It is a matter of interest to those established in the inspiration of the word of God to see, that the same truths which are directly established in the doctrinal and didactic parts, are also mirrored for us in the historic portions taken typically.
It is proposed then to add a few samples of the types. …
1. ADAM -
The fundamental truth now under consideration was imaged for us at the very epoch of the Fall.
Jehovah created Adam and his wife naked, but they felt no shame. Thus they were morally innocent, not righteous.
They sinned, and at once innocence departed; and a sense of shame came on them. The need of covering for their nakedness made itself painfully felt. Thus, ever since the entry of the knowledge of good and evil (or conscience), man has felt the necessity of righteousness.
Adam and his wife attempt to retrieve their loss. They manufacture their own clothing out of the covering of the tree. “They sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” Thus fallen man attempts to create for himself a righteousness in which to appear before his fellows and before God.
But their clothing did not avail in the Lord’s presence. A sense of nakedness and condemnation took possession of them, and the sentence went forth against them as sinners.
Eternal life at first was near them, but was then put beyond their reach. “Lest he should put forth his hand, and take of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever, the Lord God drove him forth from the Garden.” A flaming, sword guards all access to the tree of life; to teach him, that once fallen, man cannot earn for himself eternal life. It must come through another; it must be the gift of God.
After the sentence of God’s justice comes the work of his mercy. “Unto Adam also, and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Man would present righteousness to God: he must receive righteousness as a gift from God. God provides for the guilty, clothing. Whence came it? From sacrifice of animals slain for sin. Animals were not then eaten for food. The death of the victim was not enough for the guilty pair. God did not mean to set man back again into his previous standing as innocent, or naked without shame. He would clothe the guilty himself. The skins of the victims, while they were alive, were their own covering; but after death, they might be stripped off and made the coverings of others. Thus our righteousness before God arises not only out of the death of Christ, but out of his [His] obedient life. His death is no covering; his [His] obedience is. As the skin of the victim, the produce of its life, became alienable and transferable by its death, so the righteousness of our Lord by his [His] death becomes imputable to us, and the covering by God for our spiritual nakedness.
The coats of skins made by God and given to our first parents were ‘coats of God,’ although they were furnished in the first instance by the backs of beasts. So the righteousness of Christ is the righteousness of God, although Jesus be in one view the man, and his [His] obedience human. As the skin of the sacrifice fitted to the shape of Adam and worn on his shoulders became Adam’s dress; so the righteousness of Christ applied to faith becomes its righteousness.
Jesus passed through the sword
of fire, and plucked for us the fruit of the tree of life; and now he that
believes has a title to life eternal, and to the Paradise of God. Adam’s coat of skin did not admit him to lost
Behold then in this example God’s picture of the refusal of man’s righteousness, and of his providing a better righteousness imputed to us, a righteousness which, from different points of view, is denominated our righteousness, and the righteousness of God.
2. NOAH -
We proceed a little with the sacred history, and find wickedness overspreading the whole face of the earth. After much patience, comes the sentence of destroying wrath about to overtake men. Even thus the righteousness of God the ruler is revealed from heaven against all the untold trespasses of mankind against Him, and against their follows.
But one was soon righteous amidst the evil generation. His name was Noah – giver of rest. Thus Jesus is the one Righteous One. To him God makes known his purpose of judgment: with him should his covenant of mercy stand good. A flood of destruction was coming on the globe, and escape should be given to him and his. For this purpose he must construct a vessel capable of holding himself, his family, and the creatures to be saved. The shape and dimensions of the vessel are given by God; and Noah by his obedience brings the scheme of God to accomplishment. Thus to Christ the righteous was entrusted the framing a righteousness for his house, according to the commandment given of God. The ark of Noah was the effect of much labour, the great result of his life. The righteousness of Christ is the finished work of his [His] life. The intent of Jesus’ righteousness is to save others; just as Noah’s ark was prepared for the saving of his house. We, if we be men of faith, are Christ’s household.
The ark, when complete in its timbers, was to be pitched within and without with pitch. The Hebrew word for ‘pitch’ signifies also atonement. And thus, to the active, and completed righteousness of Christ’s life must be added the atonement of his death. The pitch alone would not save: it was not the ark, but only its supplement. Even thus the death of the Lord Jesus is not our righteousness, necessary as it is to the sinner’s justification.
The ark in one view was Noah’s ark, for he made it. In another view, ’twas the ark of God, for he [He] commanded it to be made, and as the Great Architect gave the directions for its construction.
The family of Noah entered his material ark on their feet. We enter the ark of Christ’s righteousness by our faith. After they had entered, God shut the inmates in. Thus God undertakes for the final salvation of all believers in His Son. After they were safe within its walls the food came down, and all outside were destroyed in the waters, while the ark safely passed through them. Even so, “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
Looking on this scene, Peter says, “Antitypically whereto baptism now saves us also.” Does baptism save? Listen to his distinction of its two parts. “Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh;” no mere application of water to the skin; “but the answer of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is gone into heaven, angels, and principalities and powers being made subject to him,” 1 Peter 3: 21, 22. As the ark of God, after having passed through the waters, rested on the loftiest mountain; so the Righteous One, having completed his work, is resting for us in the heaven of heavens. “For Christ also once suffered for sins, the Righteous One, instead of unrighteous ones, that he might bring us to God.” The Apostle presents our Lord as the well-doer, no less than as the sufferer for sin. And having thus spoken of Jesus the Righteous and of the baptism he commanded, in the next epistle he speaks of the characteristic faith of the believer as having entered into this “righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ,” as Noah’s sons entered into his ark. Those within the ark were to rest there in safety while the deluge of wrath was subsiding, and at length to go forth of the ark into the new earth purged of the waters of judgment. Even so the believer is to abide in Christ and his [His] righteousness till in eternal life he enters on the ‘new heavens and new earth’ in which righteousness shall dwell, and into which judgment shall never penetrate.
But that cleansing was not enough: it left her still naked. “I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badger’s skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk.” 10.
Even so atonement, while it washes away our iniquities, leaves us naked: we need righteousness beside, and this is supplied to us in the obedience of Christ imputed.
4. PRIEST’S ROBES. -
At Sinai took place a scene something resembling that in the Garden of Eden. The Israelites appear in their own clothes before God: but they feel naked and troubled, though their raiment was washed for the occasion. They promised to God a righteousness which they never fulfilled.
But within this general picture is a smaller. one, which gives us a view of the coats of skin, God’s own provision. For while Israel in general was to stand afar from God when he had descended on the Holy Mount, the Lord chose for himself those who should stand before him as ministers of his royal tent. How might they draw nigh? First, they were to be bathed in water. Ex. 29: 4. But that sufficed not, for it left them naked. The priests were to be clothed in holy garments, made for them, not by them. They were devised of God “to cover their nakedness.” Ex. 28: 42. For if not clothed, or not clothed as required, they would bear their iniquity and die. Thus the righteousness of God’s providing through a greater than Bezaleel clothes us as the priests of God, after being washed from our sins in his own blood.
5. SACRIFICES. –
In the offering before God of animals there must be found perfection of nature, and of parts. Then came imputation of sin by the laying of hands upon the head of the victim, accompanied sometimes with confession of the offence: and then death was inflicted. The Passover-lamb was to be without blemish, in full perfection of life before it was slain. Ex. 12: 5. And so with the other sacrifices; anything superfluous or deficient destroyed its acceptance. “It shall be perfect to be accepted.” Even thus the perfection of our Lord’s obedience preceded his death, and was necessary to our justification.
6. In Zech. 3. -
we have a vision of the Jewish high priest standing before Jehovah, and Satan beside him, accusing. “Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments.” Here was Satan’s ground of accusation. The angel then “spake unto those that stood before him, saying ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And unto him he said, ‘Behold I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee.’” That was well: but he still appeared in nakedness. The angel therefore proceeds, ‘And I will clothe thee with change of raiment.’ “So they set a fair mitre on his head, and clothed him with garments.” Here are the two parts of justification set before us in their order. Then must Satan be silent.
After these types of the Old Testament, we come now to two New Testament parables.
7. THE WEDDING GARMENT. -
This well-known parable was addressed by our Lord to the unbelieving chief priests and pharisees, refusers of him [Him] who is the Lord our righteousness. He tells them of the invitation which their nation had received to his kingdom of millennial glory, and of their rejection of it. And now he proceeds to speak of faith in his [His] righteousness, as the preparation absolutely necessary for participation in the coming feast. The scribes and Pharisees trusted in their own righteousness, even as the ill-clothed intruder imagined that his ordinary dress would be good enough for the king’s entertainment. Jesus therefore, gives them to understand that a better righteousness than their own was required. He secretly hints, too, that this robe was provided by the lord of the feast. For when the intruder is challenged with the enquiry, ‘How could he enter without a wedding garment?’ - he is speechless. Now human nature is ever ready with its excuses. And here was a most favourable field to reply, ‘You have collected together from the roads, all, as many as you have found, rich and poor; how could you expect of the poor that they should have a dress suited to a royal feast?’ His silence then must be supposed to arise from a part of the story not expressly told us - that the king provided dresses suited to the occasion for all comers. We must suppose, too, that this dress was offered to him, and refused; that he saw all the other guests around him so habited, and must have perceived, that he himself ought to have appeared arrayed in like fashion.
Thus the Saviour foretold that some would enter his church, creeping in without faith in him and in his righteousness, but detected at length, and cast forth for their unbelief in the great day.
PARABLE OF THE
In this, I suppose, that the Jew is the merchantman, and that by his seeking for goodly pearls is intended his pursuit of good works, or works of righteousness, as Moses commanded. Deut. 16: 20; Zeph. 2: 3.
But he learns that there is one pearl of far greater value than any he has seen – “of great price.” That is the righteousness of the Lord Jesus. Enamoured of its beauty and value, “he went away and sold all that he had and bought it.” Even so the Jew, enlightened by divine grace, perceived that if he would obtain the righteousness of Christ, he must part, with all his own righteousness. But he who gives up his own righteousness may receive that of the Saviour in exchange.
The pearl is not the church, and the seeker is not Christ. The merchant of the parable was seeking goodly pearls but Christ was not seeking many beauteous churches; the Father had prepared for him the one body. The parable supposes that the merchant, passing by all other pearls, is attracted by one superior to them all. How is this true of Christ? If it be said there are many churches, how does Christ leave them for the one church? The one Church is composed of many churches: but many pearls did not make up the one of the parable. Moreover, it is Christ’s purchase which gives the church its worth; while the pearl is of great value before it is bought.
The pearl is beautifully adapted to signify the righteousness of the Christ; for it is the produce of an animal the valuable result of its life, capable of being obtained only after the animal’s death. It is quite separable from the animal after its death, and then appears in its full perfection.
We have an inspired comment on this parable, in the account given by Paul of his confidence and delight in his own righteousness, till the superior righteousness of the Lord Jesus flashed upon him; and then he gladly parted with all his former gains to win Christ and “the righteousness which is from God upon faith.”
This doctrine of the Lord’s righteousness as the enriching of the believer, and especially of the believing Jew, was during our Lord’s life a secret of God, not openly proclaimed, and only made known at the descent of the Holy Ghost, and the further light then imparted.
In conclusion, we reject Mr. Darby’s scheme because it renders it impossible for the God of justice and truth to justify the sinner; and because the cardinal passages contain statements incompatible with the idea of the ruler’s justice being the righteousness intended. We reject it, because the dominant passages bear clear evidence of the other sense: in the Old Testament descriptions of the righteousness as being near, sent from God, revealed, created; in its declared purpose – [eternal] salvation; in its being made the possession of the [every regenerate] believer, so that he may call it his own; and in its being spoken of as a robe and a covering. Of like sufficiency is the New Testament evidence; where the Holy Spirit speaks of the righteousness as lately discovered, as sent from God, as the good news, as salvation, as received by faith, the covering of the believer, the obedience of the Second Adam, the righteousness of the Christ, the fulfilment of the testimonies of the law and the prophets.
In short, the passages which speak of it will bring out their evidence in opposition to Mr. Darby’s theory very simply if arranged into two classes. There are those which speak of it in its -
1. Remedial character. The righteousness of God, on the opposite view is the acting of God’s justice toward one worthy of it. But both in the Old Testament and in the New the cardinal passages describe it as the result of God’s mercy to the lost, intended to supply their need, and to bring them [eternal] salvation, in the absence of any righteousness of their own. To this class belong Rom. 1., 3., 9., 10. 1 Cor. 1.; 2 Cor. 5.
2. The second class lifts into view the obstacles which this discovery of God’s grace met with in its going forth to the sons of men. In those passages we see the passions of men in play against it; we see it brought into collision with its rival righteousness. The righteousness furnished by God meets with a formidable antagonist in the righteousness which the law demanded to be furnished by man. In this class we see the pride of the heart preferring its own flawed and condemned obedience to the perfect righteousness of God (Rom. 9. 10.; Phil. 3); we see also the surrender of the worthless rival by the elect. Now the justice of God is no rival to the obedience of man. But the obedience of the Jew might be in his eyes more than equal to the goodness of Jesus the Galilean.
I have done. May the good Lord accept all that is according to his word! Will the brethren our opponents believe that this is written, not to provoke, not as a trial of intellectual superiority, but under a sense of duty to Christ and in the belief that it cannot but be beneficial to the saints to make a deeper acquaintance still with the texts which bear upon this great question. While I believe ‘the Plymouth Brethren’ on this point to be in error, I rejoice to believe that they are children of God, whom I shall meet in the city of our God.