« PredošláPokračovať »
In like manner, you dreaded and abhorred idle expense ; valuing your money only less than your time, and trembling lest you should be found an unfaithful steward even of the manmon of unrighteousness. Do you now look upon praise as deadly poison,
which you can neither give nor receive but at the peril of your soul ? Do you still dread and abhor all conversation, which does not tend to the use of edifying; and labour to improve every moment, that it may not pass without leaving you better than it found you ? Are not you less careful as to the expense both of money and time? Cannot you now lay out either, as you could not have done once? Alas! How has that " which should have been for your health, proved to you an occasion of falling !" How have you “sinned because you was not under the law but under grace!"
7. God forbid you should any longer continue thus to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness !" Oh remember how clear and strong a conviction you once had concerning all these things! And, at the same time, you was fully satisfied, from whom that conviction came. The world told you, you was in a delusion; but you knew it was the voice of God. In these things you was not too scrupulous then; but you are not now scrupulous enough. God kept you longer in that painful school, that you might learn those great lessons the more perfectly. And have you forgot them already ? Oh'recollect them before it is too late! Have you suffered so many things in vain ? I trust, it is not yet in vain. Now use the conviction without the pain ! Practise the lesson without the rod! Let not the mercy of God weigh less with you now, than his fiery indigration did before. Is love a less powerful motive than fear? if not, let it be an invariable rule, “I will do no thing now I am 'under grące,' which I durst not have done when under the law.'
8. I cannot conclude this head, without exhorting you to examine yourself, likewise, touching sins of omission. Are you as clear of these,
are under grace," as you was when “under the law ?" How diligent was you then in hearing the word of God? Did you neglect any opportunity ? Did you not attend thereon day and night? Would a small hinderance have kept you away? A little business? A visitant? A slight indisposition? A soft bed? A dark or cold morning ?-Did not you then fast often ; or use abstinence to the uttermost of your power ? Was not you much in prayer, (cold and heavy as you was,) while you was hanging over the mouth of hell? Did you not speak and not spare even for an unknown God? Did you not boldly plead his cause ?-reprove sinners ?—and avow the truth before an adulterous generation ? And are you now a believer in Christ ? Have you the faith that overcometh the world? What! and are you less zealous for your Master now, than you was when you knew him not? Less diligent in fasting, in prayer, in hearing his word, in cailing sinners to God? Oh repent! See and feel your grievous loss! Remember from whence you are fallen ? Bewail your unfaithfulness! Now be zealous and do the first works; lest, if you continue to “make void the law through faith,” God cut you off, and appoint you your portion with the unbelievers !
SERMON XXXVI.-The Law established through Faith.
« Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid : yea, we establish tie law,” Rom. iii, 31.
1. It has been shown in the preceding discourse, which are the most usual methods of making void the law through faith; namely, first, the not preaching it at all; which effectually makes it all void at a stroke; and this under colour of preaching Christ and magnifying the gospel, though it be, in truth, destroying both the one and the other : secondly, the teaching, (whether directly or indirectly,) that faith supersedes the necessity of holiness; that this is less necessary now, or a less degrce of it necessary, than before Christ came; that it is less necessary to us, because we believe, than otherwise it would have been; or, that Christian liberty is a liberty from any kind or degree of holiness : (so perverting those great truths, that we are now under the covenant of grace, and not of works; that a man is justified by faith, without the works of the law; and that “ to him that worketh not, but believeth; his faith is counted for righteousness :") or, thirdly, the doing this practically; the making void the law in practice, though not in principle; the living or acting as if faith was designed to excuse us from holiness ; the allowing ourselves in sin, “ because we are not under the law, but under grace. It remains to inquire, how we may follow a better pattern, how we nay be able to say with the apostle, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid : yea, we establish the law."
2. We do not, indeed, establish the old ceremonial law; we know that it is abolished for ever: much less do we establish the whole Mosaic dispensation ; this we know our Lord has nailed to his cross. Nor yet do we so establish the moral law, (which it is to be feared too many do;) as if the fulfilling it, the keeping all the commandments, were the condition of our justification. If it were so; surely" in his sight should no man living be justified.” But all this being allowed, we still, in the apostle's sense, “ establish the law,” the moral law.
1. 1. We establish the law, first, by our doctrine; by endeavouring to preach it in its whole extent, to explain and enforce every part of it, in the same manner as our great Teacher did, while
earth. We establish it by following St. Peter's advice: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God;" as the holy men of old, moved by the Iloly Ghost, spoke and wrote for our instruction; and as the apostles of uur blessed Lord, by the direction of the same Spirit. We establish it whenever we speak in his name, by keeping back nothing from them that hear; by declaring to them, without any limitation or reserve, the whole counsel of God. And in order the more effectually to establish it, we use herein great plainness of speech. "We are not as many that corrupt the word of God ;” xaTnAEUOVTES : (as artful men their bad wines ;)--we do not cauponize, mir, adulterate, or soften it, to make it suit the taste of the hearers :-" but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, speak we in Christ;" as having no other aim, than " by manifestation of the truth, to commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."
2. We then, by our doctrine, establish the law, when we thus openly declare it to all men ; and that in the fulness wherein it is delivered by our blessed Lord and his apostles; when we publish it in the height, and depth, and length, and breadth thereof. We then establish the law, when we declare every part of it, every commandinent contained therein, not only in its full, literal sense, but likewise in its spiritual meaning ; not only with regard to the outward actions, which it either forbids or enjoins, but also with respect to the inward principle, to the thoughts, desires, and intents of the heart.
3. And indeed this we do the more diligently, not only because it is of the deepest importance ;-inasmuch as all the fruit, every word and work, must be only evil continually, if the tree be evil, if the dispositions and tempers of the heart be not right before God ;-but likewise, because as important as these things are, they are little considered or understood,—so little, that we may truly say of the law ion, when taken in its full spiritual meaning, It is “ a mystery which was hid from ages and generations since the world began.” It was utterly hid from the heathen world. They, with all their voasted wisdom, neither found out God, nor the law of God; not in the letter, much less in the spirit of it. “Their foolish hearts were” more and more 6 darkened ;" while “
professing themselves wise, they became fools.” And it was almost equally hid, as to its spiritual meaning, from the bulk of the Jewish nation, Even those who were so ready to declare concerning others, “ This people that knoweth not the law are cursed," pronounced their own sentence therein, as being under the same curse, the same dreadful ignorance. Witness our Lord's continual reproof of the wisest among them, for their gross misinterpretations of it. Witness the supposition almost universally received among them, that they needed only to make clean the outside of the cup; that the paying tithe of mint, anise, and cummin,-outward exactness,-would atone for inward unholiness, for the total neglect both of justice and mercy, of faith and the love of God. Yea, so absolutely was the spiritual meaning of the law hidden front the wisest of them, that one of their most eminent rabbis comments thus on those words of the psalmist, “ If I incline unto wickedness with my heart, the Lord will not hear me;" " that is," saith he, “if it be only in my heart, if I do not commit outward wickedness, the Lord will not regard it; he will not punish mé, unless I proceed to the outward act!”
4. But, alas ! the law of God, as to its inward, spiritual meaning, is not hid from the Jews or heathens only, but even from what is caller the Christian world ; at least, from a vast majority of them. The spiritual sense of the commandments of God is still a mystery to these also. Nor is this observable only in those lands, which are overspread with Romish darkness and ignorance: but this is too sure, that thu far greater part, even of those who are called reformed Christians, are utter strangers at this day to the law of Christ, in the purity and spirituality of it.
5. Hence it is that to this day," the scribes and Pharisees," the men who have the form but not the power of religion, and who are generally wise in their own eyes, and righteous in their own conceits,—" hearing these things are offended;" are deeply offended, when we speak of the religion of the heart; and particularly when we show, that without this, were we to "give all our goods to feed the poor," it would profit us nothing. But offended they must be; for we cannot but speak the truth as it is in Jesus. It is our part, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, to deliver our own soul. All that is written in the book of God we are to declare, not as pleasing me, but the Lord. We are to declare, not only all the promises, but alı the threatenings too, which we find therein. At the same time that we proclaim all the blessings and privileges which God hath prepared for his children, we are likewise to“ teach all the things whatsoever he hath commanded.” And we know, that all these have their use; either for the awakening those that sleep, the instructing the ignorant, the comforting the feeble minded, or the building up and perfecting of the saints. We know that "all Scripture, given by inspiration of God, is profitable” either “ for doctrine," or “ for reproof;" either for "correction, or for instruction in righteousness;' and that the man of God, in the process of the work of God in his soul, has need of every part thereof, that he may at length “ be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.'
6. It is our part thus to preach Christ, by preaching all things whatsoever he hath revealed. We may indeed, without blame, yea, and with a peculiar blessing from God, declare the love of our Lord Jesus Christ; we may speak, in a more especial manner, of “ 'The Lord our righteousness;" we may expatiate upon the grace of God in Christ,
reconciling the world unto himself ;" we may, at proper opportunities, dwell upon his praise, as “ bearing the iniquities of us all, as wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, that by his stripes we might be healed :”—but still we should not preach Christ, according to his word, if we were wholly to confine ourselves to this: we are not ourselves clear before God, unless we proclaim him in all his offices. To preach Christ, as a workınan that needeth not to be ashamed, is to preach him, not only as our great High Priest, “taken from anong men, and ordained for men, in thiigs pertaining to God;" as such reconciling us to God by his blood, and “ever living to make intercession for us ;"_but likewise as the prophet of the Lord, " who of God is made into us wisdom ;" who, by his word and his Spirit, is with us always, " guiding us inio all truth;"-yea, and as remaining a King for ever; as giving laws to all whom he has bought with his blood; as restoring those to the image of God, whom he had first reinstated in his favour; as reigning in all believing hearts until he has “subdued all things to himself;" until he hath utterly cast out all sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness."
II. 1. We establish the law, secondly, when we so preach faith in Christ, as not to supersede, but produce holiness ; to produce all mannier of holiness, negative and positive, of the heart and of the life.
In order to this, we continually declare, (what should be frequently and deeply considered by all who would not“ make void the law through faith,”') that faith itself, eren Christian faith, the faith of God's elect, the faith of the operation of God, still is only the handmaid of love. As glorious and honourable as it is, it is not the end of the coinmandment. God hath given this honour to love alone : love is the end of all the commandments of God. Love is the end, the sole end, of every dispensation of God, from the beginning of the world to the consummation of all things. And it will endure when heaven and earth flee away; for “ love [alone] never faileth." Faith will totally fail;
it will be swallowed up in sight, in the everlasting vision of God. But eyen then, love,
“ Its nature and its office still the game,
And endless good diffuse, and endless praise receive." 2. Very excellent things are spoken of faith, and whosoever is a par-taker thereof, may well say with the apostle, “ Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.”. Yet still it loses all its excellence, when brought into a comparison with love. What St. Paul observes concerning the superior glory of the gospel, above that of the law, may, with great propriety, be spoken of the superior glory of love, above that of faith: ás Even that which was made glorious, hath no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away is glorious, much more doth that which remaineth exceed in glory.” Yea, all the glory of faith, before it is done away, arises hence, that it ministers to love: It is the great temporary means which God has ordained to promote that eternal end. 3. Let those who magnify faith beyond all proportion, so as to swal
all things else, and who so totally misapprehend the nature of it as to imagine it stands in the place of love, consider farther, That as love will exist after faith, so it did exist long before it. The angels, who, from the moment of their creation, beheld the face of their Father that is in heaven, had no occasion for faith, in its general notion, as it is the evidence of things not seen. Neither had they need of faith, in its more particular acceptation, faith in the blood of Jesus: for he took not upon him the nature of angels; but only the seed of Abraham. There was, therefore, no place before the foundation of the world for faith, either in the general or particular sense. But there was for love. Love existed from eternity, in God, the great ocean of love. Love had a place in all the child, en of God, from the moment of their creation : they received at once from their gracious Creator, to exist and to love.
4. Nor is it certain, (as ingeniously and plausibly as many have descanted upon this,) that faith, even in the general sense of the word, had any place in paradise. It is highly probable, from that short and uncircumstantial account which we have in Holy Writ, that Adain, before he rebelled against God, walked with hiin by sight and not by faith.
“For then his reason's eye was sharp and clear,
And, (as an eagle can behold the sun,)
As the intellectual angels could have done.” He was then able to talk with him face to face, whose face we cannot now see and live; and consequently had no need of that faith, whose office it is to supply the want of sight.
5. On the other hand, it is absolutely certain, faith, in its particular sense, had then no place. For in that sense, it necessarily presupposes sin, and the wrath of God declared against the sinner; without which there is no need of an atonement for sin, in order to the sinner's reconciliation with God, Consequently, as there was no need of an atonement before the fall, so there was no place for faith in that atonement; man being then pure from every stain of sin ; holy as God is holy. But love even then filled his heart; it reigned in him without a rival; and it was only when love was lost by sin, that faith was added, not for its own