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there had been no need of an express commandment against it ; and we shall be acting a very foolish part, if, when we hear God condemning it, we ourselves make little account of it. Rather we should be thankful that it has pleased God to make the sinfulness of it known to us by levelling the curse against it; and so, humbling ourselves on the sight of our apostasy, betake ourselves to him who was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, even Jesus Christ our Saviour, to whom, &c.
GALATIANS iü. 24.
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we
might be justified by faith.
After having completed the explanation of the whole law, contained in the ten commandments, yet once more I take up the same subject, in order to lay out before you more fully than I have yet done the use of the law.
Now the very giving out of the law shows the use we must make of it. The giving out of the law plainly implies these several things :
First. That sin is in the world. A revealed moral law is perfectly needless to reasonable creatures in a state of perfection, seeing they have the whole knowledge and practice of all duty in their very nature. To what purpose should God say to the holy angels, Ye shall love the Lord with all your mind and strength, and one another as yourselves,' when already they perfectly know and perfectly do this, and there is not the least inclination in them to do anything else ? Accordingly, when our first parents were in their state of innocency, there was no moral law charged upon them, though they were God's subjects; for they had both the knowledge and practice thereof in themselves. There was no more need to bid Adam love God than there is to bid you or me love ourselves.
Secondly.-The giving out of the law not only supposes that sin is in the world, but also that sin is not known to be sin. This is universally true. Sin is not known till some law shows it, seeing sin is the transgression of a law. The depraved nature of man is ever ready to call evil good, to pass by that as nothing which is most provoking and dishonourable to God, and especially to hide its own malignant wickedness under the smoothing titles of human frailty and imperfection. To this day no man knows sin to be sin till the law shows it him : and if after many ages God saw fit to collect into two tables the sum of man's duty, and to give it out in a most awful manner, it was but doing that in a more express way, with a special view to the approaching appearance of Christ in the world, which he had before found necessary to do by direct revelations, and the maintenance of his law upon men's consciences by tradition. Sin doth not appear to be sin without the law.
Thirdly.The giving out of the law implies also that the consequences of sin are not regarded. The love of sin in men's hearts, and the prevalency of its practice in the world, make it look like a harmless thing, which may be meddled with without danger. With the ten commandments in our hands, and the curse against transgression of the least of them in our ears, how easy do we sit down about the fearful consequences of sin in judgment and eternity! And how little then should we have thought of these consequences, had sin been left in the quiet possession of us, and we never been told by divine authority that the wages of it is death.
And, Fourthly, By the giving out of the law is evidently implied the purpose of mercy through Jesus Christ. Had there been no design of mercy, there could have been no end answered by giving out a law, which in that case we could not in any sort keep, when also our misery as sinners was determined before. But when the divine Majesty has a scheme of mercy in hand, which cannot effectually take place unless our sins be known, and the consequences of them apprehended, to give out the law by which both sin, and its consequence, death, are plainly set forth to view, is to declare in the very doing it the design of mercy, because it is taking the only method that could be taken of bringing us to it.
Yet, Fifthly, As the design of mercy is implied in giving out the law, so also this further design, that they who are brought to partake of this mercy, through the discovery of their sin and danger by the law, might find in the very same law a perfect rule after which to square their hearts and lives. Indeed the main end of all is conformity to the law, to which both the
knowledge of sin and its danger by the law, and the purpose mercy in Christ, are subservient; the law sending us to Christ for mercy, that being encouraged and enabled by him we may walk in conformity to God's commandments, imperfectly here, and wholly hereafter.
From these observations the use we are to make of the commandments appears to be this :
First.—That we learn our guilt and misery by them.
Secondly. - That the sense of our guilt and misery by them do bring us unto Christ.
And, Thirdly. - That, being brought unto Christ, we do diligently walk in them.
First.— Therefore, as you intend to profit by the commandments, you must learn your guilt and misery by them. What I mean by your misery is plainly this, that if you have disobeyed God by breaking any of God's commandments, there is a curse lying against you for it. For the curse threatened against Adam, . In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,'* lies against you as well as him, not only for his transgression, but every personal one of your own.
« Thou shalt surely die,' a temporal death speedily, and, if not prevented by mercy, an eternal death in the world to come. You do not doubt of Adam's misery after his transgression, unless relieved by God's pardoning mercy; and you have no reason to doubt of your own without the saine mercy. You see Adam, after eating the forbidden fruit, a poor condemned criminal, trembling before his Judge, and expecting nothing else but the execution of his sentence, without the least hope or remedy in himself. If God had resolved to strike him dead that moment, and put in force against him all the further terrors implied in that word, Thou shalt surely die, he had nothing to gainsay to it, he could not prevent it. And if you have sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, put forth your hand and done that which God charged you you should not do, why is not your case as remediless as his ? Has not God pronounced the sentence of death for it against you as well as him? And what can you do more than he could to prevent it? More than he could, can you prevent present death ? Adam is dead,
• Gen. ii. 17.
and so shall you also soon be. And what power have you, more than had Adam, to prevent death eternal ? If therefore you have sinned, the sentence of death is gone out against you already, which you have no power to reverse in the whole extent of it; no more power to prevent eternal than present death. And, that you may know you have transgressed, God has given out his law. Your business is to prove and try yourself by it. To help you in doing which, the whole of it has been explained ; and you have continually found yourself guilty, commandment after commandment. But, to assist you in fixing on your heart the whole extent of your guilt, it may not be amiss to lay all the charge of the law before you in a few words, and in such manner as to help your inquiries after your sins. Take therefore a summary of the ten commandments; but in an order different from that in which they stand, for the better ascertaining the whole extent of your sins, and the connexion which they have one with another.
Let us begin with the fourth commandment. Have you not been wanting in the public honour you are required to pay to God by a religious observance of the sabbath-day? If you have,
Let us pass to the third commandment. Have you not also been wanting in paying honour to God in the whole of your conduct, by acting in everything as became your dependence upon him, and his government over you? If here also you are guilty, Let us pass to the second commandment, and ask, if you
have put no slight upon his honour in respect of the worship due to him, either by neglecting it, or behaving irreverently in it ? Now you cannot but be sensible that it was your duty publicly to honour God ; and that you could do so no other way than by worshipping him, acting always in such a manner as became your dependence upon him, and solemnly observing that day which he has purposely separated for the maintenance and manifestation of his honour and name in the world. But here you have been wanting. Why ? Surely because you had not a right disposition of heart towards God.
This leads to the first commandment; you had not that belief of God's being and glorious perfections, that reverence of