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I believe I am not mistaken when I take for granted that to the generality of Christians there is considerable difficulty and no small confusion of mind on the subject, occasioned principally by want of attention to the various meanings in which the word law is used by this and the other apostles in the New Testament--and that this difficulty is increased by the plausible manner in which the word, and those passages of Scripture in which it is found, have been pressed into the service and support of different systems of divinity; an evil which is now perhaps without remedy, however evident it may be that the particular system is constructed on such a sense and meaning given to a particular word, such as law, faith, elect, &c., as is not consistent with the general tenour of the word of God taken as a whole ; under which impression the Scriptures are read with a bias and prejudice upon the mind, in favour of that interpretation which best accords with the system of doctrine we may have adopted. And wonderful it is to reflect with what readiness, remote and even irrelevant passages of Scripture seem to come together in our minds, to support and confirm our previous impressions ; and how those which militate against us, and conflict with our favourite notions, fall powerless on our pre-occupied understandings.

On which, I will only observe—that while each must make the application for himself, all should be on their guard against that dangerous influence which risks a soul for the sake of a system.

By the word law we understand, in general, a rule of conduct enforced by a penalty. And the divine law, which is our present subject, differs in nothing from human law except in the supreme nature of its authority and of the sanctions by which it is enforced. This will be evident, if we consider that the same principles are common to both. Neither affects those who are subject to it unless it be disobeyed. What effect has the law of the land against gaming, for instance, upon the man who never plays, or the law of God against theft, upon the man who does not steal ? The penalty sleeps in both cases—and in this sense it is that St. Paul says, the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient. In like manner when either of them is disobeyed, that moment guilt is incurred, which never can be removed and the law satisfied, unless by the infliction of the penalty on the offender. From the very nature of law it can know nothing of mercy; that, if to be had at all, must be sought for elsewhere. Moreover, neither divine nor human laws propose any reward for the performance of duty. Protection and safety in the state we are in is all that law, considered in itself, proposes or confers on the obedient. This our own experience shows to be the case in the operation of human laws; and revelation teaches us that it was thus with Adam under the original law of God; for we read of nothing like reward or an addition to the state he was in promised to his obedience by the terms of the law. But while they thus agree in those principles which are common to law, as such, they differ in one respect. Human laws may and must be altered, amended, and repealed, according to the change of times and circumstances; but God's Holy Law being a transcript of his own perfections, is everlasting and unchangeable. These observations are necessary to be borne in mind, my brethren, if we would come to a safe and practical understanding of the subject before us.

It is plain, from the context, that the apostle, speaking in this chapter of the Jews, uses the word law as referring to the law given by Moses—but it would be to defeat the whole purpose of this epistle, indeed of the New Testament revelation, were we to confine it to the Jews. Christ was indeed the end or object of that dispensation of the supreme original law of God; to him all its enactments pointed. And it is expressly said that it was added because of transgression, until the seed should come to whom the promise was made. But my text says, that Christ is the end of the law to every one that believeth. Of course not to the Jew only, but also to the Gentile.

Therefore, the word law must here be understood as applying to that original universal law of God, under the obligations of which all rational natures, whether angels or men, are held. And here opens upon us, my brethren, a wide and extensive range of investigation, in which all our care and caution must be put forth, lest we wander from the testimony into some flowery

but unfruitful field of speculation, while we lose sight of the simple truth as it is in Jesus. Let us, then, in the

II. Second place, inquire into the extent and nature of that claim which the law of God has upon us.

And here some one, I doubt not, is ready to say, if it is the law of God there can be no limit to the extent of its claims upon us, but the full obedience it requires. True, my hearers, and would to God we were all more under the influence of this solemn truth than we are. But as the Antinomian will tell you that he is freed from the law, that being dead in which he was held; as the Solifdian will wrest the Scriptures in support of a banner of faith ; as the self-righteous moralist will sneer at faith, that he may establish his own righteousness; and as the great crowd of thoughtless sinners forget that there is a God to serve, a law to keep, and a judgment to meet, therefore it may not be unprofitable to consider in its particulars, what has so direct a bearing upon the edification to be drawn from my text. For Christ is only valued as we see and feel our need of him.

That God placed man, at his creation, under the law, as a covenant of life that he broke it, and thereby incurred for him. self and all his posterity, not only the loss of present blessings, but the penalty of death, with all the other miseries which the curse inflicted, we know and feel, my brethren, by the prevalence of sin and death in this poor world; and it is surely of the first importance to ascertain whether and to what extent we are bound by this law, and by what means we may be able to fulfil its conditions and escape its penalties.

The question then is-is this law in force under the gospel ? To which I answer, that we read of no repeal--that, from the nature of God, no such repeal could take place ; and to the objection that the law of faith revealed in the gospel made void or rendered useless the original law of God, St. Paul replies, that it did the very reverse, for that it established the law. And from the words of my text this conclusion is strengthened; for if Christ is the end of the law to believers, so long as there are believers there must be that law to them of which he is the end.

How then, it may be asked, are we to understand and reconcile the many passages of Scripture which sound as if the law was

superseded by the gospel ? To this I answer, that in such places either the law ceremonial is meant, which was clearly annulled by the coming of Christ, all its shadows being found in him as the substance; or the law itself, not as a law, but as a condition of justification and title to eternal life by the righteousness thereof. As the supreme law of God, partaking of his holy nature and binding heaven and earth, it is unchangeable, and holy, and just, and good; and not one jot or one tittle, says our LORD, shall pass from the law till all be fulfilled. But as a ground or condition of justification, which can only be by its perfect fulfilment, it has become impossible to fallen creatures; for to such by the law is the knowledge of sin, and not the means of salvation. Wherefore, St. Paul argues, that verily, if there could have been a law given which could have given life, then should righteousness have been by the lar.

But, if unrepealed, it must yet be in force as a rule of life to us in its full extent; and this, my brethren, is our actual condition, and the very doctrine, and the only doctrine, which gives to the dispensation of the gospel its gracious and merciful character; to the gift of Jesus Christ its infinite preciousness; and to the love of God in the redemption of fallen man, that unsearchable quality of wisdom and knowledge which, while the purity and dignity of his holy law was magnified, and his original purpose in creating man for his glory maintained against sin, death, and hell, could thus cause mercy and truth to meet together, and the glorious perfections of the Creator to harmonize with the imperfections of the creature.

To suppose, as some do, from insulated passages of Scripture, and from the impossibility that fallen sinful creatures should fulfil its exact and holy requirements, that therefore it is a dead letter, is to deceive our own souls fatally, and to upturn the very foundations of Christianity. For the grace of the gospel is constructed only on the claims of the law and our inability to discharge them. On the other hand, to assert the claims of the law to the perfect obedience it demands, and supply the notorious defects in our duty by an arbitrary imputation of what another hath done in this respect to certain persons considered as elect, is to wrest the Scriptures to our own destruction, and open a wide door for confusion and every evil work to enter in. No, my brethren, to us it is yet said by this holy law, Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, and thy neighbour as thyself. This royal law the gospel enforces by all the sanctions which time and eternity can comprebend, and all the authority which love manifested by example and benefits conferred on the undeserving, can give to the precept of the Sovereign Lawgiver.

But while the law of God is thus unimpaired in the extent of its righteous claims upon us in the nature and kind of the obedience required, it is modified and mitigated by the equity and mercy of the lawgiver proclaimed in the gospel.

To man in his integrity, that is, before his fall, the law presented itself in its rightful claim of perfect, unceasing, unsinning obedience; and it found him furnished by his wise and merciful Creator to discharge all its pure, holy, and life-giving demands no law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin and death-no corruption of his mind leading him off from God, his chief good, after the vain delights of a perishing world.

But when sin obtained the mastery over him, banished the HOLY SPIRIT from his soul, and perverted and depraved the pure and perfect faculties bestowed on him by his Maker, then could this pure and holy law no longer be to him a covenant of life and peace, but an everlasting bond of fear, and wrath, and death.

What, then, was to be done ? Was the law of heaven to yield and surrender to the law of sin, and the gracious purpose of God in the creation of man as an instrument of his glory to be defeated by the craft and malice of the devil ? Yet this must have followed but for the resources of that infinite wisdom, mercy, and love which had provided in the eternal counsel of the adorable Three in Deity against this foreseen event. Here, then, my friends, rises to our astonished and admiring view that wonderful appointment in which we once more stand for life or death, by the gift of Jesus Christ to take our nature upon him, and in the nature that sinned to bear the curse and satisfy

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