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SERMON V.

And be 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.—Phil. iii. 9.

IN these words the apostle amplifieth the gain we have by Christ. He had spoken of gaining Christ, meaning thereby an interest in his person and benefits. Among the prime benefits he mentioneth his righteousness made ours by faith: ‘And be found in him,’ &c.

In the words we have—

1. A distinction between two sorts of righteousness; his ‘own righteousness,’ and the ‘righteousness of God.’

2. A description of either; his own righteousness, ‘which is of the law;’ and the righteousness of God, which is by or ‘through the faith of Christ.’

3. His different respect to either; the one is disclaimed, not ‘having mine own righteousness;’ the other affected; he would ‘be found having the righteousness of faith.’

For explication—

First, The distinction. What is meant by ‘his own righteousness?’ Either the false, superficial righteousness which he had as a pharisee, mentioned ver. 6, ‘Touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless;’ exact in legal observances; or else any other righteousness that might be thought of, that standeth in opposition to Christ or in competition with him. It is not meant of the graces of the Spirit, nor of things that stand in a necessary subordination to him. Well, then, any righteousness of our own, opposed to Christ, is excluded. But for the other part of the distinction, what is meant by the righteousness of God? His gracious method or evangelical course of pardoning sin to penitent believers in the gospel, and accepting them to life in Christ. And it is called ‘the righteousness of God,’ because it is found out by God, and accepted by him, and given us by God. It is found out by God: ‘Deliver him from going down to the pit; for I have found a ransom,’ Job xxxiii. 24. The way of satisfying God’s justice by a ransom was not devised or found out by men or angels, but by God himself. And it is given us by God: ‘For he is of God made unto us righteousness,’ 1 Cor. i. 30; and 2 Cor. v. 21, ‘We are made the righteousness of God in him.’ And partly because it is accepted by God. It is a righteousness wherein God acquiesceth, and which he accepteth for our absolution: Mat. iii. 17, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ God is satisfied with Christ’s obedience to the 42death, as a perfect ransom for us, and is well pleased with those who make use of it, and apply it in the appointed way; namely, the faith and obedience of Christ; that is, being ‘justified by faith.’ We continue to live by faith, and being married to Christ, do bring forth fruit unto God. Certainly with the righteousness of God we may appear with all manner of confidence before the throne of God, and look for all manner of blessings from him. The law which condemneth us is the law of God, the wrath which we fear is the wrath of God, and the glory which we expect is the glory of God, and the presence into which we come is the presence of God, and the righteousness by which we stand is the righteousness of God.

Secondly, The description of these different and opposite righteousnesses. His own righteousness he describeth to be that which is by ‘the law;’ the other, the righteousness which is by ‘the faith of Christ.’ The meaning is, it is appointed by God, merited by Christ, and received by faith. Now these two are often opposed; as Rom. iii. 21, 22, ‘But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifest, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God which is by the faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference.’ So again, Rom. x. 3, ‘For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.’ Where you see there is a perfect opposition between our own righteousness and the righteousness of God, the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith. The law may be taken two ways—either for the law of works or the law of Moses.

1. For the law of works, which required a man to be justified by a perfect sinless obedience of his own; this is that which is often opposed to the righteousness of God by faith in Christ; and against this doth the apostle reason when he reasoneth against justification by works or our own righteousness, as will be evident by two places: Rom. i. 17, 18, ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.’ That is, the wrath and vengeance of God is denounced against those who are under the law covenant, which they have broken in every point and tittle, in every table, in every commandment. There clearly the two revelations are opposed, the law-covenant in which the wrath of God is revealed, and the gospel-covenant in which the righteousness of God is revealed. The other place is Rom. iii. 20, ‘Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.’ Take the illative particle, therefore, as it is a conclusion or inference drawn out of his former argument; did he prove them guilty of the breach of ceremonies? No; but of moral duties. Take the reason subjoined, ‘for by the law is the knowledge of sin;’ questionless he meaneth the moral law as it was a covenant of works; by that is the knowledge of sin, quoad natur am peccati, et inhaerentiam in subjecto, in respect of the nature of sin, and its inherence in us. To fallen man it doth not discover his righteousness but his sin. Now it is impossible for us to be justified by this legal righteousness. None 43of us have such a personal legal righteousness; for then there were no sin, no place for confession, nor for Christ. No; we have all broken with God; yea, there is no one work perfectly justifiable by the law: ‘all are corrupt and abominable, there is none that doeth good, no not one,’ Rom. iii. 12.

2. The apostle disputeth also against the works of the Mosaical or ceremonial law, and proves that by that law no man could be justified; and therefore the Jews did seek righteousness where it was not to be found, whilst they stuck so close to that law, being guilty therein of a threefold error—First, that they thought pardon of sin and acceptance with God were to be obtained by the bare works of that law; secondly, that they overlooked, and rejected Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness to every believer; thirdly that they would keep up this law when it was to cease and be abrogated. These are the errors of theirs which Paul everywhere disputeth against.

Thirdly, His different respect to either of those; he renounced the one and affected the other.

1. That which he renounced was partly the superficial righteousness which consisteth in the external observances of the law, a mere speculative righteousness, and partly the righteousness of the law-covenant, which some did falsely imagine they did or might fulfil; whilst arrogantly holding up the dignity of their own works, they refused to embrace the gospel.

2. That which he affected was, to ‘be found in Christ, having the righteousness of God through faith in Christ.’ And there—

[1.] The state of his person, or the way how this is applied or conveyed to us; by being found in Christ.’ The word. found is emphatical, and often used with respect to the day of judgment: 2 Cor. v. 3, ‘If so be we shall not be found naked;’ and 2 Peter iii. 14, ‘See that ye be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless;’ Mat. xxiv. 46, ‘Blessed is that servant whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.’ It implieth two things—

(1.) That the last day is a day of exact search and trial. Wrath maketh inquisition for sinners; we shall be found out to be what we are.

(2.) That the last day cometh upon the greatest part of the world by way of surprisal. They do not look for it, nor prepare for it. It cometh upon them unawares, like ‘a thief in the night,’ 2 Peter iii. 10, unthought of, unexpected by the most, who will not be awakened out of their sins, and do not look for it, but are found of it.

[2.] ‘In Christ,’ that is, incorporated into his mystical body, or united to him by the Spirit; as a branch ingrafted into the true vine: John xv. 2, ‘Every branch in me that beareth fruit;’ or found in the ark when the flood cometh. Paul was lost before, then found in Christ: ‘There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ,’ Rom. viii. 1. Being united to him by faith, love, and holiness, we are made partakers of his righteousness.

Again, The righteousness wherewith he would appear before God, the righteousness of God by faith in Christ. The righteousness of the new covenant is twofold—(1.) Supreme, prime, and chief, and that is 44the righteousness of Christ; (2.) Secondary and subordinate, and that is the righteousness of faith and obedience. As to our first right, faith; as to our continued right, new obedience. These things must be a little cleared, that we may not mistake.

1. For the supreme principal righteousness, by virtue of which we are reconciled to God. It is Christ’s obedience unto the death. So it is said, Rom. v. 18, 19, ‘As by the offence 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. As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one, many shall be made righteous;’ that is, our great righteousness before God, by which his justice is satisfied, and by the merit of which all the blessings of the new covenant are procured for us.

2. The subordinate righteousness, or the way, and means, and condition by which we get an interest in and right to this supreme righteousness, is faith and new obedience. But for a distinct use—

[1.] As to our first entrance into the covenant of God, faith is required: Rom. iv. 3, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.’

[2.] As to our continuance in this blessed privilege, new obedience is required; with respect to which it is said, 1 John iii. 7, ‘Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.’ And thereby his interest in Christ is confirmed: 1 John ii. 29, ‘If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of God.’ These scriptures are plain and express; and new obedience has respect to that which is the result of the final judgment: Mat. xxv. 46, ‘And these shall go away into ever lasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.’ And the righteous there are such as are fruitful in good works. Now from this exposition we may learn how we are justified by faith only, without works, which Paul asserteth; and by works, and not by faith only, which is the assertion of the apostle James. Justification hath respect to some accusation. Now as there is a twofold law, so there is a twofold accusation and justification—the law of works and the law of grace. Now when we are accused as breakers of the law of works, that is, as sinners, obnoxious to the wrath of God, we plead Christ’s satisfaction as our righteousness, no works of our own. But when we are accused as non-performers of the conditions of the covenant of grace, as being rejecters or neglecters of Christ the mediator, we are justified by producing our faith or sincere obedience. So that our righteousness by the new covenant is subordinate to our universal righteousness with respect to the great love of God, and that we have only by Christ. If we are charged that we have broken the first covenant, the covenant of works, we allege Christ’s satisfaction and merit; if charged not to have performed the conditions of the law of grace, we answer it by producing our faith, repentance, and new obedience, and so show it to be a false charge. Our first and supreme righteousness consisteth in the pardon of our sins, and in our acceptance in the Beloved, and our right to impunity and glory. Our second and subordinate righteousness, in having the true condition of pardon and life. In the first sense Christ’s righteousness is only our justification and righteousness. 45Faith and repentance, or new obedience, is not the least part of it. But in the second, believing, repenting, and obeying is our righteousness in their several respective ways; namely, that the righteousness of Christ may be ours, and continue ours.

Doct. It shall go well with those, and those only, who in the day of exact search and trial shall be found in Christ, not having the righteousness which is by the law, but the righteousness of God which is by faith in Christ Jesus.

I shall endeavour to make it good by these considerations—

1. That the day of judgment will be a day of exact search and trial. No man can lie hid in the throng and multitude of mankind, but the state of his person and all his works will be made manifest, whether they be wrought in God. God will not deal with us in the lump, by nations, or by any societies and communities of mankind with which we are bundled up, but by head and poll: Rom. xiv. 12, ‘Every one of us shall give an account of himself to God.’ Every tub must stand upon its own bottom; and every man must come before his supreme judge, and give an account of his own actions. The particular inquiry that shall be made is expressed by ‘opening the books;’ Rev. xx. 12, ‘I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.’ You see there none shall escape this judicature; kings nor subjects, rich nor poor, powerful nor weak, old nor young; all that have breathed and have life. And the judgment shall be accurate and particular, for all is upon record; for nothing is missed and mistaken in its circumstances. The books that contain as it were a diary of our lives shall be opened; they are sealed now, it is not known what is in them; but then all actions and events, returns and receipts, mercies, rods, ordinances, providences, sins, graces shall then be produced. God’s register is exact, and every man’s doom and sentence shall be pronounced accordingly. According to your repentance and faith, or impenitence and disobedience, will Christ deal with you. One place more: Ps. 1. 21, ‘I will reprove thee, and set thy sins in order before thine eyes.’ Alas! most men’s reckonings are in great confusion now, but then they shall be brought to remembrance with time and place. The sinner may then see the whole story of his life orderly repeated out of God’s book of remembrance and the sinner’s conscience, to his fearful astonishment and confusion. But to the comfort of the elect, the book of life shall be opened; the graces vouchsafed to them, the services done, and sufferings undergone by them, remembered to their joy and honour.

2. That in this day of exact trial there is no appearing before God with safety and comfort without some righteousness of one sort or another. Why? Because it is a holy and just God before whom we appear: ‘Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?’ Gen. xviii. 25; and 1 Sam. vi. 20, ‘Who is able to stand before the holy God?’ If not now in the time of patience, how then in the time of his recompense? His holiness inclineth him to hate sin, and his justice to punish it. The holiness of God is at the bottom of the creatures’ fears. We fear his wrath, because it is armed with power, but awakened by his 46justice, but rooted in his holiness; that is the fundamental reason of our dread. Again, it is a holy law according to which the process of that day shall be guided, a law that is clean and pure, and alloweth not the least evil. When David looked upon the brightness of the sun, he admired God; but when upon the purity of the law, he abaseth himself: Ps. xix. 12, ‘Lord, who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret sins.’ Well, then, there must be one righteousness or another, if we would speed well in that day.

3. The righteousness of the first sort by the law of works we cannot have; for the covenant of works requireth of us perfect obedience upon pain of eternal death if we perform it not; for the tenor of it is, ‘Do and live; sin and die.’ The least sin, according to that covenant, merits eternal death: Gal. iii. 10, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them,’ By this covenant none can stand; for we have all sinned, and are liable to that death: Rom. iii. 23, ‘All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,’ Rom. v. 12, ‘By sin death entered into the world; and death came upon all, for that all have sinned,’ By sin we are all under guilt and the curse, and so are become children of wrath, Eph. ii. 3, which is the wretched condition of all mankind. Therefore, if we stick to the old covenant, how shall we appear in the judgment, and what righteousness have we to plead before God? and that is the reason why the saints, who have awakening thoughts of this sin and misery, deprecate the rigour of the first covenant: Ps. cxxx. 3, 4, ‘If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared;’ Ps. cxliii. 3, ‘Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.’ Woe unto us if God should deal with us according to his strict justice, and we had nothing to bring forth but our own personal righteousness and obedience. We were undone for ever if sentence should pass according to this law.

4. Man having broken the law of nature or works, is lost or disabled to his own recovery, or to do anything whereby to satisfy God. We cannot make any satisfaction to God for the pardon of sin, or escaping the curse of the law; or change our natures to return to the obedience of it; or if we could, the paying of new debts will not quit old scores. What can we do to satisfy justice, and reconcile such rebellious creatures to God? ‘The redemption of the soul is precious;’ that work would cease for ever if it lay upon man’s hands, Ps. xlix. 7, 8. And as little can we renew the soul as reconcile it. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Surely not one. Will a nature that is carnal resist and overcome the flesh, and abhor the sin which it dearly loveth? Therefore man is shut up under misery, without strength, unable to recover himself and return to God: Rom. v. 6, ‘For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.’

5. Because man was under such an impotency, Jesus Christ became the mediator, stepped between us and the full execution of the curse; redeemed us from this lost condition, by taking the penalty upon himself, and. thereby satisfied the lawgiver, and attained the ends of the law. He became the sacrifice to offended justice: Eph. v. 2, ‘And hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for 47a sweet-smelling savour;’ and a ransom for sinners, 1 Tim. ii. 6; which are the two solemn notions by which the death of Christ is set forth. His sufferings were satisfactory to his Father’s justice, and expiatory of our sins. This sacrifice and ransom was paid with respect to the curse of the law; that is, to free us from the penalty of the old broken covenant, there being nothing in us to recommend us to God, or to secure us from the dint of God’s anger and justice.

6. Upon his death, Christ acquired a new right of dominion and empire over the world, to be their Lord and Saviour, to rule them, and save them upon his own terms: Rom. xiv. 9, ‘For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living;’ Acts ii. 36, ‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye crucified both Lord and Christ;’ Phil. ii. 7-11, ‘But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ God hath made this God-man supreme prince of his church, and hath given him all power in heaven and in earth, that all rational creatures should pay him all duty, and subjection, and acknowledgment; and his doctrine and faith should be embraced by all nations in the world, as the means of their recovery to God.

7. Our Redeemer being possessed of this lordship and dominion, hath made a new law of grace, which is propounded as a remedy for the recovering and restoring the lapsed world of mankind to the grace and favour of God, by offering and granting free pardon, justification, and adoption, and a right to glory, to those that, coming off from the law, will submit to his terms; but peremptorily concluding and sentencing them anew to eternal death who will not embrace these terms and this way of salvation which he hath set up. This is the sum of the gospel in many places: Mark xvi. 16, ‘He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned;’ John iii. 16-18, ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only be gotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life: for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.’

Here mark that in this proposition I assert three things—

[1.] That Christ, as Lord of the new creation, hath set down the terms of life and death. I say, that Christ, as king, doth enact the law, the law of grace and promise by which we are justified. He merited it by his death and bloody sufferings, but the grant we have from him as lord and king. He, as having all power, sent abroad his apostles as ambassadors to acquaint the world with his new law; and he doth still execute it as lord and judge, and as a judge he doth justify 48and condemn, and execute his sentence accordingly, partly in this life, and partly in the life to come, as the scriptures abundantly witness: Acts xvii. 31, ‘Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance to all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.’

[2.] The privileges of this new grant are exceeding great; pardon, peace with God, justification from all things from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses; adoption into God’s family; the gift of his Spirit to renew us, and maintain his interest in our souls; and a right to everlasting glory as our inheritance. Now surely these are things not to be despised. It will go well with those who have sub mitted to Christ when they are to appear before their Lord and judge, having such a grant and charter to produce. Certainly to be interested in Christ’s satisfaction and merit, so far as to become acceptable and pleasing to God, is no small privilege. To be accepted in the Beloved for the present, and to stand in the judgment hereafter, these are great things indeed. To be adopted into God’s family in the kingdom of grace, and to be received into God’s presence in the kingdom of glory, to be freed from condemnation to hell, and to have a right and title to heaven, should not this move us?

[3.] The danger of final impenitency and refusing these things, and not submitting to this righteousness, is very grievous, if there were nothing but a forfeiting the hopes and possibility of our recovery; but the scripture calleth it a ‘sorer punishment,’ Heb. x. 39. The law of grace threateneth the greatest punishment. Conscience in hell will have a special kind of accusations and self-tormentings in reflecting on the refusal of the remedy. Besides, the threatening of the gospel is peremptory, excluding all remedy to all eternity; but the threatening of the law of nature is not peremptory and remediless; there is a remedy at hand to dissolve the obligation of suffering that penalty; namely, Christ’s satisfaction (who fulfilled the law, and became a curse for us) is pleadable by all those who sincerely repent and believe.

8. The terms of this new law or covenant are repentance, faith, and new obedience. Or take one mentioned in the text, faith; it is a righteousness which is by faith. Faith is the grand and primary condition of the gospel. If you ask why faith is appointed, we might look no further than the will of the free donor; but faith hath a special aptitude and fitness for this work.

[1.] In respect of God, he having determined to glorify his free mercy, he requireth nothing but our belief and acceptance. ‘It is of faith, that it might be of grace,’ Rom. iv. 16.

[2.] With respect to Christ Jesus, who is the fountain of our life and righteousness, and our head and husband. Faith is the closing act: John i. 12, ‘To as many as received him.’ The tie and nuptial knot between us and our Lord.

[3.] God had respect also to our necessitous estate, and therefore principally required that they should know Christ and own him, if they will have benefit by him, that such privileges should not be settled upon us without our knowledge, or besides and against our will.

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[4.] With respect to the promise, which offers it to us. This happiness and blessedness is spiritual, and for the most part future, and cannot be seen. Now such things are only apprehended by faith: Heb. xi. 1, ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’

[5.] With respect to God’s end, which is the willing subjection of the creature to God. By it we come to Christ as king, priest, and prophet; take his yoke, as well as receive his benefits: Mat. xi. 28, 29, ‘Come unto me all you that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.’

9. This faith is such a hearty assent to the truths of the gospel as causeth us broken-heartedly, thankfully, and fiducially to accept the Lord Jesus as he is offered to us, and to give up ourselves to God by him.

[1.] An assent to the truths of the gospel there must be, for the general faith goeth before the particular, a belief of the gospel before our communion with Christ. This assent must produce acceptance, because the gospel is an offer of blessedness suitable to our necessities and desires, and receiving is one solemn notion by which faith is expressed. And this acceptance must be broken-hearted, because Christ and his benefits are a free gift to us; and we come to accept this grace as condemned sinners, with a confession of our undeservings and ill-deservings: 1 John i. 9, ‘If we confess our sins, he is just and faithful to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ And that eternal wrath may justly become our portion, God lets none come out of the prison of the first covenant till they have felt somewhat of the smart of it in the sense of our guilt and misery, that we may fly to the ransom of Christ’s blood, and the merit of his obedience. Therefore this must be distinctly considered as the procuring cause, which cannot be done seriously without a broken heart.

[2.] A thankful acceptance; for so great a benefit as pardon and life should not be entertained but with a grateful consent, and deep sense of his love, who so freely loved us, and forgave us so great a debt, and doth so freely save us: Luke vii. 47, ‘Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.’ Surely Christ should not, cannot be received into the heart without a hearty welcome and cordial embraces.

[3.] It is a fiducial consent, or such as is joined with some confidence and affiance; for there is a confidence and trust to be included in the nature of faith, and cannot be separated from it, and without it we cannot be satisfied with the truth of the offer, and cannot depend upon God’s word: Eph. i. 13, ‘In whom ye also trusted after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.’ Now this trust will make us venture all in his hands, and renounce our dearest lusts and interests.

[4.] It is obediential. We give up ourselves to obey God through Jesus Christ, that we may enjoy, please, and glorify him; which you do when you receive Christ with a hearty consent of subjection, to be guided, ruled, and ordered by him; for he is our Lord as well as our 50Saviour: Col. ii. 6, ‘As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him;’ 2 Peter iii. 2, ‘Of the commandment of us the apostles of our Lord and Saviour.’ We must obey his strictest laws; and as he is the physician of our souls, we must rest upon his skill, and suffer him to apply his sharpest plasters, take the bitterest medicines, most ungrateful to flesh and blood.

Use. Oh, let us think of these things. The hour of death and judgment will come. How sweet will it be then to be found in Christ, not having our own righteousness? None will be found in Christ but those who believe the gospel, and so accept of Christ as to depend upon him and obey him. We depend upon the merit of his satisfaction for pardon and life, and we keep his commandments and abide in his love, seeking his glory, and yielding ourselves to his obedience, as our Lord and sovereign, that he may conduct us to everlasting glory in his own way. Do this, and you have an interest in his merits and righteousness. We shall one day come to be judged and tried whether we have done so, yea or no; whether we are unbelievers and rebels against the Lord Christ, or whether sound believers.

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