ページの画像
PDF
ePub

which only reached the flesh, and the sanctifying of that: but the moral law is so spiritual in its nature and requireinents, that so holy and spiritual a man as the apostle Paul, when he compared himself with it, and viewed himself in the glass of it, thought himself carnal, and sold under sin. The law reaches to the thoughts and intents of the heart, and the affections of the mind, and forbids and checks all irregular and inordinate motions in it, and the lusts of it. Thus, for instance, the sixth cominand not only forbids actual murder, but all undue heat, passion, angei, wrath, malice, resentment, and revenge, conceived in the mind, and expressed by words. So the seventh command not only prohibits the outward acts of uncleanness, as fornication, adultery, &c. but all unclean thoughts, impure desires, and unchaste affections, as well as looks and words, The law directs, not only to an external worship of God, but to an internal, spiritual one; as to love the Lord, to fear him, and put trust and confidence in hiin, suitable to his nature as a Spirit; it requires of a man to serve it with his own mind and spirit, with his whole heart, as the apostle did, Rom. vii. 25. and the assistance of the Spirit of God is necessary to the observance of it; and God in covenant has promised his people, that he will put his spirit within them, and cause them to walk in his statutes, and keep his judgments, and do them, Ezek. xxxvi. 27.–3. The law is holy; so it is said to be, Rom, vii. 12. and the commandinent holy; it comes from an holy God, from whom nothing un, holy can proceed; for holiness is his nature, and he is holy in all his works ; and the law is a transcript of his holy will; the matter of it, or what it requires, is holy; even sanctification of heart and life; and it directs to live holily, soberly, righteously, and godly, in this evil world. — 4. It is also just, as well as holy and good, Rom. vii. 12. There are no laws so righteous as the laws of God; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether, Psal. xix, 9. It is impartial unto all, and requires the same of one as of another, and renders to every man according to his works; it is just in condemning wicked men for sin, and in justifying those that have a righteousness answerable to its demands ; for God is just, according to his law, whilst he is the justifier of those that beJieve in Jesus, - 5. The law is good; the Author of it is good only, essentially, originally good; from whom every good and perfect gift comes, and nothing that is evil and bad, The law is materially good, it is morally good; as God by the light of nature, so much more by the law of Moses, does he shew to men that which is good; in it he sets before them the good they are to do; and the evil they are to avoid; it is pleasantly good; not to an unregenerate man, whose carnal mind is enmity to all that is good, and so to the law of God; but 1o a regenerate man, who, as the apostle, delights in the law of God after the inner man, and loves it, as David did, and meditates on it, as every good man does, Rom. vii. 22. Psal. cxix. 97. And it is also profitably good; not to God, for when men have done all they can, they are, with respect to God unprofitable servants, Luke xvii. so, but to men, their fellow-creatures, and fellow christians, to whom they are serviceable, by their good works, Tit. ii. 8. and

also to themselves; for though not for, yet in keeping the commands there is great reward, as peace of conscience, Psal. xix. II. The law is good, if a man use it lawfully, 1 Tim. i. 8. There is a lawful, and an nnlawful use of the law; it is used unlawfully when men seek to obtain life and righteousness by it; for the law cannot give life, nor is righteousness by it; nor can men be justified by the works of it, in the sight of God; for no man can perfectly keep it; there is not a just man that does good and sins not: but it is lawfully used when obeyed in faith, from a principle of love, with a view to the glory of God, without any selfish and sinister ends. Which leads me to consider inore particularly,

III. The uses of the law both to sinners and saints. -- To sinners. - 1. To convince of sin. Sin is a transgression of the law, by which it is known that it is sin, being forbidden by the law; By the law is the knowledge of sin; not only of gross actual sins; but of the inward lusts of the mind; I had not known last, says the apostle except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet, Rom. vii. 7. Yet only as it is used by the Spirit of God, who holds it up to a mind enlightened by him, whereby it sees the sinfulness of it; for it is the Spirits work savingly to convince of sin; which he does by means of the law. – 2. To restrain from sin; of this use are the laws of inen; hence civil .nagistrátes are terrors to evil doers: so the law, by its menaces, deters men from sin, when they are not truly convinced of the evil of it, nor humbled for it; though by such restraints, it does but rise and swell, and rage the more within, like a flood of water stopped in its course. — 3. To condemn and punish for sin; for sinners. it is made, and against them it lies, to their condemnation, unless justified in Christ, 1 Tim. 1.9. 10. It accuses of sin, charges with it; brings evidence of it; stops the sinners mouth from pleading in his own cause; pronounces guilty before God; and curses and condemns; it is the ininistration of condemnation and death; and iis sentence takes place where the righteousness of Christ is not imputed. --It is of use to saints and true believers in Christ. -1. To point out the will of God unto them; what is to be done by them, and what to be avoided; to inform them of, and urge them to their duty, both towards God and inan; for in that the whole of it lies. – 2. To be a rule of life and conversation to them; not a rule to obtain life by; but to live according to; to guide their feet, to direct their steps, and preserve them from going into bye and crooked paths. The wise man says, The commandment is a lamp and the law is light, Prov. vi. 23. And David, says Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light, untg my path Psal. cxix. 105 — 3. It is as a glass, in which a believer, by the light of the Spirit of God, may see his own face, what manner of man lie is: how deformed, how cârnal and corrupt, when compared with this law; and how far short of perfection he is in himself; I have seen an end of all perfection, says David; thy commandinent is exceeding broad; to which the imper fect works of men are not commensurate; hence good men are sensible thaç their own righteousness is insufficient to justify thein before God, ie being but

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

as rags, and those filthy ones. Hence, — 4. They are led to prize and value the righteousness of Christ, since that is perfectly agreeable to the holy and sighteous law of God; yea, by it the law is magnified and made honourable ; wherefore they desire to be found in Christ, not having on their own righteousness, but his: who is the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believes. Now,

wy. The law of God continues under the present dispensation for the said uses : Christ came not to destroy it, and loosen men's obligation to it; but to fulfil it; nor is the law made null and void by taith ; by the doctrine of justification by faith in the righteousness of Christ: so far from it, that it is established by it: there is a sense in which the law is done away, and saints are delivered from it; that being dead wherein they were held, as in a prison; and they become dead to it by the body of Christ, by his obedience and sufferings in it, Rom. vii. 4, 6.

1. It does not continue as a covenant of works; and, indeed, it was not delivered to the children of Israel as such, strictly and properly speaking, only in a typical sense ; though the Jews turned it to such a purpose, and sought righteousness and life by it: but God never made a covenant of works with men since the fall, in order to their obtaining life and salvation by it; for it never was in the power of man since to perform the conditions of such a covenat; however, it is certain, believers are not under the law as a covenant of works; but under grace as a covenant of grace.

2. Nor does it continue as to the form of administration of it by Moses ; it is now no longer in his hands, nor to be considered as such; the whole Mosaic oeconomy is broke to pieces, and at an end, which was prefigured by Moses casting the two tables of stone out of his hands, and breaking them, when he came down from the mount: the law, especially as it lies in the Decalogue ; and as to the form of the administration of that by Moses, was peculiar to the Jews; as appears by the preface to it, which can agree with none but them; by the time of worship prescribed them in the fourth command, which was temporary and typical; and by the promise of long life in the land of Canaan, annexed to the fifth command.

3. It continues not as a terrifying law to believers, who are not come to mount Sinai, and are under that stormy and terrible dispensation; but they are come to mount Sion, and to all the privileges of a gospel-church-state: nor are they brought into bondage by its rigorous exactions; on a strict compliance to which, or perfect obedience thereto, their peace and comfort do not depend: nor are they awed and urged by its menaces and curses, to an observation of it; but are constrained, by the love of God and Christ, to run with chearfulness the way

of its commandments; they are made willing to serve it with their mind and spirit, through the power and efficacy of divine grace upon them; and they do serve it, not in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of the spirit; or, as they are renewed by the free Spirit of God.

4. Noi is it a cursing and condemning law to the saints. As sinners and transgressors of it, they are subject to its curses; but Christ has redeeined thern from the curse of the law, being made a curse for them; and so there is no more curse to them here or hereafter ; they are out of the reach of its curses, and of condemnation by it; there is none to them that are in Christ: Who shall condemn? it is Christ that died; and who by dying has bore their sentence of condemnation, and freed them froin it; and having passed from death to life, they shall never enter into condemnation, Gal. iii. 10, 13. John v. 24.

5. Yet it continues as a rule of walk and conversation to them, as before observed; and is to be regarded by them as in the hands of Christ; by whom it is held forth as King and Lawgiver, in his church: and who, and not Moses, is to be heard, and his voice hearkened to, as the Son and Master, in his own house. Believers, though freed from the law, in the sense before declared, yet are not without law to God, but under the law to Christ, and obliged to regard it; and the rather, as it was in his heart, and he was made under it, and has ful-' filled it; and therefore may be viewed and served with pleasure, 1 Cor. ix. 21.

[ocr errors]

OF THE GOSPEL. THERE

HERE was Gospel in the former dispensation, though called the legal dispen; sation; it was preached to Adam, to Abraham, and by Isaiah, and other prophets, as has been observed. Yet there is a clearer revelation and ministration of it under the present dispensation; as the law was by the ministration of Moses; Grace and truth, the word of grace and truth, the gospel, came by' Jesus Christ, in a clearer and fuller manner than it had been made known before. Concerning which the following things may be noted.

1. The name and signification of it. The Greek word svayisatov,' used for it throughout the New Testament, signifies, a good message, good news, glad idings; such the gospel is; a message, of good news from God, from heaven, the far country, to sinners here on earth: such was the gospel Christ was anointed to preach, and did preach, even good tidings, Luke iv. 18. Isai. Ixi. 1. and which his ministers bring, whose feet are beautiful upon the mountains, Acts xiii. 32, 33. The Hebrew word nous used for the gospel, and the preaching of it, signifies good tidings also; and it is observed by some, to have the signification of flesh in it, which has led them to think of the incarnation oiChrist; which is, undoubtedly, good news to the children of men; and a con siderable branch of the gospel of Christ; what has given Isaiah the character of an evangelic prophet is, because he so clearly spoke of the incarnation of Christ as well as of his sufferings and death, as if then present in his time; To us a Child is born; to us a Son is given, Isai. ix. 6. And when the angel proclaim-' ed the birth of Christ to the shepherds, he is said, to bring good tidings of great jcy to all people, Luke ii, 10, 11. And this is one principal part of the gospel,

VOL. 11.

F

the great mystery of godliness; God manifest in the flesh, 1 Tim. iij. 16. Our English word gospel, is of Saxon derivation; in which language, spel signifies speech; and so gospel is either good speech, which carries in it the same ideą with the Greek and Hebrew words ; or God's speech, which he has spoken by his Son, by his prophets, and by his ministers; and is the voice of God the Son, the voice of Christ speaking in his ministers, and the voice of the Holy Ghost also.

Now this word is variously used; soinetimes it is put for the history of Christ's birth, life, and actions, such are the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Mark begins his history thụs; The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God, Mark i. 1. And Luke calls his gospel; The former treatise he had made, of all that Jesus began, both to do and teach, Acts.i, i. And hence these four writers are commonly called evangelists; though this ti, tle is sometimes given to others, as distinct from apostles, Eph. iv. 11. and even to ordinary ministers of the word, when they do the work of an evangelist, or preach the gospel faithfully, and make full proof of their ministry, 2 Tim. iv. 5. Sometimes the gospel is to be taken in a large sense, as including the word and ordinances, Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. Mark xvi. 15, 16. And sometimes strictly, for the doctrine of peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation by Christ; hence gospel-ministers, who bring good tidings of good, are said to publish peace, and to publish salvation, Isai. lii. 7. the sum of which is expressed by the apostle, when he says, This is a faithful saying, &c. 1 Tim. i.

. . 15. Hence, 1. The gospel is called, the gospel of salvation, the word of salvation, and salvation itself, Eph. i. 13. Acts xiii. 26. and xxviii. 28. because it gives an account of Christ, the author of salvation; of his appointment to it; of his mission, and coming into the world, to effect it; and of his actual performance of it; of his being the able, willing, and only Saviour; and of the salvation itself, as great and glorious, perfect and complete, spiritual and everlasting; and because it describes also the persons that share in it, sinners, sensible sinners, and who believe in Christ; and who according to the declaration of it, shall certainly be saved, and because it is, not only the means of revealing, but of applying salvation; for it is to them that believe the power of God unto salvation, Rom. i. 16.

11. It is called, The gospel of the grace of God, Acts xx. 24. because the sevesal doctrines of it are doctrines of grace, or which exhibits blessings as flowing from the grace of God; as election, redemption, pardon, justification, adoption, and eternal life; and particularly, that salvation, from first to last, is all of grace, ar.d not of works. Eph. ii, 8.

III, It is called, The gospel of peace, the word of reconciliation, the word preaching peace by Christ, Eph. vi. 15. 2 Cor. v. 19. Acts x. 36, because it ielates the steps taken in council and covenant; to form the scheme of man's peace with God; to lay the foundation of it; and to bring it about; hence call. od the council of peace, and the covenant of peace, Zech. vi. 13. And also relates the actual making of it: by whom, and by what means ; by Christ, who

« 前へ次へ »