THE object of his rejoicing is always one and the same, yesterday, to day, and for ever, without any variableness, or shadow of turning. It is Christ, God in Christ, concerning, whom the commandment runs–Rejoice in the Lord. Jesus always and again I say rejoice; there being in him a fountain of joy springing up into everlasting life. What he is in his own wonderful Person–what is revealed of his gracious works and ways in his dealings with the sinners of mankind–what he did for them in the days of his flesh–what he does in them by his Spirit in time–what he has promised to give them in eternity; in every possible view that can be taken of him, a believer may and ought to rejoice always, and that with a fullness of joy; for thus the apostle offers up his praise–"Now thanks be to God, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ;" for he has in his person every possible subject of triumphant joy; he is true and very God; and he is true and very man–God and man in one Christ.
The prophet Isaiah foretold this marvelous union, and gloried in the prospect; for us men, and for our salvation, a Child is born, and a Son is given: and his name shall be called Wonderful, because the Child is the mighty God, and the Son is the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. This is the great mystery of godliness, of which the saints in the Old Testament sang with the sweetest melody in their hearts unto the Lord, as the prophet does in the one hundred and forty-eighth Psalm, calling upon all in heaven and earth, with all their inhabitants, to join him in the praises of Immanuel; because his name alone is excellent, and his praise above heaven and earth. So that the New Testament saint felt it, who declared, that he accounted all things but dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and I do account them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him–found so united to him as to be one with him; for he was united to our nature, in order to bring about another most blessed union. He taking our nature, that we might take his–He made the Son of man, that we might be made the sons of God–He having the power of an endless life, that he might give spiritual and eternal life to all believers; for they, in the day of his power, are joined to the Lord by one Spirit–the same Spirit in the members as in the Head–that through him, their head, they might be able to say, Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, by the bond of his Spirit.
It is not possible for man to conceive higher things than our Lord has prayed for in these words: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also who shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me: And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one." (John 17:20-22)
By virtue of this union with Christ, who is the Head over all things to the church, his members have fellowship with him in his holy life; he is the Lord Jehovah, their righteousness; for them he became subject to the law, and obedient to its precepts; born of a woman, and made under the law, that through his obedience many might be made righteous. Lo, I come, says he, to Do thy will, O God! and he did it by fulfilling all righteousness, as the surety for his people: what he did, when he magnified the law, and made it infinitely honorable in all its demands, was for them, and for their justification, that it might be imputed unto them for righteousness, and they might be dealt with as righteous at the judgment-seat of God.
In this the father of the faithful made his boast, and gloried all the day long; for we read that he believed in God, and God imputed to him righteousness, loving him as his friend, and blessing him in all things. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; for the children of believing Abraham are freely made heirs, as he was, of the righteousness which is by the faith of Jesus Christ. Hear one of them, with what heart-felt joy he celebrates his triumphant state in Christ: "I will hope continually, and I will praise thee more and more–my mouth shall show forth thy righteousness, and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof: I will go in the strength of the Lord God, I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine ONLY." (Ps. 71:14-16)
He found the blessings flowing from it numberless and endless; so that it was all he wanted for his justification to life, and for his title to glory–it ONLY. In the same Psalm, admiring and adoring the wonders of the gift of grace, he breaks out, "Thy righteousness, O God, is very high, who hast done great things. O God, who is like unto thee?" He was so complete in this righteousness of Christ, that he would mix nothing with it for his free access to God, or for his full acceptance before God. He knew that this righteousness of faith was appointed of God, was the gift of his grace, and was all-sufficient, being an everlasting righteousness; and therefore it effectually removed the consciousness of sin from his heart, and enabled him to come boldly to the throne of grace, where he stood perfectly justified in Jesus.
And in the same spirit we hear a New Testament saint resolving to exclude all glorying, except in Christ, and in his righteousness, "in whom God can be just, and yet the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? By the law of works? Nay, but by the law of faith: therefore, we conclude, that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law; (Rom. 3:26-28) and that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Rom. 10:4)
This was the apostle's highest ambition, to be found in his precious Saviour. O that I may rejoice in him through life, and may be found in him at the hour of death, and at the day of judgment; found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. Blessed testimony for Jesus–encouraging example to place our whole trust and confidence in the Lord, our righteousness and our strength; for he is the same to us as he was to the apostle Paul, and we have as good reason to triumph as he had, because it is written, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; he hath covered with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and a bride adorneth herself with her jewels; for as the earth bringeth forth its bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations."
This is the righteousness of faith, and these are the fruits of it, which abound to the glory of God, even peace with him, joy in him, a holy walk with him, and a victorious warfare by him. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory; (Isa. 45:25) herein to glory is the believer's bounden duty; he is called to it, as his gospel privilege, and according to his faith he does triumph in it, as his present happiness, and as a good ground for his hope of eternal joy.
Wonderful blessings are promised to this faith and hope, and they are truly experienced at this day. Bless the Lord, O my soul, for his providing such a garment for glory and beauty, he has warranted thee to put it on, and having, through it, free access into his presence, he has commanded thee to join that great multitude, whom no one can number, who are standing before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palms in their hands, and who cry with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever." Their robes are as white as the light, being washed clean in the blood of the Lamb; and through him they have conquered, as the palms in their hands denote; yea, are more than conquerors, having crowns of righteousness upon their heads, which can never fade away. For grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.
O what matter of triumph is here! A righteousness absolutely perfect and everlasting! This greatly enhances all our high joys in Christ, that there is full security for their continuance; it depends on the faithfulness of God to his word and promise, fixed in his eternal counsels, and established upon immutable things. "Their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord, and mine is an everlasting righteousness: lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner; but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished." (Isa. 51:6)
The state of a believer is always one and the same on God's part; he may vary in his apprehensions of his state, but with God there is no variableness, or shadow of turning; he may be a believer walking in darkness–tempted to doubt, he may pay too much attention to sense and feeling–may get into a legal spirit–his evidences may be clouded–when outward things and providences seem to make against him, his faith may be sore tried, and he may stagger at the promises of God through some fit of unbelief–the man changeth, but God changeth not; his mercies are sure mercies; they cannot fail; for they spring from the ocean of grace, and are streams which no created power can cut off; but they shall infallibly return to it again, and shall bring with them all the happy objects of his love. The Father chose them, and gave them to his Son, who has all their names written in the Lamb's book of life: for them he lived and died; and when he presents them at the last day to the Father–"Behold I, and the children whom thou hast given me," not one of them shall be wanting; for the Holy Spirit is by his office the Lord and giver of life to them, and in the day of his power he enables them to receive Jesus, and to live by faith upon him, as members united to, and in fellowship with their glorified Head.
This covenant of the blessed Trinity is unalterable, being ordered in all things and sure. All the subjects of it, shall infallibly be saved, according to our Lord's promise, and according to our Lord's prayer, viz. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:28) Trusting to these immutable securities, the heirs of promise are commanded to draw strong consolation, even to rejoice in Jesus with a fullness of joy; in darkness, as well as walking in light–in winter, as well as in summer–in adversity, as well as in prosperity in death as well as in life; because he has all power in heaven and earth to make good to them every covenant engagement;–and he will do it; for the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and shall come to Sion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away for ever. (Isa. 35:10)
O thou most blessed God and Saviour, thou art the Lord our righteousness and our strength. I believe that the whole Israel of God shall be justified ONLY by thee, and in thee ONLY shall they glory. O let thy Spirit abide with me, to increase in me this faith, that by fresh supplies of his grace I may be kept from going about to establish my own righteousness, and may constantly submit myself to the righteousness of God. And-by the same grace, help me to bring forth the fruits of righteousness abundantly unto the glory and praise of God, magnifying thine atonement in the peace of my conscience, exalting thy righteousness in the love of my heart, and in my walk and warfare glorifying thy fullness; so that out of it I may be receiving a sufficiency of grace, by which I am now enabled to bless thee for the hope of glory. To thee, almighty Jesus, for the work of righteousness, which is peace, and for the effect of righteousness, which is quietness and assurance for ever, to thee be everlasting praise. Amen and Amen.