Page images

hended and received by faith only, without works, in this case all boasting is utterly excluded. This is the apostle's doctrine, which I will endeavour to establish by the following arguments. And,

First, there has been no other way or method discovered of establishing the inoral law, after it had been broken, of repairing its honour and dignity, but by the law of faith. The moral law is holy, just, and good. It is the will of the most high God, and therefore partakes of the divine holiness, justice, and goodness. It is as holy, just, and good, as God is, and can no more behold the least iniquity, than he can; so that when all flesh was become guilty before God, upon account of the breach of the moral law, there could be no longer any salvation expected from it; for the decree is positive and absolute" By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

In what way then, or by what means may they be justified, whom the law condemns? As all have sinned, and robbed the law of its glory, it pleased God, of his infinite grace, to contrive a way whereby the sinner might be saved, and yet his law and justice might be maintained in their full honour and dignity. The Son of God, equal with his Father in every perfection and attribute, undertook to stand in the place of sinners, and, as their representative, to do and to suffer for them whatever law and justice demanded. The Father was well pleased for his righteousness sake, because he knew that his beloved Son would magnify the law, and bring honour to his justice. When the fulness of time was come, and the word was made flesh, for us and our salvation, he wrought out that righteousness, with which his Father was. well pleased. His obedience to the moral law was for sinners, that by the obedience of one many might be made righteous, and he kept the law in all things, continually, perfectly, in thought, word and deed, in its spiritual nature, and in its utmost extent. This obedience was such, that he challenged the enemy to find the least failing in it, (John xiv. 30,)“ the prince

of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." Yea, he could appeal to the all-searching eye of infinite justice for the absolute perfection of his obedience. Just before his sufferings began, he said, “ Father, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” -John, xvii. 4. The work of his active obedience being finished, he then undertook to suffer for sinners, the pain and penalties due to their breach of the moral law. He suffered once for sin, the just for the unjust; he took their griefs, and carried their sorrows; he was wounded for their transgressions, and was bruised for their iniquities; the chastisement of their peace was upon him, and by his stripes they are healed. He bled, he was made a curse, he died, that by his death they might live : for he who did and suffered these things was God. He was truly a dli vine and infinite person, self-existent, co-eternal, and co-equal with the Father: for as our church well expresses it, that which we believe of the glory of the Father, the same we believe of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, without any difference or inequality. And since there is no difference or inequality between the persons of the ever-blessed Trinity, consequently what the Lord Christ did and suffered was as infinitely meritorious as if the Father had done and suffered it. When the Lord our righteousness stood up to pay the law obedience, the dignity of his person brought more honour to the law than the obedience of all created beings, angels and men, could possibly have done; because their obedience would have been only finite, whereas his was divine and infinite; and they could only have wrought out a righteousness sufficient to save themselves, whereas he has brought in an everlasting righteousness, to save even the ungodly. The prophet Isaiah, speaking on this subject, says, (xlii. 21, "the Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake-he will magnify the law, and make it honourable." And he did magnify it, hy. completing it: he paid it both an active and passive obedience in the most perfect degree, and established it in his highest honour and dignity; by which means even that justice from which the sinner had most to fear may now be glorified in justifying him; for God may now be just, and yet be the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.

The righteousness which is the ground and matter of our justification is called in scripture the righteousness of faith, because faith receives and applies it, and the law of faith, because the sinner is obliged to accept of this righteousness by faith only, and the manner of his receiving it is by imputation. As Christ took our sins upon him, and was a sinner by imputation, he was made sin for us, who knew no sin, so we are made the righteousness of God in him ; not righteous in ourselves inherently, but in him; we are righteous only in him: his righteousness - is imputed to us, and made ours by faith; even as Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness. And, in this way of justifying a sinner by imputed righteousness, the moral law is so far from being made void, that it is established, and the great end of it is answered: for the apostle says, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” The end of the law was to justify those who keep it: “Do this, and thou shalt live;" but we attain not to this end, because through the corruption of our nature we do not keep the law perfectly; but Christ fulfilled the law for all those who believe in him, and thereby he became the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. By believing we receive his righteousness, and then we answer the end of the law. Thus the law of faith does infinite honour to the moral law, and the believer is continually glorifying it: for his language is this—I acknowledge the law of God to be perfectly holy, just, and good ; it requires nothing but what is for the glory of the great Lawgiver, and for the good of his creatures, and no satisfaction can be made to its honour and dignity, after it has been once broken, but what is infinitely meritorious, which no sinner

can possibly pay. But thanks be to God for the unspeakable gift of Christ's righteousness, which, by faith, is mine. His active and passive obedience are imputed unto me for righteousness, and I can now give glory to the moral law of God, by acknowledge ing myself to be justly condemned by it, and by placing my whole trust and confidence in Jesus Christ, who of God is made unto me righteousness.

Thus the moral law is established. It was fulfilled in Christ, and the end of it is answered in believers : from whence it appears, that the law of faith has provided a full security for the honour and dignity of the moral law, and has magnified it, and made it honourable, not only in the way of justifying sinners, but also in their walk, and conversation after they are justified, which is the second argument I shall bring in defence of the apostle's doctrine.

The law of faith absolutely excludes all boasting and all confidence in our works; but it does not make void the moral law: for although Christ does deliver the sinner through faith in his righteousness from the guilt and condemnation of sin, and thereby justify him, yet he does not give him a discharge from all obedience to the moral law, but by many gracious motives inclines and enables him to keep it. He sends his good Spirit to enable the justified be liever to exercise all his faculties in paying a grateful obedience to the will of God.

His understanding was before in darkness. He knew not the will of God, and therefore formed a very wrong judgment of it, but now the Holy Spirit enlightens his understanding, and lets him see the goodness and equity of all God's commandments. He used to think some sins were very little, and might easily be pardoned, and in the commission of others he lived secure, without any remorse of con. science, hoping to make amends by repentance and reformation, and some sorrow and tears. But now: the case is altered. He sees the law in its spiritual nature and extent, in its holiness and justice, and

confesses that the least breach of it deserves everlasting misery; and although Christ has delivered him from the curse of the law, yet with his understanding he assents to its being for God's glory, and for his own interest, to walk in the law of the Lord.

And as the Holy Spirit enlightens his understanding, to see what the law of the Lord is, so he takes away the prejudices, and subdues the opposition, which were in his heart against it. The commandments cease to be grievous unto him. The love of God being shed abroad in his heart, constrains him to love God, and to love the will of God: for God and his will are one. He that loves God cannot hate God's will. Love cannot beget hatred. And therefore, when the Holy Spirit gives that faith which worketh by love, he then reconciles the believer's will to God's will, and he can truly say-Lord, what love have I unto thy law! I see the holiness, and goodness, and justice of it; my will approves of it, and my affections love it; yea, I love it above gold and precious stones. O give me strength that I may keep it with my whole heart! And the Holy Spirit does wonderfully strengthen believers in keeping it. He makes them strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might: for he sets their hearts at liberty, and then they run in the way of the commandments. So far then is faith from making void the moral law, that it establishes it as a rule of life for the believer, who endeavours by his holy walking to glorify it. As he has received Christ Jesus the Lord, so he desires to walk in him unto all pleasing: and this he would do, not to procure himself a right and title to heaven; for he received that when the Redeemer's righteous. ness was imputed to him for his justification; and gratitude for this inestimable gift constrains him to love God, who so exceedingly loved him, and to evidence this love in the way which God has required, and that is in a grateful obedience. This love, which casteth out all other fear, brings in a filial fear of displeasing his loving Father. He dreads nothing so

« PreviousContinue »