صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. The world is ignorant of God, ignorant of the law, ignorant of the gospel, ignorant of Christ, and his righteousness.

1. Ignorance of God, is one cause of this legal temper. People are ignorant of the perfections of God; more particularly, they are ignorant of the holiness of God: If men saw what an infinite holy God he is, and what an infinite hatred he bears towards the least fin, or violation of his law; if they knew that a proud thought were enough to damn a million of angels, and that a wandering thought is enough to damn a million of worlds, would they entertain a fancy of being justified and accepted upon the ground of any legal righteousness of their own, whether natural or gracious ? Nay, they would not imagine to be thus acceptedy, if they did not think, that God is such an one as themselves. They are ignorant also of the juftice of God, and the righteousness of that judge, who will by no means clear the guilty ; and if it were not so, that they were ignorant of his justice, would any guilty sinner hope to be cleared and acquitted any other way, than, upon the account of a ransom of infinite value? They are ignorant of the wisdom of God, in the glorious plan of redemption, and contrivance of salvation by the righteousness of another, even of the Gods man Christ Jesus. Ignorance of these, and the like attributes and perfections of God, is the great cause of their being joined to the law, and alive to it,

2. Igno,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

2. Ignorance of the law is another cause. And here, 1. They are ignorant of the precept of the law in the extent, spirituality, holiness and perfection thereof: The young man in the gospel thought himself perfect; Why? He did not know the law. Paul thought himself blameless, while he was alive to the law. Men think it a narrow rule, condemning only some grofs enormities of life, and commanding only fome outward materials of obedience; but they see not the commandment to be exceeding broad; hence they imagine, they can observe it perfectly well. 2. They are ignorant of the penalty of the law, the sanction of it: They do not believe, that there is a curfe intailed upon every disobedience, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them. Hence they are fond of their own legal righteousness, not knowing the severity of the legal sanction. 3. They are ignorant of the end of the law, even of God's end and design in giving it. God gave the law to Ifrael with fire and thunder: For what end? Even to be a schoolmaster to lead them to Christ, Gal. ji. 24. For Christ is the end of the law for rightousness, to every one that believeth, Rom. x. 4. But behold, so ignorant was Ifrael of the end of the law, that like the legal fpirit in our own day, they thought it was given for this end, that they might obey it as a condition of life, as it bore the image and representation of a covenant of works; so they turned it directly to a covenant of works,

5, Exod. xix. 8. All that the Lord batb commanded, we will do. If it had been possible or practicable for them to have performed what they ignorantly promised, there would have been no


need of Christ, or his righteousness either : We will do, say they, there is obedience; we will do, yea, we will do all, there is perfect obedience ; yea, we will do all that the LORD JEHOVAH hath commanded us; there is exactly, and perpetually perfect obedience : Yea, we do all, we ourselves; there is their perfect personal obedience resolved upon; As if they had in their poffeffion all the power and holiness that Adam had in' innocence, What says Joshua to them, upon such a proud, ignorant, and arrogant resolution as this ? 'Indeed, he tells them, it was simply impossible for them; Ye cannot ferve the Lord, for he is a boly God; Joh. xxiv. 19. He is a holy God, and you're a finful people ; it is impossible for you to do what you fay. The law was given them to let them see their utter insufficiency and inability to let them see their fins, and defert because of sin, that, under the fear of divine wrath, they might be driven to the Saviour. But they being ignorant of this great end of the law, set up an obedience of their own.

3. Ignorance of the gospel is another cause of this legal temper ; and here manifold ignorance discovers itself. 1. They are ignorant of the promises of the gospel, such as that, Ifa. xlv. 24. Surely shall one say, in the Lord, have I righteousness and prength. Here is a sum of the gospel-promise, a promise of Christ, and of faith in him : Surely Ihall one say; here is a promise of faith, and faith working out from the heart to the mouth; for with the heart men believe to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. One shall say, What? no more but one? What a pity is it, that only one should say so? Indeed it intimates that very few will be brought off from

[ocr errors]

their legal temper. One shall say, not every one. Well, but what will he say? In the Lord have I righteousness and strength ; righteousness for justification, strength for sanctification; righteousness to make me happy, strength to make me holy; righteousness to give me a title to heaven, strength to give me meetness for heaven. I have all this, shall one say, by the appropriating act of faith, applying all to himself in particular, with allured confidence, 'according to the measure of faith. I have righteousness and strength. Where hath he it? It is in the Lord I have it; I have it not in myself, nor in my own natural power, I have it not in my own free-will, I have it not in my walk or conversation, I have it not in my zeal or profeffion, I have it not in my religious duties or performances, I have it not in my heart or life, nay, certainly I have it not there; but surely in the Lord have I righteousness and strength, in the Lord only: Men are ignorant of this. 2. They are ignorant of the method of the gospel, in the application of the grace promised, particularly in the command of believing, which belongs to the dispensation of the gospel; wherein the law, both in its commands and threatenings, is used in a subserviency to advance the ends of the gospel. Though the law does not teach us to believe in Chrift, yet he being revealed, it obliges us to believe in him; though the law reveals not a saviour, yet the gospel revealing him, the law obliges us to come to him. But now this method of the gospel, and dispensation thereof is not known in the world; hence come legal notions of it, men confounding the command of believing with the gospel to be believed ; the duty of faith with the object of faith ; and so


turn the gospel to a new law, a new covenant of works, as if the act of believing were our righteoufness for acceptance with God. Neither can they conceive the command of believing to be the great command, tho' God himfelf hath faid, This is bis commandment, that we believe in the name of his son: Nay, legalists cannot understand that; they think it is God's great command, that feeing they have finned by breaking the law, they should repent by turning to it; Teeing they have displeased God by their fins, they should please him by their re pentance ; seeing they have provoked him by their disobedience, they Nould pacify him by their obedience; seeing they have drawn down the curse by their transgrestions, they should remove it by their reformation: They do not know that the great command is, to believe on the Son of God. 3. They are ignorant of the great end of the gospel, which is to humble and abase the creature to the lowest, and to raise and exalt grace to the highest; that No flesh should glory in God's presence, but that be that glorieth, pould glory in the Lord; in the Lord fall all the feed of Ifrael be justified, and shall glory's

This is the great end and design of the gospel ; but the bafe legal spirit is ignorant of that defign, 4. They are ignorant of the gospel-covenant: The doctrinal and practical confounding of the two Cou venants of works and grace is the great reafon of this legal temper. And here people discover igporance of the condition of the covenant ; they are ignorant of the condition of the covenant of grace and works; the condition of the covenant of works was personal obedience, the man himself that does these things shall live in them; and perfect obedience was required, a perfection of parts, a per


« السابقةمتابعة »