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David, is thy servant warned. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults,' Psal. xix. 11, 12,
[3.] To give them a clear sense of their need of Christ. - Wherefore serveth the law?' saith the apostle. “It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come, to whom the promise was made,' Gal. iii. 19. And says the same apostle, ver. 24. The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.' And it brings men to Christ, (1.) As it convinceth them of their sin. The prohibitions of the law convince men of their sins of commission; and the injunctions of it convince them of their sins of omission. Hence says the apostle, Rom. iii. 20. by the law is the knowledge of sin,' Rom. vii. 7. “I had not known sin but by the law,' &c. There are many things which men had never reckoned sins, unless the law of God had discovered them. (2.) By discovering unto them the dreadful wrath and curse of God that is due unto them for their sins. It tells them, Cursed is every one that continyeth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them,' Gal. iii. 10; (3.) By awakening their consciences under a sense of their guilt, and apprehensions of their misery, and begetting in them bondage and fear, whereby they are brought to a clearer sight of their need of Christ, and of the perfection of his obedience.
(2.) To the unregenerate : Particularly it is,
[1.] For a looking-glass to let them see their state and case, by convincing them, that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in God's sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin,' Rom. iii. 20; and so to bring them to Christ, who has wrought out a perfect righteousness for their justification.
[2.] For a bridle to hold them in with its commands and threatenings, who otherwise would regard nothing. The law (says the apostle) is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners,' &c. 1 Tim. i. 9.
[3.] For a scourge, vexing and tormenting their conscien. ces, and making them uneasy in a sinful course, rendering them inexcusable, and laying them under the curse,
(3.) To them that are in Christ. It serves,
[1.] To magnify Christ unto them, shewing them their obligation to him for fulfilling it in their stead. O wretch
ed man that I am! (says the apostle); who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord,' Rom. vii, 24, 25. ? Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us : for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree; that the blessing of Abrahạm might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith,' Gal. iii. 13, 14.
[2.] To be a rule of life unto them, wherein they may express their gratitude by obeying the law of Christ
. Só the law leads to Christ as a Redeemer from its curse and condemnation, and he leads back to the law as a directory, the rule and standard of their obedience to him.
Object. But does not the apostle say, Rom. vi. 14. 'Ye are not under the law, but under grace ?' and Gal. v. 2% 23. Bụt the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, &c.- the against such there is no laws'
Ans. Believers are not under the law as a covenant of works, to be either justified or condemned thereby. For the apostle says, Christ bath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, Gal. ii. 13; and that there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Je sus. They are neither under the commanding nor the condemning power of that law, seeing Christ has given perfect 2 obedience to it as a covenant of works, so that under that character it can have nothing to demand of them; and has fully satisfied all its demands in point of punishment
, having suffered the very penalty threatened therein. So that as a covenant of works they are entirely delivered from it. And as to the fruits of the Spirit in them, they are the product of the Spirit, agreeable to the will and law of God; and na law can be against them, seeing they are agreeable to the very letter and spirit thereof. But believers are still under the law as a rule of life, according to which they are to regulate their hearts and lives. It is the pole står that must direct their course to heaven, and is of singular use to proyoke and excite them to gratitude to Christ, who hath perfectly fulfilled it in their room and stead.
I shall conclude with drawing a few inferences from what has been said.
Inf. 1. That the Pope is Antichrist, and that man of sin, who shews himself as if he were God, by commanding things
contrary to and inconsistent with the moral law, 2 Thess.ü. 8, 4. The Papists add canons and traditions to the moral law, as if it were in itself an imperfect rule of manners. This is taxing God's wisdom and goodness, as if he knew not how to make his own laws, or would not give a sufficient and complete rute to his creatures
. This is a provoking sin in the sight of God; and a most dangerous thing it is to add to or impair his holy law. See Rev. xxii. 18, 19.
2. Is the moral law the rule of our obedience to which we ought to conform ourselves in heart and conversation? Then what ground of reproof is there here to many among you? Are there not many who cast God's words behind their backs, and trample upon his commandments ? Some set up their carnal wisdom, as the standard and rule of their actions, and regulate themselves by the dictates of their corrupt rear son. Others subject themselves to the law of their lusts and passions. They study to fulfil the desires of their fleshly mind, and to gratify their sensual appetite ; but have no regard to the holy law of God. They break all these cords, and cast all the divine commands from them. This their way is their great sin and folly, exposes them to the wrath of God, and sooner or later will bring down Heaven's vengeance on their guilty heads.
3. It is necessary the law be preached, in order to convince men of their sin, and inability to yield perfect obe. dience to it, that they may betake themselves to Jesus Christ, who hath fulfilled all righteousness for every one that will come to him for deliverance from sin and the wrath to come. It is necessary to be studied and known by all who would attain to true holiness both in heart and life, which principally lies in a sincere and upright obedience to the whole law of God, in dependence upon the grace that is in Jesus Christ, The law is a lamp to their feet, and a light to their path; and the more they study it in its spirituality and extent, the more vigorously will they press after conformity to it.
4. Let us remember we are under a law in whatever case we be; and therefore our actions are a seed that will have a proportionable harvest. And there will be a day of judgement, wherein every man's works, and actions will be narrowly examined. Let us therefore study to conform our- . selves to the holy law of God, being holy as God is holy, and exercising ourselves to keep consciences void of offence both towards God and towards man.
THE MORAL LAW SUMMARILY COMPREHENDED IN THE TEN
MATTH. xix. 17.-1f thou wilt enter into life keep the com
THIS is Christ's answer to a self-justiciary, who expected
life by the works of the law. Christ, to convince him of his folly, sends him to the law, saying, If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
There are only two things which I take notice of here for our purpose. 1. That by the commandments are understood the ten commandments, ver. 18. where several of them are specified. 2. That under these commandments he comprehends the whole moral law; for this resolution of the young man's question is founded on that, Gal. iii. 12. The man that doth them shall live in them ;' compared with ver. 10.
For as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse. The man had deceived himself in taking the commandinents only according to the letter, and therefore thought he had kept them; but Christ finds him out new work in these commandments, which he had not thought of.
The doctrine I observe from the text is,
Doct. “The moral law is summarily comprehended in the
In discoursing from this subject, I shall shew,
III. How the moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commands.
. I. I shall shew how the moral law, or ten commandments, were given. There are ten commandments, not more nor fewer, as appears from Deut. 8. 4. where they are expressly
called ten. And therefore the papists, who in some sort leave out the second, split the tenth into two, to make up the number. They were given to the Israelites after they came out of their Egyptian bondage ; for they that cast off Satan's yoke, must take on the Lord's. They were given two ways.
1. By an audible voice from the Lord on mount Sinai, accompanied with great terror. Never was law given in such a solemn manner, with such dread and awful majesty, Exod. xix. Deut. iv. 5. Heb. xii. 18. The people were commanded to wash their clothes before the law was delivered to them. By this, as in a type, the Lord required the sanctifying of their ears and hearts to receive it. There were bounds and limits set to the mount, that it might breed in the people dread and reverence to the law, and to God the holy and righteous Lawgiver. There were great thunderings and lightenings. The artillery of heaven was shot off at that solemnity, and therefore it is called a fiery law.' The angels attended at the delivery of this law. The heavenly militia, to speak so, were all mustered out on this important occasion. In a word, the law was promulgated with the marks of supreme majesty; God by all this shewing how vain a thing it is for sinners to expect life by the works of the law; and thereby also shewing the necessity of a Mediator.
2. The ten commandments were written on two tables of stone, and that by the finger of God himself. This writing them on stone might hold out the perpetuity of that law, and withal the hardness of men's hearts. There were two tables that were given to Moses, written immediately by God himself, Exod. xxxi. ult. Those Moses brake, chap. xxxii. 16. 19; plainly holding out the entertainment they would get amongst men.
Then other two tables were hewn by Moses, yet written by the finger of God, chap. xxxiv. 1; for by the law is the sinner hewed, but by the spirit of gospel-grace is the law written on the heart. These two tables were afterwards laid up in the ark of the covenant, in order to be fulfilled by Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. This writing of the law upon tables of stone is justly supposed to have been the first writing in the world; and therefore this noble and useful invention was of divine origin, and the foundation of