Righteousness

—that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.

— Philippians 3:8-9

If you define righteousness in the common-sense, that is, in the divine fashion—for religion is nothing if it be not the deepest common-sense—as a giving to everyone his due, then certainly the first due is to him who makes us capable of owing, that is, makes us responsible creatures. If anyone were born perfect, then the highest duty would come first into the consciousness. Imperfect as we are born, it is the doing of, or at least the honest trying to do many another duty, that will at length lead a man to see that his duty to God is the first and highest of all, including and requiring the performance of all other duties. A man might live a thousand years in neglect of duty, and never come to see that any obligation was upon him to put faith in God and do what he told him. I grant that if God were such as he thinks him he would indeed owe him little; but he thinks him such in consequence of not doing what he knows he ought to do. He has not come to the light, been a man without guile, true and fair. But though faith in God is the first duty, there is more reason than this why it should be counted for righteousness. It is the one spiritual act which brings the man into contact with the original creative power, able to help him in every endeavor after righteousness, and ensure his progress to perfection. The Bible never deals with impossibilities, never demands of any man at any given moment a righteousness of which he is incapable; neither does it lay upon him any other law than that of perfect righteousness. When he yields that righteousness of which he is capable, content for the moment, it goes on to demand more: the common-sense of the Bible is lovely.