Dejanira's tunic?


"There is none righteous, no, not one."

Self-righteousness is born with us and there is perhaps no sin
which has so much vitality in it as the sin of 'righteous self'.

The godly, those who are righteous through faith in Christ,
still have to mourn that this infirmity clings to them;
while as to the unconverted themselves, their besetting sin
is to deny their guiltiness, to plead that they are as good
as others, and to indulge still the vain and foolish hope
that they shall enter into heaven from some doings, sufferings,
or weepings of their own.

Take heed, then take heed, sinner, for it will not avail you
that there are others blacker than yourself. If there be but one
spot of sin upon you, you are lost, if there be but one sin unwashed
by Jesus' blood, your portion must be with the tormentors.

A holy God cannot look even upon the least degree of iniquity.

How abundantly true, will this be at the day of judgment.
I think I see that day of fire, that day of wrath--
You are gathered as a great multitude before the eternal throne.
Those who are robed in Christ's fine linen, which is the
righteousness of the saints, are caught up to the right hand.

And now the trumpet sounds-- if there be any that have kept the law
of God, if there be faultless ones, if there be any that have never
sinned, let them stand forth and claim the promised reward, but,
if not, let the pit engulf the sinner, let the fiery thunder-bolt
be launched upon the impenitent offenders.

Now, stand forth, sir and clear yourself!
Come forth, my friend, and claim the reward, because of the
church you endowed, or the row of almshouses that you erected.
What! what! does your tongue lie dumb in your mouth?
Come forward, come forward - you who said you had been a good citizen,
had fed the hungry, and clothed the naked- come forward now,
and claim the reward.

What! what! is your face turned to whiteness?
Is there an ashy paleness on your cheek?

Come forward, you multitudes of those who rejected Christ,
and despised his blood. Come now, and say-
"All the commandments have I kept from my youth up."

What! are you seized with horror? Has the better light of judgment
driven out the darkness of your self-righteousness?

Oh! I see you, I see you, you are not boasting now; but you,
the best of you, are crying, "You rocks, hide me; you mountains,
open your stony bowels, and let me hide myself from the face
of him that sits upon the throne."

Why, why such a coward?
Come, face it out before your Maker.

Come up, infidel, now, tell God there is no God.
Come, while hell is flaming in your nostrils; come, and say there
is no hell. Let me not mock you in your misery; but let me picture
to you how devils shall mock you. "Aha!" say they "where is your
courage now? Are your ribs of iron and your bones of brass?
Will you dare the Almighty now, and dash yourselves upon the
bosses of his buckler, or run upon his glittering spear?"

See them, see them as they sink!
The gulf has swallowed them up; the earth has closed again,
and they are gone, a solemn silence falls upon the ear.

But hark below, if you could descend with them, you would hear
their doleful groans, and hollow moans, as they now feel that
the God omnipotent was right and just, and wise, and tender,
when he bade them forsake their righteousness, and flee to Christ,
and lay hold on him that can save to the uttermost those
that come unto God by him.

If we, out of our impenitent and hard hearts, ask for God's justice,
God will give us justice, but not mercy; and that justice shall
be the meting out to us of the full vials of his indignation,
and of his wrath for ever and ever.

Sir, you will be damned with all your self-righteousness,
and your self righteousness shall be like Dejanira's tunic,
which she gave to Hercules, and which he put upon him,
and, as the old fable has it, it became a robe of fire to him;
he tried to drag it away, but he pulled away pieces of his living,
quivering flesh each moment, and perished miserably.

Such shall your self-righteousness be to you!
It seems a pleasant draught, and intoxicates for the moment;
but it is deadly and damnable as the venom of asps,
and as the wine of Gomorrah.

Ah! soul, I know not who you are; but if you have any righteousness
of your own, you are a graceless soul. If you have given all your
goods to feed the poor; if you have built many and many a sanctuary;
if you have gone about with self-denial among the houses of poverty
to visit the sons and daughters of affliction; if you have fasted three
times every week; if your prayers have been so long that your throat
has become hoarse through your crying; if your tears have been so many
that your eyes have become blinded through your weeping; if your readings
of Scripture have been so long that the midnight oil has been consumed
in abundance; - if, I say, your heart has been so tender towards the poor
and the sick and the needy that you would have been willing to suffer
with them, to bear all their loathsome diseases; nay, if adding all
this you could give your body to be burned, yet if you trusted
in any ONE of these things your damnation would be as sure as
though you were thief or drunkard.