Page images

heart by the infusion of grace, which is a heavenly light that gives the soul to know God aright. And that is added here, as the same with the writing of the law in the heart, and an illustration of it, They shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. And this light bringeth heat with it. That right knowledge of God being in the soul, begets in it love to him, and love is the same with the fulfilling of the whole law. It takes up the whole soul; I will put it in their mind, and write it in their hearts. If we will distinguish these, then it is, that they shall both know it and love it. It shall not be written anew in their heads, and go no deeper, but be written in their hearts. But we may well take both expressions for the whole soul; for this kind of knowledge and love are inseparable, and where the one is, the other cannot be wanting.

So tben a supernatural, sanctified kuowledge of God, is the law of God written in the heart. When it comes and entertains him as holy within it, then it hath not a dead letter of the law written in it, but the lawgiver himself: his name and will are engraven on it throughout, on every part of it. All that they know of God, shall not be by mere report and by the voice of others, but they shall inwardly read and know him within themselves. Which, by the bye, makes not the public teaching and work of the ministry superfluous to any, even to those who know most of God, but signifies only this, that all they that do indeed receive and believe the gospel, are inwardly enlightened by the Spirit of God to understand the things of God, and have not their knowledge on bare trust of others who instruct them, without any particular persuasion and light within ; but what they hear of spiritual things, they shall understand and know after a spiritual manner. And the universality of the promise signifies, that this kind of knowledge should be more frequently and more largely bestowed in the days of the gospel, than it was before.

II. The necessity of writing the law on the heart. Although there be in the natural conscience of man sonie dim characters of the law, convincing him of grosser wickednesses, and leaving him inexcusable, of which the apostle speaks, Rom. ii, 15, yet he is so far naturally from the right knowledge of God and the love of bis whole Law, that, instead of that knowledge, bis mind is full of darkness, and, contrary to that love, his heart is possessed with a natural enmity and antipathy against the law of God. There is a law within him directly opposite, which the apostle calls the law of sin; sin ruling and commanding the heart and whole man, making laws at its pleasure, and obtaining full obedience. Therefore, of necessity, before a man can be brought to obey the holy law of God, the inward frame of his heart must be changed, the corrupt law of sio must be abrogated, and the soul must renounce obedience to it, and give itself up wholly to receive the stamp and impression of the law of God; and then, baving it written within upon bis heart, his actions will bear the resemblance, and be conformable unto it.

In this promise which God makes to his people, he hath regard to the nature of that obedience which' be requires. Because he will have it sincere and cordial, therefore he puts a living principle of it within, writes his law in the heart, and then it is in the words and actions, derived from thence, and is more in the heart than in them. The first copy is in the heart, and all the other powers and parts of a man follow that, and so by that means, as it is sincere, so it is universal. The beart is that which commands all the rest; and as the vital spirits flow from it to the whole body, thus the law of God, being written in it, is diffused through the whole man, It might be in the memory, or in the tongue, and not in the rest; but put it in the heart, and then it is undoubtedly, in all.

Its being written in the heart makes the obedience likewise universal in the object, in respect to the 'wbole law of God. When it is written only without a man, he may read one part and pass over another, may possibly choose to conform to some part of the law, and leave the rest; but when the full copy of it is written in his heart, then it is all one law. And as in itself it is inseparable, as St. James teacheth us, Jam. ii, 10, so it is likewise in his esteem, and affection, and endeavour of obedience: he hath regard unto all the commandments as one. Because of his love to the law of God, he hates, not only some, but every false way, as David speaks. He that looks on the law without him, will possibly forbear to break it while others look upon him ; 'his obedience lies much in the beholder's eye; but he that hath the law written within, cannot choose but regard it as much in secret as in public. Although his sin might be hid from the knowledge and censure of men, yet still it were violence done to that pure law that is within his breast, and therefore he bates it alike as if it were public. This is the constant enemy of all sin, this law within him. I have hid thy law in my heart, says David, that I might not sin against thee. It makes a man abate nothing of his course of obedience and holiness because unseen, but like the sun, that keeps on its motion when it is clouded from our eyes, as well as when we see it.

In a word, this writing of the law in the heart, makes obedience a natural motion, I mean, by a new nature. It springs not from outward constraints and respects, but from an inward principle, and therefore not only is it universal and constant, but cheerful and easy. The law, written in tables of stone only, is hard and grievous ; but make once the heart the table of it, and then there is nothing more pleasing. This law of God makes service delightful, even the painfullest of it. I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart. The šun, which moves with such wonderful swiftness, that to the ignorant it would seem incredible to hear how many thousands of miles it goes each hour, yet because it is naturally fitted for that course, it comes, as the psalmist speaks, like a bridegroom forth of his chamber, and rejoices, as a strong man, to run a race. If the natural man be convinced of the goodness and equity of the law of God, yet because it is not written within, but only commands without, it is a violent motion to him to obey it, and therefore he finds it a painful yoke. But hear David, in whose heart it was, speak of it; how often doth he call it his delight and his joy!

If any profane persons object to a godly man his exact life that it is too precise, as if he wrote each action before he did it, he may answer, as Demosthenes did to him that objected he wrote his orations before he spake them, Div. No. IX.

2 E

That he was not at all ashamed of that, although they were not only written, but engraven before-hand. - Certainly the godly man lives by this law wbich is written and engraven on bis heart, and he needs not be ashamed of it.

It is true, the repewed man, even he that hath this law deepest written in his heart, yet, while he lives here,.is still molested with that inbred autinomian, that law of sin that yet dwells in his flesh, Though the force and power of it is broken, and its law repealed in his conversion, and this new pure law placed in its stead, yet, because that part which is flesh in him, still entertains and harbours it there, it creates and breeds a Christian daily vexation. Because sin hath lost dominion, it is still practising rebellion against that spiritual kingdom and law that is established in the regenerate mind : as a man that hath once been in possession of rule, though usurped, yet, being subdued, he is still working in that kingdom to turbulent practices. But though by this, every godly man is often driven to sad perplexities, and complaints, yet in this is his comfort; that law of his God written there, hath his heart and affection. Siu is dethroned and thrust out of his heart, and hath only an usurped abode within him against his will. He sides with the law of God, and fights with all his power for it against the other. That holy law is bis delight, and this law of sin his greatest grief.

III. The writer ; I will write. The Lord promises himself to do this, and it is indeed bis prerogative. He wrote it at first on tables of stone, and this spiritual, engraving of it on the heart is much more peculiarly bis. Other men might afterwards engrave it on stone, but no man can at all write it on the heart, not upon his owu, hiuchi less

upon another's. Upon bis own he cannot, for, it is-paturally taken up and possessed with the contrary law of sin, and is willingly subject to it ;-loves that law, and therefore in that posture, it neither can nor will work this change upon itself, to dispossess that law which it loves, and bring in that which it hates. No man can write this law on the heart of another, for it is inaccessible. His haud cannot reach it, he cannot come at it; how then shall be write any thing on it? Men, in the ministrs of the word, can but stand and call without: they cannot speak to within, far less write any thing within. Though they speak vever so excellently and spiritually, and express nothing but what is written on their own hearts, and certainly that is the most powerful way of speaking, and the likeliest for making an ini pression on the heart of another,) yet unless the hand of God's own Spirit carry it into the hearer's heart, and set on the stamp of it there, it will perish as a sound in the air, and effect nothing. Let this ever be acknowledged to his glory. The voice of men may beat the ear, but only he who made the heart, can work upon it, and change and mould it as it pleaseth him. This is his own promise, and he alone makes it good. He writes his law on the hearts of his children, and by this work of lais

grace prepares them for glory. They who have this law written in their hearts, their names are certainly written in the book of life.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]



2 Cor. v, 20. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though

God did beseech you by us ; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled unto God.

It is appointed unto all men once to die, and after that the judgment, saith the author of the epistle to the Hebrews--two sad necessities to sinful man. This last, nature's light discovers not; but the other, though it be seldom deep in our thoughts, is almost always before our eyes; and though few seriously remember it, yet none can be ignorant of it. Against this known and universal evil, the chief of heathen moralists, the stoies, have much endeavoured to arm themselves. And others have bent the strength of their wits to master the fear of death, and have made themselves, apd some of their hearers, con

« EelmineJätka »