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“ I give up every plea beside
Lord, I am damn'd; but thou hast died." 3. The third usc 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 see 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 donc 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 senise, 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; secoudly, in deriving strength from our Head into his living members, whereby he 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
sees more and more clearly, that he is still a sinner in all things,-that neither his heart nor his ways are right before God; and that every moment sends him to Christ. This shows him the meaning of what is written, " Thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, Holiness to the Lord. And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead,” [the type of our great High Priest,] that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow, in all their holy gifts :" [so far are our prayers or holy things from atoning for the rest of our sin !) “And it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord.” (Exod. xxviii. 36, 38.)
6. To explain this by a single instance: The law says, “Thou shalt not kill;” and hereby, (as our Lord teaches,) forbids not only outward acts, but every unkind word or thought. Now the more I look into this perfect law, the more I feel how far I come short of it; and the more I feel this, the more I feel my need of his blood to atone for all my sin, and of his Spirit to purify my heart, and make me “perfect and entire, lacking nothing.”
7. Therefore I cannot spare the Law one moment, no more than I can spare Christ: seeing I now want it as much, to keep me to Christ, as I ever wanted it to bring me to him. Otherwise, this “ evil heart of unbelief” would immediately “ depart from the living God.”. Indeed each is continually sending me to the other,--the Law to Christ, and Christ to the Law. On the one hand, the height and depth of the Law constrain me to fly, to the Love of God in Christ; on the other, the Love of God in Christ endears the Law to me," above gold or precious stones;” seeing. I know eyery part of - it is a gracious promise, which my Lord will fulfil in its season.
8. Who art thou, then,, O man, that "judgest the law, and speakest evil of the law ?”. That rankest; it with sin, Satan, and death, and sendest them all to hell together? The Apostle James esteemed judging or “speaking evil of the law,” so enormous a piece of wickedness, that he knew not bow to aggravate the guilt of judging our brethren more, than by showing it included this. “So pow,” says he, “thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge!”. A judge of that which God hath ordained to judge thee! So thou hast set up thyself in the judgment-seat of Christ, and cast down the rule whereby he will judge the world!. O take knowledge what advantage Satan hath gained over thec; and, for the time to come, never think or speak lightly of, much less dress up as a scarecrow, this blessed instrument of the grace of God. Yea, lorc and value it for the sake of Him from whom it came, and of Hiin to whom it leads. Let it be thy glory and joy, next to the Cross of Christ. Declare its praise, and make it honourable before all men.
9. And if thou art thoroughly convinced, that it is the offspring of God, that it is the copy of all his inimitable perfections, and that it is “holy, and just, and good,” but especially to them that believe; then, instead of casting it away as a polluted thing, see that thou clcave to it more and more. Never let the law of mercy and truth, of love to God and man, of lowliness, meekness, and purity, forsake thee. « Bind it about thy neck; write it on the table of thy heart.” Keep close to thc Law, if thou wilt keep close to Christ; hold it fast; let it not go. Let this continually lead thee to the atoning blood, continually confirm thy hope, till all the “righteousness of the Jaw is fulfilled in thec," and thou art “filled with all the fulness of God.”
10. And if thy Lord hath already fulfilled his word, if he hath already “ written his law in thy heart," then “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made thee free.” Thou art not only made free from Jewish ceremonies, from the guilt of sin, and the fear of hell ; (these are so far from being the whole, that they are the least and lowest part of Christian Liberty;) but what is infinitely more, from the power of sin, from serving the Devil, from offending God. O staud fast in this liberty; in comparison of which, all the rest is not cven worthy to be named ! Stand fast in loving God with all thy heart, and serving him with all thy strength! This is perfect freedom; thus to keep his law, and to walk in all his commandments blameless. “Be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” I do not mean of Jewish bondagc; nor yet of bondage to the fear of hell : these, I trust, are far from thec. But beware of being entangled again with the yoke of sin, of any inward or outward transgression of the law. Abbor sin far more than death or hell; abhor sin itself, far more than the punishment of it. Beware of the bondage of pride, of desire, of anger; of every evil temper, or word, or work. “Look unto Jesus," and in order thereto, look more and more into the perfect law, the law of liberty ;” and “continue therein;" so shalt thou daily “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
“ Do we then make void the law through faith? God forble:' yed, we establish the law."
Rom. iii. 31.
1. St. Paul, having in the beginning of this Epistle laid down his general proposition, vamely, that “The Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth ;”-the powerful means, whereby God makes every believer a partaker of present and eternal salvation ;-goes on to show, that there is no other way under heaven, whereby men can be saved. He speaks particularly of salvation from the guilt of sin, which he commonly terms Justification. And that all men stood in need of this, that none could plead their own innocence, he proves at large by various arguments, addressed to the Jews as well as the Heathens. Hence he infers, (in the 19th verse of this chapter,) “ That every mouth,”. whether of Jew or Heathen, must be stopped from excusing. or justifying himself, “ and all the world become guilty before God.”
Therefore," saith he, by his own obedience, “by the works of the law, shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” “But now the righteousness of God without the law,”. without our previous obedience thereto,-“ is manifested ; "even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all that believe:” “ For there is no difference,”—as to their need of justification, or the manner wherein they attain it;" for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;"—the glorious image of God wherein they were created : and all (who attain) “are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood; that he might be just, and yet the Justifier of
him which believeth in Jesus;'-that without any impeachment to his justice, he might show him mercy for the sake of that propitiation. “ Therefore we conclude, [which was the grand position he had undertaken to establish,] that a man is justified by faith, without the works of the law.” (Ver. 20—28.)
2. It was casy to foresce an objection which might be made, and which has in fact been made in all ages; namely, That to say we are justified without the works of the law, is to abolish the law. The Apostle, without entering into a formal dispute, simply denies the charge. “Do we then," says he, “ make void the law through faith? God forbid ! Yea, we establish the law.”
3. The strange imagination of some, that St. Paul, when he says, “A man is justified without the works of the law," means only the Ceremonial Law, is abundantly confuted by these very words. For did St. Paul establish the Ceremonial Law? It is evident, he did not. He did makc void that law through faith, and openly avowed his doing so. It was the Moral Law only, of which he might truly say, We do not make void, but establish this, through faith.
4. But all men are not herein of his mind. Many there are who will not agree to this. Many in all ages of the Church, even among those who bore the name of Christians, have contended, that “the faith once delivered to the saints" was designed to make void the whole law. They would no more spare the moral than the ceremonial law, but were for “ hewing,” as it were,
as it were, “both in pieces before the Lord;” vehemently maintaining, ' If you establish any law, Christ shall profit you nothing; Christ is become of no effect to you; ye are fallen from grace.
5. But is the zeal of these men according to knowledge ? Have they observed the connection between the law and faith, and that, considering the close connection between them, to destroy one is indeed to destroy both ? That, to abolish the moral lair, is, in truth, to abolish faith and the law together; as leaving no proper means, either of bringing us to faith, or of stirring up that gift of God in our soul ?
6. It therefore behoves all, who desire either to come to Christ, or to walk in Him whom they have received, to take heed how they “ make void the law through faith ; " to secure us effectually against which, let us inquire, First, which are