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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 his 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 his life before subject to bondage. And he now performs (which while “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 heart, 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 inaking 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
of whatever kind, as well as fashionable clegance, were both a terror and an abomination to you.
Are they so still? Is your conscience as tender now in these things, as it was then? Do you still follow the same rule both in furniture and apparil, trampling all finery, all superfluity, every thing useless, every thing merely ornamental, however fashionable, underfoot ? Rather, have you not resumed what you had once laid aside, and what you could not then use without irounding your conscience? And have you not learned to say,
O, I am not so scrupulous nou?' I would to God you were ! Then you would not sin thus, " because you are not uuder the law, but under grace!"
6. You was once scrupulous too of commending any to their face, and still more, of suffering any to commend you. It was a stab to your heart; you could not bear it; you sought the honour that cometh of God only. You could not endure such conversation; nor any conversation which was not good to the use of edilying. All idle talli, all trilling discourse, you abliorred; you bated as well as feared it; being deeply sensible of the value of time, of every precious, fleeting moment. In like manner, you dreaded and abhorred idle expense ; valuing your money ouly less than your time, and trembling lest you should be found an unfaithful steward ercu ot the mammon of uprighteousness.
Do you now look upon praise as deadly poison, which you can neither give nor receive but at the peril of your soul? Do you still dread and abhor all conversation, which does not tend to the use of edifying; and labour to improve every moment, that it may not pass without leaving you better than it found you? Are not you less careful as to the expense both of money and time? Cannot yon now lay out either, as you could not bare done once ? Alas! How bas that “which should have been for your healthi, proved to you an occasion of falling!" Hlow have you “sinned because you was not under the law, but under grace!”.
7. Ciod forbid you should any longer continue thus to “turn the grace of God into lasciviousness !” O remember how clear and strong a conviction you once had concerning all these things! And, at the same tinic, you was fully satisfied, from whom that conviction came. The world told you, you was in a delusion ; but you know, it Fas the voice of God. In these things you was not too scrupulous then; but you are not now
scrupulous enough. God kept you longer in that painful school, that you might learn those great lessons the more perfectly. And have you forgot them already? O recollect them before it is too late! Have you suffered so many things in vain ? I trust, it is not yet in vain. Now use the conviction without the pain! Practise the lesson without the rod! Let not the mercy of God weigh less with you now, than his fiery indignation did before. Is love a less powerful motive than fear? If not, let it be an invariable rule, “I will do nothing now I am “under grace,” which I durst not have done when “under the law.”
8. I cannot conclude this head, without exhorting you to examine yourself, likewise, touching sips of omission. Are you as clear of these, now you " are under grace," as you was when “under the law ?” How diligent was you then in hearing the word of God ? Did you neglect any opportunity ? Did you not attend thereon day and night? Would a small hinderance have kept you away? A little business ? A visitant ? A slight indisposition ? A soft bed ? A dark or cold morning Did not you then fast often; or use abstinence to the uttermost of your power? Was not you much in prayer, (cold and heavy as you was,) while you was hanging over the mouth of hell ? Did you not speak and not spare even for an unknown God? Did you not boldly plead his cause ?-reprove sinners ?-and avow the truth before an adulterous generation ? And are you now a believer in Christ? Have you the faith that overcometh the world ? What ! and are you less zealous for your Master now, than you was when you knew him not ? Less diligent in fasting, in prayer, in hearing his word, in calling sinners to God ? O repent! See and feel your grievous loss! Remember from whence you are fallen! Bewail your unfaithfulness! Now be zealous and do the first works ; lest, if you continue to “make void the law through faith,” God cut you off, and appoint you your portion with the unbelievers !
THE LAW ESTABLISHED THROUGH FAITH.
“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid :
yea, we establish the law.” Rom. iii. 31.
1. Ir has been shown in the preceding discourse, which are the most usual ways of making void the law through faith; namely, first, The not preaching it at all; which effectually makes it all void at a stroke; and this under colour of preaching Christ and magnifying the gospel, though it be, in truth, destroying both the oue and the other : secondìy, The teaching, (whether directly or indirectly) that faith supersedes the necessity of holiness; that this is less necessary now, or a less degree of it necessary, than before Christ came; that it is less necessary to us, because we believe, than otherwise it would have been ; or, that Christian Liberty is a liberty from any kind or degree of holiness : (so perverting those great truths, that we are now under the covenant of grace, and not of works; that a man is justified by faith, without the works of the law; and that “to him that worketh not, but be. lieveth, his faith is counted for righteousness :'') or, thirdly, The doing this practically; the making void the law in practice, though not in principle; the living or acting as if faith was designed to excuse us from holiness; the allowing ourselves in sin, “because we are not under the law, but under grace." It remains to inquire, how we may follow a better pattern, how we may be able to say with the Apostle, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid : yea, we establish the law.”
2. We do not, indeed, establish the old Ceremonial Law; sve know that is abolished for ever; much less do we establish
the whole Mosaic Dispensation ; this we know our Lord has nailed to his cross. Nor yet do we so establish the Moral Law, (which it is to be feared too many do,) as if the fulfilling it, the keeping all the commandments, were the condition of our justification. If it were so, surely “in His sight should no man living be justified.” But all this being allowed, we still, in the Apostle's sense, “ establish the law,” the Moral Law.
I. 1. We establish the law, First, by our Doctrine; by en. deavouring to preach it in its whole extent, to explain and enforce every part of it, in the same manner as our great Teacher did, while upon earth. We establish it by following St. Peter's advice: “ If any man speak, let him speak as the Oracles of God;" as the holy men of old, moved by the Holy Ghost, spoke and wrote for our instruction; and as the Apostles of our blessed Lord, by the direction of the same Spirit. We establish it whenever we speak in his name, by keeping back nothing from them that hear; by declaring to them, without any limitation or reserve, the whole counsel of God. And in order the more effectually to establish it, we use herein great plainness of speech. “We are not as many that corrupt the word of God;” xaTNEVOUTES; (as artful men their bad wines ;)—we do not cauponize, mix, adulterate, or soften it, to make it suit the taste of the hearers :-“But as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, speak we in Christ;" as having no other aim, than “ by manifestation of the truth, to commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.”
2. We then, by our doctrine, establish the law, when we thus openly declare it to all men; and that in the fulness wherein it is delivered by our blessed Lord and his Apostles; when we publish it in the height, and depth, and length, and breadth thereof. We then establish the law, when we declare every part of it, every commandment contained therein, not only in its fall, literal sense, but likewise in its spiritual meaning; not only with regard to the outward actions, which it either forbids or enjoins, but also with respect to the inward principle, to the thoughts, desires, and intents of the heart.
3. And indeed this we do the more diligently, not only because it is of the deepest importance ;-inasmuch as all the fruit, every word and work, must be only evil continually, if the tree be evil, if the dispositions and tempers of the heart be not right before God ;- but likewise, because as important as these things are, they are little considered or understood,