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12. In a word: let thy religion be the religion of thy heart. Let it lie deep in thy inmost soul. Be thou little, and base, and mean, and vile, (beyond what words can express) in thy own eyes; amazed and humbled to the dust, by the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Be serious. Let the whole stream of thy thoughts, words, and actions, flow from the deepest conviction, that thou standest on the edge of the great gulf, thou and all the children of men, just ready to drop in, either to everlasting glory or everlasting burnings. Let thy soul be filled with mildness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering towards all men: at the same time that all which is in thee, is athirst for God, the living God; longing to awake up after his likeness, and to be satisfied with it. Be thou a lover of God and of all mankind. In this spirit, do and suffer all things. Thus show thy faith by thy works: thus "do the will of thy Father which is in heaven." And as sure as thou now walkest with God on earth, thou shalt also reign with him in glory.

SERMON XXXVI.

THE ORIGINAL, NATURE, PROPERTIES, AND USE
OF THE LAW.

"Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good."-ROMANS Vii. 12.

1. PERHAPS there are few subjects within the whole compass of religion, so little understood as this. The reader of this epistle is usually told, by the law St. Paul means the Jewish law and so apprehending himself to have no concern therewith, passes on without farther thought about it. Indeed some are not satisfied with this account but observing the epistle is directed to the Romans, thence infer, that the Apostle in the beginning of this chapter, alludes to the old Roman law. But as they have no more concern with this, than with the ceremonial law of Moses, so they spend not much thought, on what they suppose is occasionally mentioned, barely to illustrate another thing.

2. But a careful observer of the Apostle's discourse, will not be content with these slight explications of it. And the more he weighs the words, the more convinced he will be, that St. Paul by the law mentioned in this chapter, does not mean either the ancient law of Rome, or the ceremonial law of Moses. This will clearly appear to all who attentively consider the tenour of his discourse. He begins the chapter, "Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to

them that know the law," to them who have been instructed therein from their youth) "that the law hath dominion over a man, as long as he liveth?" ver. 1. (What the law of Rome only, or the ceremonial law? No surely; but the moral law :) "for," to give a plain instance, "the woman that hath an husband, is bound by the (moral) law to her husband so long as he liveth. But if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband, ver. 2. So then, if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adultress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adultress, though she be married to another man," ver. 3. From this particular instance the Apostle proceeds to draw that general conclusion: "Wherefore, my brethren," by a plain parity of reason, "ye also are become dead to the law," the whole Mosaic institution, "by the body of Christ," offered for you, and bringing you under a new dispensation: "that ye should" [without any blame] "be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead," and hath thereby given proof of his authority to make the change, "that we should bring forth fruit unto God," ver. 4. And this we can do now, whereas before we could not: "for when we were in the flesh," under the power of the flesh, that is, of corrupt nature, [which was necessarily the case till we knew the power of Christ's resurrection] "the motions of sin, which were by the law," which were shown and inflamed by the Mosaic law, not conquered, "did work in our members," broke out various ways, "to bring forth fruit unto death," ver. 5. "But now we are

delivered from the law," from that whole moral, as well as ceremonial economy: "that being dead wherein we are held:" that entire institution being now, as it were, dead, and having no more authority over us, than the husband when dead hath over his wife: "that we should serve him," who died for us and rose again, "in newness of spirit," in a new spiritual dispensation, "and not in the oldness of the letter," ver. 6; with a bare outward service, according to the letter of the Mosaic institution.

3. The Apostle having gone thus far, in proving that the Christian had set aside the Jewish dispensation, and that the moral law itself, though it could never pass away, yet it stood on a different foundation from what it had done before, now stops to propose and answer an objection, "What shall we say then? Is the law sin?" So some might infer from a misapprehension of those words, "the motions of sin which were by the law." "God forbid !" saith the Apostle, that we should say so. Nay, the law is an irreconcileable enemy to sin; searching it out wherever it is. "I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust," evil desire to be sin, "except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet," ver. 7. After opening this farther, in the four following verses, he subjoins this general conclusion, with regard more especially to the moral law, from which the preceding instance was taken: "Wherefore, the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”

4. In order to explain and enforce these deep words, so little

regarded, because so little understood, I shall endeavour to show, First, The original of this law: Secondly, The nature thereof: Thirdly, the properties, that it is holy, and just, and good: and, Fourthly, The uses of it.

I. 1. I shall first, endeavour to show the original of the moral law, often called the law, by way of eminence. Now this is not, as some may have possibly imagined, of so late an institution as the time of Moses. Noah declared it to men long before that time, and Enoch before him. But we may trace its original higher still, even beyond the foundation of the world, to that period, unknown indeed to men, but, doubtless, enrolled in the annals of eternity, when the morning stars first sang together, being newly called into existence. It pleased the great Creator, to make these his first-born sons, intelligent beings, that they might know him that created them. For this end he endued them with understanding, to discern truth from falsehood, good from evil; and as a necessary result of this, with liberty, a capacity of choosing the one and refusing the other. By this they were, likewise, enabled to offer him a free and willing service; a service rewardable in itself, as well as most acceptable to their gracious Master.

2. To employ all the faculties which he had given them, particularly their understanding and liberty, he gave them a law, a complete model of all truth, so far as was intelligible to a finite being, and of all good, so far as angelic minds were capable of embracing it. It was also the design of their beneficent Governor herein, to make way for a continual increase of their happiness: seeing every instance of obedience to that law, would both add to the perfection of their nature, and entitle them to a higher reward, which the righteous Judge would give in its season.

3. In like manner, when God, in his appointed time, had created a new order of intelligent beings, when he had raised man from the dust of the earth, breathed into him the breath of life, and caused him to become a living soul, endued with power to choose good or evil: he gave to this free, intelligent creature, the same law as to his first-born children: not wrote indeed upon tables of stone, or any corruptible substance, but engraven on his heart by the finger of God, wrote in the inmost spirit both of men and angels: to the intent it might never be afar off, never hard to be understood; but always at hand, and always shining with clear light, even as the sun in the midst of heaven.

4. Such was the original of the law of God. With regard to man it was coeval with his nature. But with regard to the elder sons of God, it shone in its full splendour, “or ever the mountains were brought forth, or the earth and the round world were made." But it was not long before man rebelled against God, and by breaking this glorious law, well nigh effaced it out of his heart; the eyes of his understanding being darkened, in the same measure as his soul was "alienated from the life of God." And yet God did not despise the work of his own hands: but being reconciled to man through the Son of his love, he, in some measure, reinscribed his law on the

heart of his dark sinful creature. "He" again "showed thee, O man, what is good," (although not as in the beginning) " even to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."

5. And this he showed, not only to our first parents, but likewise to all their posterity, by "that true light which enlightens every man that cometh into the world." But, notwithstanding this light, all flesh had, in process of time, "corrupted their way before him: till he chose out of mankind a peculiar people, to whom he gave a more pefect knowledge of his law. And the heads of this, because they were slow of understanding, he wrote on two tables of stone: which he commanded the fathers to teach their children, through all succeeding generations.

6. And thus it is, that the law of God is now made known to them that know not God. They hear, with the hearing of the ear, the things that were written aforetime for our instruction. But this does not suffice. They cannot, by this mean, comprehend the height, and depth, and length, and breadth thereof. God alone can reveal this by his Spirit. And so he does to all that truly believe, in consequence of that gracious promise, made to all the Israel of God: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel. And this shall be the covenant that I will make, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people," Jer. xxxi. 31, &c.

II. 1. The nature of that law which was originally given to angels in heaven and man in paradise, and which God has so mercifully promised to write afresh, in the hearts of all true believers, was the second thing I proposed to show. In order to which I would first observe, That although the law and the commandment are sometimes differently taken, (the commandment meaning but a part of the law) yet, in the text, they are used as equivalent terms, implying one and the same thing. But we cannot understand here, either by one or the other, the ceremonial law. It is not the ceremonial law, whereof the Apostle says, in the words above recited, "I had not known sin but by the law" this is too plain to need a proof. Neither is it the ceremonial law which saith, in the word's immediately subjoined, "Thou shalt not covet." Therefore, the ceremonial law has no place in the present question.

2. Neither can we understand by the law mentioned in the text, the Mosaic dispensation. It is true, the word is sometimes so understood as when the Apostle says, speaking to the Galatians, (chap. iii. 17,) "The covenant which was confirmed before," (namely, with Abraham the father of the faithful,) "the law," i. e. the Mosaic dispensation," which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul " But it cannot be so understood in the text; for the Apostle never bestows so high commendations as these upon that imperfect and shadowy dispensation. He nowhere affirms, the Mosaic to be a spiritual law: or, that it is holy, and just, and good. Neither is it true. that God will write that law in the hearts of them

whose iniquities he remembers no more. It remains, that the law, eminently so termed, is no other than the moral law.

3. Now this law is an incorruptible picture of the High and Holy ONE that inhabiteth eternity. It is he, whom in his essence no man hath seen or can see, made visible to men and angels. It is the face of God unveiled: God manifested to his creatures as they are able to bear it manifested to give, and not to destroy life; that they may see God and live It is the heart of God disclosed to man. Yea, in some sense, we may apply to this law, what the Apostle says of his Son, it is απαύγασμα της δόξης, και χαρακτηρ της υποτασεως αυτε. "The streaming forth," or out-beaming "of his glory, the express image of his person."

4. "If virtue," said the ancient heathen, "could assume such a shape as that we could behold her with our eyes, what wonderful love would she excite in us!" If virtue could do this! It is done already. The law of God is all virtues in one, in such a shape, as to be beheld with open face, by all those whose eyes God hath enlightened. What is the law but divine virtue and wisdom, assuming a visible form? What is it, but the original ideas of truth and good, which were lodged in the uncreated mind from eternity, now drawn forth and clothed with such a vehicle, as to appear even to human understanding?

5. If we survey the law of God in another point of view, it is supreme, unchangeable reason: it is unalterable rectitude it is the everlasting fitness of all things that are or ever were created I am sensible, what a shortness, and even impropriety there is, in these and all other human expressions, when we endeavour by these faint pictures, to shadow out the deep things of God. Nevertheless, we have no better, indeed no other way, during this our infant state of existence. As we now know but in part, so we are constrained to prophesy, i. e. speak of the things of God, in part also. "We cannot order our speech by reason of darkness," while we are in this house of clay. While I am a child, I must speak as a child. But I shall soon put away childish things. "For when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away."

6. But to return. The law of God, (speaking after the manner of men) is a copy of the eternal Mind, a transcript of the Divine Nature: yea, it is the fairest offspring of the everlasting Father, the brightest efflux of his essential wisdom, the visible beauty of the Most High. It is the delight and wonder of cherubim and seraphim, and all the company of heaven, and the glory and joy of every wise believer, every well instructed child of God upon earth.

III. 1. Such is the nature of the ever-blessed law of God. I am, in the third place, to show the properties of it: not all; for that would exceed the wisdom of an angel. But those only which are mentioned in the text. These are three: It is holy, just, and good. And first, The law is holy.

2. In this expression the Apostle does not appear to speak of its effeets, but rather of its nature: as St. James, speaking of the same

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