The Fruit and End of Our Redemption (2): The True Worship of God in Holiness and Righteousness, by B
The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him,
all the days of our life.
Luke 1. 73, 74, 75
Now this worship of God, which is the fruit and end of our redemption, is here notably described, by the parts and properties thereof. The parts are holiness and righteousness. For by holiness, you are to understand the duties of the First Table, viz. of piety and religion towards God by righteousness, the duties of the Second Table, which we owe unto men. And of these we are to speak, first, jointly, of them both together, and then of either of them severally.
Holiness & Righteous
Holiness and righteousness, as they are here joined together by the Holy Ghost, so in practise they may not be severed. Those that are in Christ are new creatures, renewed according to the image of God in true holiness and righteousness. And in this place the Lord has promised to give to those that are redeemed, to worship him, not in holiness alone, nor in righteousness alone but in holiness and righteousness. And therefore those things, which God has conjoined, let no man sever for these two are so conjoined by God, that whosoever has the one has the other: and whosoever has not both, has neither of them in deed and in truth. He that loves God, loves his neighbour also (1 John 4. 21) neither can a man love God in truth, that loves not his brother also, as St. John argues. If any man say I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar, for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen? 1 John 4.20 for true is the old saying, of seeing comes loving.
Neither can a man love his neighbour as he ought, but he will love God much more, for our brother is to be loved in the Lord; and for the Lord. Therefore if we love our brother for God’s sake, then do we love God much more.
Here therefore two sorts of men are to be reproved. The former is of those, who would seem to be forward professors of religion and piety towards God, that are very backward in the duties of charity and righteousness to their brethren such were the Pharisees, whom our Saviour calls hypocrites, bidding us to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy for says he unless your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matt. 5.20.
These men are wont to discover their hypocrisy, partly by their words, and partly by their works. By their words, being evil speakers detractors, and depravers of their brethren: who with the same tongue bless God, and curse man, who is made after the similitude of God, James 3.9. But St. James Ch. 1.26 has given his censure of these men. For saith he, if any man among you seem to be religious and bridles not his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is vain: By their works: cloaking under the show of religion hard dealing and deceit; having Jacob’s voice, and Esau's hands; scandalizing the profession of religion by their hypocrisy. The Holy Ghost therefore to discover such hypocrites, when he would set down the marks and notes of men truly religious, describes them commonly by the duties which they perform to their brethren: making them the touchstone, as it were, of their piety and religion towards God. Psalm. 15 & 24 and James 1.27.
The other sort is of those, who professing themselves to be Christians are but civil hones men, void of piety, and religion towards God. I speak not against civil honesty, which is very commendable and necessary; in so much as they who want it are worse than some of the heathen that know not God. For many of the heathen were of a civil and honest conversation, yea some of them excelled in moral virtues. But I would not have a Christian to rest, in a fair outward civil conversation among men, as though no more were required of him. For if a man, processing himself a Christian, shall have no more in him then the Pagans who knew not God: can such a one be esteemed a sound Christian? Our love of men must proceed from the love of God; the streams of our justice and charity towards men, must be derived from the fountain of piety towards God. without faith it is impossible to please God, without faith, without piety, without the fear of God, without repentance, the best actions of civil honest men, are but beautiful sins. The chiefest care of a Christian must be to worship God, first in the duties of piety and religion; and secondarily in the duties of righteousness and charity towards men.
But the mere civil honest man neither worships God in the duties of piety, nor yet in the duties of righteousness; which he performs as a mere natural man, without any respect or relation had unto God and therefore cannot be said in doing those duties to serve God in righteousness, as not performing them in obedience to God, or for God’s sake.
Now if they which want either of these are not to be deemed sound Christians, what shall we say of those which have neither; yea that not so much as seem to have either? Profane and wicked men, who professing themselves Christians, that is to say men redeemed by Christ, turn the grace of GOD into wantonness being in name Christians, in deed Atheists. Professing themselves to know God, but in deed denying him, being abominable and disobedient and to every good work reprobate.
Now we are to speak of either of them severally; but briefly, and in a word for if I should treat of them at large; under the title of holiness, I should discourse of all the duties required in the First Table of the Decalogue; in all which we must think ourselves bound to worship God, if we will worship him in holiness. And under the name of righteousness I should treat of all the duties of the Second Table, all which we must endeavour to perform to our neighbour in obedience to God, if we would be thought to worship or to serve him in righteousness.
But first, we are to speak of holiness; because that is the first and the great commandment, Mat. 22.38. That holiness is a fruit of our redemption, the Holy Ghost does plainly testify, Rom. 6.22 Being freed from sin and made servants to God, you have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. And that it is also the end of our redemption, St. Paul witnesses Eph. 5.27 & Col. 1.22. And as it is the fruit and end of our redemption and justification in part, so is it also a necessary forerunner of glorification. And therefore if we shall truly worship the Lord in holiness, we may be assured, that the Lord has redeemed us and consequently, as we have the fruit of our redemption in holiness; so shall we have the end thereof, which is the salvation of our souls. Rom. 6.22, Rev. 20.6. But contrary wise, if our conversation be unholy and impure, as we want the fruit of our redemption, so shall we never attain to the end thereof, which is everlasting life. For as the Holy Ghost witnesses in Heb. 12.14 without holiness no man shall see God.
Righteousness also, as has been said, is in part the fruit and end of our redemption for being freed from sin we become the servants of righteousness, Rom. 6.18 and therefore did our Saviour in his own body on the tree bear our sins, that we dying to sin might live unto righteousness 1 Pet. 2.24.
But here some may object; if righteousness contain the duties which we owe to man, whither our brethren or ourselves; how is it here found, that we are to worship or serve God in righteousness? Answer: This teaches us, that the duties which we owe to man, are to be performed in obedience to God, and for his sake, seeking and intending his glory therein. And being so done, he esteems them as done to Himself, and accordingly does He reward them. Would you in thy duties to man endear thy service to God. Do what you do for God’s sake. Now if our duties to man be done in obedience to God, then in performing them we serve God. If we do them for His sake, then in serving our brethren by love, we serve Him much more. If seeking and intending His glory therein as the supreme end, we do thereby glorify Him, and cause Him to be glorified by others; If He esteem them as done to Himself, then in the duties of love whereby we serve one an other (Gal. 5.13) we do service to God and such a service, as is more acceptable to Him, than the outward duties of his own worship or service. For when the Prophet Micah was demanded this question: Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? will the Lord be pleased rings with calves of a year old? will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousand rivers of oil? shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? The Prophet makes answer, he hath shewed thee O man what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to do mercy, and to humble thyself to walk with thy God? Mic. 6. 6,7,8. The fast which God accepts, is to fast from the sins of unrighteousness and oppression, and to perform the duties of charity and justice. Isa. 58. 6. 7. Their religion also God does approve as pure and undefiled, who exercise the works of mercy and charity to those that are in misery, James 1.27 and such will He pronounce blessed at the last day, who have approved their faith and piety by doing the works of mercy and charity to the poor members of Christ, which He esteems as done to Himself. And let me add this for the comfort of true Christians, who walk uprightly in a lawful calling, though it be never so mean, that by doing the works of their calling justly in obedience to God, seeking God’s glory in the good of their brethren, they worship God in righteousness. And let them assure themselves, that their lawful and honest calling is that station, wherein the Lord has placed them to serve him in righteousness. But they must remember withal, that they who so serve him in righteousness, must also, and that principally, be careful to worship him in holiness. And this is to be understood of civil callings. But as touching the Ministers of God’s word, this may further be added for their comfort, that so many of them as with good conscience take pains in their function, whether in their private studies, or in their public ministry, seeking to glorify God in the edification of the Church, or the members thereof: they do worship God both in holiness and in righteousness.
Free From The Law To Obey It
By this which has been said it plainly appears, that howsoever we are freed from the curse the rigour, the terror, and irritation of the law; yet we are not freed from the obedience of the law moral. For freedom from obedience, and righteousness, is the servitude of sin. But we are freed from the bondage of sin, that we may be enabled with upright hearts and willing minds to worship the Lord in holiness and in righteousness. And therefore, howsoever carnal gospellers and libertines, abuse the liberty which Christ hath purchased as an occasion to the flesh, turning the grace of God into wantonness, to their own perdition: Yet devilish is the slander of the Papists, who calumniate the doctrine of the Gospel, as if we taught thereby, that men are freed from obedience to all laws whatsoever of God and man, yea from the Decalogue itself. But this needs no answer, it being evident to all the world, that we do urge the obedience of the law moral as well as they do, and by better arguments and reasons, than they do. For their chief reasons are taken from the falsely supposed benefits of good works, that they satisfy for sin, justify before God, and merit eternal life. But by these reasons they teach men to mar good works, and not to do them. For a good work done with the opinion of satisfaction, justification, or merit, is so far from being a good work, that it is odious and abominable in the sight of God; as being derogatory to the most perfect satisfaction, and all-sufficient merit of Christ our saviour.
But we among other arguments, take some from this text: Because our new obedience or practice of good works is the fruit and end of our redemption. Second, because it is an inseparable companion of our redemption and justification. Thirdly, because God has sworn, that He will give them that are redeemed grace to worship Him in holiness and righteousness, and therefore that works in them that are redeemed or justified, do follow necessarily by necessity of infallibility. And therefore it is impossible, the oath of the Lord being true (which cannot possibly be untrue) that a man should be actually redeemed or justified, and yet have no care to practise good works, that is to say, to perform the duties of holiness and righteousness. But in other respects also, we do urge the necessity of good works, which we prove to be necessary also necessitate praecepti, and so by necessity of duty, which we owe: First, unto God, to show ourselves obedient and thankful unto him and studious of his glory. Second, to our neighbour, and Third, to ourselves, likewise necessitate signi, not only as they are the testimonies and tokens whereby we are to make our calling and election sure: but also, as they are the evidence according to which our Saviour will judge us at the last day. And lastly necessitate medij: for although we are not justified by them, nor saved for them, yet they are the way wherein we are to walk toward our heavenly country; as Bernard well said, that they be via regni the way to the kingdom, though not causa regnandi, the cause of obtaining the kingdom. For as the Apostle saith, we are the workmanship of God created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them, as in the way which leads to eternal life. This is the way, let us walk in it. Isa 30.21.
Excerpt from The Covenant of Grace or An Exposition Upon Luke 1. 73-75. By Doctor George Downame, and Bishop of Derry.