The Everlasting Righteousness Index
by Horatius Bonar (1808-1889
God's Answer to
God's Recognition of Substitution
of the Substitution
The Declaration of the Completeness
Righteousness for the Unrighteousness
Righteousness of God Reckoned to Us
the Resurrection of the Substitute Has Done
Pardon and Peace Made Sure
The Holy Life of the
The awakened conscience of the sixteenth century betook itself to "the
righteousness of God." There it found refuge, at once from condemnation and
from impurity. Only by "righteousness" could it be pacified; and nothing
less than that which is divine could meet the case. At the cross this
"righteousness" was found; human, yet divine: provided for man, and
presented to him by God, for relief of conscience and justification of life.
On the one word tetelestai "It is finished," as on a heavenly
resting-place, weary souls sat down and were refreshed. The voice from the
tree did not summon them to do, but to be satisfied with what was
done. Millions of bruised consciences there found healing and peace.
of that finished work brought the sinner into favour with God; nor did it
leave him in uncertainty as to this. The justifying work of Calvary was
God's way, not only of bringing pardon, but of securing certainty. It was
the only perfect thing which had ever been presented to God in man's behalf;
and so peculiar was this perfection, that it might be used by man in his
transactions with God, as if it were his own.
knowledge of this sure justification was life from the dead to multitudes.
All over Europe, from the Apennines to the Grampians, from the Pyrenees to
the Carpathians, went the glad tidings that man is justified freely, and
that God wishes him to know he is justified. It was not merely a new thought
for man's intellect, but a new discovery for his soul, (1) As to the true
source of spiritual health, viz. the setting of man's conscience
right with God; (2) As to the continuation of that health, viz. the keeping
of the conscience right.
of this was not merely a healthy personal religion, but a renovated
intellect and a noble literature, and, above all, a pure worship. It was an
era of resurrection. The graves were opened; and the congregation of the
dead became the church of the living. Christendom awoke and arose. The
resurrection-dew fell far and wide; nor has it yet ceased to fall.
Christianity had grovelled in the dust, smothered with semi-pagan rites;
ready to die, if not already dead; bound hand and foot by a semi-idolatrous
priesthood, unable to do aught for a world which it had been sent to
regenerate. Now "it was lifted up from the earth, and made to stand upon its
feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it."
conscience was born; and with a new conscience came in new life and
power. Nothing had been seen like this since the age of apostles.
doctrine of another's righteousness reckoned to us for justification before
God is one of the links that knot together the first and the sixteenth
centuries, the Apostles and the Reformers. The creeds of the Reformation
overleap fifteen centuries, and land us at once in the Epistle to the
Romans. Judicial and moral cleansing was what man needed; and in that
epistle we have both the imputed and imparted righteousness; the former the
root or foundation of the latter. Not the one without the other; both
together, inseparable; but each in its own order.
It was not
Luther merely who took up the old watchword, "The just shall live by faith,"
and thus found the answer of a good conscience toward God. To thousands of
hearts it came like a voice from heaven, they knew not how. Sunshine from
above had fallen upon one grand text; the text which the age needed: men
recognized the truth thus supernaturally lighted up. "The nations came to
its light, and kings to the brightness of its rising." The inquiring men of
that age, though not borrowing from each other, betook themselves to this
truth and text. From every kingdom of Europe came the same voice; and every
Protestant Confession bore witness to the unanimity of awakened Christendom.
The long-needed, long-missing truth had been found; and eureka was
the cry of gladness were heard announcing its discovery.
fathers saw that this truth was the basis of all real spiritual life. That
which was superficial, and morbid, and puny, and second-rate, might do with
some less deep, less broad foundation; but all that is healthy, and noble,
and daring, and happy, and successful in religion must rest here. "The just
shall live by faith."
is fashionable in our age. But is it that which sprang up, after centuries
of darkness, among our fathers in Europe? Is it that of apostles and
prophets? Is it the calm yet thorough religion which did such great deeds in
other days? Has it gone deep into the conscience? Has it filled the heart?
Has it pervaded the man? Or has it left the conscience unpacified, the heart
unfilled, the man unchanged, save with some external appliances of
religiousness, which leaves him hollow as before? There is at this
moment many an aching spirit, bitterly conscious of this hollowness. The
doctrine, the profession, the good report of others, the bustle of work,
will not fill the soul. God Himself must be there, with His covering
righteousness, His cleansing blood, His quickening Spirit. Without this,
religion is but a shell: holy services are dull and irksome. Joy in God,
which is the soul and essence of worship, is unknown. Sacraments,
prayer-meetings, religious services, labours of charity, will not make up
for the living God.
of unreality there may be in the religious life of our age, it is for
each individual to determine for himself, that he may not be deceived nor
lose his reward.
unreality is weakness as well as irksomeness; and the sooner that we are
stripped of unreality the better, both for peace and for usefulness.
their feet firmly set on Luther's rock, "the righteousness of God," filled
with the Spirit, and pervaded with the peace of God, do the great things in
the church; others do the little.
The men of
robust spiritual health are they who, like Luther, have made sure of their
filial relationship to God. They shrink from no battle, nor succumb to any
toil. The men who go to work with an unascertained relationship give way in
the warfare, and faint under the labour: their life is not perhaps a failure
or defeat; but it is not a victory, it is not a triumph.
"We do not
war after the flesh," and "our weapons are not carnal" (2 Cor 10:3,4). Our
battle is not fought in the way that the old man would have us to fight it.
It is "the fight of faith" (1 Tim 6:12). It is not by doubting
but by believing that we are saved; it is not by doubting but
by believing that we overcome. Faith leads us first of all to Abel's
"more excellent sacrifice" (Heb 11:4). By faith we quit Ur and Egypt and
Babylon, setting our face to the eternal city (Heb 11:16). By faith we offer
up our Isaacs, and worship "leaning on the top of our staffs," and "give
commandment concerning our bones." By faith we choose affliction with the
people of God, and despise Egypt's treasures. By faith we keep our Passover;
pass through the Red Sea; overthrow Jerichos; subdue kingdoms; work
righteousness; stop the mouth of lions; quench the violence of fire; turn to
flight the armies of the aliens, and refuse deliverance in the day of trial,
that we may obtain a better resurrection (Heb 11:35).
"believing" from first to last. We begin, we go on, we end in faith.
The faith that justifies is the faith that overcomes (1 John
5:4). By faith we obtain the "good report" both with God and man. By faith
we receive forgiveness; by faith we live; by faith we work, and endure, and
suffer; by faith we win the crown,-a crown of righteousness, which shall be
ours in the day of the appearing of Him who is OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
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