Page images

internal constitution, consists of promises only with respect to us. In its external administration and effec. tual application, it has commandments also. In that sense it is a covenant of promise, Eph. ii. 12. In this it is full of commandments, Psalm ciii. 18.

And therefore some of the most judicious divines have call. ed the laws of the ten commandments, the laws of the covenant *

6thly and Lastly, on this part of the subject, we may learn the various uses and relations of the law to man in whatever state. There ever was since his creation, and there ever will be, some relation betwixt the law and him. As soon may he be deprived of existence, as freed from subjection to the law in some sense.

It may be divested of one relation, but it never can of all. The moment it ceases to have one relation, it is clothed with another. To know these different relations, and the various powers, uses and effects issuing from them, is no contemptible attainment, worthy the attention of the Christian, and most conducive to a holy and a comfortable life. Man in innocence was under the blessing of the law: in a state of nature he is under its curse: in a staie of grace he is under its direction, and will be in that of glory. It ever attends him as an inseparable companion. It not only prepares the elect-man for Christ, its plough-share tearing open the heart and fitting it for the incorruptible seed: but when regenerated by Christ, it directs him in the ways of the Lord. Before union with Christ, it was an instrument of the spirit of bondage to cast down and to bruise the man: after union it is the instrument of the Spirit of adoption to promote sanctifica. tion. Thus the law leads to Christ, and Christ leads us back to the law. It leads to him as to a Redeemer, he to it as a guide and director of life. While we kept it, we enjoyed its blessing. Having broken it, we became' obnoxious to its curse. Being redeemed from its curse, we are notwithstanding subjected to its com

* Boston's View of the Covenant of Grace, p. 283.


mands. It commands, not as a covenant to be thereby justified or condemned: but as a rule to be thereby guided into the way of peace. And while we look to the tables of the law as the rule of duty, we must look to the cross of Christ for assistance and acceptance

in duty,





GAL, iv, 24.

The one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth unto


The fifth and last thing proposed, was to shew how the Sinai covenant gendereth to bondage. These are the two covenants, saith the text, the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth unto bondage, viz. unto bondage of state, and bondage of spirit, Rom. viii. 2, 15. We need scarcely observe that bondage is opposite to liberty, as fear to boldness. Whatsoever tends to fill the mind with a forbidding fear, gendereth to bondage, because fear hath torment, 1 John iv. 18. But not to anticipate what will occur more naturally in its proper place, I beg leave to make two remarks before I show how the Sinaitic covenant gendereth to bondage. And the First is,

The very manner in which the Sinaitic covenant was given, gendereth to bondage. Every circumstance at. tending that transaction was calculated to fill the minds of the Israelites with terror. The mount was railed around by Jehovah's "express command. And whosoever touched the border of the hill, was to die, were it man or beast, Exod. xix. 12, 13. Heb. xii. 20.

When the third, the solemn day was come, early the dreadful thunders began to roar, the lightnings to flash, and the trump of God to sound louder and louder. The tribes are summoned to attend, trembling seizes all the camp, and Moses their leader, man of God as he was, cries out, I exceedingly fear and quake, Exod. xix. 16. Heb. xii. 21. Inanimate nature discerns her Maker's approach, and Sinai is altogether on a smoke at the Almighty's touch. The mountain and the multitude, all, all are trembling at the presence of the Law-giver. Death is written as on every face, and the cry of Beth-shemesh, “ Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?” is heard at Horeb. Orders are given a second time to prohibit the people's gaze, lest many of them perish. The priests and the people must not break through to come up unto the Lord, lest he break forth upon them, Exod. xix. 21–24. If they come nigh, it is at their peril. How unlike, how opposite, was all this to the glorious liberty of the sons of God? What bondage of spirit did it gender among all the thousands of Israel? When they perceived the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they removed and stood afar off. In their representatives, they came near to Moses, and besought him to go near to that God whose presence they durst not approach, and whose words they trembled to hear. Speak thou with us, said they, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. This great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die, Exod. xx. 19. Deut. iv. 23—27. If we hear the voice of the Lord our God!

-Strange, to die with terror at the voice of their own God! Were not his first words full of grace? I am the Lord thy God. Yes. But the awful circumstances attending this proclamation, made them in effect forget every thing but their own danger. The thunder, the earthquake, the fire, the smoke, and the trumpet made deeper impressions on them than the words of grace. As law may be preached evangelically, so here the gospel was given amidst legal terrors. The one covenant was given together with the other. And the smoke of the fiery law, was ready to obscure the precious words of gospel.grace. Thus the very manner in which the Sinai covenant was given, gendereth to bondage. It brought saints themselves into a kind of comparative bondage, from which we are now hap. pily delivered under the New Testament. Of this the apostle puts the Hebrews in mind, chap. xii. 18, 19, 20, 21. Ye are not come unto the mount that was touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, which voice they that heard, intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more. But I observe,

2dly. The Sinaitic transaction subjected the Old Testament church to the galling yoke of ceremonies. We have seen already that the ceremonies had a double relation, legal and evangelic. By that they stood related to the covenant of works, by this to the covenant of grace. Both these relations are intimated by the apostle, Heb. x. 1, 3. The law had a shadow of good things to come, viz. inasmuch as it was typical of Christ the body, and so as it was related to the covenant of grace. But in those sacrificestherewasa remembrance of sins. In them, as related to the broken covenant of works, there was a remembrance of sin, of sin as not yet expiated. They contained a hand-writing that was against us, that was contrary to us, (Col. ii. 14.) and which therefore did not belong to the covenant of grace, every article whereof is for us. In them there was a remembrance of sin, not only in the conscience of the offerer, but as by God himself

. I do not say a remembrance of it, as still inputing it to such as believed in the promised Seed. No, no: but as not being yet expiated by the blood of his Son. As often as the sacrifices were offered, that God, on whose altar they lay, said, My justice is not yet satisfied. Thus he remembered sin. Whereas now under the New

« PreviousContinue »