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to be born, and by which they hope to be helped and saved; but this hope dies away as soon as the preaching of the pure gospel comes, and so soon as ihe Holy Ghost opens the law, and shews how indeed it is just and good, but because of the sinfulness of our nature, cannot justify, but condemns all under it, and is therefore called weak and unprofitable, since it shews sin, but cannot pardon it; it makes the debt clear, and is as a just bond and bill, bringing in the soul guilty, but does not help to pay the debt, or justify the ungodly. The end of it was to make sin known, to put bounds to the torrent of transgressions, and check the rebellious sinner with its thunders, and, like a school-master, keep under the soul till it comes to age; i. e. arrives to faith in Christ, and so long serves to teach us two things, first, Thạt all the world is guilty before God, and must not think his ways are unequal, or that injustice is in him, in passing judgment and condemnation upon all in Adam, or use such a proverb any more, which once the reasoning and dissatisfied Israelites used, namely, “The fạthers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge," meaning, that Adam had sinned, and they were punished for his faults. In the law, therefore, God Almighty condescends to shew how little right they have to murmur on this head, and makes his just dealings clear as the light, in entering thus, as it were, into a covenant with all his creatures. He gives a holy law, and orders every one to be strictly obedient to all its precepts, with the promise of life and many blessings if they obey him, and curses “every one that continueth not in all things of the book of the law." These were the conditions of this Covenant or Testament. , “ If thou keep all my statutes and judgments to do them, I will bless thee; but if thou despise my law that I have commanded, thou shalt be accursed, or die without mercy.
Here every child can see the ways of the Lord are equal, and not without cause all are condemned, and every one's mouth must be stopped, and complain and repine no more at the curse passed upon all, for all have sinned, and so brought the malediction and curse of the law upon their heads justly.
The second thing we learn in the law is, that we cannot be justified by it ; but the more we look into it, and the more we read it, the more we are convinced we are cut off from mercy thereby, and so the sincere soul dies to the law; and though before it was like a husband to them, they now look on it as a dead husband, and what can help them no farther : And this happens ere the soul is free to be married to Christ, or even seeks out to him for mercy and justification. Thus by the law we are dead to the law, and this school-master has taught us, we cannot by the deeds of the law, or by our obedience or works be justified, seeing we have broken that covenant, and rendered our duty and obedience imperfect, and fallen under the curse ; “ for he that keeps the whole law, and offends but in one point, is guilty of the whole."
Thus is the law a school-master until Christ, and when we seek righteousness there, the law"answers us, It is not in me.
It is above all things most safe to understand the doctrine of the law, lest we be tempted in hearing the gospel to say that God gave it in vain, or being ignorant of its deep extent and meaning, endeavour to patch up a righteousness of our own from an observance of the law, and so live and die without seeking a better righteousness, and without knowing “the Covenant of promise, and eternal life, and
better blessings of the New Testament, in the blood of Jesus Christ.” There was never more need of
a cautiou against this danger than now, for out of a false zeal and pretended respect to the law of God, some have magnified it above our Saviour, and made it still the rule and tenor of all their preaching, whereby their hearers have been led blindfold, and unable to discern between works and faith, the law and grace, Moses and Christ, and blended both shamefully - together, and made both one and the same covenant of God, and by resting on their duties and performances under the law, without being aware of their being under the curse, hazarding their souls' well-being for ever, and have come into the danger of being found children of the bondwoman, who, like servants, must not abide in God's house alway, but be cast out, while such made free from the law by the body of Christ, and were received into the adoption of sons,” shall be heirs for ever in the kingdom, and shall go no more out.
The Covenant of grace, or the New Testament, is of quite another nature than the law : for in this God the whole Godhead enters into a Covenant with the Son our Saviour, who, out of mere pity and love to sinners in their helpless and condemned condition, undertook for them, and became their Surety and Saviour.
He knew well they were fallen, and lost, and gone captive after the enemy, who led them at his will. He foresaw what it would cost bim to redeem them out of this estate, what pain and torment he must undergo, if be would sustain and bear their just chastisensent and wrath, and how taste death for every man, if he would recover them and save their souls alive. He knew beside what trouble he should have to newbuild the world, which was accursed on their ac,
count, and with what toil he should renew and create afresh all mankind, and wash them from their sins and evils, and bear all their sickness, death, judga ments with every weight, pressure, grief, and burden, away, ibut all could not abate or change his fixed and everlasting love to the world; he willingly consented to be their Saviour, by paying their debt, suffering their curse, and making himself a free will offering in their stead; for this he was to have « the heathen for his inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for his possession :” Besides, the Father would preserve him, of the tribes of Jacob, a hundred and forty and four thousand, who should be, as it were, his first-fruits, and who should surely be his. At the same time “ all things were made over to him in the height above, and in the deep beneath ;" for his hire and wages he should be the Lord of all, whether living or dead, as well as have the sole supremacy in heaven, earth, hell, and over all flesh and every spirit in worlds visible and invisible, and have the authority and right to save as many as he would, and give eternal life to whom he pleased. This satisfied our blessed Surety, and the covenant awas made of “God in Christ before the foundation of the world,” when as yet no mountain or high hill was formed, and the present multitude of men and other creatures were not created, but only “He who calls the things that are not as though they were," knew how he would make man, and foresaw the fall by means of the subtlety of the enemy, and resolved to save them; thus from the beginning of the world he was the Lamb slain, and our Saviour. This covenant was witnessed and sworn to above, and was sealed by the Lord's own blood in due time, and put in force and perfected when he said in his last 'moments, “ It is finished.” From that hour it takes date, and all other dispen
sations, covenants, bonds, laws, and engagements vanish away, and this of right should only be preached and published in the name of Jesus over the earth, till he comes. · I have in few words spoke of this glorious agree. ment above, which was made in the council of the Holy Trinity, and which, when known among the angels and sons of God, made all sing together and shout for joy. Let us now see how we stand in respect of this covenant, and by what means we are intitled to this act of grace and mercy. . We are saved freely, and therefore we do not possess our pardon and assurance of eternal life through our works or merits, but by faith in Christ. God becomes our Father, and we commence“ his children, his sons, and daughters. We have nothing to pay, and he frankly forgives us all. He is merciful to our unrighteousness, and our sins aud our iniquities he will remember no more. He justifies' us from all our sins, though we be ungodly," and have no personal right to his justification, but he is · merciful and just in doing so ; merciful, in that he willingly pardons and loves us; just, in that Christ has died and suffered in our stead. He has borne our curse, he has endured our shame, sustained our hell and punishment, and imputes our faith in him for righteousness, or makes over and reckons bis obedience, works, duties, sufferings, and dying to us; and as he stood like a sinner, and was numbered with. transgressors before God, and was bruised for the sin he never committed, so we stand perfect and complete in him, being cloathed in his righteousness, which is imputed to us, though we did not deserve it, but were unworthy of any thing better than hell, and to be lost for ever.
This doctrine is every where taught in the gospel, and whoever believes it in the bottom of his