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that we should devote the seventh rather than the sixth, or any other portion of our time; and that part which'directs the seventh day of the week, rather than any other to be observed, are moral positive, and for any thing we can discover, become duty because God has so pleased to command.
Those precepts which we call moral natural are perpetually and unchangeably binding ; for being founded in the nature and fitness of things, while these continue, the laws founded on them must continue in force. But positive precepts may be changed, though they continue in force until revoked or altered by the sovereign Lawgiver.
“ The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments." “ The sum of the ten command. ments is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength. and with all our mind, and our neighbour as ourselves.” The whole of the law is summed up in the single word, “ Love.” As saith the A. postle, Rom. xii. 10. “ Love is the fulfilling of the law."
The law requires us to love God supremely and perfectly, or to the utmost extent of all the powers of the whole man, soul and body. It requires us thus to love God himself, for what he is, in himself. The excellence of the divine character is the primary and the highest foundation of all true love to God.
The law also requires us to love ourselves; for it requires us to love our neighbour as ourselves which clearly implies that self love is a duty. This love of ourselves is to be subordinate to the love which we owe to God. Our love is not to be divided between God and our. selves. But we are to love ourselves with a subordinate love ; and that same love with which we love ourselves is to go beyond ourselves to God as its ultimate ob ject. There are duties which we owe ourselves, such as the preservation of our own lives, character, health, and estate; endeavours to be comfortable in the world ; to obtain heaven hereafter ; and the like. In the perfora mance of these duties we may have the glory of God in view, and our own happiness in subordination to his glory. And indeed we cannot love God, and obey him without performing these duties which we owe to ourselves.
The law further requires us to love our neighbour as ourselves. This is also to be in subordination to the love which we owe to God. By loving our neighbour as ourselves, we are to understand the same. as that rule of equity laid down by our Saviour Mat. vii. 12.
• All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” The law of loving our neighbour as ourselves, requires us to respect our neighbour's rights. And in every situation in which we have any thing to do with our neighbour, to act towards him, just as in a change of circumstances, we would expect him to act towards us.
2. To consider the extent of our obligation to keep the divine law. The ceremonial law as we have observed was done away by the coming of Christ, and the judicial laws given to the Jews, were intended to be obligatory only on that nation, except those which were of a moral nature. The question then, here to be considered is, Is the moral law binding under the christian dispensation, and is it our duty to render a perfect obedience to it?
This question I would answer in the affirmative. We are as much in duty bound to render perfect obedience to the moral law as ever Adam was. For the foundations of duty continue the same, and therefore duty itself must continue equally binding. What is the sum of the moral law? “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Our duty to God here stated is founded on his excellence, or his being what he is, which renders him worthy of the highest and most perfect love; and the obligation is increased by the relations which he sustains to us of Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor. And our duty to others here enjoined, is founded on others being what they are, and standing related to us as they do.' While therefore God continues to be what he is, which he will eternally do, it will be our duty to love him perfectly; and while we have neighbours, there will be the same reason that ever existed, that we should love them as ourselves. The moral law must therefore be still binding; and we are under as great obligations as ever Adam was to render perfect obedience thereunto. That we have fallen and are depraved creatures, and indisposed to keep the law, is no reason why we should not keep it. God is as worthy of the perfect love of his creatures as he ever was; and neighbours stand in the same relation to each other that they ever did. Yea I may say that we are perhaps under greater obligations to render perfect obedience to the divine law than Adam was. For in addition to all the reasons why he should be obedient, there is this reason to enforce our obedience which he had not in his state of innocency—the amazing love of God manifested in redemption.
The truth of this position that we are under obligations to render perfect obedience to the divine law, is further confirmed by what we find in the Scriptures on this subject. The reason given why the Saviour was called Jesus, was," he shall save his people from their sins.” Mat. i. 21. In his instructions he ever inculcated practical holiness, and he declared to his hearers, “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Mat. v. 17. And he particularly enjoined upon his hearers, “All things, whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Mat. vii. 12. “ And be ye perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,” Mat. v. 48. And in the Epistles we read.
“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Rom. ii. 31. “ Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God—2 Cor. vii. 1. “Now the God of peace-make you perfect in every good work to do his will.” Heb. xii. 20, 21. " As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation, because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy,” i Pet. i. 15, 16. 1 Pet. i. 15, 16. Further,
Further, suppose that Christ by his death, did away the obligation of men to render perfect obedience to the divine law, is to suppose that he died to purchase for men an exemption from that which is right, and makes him the minister of sin—a sentiment which the Scriptures reject with abhorrence. “ Is Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.” Gal. ii. 17.
From all these considerations we conclude, that the moral law is still in full force, and as much obligatory upon mankind as it ever was; and that sin or a transgression of the law is as hateful to God as it ever was.
It is true that none of the fallen race of man can be saved by their obedience to the moral law; for it has
ceased to be a covenant of life or a covenant by which life can be obtained; but it still remains a rule of duty And it is also true that none of mankind do perfectly fulfil the law; but this does not destroy the obligation to obedience. With respect to the unregenerate who are out of Christ, they are under the law as a covenant, and if they should die in this state must bear its heavy penalty for failing perfectly to fulfil it and for transgressing its precepts. And with respect to the regenerate who are united to Christ, though it is their duty to render perfect obedience to the will of God, and though they come short, yet God accepts their sin cere obedience, and pardons their failings.--Not because he has released them from obligations to perfect obedience; but for the sake of the atonement and perfect righteousness of Christ, to whom they are united. So that although believers cannot be saved by the works of the law; yet the law is still binding upon them as a rule of life. And they are under obligations to render perfect obedience thereunto; and to love the Lord their God, with all their heart, and soul, and strength, and mind, and their neighour as themselves; and they deserve the wrath of God for failing to do this. And they who have right apprehensions of the character of God, will feel that it is their duty, thus to love and serve him; and that they are blameable and deserve God's wrath and curse for com
3, And here the question may be asked, since life cannot now be obtained by the law, and since fallen man is morally unable perfectly to fulfil it, of what use is it under the Gospel ? I answer it is of great use. It teaches all men the holy nature and will of God, and what is the duty they owe to him. It teaches them the sinfulness of their nature, hearts, and lives. It is calculated to humble them, and to shew them their inability, and the insufficiency of any thing they can do to merit salvation, and the need they have of a Saviour. It is of great use to awaken the consciences of the unregenerate, and to convince them of their sin, guilt, and danger; "for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Rom. iii. 20. It is of great use to drive them off, when awakened, from every false ground of hope, and especially from a self righteous foundation, and to drive them to Christ to take refuge in his perfect righteousness, from the wrath with which the law threatens them; or if they continue in sin and rebellion to leave them inexcusable. It is also of great use to the real people of God. Its dreadful curse from which they are delivered by Christ to whom they are united by faith, teaches them, how much they are bound to love him; and thus is calculated to lead them to thankfulness, and to be careful to conform themselves to the law as a rule of life, which is well pleasing to Christ. The law further instructs them into the holy nature and will of God, and teaches them what they ought to be, and how far they come short; and thus is calculated to humble them. And it is a rule for them, by which to regulate their conduct, and according to which every true child of God, must and will endeavour to walk. He will love the law of God, and desire to be perfectly conformed thereunto, he will grieve that he comes short; and he will rest entirely satisfied with nothing short of perfect obedience.
Since then the moral law is still binding, and is of such great use in the system of religion, we shall proceed in future discourses to treat thereof, as it is summarily contained in the ten commandments. These commandments were delivered by God himself from Mount Sinai, and written by him on two tables of stone. The first table including the first four of these commandments, contains our duty to God; the second table, comprising the last six commandments contains our duty to man.
The moral law as contained in these commandments though expressed in few words is exceeding broad. These commandments are an epitome of the moral precepts revealed throughout the Scriptures. And perhaps we may say, there is no moral precept, enjoined in the Scriptures, but what is either expressly or implicitly contained in the ten commandments.
In improving this subject, let it be deeply impressed on our minds that we are under indispensable obligations to render obedience to the revealed will of God. Let us therefore carefully endeavour to become acquainted with his will.—Let us remember that the moral law is still binding upon us, and that we are under obligations perfectly to obey it. Let a conviction of this drive the sinner to Christ, under a sense of his transgressions, and posure to the curse of the law; and let it lead VOL, II.