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of sins, 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." “But now we are delivered from the law;"—from that whole moral, as well as ceremonial economy; “that being dead whereby we were 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;"! —with a bare outward service, according to the letter of the Mosaic institution, ver. 1-6.

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 stood on a Jifferent foundation from what it did 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 sins which were by the law." “God forbid !” saith the apostle, that we should say so. Nay, the law is an irreconcilable enemy to sín; 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,” verse 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 hinı. 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 reward able 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 is 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 of angels, to the intent it might never be far 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 wor!d 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 the law on the heart of his dark, sinful creature. “ He (again) showed thee, oh 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 perfect 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 means, 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: "Belold, 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 cereinonial 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 words 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 that 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 no where 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 atauyaoua της δοξης, και χαρακτηρ της υποφασεως 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


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 excred 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 hoiy.

2. In this expression the apostle does not appear to speak of its effects, but rather of its nature : as Si. James, speaking of the same thing under another naine, says, “ The wisdom from above" (which is no other than this law, written in our heart,) “is first pure," chap, iii, 17; agun, chaste, spotless; eternally and essentially holy. And consequently when it is transcribed into the life, as well as the soul, it is (as the same apostle terx.s it, chap. i, 27,) Ipnosiia xatiga xou apavros, pure religion, and undefiled; or, the pure, clean, unpolluted worship of God.

3. It is, indeed, in the highest degree, pure, chaste, clean, holy. Otherwise it could not be the immediate offspring, and much less the express resemblance, of God, who is essential holiness. It is

pure from all sin, clean and unspotted from any touch of evil. It is a chaste virgin, incapable of any deflement, of any mixture with that which is unclean, or unholy, It has no fellowship with sin of any kind: For “ what communion hath light with darkness ?” As sin is, in its very nature, enmity to God, so his law is enmity to sin.

4. Therefore it is that the apostle rejects with such abhorrence that blasphemous supposition, that the law of God is either sin itself, or the cause of sin. God forbid that we should suppose it is the cause of sin, because it is the discoverer of it; because it detects the hidden things of. darkness, and drags them out into open day. It is true, by this means, (as the apostle observes, verse 13,) “ Sin appears to be sin.” All its disguises are torn away, and it appears in its native deformity. It is true likewise, that “ sin by the commandment, becomes exceeding sinful:" Being now committed against light and knowledge, being stripped even of the poor plea of ignorance, it loses its excuse, as well as disguise, and becomes far more odious both to God and man. Yea, and it is true, that “ sin worketh death by that which is good;" which in itself is pure and holy. When it is dragged out to light, it rages the more: when it is restrained it bursts out with greater violence. Thus the apostle, (speaking in the person of one who was convinced of sin, but not yet delivered from it,)“ Sin taking occasion by the commandment," detecting and endeavouring to restrain it, disdained the restraint, and so much the more," wrought in me all manner of concupiscence,' ver. 8; all manner of foolish and hurtful desire, which that cominandment sought to restrain. Thus, “when the commandment came, sin revived," verse 9; It fretted and raged the more. But this is no stain on the commandment. Though it is abused, it cannot be defiled. This only proves, that "the heart of man is desperately wicked." But the law of God is holy still,

5. And it is, secondly, just. It renders to all their due. It prescribes exactly what is right, precisely what ought to be done, said or thought, both with regard to the Author of our being, with regard to ourselves, and with regard to every creature which he has made. It is adapted, in all respects, to the nature of things, of the whole universe, and every individual. It is suited to all the circumstances of each, and to all their mutual relations, whether such as have existed from the beginning, or such as commenced in any following period. It is exactly agreeable to the fitness of things, whether essential or accidental. It clashes with none of these in any degree; nor is ever unconnected with them. If the word be taken in that sense, there is nothing arbitrary in the law of God. Although still the whole and every part thereof is totally dependant upon his will ; so that “ Thy will be done,” is the supreme universal law, both in earth and heaven.

6. “ But is the will of God the cause of his law ?. Is his will the original of right and wrong? Is a thing therefore right, because God wills it ?-or, does he will it, because it is right ?”

I fear this celebrated question is more curious than useful. And perhaps in the manner it is usually treated of, it does not so well consist with the regard that is due from a creature, to the Creator and Governor of all things. It is hardly decent for man, to call the supreme God to give an account to him. Nevertheless, with awe and reverence we may speak a little : the Lord pardon us if we speak amiss !

7. it seems then, that the whole difficulty arises from considering God's will as distinct from God: otherwise it vanishes away. For none can doubt, but God is the cause of the law of God. But the will of God is God himself. It is God considered as willing thus or thus. Consequently, to say, the will of Gud, or that God himself, is the cause of the law, is one and the same thing.

8. Again: If the law, the inunutable rule of right and wrong, depends on the nature and fitnesses of things, and on their essential relations to each other; (I do not say, their eternal relations ; because the eternal relation of things existing in time, is little less than a contradiction ;) if, I say, this depends on the nature and relations of things, then it must depend on God, or the will of God; because those things themselves, with all their relations, are the works of his hands. By his will, “ for his pleasure” alone, they all “ are and were created."

9. And yet it may be granted, (which is probably all that a considerate person would contend for,) that in every particular case, God wills this or this, (suppose that men should honour their parents,) because it is right, agreeable to the fitness of things, to the relation wherein they stand.

10. The law then is right and just concerning all things. And it is good as well as just. This we may easily infer from the fountain whence it flowed. For what was this, but the goodness of God? What but goodness alone inclined him to impart that divine copy of himself to the holy angels? To what else can we impute his bestowing upon man the same transcript of his own naturę ? And what but tender love constrained him afresh to manifest his will to fallen man,-either to Adam or any of his seed,' who like him were come short of the glory of God ?" Was it not mere love that moved him to publish his law, after the understandings of men were darkened ? And to send his prophets to declare that law, to the blind, thoughtless children of men? Doubtless his goodness it was which raised up Enoch and Noah to be preachers of righteousness; which caused' Abraham, his friend, and

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