." And so as regards the Apostles and Christians generally. Thus we read of St. Paul's ministerial power as a similar inward gift;—"whereof," he says, that is, of the Gospel, "I was made a minister, by the gift of the grace of God, which was given to me by the inward working of His power." Again, he speaks of his "striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily." [1 Cor. i. 18-24. Eph. iii. 7. Col. i. 29.] Again: "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." Now this expression, "rest upon me," is in the original "rest upon me as in a tabernacle;" and is used elsewhere. For instance, in an earlier part of this same Epistle, the word "tabernacle" has been used for the mortal body. What, then, St. Paul rejoices in, is that the power of Christ is upon his tabernacle or body; and the weight of this privilege is intimated by the adoption of the word in the Apocalypse, to describe the characteristic of future glory, "He that sitteth on the throne shall tabernacle over them." [2 Cor. xii. 9. Rev. vii. 15; xxi. 3.]

To the same purport are the following passages: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me," that is, more literally, "I am every way strong in the power-imparting Christ," or "in Christ who worketh power in me." And it is observable, that this power is said to be the same as wrought the Resurrection, or what is elsewhere called glory; St. Paul, as I have said, prays for the Ephesians, that "the eyes of their understanding {169} may be enlightened, that they may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the inward working of the might of His strength, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead." He returns thanks and praises "unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." He desires for himself that he "may know Him, and the power of His resurrection." He speaks of "the work of faith with power." He bids Timothy "be partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel according to the power of God." [Eph. i. 18-20; iii. 20. Phil. iii. 10. 2 Thes. i. 11. 2 Tim. i. 8. Heb. vii. 16. 1 Pet. i. 5. 2 Pet. i. 3.] He declares that Christ is made a priest "not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life;" His eternal and spiritual existence becoming, through His sacerdotal intercession, an inward power to His followers, such as could not be imparted by any mere earthly system. Again, St. Peter speaks of Christians being "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation;" and of God having given us, "according to His divine power," "all things that pertain unto life and godliness."

Here then, as before, I conclude that an endowment is vouchsafed to us, not simply moral, yet internal, so as fitly to answer and corroborate the description I have already given of "the gift of righteousness." {170}


Since, then, the gift of righteousness is a supernatural presence in our moral nature, distinct from it, yet dwelling in it and changing it, it is not wonderful that the change itself should sometimes be spoken of in Scripture as the gift or as included in the gift. Thus, for instance, the garment of salvation put on us, is such as to cleave to us, and to tend to become part of us; what was at first a covering merely, becomes our very flesh. The glory of the Divine Nature, of which St. Peter says we are partakers, first hides our deformity, then removes it.

Again: our Saviour asked the brother Apostles, whether they were able to drink of His cup, and to be baptized in His baptism? Can a draught be separated from the drinking it, or a bath from being bathed in it? In like manner the gift of righteousness, which is our justification as given, is our renewal as received.

Or again: the seal, mould, or stamp, with which our souls are marked as God's coin impresses His image upon them. He claims them as His own redeemed property, that is, by the signature of holiness: He justifies us by renewing. How natural this continuance is of the one idea into the other, is shown in the literal sense of the words which I am using figuratively. The word mark stands both for the instrument marking, and the figure which it makes. So again, the word copy sometimes stands for the pattern, sometimes for the imitation. In like manner, image sometimes means the original, sometimes the duplicate or representation. Thus, in one text, man is said to be formed "after the image of God;" in {171} another he is said to be "the image of Christ." [Note 3] And in like manner, though the inward law commonly stands for the new creature, yet it may be said to justify, as standing also for that Archetype of which the new creature is the copy. And again, we may be said to be "saved" by the "ingrafted Word," that is, the Word which is ingrafted, but which for all that does not cease to be what it was when first imparted, the presence of Christ.

The following passage in the Book of Wisdom well illustrates, in the case of the attribute from which it takes its name, what I would enforce,—the indivisible union between the justifying gift of the Divine Presence and the inherent sanctity which is its token.

"All men," says the writer, "have one entrance into life, and the like going out. Wherefore I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I loved her above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light; for the light that cometh from her never goeth out. All good things together came to me with her, and innumerable riches in her hands. I learned diligently and do communicate her liberally; I do not hide her riches; for she is a treasure unto men that never faileth, which they that use become the friends of God, being commended for the gifts that come from learning." [Wisdom vii. 6-14.]

Now, if this were all that were said on the subject, unbecoming complaints would be uttered in some schools of religion, that in this passage an internal gift, called wisdom by the writer, was considered to make us "friends {172} of God," or to justify; and a tendency to Pelagianism would be freely imputed, and an ignorance that justification was God's act, in spite of the strong expression which occurs of the spirit of wisdom coming to the writer, which surely implies a Divine Agent, not an implanted excellence, and in spite of our Lord's plain declaration, that we are His friends if we do what He commands us. However, as the description proceeds, it will be found that the Wisdom spoken of is no created gift, no inward renewal, but none other than the Eternal Word Himself, who afterwards took flesh, in order thus supernaturally to be imparted; and who was announced beforehand by holy men in terms which inspired Apostles in due time adopted. The sacred writer, then (for so surely he may well be called, considering what he says), proceeds as follows:—"In Her" [Wisdom] "is an understanding spirit, holy, only-begotten, manifold, subtle, lively, clear, undefiled, plain, incorruptible, a lover of good, keen, free to act, beneficent, kind to man, stedfast, sure, free from care, all-powerful, all-surveying, and pervading all intellectual, pure, and subtle spirits. For Wisdom is more moving than any motion; She passeth and goeth through all things because of her pureness. For she is the Breath of the power of God, and a pure Effluence from the glory of the Almighty; therefore can no defiled thing fall into her. For she is the Brightness of the Everlasting Light, the unspotted Mirror of the power of God, and the Image of His goodness. And being but One, She can do all things; and remaining in herself, She maketh all things new; and in all ages entering into {173} holy souls She maketh them friends of God and prophets." [Wisdom vii. 22-27.] Here then, while wisdom is said to be our justification, no clear distinction is made between the created wisdom and the Increate.


One more illustration shall be adduced; justification is the setting up of the Cross within us. That Cross, planted by Almighty Hands, is our safeguard from all evil; dropping grace and diffusing heavenly virtue all around, and hallowing the spot where before there was but strife and death. It is our charm against numberless dangers ghostly and bodily; it is our refuge against our accusing and seducing foe, our protection from the terror by night and the arrow by day, and our passport into the Church invisible. But how does this Cross become ours? I repeat, by being given; and what is this giving, in other words, but our being marked with it? Let us see what this implies. We know that in Baptism a cross is literally marked on the forehead. Now suppose (to explain what I mean) we were ordered to mark the cross, not with the finger, but with a sharp instrument. Then it would be a rite of blood. In such a case justification and pain would undeniably go together; they would be inseparable. You might separate them in idea, but in fact they would ever be one. One act would convey both the one and the other. If the invisible presence of the justifying Cross were conveyed to you in marking it visibly, you could not receive the justification without the pain. Justification would involve pain. Now it is in this way that justification {174} actually does involve a spiritual circumcision, a crucifixion of the flesh, or sanctification. The entrance of Christ's sacred presence into the soul, which becomes our righteousness in God's sight, at the same time becomes righteousness in it. It make[s] us travail and be in pangs with righteousness, and work with fear and trembling. Such is the account given of it by the son of Sirach; who uses the same image of Wisdom already referred to:—"If a man," he says, "commit himself to Her, he shall inherit Her, and his generation shall hold Her in possession. For at the first She will walk with him by crooked ways and bring fear and dread upon him, and torment him with her discipline, till She may trust his soul and try him by her laws." [Ecclus. iv. 16, 17.]

It is very necessary to insist upon this, for a reason which has come before us in other shapes already. It is the fashion of the day to sever these two from one another, which God has joined, the seal and the impression, justification and renewal. You hear men speak of glorying in the Cross of Christ, who are utter strangers to the notion of the Cross as actually applied to them in water and blood, in holiness and mortification. They think the Cross can be theirs without being applied,—without its coming near them,—while they keep at a distance from it, and only gaze at it. They think individuals are justified immediately by the great Atonement,—justified by Christ's death, and not, as St. Paul says, by means of His Resurrection,—justified by what they consider looking at His death. Because the Brazen Serpent in the wilderness healed by being looked at, {175} they consider that Christ's Sacrifice saves by the mind's contemplating it. This is what they call casting themselves upon Christ,—coming before Him simply and without self-trust, and being saved by faith. Surely we ought so to come to Christ; surely we must believe; surely we must look; but the question is, in what form and manner He gives Himself to us; and it will be found that, when He enters into us, glorious as He is Himself, pain and self-denial are His attendants. Gazing on the Brazen Serpent did not heal; but God's invisible communication of the gift of health to those who gazed. So also justification is wholly the work of God; it comes from God to us; it is a power exerted on our souls by Him, as the healing of the Israelites was a power exerted on their bodies. The gift must be brought near to us; it is not like the Brazen Serpent, a mere external, material, local sign; it is a spiritual gift, and, as being such, admits of being applied to us individually. Christ's Cross does not justify by being looked at, but by being applied; not by as merely beheld by faith, but by being actually set up within us, and that not by our act, but by God's invisible grace. Men sit, and gaze, and speak of the great Atonement, and think this is appropriating it; not more truly than kneeling to the material cross itself is appropriating it. Men say that faith is an apprehending and applying; faith cannot really apply the Atonement; man cannot make the Saviour of the world his own; the Cross must be brought home to us, not in word, but in power, and this is the work of the Spirit. This is justification; but when imparted to the soul, it draws blood, it heals, it purifies, it glorifies. {176}


With one or two passages from St. Paul in behalf of what I have been saying, I will bring this Lecture to an end. We shall find from the Apostle that the gift of the Justifying Cross as certainly involves an inward crucifixion as a brand or stamp causes sharp pain, or the cure of a bodily ailment consists in a severe operation.

For instance, writing to the Galatians, he says, "God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ;" [Gal. vi. 14.]—what Cross? He goes on to tell us;—"by whom," or, rather, by which "the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world,"—that is, the Cross on Calvary, issuing and completed in its reflection on his own soul. An inward crucifixion was the attendant process of justification. This passage is the more remarkable, because St. Paul is alluding to certain bodily wounds and sufferings, as being actually the mode, in his case, in which the Cross had been applied. He says to his converts,—"The Jews compel you to be circumcised, but we Christians glory in another kind of circumcision, painful indeed, but more profitable. Our circumcision consists in the marks, the brands, of the Lord Jesus; which effect for us what circumcision can but typify, which interest us in His life while interesting us in His passion." The saving Cross crucifies us in saving.

Again: in a previous passage, "A man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by the faith of Christ." [Gal. ii. 16, 20.] Do we conceive this to be a light and pleasant doctrine, and justification to be given without pain and discomfort on our part? so freely given as to be given {177} easily,—so fully as to be lavishly? fully and freely doubtless, yet conferring fully what man does not take freely. He proceeds;—"I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." O easy and indulgent doctrine, to have the bloody Cross reared within us, and our heart transfixed, and our arms stretched out upon it, and the sin of our nature slaughtered and cast out!

Again; in the same Epistle, "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." [Gal. v. 24.] It is remarkable that these three passages are from that Epistle in which the Apostle peculiarly insists on justification being through faith, not through the Law. It is plain he never thought of mere faith as the direct and absolute instrument of it. It should be observed how coincident this doctrine is with our Saviour's command to His disciples to "take up their Cross and follow Him." Our crosses are the lengthened shadow of the Cross on Calvary.

To the same purport are the following texts:—"We are buried with Him by baptism into death ... our old man is crucified with Him."—"Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."—"Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body; for we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh." [Rom. vi. 4, 6; xiii. 14. 2 Cor. iv. 10, 11.]

As then the Cross, in which St. Paul gloried, was not {178} the material cross on which Christ suffered,—so neither is it simply the Sacrifice on the cross, but it is that Sacrifice coming in power to him who has faith in it, and converting body and soul into a sacrifice. It is the Cross, realized, present, living in him, sealing him, separating him from the world, sanctifying him, afflicting him. Thus the great Apostle clasped it to his heart, though it pierced it through like a sword; held it fast in his hands, though it cut them; reared it aloft, preached it, exulted in it. And thus we in our turn are allowed to hold it, commemorating and renewing individually, by the ministry of the Holy Ghost, the death and resurrection of our Lord.

But enough has been said on the matter in hand. On the whole, then, I conclude as follows: that though the Gift which justifies us is, as we have seen, a something distinct from us and lodged in us, yet it involves in its idea its own work in us, and (as it were) takes up into itself that renovation of the soul, those holy deeds and sufferings, which are as if a radiance streaming from it.

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1. State of Man before the Fall, p. 115.
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2. [husterountai tes doxes] Egent gloriā Dei. Vulg.—St. Cyprian makes the sense of the word clearer by reading claritas for gloria, ad Quir. ii. 27. Also [tes doxes aposterei; ton gar proskekpoukoton ei; ho de proskekpoukos ou ton doxazomenon, alla ton kateschummenon], Chrys. in loc. "That is, the fruition of God in Glory:" Whitby in loc. Vid. also Bucer in loc.
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3. Perhaps there is some difference in the sense of these two phrases. Vid. Petav. Dogm. de Opific. ii. 2.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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