« PreviousContinue »
which the violation of the Commandments incurs. It may be replied, that every thing is included in it, which is destructive of the soul's welfare. It affects a man in this life, as well as that which is to come. Even here, the law binds over those who break it, to condemnation. Thewrath of God continually abideth on them am. The malediction of Heaven impends over them and their possessions. “Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the 'fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt thou be, when thou comest in; and cursed shalt thou be, when thou goest outo."
Such is the condition of one under the law, in this world': but the peculiar misery of that state will not be known, till death shall convey him to the abodes prepared for the damned. There he will be tormented day and night, suffering the full penalty of the law, which now consigns him to remediless woe. Nothing, then, can be imagined more terrific, than the punishment of unpardoned sin. Oh, that you, who perpetrate all manner of evil, without regard to consequences, may pause, and consider the threatenings of God against it!
7. You who have not repented of your iniquities, and fled to the Saviour for refuge, are under the curse of the broken law, which remains in full force against you. Will not the misery of your present state, and the horrible prospects which await you beyond the grave, convince you of the necessity of inquiring, * Is there any method of escaping the wrath of Heaven, which is kindled against us? way, in which God can remit our offences, consistmm John jii. 18, 36.
" Deut. xxviii. 15-20.
Is there any
ently with the demands of his justice :" To all who sincerely ask these questions, the Gospel returns an answer, calculated to allay their fears, and give them peace. It declares that Christ, by his voluntary obedience, has fulfilled the law; and that all who believe in him are interested in his merits, and are for ever absolved from guilt and condemnation'. Betake yourselves, then, without any hesitation, to Jesus ; whose sacrifice of himself, on the cross, not only procures pardon of sin, but the possession of an eternal inheritance”. Earnestly entreat the Father of Mercies to give you that faith which will enable you to appropriate the benefits of Christ's passion : then, being delivered from the bondage and wrath of the law, you will value, above all things, the glorious liberty and privileges to which his Gospel admits you.
• Acts xiii. 38, 39. Gal. ii. 16. P 1 Pet. i. 3, 4.
unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
• 1 Tim. i. 5-11.
the enactment of the moral law, which, we may infer from his character, would be honourable to himself, as well as beneficial to his creatures. On consulting the Bible, we find this opinion is fully confirmed; and gather from its contents, that the law was designed to publish the spotless purity of God, our obligations to serve him, and the qualities of good and bad actions ; that it was intended to convince us of sin, to declare its heinousness, and to deter us from the commission of it, by exhibiting the peril to which it exposes us ; in short, to teach us the folly of confiding in it for justification, to shew us our wants, and to direct us to the Gospel, which offers to supply them. A few remarks, on each of these points, will enable us to see more distinctly the important offices which the law sustains, and the great advantages which accrue from its proper use.
1. The law was doubtless given to afford us adequate ideas of the righteousness of God. It represents him as a Being of unsullied rectitude, holiness, and justice; as so infinitely pure, that he cannot regard transgression with any allowance". Reason alone might have taught us to entertain exalted sentiments of the power, wisdom, and benevolence of the Lord ; but it was left for the publication of the Divine Law, to manifest his fixed abhorrence of all iniquity, and his resolution to punish incorrigible sinners; it was for the law to inform us, that wicked thoughts, improper desires, and a vicious state of the affections, are as truly sins in the judgment of God, as adultery, theft, murder, or any other flagrant offenceb. It behoves us, therefore, to study the Commandments; which serve as a mirror to reflect the holiness of God; of which, and of the demerit of sin, Hab. i. 13.
Mat. v. 25–31.
our knowledge will be correct, only in proportion ag we are acquainted with the spiritual meaning of his sacred precepts.
2. It was obviously another design of the law, to make known the relation we bear to our Maker, the obligations we are laid under to serve him, and the holy nature of that worship which he approves. He is called "Our God;" a name that claims our sincere and devout obedience; which is, “a reasonable service,” with which he will not dispense. In the Divine Word, our duty to him and one another, under all circumstances, is so clearly described," that he who runs, may read it.”
3. Hence, the law was evidently intended to be a standard, by which we might try our actions, and ascertain whether they are right or wrong.
" Whilst man possessed the glory he received fronı his Maker, a law engraven on tables of stone was needless; because the graces of his soul were a living copy of the law. “As face answereth to face in the water, so did Adam's unsullied mind to the will of God." But with man in his fallen state the case is entirely altered. - Instead of an accurate knowledge of Divine truth, the natural man, if left to himself, is not able to find out but a very small part of his duty. The faculties of his mind are so much impaired, that he is frequently at a loss to determine what is good, or bad, blameable, or praiseworthy. Even amongst a people who had acquired universal reputation for wisdom and science, things utterly detestable were openly practised and sanctioned", which is a convincing proof, that man, without Divine teaching, has no light in himself to discover a rule of life which ought to be trusted. It is an important design “Rom. xii. 1.
dib. i. throughout.
of the law, therefore, to supply this defect, to deliver us from inistakes about our duty, and to give us a rule of action, which removes all ground for misconception and debate. “ To the Law and the Testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.'
4. It is a principal object of the law to convince us of sin; which it never fails to do, when its instructions are regarded. It produced this effect upon St. Paul ; who confessed, that the great lessons which it taught him were of the highest use to his own soul. "I was alive," says he,“ without the law once;" that is, I imagined I was living in such exact conformity to its precepts, as would certainly ensure my acceptance with God:“but when the commandment came, when I understood its spiritual signification, requisitions, and authority,“ sin revived;" I felt conscious of many offences against it," and I died:” now, every hope which I before indulged of meriting salvation by my own righteousness, vanished in an instant; I felt the sentence of eternal death within me, as a sinner ruined by frequent violations of the holy law of God; and saw it was necessary that I should rely altogether on the perfect obedience of Christ Jesus my Lord, who, as my surety, satisfied the demands of the law for me, and all them that confide in his death, as the procuring cause of their redemption from its curse.
We may derive the same benefit from the Commandments, if we will but contemplate their strictness and extent, and examine ourselves by their unerring dictates. When any one seriously weighs his actions, words, and thoughts, in these sacred balances, he will find himself light and wanting ; and
Isa, yüïi. 20. "Rom. vii. 7.-25. x. 4. Gal. iii. 13.