26 MARCH (PREACHED 25 MARCH 1787)
The character of the righteous man
‘Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.’ Proverbs 14:34
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: 1 John 2:28–3:10
I shall delineate the character of a righteous man. That mankind is very far from original righteousness is the doctrine of our Church (Article 9). But the authority of our church, or of any church, would be of small weight unless supported and proved by the testimony of Scripture. They are so very far gone, that when God looked down upon the children of men, to see if there were any good among them, the result of his enquiry is declared (Psalm 14, Romans 3), There is none righteous, no, not one, there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. That sobriety, benevolence and equity which entitle men to respect as members of society, is very far short of righteousness unless connected with the knowledge, love and fear of the great God in whom we live and move and have our being. He is our Creator, Supreme Lawgiver and Benefactor, and therefore our first and highest regards are due to him. Unless we love, serve, trust, believe and obey him, we are not righteous, we are not honest. Morality, so much praised, so little practised, implies the right discharge of all our relative duties and our first and highest relation being that in which we stand to our Maker; if he is left out, our pretence to morality is vain. The righteous man has been convinced of loving, serving or trusting the creature more than the Creator—of preferring his own will to the will of God, of seeking happiness in something short of the favour and glory of God, and, in the prophetic language, of forsaking the fountain of living waters and hewing out to himself broken cisterns that can hold no water. The righteous man has therefore seen himself to be a sinner and he has taken his measures of sin from the majesty and goodness of God against whom he has sinned. He believes the record God has given of his Son, obeys the command and accepts the invitation to trust in this Saviour, renouncing very other hope.
FOR MEDITATION: The righteous man, therefore, is he who has peace with God through Jesus Christ, who, as redeemed by blood from the desire and dominion of sin, is no longer his own. He is now the willing servant of God, devoted to his will and glory.
SERMON: PROVERBS 14:34 [2/7] [FOR THE ANNUAL CHARITY SERMON]