« AnteriorContinuar »
the most Usual Ways ' of “making Void the Law through Faith?” And, Secondly, How we may follow the Apostle, and by Faith Establish the Law ? 11. 1: Let us, First, inquire, What are the most Usual Ways of making Void the Law through Faith? Now the way for å Preacher to make it all void at a stroke, is, not to preach it at all. This is just the same thing as to blot it out of the Oracles of God. More especially, when it is done with design ; when it is -made a rule, not to preach the law; and the very phrase, “a Preacher of the Law,” is used as a term of reproach, as though it meant little less than an enemy to the Gospel.
2. All this proceeds from the deepest ignorance of the nature, properties, and use of the Law; and proves, that those who act thus, either know not Christ,—are utter strangers' to living faith,-or, at least, that they are but babes in Christ, and, as such, “unskilled in the word of righteousness.”
3. Their grand plea is this : That preaching the Gospel, that is, according to their judgment, the speaking of nothing but the sufferings and merits of Christ, answers all the ends of the Law. But this we utterly deny. It does not answer the very first end of the law, namely, The convincing men of sin; the awakening those who are still asleep on the brink of hell. There may have been here and there an exempt case. One in a thousand may have been awakened by the Gospel : But this is no general rule: The ordinary method of God, is to convict sinners by the Law, and that only. The Gospel is not the means which God hath ordained, or which our Lord bimself used, for 'this end. We have no authority in Scripture for applying it thus, nor any ground to think it will prove effectual. Nor have we any more ground to expect this, from the nature of the thing. “They that be whole,” as our Lord himself observes, “need not a physician, but they that are sick." 'It is absurd, therefore, to offer a physician to them that are whole, or that at least imagine themselves so to be. You are first to convince them that they are sick; otherwise they will not thank you for your labour. It is equally absurd to offer Christ to them whose heart is whole, having never yet been broken. It is, in the proper sense, “casting pearls before swine.” Doubtless they will trample them under foot ;” and it is no more than you have reason to expect, if they also “turn again and rend you." 4. "Bứt although there is no command in Scripture, to offer Christ to the careless sinner, yet are there not scriptural precedents for it?' I think not: I know not any. I believe you cannot produce one, either from the four Evangelists, or the Acts of the Apostles. Neither can you prove this to have been the practice of any of the Apostles, from any passage in all their writings.
5. 'Nay, does not the Apostle Paul say, in his former Epistle to the Corinthians, “We preach Christ crucified ? " (Chap. i. 23;) and in his latter, “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord ?". (Chap. iv.5.)
We consent to rest the cause on this issue; to tread in his steps; to follow his example. Only preach you, just as Paul preached, and the dispute is at an end.
For although we are certain he preached Christ in as perfect a manner as the very chief of the Apostles, yet who preached the Law more than St. Paul ? Therefore he did not think the Gospel answered the same end.
6. The very first sermon of St. Paul's, which is recorded, concludes in these words: “By him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, lest that come upou you which is spoken of in the Prophets, Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish. For I work a work in your days, a work which you will in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” (Acts xiii. 39, &c.) Now it is manifest, all this is preaching the Law, in the sense wherein you understand the term; even although great part of, if not all his hearers, were either Jews, or religious proselytes, (ver. 43,) and, therefore, probably many of them, in some degree at least, convinced of sin already. He first reminds them, that they could not be justified by the law of Moses, but only by faith in Christ; and then severely threatens them with the judgments of God, which is, in the strongest sense, preaching the Law.
7. In his next discourse, that to the heathens at Lystra, (Acts xiv. 15, &c.,) we do not find so much as the name of Christ: The whole purport of it is, that they should “turn from those vain idols, unto the living God.” Now confess the truth. Do not you think, if you had been there, you could have preached much better than he? I should not wonder if you thought too, that his preaching so illoccasioned his being so ill treated; and that his being stoned was a just judgment upon him for not preaching Christ!
8. To the jailor indeed, when "he sprang in and came
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 you 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 him 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 (bardened 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, means 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, even 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 believed. Indeed, the using the term liberty, 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; namely, of making void the law through faith, by supposing faiths to supersede 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 por 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 suppose, that men were once more obliged to obey God, or to work the works of his law, than they are now. This is a supposition 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 necessary 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 obedience; 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 justificd. So that if good works do not follow our faith, even all inward and outward holinese, it is plain our faith is nothing worth;