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boly. Otherwise it could not be the immediate offspring, and much less the express resemblance, of God, who is essential holivess. It is pure from all sin, clcan and unspotted from auy touch of evil. It is a chaste virgin, incapable of any detilement, of any mixture with that which is unclean or unboly. It has no fellowship with sin of any kind : For “ what communion hath light with darkness ? ” As sin is, in its very nature, enmity to God, so his law is eninity to sin.
4. Therefore it is that the Apostle rejects with such abhorrence that blasphemous supposition, that the law of God is either sin itself, or the cause of sin. God forbid that we should SUPPSC it is the cause of sin, because it is the discoverer of it ; because it detects the hidden things of darkness, and drags them out into open day. It is true, by this means, (as the Apostle observes, ver. 13,) “Sin appears to be sin.” All its disguiscs are torn away, and it appears in its native deformity. It is true likewise, that “sin, by the commandment, becomes exceeding sinful:” Being now committed against light and knowledge, being stripped even of the poor plea of ignorance, it loses its excuse, as well as disguise, and becomes far more odious both to God and man. Yea, and it is true, that “sin worketh death by that which is good ;'' which in itself is pure and holy. When it is dragged out to light, it rages the more: when it is restrained, it bursts out with greater violence. Thus the Aposile, (speaking in the person of one who was convinced of sin, but not yet delivered from it,) “Sin taking occasion by the commandment,” detecting and endeavouring to restrain it, disdained the restraint, and so much the more, “ wrought in me all manner of concupiscence ;” (ver. 8;) all manner of foolish and hurtful desire, which that commandment sought lo restrain. Thus, “ when the commandment came, sin revived :” (ver. 9 :) It fretted and raged the more. But this is Do Stain on the commandment. Though it is abused, it cannot be defiled. This only proves, that “the heart of man is desperately wicked.” But the law of God is holy still.
5. And it is, secondly, Just. It renders to all their due. It prescribes esictly what is right, precisely what ought to be done, said, or thought, both with regard to the Author of our being, with regard to ourselves, and with regard to every creature which he has made. It is adapted, in all respects, to the nature of things, of the whole universe, and every individual. It is suited to all the circumstances of each, and to all their mutual relations, whether such as have existed from the begimning, oil such as commenced in any following period, It is exactly agreeable to the fitness of things, whether essen, tial or accidental. It clashes with none of these in any degree; por is ever unconnected with them. If the word be taken in that sense, there is nothing arbitrary in the law of God. Although still the whole and every part thereof is totally dependent upon his Will; so that “ Thy will be done,” is the supreme, universal law, both in carth and heaven. ..
6. “But is the Will of God the Cause of his Law?' Is his will the original of right and wrong?. Is a thing therefore right, because God wills it ?-_or, does he will it, because it is right?'
I fear this celebrated question is more curious than useful. And perhaps in the manner it is usually treated of, it does not so well consist with the regard that is due from a creature, to the Creator and Governor of all things. It is hardly decent for man, to call the supreme God to give an account to him. Nevertheless, with awe and reverence we may speak a little
The Lord pardon us if we speak'amiss 17. It seems then, that the whole difficulty arises from considering God's Will as distinct from God: otherwise it vanishes away. For none can doubt, but God is the cause of the law of God. But the will of God is God himself. It is God considered as willing thus or thus. Consequently, to say, that the will of God, or that God himself, is the cause of the law, is one and the same thing.,
8. Again: If the Law, the immutable rule of right and wrong, depends on the nature and fitnesses of things, and on their essential relations to each other; (I do not say, their eternal relations; because the eternal relation of things exist. ing in time, is little less than a contradiction ;) if, I say, this depends on the nature and relations of things, then it must depend on God, or the will of God; because those things them. selves,, with all their relations, are the works of his hands. By his Will, " for his pleasure” alone, they all “ are and were created.”
9. And yet it may be granted, (which is probably all that a considerate person would contend for,) that in every particular case, God wills this or this, (suppose that men should honour their parents,) because it is right, agreeable to the fitness of things, to the relation wherein they stand.....
10. The Law, then is right and just concerning all things. And it is Good as well as just. This we may easily infer from the, Fountain whence it flowed. For what was this, but the Goodness of God? What bụt goodness alone inclined him to
impart that divine copy of binself to the holy angels? To what else can we impute his bestowing upon man the same transcript of his own nature ? And what but tender lore constrained him afresh to manifest his will to fallen man,either to Adain, or any of his seed, who like him were “come short of the glory of God” Was it not mere love that moved him to publish his law, after the understandings of men were darkened? And to send bis prophets to declare that law, to the blind, thoughtless children of men ? Doubtless his goodness it was which raised up Enoch and Noah to be preachers of righteousness; which caused Abraham, his friend, and Isaac, and Jacob, to bear witness to his truth. It was bis goodness alone, which, when “ darkness had covered the earth, and thick darkness the people," gave a written law to Moses, and through him to the nation whom he had chosen. It was love which explained these living Oracles by David and all the Prophets that followed; until, when the fulness of time was come, he sent his only-begotten Son, “not to destroy the law, but to fulfil," confirm every jot and tittle thercof; till, having wrote it in the hearts of all his children, and put all his enemies under his fect, “hc shall deliver up (his mediatorial] kingdom in the Father, that God may bc all in all.”
11. And this law, which the goodness of God gave at first, and has preserved through all ages, is, like the fountain from whence it springs, full of goodness and benignity; it is mild and kind; it is, as the Psalmist expresses it, “ sweeter than honey and the honey-comb.” It is winning and amiable. It includes “ whatsoever things are lovely or of good report. If there be any virtue, if there be any praise " before God and his holy angels, they are all comprised in this; wherein are hid all the treasures of the divine wisdom, and knowledge, and love.
12. And it is good in its effects, as well as in its nature. As the tree is, so are its fruits. The fruits of the law of God written in the heart, are “righteousness, and peace, and assarance for ever.” Or rather, the law itself is righteousness, filling the soul with a peace that passeth all understanding, and causing us to rejoice evermore, in the testiinony of a good conscience toward God. It is not so properly a pledge, as “an earuest of our inheritance,” being a part of the purchased possession. It is God made manifest in our flesh, and bringing with him eternal life; assuring us, by that pure and perfect love, that are are sealed unto the day of redemption ;” that he will “ sparc us as a man sparcth his own son that serveih
bim," " in that day when he maketh up his jewels ;” and that there remaineth for us “a crown of glory wbich fadeth not away."
IV. 1. It remains only to show, in the Fourth and last place, The Uses of the Law. And the first use of it, without question, is, to convince the world of sin. This is indeed, the peculiar work of the Holy Ghost; who can work it without any means at all, or by whatever means it pleaseth him, however insufficient in themselves, or even improper to produce such an effect. And accordingly some there are, whose hearts have been broken in pieces in a moment, either. in sickness or in hcalth, without any visible cause, or any outward means whatever ; and others (one in an age) have been awakened to a sense of the “ Wrath of God abiding on them,” by hcaring, that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” But it is the ordinary method of the Spirit of God, to convict sinners by the Law. It is this, which, being set home on the conscience, generally breaketh the rocks in pieces. It is more especially this part of the word of God, which is twv xal Eveg yns, -quick and powerful, full of life and energy, “and sharper than any two-edged sword.” This, in the hand of God and of those whom he bath sent, pierces through all the folds of a deceitful heart, and “ divides asunder even the soul and the spirit ; ” yea, as it were, the very “joints and marrow." By this is the sinner discovered to himself. All his fig-leaves are torn away, and he sees that he is “wretched, and poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked.” The law flashes conviction on every side. He feels himself a mere singer. He has nothing to pay. His “mouth is stopped,” and he standa “guilty before
? all the God and in any powerful,
2. To slay the sinner is, then, the first use of the law; to destroy the life and strength wherein he trusts, and convince him that he is dead while he liveth ; not only under the sentence of death, but actually dead unto God, void of all spiritual life, “dead in trespasses and sins." The second use of it, is, to bring him unto life,-unto Christ, that he may live. It is true, in performing both these offices, it acts the part of a severe school-master. It drives us by force, rather than draws us by love. And yet love is the spring of all. It is the Spirit of Love, which, by this painful means, tears away our confidence in the flesh, which leaves us no broken reed whereon to trust, and so constrains the sinner, stripped of all, to cry out in the bitterness of his soul, or groan in the depth of his heart,
“I give up every plea beside,
Lord, I am damn’d; but thou hast died.” 3. The third use of the law is, to kecp us alive. It is the grand means whereby the blessed Spirit prepares the believer for larger communications of the life of God.
I am afraid this great and important truth is little understood, not only by the world, but even by many whom God hath taken out of the world, who are real children of God by faith. Many of these lay it down as an unquestioned truth, that when we come to Christ, we have done with the law; and that, in this sense, “ Christ is the end of the law to every one that believeth.” “The end of the law :”-so he is, “ for righteousness,” for justification, “ to every one that believeth.” Herein the law is at an end. It justifies none, but only brings them to Christ; who is also, in another respect, the end, or scope, of the law,—the point at which it continually aims. But when it has brought us to him, it has yet a farther office, namely, to keep us with bim. For it is continually exciting all believers, the more they sec of its height, and depth, and length, and breadth, to exhort one another so much the more,
“ Closer and closer let us cleave
To his belov'd einbrace ;
And grace to answer grace.' 4. Allowing then, that every believer has done with the law, as it mcans the Jewish ceremonial law, or the entire Mosaic dispensation ; (for these Christ hath taken out of the way ;) yea, allowing we have done with the moral law, as a means of procuring our justification; for we are “justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus;" yet, in another sensc, we have not donc with this law: For it is still of unspeakable use, first, in convincing us of the sin that yet remains both in our hearts and lives, and thereby keeping us close to Christ, that his blood may cleanse us every moment; secondly, in deriving strength from our Head into his living members, whereby hc impowers them to do what his law commands; and, thirdly, in confirming our hope of whatsoever it commands and we have not yet attained, -of receiving grace upon grace, till we are in actual possession of the fulness of his promises.
5. How clearly does this agree with the experience of every true believer! While he cries out, “ () what love have I unto thy law! all the day long is my study in it;” he secs daily, in that divine mirror, more and more of his own sinfulness. He