Taken from, Everlasting Righteousness Or, How Shall Man Be Just with God?
Written by, Horatius Bonar.
We believe, He imputes; and the whole transaction is done. The blood (as “atoning” or “covering”) washes off our guilt; the righteousness presents us before God as legally entitled to that position of righteousness which our surety holds, as being Himself not merely the righteous One, but “Jehovah OUR righteousness.” We get the benefit of His perfection in all its completeness; not as infused into us, but as covering us: “Thy beauty was perfect through MY COMELINESS which I had put upon thee” (Eze 16:14). Applying here the words of the prophet concerning Jerusalem, we may illustrate and extend the figure used by the Holy Spirit as to the “perfection” of him whom this righteousness covers. Spread out, it is as follows:
1. “I said to thee, Live” (Eze 16:6).
2. “I spread my skirt over thee” (verse 8).
3. “I entered into a covenant with thee, and thou became mine” (verse 8).
4. “I washed thee” (verse 9).
5. “I anointed thee” (verse 9).
6. “I clothed thee” (verse 10).
7. “I shod thee” (verse 10).
8. “I girded thee” (verse 10).
9. “I covered thee with silk” (verse 10).
10. “I decked thee with ornaments, bracelets, chains, jewels, a beautiful crown” (verse 12).
11. “Thou was exceeding beautiful” (verse 13).
12. “Thy renown went forth for thy beauty” (verse 14).
Such, in the symbols of Scripture, is a picture of the perfection (not our own) with which we are clothed, so soon as we believe in Him who is “Jehovah our righteousness.” “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee” (Song 4:7).
“He that believeth is not condemned” (John 3:18). This is the negative side; and even were there no more for us, this would be blessedness, seeing our portion was by nature that of “children of wrath.” But there is more; for it is written, “All that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:39); and “Christ is the end (or fulfilling) of the law for RIGHTEOUSNESS to everyone that believeth” (Rom 10:4). “As by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF ONE, the free gift came upon all men unto JUSTIFICATION OF LIFE” (Rom 5:18).
The strength or kind of faith required is nowhere stated. The Holy Spirit has said nothing as to quantity or quality, on which so many dwell, and over which they stumble, remaining all their days in darkness and uncertainty. It is simply in believing,-feeble as our faith may be,-that we are invested with this righteousness. For faith is no work, nor merit, nor effort; but the cessation from all these, and the acceptance in place of them of what another has done,-done completely, and forever. The simplest, feeblest faith suffices; for it is not the excellence of our act of faith that does aught for us, but the excellence of Him who suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. His perfection suffices to cover not only that which is imperfect in our characters and lives, but that which is imperfect in our faith, when we believe on His name.
Many a feeble hand,-perhaps many a palsied one,-was laid on the head of the burnt-offering (Lev 1:4); but the feebleness of that palsied touch did not alter the character of the sacrifice, or make it less available in all its fullness for him who brought it. The priest would not turn him away from the door of the tabernacle because his hand trembled; nor would the bullock fail to be “accepted for him, to make atonement for him” (Lev 1:4), because his fingers might barely touch its head by reason of his feebleness. The burnt-offering was still the burnt-offering, and the weakest touch sufficed to establish the connection between it and him, because even that feeble touch was the expression of his consciousness that he was unfit to be dealt with on the footing of what he was himself, and of his desire to be dealt with by God on the footing of another, infinitely worthier and more perfect than himself.
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Horatius Bonar (19 December, 1808 – 31 May, 1889) was a Scottish churchman and poet. The son of James Bonar, Solicitor of Excise for Scotland, he was born and educated in Edinburgh. He comes from a long line of ministers who have served a total of 364 years in the Church of Scotland. One of eleven children, his brothers John James and Andrew Alexander were also ministers of the Free Church of Scotland. He had married Jane Catherine Lundie in 1843 and five of their young children died in succession. Towards the end of their lives, one of their surviving daughters was left a widow with five small children and she returned to live with her parents. Bonar’s wife, Jane, died in 1876. He is buried in the Canongate Kirkyard.