» Psalm evii. 43. o Jsai. xxv. 4.
THAT vice and immorality, disobedience to the laws of God and men, prevail among us •, and that practical religion, and powerful godliness greatly decline, will be acknowledged by every serious, thoughtful, and considering christian ; but what are the springs and sources of this fad scene ot things.
or to what all this is to be ascribed, is not so generally agreed ; in this men differ. .
The opposers of the doctrines of grace attribute it, at least, in part, to that scheme of truths which we justly esteem the gospel of Christ •, nor can they think there is any reason to expect, that moral virtue and practical religion will rise and gain ground among us, so long as this is the subject of our ministrations. " They spare not to charge the whole with a tendency to licentiousness, to open " the door to libertinism, and give men a loose to live at pleasure, in all man" ner of impiety. Particularly the doctrine of justification by the righteous" ness of Christ, imputed by God the Father, and received by faith, is branded " with this infamous character. It is suggested, that if this doctrine is true, " the law is made void, obedience to it becomes unnecessary, and good works " are insignificant things; and that it can be of no other use than to discourage " good men in the performance of duty, and to encourage bad men in a course " of wickedness." To remove this charge and imputation is my view in reading these words unto you.
The design of the apostle, in this epistle, is to set in a full and clear light, the doctrine of justification ; in which he first proves that all mankind, Jews and Gentiles, are sinners, are under Jin*, the pollution, guilt and power of it; and so are arraigned, accused and convicted by the law, as transgressors; which law pronounces the whole world guilty before God, stops the mouth of every man, and puts all to silence; so that they have nothing to fay in vindication of themselves, or why judgment stiould not be given against them, and be executed on them : whence it must most clearly follow, That no man can be justified in the sight of God by the law, by the deeds of it, or by any obedience of sinful man unto it. The apostk goes on to shew, that the matter of justification, or that by which a sinner is justified, is the righteousness of Godb ; a righteousness in which Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit, are concerned. God the Father sent his Son to work it out, and bring it in •, he has approved and accepted of it, and gracioufly imputes it to all the elect.. The Son of God is the author of it; who is our Immanuel, God with us, God in our nature, God and man in one Person, God over all, blessed for ever. Hence it has that fulness, sufficiency, and virtue to justify all to whose account it is placed; which the righteousness of a mere creature could never do. The holy Spirit of God discovers this righteousness to a poor, sensible sinner, brings it near to him ; sets it before him ; works faith in-"him to lay hold upon it, and receive it, and pronounces him justified by it in the court of conscience.
■ Ver. 9. » Ibid, zx, «. * Ibid. 21.
This righteousness, the apostle fays % is manifested without the law, that is, in the gospel; in which it is revealed from faith to faith; though it is witnessed, a testimony is bore to it, both by the law and the -prophets \ and that it is unto all, applied unto all, and upon all, put upon all as a robe of righteousness, even upon all that believe; for there is xo difference''; that is among men, among Jews or Gentiles; no distinction made between righteous men and sinners, or between some, being greater, others lesser sinners ; for alt have sinned, and come short of the glory of God'; are through sin depraved, and are destitute of the glorious image of God, that rectitude and uprightness of nature, in which man was created-, and therefore stand in need of the justifying righteousness of Christ, by which they must be justified, if at all. The fame inspired writer proceeds to observe, that the impulsive and moving cause of justification, is the free grace of God, being justified freely by his gracef. Grace moved Jehovah, the Father, to resolve upon the justification of his elect. Grace set his thoughts at work ; employed his infinite wisdom to find out a way whereby these, though they sliould fall into sin, might be just with God. Grace put him upon ordaining, Calling, engaging, and sending his Son to fulfil all righteousness in their room and stead; and it was grace in him to accept of it, for and on the behalf of them ; and to impute it to them, who, in themselves, were sinners and ungodly. The grace and love of the Son greatly appear in his voluntary engagement to be the surety and substitute of his people, in his readiness to do the will of God, in his chearful coming down from heaven about this work, and in the gracious manner in which he wrought out and brought .in an everlasting righteousness. The grace of the Spirit is abundantly manifest in the revelation and application of the justifying righteousness of Christ to a poor, sinful, unworthy creature, and in bestowing faith as a free gift upon him, to apprehend and embrace it as his own. The meritorious or procuring cause of justification, is placed in the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God, in his infinite wisdom, and of his free rich grace, hath set forth or fore-ordained, to be a propitiation, to satisfy divine justice, by being an expiatory sacrifice for sin, through faith in his blood* to declare his righteousness for the remiffion ofsins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I fay, adds che apostle, at this time his righteousness* that he might be just ; that is, appear to be just, and the justifier of him which betieveth in Jesuss. So that by this wise and happy scheme, both the grace and justice of God wonderfully agree in the justification of a poor sinner, and arc thereby greatly glorified. From the whole, the apostle deduces several inferences and conclusions; as that upon this scheme, there is no room nor reason for boasting in the creature; and asksh, Where is boasting then ? it is excluded; hy who/ taw? of works? nay, but by the law of faith i that is, the doctrine of faith, and. particularly the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ's righteousness;
* Rom. iii.22. • Ibid, ver.zj. .* Ibid. ver.24. g Ver* 25, 26. . fc Vet. 27.
as also that a ma,n is justified, or whoever is justified, is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law; that God is the God both of Jews and Gentiles; and that there is but one way and method he makes use of in justifying of either, and. that is, by faith and through faith % phrases which are synonymous, and expressive of one and the same thing; and then, in the words of our text, removes an objection which he easily saw would be raised against the doctrine he had advanced, Do we then make void the law through faith ?
There were some who thought they did make void the law by the doctrine of faith : This was an objection common in the mouths of the Jews, and had been often leveled against the ministry of Christ and his apostles; and therefore the apostle Paul could be no stranger to it. Our Lord himself was traduced by the ignorant aud ill-natured men of that generation in which he lived, as an Antinomian, both in doctrine and practice •, as one in doctrine, which is evident, from those words of his in his own defence; Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the -prophets-, lam not come to destroy, but to fulfil'. Whence it is clear, that some had entertained such thoughts of him, that he came to destroy thg law, and imagined that he did make it mill and void by his doctrine and ministry; and that they charged him with being one in practice, is certain from the account he gives of their calumny and detraction, when he fays, The Son of man came eating and drinking; and they fay, Behold a man gluttonous, and a wine^bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners •, but wisdom is justified of her children. Now if they called the Master of the houshold so, it is no wonder that they of his houfhold, his disciples and followers, ssiould be treated in the fame opprobrious manner. Accordingly, when Stephen, being filled with the holy Ghost, disputed with the Jews concerning the Messiah and the gospel-state, and they were not able to resist the wisdom and spirit by which be spake; they suborned, and set up false witnesses, who said and swore, that he ceased not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law '. When the apostle Paul returned unto Jerusalem, after he had travelled over a large part of the Gentile world, preaching the gospel of the grace of God with great success; James, a fellow-apostle, observed to him how many thousands of the Jews there were which believed in Jesus, and yet were all zealous of the law, and strenuous advocates for it; who had been informed that he had said many things among the Gentiles, contrary to Moses and his law, which were highly displeasing to them •, and therefore he put him upon a method to conciliate himself to their affections •, which method did not succeed according to desire and expectation: for the Jews |uving observed one Tropbimus, an Ephesian, with him, whom they supposed he brought into the temple; they cried out, Men of Israel, help, this is the man that teachetb all men every where, against the people, and the law, and this place".
1 Matt. y. *7, * Matt. *i. ig. ' Acti vi. 13.
From all which it is most manifest, that the apostle must be fully acquainted with, and be aware of this popular objection to his doctrine-, and which he here makes answer to; partly by way of detestation and abhorrence, God forbid; a way of speaking he often makes use of, when vile objections were made to his doctrine, or such wicked consequences drawn from it, as were abominable to him ; as when he observes, What jhall we fay then ? i>hall we continue in sin that grace may abound ? God forbid: How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein n ? Again-, What shall we fay then? Is the law sin? God forbid: Nay, I had not known sin but by the law". Once more -, If while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, Is therefore Christ the minister cf sin? God forbid': and partly he replies to this objection, by asserting the contrary, yea, we establish the law; in like manner as Christ had done before, in a passage already referred to, I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil; and indeed, he is not destroying, but the fulfilling end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes9.
By faith here we are to understand either the grace or the doctrine of faith, or both. Faith may be considered as a grace -, which, by an inspired writer is defined to be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen '. Ic is a grace peculiar to the chosen of God, and precious; it is a fruit and effect of electing love, and so an evidence of it -, and is therefore stiled The faith of God's e'.eil'. It is a gift of God', an instance of his grace -, and a special blessing of the everlafling covenant; it is not obtained by the industry, power and will of man ; it is implanted in the heart by the Spirit of God, and the power of his grace -, whence it is said to be the faith of the operation of God". This grace has a considerable place and concern in the justification of a poor sinner before God, in the court of conscience. This is the eye of the soul, by which it fees and looks unto the righteousness of Christ for justification ; for that in the gospel is revealed from faith tojaith w; it is the hand of the soul, by which it receives the blessing from the Lord, even righteousness from theGod of its salvation *; or in other words, by which it receives abundance of grace, and of the gift ofrighteousnessr~
■ Acts xxi. 28. * Rom. vi. 1, *. • Rom. vii. 7. » Gal. ii. 17.
* Rom. x. 4. ' Heb. xi. 1. • Tit. i. 1. * Ephe*. ii-. 8.
" Colose. ii. 12. * Rom. i. 17. * Psalm xxiv.5. * Rom.v. 17..
Hence such as are possessed of it, are said to be justified by ic; not by it as arv habit implanted in them by the Spirit of God -, for, as such, it is a branch of sanctification; nor as an act performed by them; for as such, it is their act and deed,, under the influence of the Spirit of God ; but relatively, organically, or objectively considered; that is, as it relates to, and is concerned with, or has for its object Christ's righteousness •, or as it is a means of apprehending and receiving that as its justifying one-, for faith itself doth not make us righteous; it is not our righteousness, nor does it give us one ; no, nor an interest in Christ's; but it is that grace by which we claim our interest in Christ's righteousness; by which we have the knowledge and perception of it, and possess that spiritual peace, joy and pleasure which arise from it: it is that grace by which we live on Christ as the Lord our righteousness; who was delivered into the hands of justice and death for our offences; and was raised again for our justification7. Now faith, considered as having such an hand in this affair, is no way contrary to the law of God ; that is not made void by it; nor is obedience to it, on the account of faith, rendered unnecessary and insignificant, as will be shewn hereafter.
Again ; By faith may be meant the doctrine of faith ; and that either as it may intend in general the whole gospel, or in particular, the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ's righteousness. The whole gospel sometimes goes by the name ot faith, and is called, The faith once delivered to the saints; our most holy faith ; and the faith of the gospel1; because it contains things to be believed at once, upon the credit of the revealer, and not to be disputed by carnal reason : it proposes, and points out the great object of faith, Jesus Christ; its language is, Believe en the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved*: it is the means, in the Spirit's hands, of begetting and implanting the grace of faith in the hearts of God's elect : Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Godc. Yea, the word preached is unprofitable, unless it be mixed with faith by them that hear itd. Now there is an entire harmony and consistency between this doctrine' of faith and the law of God. The law is so far from being made void by ir, that whatsoever is against that, is also contrary to found doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, committed to the trust of his servants'. Moreover, since the apostle is manifestly insisting, in the context, upon the doctrine of a sinner's justification before God, it is reasonable to suppose, that this is' what he principally designs by faith; and it is not to be wondered at, that this should be so called ; since the grace of faith is of so much use in it, to the apprehension, knowledge and comfort of it; and since it is so fundamental an article of faith, that he that goes off from it, is said to be removed unto another gospel; Christ is become of no effect unto him : and whosoever seeks to be justified by the law, is fallen from grace(; that is, from the doctrine of it. Now by this particular doctrine also, the law is not made null and void; nor are good works, done in obedience to it, useless and unprofitable.
■ Rom. iv. 25. » Jade 3. Phil. i. 27^ * Acts xvi 3.1. « Rom. x. 17.
* Heb, iv. 2. • 1 Tim. i. 9—11. f Gal. i. 6. and v. 4.
By the law, I apprehend, we are to understand not the ceremonial law, that law which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and earnal ordinances imposed on them, the Jews, until the time of reformation1 \ that is, the gospeldispensation, or times of the Messiah; which law only had a shadow of good things to come, but not the very image of the things; and could never, by its daily or yearly sacrifices, make the comers thereunto perfecth •, and therefore there was a disannulling of the commandment, for the weakness and unprofitableness of it*. This law is indeed made void and useless; Christ has broken down the middle wall of partition which stood between, separated and distinguished between Jew and Gentile v he has abolished in his flesh the enmity, that which was the cause of so much enmity between the people of Israel and the nations of the world, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances*; wherefore no man should now judge or condemn christians in respect of meat or drink, or of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath-days, which are a shadow vf things to come; but the body is of Christ ' ■, he is the sum and substance of all these ceremonies : nor was this law abolished and made void until it was fulfilled in and by Christ; for every type and figure, every shadow and sacrifice, every office and ordinance pertaining to that dispensation, had their entire accomplishment in him. But by the law in this our text, 1 judge, the moral law is intended ; that law which was written in Adam's heart in innocence ; some remains of which are to be observed in fallen man, and even among the Gentiles, destitute of a divine revelation; and because of the depravity of human nature, and the treachery of human memory, and because this law was ib much obliterated, and almost erased out of the hearts of men •, a new edition of it was delivered to Moses in writing, calculated particularly for the people of the Jews •, and which is opposed unto, and contradistinguished from the gospel of Christ; the law was given by Mrfes, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ m. The sum of this law is love to God and to our neighbour; and is established by sanctions of rewards and punistiments, promising life in case of obedience, and threatening with death in case of disobedience.
Now to make void the law, according to the import of the word here used,' is to destroy and abolish it, to render it idle, inactive, weak, useless, and insignificant'1; and to establish it, according to the notation of the word in the text, is to make it stand, to place it upon a sure basis and firm foundation, or to make it effectual to answer the ends and purposes for which it is designed*.
c Heb. ix. »o. * Heb y. t. « Heb. vii. 18. k Ephes. ii. 14, 15.
' Loose, ii. 16, 17. » John i. 17.
• .-, KaTajyf.aiir, inutilem reddimus. five ot.osam Sc ignavam, omnibusque viribus deflitutam. Hcc enirti &$yvt vocant Græci quasi xtrym cui opponitur fi-jy©-. Beza in loc. * i.-*7*u tlabilimus, id til, firmain & eflioacem reddimus ut opponkur ru naraf/m. Ib.
Upon the whole, the observation on the text, or the doctrine of it, is this •, that the moral law is not made null and void, but is established both by the grace and doctrine of faith. The proposition consists ot two parts, a negative and an affirmative. I (hall first consider the one, and then the other.
First, The negative part of the proposition is, That the law of Godfis not made void either by the grace or doctrine of faith.
1. Not by the grace of faith. It is certain, indeed, that believing and working, or faith and works, are continually opposed to, and contradistinguished from each other in the business of justification; every one that has read his Bible, with any care, will be able to observe this. How often does the apostle fay, that a man is justified by faith., without the deeds of the law p •, and that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ ? Even we, fays he, have believed in Jesus Christ, that Wj might be justified by the faith of Christ, and net by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified*. And again ; To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that juftifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness1. But then it should be known, that faith is not opposed to the doing of good works, in obedience to the law of God, from right principles, and with right views ; but to trusting to, and depending upon them, and glorying in them, as the matter of justification before God, and acceptance with him ; for that there is an entire agreement and consistency between faith in Christ, and works done in obedience to the law upon gospel principles, will clearly appear from the following hints. Let it be observed then,
That that fairh only is right, which looks to and lays hold upon Christ's righteousness for justification, that is attended with good works, as fruits of righteousness ; for as the apostle James fays, What doth it ■profit, my brethren, though a man fay be hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone': and such a faith can never be true and genuine, nor of any use and advantage; though good works do not, and cannot justify a man's person before God ; yet they justify a man's faith, or evidence the truth of it before men ; they are fruits of faith, and ib testimonies of the reality of it. A man may fay, adds the fame apostle, thou hast faith and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my •worksx. Yea, he further observes, that by works faith is made serf eel; and that, as the body without the spirit is dead; so faith without works is dead also ". Not that the essence, perfection, and life of faith lie in, or flow from works; but
because,, because, as one rightly judges w, works are second acts, necessarily flowing from the life of taith ; and faith is said to be perfected by them, not with an essential perfection, as the effect is perfected by the cause; but with a complemental one, as the cause is made perfect, or rendered actually complete in the production of the effect.
t Rom. iii. 28. 1 Gal. ii. 16. * Rom. iv. 5. ' James ii. 14, 17.
1 Jaaiw ii. 18. "James ii. 22, 26. ' 1
Faith is not an idle, inactive, inoperative grace ; but a very industrious, active, and working one •, it works by love to God and Christ, to fellow-christians and fellow-creatures; and love, by which faith works, takes a large compass of operation •, it is very extensive, both as to its objects and its acts. Hence that which is perfect, as it is in Christ, is the fulfilling of the law ; and though love is imperfect in the saints, yet so far as it acts aright, it acts in agreement with the law ; and therefore the law can never be made void by that faith which operates by it. Owe no man any thing, faith the apostle, but to love one another ; for he that lovetb another, hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou /halt not commit adultery ; Thou shalt not kill; Thou (halt not steal; Thou shalt nut bear false Witness; Thou shalt not Covet ; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this faying; namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law \
Again ; As faith without works is dead; so, on the other hand, works without faith, are dead works also ; yea, Whatsoever is not of faith is sin r; and without faith it is impossible to please God7, or to perform any duty acceptable unto him. Hence the law, and obedience to it, can never be made void by this grace, and the exercise of it, or its concern in justification •, since the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned1-.
Besides, believers, or such as have true faith in Christ and his righteousness, are the only persons that are capable of yielding spiritual obedience to the law, or of performing good works in a spiritual manner. Men miy as loon expect to gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles, as to imagine that good works, such as are in all their circumstances so, can be performed by an evil man.
Ames. Medulla Theolog 1. 2. c. 7. $ 35. 36. p. 242,243.
» Rom. xiii 8—10 r Rom. xiv. 13. * Heb. xi. 6. » 1 Tim. i. 5.
•> liphei. ii Jo. « Ephes. iv 24.
Men must become the workmanship of God, and be created in Christ Jejus, in order to perform good works; whichGod hath before ordained that we should wali in them b; they must be made new creatures, and put on the new man; which after God is created in, Hi, unto righteousness and true holinessc; and such as are born again,
who who have the Spirit of Christ within them, the grace of Christ bestowed on them, and particularly, have the grace of faith, and that in exercise, are best qualified for doing works of real righteousness, and acts of true holiness : of all men in the world, such as have believed in Christ, as the Lord their righteousness and strength, ought to be careful to maintain good works for necessary uses ; and these, indeed, are zealous of them, and are heartily desirous of performing more than they do, to testify their love to Christ, and to adorn his doctrine •, which doctrine of grace teaches them, that denying ungodliness and worldly lust, they stjould live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world d.
*' Fides il!a quæ fine ch:uicati« ope;ibus exillit dic'tur mortua, Jac ii 26. Non quia ftdei vita ab operibus fluit, /ed quia opera sunt actus secundi ex fidei vita necessario duentes. Fides ex operibus diciturperfici, Jac. ii. 82. Non eslentiali perfectione, sicut effectum perficitur a causa; fed complimenta^i, sicut causa perficitur, aut actucompleta redditur, in productione effect!.
Add to these things, that that faith which is concerned in a sinner's justification, looks to Christ as the end, the fulfilling end of the law for righteousness ; it lays hold upon a righteousness which is every way commensurate to the law of God ; which answers all its demands, and gives it all it requires •, a righteousness with which God is well p'eased, justice is satisfied, and by which the Jaw is magnified and made honourable c •, a righteousness that is complete and perfect, pure and spotless-, by which all the feed of Israel shall be justified, and in which they shall glory: wherefore that faith which spies this in Christ, looks to him for it, and fays, SureJy in the Lord have I righteousness and strengthf; can never be contrary to the law of God, or do any thing by which that is made void and useless.
2. Nor is the law made void by the doctrine of faith, particularly by the doctrine of justification by faith in the righteousness of Christ. Indeed, according to this doctrine, the law does not justify, nor can any man be justified by the deeds of it •, the law neither has, nor can it have, any such use, since the fall or man •, this makes the righteousness of anocher necessary, and justification to proceed on another foot : For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, and. for fin condemned sin in the flesh ;■ that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in usB. Man, through sin is dead; and he must be made alive before he is capable of working righteousness, or of yielding obedience to the law-, there must be life before there can be righteousness. Now if there had been a law which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the lawb: but inasmuch as there never was any such law which could give life to a dead sinner, there can be no justification by it. The argument.used by the apostle, is sufficient to give satisfaction to any one that has any regard to Christ or true Christianity ;. if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain'; but though this use of the law is set aside by the doctrine of faith, yet all its real and proper uses continue untouched by it, and remain in full force ; we know that the law is good if Vol. I. E e a man a tnan use it lawfully k. There is a lawful and there is an unlawful use of the law; the unlawful use of the law is to seek for life, righteousness and salvatic>n by if j the lawful uses of ir, and which are not made void by the doctrine of faith, arc such as these :
A Tituiiii. 8. and ii. 11,12. • Il'ai xlii. 21. ' liai. x'.v. 'i j, 25.
« Rom. viii. 34. h Gal. iii. zi. ' Gal. ii. 21.
One use of the law is, to inform us of the mind and will of God ; ir is a transcript of his holy nature and unchangeable will •, and therefore is itself/Wy, just and good1; as it must needs be, since it comes from him ; it teaches us what is that good, and acceptable, and perfetl will of God; it points out to us our duty both toGod and man ; what should be done or not done by us-, it directs us to love the Lerd our God with all our bears, foul, and strength ; and to love our neighbour as ourselves; which, in a few Words, contain the sum and substance of it.
Another use of the law is, to convince of fin •, for by the law is the knowledge osJinm; of fin original and actual, of the sin of our hearts and nature, as well as of the sin of our lips, lives and actions: I had not known sin, fays the apostle, but by the law: for I had not known lust, that is, known it to be a sin, and' sinful, accept the law had said, Thou ftjalt not covet \ Not that the law can or does^ of itself, really and thoroughly^ spiritually and savingly, convince of sin ; for this is the work of the Spirit of God : but then the Spirit of God makes use of the law to work in men thorough convictions of their sinful, lost, and miserable condition by nature.
Again ; Another use of the law, not made void by the doctrine of faith, is,. to be as a glass to believers themselves; to behold therein by the light of the divine Spirit, the deformity of their fouls by sin, and the imperfection of their obedience; whereby they grow out of love with themselves, and quit all dependence on their own righteousness for justification. So the apostle Paul, comparing himself, his heart and services, with the pure and holy law of God, thus expresses himself; IVe know that the law is spiritual; but 1 am carnal, sold under sin °. In this view of things the psalmist David was able to make such an observation as this; I have seen an end os all persctlion; thy commandment is exceeding broadv; that is, " I see that the law of God is so large and broad, and my obe" dience to it so short of ir, and so imperfect, that I despair of ever attaining " perfection by the deeds of it." It was, no doubt, by the light of the Spirit, and as beholding herself in the glass of the law, that the churcli saw, and so said, that her righteousness was as filthy rags, and herself as an unclean thingq. Hence,
There is a farther use of the law to believers, and that is, to make the righteousness of Christ more dear and valuable to them : for when they see how imperfect their own righteousness is, and how far short of the demands of the righteous law of God their obedience comes; and when they behold what an everlasting lasting righteousness Christ has brought in; how perfect it is in itself, and how agreeable to the law ; insomuch that ic is not only fulfilled by it, but magnified and made honourable; they are at once delighted with it, fix upon it, and desire to be-found in Christ ; not having their own righteousness, which is of the law., but that which is through the faith of Christ; the righteousness which is of Cod by faith'.
* i Tim. 1. 8. ' Rom. vii. it. ■ Rom. iii *cf. » Chap. vii. 7.
0 Rom. vii, 14. » Psalm cxix 96. * Isai.lxiv. 6.
Once more; Another use and office of the law is, that it is a rule of life, thaj: is,. of action, walk and conversation to the saints; who are not without law toGod* but under the law to Christ': and as it is in the hands of Christ, and held forth by him, as King of faints, and lawgiver in his church, it is to be observed and attended to by them ; and as persons born again, being under the influences of the blesled Spirit, and having lots gracious assistance, they delight in the law of God, as ter the inward man-, and though ivith the flesh, they sometime?, to their great regret and sorrow, serve the law offm; yet, at other times they are enabled chearfully, and with the mind, tpserve the law of God1'.
To fay no more •, though God's justified ones are, as such, delivered from the wrath and condemnation of the law; Christ having redeemed them from thence by being made a curse for them "; and having the sentence of condemnation executed upon him, ,which their sms deserved ; so that there is now no condemnation lo them that are in him " ; they are paired from death to life, and (hall ,never enter into condemnation : yet the law remains a curling and damning law to others ; it lies against Christless sinners ; it pronounces them guilty, and accurses them ; it fays to them that are of the works of it, and are under it, Cursed is every one th.1t continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them"-; yea, it is the killing letter, the ministration of condemnation and death unto them. Thus the law, as to these uses of it, both to saints and sinners, is not made void by the doctrine of faith.
Perhaps it will be asked, Is not the law, in some fense, destroyed and abolimed ? Does not the apostle fay to believers, Te are not under the law, but under grace7 ? Yea, he.affirms that they are become dead to the law by the body of Christ ; and tbar. they are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein they were held *. And elsowhere *, he argues from the former glory of the law, to the more excelling glory of the gospel, thus; If that which is done away, that is, the law, was glorious, much more that which retnaineth, that is, the everlasting gospel, is glorious. To which I answer,
That the law, as a covenant of works, is abolished, and done away; in this fense, it is made void to believers.
' Phi), iii. 9. • 1 Gor. ix. 21. ' Rom. vii. 22, 25. ■ Gal. iii. Ij.
w Rom.viii. 1. * Gal. iii. 10. 1 Rom. vi. 14. * Chap.vii. 4, 6.
* 2 Cor. iii. 11.
Adam was a covenant head and representative of all his posterity, in which he was a figure of him that was to come ;
E e 2 the the law was given to him and to all mankind in him, promising life on condicion of obedience, and threatening with death in case of transgression. Adam soon broke this covenant, whereby sm entered into the world, and death by sin % and so death passed upon all men ! for in him all have finued", God's elect themselves not excepted. These were considered in Adam, their natural and federal head ; they sinned in him, and fell with him •, the sentence of death passed on them as on others; the reason why it was not, and never will be executed upon rhem, is, because Chritt, in the everlasting covenant, became their surety and substitute ; engaged to bear the punishment of their fins, and make satisfaction to the law and justice ofGod for them-, which he has done by his sufferings and death; and so has delivered them from the law, as a covenant of works ; and from all that misery, destruction and death, it entailed upon them : wherefore they are not under the law, as a covenant of works, but under grace, the covenant of grace.
Again; The law is abolished and done away, as to the form of administration of it by Moses. The whole frame of the Mosaic oeconomy is broke to pieces; which was signified by the two' tables of stone being cast out of his hands and broken, when he came down from the mount; which were afterwards renewed, and put into the ark, a type of Christ ; in whose hands, and not in the hands of Moses, is the law to be considered. The Jews said to the poor blind man, that was cured by Christ, Thou art his, that is, Christ's disciple; but lie areMoses-'s disciples'. They valued themselves upon the latter; we christians upon the former. Moses, indeed, was a faithful servant; btit he was only a servant: Christ is a Son over bis own house •, and it is he that we are to hearken to. When Moses and Etias were with Christ on the mount, at the timeof his transfiguration, a voice was heard, saying, This is my be'ovedSon, in whom I am Tell pleased: bear ye him*;. not Moses and Elias, but hear the well-beloved Son/
Moreover, the law is destroyed as a yoke of bondage. As it was a covenant of works, and as administered under the former dispensation, it tended to bondage, and induced a servile spirit on those that were under it. It was not only a rigid schoolmaster, but a severe task-master; not only setting hard lessons, but requiring strict and perfect obedience, without giving any strength to perform,- or directing where it is to be had ; but now, in Christ's hands, it is a perfect law of libertyc; and such as are called by grace, are made a willing people in the day of Christ's power upon them ; not only to be saved alone by him, but to yield a. chearful obedience to the law, as given forth by him. In this view of it, its commandments are not grievous; this yoke is easy, 3nd this burden is light; the saints serve it with pleasure, net in the oldness of the letter, but in newness of spirit-1 .'■'■
b Rom. T. ix, 14. c John ix. *8. •'" * M»tt. xrii. 5.
• J*me«i. 15. f Rom. vii. 6. p>
Likewise, As has been already observed, the people of God are freed from the malediction of it, and condemnation by it, and so from the terror of it ; it ,b a terrifying law, as it is a cursing and damning one-, wherefore, to such, who desire to be under it, it may be said, what the apostle did, Do ye not hear the law1? it speaks wrath and vengeance, cursing and bitterness-, it is a voice of •words, of terrible words; which they that heard at mount Sinai, intreated that the -word should not be spoken to them any more; for they could not endure that which •was commanded. But now the cafe is different with us under the gospel-dispensation j the scene is altered ; the face of things is changed ; we hear a different voice-, love, grace and mercy, instead of wrath and vengeance; blessing and' salvation, in the room of curling and condemnation : we are not come unto the mount that m ght be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest -, but we are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem -, and to an innumerable company os angels; to the general assembly, and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven -, and to God the Judge of all; and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that fpeaketh better things than that, of xbel h.\
Once more -, The law is abrogated and made void, with respect to justification. We are not to seek for, and expect Use and righteousness by obedience to it; and should we, our seeking would be in vain, and our expectation would be disappointed,. Israel, which followed aster the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousnejs. Wherefore? because they fought it not by faith but as it were by the works of the law '. The same success attends all those who pursue the same scheme, and take the same methods; by which they discover their ignorance, vanity and pride; their ignorance of the strictness of the justice of God.; their vain opinion and conceit of their own righteousness; and their haughty and contemptuous rejection of the righteousness of Christ ; all which is expressed in these few words ; For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish a righteousness of their own, have not submitted themselves ■ unto the righteousness of God*. This is to act contrary to God's declared way and method of justifying sinners. There can be no justification by the deeds of the law ; this use of the law is entirely abolished; we are not to obey it with any such'view, or for such a purpose ; no, we are to yield obedience to it, as in the hands of Christ, from a principle of love to him -, and to express our gratitude for the rmraerous mercies we receive from him, and through him; and to testisyour professed subjection, and our sense of obligation to him.
But nowv though the law is made void as a covenant of works, it still conti-Dues a rule of action, walk and conversation ; though it is done, away as to those rm . form cf the administration of it by Masts, the matter, the sum and substance of •it remains firm, unalterable, and unchangeable in the hands of Christ ; though it is destroyed as a yokt of bondage, it is in being as * perfect law of liberty; and though believers are delivered from the curse and condemnation of it, they are not exempted from obedience to it», and though they are not to seek for justification by it, they arc under the greatest obligations, by the strongest tics of love, to have a regard to all its commands. So much for the negative part of the proposition. I proceed, ' ■••*
s Gal. iv. zi. h Heb. xii. 18—zo, 22—24. l Rom.ix 3», 32. k Roai x. 3.
Secondly, To consider the affirmative, and to shew that the law is established by the grace and doctrine of faith. ■ •
The perpetuity of the law is maintained hereby. The grace of faith always views the law in the hands of Christ, looks to him as the fulfilling end of ir, and is attended with works done in obedience to it. According to the doctrine of justification by faith in the righteousness of Christ, all the precepts of the law are fulfilled, its penalty endured, and that itself continued as a rule of righteousness. The law, upon the gospel-scheme, is as unchangeable, and more so than the laws of the Medes and Persians; not one jot or tittle of it has pastedaway, nor shall ever pass away •, for all is fulfilled, and will be preserved.
The spirituality of the law is asserted and secured upon the foot of faith, and the doctrine of it. The Pharisees of old, as much as in them lay, made void the law, as to the spirituality of it, at the same time they pretended to be advocates for it; by insinuating as though the law only regarded the external actions of life, and was not concerned about the secret motions, inward thoughts and lusts of the heart: whereas, such as have believed in Christ, and understand his gospel, have other notions of the law ; and know, that it is spiritual1. A true believer, in the exercise of the grace of faith, beholds the inward corruption of his heart and nature ; and mourns over it, as contrary to the pure and holy law of God ; and at the fame time, according to the doctrine of faith, with pleasure views, that he h justified by the b'ood of Christ, even by that blood which cleansetb from all fin m, of heart, lip, and life.
The perfeel righteousness of the law is established by faith, and the doctrine of it. Whatever the law requires, according to this doctrine, is given ir. Does it require pure and spotless holiness of nature ? There is in Christ an entire conformity to it in this respect ; who is holy, harmless and undefiled; and as such, is an high priest that becomes us, is suitable to us, as being our fanctification and our righteousness. Does the law require sinless and perfect obedience to all its commands ? Christ has always done the things that pleased his Father, and has done all the things that are pleasing to him ; he has perfectly obeyed the whole preceptive part of the law. Does the law require of, and threaten transgressors with die penalty of death ? Christ being made fin, was made a curse for his people, and.became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. So that the law, in all respects, is magnified, and made honourable by him, according to the doctrine of faith. We bring to the law in Christ our head, Ot rather he in our room and stead, a righteousness which answers all the demand's of itr and casts a lustre and glory upon it: and indeed, all the obedience of angels and men put together, does nor, and cannot give the law such glory and honour as the obedience and righteousness of Christ does. Whence it is clear, that the law u so far- from being made void, that it is thoroughly established by it.
with 1 Rom. vii. 14. » Cbap. v. 9. 1 John L 7. .. '•
Obedience to the law by believers, is enforced upon them by the best of motives, and yielded to it by them, under the best: of influences •, it is enforced on gospel motives and principles-. Read over the epistles of the apostle Paul, particularly those to the Ephesians and Coloffians, and you will easily see how the saints are exhorted to all the duties of life, incumbent on them in their families, the churches, and the world ; and are encouraged to a performance of them upon the principles of grace, and by the doctrines of it •, and according to the covenant of grace, they have the best assistance promised, provided and afforded to them. I will put my law in their inward- patUy lays the Lord n, and. I will write it in their hear/s. And again ; J will put my spirit withinyou, and cause you to walk in my statutes ; and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them ".
Once more ; By the doctrine of faith we establish the law, or make it stand ; because we place it in the best of hands, and upon the surest foundation. The law was put into the hands of Adam; bur it did nor long continue there •, it was quickly transgressed and broken. The two tables of stone, with the law written on them, were put into Moses's hands; but he, as he came down from the mount, cast them out of his hands, and broke them to pieces beneath it: but now the law, according to the doctrine of faith, is put into the hands of Christ; and there it stands, and will stand firm and sure to all generations ; yea, it will stand unchangeable and unalterable to all eternity. We fay, 'The Lord is cur Judge, the Lord, is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King, and he will save usp.
In this view of the law, how amiable and lovely must it look in the eyes of saints ! they cannot but delight in it, as satisfied by Christ, and take pleasure in obeying it, as it is in his hands : the language of their fouls is that of David's, 0 how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the dayq. And as there is a pleasure attends an observance of it, there is peace in it •, though it doth not arise from it, nor is founded on it: Great peace have they wbkh love thy law, and nothing shall offend them'. Such as are believers in Christ, ought not only to be careful to maintain, but even to excel, to go before others in good works.
■ Jcr. xxxi. 33. • Ezek. xxxvi. 27. t Isei. xxxviii. 21.
« Psalm CXU..97. * Psalm.ciix. 165.
Let us, therefore, by divine assistance, (hew, by our Jives and conversations, the truth of this doctrine, that " the law is not made void, but established by the gospel." Let us, as it is the will of God we should, with well-doing put to silence the ignorance of foolish men; and shame them who salfly accuse our good conversation in Christ. Let us make it appear, throughout the whole of our conduct, under the gracious influences of the Spirit of God, that we have a proper regard to the unchangeable law of God, as to the everlasting gospel of Christ Jesus.