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by Dr. John Thomas
THE CONSTITUTION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
"Constituted the righteousness of God in Christ".
The former things being admitted, if men would be righteous in God's esteem, they must become such by constitution also.
The "good actions" of a pious sinner are mere "dead works"; for the actions of a sinner to be of any worth in relation to the future state, he must be "constituted righteous"; and this can only be by his coming under a constitution made and provided for the purpose.
A stranger and foreigner from the commonwealth of the States, can only become a fellow-citizen with Americans, by taking the oath of abjuration, fulfilling the time of his probation, and taking the oath of allegiance according to the provisions of the constitution.
Now, the Kingdom of God has a constitution as well as the Kingdom of Satan, or that province of it styled the United States.
Before sinners come under it, they are characterized as "without Christ, being aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God (a[qeoi, atheists) in the world".
They are termed "far off," "strangers and foreigners" "walking in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart".
But, mark the sacred style descriptive of sinners after they have been placed under the constitution of Israel's Commonwealth, which is the Kingdom of God.
"You that were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ"; "through him you have access by one spirit to the Father; and are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God" -- "fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of God's promise in Christ by the gospel".
In this remarkable contrast is discoverable a great change in state and character predicated of the same persons.
How was this transformation effected?
This question is answered by the phrase, "In Christ by the gospel".
The "in" expresses the state; the "by" the instrumentality by which the state and character are changed.
As the constitution of sin hath its root in the disobedience of the First Adam, so also hath the constitution of righteousness root in the obedience of the Second Adam.
Hence, the apostle says, "As through one offence (sentence was pronounced) upon all men unto condemnation; so also through one righteousness (sentence was pronounced) upon all men (that is, Jews and Gentiles) unto a justification of life.
For as through the disobedience of the one man the many were constituted (catestavqhsan) sinners; so also through the obedience of the one the many shall be constituted righteous".
The two Adams are two federal chiefs; the first being figurative of the second in these relations.