The Happiness of the Righteous
William Nicholson, 1862
"Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, for they will eat the fruit of their actions. Woe to the wicked! It will go badly with him, for what he deserves will be done to him." Isaiah 3:10-11
The greatest happiness a man can realize in this world, arises from the influence of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness with his spirit that he is a child of God; for such an experience assures him that he is the subject of the precious promises, privileges, and hopes of the Gospel.
All the promises of Scripture are made to specific characters; and by this we may ascertain our state. Hence, while in the context, threatenings are denounced against the wicked — the safety and triumph of the righteous amidst impending judgments, are distinctly pointed out.
Who Are the Righteous?
1. Not the self-righteous, who have a high opinion of themselves — who trust in themselves that they are righteous, and despise others. It cannot be well with them, for they deny the sacrifice of Christ, by which sinners are constituted righteous.
2. Not those who deny the necessity and importance of good works. Romans 6:1, 2.
Positively. This leads to a very affecting truth, namely, that all by sin are unrighteous. "There is none righteous, no not one."
1. Every true believer is righteous according to the covenant of grace. Romans 5:1; 4:3, 23-25; 5:18, 19.
2. They have an inherent righteousness wrought in them by the Holy Spirit. They are "born again," "renewed in the spirit of their minds," and are "new creatures in Christ Jesus."
3. They declare by their conduct, that they are righteous. "They love mercy, do justly," etc. They "have their fruit unto holiness," etc.
II. Their Happiness: "It will go well with them."
1. Their present state of Justification proves this: they are free from guilt and condemnation. "Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven," etc. This freedom gives hope, and is the precursor of blessedness to come.
2. They have a good conscience. Hebrews 9:14; 10:21, 22; 2 Corinthians 1:12.
3. They enjoy all the pleasures of true religion, arising from . . .
the possession of Christian graces,
the enjoyment of Christian privileges,
and the performance of Christian duties.
4. It shall be well with them in all adverse circumstances. In persecution, in temptation, in poverty, in sickness, and under bereavement.
5. In death, the period when the presence of God is most needed. "When their heart and their flesh fail," etc. "Yes, though I walk through the valley," etc. God sends his Spirit to cheer them.
Christ leaves them not then. "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 1 Corinthians 15:54-55. Wicked men then bear their testimony to the excellency of religion.
"Tis religion that can give
Solid pleasure while we live.
Tis religion can supply
Solid comfort when we die."
6. At the resurrection. "Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." John 5:29. "He will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body!" Philippians 3:21. "And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from Heaven!" 1 Corinthians 15:49
"Arrayed in glorious hope,
Shall these vile bodies shine,
And every form, and every face,
Look heavenly and divine."
7. At the judgment day. "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world!" Matthew 25:34. "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Matthew 25:46. "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession." Malachi 3:17
8. Forever in Heaven. They . . .
shall be with Christ,
shall be free from sin,
shall associate with angels,
shall understand the works of God,
and their happiness and glory shall be uninterrupted. They shall be "forever with the Lord!"