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then we are unbelievers. There is no medium between these states. If unbelievers, your destiny is known. There is an in. dissolvable connection between this character and eternal destruction. The decision of the invariable judge is, “ He that “ believeth not shall be damned.”
Let us apply this rule of trial to our own souls. Is Christ precious to us? Have we an heart felt sense of his excellency and desireableness? Is he altogether amiable in our eyes? Have we ever been smitten with his beauty, captivated and charmed with his personal and mediatorial glory? Is his name and character to us as ointment poured forth ; a sweet savour to our souls ? Is he the person of highest value in our esteem? Do we feel the wor. thiness and importance of his offices in all our approaches to, and transactions with God ? Do we look only to his atonement for righteousness to justify us in the divine sight ? Is he to our souls the chief among ten thousand, one altogether lovely ?
Now what reply do our consciences make to these few and plain interrogatories? If our hearts can understandingly answer in the affirmative, saying, “ O Lord, through the riches of free " grace, if I am not deceived, thou art above all things precious to my soul.” Transporting declaration ! Blessed are ye indeed. Your blessedness is indescribable. Blessed are all they who be. lieve, for your portion is eternal life.
But, alas ! are there not some here, to whom Christ is not precious ? To whom if they feel not a hatred, they have a most prevailing and perfect indifference to him. O unbelievers, your case is dangerous and forlorn, and unless it be soon changed, you are undone forever. Wherefore, be entreated to awake and attend to the things of your peace, before they shall be eternally hid from your eyes. Let the profane, the deluded, the hypocrite and formal professor, turn from their ways and vain hopes, and taste, and see, and feel that the Lord Jesus is precious.
SECURITY IN A STATE OF SIN DESCRIBED.'
ROMANS VII. 9.
Fer I was alive without the law once.
IT is of high moment for understanding any subject, to consider all its parts, and observe the relation they bear to each other. A defect here, often induces an indistinct knowledge of the matter. Hence originates great confusion and ignorance about the design and use of the law under the gospel. Some imagine that the law and gospel stand in such direct opposition, that they cannot possibly consist together. To preach the law, they suppose undermines the gospel, and overturns the new testament method of salvation. It is hard for persons, under clouds of darkness, to discover either the true nature of the law or the gospel. To preach the law as a covenant of works, and our defective obedience thereto as sufficient for our justification, is to hold it up in a view which is entirely abrogated. Although the law is absolutely incapable of giving salvation in this way, yet it remains of essential consideration in the new Testament, or in the constitution of the covenant of grace. It answers the highest purposes under the gospel, so that there could be no gospel without the law. Therefore, the Apostle brings it forth as a schoolmaster to direct us to Christ. This is the thought St. Paul
illustrates in out context ; the use he assigns to the law, in this words of our text, and exemplified by his own experience. It is evident he herein holds himself up to view in his secure, selfrighteous and unregenerated state. “I was alive without the “ law once." This, which he declares as his own condition in his former life, may justly be applied as the state of all persons while secure in sin.
In attending to the Apostle's affirmation, I shall consider,
It cannot signify a real freedom from the obligatory nature of the law. Every rational creature must be in a subjective relation to its Creator. Creation gives God a necessary right of dominion over, and disposal of his own productions. This he can no more resign than his Godhead.
To be without the law, does not intend an unacquaintance with the letter of it. The Apostle had as good a speculative knowledge of the law, it is probable, before his conversion as afterwards. The study of the law had been the business of his. life, in the school of Gamaliel, and all the record we have of his history, exhibits his proficiency therein..
To be without the law, does not mean an absolute disrespect to it in the exterior life and conversation. No such intimation could be binted by the Apostle. He informs us in another place, while in his unregenerated state, he was a pharisee, and as to the law, that is, as to the formal and external observation of it, blaineless.
But to be without the law, in the plain purport of the texto evidently involves these four things-a destitution of a proper sense of it on the heart- o fecling of its condemning power.
and authority–no conception of its extent and spirituality-nor any just understanding of its holy strictness and inflexible pero fection.
First, To be without the law, supposes a destitution of a proper sense of it on the heart.-An easiness with regard to the law of God, possesses the soul of every unregenerated sinner. What aspect it has upon them, in its obligatory nature, never commanded their consideration. They proceed on in life, without any attention to it as a standard of their behaviour, or containing any condemnatory sanction in its precepts. If they do not fall into gross abominations, or run to any excess of riot, but maintain a good reputation, according to the customs of the community in which they are, they renain as quiet and comfortable as if no law of God existed, or they were not within the coinpass of its authority
Secondly, They are without any feeling apprehension of its condemning power and influence.-The curses it denounces against the transgressors of it, are unheeded by them. Its language is, “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things “written in the beok of the law to do them.” The law speaks nothing but vengeance to all the violaters of it. It assigns them over to the hands of inexorable justice, till its demands are fully satisfied, and all its wrongs and indignities duly repaired. They who are without the law, are insensible to all this dreadful infiu. ence of its power. Their hearts are impenetrable to all the thunderings and lightenings of Sinai. To all the threatenings of in. eensed heaven, and to all the storms and tempests of divine vengeance, ready to burst in fiery torrents upon their devoted heads. A blind and unconcerned stupidity makes them as pillars of salt, while dreadful inundations of wrath are collecting inevitable destruction around them.
Thirdly, To be without the law, is to have no just conception of its extent and spirituality, Multitudes of sinners imagine that
the law only respects the outward man; and even this no farther than it falls under the cognizance of their fellow creatures. It they are in a common measure circumspect in their lives, regular and decent in their deportment, do no gross injustice to their neighbour, and preserve themselves free from scandalous enormities, they feel in peace, tranquility and security. Especially, if they add hereto some religious duties of the family and the church, then they enjoy the full approbation of their own minds. They reflect not that the law extends to the inward man ; respects the temper, tendency, and sentiments of their souls. All such pere sons are undoubtedly without the law. When the Apostle makes this declaration of his own experience, he certainly means that he had no sense of its spiritual extent, or that it gave orders in regard to the frame of the heart, and required an internal as well as an external circumspection. An insensibility of this matter, is a sure evidence that a person is without the law; that it never has been effectually applied to, or impressed upon his conscience.
Fourthly, To be without the law, is to have no just unders standing of its holy strictness and inflexible perfection. How apt is man to imagine that God, in some manner, is like himne self-that he will not visit for his iniquities, nor be very strict to mark his transgressions. As they have no sense of the holy dignity or extensive perfection of the law; and although they hear its curses, yet they bless themselves in their hearts, and the hope arises within them, that things will turn out better than what is contained in the threatenings. They cry out, “ If these “ menaces should be executed, Lord help us ; what will become " of the world ?"
Some conceive, that many things forbidden by the law, if they are sins, are only small ones, and cannot incur all that weight of punishment, the law seems to import. Let it suffice to say at present, this must be a very sandy foundation to build upon.Many think, whatever the law declares, God is too merciful to condemu them eternally, for some idle words, a few irregular