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him, that love towards him, that trust in him, which this first commandment requires, and which, had they been in the entire possession of your heart, would have unavoidably and uninterruptedly caused you to worship him to his honour, to act for his glory, and to bear your testimony to his name by the most religious observance of his day. But what excluded from your heart these dispositions towards God ? It was sin, concupiscence or lust, dwelling in you ; which, with all its motions or desires, is condemned by the tenth commandment. And here the sins of commission have their foundation, and the reason is shown why you have been without the love of God and man in your heart, and acted so much to the dishonour of the one, and the hinderance of the other, as you have done. The root of all lies in your sinful nature, for which, as well as for all and every of its desires and motions, you are charged with guilt by the last commandment. But, besides this, you have actually consented to the evil desires and motions of your sinful nature, and more or less they have formed the habits of your soul, and influenced the actions of your life; insomuch, that, because your nature is sensual, you have consented to the sensual desires of it, and put them into practice ; for which you are condemned by the seventh commandment, which enjoins upon you temperance, soberness, and chastity: because your nature is earthly, you have consented to and acted upon the worldly motions of it, contrary to the eighth commandment: and, finally, because your nature is devilish, you have consented to and followed the self-willed motions of it, in opposition to the fifth commandment; its en
us, revengeful, and cruel motions, in contradiction to the sixth commandment; and the purely malicious motions thereof in censoriousness, contrary to the ninth commandment; and all this in full and evident breach of the duty you owe to God and your neighbour.—Now such an inquiry will not leave any of us free from guilt ; nor shall we be able to allege that in any of these things we have not sinned. And it has appeared that we pass over one design of giving out the law, if we are not brought to find our sins by it. The law comes out because we are sinners, and to show us that we are so, as well as to alarm us with our misery because of sin. And this work it must do, as we mean to seek for mercy and to obtain it. The whole need not the physician : and none are so dangerously sick as they that are so and do not know it. Wherefore let us lay God's law to our conduct, that we may certainly see what it has been ; and then let us lay the curse of the law to the transgression of it. And thus, by the grace of God, we shall lay the good foundation of making a right use of God's merciful design towards us in giving out the law. And hereupon,
Secondly.—The sense of our guilt and misery through the law must bring us unto Christ for mercy. It was shown above that the sentence against sin is already gone forth, In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die ;' and it was observed that a part of this sentence is already executed, and daily executing in present death. The point is, can we do anything to prevent the remaining and more fearful part of it, death eternal ? If we can, God will be found a liar, who hath declared, The day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die ;' and that the wages of sin is death,'* not only present, but most evidently everlasting, because that everlasting life, which it immediately follows in that passage is the gift of God, is set in opposition to this death. We can do nothing that will prevent eternal death : if you think you can, you will by that very means effectually bring it upon you. The truth is, that the business of the judgment-day will be only to put in execution the sentence of eternal death on all of us who have not fled for refuge to Christ, and to give possession of eternal life to all of us that have : then the truth of that word shall
appear, He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.' + If there had been such a thing as justification by our own righteousness, there had been no such thing as a law given out, for there had been no need of it; we should have been a law unto, and have had the perfection of the law in ourselves : and therefore no one can have made a right use of the law who has not learnt by it the need of a Saviour, and to apply for mercy through that Redeemer who hath come into the world. Such an one has not learnt the first use of the law, which is to give the knowledge of sin ; and must be sent
* Rom. vi. 23.
† John iii. 36.
back again to the precept and the curse of the law, to be taught, what he has not yet learnt to purpose, his guilt and misery. Christ is come into the world to save sinners; and we have God's word for it, a thousand times over, that he is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him : but then the law came before Christ, to prepare the way for him, by making known the want of him, and thereby to bring men's hearts into a state to receive him. We never come to Christ till the law is first come to us; and the law is never effectually come to us till by it we are brought to Christ; that is, till we are convinced by it of our guilt and misery, and are looking after mercy in his righteousness. Wherefore this is the second step in the use of the law, that we betake ourselves to mercy in Christ, the promise of whom is plainly implied in the explicit giving out of the law. Hitherto the text evidently reaches, “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.' But then,
Thirdly. When we are come to Christ for deliverance from the curse of the law, have we no more to do with the law ? Yes verily we have, we must walk in it all the days of our life. And that we shall not, we cannot, fail to do, if we be really come to Christ, if our faith in him be true. For if it be true faith it will work by love; love will be the certain infallible fruit of it, love towards God and our neighbour. And to walk in the love of God and of our neighbour is indeed to walk in God's commandments, for this is the substance of what all and each of them require of us; and if our hearts be in the real practice of this love, we shall sincerely conform to what God enjoins, forbear what he denies us, and valiantly oppose the desires and motions of our simple nature within us. God did not give out the law with a purpose that we should lay aside the observance of it; just to show us our misery, that we might cry for mercy, and then make no more use of it: but he gave us the law to show us our guilt, because we did not love God and one another; and he gave us the promise to encourage us to walk in the love of himself and our neighbour. The design of all was to bring us to love, as the Apostle plainly witnesses, · The end of the commandment is charity; the end of giving out the law, in which giving it * 1 Tim. i. 5.
out the promise is contained, is to bring us to the love of God and of each other. Without the law we had not known that we were fallen from charity, and the guilt of that state had not been apprehended ; without the promise we had had neither encouragement nor power to love. But now the Law and Gospel go hand in hand to the same end, the former showing us what love is, and the latter influencing us to walk in it. So charity is the issue of all. Hence it is that the truly humble believer takes so much delight in the law, and so heartily desires and endeavours to conform to it. Hence he cries unto God daily, from the bottom of his soul, “ Create, O my God, a new spirit within me! I long to love thee with all my heart, to find the deepest reverence of thy eternal Majesty always there, and to make thee all my trust. Father of mercies ! grant me power to glorify thy name, to attend upon thy appointments with holy worship, to maintain only thy glory in all my conduct, to profess myself thy servant in the most religious observance of thine own day. O my God, heal this fountain of sin that is in my nature, that I may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name. Or, if it may not yet be destroyed, bring it daily nearer to death, that I may feel less and less its accursed motions, and may never more consent to them. Let love take its place, the love of thee and of my brother, that I may indulge no more any sensual earthly or devilish lust; but, being pure in heart, heavenly-minded, and full of charity, I may honour all men, forgive and do good to all men, and speak as well as act to the edification of my brother.” To such a prayer as this the heart of the man who is come to Christ does unfeignedly say Amen. He is no believer whose heart does not. Yet what is all this but a desire and disposition wrought in the heart by the Holy Ghost to walk in God's commandments ? for I have only put into the form of a prayer the duties that are contained in them.
You see now the use that is to be made of the law, how it must show us our sin and misery, drive us to Christ, and be our rule of walking with God as obedient children. If the two former of these be done, the third will unavoidably follow. But the main difficulty lies in the first, the conviction of our real guilt and misery by the law. To this point, according to the
tenor of the text, the foregoing discourses have been directed. That they have had at least this blessing I will trust, to have shown us all more of our sins. How far they may have been instrumental to convince any of us of our misery because of sin, and to stir up in us a hearty concern about salvation, is another question ; and it will behove you all to consider how you will answer it on the last day. That day is hastening upon us ; a joyful or a terrible day, according as we shall then be found. Who can say how terrible, my dear brethren, to any soul of you who will not now hear the sentence of the law to conviction, and therefore shall then hear it to condemnation! But O how joyful to that happy soul, who, having now heard the sentence of death, is fled to Jesus for refuge, and is walking in his steps, and therefore shall only meet his triumphant Lord in the last day to receive the final sentence of absolution, and to hear those ravishing words from his mouth, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'* O sirs, can such words as these reach our ears without piercing our hearts ? May the Lord give us all grace to humble ourselves, that he may exalt us in that day, through the merits of our great Redeemer Jesus Christ!
• Matt. XXV. 34.