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trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and said, Sirs, What must I do to be saved ?” he immediately said, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ;” (Acts xvi. 29, &c. ;) and in the case of one so deeply convinced of sin, who would not have said the same ? But to the men of Athens
find him speaking in a quite different manner; reproving their superstition, ignorance, and idolatry; and strongly moving them to repent, from the consideration of a future judgment, and of the resurrection from the dead. (Chap. xvii. 24–31.) Likewise when Felix sent for Paul, on purpose that he might “hear bim concerning the faith in Christ; " instead of preaching Christ in your sense, (which would probably have caused the Governor, either to mock or to contradict and blaspheme,) “he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,” till Felix (hardened as he was) “trembled.” (Chap. xxiv. 24, 25.) Go thou, and tread in his steps. Preach Christ to the careless sinner, by reasoning “of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come!”
9. If you say, “But he preached Christ in a different manner in his Epistles. I answer, He did not there preach at all; not in that sense wherein we speak: for preaching, in our present question, mcans speaking before a congregation. But waiving this: I answer, 2, His Epistles are directed not to unbelievers, such as those we are now speaking of, but “to the saints of God,” in Rome, Corinth, Philippi, and other places. Now, unquestionably, he would speak more of Christ to these, than to those who were without God in the world. And yet, 3, Every one of these is full of the Law, cren the Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians : in both of which be does what you term 'preaching the Law,' and that to believers, as well as unbelievers.
10. From hence it is plain, you know not what it is to preach Christ, in the sense of the Apostle. For doubtless St. Paul judged himself to be preaching Christ, both to Felix, and at Antioch, Lystra, and Athens : From whose example every thinking man must infer, that not only the declaring the love of Christ to sinners, but also the declaring that he will come from heaven in flaming fire, is, in the Apostle's sense, preaching Christ; yea, in the full scriptural meaning of the word. To preach Christ, is to preach what he hath revealed, either in the Old or New Testament; so that you are then as really preaching Christ, when you are saying, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people that forget God," Vol. I. No. 10,
us when you are saying, “Bebold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!"
11. Consider this well; that to preach Christ, is to preach all things that Christ hath spoken; all his promises; all his threatenings and commands; all that is written in his book; and then you will know how to preach Christ, without making void the law.
12. “But does not the greatest blessing attend those discourses, wherein we peculiarly preach the merits and sufferings of Christ?'
Probably when we preach to a congregation of mourners, or of believers, these will be attended with the greatest blessing; because such discourses are peculiarly suited to their state. At least these will usually convey the most comfort. But this is not always the greatest blessing. I may sometimes receive a far greater, by a discourse that cuts me to the heart, and humbles me to the dust. Neither should I receive that comfort, if I were to preach or to hear no discourses but on the sufferings of Christ. These, by constant repetition, would lose their force, and grow more and more flat and dead, till at length they would become a dull round of words, without any spirit, or life, or virtue. So that thus to preach Christ, must, in process of time, make void the Gospel as well as the Law.
II. 1. A second way of making void the law through faith, is the teaching that Faith supersedes the necessity of Holiness. This divides itself into a thousand smaller paths, and many there are that walk therein. Indeed there are few that wholly escape it; few who are convinced, we are saved by faith, but are sooner or later, more or less, drawn aside into this by-way.
2. All those are drawn into this by-way, who, if it be not their settled judgment that faith in Christ entirely sets aside the necessity of keeping his Law; yet suppose either, (1,) That holiness is less necessary now than it was before Christ came; or, (2) That a less degree of it is necessary; or, (3,) That it is less necessary to believers than to others. Yea, and so are all those who, although their judgment be right in the general, yet think they may take more liberty in particular cases, than they could have done before they beliered. Indeed, the using the term liherty, in such a manner, for liberty from obedience or holiness, shows at once, that their judgment is perverted, and that they are guilty of what they imagined to be far from them; panely, of making void the law through faith, by supposing faith to superscue holiness.
3. The first plea of those who teach this expressly, is, that We are now under the Covenant of Grace, not Works; and therefore we are no longer under the necessity of performing the works of the Law.'
And who ever was under the Covenant of Works? None but Adam before the fall. He was fully and properly under that Covenant, which required perfect, universal obedience, as the one condition of acceptance; and left no place for pardon, upon the very least transgression. But no man clse was ever under this, neither Jew nor Gentile; neither before Christ nor since. All his sons were and are under the Covenant of Grace. The manner of their acceptance is this: The free grace. of God, through the merits of Christ, gives pardon to them that believe; that believe with such a faith as, working by love, produces all obedience and holiness.
4. The case is not, therefore, as you supposc, that men were once more obliged to obey God, or to work the works of his law, thau they are now. This is a suppositiou you cannot make good. But we should have been obliged, if we had been under the covenant of works, to have done those works antecedent to our acceptance. Whereas now all good works, though as vecessary as ever, are not antecedent to our ac-, ceptance, but consequent upon it. Therefore the nature of the covenant of grace gives you no ground, no encouragement at all, to set aside any instance or degree of ubedience; any part or measure of holiness.
5. “But are we not justified by faith, without the works of the law?' Undoubtedly we are, without the works either of the ceremonial or the moral law. And would to God all men were convinced of this ! It would prevent innumerable evils ; Antinomianism in particular: for, generally speaking, they are the Pharisees who make the Antinomians. Running into an extreme so palpably contrary to Scripture, they occasion others to run into the opposite one. These, seeking to be justified by works, affright those from allowing any place for them.
6. But the truth lies between both. We are, doubtless, justified by faith. This is the corner-stone of the whole Christian building. We are justified without the works of the law, as any previous condition of justification : but they are an immediate fruit of that faith, whereby we are justified. So that if good works do not follow our faith, even all imrard and out word holiness, it is plain our faith is nothing worth; we are yet in our sins. Therefore, that we are justified by faith, even by faith without works, is no ground for making void the law through faith; or for imagining that faith is a dispensation from any kind or degree of holiness.
7. Nay, but does not St. Paul expressly say, “l'oto bim that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness?" And does it not follow from lience, that faith is to a believer in the room, in the place, of righteousness? But if faith is in the room of righteousness or holiness, what need is there of this too?'
This, it must be acknorledged, comies home to the point, and is indeed the main pillar of Antinomianism. And yet it needs not a long or Jaboured answer. We allow, (1,) That God justifies the ungodly'; him that, till that hour, is totally wyodly; full of all evil, void of all good: (2, That be justifies the ungodly that worketh not, that, till that moment, worketh to good work: neither can be; for an evil trec cannot bring forth good fait: (3) That he justitics him by faith alone, without any goodness or righteousness preceding: and, (4,) That faith is then counted to him for righteousness; namely, for preceding righteousness: i.e. God, through the merits of Christ, accepts him that believes, as if he had already fulfilled all righteousness. But what is all this to your point? The Apostle does not say, cither here or elsewhere, that this faith is counted to him for subsequent righteousness. He does teach, that there is no righicousness before faith. But where does he tcach, that there is one after iti He does assert, holiness cannot prereide justificatiou; but not, that it need not follow it. St. Paul, therefore, gives you no colour for making void the law, by teaching that faith supersedes the necessity of holiness.
III. I. There is yet another way of making roid the law throngh faith, which is more common than cither of the former. And that is, the doing it practically; the making it void in fact, though not in principle; the living, as if faith was designed to excuse us from bojiness.
How earnestly does the Apostle guard us against this, in those well-known words: “What then? Shall vi'e sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace ?—God forbid : (Rom. vi. 15:) A cantion which it is needful thoroughly to consider, because it is of the last importance.
2. The being “under the law," may here mean, (1,) The being obliged to observe the Ceremonial Law: (2) The being
obliged to conform to the whole Mosaic Institution : (3) The being obliged to keep the whole Moral Law, as the condition of our acceptance with God: and, (4,) The being under the wrath and curse of God; under sentence of eternal death ; under a sense of guilt and condemnation, full of horror and slavish fear.
3. Now although a believer is “not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,” yet from the moment he believes, he is not “under the law,” in any of the preceding senses. On the contrary he is “under grace," uuder a more benign, gracious dispensation. As he is no longer under the Ceremonial Law, nor under the Mosaic Institution; as he is not obliged to keep even the Moral Law, as the condition of bis acceptance; so he is delivered from the wrath and the curse of God, from all sense of guilt and condemnation, and from all that horror and fear of death and hell, whereby he was all bis life before subject to bondage. And he now performs (which wbile“under the law” he could not do) a willing and universal obedience. He obeys not from the motive of slavish fear, but on a nobler principle; namely, the grace of God ruling in his hcart, and causing all his works to be wrought in love.
4. What then ? Shall this evangelical principle of action be less powerful than the legal ? Shall we be less obedient to God from filial love, than we were from servile fear?
It is well, if this is not a common case; if this Practical Antinomianism, this unobserved way of making void the law through faith, has not infected thousands of believers.
Has it not infected you ? Examine yourself honestly and closely. Do you not do now, what you durst not have done when you was “under the law,” or (as we commonly call it) under conviction ? For instance: You durst not then indulge yourself in food: you took just what was needful, and that of the cheapest kind. Do you not allow yourself more latitude now? Do you not indulge yourself a little more than you did ? O beware, lest you “sin, because you are not under the law, but under grace!”
5. When you was under conviction, you durst not indulge the lust of the eye in any degree. You would not do any thing, great or small, merely to gratify your curiosity. You regarded only cleanliness and necessity, or at most very moderate convenience, either in furniture or apparel; superfluity and finery