At Mount Zion Chapel, Chadwell Street, Clerkenwell,

On Lord’s-Day Evening, 4th October, 1874.

“He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.”—Isaiah 61:10

It does not appear that Christ took any particular text when he preached the sermon on the mount; but he proceeded at once to say—Blessed is this class, and that class, and the other class of persons. But shortly after this, he went into a synagogue, and they gave him the book of the prophet Esaias, and he opened it and read the first two verses of this chapter:—“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord:”—and when he had closed the book and returned it to the minister, he proceeded to say, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears,” and proceeded to preach one of the first sermons which he ever delivered as the infallible preacher of the everlasting gospel of God’s grace. Now, in the first verse of this chapter, the three great saving offices of our Lord are indicated. “The Lord,” said he, “has anointed me to preach the gospel unto the meek.” Here is the prophetical office of Jesus Christ; for he is that great prophet which the Lord has raised up for the purpose of teaching the church. “He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted.” Here is the priestly office and work of Jesus Christ. A wonderful work is that of binding up broken hearts. Take a wounded spirit and heal it, if you can. Take a broken heart and bind it up, if you can. If a heart is physically wounded, or broken, death will be the result; and if the heart is wounded spiritually by the arrows of divine truth, God only can heal it. If he breaks the spirit, he only can bind it up; and he says, the Lord God hath “sent me to bind up the broken-hearted;” and he takes the bandages of everlasting love, and the blood of his own heart, and binds up the “broken heart;” and thus makes the wounded whole. This is the priestly work of Jesus Christ our Lord. “And to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that our bound.” Now, if preaching indicates his prophetic office, and binding up the broken heart indicates his priestly office, the proclamation of liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, are works which belong to him properly as the reigning King of grace; and therefore, we have Christ our Prophet, preaching; and Christ our Priest, saving by his blood and merits; and Christ our King, delivering us from bondage, slavery, danger, and death. This was the first text our Lord took. And it is not at all wonderful, that in preaching from this text, he preached himself, and so preached that his hearers wondered at the gracious words which proceeded from his mouth. Well, the Saviour proceeded to say—“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes.” It was usual in that country for mourners to put on sackcloth, and cast ashes upon their persons, especially upon their heads; and if the mourning was real, and tears were actually shed, the faces of such persons were repulsive and filthy; hence the Saviour says, I am come “to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” And then in the text we have the fulfillment of this in the experience of God’s people; and they express their feelings in the language of the 10th verse: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.”

It is not my intention to dwell upon the whole verse tonight, for the whole verse did not occur to my mind—only the clause which I have read—“He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.”

Let us call attention to three points: in the first place, the robe indicated—“the robe of righteousness;” and in the second place, the act ascribed to God—“He hath covered me with it;” and in the third place, the confidence of the sinner in relation to this fact—“He hath covered me.” There is no doubt in his mind,—“He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.”

I. Now, in the first place, a few observations on the robe of righteousness.

An old-fashioned theme! A theme that the church has dwelt upon with peculiar pleasure for hundreds and thousands of years. You find that the church of God rejoiced in it in Isaiah’s days, and that Abraham rejoiced to see Christ’s day, “and he saw it and was glad;” and “Abraham believed, and it was counted to him (for imputed to him) for righteousness;” and therefore the robe of righteousness has been worn for ages; but it has lost none of its excellencies, none of its beauties, none of its glories. What it was in connection with Abraham’s salvation, that it is in connection with yours and mine. Though the Pharisee and religious philosopher sneer at the idea of imputed righteousness, and going to heaven justified by the obedience of another, should the world stand six thousands years as it has already stood six thousand, sinners must be saved by Jesus Christ, and immortal spirits must go to heaven, covered with the robe of the Saviour’s righteousness; and therefore, my dear friends, and especially my dear young friends, I would say, don’t be frightened by the very terrible things that are said, in the day in which we live, against old-fashioned divinity; the way of salvation is but one, and there is only one dress in which a poor sinner can stand before God, and that is the robe indicated in our text tonight—“He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.” It was usual for priests to wear robes—the people of God are “kings and priests unto God,” and they wear robes as spiritual priests. It is usual for kings or princes to wear robes; and the people of God are princes, they are royal children of the royal Father. They are kings, as well as priests; and therefore, whilst they wear the robe of righteousness as priests, they wear the robe of righteousness also as princes, and as kings. It was usual, as it is still, for robes to be worn on marriage occasions, and the robe of the Saviour’s righteousness is the saint’s wedding dress. It indicates the fact that they are the bride of Christ, that their Maker is their husband. And the Lord Jesus Christ being the maker of this robe, took care to make it so that it should become his bride, be accepted by his Father, and excite the wonder of angels and devils for ever. I would just say here, that this robe of righteousness is the best robe in all the universe of God—I mean, of course, the best that creatures wear. I am not speaking of the robes of our dear Emmanuel—I am speaking of the robes which creatures wear. There is no robe like that with which he covers his people. The robe which Adam wore before he fell was very beautiful; but this robe surpasses Adam’s in beauty and glory. The robes which angels wear are very beautiful, but the Lord does not take angelic robes to cover his bride—his church. He comes from heaven, and makes a robe with his own hands, fulfills the law himself, and presents his work to divine justice—justice accepts the whole, and God, as the judge of heaven and earth, casts it over the guilty; and when this is realized to the mind of the spirit, there is a shout of exultation and joy—“I will rejoice in the Lord, for he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.”

1. I notice in the first place, the text indicates the infinite munificence to God: “He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness:” He hath covered me. And who is the “me?” Here is one, there another, another yonder—he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness. Who are the speakers whom he covered with the robe of righteousness? The poor, the destitute, the unclean, the wretched, the miserable and those that had been cheerfully and willingly the ungodly.

“He found me ruined in the fall,
Yet loved me, notwithstanding all.”

Well, “I passed by thee,” says God, (Ezekiel 16) “I passed by thee when thou wast in thy blood, whilst lying out in the open field; I passed by thee, and thy time was the time of love; and I said unto thee, Live, and I spread my skirt over thee.” God did not go about the field for clothing for the sinner that he intended to save. He had the clothing by him. “I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness, and thou becamest mine.” This is saving sinners in a munificent manner. This is saving sinners with an abundance of grace, as it becomes the God of infinite grace and mercy; for it is a robe, my brother, that he casts upon the sinner, it was not quite enough for the church to say, “He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation.” Why, I do not know that I can make any critical observations on the difference between the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness. It would have been a very great thing had God delivered us from hell, and taken us back to Eden,—had he left us short of heaven. It would have been a very great thing had God simply exempted us from punishment, and given us a large measure of libelty, without taking us to heaven. But God was determined—and I am right in thus expressing myself,—God, Jesus Christ, was determined to do all he could. He was determined to do all that omnipotence, in connection with love and blood, could do; and he said, The best robe that I can weave, the best righteousness that I can work out, the best garment that I can produce, I will work out and produce, and it shall be theirs for ever and ever. My dear friends, could his righteousness have been more perfect, could the robe have been more glorious? Could incarnate God have produced a better? Was it possible for omnipotence and love to put better material into the robe, or to make it up in a better manner? Why, you are covered with all the excellencies, all the ornaments, beauties, and facts, which Jesus Christ, the God-man, could produce; and, therefore, we have here in the first place, the infinite munificence of the Giver. We have the best Giver, Christ; we have the best gift, the robe of righteousness; and we have the astonished receiver, the unworthy sinner taken from prison and ashes. He hath covered me, and I deserved hell. I was naked and wretched, yet he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.

The riches of divine grace as displayed in a gift like this, appear in the fact that the production of this robe was the object of the incarnation of our Lord, and of his advent into this world. This robe could not have been made in heaven,—Jesus could not have made it in his Father’s bosom, nor on his own throne. Since Christ could not work out a righteousness in that glory-world; he dressed himself in that nature which he resolved to save and adorn, and came in that nature into the world which was under the curse and lost, and placed himself in the only position in which he could produce the robe of righteousness. The robe of righteousness had to be wrought out under a broken law; for had not the law been broken, we should not have required the services of the Righteousness Worker. Abstract Deity could not have taken that position; undressed Godhead could not have suffered nor worked out a robe like this; and therefore he assumed the nature that was to be saved and dressed, and that was to shout his praises forever; and commenced the life-long work,—for this robe cost the Saviour many months and years of labour, and tears, and prayer, and travail, and toil,—he then commenced the life-long work of producing a robe that should eternally justify and adorn his people. Well, we sing in our hymn of praise,—

“Each good deed, and each pure thought,
Conspired to weave the glorious dress.”

Not a hand touched it but his. He never went to a single individual in all the universe for a thread of it. All the materials came out of himself, out of his own heart, and hands, and mind, and body, and soul; and he worked for three-and-thirty years, and completed the whole. The robe of the Saviour’s righteousness is a seamless robe. He began it at his birth, and proceeded with the working of this robe for three-and-thirty years, and completed the great business at the end of the law. Holding it up, he said “It is finished.” And Justice weighed it, and Truth examined it, and all then approved it; and the grand fact is put down in the Gospel for our eternal consolation: “I am well pleased with thee for thy righteousness’ sake; for thou hast magnified the law, and made it honorable.” If I may so say, when Christ had produced it, and presented it to his Father, and his Father had expressed his entire satisfaction with it, saying, Yes, it will do, I will justify my people on the ground of thy obedience; then Christ proceeded to present it to the sinner in the Gospel, with, Will it do for you? It will do for my Father, it will do for heaven, it will do for Justice; it has received as assurance of divine approval in every respect. Sinner! Poor sinner, will it do for you? And the poor sinner drops down upon his knees, and says, “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” Guilty, I come to thee for grace; and naked, come to three for dress. Cover me with it, and cast it upon me.

“And lest the shadow of the spot
Should on my soul be found,
He took the robe the Saviour wrought,
And cast it all around.”

“He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Well, we see the production of this robe was the great object of the Savior’s advent into our world, the great object of his incarnation. It is the righteousness of a man, and that suits us, and fits us; ’tis the righteousness of a God as well as a man; ’tis the righteousness of the God-Man, and this does what I shall not have time to dwell upon to-night; this constitutes the robe what it is; I do not like using such words, but I had almost said unique. There is nothing like it in all the universe of God. The munificence of God—a robe. There is nothing in connection with God’s method of saving sinners that indicates a want of sufficient thought, or a want of sufficient power. All is infinite plenitude and abundance. Not a coat, not merely the garments of salvation; but the great, noble, rich, glorious, and glorifying robe of righteousness. The beggar taken, made rich, lifted from the dunghill, washed clean and nothing less than a robe thrown over him, and that the best robe God could make, and given with all God’s heart. The Lord help you to believe in the righteousness—the justifying power and righteousness of your incarnate Saviour.

2. Secondly, it indicates protection. He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness. Does it go all round the sinner then? Yes, it covers him. Why, there is that in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, which covers the whole person. Justice goes behind him, and there is righteousness; Justice looks him in the face, there is righteousness. Justice goes on the right hand, and on the left, and he is surrounded, he is covered with the robe of righteousness. And this righteousness, on particular occasions, he draws closely around his soul, he draws closely around his mind; just as a person walking abroad in keen, frosty, and cold weather, draws his clothes tightly and closely around his person, to exclude the wind, and keep his body warm. Ah! This robe of righteousness drawn tightly around the soul, excludes the heath, and keeps the poor soul warm. This robe of righteousness drawn closely around the immortal soul, excludes the curse. There is no opening anywhere for the point of a curse to go through. It excludes every dangerous arrow. It excludes—I had almost said, and I will say it—it excludes all terror from the piercing eye of God.

“Nor by the piercing eye of God,
One blemish shall be found.”

Well, now, this robe of righteousness is such a protection to the sinner, that he can walk in all places, as it were, in it—at any rate, he can walk under Sinai with safety. Nothing from Mount Sinai can strike him. He is right. He is covered with righteousness. Righteousness is between his person and the law, just as a robe is between the body and the weather, as a robe is between its wearer and the eye that looks at him. He that sits on Sinai, the great Law-giver, sees not sin, but righteousness; and that person may walk round about Sinai very safely, for he is all that Sinai requires him to be. Covered with the robe of righteousness, he is perfectly conformed to God’s law. Then he comes into the vicissitudes, trials, and changes of life, and if he realizes the fact that he is justified, that he is covered with the robe of righteousness, the trials of life do not penetrate his heart. Ah! Now you have made a mistake. Well, let me tell you what I mean,—what the robe of righteousness does exclude in connection with the trials of life. Why, all that is penal! Everything in the shape of curse. When the trials of life come upon the undressed and the naked, they may come as curses, and crush the poor mind, and carry the man completely away. But when the trials of life come upon one covered with the robe of righteousness, they are felt, they stun him, they throw him down, by their number and their force, but there is no bitter curse connected with them, the robe excludes everything like that. The robe of righteousness then, qualifies its wearer to meet the trials and troubles of life. My friend, I will just simply say that this robe of righteousness, with which God’s people are covered, is fire-proof. “Make a fence,” said God to Moses, “round about the mount, and let not the people come near; for if the people come near they shall die.” Make a fence round about Sinai, and keep the people off. But we want no fence with this righteousness on. We can go to the mountain and touch it. It is a mountain that may not be touched by the unclean, and naked, and undressed; but he that comes covered with the robe of the Savior’s righteousness may go close to the mountain—and I had almost said—may go to the top of the mountain to the great Lawgiver, covered with the robe of righteousness. “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth;” and therefore this robe is fire-proof. And this robe is water-proof, curse-proof, proof against the sting of death, and a thousand other evils. Hostile shafts may fall upon it, but they will fall off again. The wind may rage round about; dressed in this robe, and conscious of the fact, I shall be divinely warm. I shall not shiver with cold out in the weather; and when it is, morally speaking, scorchingly hot; then the robe, of it is a very wonderful one, will cool the mind during the scorching heat, as it warms the heart during the freezing winter. The child of God goes into the field of battle, the robe of righteousness is take—“A robe in the field of battle! Why that is contrary to our notions of conflict, our military notions.” Perhaps so; but this robe of righteousness is indispensable in the field of battle. ’Tis for the sinner, for the justified man to go into the water in. Ah! ’Tis his life-robe, it saved him from sinking. No man covered with this robe was ever left in the bottom of deep water. Therefore, he does into the water in it, and into the fire with it, and into trouble in this robe of righteousness, and he lies down on his dying bed to breathe his last in it,—draws it tightly around his believing mind when heart and flesh are failing, and says, “I am covered with the robe of righteousness.” And then he goes with it to heaven, and appears in it before God. Aye, if you like,—I will go as far as possible—’tis his shroud, when he is dead and gone; for there are two bedfellows only in the grave, one is sin, and the other is grace. The body may be said to participate in the blessedness arising from an interest in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ; and therefore we fight in the robe, stand up amid all weathers in the robe, die in the robe, go to heaven in the robe, are buried interested in the robe of the Savior’s righteousness. Here is protection.

3. And then in the third place, we have dignity. A robe thrown all round the believer, and a robe to indicate dignity. Criminals do not wear robes. Slaves did not wear robes, and do not wear robes now. Their masters and mistresses wear robes, but the slave wears the dress of a slave. The poor do not wear robes. The degraded do not wear robes. The dignified, the noble, the rich, the titled, the mighty, and the official, they wear robes. And why are God’s people said to wear a robe of righteousness? Why, because they are related to the King of kings, descended from the King of kings: “He hath made us kings and priests unto God, and we shall reign on the earth.” My dear friends, this robe of righteousness does wonders for the sinner; at first, it lifts him out of guilt into justification; then it lifts him out of bondage into everlasting liberty; then it lifts him out of poverty into everlasting riches and plenty; then it lifts him out of insignificance into infinite and unspeakable importance; and then it brings him from a distance that was far from God, and lands and lodges him in the very bosom of everlasting love. ’Tis a brighter—as we have said—a brighter robe than angels wear, and a robe superior to that which slipped off Adam and left him exposed, when he fell and became a transgressor. That robe was beautiful. It was beautiful and glorious,—but let that pass. He lost it, and we lost it; but thanks to the God of infinite grace and mercy, the void is more than filled, the chasm is more than filled. We have a better robe than that which was lost by transgression and the fall. Here, then, we have dignity. Adam was a creature,—a justified man is a new creature. Adam stood in Eden, and perhaps was not qualified to go higher, at least not by his own righteousness; we stand on heavenly ground, and are entitled—oh let me speak reverently!—to all the bliss God can give, and all the glory he can show. “He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.”

4. But there is a step further we must go before we close tonight; for I fancy I hear some of my friends, as it were, thinking that I have not reached the highest point yet. “The robe—it does indicate God’s munificence and abundance of grace; it does indicate divine protection, and a robe does indicate dignity; but does it not indicate more than that?” Yes; it indicates perfection. He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness. Can you say it? Is it true of you? Then, my friend, you are perfect. “Well, that is going a long way.” You are, you are perfect; that is to say, with regard to your character, as you are in Christ, and as you are dressed in the best obedience of incarnate God. So perfect, that you are accepted by God; so perfect, that God approves of you; and so perfect, that God has spread abroad his wings, and taken you underneath them for ever and ever. So perfect, that he has recorded his own feelings concerning you in the words: “Thou art all fair, and there is no spot in thee.” There is scope for your faith! There is scope for mine too! “But what about the inside, sir?” I am talking about the robe, not the inside. A good deal of strange feeling takes place underneath the robe; but then I am talking tonight about that which God sees—the robe—rather than the feelings of the wearer; and God sees the wearer as perfect and complete as that robe can constitute him. Since the robe of righteousness is upon the sinner, and the Holy Ghost is bound to work in the sinner, and produce within a state of things in harmony with the glory of the robe itself; therefore, the time shall come when “the King’s daughter shall be all glorious within, whilst her clothing is of wrought gold.” At present, for all purposes of acceptance, we wear the robe of righteousness, and soon the Spirit will complete his work and make us internally as perfect as we are already in Jesus Christ the Lord. “He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.”

5. That is not all. There is another fact, and that is glory. The robe of righteousness. It must be glorious. It must be bright and shining. Its lustre and glory must be marvelous. All the works of God are glorious and like himself. How glorious are his works in nature! How glorious are his works in providence! How glorious—in fact, to repeat what I have said already once before! How glorious was the robe Adam wore! How glorious are the robes of angels! The most glorious robe, is that of which we are speaking. It would not have fitted Adam before he fell, and angels could not wear it. ’Tis a robe made by incarnate God, for hell-deserving sinners, and it fits them and them only; and when it is cast upon the sinner, the attributes of God examine him, and truth says, It fits him; and holiness says, It is fine linen, white and clean, without a spot, without a stain; and justice says, the material is all perfect and divine, wrought gold; and love is delighted with the beauty that is upon her object, and all God’s attributes are pleased with the result of the Savior’s obedience. The sinner that was naked and ragged, filthy, and going to hell, is rescued therefrom, by the hand of grace, and adorned with all the excellencies that the God-man could produce.

“Strangely, my soul, art thou arrayed
By the great Sacred Three;
In sweetest harmony of praise,
Let all thy powers agree.”

I will only just add that this robe entitles its wearer to all grace and all glory, and to all gracious and glorious privileges. Yes; it entitles me, if it is mine, it entitles me to all the grace I shall require to help me through this world. “Oh! You are so high in your experience.” Oh no, I am not. I wish I were. I am high in relation to the facts which I desire to experience, which I wish I could experience. I tell you the truth in Christ Jesus. I lie not. I do not go beside the mark, or stop short of the mark here, if I can help it. Covered with this righteousness, you are entitled to all the grace that may be required to take you safely to heaven. Covered with this righteousness, you are entitled to the fulfillment of all the promises that God has given you here. You are entitled to the protection of his arm, to the shadow of his wing, to the watchfulness of his eye, and to all those streams of goodness and mercy that follow the flock through this world. “That is high comfort; so high, I cannot always attain to it.” The Lord help you to attain to it. It is a fact that this righteousness entitles its wearer, or this robe entitles it’s wearer to—

“Safety on earth; and after death,
The plenitude of heaven.”

Die, clothed or covered with this robe, and be rejected by God! Leave the body, and go into God’s presence, covered with this righteousness, and be rejected there! No, my brother, never. Cling to it, hold it fast. If you have not the comfort of it,—I was going to say, never mind. If you have hold of it, that is something, and if you have got hold of this righteousness, God sees you as covered with it. Hold it fast—don’t let it go; and if you should not have strong comfort until you die, yet God cannot cast off a sinner that has hold of and is covered with the righteousness of his Son. The fact is the sinner interested in this robe, or covered with it, shall certainly reach heaven; and God will received him with all the delight of his heart,—“Come in, thou blessed, stay with me.” Angels will welcome him. Spirits of just men made perfect will welcome him. Christ will recognize in him his own workmanship—“There comes another sinner saved by grace, and covered with my righteousness.” And the Father will welcome him; and all heaven will ring with joy! Do not fear. Death, no doubt, is a cold and dark valley; but do not fear. All heaven will ring with joy when you get home, covered with the robe of the Savior’s righteousness.

II. I have no time left for the two following particulars, viz., The act of God,—that of covering his people with it; and The confidence of the sinner.

I will only just add before I sit down, that this is imputed by God to the sinner, just as the sinner’s sins were imputed by God to Jesus Christ. The transfer is mutual between Christ and his people. He took all my sins, and I take all his righteousness; he found nothing right in me, and God found nothing wrong in him; all his righteous life, and righteous and meritorious death are set down to my account, and this robe of righteousness is therefore as much mine, as truly mine, as if my own hands, and head, and heart, had wrought it out for myself; for this is not a garment lent, nor a garment that God will recall, nor a garment that can be lost, nor a garment that can be worn out, nor a garment that can be forfeited. “Forfeited, sir!” How can the saint of the believer forfeit the robe of righteousness? “By sin, sir, to be sure.” But, you see, his sin is covered, his shortcomings are covered, all his imperfections are covered—covered with righteousness. Oh! You may abundant rejoice here. It is imputed, it is your and yours by a righteous act of God, and as truly your as if you had wrought in out for yourself.

III. And with regard to the joy and confidence—well, I will only say that form life in the heart you may infer an interest in Christ’s mediation.

Let me come down to the bottom. Is there a little life in the soul? “I do not know that there is.” You do, my friends; yes, you do know that there is a little life. You know there is some feeling. You know what your desires are, how strong, how keen, how fervent, how holy and unquenchable. You know that there is an unconquerable and invincible something that brings you to the house of God, that constrains you to open the Bible, and sometimes fills the eyes with tears, and induces you to look up to God with “Oh that I could say Christ was mine!” All that is life. From that you may infer that you are interested in salvation; and if interested in one part of it, you are interested in the whole. Therefore, the robe of righteousness is yours, whether you have satisfactorily realized it or not.

“The time of love will come,
When you shall clearly see,
Not only that Christ shed his blood,
But you shall say—For me.”

Then cast your rags, and your supposed worth and excellency behind your back; come naked and guilty, just as you are, to him as a Saviour for his obedience. He will cast it all around, and then you will know the meaning of the first verse of the fifth of Romans: “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” All things are mind, for I am Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. Amen.



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