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revealed, will not hear of any application of the law whatever; and finding it plainly and repeatedly written in the scriptures that the law is not intended to condemn believers in Jesus Christ; they strengthen themselves in the opinion, and are bold in the assertion, that neither is it intended to direct or guide believers, in the way wherein they ought to walk and to please God. Surely it may be said of these persons also, that although of all men most confident, yet they understand not what they say, nor whereof they affirm. For the apostle says, the law is good, if a man use it lawfully.
We read concerning the commandments of the law, that he who doeth them shall live in them; that the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him, and the soul that sinneth it shall die. Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: a blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, and a curse, if ye will not obey. Ye shall, therefore, keep my statutes and my judgments, which if a man do, he shall live in them, saith the Lord. : Again: we read, that as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse ; for it is written, Cursed is every man that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them; that whosoever shall
keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all; that there is none that keepeth the law, no, not one; that every mouth must be stopped, and all the world appear guilty before God : therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Again : we read, that Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us ; blotting out the hand-writing of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and taking it out of the way nailing it to his cross; that Christ hath fulfilled the law, magnified the law, and is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth; that Christians are therefore dead to the law by the body of Christ, that they are freed from the law, delivered from the law, that there is now no condemnation to them by the law, that they are no longer under the law but
Again : we read that the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just and good ; that circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God; that if we fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, we shall do well. We hear a Christian saying, I delight in the law of God after the inward man; and another, I love thy commandments above gold, yea,
above fine gold; therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way. Lead me in the way of thy commandments, for therein do I delight. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure enlightening the eyes : and we find that one of the great and precious promises of the new covenant is, I will put my laws in their minds, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.
Seeing, therefore, that the law is thus variously spoken of in holy scripture: as a covenant of works for justification unto life; as a ministration of condemnation, from the penalties of which, however, believers in Jesus Christ are freely and completely delivered, as an holy and spiritual declaration of the Lord's will, and as an indispensable, perfect, and never-failing guide for the conduct of the Lord's people; seeing also, that this law is good if a man use it lawfully, surely it becomes us diligently to examine what its lawful use is; and a plain scriptural statement of its application in different points of view, to the hearts and consciences and conduct of men, ought surely to arrest our attention, and excite our liveliest interest.
I. Consider the law first as a covenant of works for justification unto life. In this sense (strictly speaking) it applied to two men, and two men only, Adam and Jesus Christ. Adam broke it, Christ fulfilled it. Adam incurred the threatenings of God against the breaking of it; Christ secured the promises of God to the keeping of it. God's threatening to Adam was death, spiritual and eternal death to himself and all his children in all generations; and as God does not threaten in vain, this curse was inflicted. God's promise to Christ was life, spiritual and eternal life to himself, and all his children in all generations; and as God does not promise in vain, this blessing is freely and effectually bestowed. This is the lawful use of the law as a covenant of works.
II. Consider it secondly as
a ministration of condemnation. In this sense it applied to Adam as soon as he had broken it; and it applies now to all his posterity in their natural unconverted state.
Every child of man, born into this world, naturally en gendered of the offspring of Adam, lies under the sentence of God's wrath and damnation. The broken law, as a ministration of condemnation, appears against him, and pronounces upon
him death. Multitudes continue under this sentence all their lives; a dark veil hangs
between them and the eternity to which they are so rapidly travelling; they know they must pass behind that veil, but what they shall meet with there, they know not. A secret persuasion, however, lurks within them, that all will not be right, and; like a trembling bankrupt, who knows his affairs are falling into ruin, and fears to examine to what extent he is involved, they shun the subject; it is irksome to them, and by every ingenious device they can invent, they endeavour to banish it from their minds altogether. Some succeed in this, and become hardened in a recklessness of consequences ; others, of a more tender conscience and a deeper sense of moral responsibility, are kept in bondage all their lifetime, by continually recurring alarms upon the subject of eternity. Hence the unceasing whirl of dissipating reflection-drowning pursuits and amusements; they drink greedily the intoxicating draught; engrossed in the things of time, eager and animated after the advantages and admiration of the world, the gratifications of vanity, and the indulgences of the flesh, till the flesh falls of, and the astonished soul starts from its sleep to a clear perception of eternal realities. Too late! The curse of the broken law flames in the eye of God, and the apostate spirit shrinking from the sight, plunges into the abyss of hell, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.