Billeder på siden

cumstanced, through all the ages of And every impartial reader must


see, that the apostle there spoke of This law is the foundation of the the moral law, which he called, spicovenant of works; and it is the wis- ritual, holy, just, and good, in which dom and duty of every holy creature he "delighted after the inner man, to seek justification by obeying it: and which he served with his mind,” but for fallen men who are continu- &c. And thus will every self-righally transgressing, to seek to be teous Pharisee become dead to the justified by their obedience to it, is law, in proportion as he knows and absurd and arrogant in the greatest understands the nature of its redegree that can be conceived. This quirements and sanction. When attempt is generally called self- the sinner becomes well acquainted righteousness; and all the preachers with the strictness, extensive deof Christianity are bound most de- mands, and awful denunciations of cidedly to warn men against it as a the law, his hope of being justified fatal rock on which multitudes are according to it must expire: for he continually perishing. will perceive, that it requires a per

[ocr errors]

But what purposes then does the fectly holy heart, and a perfectly law answer, under a dispensation of holy life; that it respects every mercy, and in subserviency to the imagination, intention, affection, disdoctrines and the covenant of grace? position, motive, word, and work; And what use should the ministers that it demands absolute, uninterof the New Testament make of it? rupted, and perfect obedience from The following statement may per- the first dawn of reason to the mohaps contain a sufficient reply to ment of death; and that it denounces these questions; and make way for an awful curse on every one who some observations on the bad effects continueth not in all things, written which follow from ignorance, inat-in its precepts, to do them." But tention, or confused apprehensions unless the goodness or excellency respecting the moral law in the mi- of the law be also perceived, the nisters and professors of the gospel. sinner will not be brought to geI. The apostle says, "I, through nuine self-abasement. A man may the law, am dead to the law, that I be clearly convicted of high treason might live unto God” (Gal. ii. 19). according to the letter of the law; He doubtless meant (by " being but if he thinks the law itself to be dead to the law") that he had en- iniquitous, he will persist in justitirely given up all hope and every fying his conduct; and his sullen thought of justification by the law, enmity to the prince, the governor of obtaining eternal life as the ment, and his judges, will probably reward of his own obedience to it: increase in proportion as he sees and having fled to Christ for justifi- the execution of the sentence decation, he was delivered also from nounced against him to be inevitathe fear of final condemnation by it. ble. If men only consider the strictHe had therefore no more to hope ness of the precept and the severity or fear from the law, than a man of the sanction of the divine law; after his death hath to hope or fear hard thoughts of God will be exfrom his friends or enemies. When cited, they will deem themselves he was a proud Pharisee," he was justified in desponding inactivity, alive without the law: but when or they will take refuge in Antithe commandment came, sin re- nomianism, or infidelity. But when vived, and he died” (Rom. vii. 9). every precept is shown to the con

science to be "holy, just, and good," works. In this way the pride of requiring nothing but what is rea- men's hearts is abased, their mouths sonable, equitable, and beneficial; are stopped, their false and legal namely, that we should resemble confidence is destroyed, and they and imitate the Holy God, love are prepared by the knowledge of, supremely his infinite excellency, and humiliation for their sins, to seek our happiness and liberty in understand and welcome the salvahis favour and service, be filled with tion of the gospel. Thus the law gratitude for all his unspeakable was delivered from Mount Sinai, to goodness, employ all his gifts to his the nation of Israel to prepare their glory, love and do good to others minds for the promises and types for his sake, and thus share and aid of good things to come; and it the common felicity of all his obe- should thus be delivered from every dient creatures: these views of the pulpit, as a schoolmaster to bring law strike at the root of man's self- us to Christ, that we may be justiadmiration; the convinced sinner fied by faith."

[ocr errors]

is thus constrained to take part with II. The law is useful to illustrate God, as it were, against himself, the necessity, nature, and glory of and can no longer withhold his ap- redemption. The Lord is rich" in probation from the law, even whilst mercy," and "he delighteth in he knows himself liable to be con- mercy;" why then does he not demned by it. For the more clearly pardon all sinners by a mere act of the excellency of the precept is per- sovereign grace? What need was ceived, the more evidently do the there of a Surety, a Redeemer, or odiousness, unreasonableness, and an atonement? Why must God be

desert of sin appear. The law manifest in the flesh? Why must should, therefore, be very fully Emmanuel agonize and die on the stated, explained, and applied to cross? Did ever an earthly prince the consciences of men for these require his beloved, his only, his purposes for this constitutes the dutiful Son to endure the most ingrand means which the Lord blesses, tense tortures, previous to his parto show sinners in what the divine doning any number of criminals? image consisted, after which Adam This could not be necessary in order was created; and what they ought to prevail with God to love and to have been, and to have done save us: for it is every where spoken during the whole of their past lives; of in Scripture as the most emphaand to convince them that their tical evidence and richest fruit of sins have been exceedingly nume- his love to us. But the Lord is in

rous and heinous in thought, word, finitely holy in his nature, and righand deed, by "leaving undone what teous in his moral government; and they ought to have done, and doing he is determined" to magnify his what they ought not to have done;" law, and make it honourable." We that their present dispositions and had by our sins despised and dissupposed duties are vile and un- honoured the holy law, and rendered worthy of God's acceptance, yea, ourselves obnoxious to the just vendeserving of his wrath and abhor-geance of our Creator:, if then he rence; and in short, that their case spared us, his holiness, justice, and is hopeless and helpless if they be law would be disgraced, or at least left to themselves, under the old the glory of them obscured; unless covenant, and dealt with according some other decisive method were to the merit or demerit of their taken of magnifying his law, dis

playing his justice, and filling the commandments, and teaches men world with awful astonishment at so, shall be called the least in the his holy hatred of sin. Whilst he, kingdom of God," &c. (Matt. v. therefore, makes these things known 19); and his apostles continually by the final misery of some trans-refer to the law, as the rule of the gressors, he pardons others, to the believer's conduct (Rom. xiii. 8— praise of his glorious grace; but in 10; Gal. v. 13, 14; Eph. vi. 2; such a way as still more effectually Jam. ii. 8-13; iv. 11, 12; 1 John secures the honour of his law and iii. 4); for "we are not without government. "He hath set forth law to God, but under the law to his own Son to be a propitiation for Christ" (1 Cor. ix. 21): and as the sin, that he might be just, and the precepts given by our Lord are the justifier of him that believeth." same in substance with those of the They who really believe and under-moral law (though enforced by new stand the Scriptural account of this motives and encouragements); so surprising transaction, see the ne- the believer receives the law, decessity of this redemption, perceive prived of its condemning power somewhat of its nature, and dis- from the hand of the Redeemer, as cover the glory of God as peculiarly the rule by which to regulate his displayed in it: to others, the conduct, to the honour of the gospel, preaching of the cross is foolish- and the glory of God. "Do we ness." But the more fully men are then make void the law through acquainted with the strictness and faith? God forbid; yea, we estaexcellency of the requirements, and blish the law." He who greatly the justice of the sanction of the loves the Divine Saviour, will not Divine law; the more easily and only be ready to show that love in clearly will they apprehend the ne- his whole conduct; but he will also cessity, nature, and glory of this desire to know what his Lord would wonderful expedient "to magnify have him to do, that "his love may it, and make honourable." abound in knowledge and in all

[ocr errors]

III. The law is useful as a rule judgment," and that he may be of conduct to believers. When we wise in understanding 64 what the flee for refuge to Christ by faith, we will of the Lord is:" and as there are delivered from the curse of the can be no authorized standard and law, and from the legal covenant; rule of the Lord's will, except his but we remain subjects of God's commandments, so that Christian moral government, and are bound who best understands them will be to obedience by new and most en- most completely furnished for every dearing obligations. God forbid, good work, provided his knowledge that "we should sin, because we are of the truths and promises of Scripnot under the law, but under grace:" ture be equally clear and compreyet there is no other rule of duty hensive. and sin, but the moral law as above IV. The law is very useful to defined, and "where no law is, believers, as the test or touchstone there is no transgression." Christ of their sincerity. It is written in says to his disciples, "If ye love the heart of all true Christians by me, keep my commandments;" and the Holy Spirit (Jer. xxxi. 35; Heb. having expounded, in the most strict viii. 10); they all " delight in it and spiritual manner, the precepts after the inner man,' "consent to of the moral law, he says, "He it that it is good," ," "count all God's that breaks one of the least of these commandments in all things to be

[ocr errors]

right," "love and choose all his condemns his own conduct, and precepts," repent of, and mourn for longs to have his own heart changed every sin as a transgression of the into conformity to the holy comlaw, are grieved and burdened be- mandment. If then professors of cause they "cannot do the things the gospel were more fully acquaintthat they would," and long to love ed with the requirements of the God and man as perfectly as the Divine law, they would be far less law requires. The fruits of the exposed to the danger of deceiving Spirit, by which their deliverance themselves; and sincere believers from the law as a covenant is sealed, would more clearly perceive, that are coincident with the requirements their mourning for, and hatred of of its holy precepts; the example sin, tenderness of conscience, and of Christ, which they are called uneasy longings after higher degrees and inclined to imitate, consisted of holiness, than any of which they in a perfect obedience to the holy once had the least conception, conlaw; the holiness which they follow stitute a "witness to themselves," after, is no other than conformity of their actual union with Christ, to it, as resulting from evangelical and of their interest in all the blessprinciples, and a constant regard to ings of the new covenant. At the the Redeemer's person, and their same time, a more distinct view of obligations to him; and the hea- the justice of that awful sentence venly felicity is the perfection of from which Christ hath redeemed this conformity, the full enjoyment them with his own blood, would, in of God, as the supreme object of proportion to their assurance of detheir love: and the delight of sharing liverance, and hope of eternal life, the happiness of all holy creatures, animate them to live more entirely by loving and being loved by them, devoted to his service, who died for without envy, suspicion, fear, or the them and rose again (2 Cor. v. 14, alloy of any other base and selfish 15).

passion. But "the carnal mind" V. The knowledge of the law is (whether in an infidel, a careless exceedingly useful to believers, as sinner, a Pharisee, or a hypocrite) a standard of continual self-exami"is enmity against God, and is not nation, to exclude spiritual pride, subject to the law of God, nor in- and to keep the soul always abased, deed can be." All unregenerate and simply dependent on the Lord men, therefore, at least secretly dis- Jesus Christ. Knowledge, gifts, like the strictness and spirituality usefulness, or any other attainment of the law, and wish to have it ab- by which men are distinguished rogated or mitigated: this secret from those around them, have a inclination of the heart is the source tendency to excite self-complacency, of all Antinomian principles, and and self-preference: but when a in this respect persons of the most believer comes to compare the state opposite sentiments resemble each of his heart, and the very duties other; for virulent opposers, and and services he performs, with the loose abusers of the doctrines of spiritual and holy commands of grace, are alike influenced, both by God; he is reminded of his guilt the pride of self-confidence, and by and depravity, and taught his conthe enmity to the law, which dis- stant need of repentance, forgivetinguishes the Antinomian. But, ness, the blood of Christ, and the on the other hand, the true believer supplies of his grace. Thus he approves of the very precept, that learns to walk humbly before God,


[ocr errors]


however distinguished among men ; or free salvation; they seldom count to be ashamed of such good works him the pearl of great price, and as he would otherwise admire; to consent to part with all for his sake, count even his evangelical duties till they are made deeply sensible as dross in comparison of Christ of their danger as lost, perishing 2 and his righteousness; to be simple sinners. We must not indeed limit in his dependence on the Lord in the Spirit of God: yet "by the law all things; and knowing that he is the knowledge of sin;" and a full hath not attained, "to press for-acquaintance with its demands and ward to the mark, for the high call- sanctions is the more general means, ing of God in Christ Jesus." by which the careless are warned


It now remains for us to consider to flee from the wrath to come, and the bad effects which arise from to see and feel their need of the ignorance, inattention, or confused salvation of the gospel. apprehensions respecting the moral 2. Ignorance of, or inattention to law, in the ministers and professors the law, always occasions the preof the gospel. We suppose then valence or increase of a legal or that the several doctrines of the self-righteous spirit. This propengospel are stated and apprehended sity of our proud hearts is first as fully as they can be, when the broken by perceiving in some meaperfect law of God is greatly kept sure how justly and certainly the out of sight for this must create law of God condemns even our best some confusion and inconsistency actions; because they are so defecin the best arranged system of evan- tive in their motive and measure, gelical doctrine. We observe also, and so defiled in themselves: and that there are various degrees and were we always influenced by a kinds of ignorance and inattention realizing conviction, that "God to the law, or of a confused and deems us deserving of damnation unscriptural way of speaking about for not loving him with all our it. Some persons seem almost to hearts;" our proneness to rely on leave it out of their system, or only our own works could not subsist, to speak of it in depreciating terms: but we must draw all our confidence others advert to its strictness and from the grace of the gospel. All severity, but they are not equally other devices for curing this disease sensible of its excellency. Many are mere palliatives: but the apostle are acquainted with its uses, in con- directs us to the radical cure, when vincing men of sin, but not of its he says, "I through the law, am value as a rule of conduct; others, dead to the law."

on the contrary, apply its precepts 3. Ignorance of, or errors about, to the regulation of the Christian's the holy commandments of God, conduct, but are less habituated to gives occasion to the increase of use them to alarm the consciences unsound professors of the gospel, of unbelievers. But in proportion whose scandalous lives, or awful as any of these uses are neglected, apostasies, often disgrace the cause some or other of the following effects of truth. For if men are left to may be apprehended. consider the law as an enemy, from

1. Great numbers of those that which Christ came to deliver us; hear and assent to the gospel, will if they conclude, that their natural remain destitute of any serious con- dislike to it is excusable, their inacern about their souls. Whatever bility to keep it a misfortune, and men learn of Christ and his love, their condemnation for breaking it

« ForrigeFortsæt »