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shall dwell in a peaceful habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places." This is a full promise.
Allow me to speak to you in the First place of "righteousness." What about this righteousness ? Is it the righteousness of a creature ? The Apostle says-quoting the words of the Psalmist—“There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans iii
. 10). If then there be “none righteous, no, not one,” I rather think that out of unrighteousness you cannot get righteousness. Job puts it thus :—“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean ? Not one” (Job xiv. 4). Well then, you see if we were to speak of our righteousness, we should have to say with the prophet of old : “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Filthy rags! Filthy Rags !! And this is that which the creature is inclined to boast of at times. I scarcely ever heard of persons boasting of their filthy clothing which they wear to cover their bodies. Now, your own goodness, or what you suppose is your own righteousness, is as filthy rags, or worse, in God's sight-filthy! unclean ! unclean !!
Well now, let us see if we cannot find some other righteousness which is worthy of our attention.
I think we can. I shall speak to you of righteousness as it presents itself to us in three aspects, viz.:—Righteousness objectively for us before God, righteousness in us subjectively, and righteousness evidentially or reflectively. Righteousness! Who or what is this righteousness? We have the answer given in the 3rd chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, that the righteousness is the Lord Jesus Christ in all that He did in His life and in His death, and in all that He is before God. This righteousness is spoken of in the 5th chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans as the one Righteousness, and the one Justification, and the one Obedience. This righteousness is the end of the law. It is the Lord himself. There were some that went about in the Apostles' time to establish their own righteousness, for they were not willing to submit themselves to the righteousness of God; and then the Apostle says, that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth. Christ then is the righteousness, and I know of no other righteousness in which a person can appear acceptably before his God. Hence, He is described as the Lord our Righteousness. The Psalmist says that this is an everlasting righteousness. Now, I want just such a righteousness as this. A righteousness that will last for ever. This righteousness is spoken of as being like the great mountains (Psalm xxxvi. 6). “Thy righteousness O God is very high." Of course it is, it reaches to the
heavens. And this is the Lord Jesus Christ who is our righteousness before God. And we shall never be able to appear in any other righteousness before Him in Heaven. I need not enlarge upon this aspect of righteousness. You see that the Lord is our objective righteousness.
Now there is what we call subjective righteousness. I shall put it thus. There is the righteousness which God puts into a man, and which man could never put into himself. You see this is very plain and very simple. The Holy Ghost implants and unfolds this righteousness within. Who or what is this righteousness which the Holy Ghost
unfolds? Why, it is the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, we find these words in the 14th chapter of Romans and the 17th verse- -“ For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but (it is) righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” The Holy Ghost establishes this righteousness in us. This righteousness would never have been set up in a poor sinner unless Christ had been righteousness before God for him. Look well to this, beloved; for this is the image spoken of in the 4th of Ephesians, “created in righteousness and true holiness" (verse 24). There are three things which make up the new man in us,- Righteousness, knowledge, and holiness.
This is a description of the new man in Christ Jesus. There is another verse which I shall quote, which runs thus,-" The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth" (Ephesians v. 9). Where is all this? First in Christ and then in us by the Holy Ghost. Who produces Christ in us? nor I can do it. Nor, indeed, do I wish to do it. I am perfectly satisfied with the righteousness of Jesus for me, before God, in heaven. And I am perfectly satisfied with the righteousness and holiness of Jesus in my soul, produced by the Holy Spirit. I need no other righteousness within. The righteousness of Jesus, and all is glorious within.
But then, arising out of this, there is another manifestation of righteousness which we shall call evidential or reflective. I mention this because there are so many that I meet with who say, “Well, if we were to preach as you do we should find our people leading any sort of lives, they would be careless and indifferent. Such teaching borders on licentiousness.” “Well,” we say,
ave not the least doubt but that that is your view of the matter. You are, however, mistaken on this point, as you are on some others, and therefore you have yet something to learn respecting the righteousness of which we are speaking Well, what does St. Paul say? Does he say that such teaching leads to licentiousness, or to unrighteousness, or to unholiness? Do turn to his Epistle to Titus, and read the 2nd chapter, and the 11th verse—“The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that "--mark well the teaching—“teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world ; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Here you have St. Paul's view of free grace teaching with its natural effect. And thus you have the threefold aspect of righteousness. Look at it in this threefold aspect. Christ is our righteousness before God, Christ is righteousness revealed in us by the Spirit of God. The evidential or reflective righteousness of Christ is manifested in a Christian man's life. A Christian's life proves that the Spirit of God has been personally working in him. And the Spirit's work within is a proof that Christ is perfect righteousness before God for him. And Christ being righteousness before God in heaven for him is a further proof of that everlasting love of the Father, and “Covenant, ordered in all things,
and sure” (II Samuel xxiii. 5). And this too from before the foundation of the world. So much for righteousness in its threefold aspect.
My second point is this. “ The work of righteousness," or the effect of righteousness, is "peace, quietness, and assurance for ever.” For ever is a long time. The first fruit or effect of righteousness here mentioned is PEACE. I like to speak of peace ! I enjoy peace! Well, Who made peace? Who? Think for a moment, and then look into the 1st chapter of the Epistle to the Colossians, and read these words :“Having made PEACE through the blood of His cross” (verse 20). Now you see who made peace. It was neither you nor I. No! No!! It was Jesus. It was His blood, the blood of the cross, that made peace between God and the sinner. And there is no other peace between God and the sinner. And if your peace were not made meritoriously on Calvary it never will be made. Well, but you say the effect of righteousness is peace. Now, look—I have spoken of peace as it was made on the cross; but there is another peace which is the effect of that. Where is it felt? Why! it is felt down in the heart, just as all the other fruits of the Spirit are. Hence it is said : “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, PEACE." Why? this peace within is felt by those who have the Spirit. If I know anything of the peace made on Calvary, it is the Spirit of God who has impressed it on my soul. It is the peace which passeth all understanding. The children of God understand a little about the peace of the cross, and they know something of the Spirit's peace as felt within. Sometimes it comes into you, as Isaiah says, “ like a river." Great shall be the peace of the Lord's children (Isaiah liv. 13). It is the Father's peace, the Son's peace, and the Spirit's peace. It is peace to and in the children. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee : because he trusteth in Thee” (Isaiah xxvi. 3). Stayed on Christ! It is not I keeping myself in perfect peace. I cannot do it. No! Blessed be God, it is He who does it. He gives the peace, and He keeps the peace in the soul, or the soul in peace.
A settled peace, a fixed peace, a lasting peace. Here the
Here the prophet says, “ Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” He is the Rock of ages which can be trusted. Now, there are some who
may not experience much of this peace. But I put it to you, brethren, as God's children. Have you never experienced it? I know youl
peace with God through Jesus Christ—that felt peace with God which the Spirit produces, which is perfect peace; a peace which you would not part with for ten thousand worlds. I dare say some of you
you had died when you first enjoyed peace; and you may have thought how safe you were then and how unsafe you have been since. Well
, is not this the experience of some, and indeed, of many? Of such, allow me to say that they were perfectly safe when they enjoyed the peace, and that they were also perfectly safe when they did not enjoy this blessing
Do not run away with the idea that they were more safe when they did enjoy the blessing of perfect peace than when they did not. Our Lord said: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you ; not as the world giveth give I unto you” (John xiv. 27). Not so!
You know that what the world can give it can generally take away, but
peace shall never be removed. “Grace unto you and peace be multiplied” (1 Peter i. 2). The enjoyment of multiplied peace was the good wish of the Apostle. May grace and
peace be multiplied in your souls ! May you feel it as the effect of righteousness and as the fruit of the Holy Ghost!
Another effect of this righteousness is quietness. To have quietness ! To be quiet! To have a holy calm in one's own soul, and not to be tossed about as described in the 42nd Psalm, “all Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me (verse 7). The word for quietness denotes rest from war (Judges iii. 11). “In returning and rest shall ye be saved ; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah xxx. 15). Is this anything to you? Is all within quietness and a holy calm ? You know what Job says (xxxiv. 29), “ When He (God) giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? And when He hideth His face, who then can behold Him ?." May He be pleased to give His children the enjoyment of peace, a holy quietness, and an enduring assurance. But, beloved, our trials and our troubles which we have here below are as much from God as our peace, and our calm, and our quietness. The good and the evil very frequently alternate in a christian man's heart. He has sometimes quietness, and sometimes trouble.
The next effect of righteousness is “ assurance." To feel sure of going to heaven! What a privilege! Assurance ! This word “assurance is generally translated in the Scriptures, “in safety.” “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him.” “ Israel then shall dwell in safety alone” (Deu. xxxiii. 12, 28). Thus, the children of God are dwelling in safety. Take another passage or two_“Israel shall dwell in safety," but it is in “the Lord our righteousness" (Jer. xxiii. 6). “My people Israel shall dwell safely in that day ” (Ezekiel xxxviii. 14). The idea of safety is in the word assurance. But to speak of felt and experimental assurance. The Apostle described Abraham's full assurance in these words—“ Being fully persuaded that what He had promised He was able also to perform” (Romans iv. 21!.
you experienced what is called in the New Testament the full assurance of faith, the full assurance of understanding, the full assurance of hope? This assurance which is brought out in the New Testament is just the opposite of doubting. You will not always enjoy the full assurance of faith, nor yet will you be always doubting. Perhaps some of you may say that
have never loubted. I should just as soon think that you have never believed. But I may be wrong upon this point. I am speaking from my own experience, and I am obliged to confess that I have often felt that after preaching to others I myself should be a castaway.
Do you know anything of such an experience as this? You have looked upon others who were in doubting castle and you could say of them “Well! They are all right. I wish I was like them. I should be delighted to see myself as right as they are.” Now, to measure
ourselves by ourselves is not wise. We are neither saved nor lost because of our doubts and fears. The full assurance of faith is strong confidence, and an exclusion of doubts from the mind. The full assurance of understanding is when the understanding is filled with the Spirit of Christ. It is a clear and spiritual apprehension of the Saviour as my Saviour. The full assurance of hope is a bright prospect of heaven. It is an abounding hope of a blessed future. Faith added to faith-understanding to understanding—and hope to hope, is experimental assurance. The effect of righteousness is assurance.
Look how long this assurance is to last. Why, it is to last for ever. " Assurance for ever." Well, this is a long time—“for ever.” It would do, you say, if it only lasted till we got to heaven, for there is nothing there that could take it away from us. My text, you see, is I scarcely know, how to describe “for ever,".
«for ever." The child of God is for ever safe in the arms of the beloved Jesus. Safe in the hands of His power, and safe in the bosom of His love throughout the days of eternity. Now, these are some of the effects of righteousness as they are set forth in our text. " The effect of righteousness is peace, quietness, and assurance for ever.” Safety and assurance for ever!
I shall now consider in the Third place the promise as contained in the 18th verse
“ And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” “My people.” What do you say? My people, my people. Well! God has His people, and we cannot erase the fact from the Bible, neither shall we attempt to do so. But I shall cut this part short as I wish to enlarge upon other expressions in the verse. We must understand that the “My people thus spoken of in the Book of Revelation : “ They that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful" (Kevelation xvii. 14).
- Chosen they have been, from everlasting. Called " in time by the Holy Spirit, and “faithful.” God makes them faithful unto death. If you be His sons He speaks to you, and says that you shall obtain a crown of life. “ Be faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation ji. 10). This is for His children, and these are the “My people" spoken of in the text.
My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation.” A peaceable habitation. What is this habitation that is spoken of here? look into the Scriptures we shall find that the Lord Himself is this habitation. For it is said in the 71st Psalm and the 3rd verse : thou my strong habitation.” Jehovah is the habitation. strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort : Thou hast given commandment to save me ; for Thou art my Rock and my Fortress.” My habitation is the Lord and He has given commandment to save me. Observe the words—He has given commandment to save me. Then the Lord's command must be obeyed. Look at another Psalm, the 91st. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” The 9th verse :
Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy
6 Be " Be thou my