Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.
Taking the language of the text in its most rigid meaning, estimating our sacrifices of righteousness by the perfect rule originally given to us, — and remembering that God cannot receive anything less valuable without violating the faithfulness, and compromising the purity of His character, — we have no sacrifices to offer to Him which will justify us in expecting that, for the sake of these, we shall regain and enjoy any of those blessings which His goodness ever prompts Him to bestow upon His rational offspring, as constituting at once their honour and their happiness. Still, we are commanded to offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and we are encouraged to trust in the Lord. The two things must be consistent. It must be practicable for us, fallen though we be, to do both the one and the other.
1. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, by cherishing those sentiments of humility and sorrow which become creatures who have lost their righteousness; and trust in the Lord, that if you do so, He will comfort you, and lift you up. Humility and sorrow, it is true, cannot compensate for the want of righteousness. They amount to a recognition of that want. Humility and sorrow answer the purpose assigned them, as being a heartfelt testimony on the part of the transgressor to the infinite excellence of God's law, and to the fitness and importance, and necessity, of that obedience which it demands. In this there is a tribute paid to the authority of God. Presenting this sacrifice of righteousness, you need not be afraid of your offering being rejected or disdained.
2. By a believing application to the obedience of Christ, as constituting that righteousness for the sake of which God justifies the ungodly. Our humility, however deep, and our sorrow, however sincere, come far short of what God's law requires of us. And so must all the best affections, and all the worthiest doings, of which we are capable. It is the grand object of the gospel dispensation, to provide for us that righteousness of which we are naturally destitute, but which, nevertheless, the holiness and immutability of God's law render absolutely necessary. This provision has been made by appointing Christ as our surety and substitute. In what manner does the righteousness of Christ become ours, so that we may offer it as a sacrifice to God, and trust in Him, that, for its sake, He will forgive and bless us? It is appropriated by faith, by that faith which implies a renunciation of all dependence on our own inherent righteousness as the instituted method of justification. We offer to God the sacrifice of this righteousness when we direct our views to it, and place our confidence in it.
3. By an earnest desire and uniform endeavour to be adorned with the graces of personal righteousness. Personal righteousness is absolutely, and in every case, indispensable. Strive and pray that your offering may be cheerful, unreserved, and constant. Thus offering the sacrifices of righteousness, you may trust in the Lord that your offering shall not be in vain.
4. By striving to promote the interests of righteousness among your fellow men. No doubt our principal concern is to be holy ourselves. But if we are sincere in that work, we will be anxious that our neighbours shall be holy in the same manner, and to the same extent, and will make every exertion that may be requisite for attaining that end. And explicit obligation is laid upon us to aim at the suppression of sin, and at the prosperity of virtue among our fellow creatures. As to the means by which you are to promote this object, it must strike you at once that the grand and efficient means of diffusing righteousness is to be found in the diffusion of Christianity. Christianity is a system of righteousness. If you would secure for Christianity its purifying effects in their best style, and in their fullest measure, you must present it to men in its true and native character, as it has been set forth by God Himself. And you must exhibit its purifying influence on your own deportment.
(A. Thomson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.