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THE LAW OF FAITH.
Rom. iii. 27.
How long beneath the law I lay
In bondage and distress!
But toil'd without success.
And hear his pardoning voice,
THE LAW OF FAITH is peculiar to the Gospel, and owns Jesus for its gracious Sovereign. It takes up sinners of mankind just where the violated law of nature leaves them, commanding them to look to Jesus for pardon and eternal life. The tenor of its precept is, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. The argument of Paul upon this law is perfectly consonant to the experience of every Christian. The moral law is established in its claims by the obedience of Jesus; the sinner is condemned in his conscience, and all boasting is excluded of personal merit; he thankfully receives. and embraces the righteousness of Christ, as a free gift, in free grace, determining, henceforth, to live to the praise of his everlasting Father.
Although these few reflections may throw some degree of light on the nature of the law of faith, still, as it is a subject in which we cannot be too well established, we purpose to give it a closer examination; sincerely wish.
ing it may tend to consolidate our hope, and inspire our obedience in the fear of the Lord.
As it is evident that the nature and influence of the law of faith is placed in opposition to the law of works, it is necessary for us to ascertain what faith that is to which the Apostle gives the appellation of a law.
1. THE GRACE OF FAITH; or, more properly, that living, powerful principle, implanted in the soul by the Holy Ghost, who is emphatically called the Spirit of faith. By this new principle the mind is compelled to credit the virtue and extent of the moral law, and the rich display of the Gospel, purely on the veracity of their divine Author, and the conviction of truth they unitedly form upon the conscience. This most operative principle may be called a law, as its influence is opposed to the inbred law of sin. As the former is the operative law upon the heart of every subject of Christ, the latter is the infernal rule of disobedience in all the votaries of the prince of darkness. The nature, variety, extent,
and force of the law of sin are too evident in the history of * mankind, and more so in our own breast. The law of
faith counteracts this law of sin, brings the heart into subjection to the will of God, to walk in all holiness and righteousness of life. Without sound principle there can be no sound practice, and without faith it is impossible to please God, or bear fruit to his praise. This is that new law which the Lord promised both to Jeremiah and Ezekiel, to write in the mind and upon the heart of his people, that they may not depart from him for ever. However, it is worthy of attention, that these two laws, the law of sin and the law of faith, are found in one and the same person, who is born of God. I find then, saith Paul, a law, that when I would do good, evil is present
with me. For I delight in the law of God, after the inward man. But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members. Thanks be to God for the power of the law of faith, that sin may not have dominion over us.
2. THE WORD OF FAITH contained in the Bible, whether by promise, prophecy, or type, under the Old Testament, or in the clearer pages of the New, is undoubtedly a law. This law is not merely a rule of instruction; much less is it a law given by a master for the obedience of his slaves, but a law given by a parent to his son, sanctioned by the most cordial affection. The word of faith is the Gospel of the ever blessed God, our Father in Jesus and in covenant love, and intended for the obedience of the children of his grace. This law was prophesied by Isaiah ii. 3, and also xlii. 4. In Rom. viii. 2, Paul calls it the law of the spirit of life, which makes its subjects free from the law of sin and death. James terms it the perfect law of liberty, in opposition to the moral law, which binds the unbeliever, and holds him in . bondage. The Gospel, as a law, possesseth every attribute that can be applied to virtuous law-SOVEREIGNTY, as it is the rule of Christ, the King of Zion, to all the subjects of his spiritual kingdom-JUSTICE, constituting the pure and holy nature of God-RIGHT, maintaining the honour of the Prince of life, and securing the privi. leges of his people-HAPPINESS, the result of its administration to his kingdom.
However evident it may appear that the principle of faith, and the word of faith, in the Gospel, bear the appellation, and constitute the law of faith, it is necessary to understand that neither the principle nor the word,
· separately, would have been adequate to govern the - soul of man. They must be, and actually are, united.
That our first parent Adam had a law written upon his heart for obedience; and that an external law, the tree of knowledge, was set before him, the one corresponding with the other, as a proof of his rationality, must be obvious to all who read the history of man's creation. If - this double law was necessary in the first creation, it is much more so in the second. · Man, though born again of God, not only remains a compound of matter and spirit, but, contrary to his original state, he is a subject of sin and of grace; the one existing in opposition to the other. God, therefore, has granted to his people the internal law of faith to operate on the conscience, and has also revealed his holy mind in his word as the external law and rule of obedience, bath of them so harmonizing in a life of faith and love, as to make the possessor infinitely happy. To render this subject still plainer, I will add, if we had the written word as a law only, how could we have obeyed, since in us by nature there is nothing but the law of sin? If we had a principle of faith in the heart, and no written law in our hands, there would have been no object for our perceptive powers, and we should have travelled in the dark. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. Faith and the Gospel are inséparably connected, and he who takes the one without the other deceiveth himself.
As in the days of the Apostles, and in the age we live, an objection hath been brought against the law of faith, that it maketh void the moral law, we will attempt to refute the objection, and show, that so far from making void the law, it establishes the law. The remark of
Dr. White is too valuable to be omitted here-" The moral law still continues in its original force ; for it had not its foundation in any partial dr occasional reasons, which only apply, like the Jewish law, to a particular community, and are only ordained to answer a particular and temporary design : on the contrary, it is closely connected with the primitive laws of nature, and the unalterable constitution of things; it has its foundation in causes, which can never cease to operate on rational beings, and which are universal and perpetual."* So far from Jesus in his doctrine and in his life making void the law, he expressly declared that he came to fulfil it, and that neither jot nor tittle of it should fail. The law of God was in the heart of Christ, and all its moral precepts were practised in his life in the highest perfection. Those must be strangers to the virtue of the Gospel who perceive not therein the morality of the law as taught by Jesus, and practised by his disciples. The unity of the Godhead, Mark xii. 22, 32, John X. 29, 30—love to God and our neighbour, Luke x. 27-obedience to parents, Luke ii. 51, Mat. xv. 4—(vices are prohibited) prophane swearing, Mat. v. 33, 37-murder, Mat. xix. 18, 1 John iii. 15-adultery, Mat. v. 27, 28-theft, Mat. xv. 19, 20, 1 Cor. vi. 10-false witness, Luke iii. 15covetousness,
Luke xii. 15—therefore, while these moral virtues, taught by the law, are found in the Gospel, and practised by Christians, they cannot be chargeable with making void the law.
The force of the objection, however, appears to exist against the law of faith, commanding its subjects to embrace Christ as the sole ground of their justification
Bampton Lectures, viãi.