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only is appointed of God. And as the darkness of the night serves to thew forth the brightness of the day ; fo the strength of fin, that arises from the broken law, ferves to iilustrate and manifest the strength of grace, that is brought in by the glorious goipel.

3. That the law is the strength of fi, proceeds from the very nature of Sin, and its direct oppolition and contrariety to the law. You kn:w, when two are of a contrary disposition, they never agree together, but will ever be brawling and quarrelling one with another; fo, whatever agreement there be betwixt the law, as a covenant of works, and proud felf-righteous, nature, yet such a disagreeable couple is God's holy law and our corrupt nature, that there is a direct contrariety betwixt them. The law of God bears the image of God; it is perfectly just, perfectly holy, and like unto God the giver of it: but the corruption of our nature bears the image of the devil, being wholly unjust, and altogether unholy : fo says the apo{lle, “ The law is holy, but I am carnal; in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing,” Rom. vii. 14. 13. Now, as natural philofophy teaches, that in winter-time, the coldness of the air and frost, that may be about the fire, makes the heart of the fire more intense, so that it buros a great deal the fasier and fiercer; fo God's law, coming to, and meeting with our corrupt nature, certainly it makes corruption inore intense and more violent. Hence, when the commandment comes, sin revives, and rises up in the fury of its Itrength; as, when a deadly fue comes upon one, the person gathers all his strength together to oppose him.

The strength of fin is not the less before the commandmentcome, or the law appear; but when the law appears, the strength of fin appears, and exerts itself: As fire and water are opposites, though at a distance ; yet their opposition to one another is not so evident till they meet and come together, and then there is a mighty sputtering and striving between them: fo the holy law and the wholy heart are opposite, though they do not meet ; but when once they meet together, the heart rises, and rages, and opposes it like the devil. This appcars whenG 2

ever

ever a man is convinced by the law, and the conviction

is merely legal, so as the man fees nothing but the fpi· rituality of the law-command, and the severity of the

law-curse: I say, when the conviction is merely legal, the severity of the curse raises a trembling devil of fear ja the awakened conscience, and the spirituality of the command raises a devil of enmity in the carnal heart.-and thus, from the very nature of sin, the law is the

ftrength of fin. . 4. That the law is the strength of fin, especially to

there that are under the gospel-dispensation, arises from the nature of UNBELICF, and the malignant influence thereof; as is evident from that word of our Lord Jesus, John ii. 18. “ He that believes is not condemned; but he that believes not, is condemned already, because he believes not in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” He that believes not the gospel, is condemned already by the law. Now, here consider, what the lawcondemnation is. I told you formerly, that the leading and fevereit part of the law-fentence of condemnation is just the strength of fin; so as, to be under the curse and condemnation of the law, is to be under the power of fin, in its commanding and condemning strength. But what influence hath the not-believing the gospel upon a man's being thus condemned ? Was he not in a state of con. demnation, though he had never heard the gospel? Why . then does Christ say, “ He that believes not is condem. ned already ?". Why, it demonstrates, that though all the world be under the power of fin, by the sentence of the law ; yet they that are under the gospel, and believe not in the Lord Jesus, their condemnation is condemnation indeed ; they stand under the condeoining fentence of the law, and fo under the power of sin more than ever, because the gospe! -news of freedom from that condemnation is rejected. It is not my office as a Savi. our, might Christ say, to condemn them; “ For God sent not his Soil into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved :" but it is the office of the law, as it is the ministration of death and condemnation, to condemn them; so that they are Condemned already by another hand; yea, condemned

already

already by the law, because they believe not ii? me, who am not come to condemn then, but to save them. No sooner is this gospel-salvation rejected, but the lawcondemnation is sirengthened and fortified; for then the law, which before was dumb and silent, as it were, after the gospel hath spoken a word of freedom and salvation from the strength of fin, and the man refuses and rejects it, the law opens its mouth, in a inanner, saying in effect, I take instruments upon this refusal of yours, that under ny dominion and power you ftand by your : own consent, and that the strength of fin shall not be abated, but increased ; and let this il and registrated and recorded in the book of conscience, to bear witness to the equity and justice of my final fentence, when the bocks shall be opened at the great day. "In a word, unbelief holds and detains the man under the law, by refusing Christ and the grace of the gospel : and as the law is the strength of fin, so unbelief strengthens the hands of the law, to kill, and condemn, and enslave the finger under the commanding and condemning power of fin; and if the law be the ftrength of fin, and unbelief the strength of the law, then unbelief is the Itrength of the strength of fin, as it contributes to keep the fianer more under the law than ever..---Thus you see how the law's being the strength of sin arises from unbelief, which rejects the strength offered in the gospel for destroying fin. And so much for the grounds of the doctrine.

VI. The Sixth thing propofed, was, To make Application of this doctrine. And this we thall ellay in the following uses, viz. I. In an use of Cantion. 2. Of Information. 3. Of Examination. 4. Of Exhortation.

Ist, The subject may be improved, we say, for Caution and Dehortation. Is the law the strength of fin, in the manner I have described ?

1. The first caution I offer is, o man, woman, think not the worse or the less of the law, that it is the strength of fin: nay, you have reason to think the better of it, and to have the higher thoughts of it, as it is the eternal rule of righteousness; for, if it were not a holy law,

it would not irritate and exasperate cur unholy nature at that rate, so as to augment the commanding power and iirength of fin : if it were not a juft law, it would not condemn fin at that rate, so as to give it a condemning ilrengih over the sinner. That the law is the firength of fin, in the respect I have named, is so far from being a reilection upon, or a detracting from the noliness and justice of the law, that it serves rather to iilustrate the parity of the command of the law, as a rule of holincis; and the equity of the penal fanction thereof, as it is a covenant of works.

2. The second caution is, As you are not to think the worse of the law, so you are not to think the better of fin, that the firength of it is the law. As you are to think the better of the law, that it makes the troublesome fea of corruption to rage, and binds over the finner with strong bonds of heavy curses for his fin, such is the lioliness and flrictness of it; fo you may think worse of sin, that turns such a good thing as the law to such an ill use, as to draw strength to itself out of it; like a venomous beall, a viper, that sucks poison out of the sweetelt flower.

3. The third caution I offer is, Think not to conquer fun by the law, or by your personal obedience to it. That law, which is the strength of fin, can never be the destruction of it; it gives strength to it, but cannot take strength from it. They labour in vain, who think, by the strength of their own best endeavours, to subdue fin; for, d) what they will, sin hath still dominion over them, because they are under the law, Rom. vi. 14.: and all their endeavours are influenced by the law as a covenant of works; which makes their essays not only ineffectual for breaking the ilrength of sin, but rather effectual for augmenting the force and increasing the strength thereof..

4. The fourth caution we suggest is this, Think not that obedience to the law, as a rule of life, is needless or hurtful, because the law, as a covenant of works, is the strength of fin: beware of thinking that God's writing the law in the heart, and that gospel-holiness and conformity to the law, as in the hand of a Mediator, is either dangerous or unnecellary; this were an Antinomian principle indeed: but know, of a truth, that, “ Without huliners no man ihall fee God;” without holiness, and conformity to the law, as a rule, no man hath evidence of jultification, or of freedom from the law as a covenant; without holiness there is no glorify. ing of God, bor edifying of man; without holiness no adorning of the gospel; without holiness no evidence of love to God or Christ, who hath said, “ If ye love me, keep niy commandments.”

Use 2. The second use shall be by way of Information. There is a number of necessary lefluns may be deduced from this doctrine, “ That the strength of fin is the law;"> such as,

1. Hence we may learn, that there can be no justification before God, by the deeds of the law; for, if the law be the strength of fin, then it can never take away the guilt of fin; Rom. iii. 20.“ By the deeds of the law there shall no Aesh living be justified in his fight; for, by the law is the knowledge of fin.” The force of this reason is very great; for, if it be the office of the law, under the influence of the Spirit of conviction, to give the knowledge of conviction of fin, and so to condemn the finner, then surely it cannot justify him. And that it is the moral law the apostle here fpeaks of, is plain ; for, as it is that law by which men have the knowledge of fin, and of which the fame apostle faith, Rom. vii. 7. “ I had not known sin but by the law; for, I had not known lust, except the law had faid, Thou shalt not covet:” which is the moral law: so it is plain, chap.jli. from ver. 9th to 20th, speaks of that law by which every mouth may be stopt, and all the world, Gentiles as well as Jews, may become guilty before God; or, as it is in the margin, subject to the judgment of God: so that it is a vain thing for any to alledge, that in these scriptures the apoflle intends only the ceremonial law, and the deeds thereof.

2. Hence we may learn, that as there is no life or justification by the law of workss, it being the firength of fin; fo there is no new or milder law in the room

thereof,

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