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so little, that we may truly say of the law too, when taken in its full spiritual meaning, It is, “a mystery wbich was hid from ages and generations since the world began.” It was utterly bid from the heathen world. Ther, with all their boasted wisdom, neither found out God, nor tlie law of God ; not in the letter, much less in the spirit of it. “ Their foolish hearts were” more and more “darkened;" while “ professing themselves wise, they became fools." And it was almost equally hid, as to its spiritual meaning, from the bulk of the Jewishi nation. Even those who were so ready to declare concerning others, “ This people that knoweth not the law are cursed,” pronomced their own sentence therein, as being under the same curse, the same dreadful ignorance. Witness our Lord's continual reproof of the wisest among them, for their gross misinterpretations of it. Witness the supposition almost universally received among them, that they needed only to make clean the outside of the cup; that the paying tithe of mint, anise, and cumming-outward exactness,-would atone for inward unholiness, for the total neglect both of justice and mercy, of faith and the love of God. Yea, so absolutely was the spiritual meaning of the law hidden from the wisest of them, that one of their most eminent Rabbis comments thus on those words of the Psalmist, “If I incline unto wickedness with my heart, the Lord will not hear me;” that is,' saith he, “If it be only in my heart, if I do not commit outward wickedness, the Lord will not regard it; he will not punishi me, unless I proceed to the outward act !
4. But, alas! the law of God, as to its inward, spiritual meaning, is not hid from the Jews or Heathens only, but even from what is called the Christian world; at least, from a vast majority of them. The spiritual sense of the commandments of God is still a mystery to these also. Nor is this observable only in those lands, which are overspread with Romish darkness and ignorance: but this is too sure, that the far greater part, even of those who are called Reformed Christians, are ntter strangers at this day to the law of Christ, in the purity and spirituality of it.
5. Hence it is that to this day, “the Scribes and Pharisees," the men who have the form but not the power of religion, and who are generally wise in their own cycs, audriglicous in their own conceits, ---" hearing these things are oftended ;” are deeply offeuded, when we sprabs of the religiou of the heart; ärld particularlılben tre shown ihai without this, were preto
“ give all our goods to feed the poor," it would profit us nothing. But offended they must be ; for we cannot but speak the truth as it is in Jesus. It is our part, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, to deliver our own soul. All that is written in the book of God we are to declare, not as pleasing men, but the Lord. We are to declare, not only all the promises, but all the threatenings too, which we find therein. At the same time that we proclaim all the blessings and privileges which God hath prepared for his children, we are likewise to “ teach all the things whatsoever he bath commanded.” And we know, that all these have their use; either for the awakening those that sleep, the instructing the ignorant, the comforting the feeble-minded, or the building up and perfecting of the saints. We know that “all Scripture, given by inspiration of God, is profitable" either “for doctrine,” or “ for reproof; ” either “for correction, or for instruction in righteousness ;” and that “ the man of God," in the process of the work of God in his 'soul, has need of every part thereof, that he may at length “be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
6. It is our part thus to preach Christ, by preaching all things whatsoever he hath revealed. We may indeed, without blame, yea, and with a peculiar blessing from God, declare the love of our Lord Jesus Christ; we may speak, in a more especial manner, of “ The Lord our Righteousness;" we may expatiate upon the grace of God in Christ, “reconciling the world unto himself ; " we may, at proper opportunities, dwell upon his praise, as “bearing the iniquities of us all, as wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, that by his stripes we might be healed :"-but still we should not preach Christ, according to his word, if we were wholly to confine ourselves to this: we are not ourselves clear before God, unless we proclaim him in all his offices. To preach Christ, as a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, is to preach bim, not only as our great High Priest, " taken from among men, and ordained for men, in things pertaining to God;' as such reconciling us to God by his blood,' and “ever living to make intercession for us;”—but likewise as the Prophet of the Lord, “who of God is made unto us wisdom; ” who, by his word and his Spirit, is with us always, “ guiding us into all truth ;”-yca, and as remaining a King for ever; as giving laws to all whom he has bought with his blood; as restoring those to the image of God, whom he had first re-instated in his favour; as reigning in all believing hearts until he has “subdued all things to himself ;” until he hath utterly cast out all sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness."
II. 1. We establish the law, Secondly, when we so preach Faith in Christ, as not to supersede, but produce, Holiness; tu produce all manner of holiness, negative and positive, of the heart and of the life.
In order to this, we continually declare, (what should be frequently and decply considered by all who would not “make void the law through faith,”) that Faith itself, even Christian Faith, the faith of God's clect, the faith of the operation of God, still is only the handmaid of Love. As glorious and honourable as it is, it is not the end of the commandment. God hath given this honour to Lore alone : Love is the end of all the commandments of God. Love is the end, the sole end, of every dispensation of God, from the beginning of the world to the consummation of all things. And it will endure when heaven and earth flee away; for “ love [alone] never faileth." Faith will totally fail; it will be swallowed up in sight, in the cverlasting vision of God. But even then, Love,
" Its nature and its office still the same,
Lasting its lamp, and unconsum'd its flame,
And endless good diffuse, and endless praise receive." 2. Very excellent things are spoken of faith, and whosoever is a partaker thercof, may well say with the Apostle, “ Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.” Yet still it loses all its cxcellence, when brought into a comparison with love. What St. Paul observes concerning the superior glory of the Gospel, above that of the Law, may, with great propriety, be spoken of the superior glory of Lore, above that of Faith: “Eren that which was made glorious, hath no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away is glorious, much more doth that which remaineth exceed in glory." Yea, all the glory of faith, before it is done away, arises hence, that it ministers to Love : It is the great temporary means which God has ordained to promote that eternal end.
3. Let those who magnify faith beyond all proportion, so as to swallow up all things else, and who so totally misapprchend the nature of it as to imagine it stands in the place of love, consider farther, That as lore will exist after faith, so it did pris: 'Ora Paineii. The sinsis. lit. iron ilic moment of
their creation, beheld the face of their Father that is in heaven, had no occasion for faith, in its general notion, as it is the evidence of things not seen. Neither bad they need of faith, in its more particular acceptation, faith in the blood of Jesus : for he took not upon him the nature of angels; but only the seed of Abraham. There was, therefore, no place before the foundation of the world for faith, either in the general or particular sense. But there was for love. Love existed from eternity, in God, the great Ocean of Love. Love had a place in all the children of God, from the moment of their creation : they received at once from their gracious Creator, to exist and to love.
4. Nor is it certain, (as ingeniously and plausibly as many have descanted upon this,) that faith, even in the general sense of the word, had any place in Paradise. It is highly probable, from that short and uncircumstantial account which we have in Holy Writ, that Adam, before he rebelled against God, walked with Him by sight and not by faith.
He was then able to talk with Him face to face, whose face we cannot now see and live; and consequently had no need of that faith, whose office it is to supply the want of sight.
5. On the other hand, it is absolutely certain, faith, in its particular sense, had then no place. For in that sense, it necessarily presupposes sin, and the wrath of God declared against the sinner ; without which there is no need of an atonement for sin, in order to the sinner's reconciliation with God. Consequently, as there was no need of an atonement before the fall, so there was no place for faith in that atonement; man being then pure from every stain of sin; holy as God is holy. But love even then filled his heart; it reigned in him without a rival; and it was only when love was lost by sin, that faith was added, not for its own sake, nor with any design that it should exist any longer, than until it had answered the end for which it was ordained,-namely, to restore man to the Love from which he was fallen. At the fall, therefore, was added this evidence of things unseen, which before was utterly needless ; this confidence in Redeeming Love, which could not possibly have any place till the promise
was made, that “the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head."
6. Faith then was originally designed of God to re-establish the law of Love. Therefore, in speaking thus, we are not undervaluing it, or robbing it of its due praise; but, on the contrary, showing its real worth, exalting it in its just proportion, and giving it that very place which the wisdom of Godi assigned it from the beginning. It is the grand means of restoring that holy Love, wherein man was originally created. It follows, that although faith is of no value in itself, its neither is any other means whatsoever,) yet as it leads to that end, the establishing anew the law of Love in our hearts; and as, in the present state of things, it is the only means under heaven for effecting it; it is on that account an unspeakable blessing to man, and of unspeakable value before God.
III. I. And this naturally brings us to observe, Thirdly, The most important way of establishing the law; namely, the establishing it in our owu Hearts and Lives. Indeed without this, what would all the rest avail? We might establish it by our doctrine ; we might preach it in its whole extent; might explain and cnforce every part of it; we might open it in its most spiritual meaning, and declare the mysteries of the kingdom; we miglit preach Christ in all his offices, and faith in Christ, as opcuing all the treasures of his love; and vet all this time, if the law we preached were not established in our hearts, we should be of vo more account before God, than “sounding brass, or tinkling cymbals : ” all our preaching would be so far from profiting ourselves, that it would only increase our damnation.
2. This is, therefore, the main point to be considered, How may we establish the Lair in our own Hearts, so that it may lave its full influence on our Lives? And this can only be donc by Faith.
Faith alone it is, which cffectually answers this end, as we learn from daily experieuce. For so long as we walk by faith, not by sight, we go swiftly on in the way of holiness. While we steadily look, pot at the things which are scei), but at those which are not scen, ire are more and more crucified to the world, and the world crucified to us. Let but the eve of the soul be constantly fixed, not on the things which are temporal, but on those which are cternal, and our affections are more and more loosened from cartii, and fixed on things above. So that fait', in general, is ile most direct and cflectual meanis