Volume 7, Issue 1: The Puritan Eye
Is the Lord your Righteousness?
George Whitefield (1714-1770)
The Lord our Righteousness" (Jer. 23:6). What a multitude of precious souls are now before me! how shortly must all be ushered into eternity! and yet, O cutting thought! were God now to require all your souls, how few, comparatively speaking, could really say, the Lord our righteousness!
And think you, O sinners, that you will be able to stand in the day of judgment, if Christ be not your righteousness! No, that alone is the wedding garment in which you must appear. The pitiful fig-leaves of your own righteousness will not cover your nakedness, when God shall call you to stand before him. Adam found them ineffectual, and so will you. Yet a little while, and time shall be no more; and then what will become of you, if the Lord be not your righteousness? Think you that Christ will spare you? No, he that formed you will have no mercy on you. If you be not of Christ, if Christ be not your righteousness, Christ himself shall pronounce you damned. And can you bear to think of being damned by Christ? Knowing therefore the terrors of the Lord, let me persuade you to close with Christ.
Come, then, O young men, who (as I acted once myself) are playing the prodigal, and wandering away afar off from your heavenly Father's house, come home, come home, and leave your swine's trough. Feed no longer on the husks of sensual delights: for Christ's sake arise, and come home! your heavenly Father now calls you. See yonder the best robe, even the righteousness of his dear Son, awaits you. See it, view it again and again. Consider at how dear a rate it was purchased, even by the blood of God. Consider what great need you have of it. You are lost, undone, damned forever, without it. Come then, poor, guilty prodigals, come home; indeed, I will not, like the elder brother in the Gospel, be angry; no, I will rejoice with the angels in heaven.
But I must speak a word to you, young maidens, as well as young men. I see many of you adorned, as to your bodies: but are not your souls naked? Which of you can say, the Lord is my righteousness? which of you was ever solicitous to be dressed in his robes of invaluable price, and without which you are no better than whited sepulchres in the sight of God? Let not then so many of you, young maidens, any longer forget your chief and only ornament. O seek for the Lord to be your righteousness, or otherwise burning will soon be upon you instead of beauty!
And what shall I say to you of a middle age, you busy merchants, you cumbered Marthas, who, with all your gettings, have not yet gotten the Lord to be your righteousness? Alas! what profit will there be of all your labour under the sun, if you do not secure this pearl of invaluable price? this one thing so absolutely needful, that it only can stand you in stead, when all other things shall be taken from you. Labour therefore, no longer, so anxiously for the meat which perisheth, but henceforward seek for the Lord to be your righteousness, a righteousness that will entitle you to life everlasting. I see, also, many hoary heads here, and perhaps the most of them cannot say, the Lord is my righteousness. O grey-headed sinners, I could weep over you! your grey hairs, which ought to be your crown, and in which perhaps you glory, are now your shame. You know not that the Lord is your righteousness: O haste then, haste ye, aged sinners, and seek an interest in redeeming love! Alas, you have one foot already in the grave, your glass is just run out, your sun is just going down, and it will set and leave you in an eternal darkness, unless the Lord be your righteousness! Flee then, O flee for your lives! be not afraid. All things are possible with God. If you come, though it be at the eleventh hour, Christ Jesus will in no wise cast you out. Seek then for the Lord to be your righteousness, and beseech him to let you know how it is that a man may be born again when he is old!
But I must not forget the lambs of the flock. To feed them was one of my Lord's last commands. I know he will be angry with me, if I do not tell them that the Lord may be their righteousness, and that of such is the kingdom of heaven. Come then, ye little children, come to Christ; the Lord Christ shall be your righteousness. Do not think that you are too young to be converted. Perhaps many of you may be nine or ten years old, and yet cannot say, the Lord is our righteousness; which many have said, though younger than you. Come, then, while you are young. Perhaps you may not live to be old. Do not stay for other people. Our Lord Jesus loved little children. You are his lambs; he bids me feed you. I pray God make you willing betimes to take the Lord for your righteousness.
Go home then, turn the words of the text into a prayer, and entreat the Lord to be your righteousness. Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come quickly into all our souls; Amen. Lord Jesus, amen, and amen!