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difficult to find any ten public occurrences, in the whole of his career, which were not previously delineated with a distinctness and precision, which at once marks the finger and wisdom of God, and confirms the truth of his divine relation to the Almighty.
IV. THE SOLEMN AFFIRMATION WITH WHICH HE
First. The vehemence of our Lord's address. "For verily, or truly, I say unto you." This was the usual manner of the Redeemer, whenever he discoursed on subjects of paramount importance to the sons of men. There was, invariably, a holy earnestness, a sacred and impassioned vehemence, in his mode of delivery on all subjects of eternal consequence. His heart was never hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, as our's too frequently are, and, therefore, He delivered the great and momentous truths of religion, of eternity, of heaven, and of hell, as one whose judgment believed them, and whose heart felt them as they ought to be felt. Every sentiment of pity and kindness prompted Him to it. He knew the value of the soul, for He was come to redeem it with his blood; He knew the joys of heaven, for He had just left the music of the skies, and the song of angels; He knew the danger of the spirit, from the attacks of Satan, and the artfulness of the world; He knew the depths of perdition, the gnawing conscience, and the unquenchable flame, and his heart of tenderness was melted within him. Ah! how much more good would have been effected, and how much wider the triumphs of the gospel had been ere this, had not our heart been so often a stranger to this holy
philanthropy! The good Lord pardon his servants for this thing, and help us to be more ardent and unwearied "in well doing" for the time to come!
Secondly. The assurance which He thus impressively delivers;-" One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." By these expressions, "one jot, or one tittle," we are to understand, that the law will not concede the smallest point of its divine claims on our regard and observance. "Not the least letter, as if it had been said, nor the most trifling stroke or flourish of the pen, shall be struck out of God's revealed and unchangeable law. It is the immutable, and, therefore, the eternal will of the Most High. It is founded in his nature, and required by the order of things which He has established, and which cannot, therefore, be nullified. It is appointed as the natural and righteous rule of all his creatures. It shall never be relaxed, or impaired; nor shall it be infringed with impunity. Its threatenings shall be accomplished, and its penalties inflicted. It shall, at length, be all fulfilled, either by full obedience to its demands, or punishment suffered for its violation."*
Thirdly. The period fixed for its continuance. "Till heaven and earth pass." It is not uncommon in the sacred writings to find the stability and duration of any spiritual truth or promise compared to the perpetuity of the heavenly bodies. Thus, we read of the mediatorial dominion and empire of the Lord Jesus Christ: "His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven."+ There are several parallel passages, where the same comparison is employed, and the same truth established. Thus, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
* Brewster in loco. + Psalm 1xxxix. 36, 37.
Matt xxiv. 35.
particularly in these words-"The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail."* The meaning of all these representations seems to be this,-that all the material world shall perish, before one thing can fail of its accomplishment or change its nature, in the moral world; or before the ever blessed God can fail to fulfil the designs of his law, and the predictions of his prophets. And it may be further remarked, that whereas some parts of the great scheme of Jewish worship were types of those eternal blessings which are reserved for the temple above, they would only have their perfect consummation when the present state should be for ever dissolved. We must not, indeed, suppose, that when "heaven and earth shall pass away," that then the law will transpire. It is as permanent in its nature as the throne of the Almighty from whence it was given.
The explanation of the subject is now closed, and the application only remains.
which we learn from It is our obligation,
First. Observe the great truth this passage. I need only name it. under all circumstances, to take the moral law as the rule of our conduct. That which was dishonesty under one dispensation, is dishonesty under another. Crime is crime, sin is sin, and theft is theft, in all places, and by whomsoever it may be committed. And while I rejoice, in common with my fellow Christians, that " we are redeemed from the curse of the law "by the death of "the Mediator of a better covenant" than that of works; yet that very self-same law is to be the rule of action in all our dealings with each other. A man who would deliberately
Luke xvi. 16, 17.
break down one of its divine precepts, shows himself never to have rightly received the gospel of God's grace. "Do we make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea we establish the law." I hold it, on the authority of scripture, that every man who knows and believes aright the appointed method of salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ, sees, in that divine scheme, the demands of the moral law confirmed, the danger of breaking it awfully displayed, and the everlasting obligation he is under "to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in the present world,” clearly demonstrated.
Secondly. We may regard this subject as strengthening to our faith. If there can be any doubt on your mind as to the truth of the Son of God being the Saviour foretold in prophecy, the evidence adduced in this lecture will, I hope, assist in its removal. There is a twofold proof of his divinity in this fact, namely, that his life was declared by many witnesses to be unblemished, and that all the circumstances of his birth, ministry, sufferings, general character, and death, were in entire correspondence with previously announced and accredited predictions. There could be no imposture here. Had his spirit and conduct been opposed to the moral law, and his history in discordance with the page of prophecy concerning the Messiah, whatever miracles He might pretend to work, and whatever truths He might inculcate, we could not believe. But his character is valid, and will not shrink from the severest scrutiny. It is not a painting that must be viewed at a distance; it is a reality and the more closely it is examined, and the better it is understood, the stronger will the evidence appear of its divine and celestial origin. Like all the works of God, the nearer you view it, and the more you become acquainted with
* Rom. iii. 31.
it, the deeper will be your conviction that it is genuine, and the higher will you hold it in estimation.
Finally. There is one view of the subject that makes it dreadful to the sinner, in the same proportion as it is consoling to the righteous. If the promises of the gospel and the principles of justice are so certain as the foregoing reflections have premised; if all that is pleasant and delightful in the system of revealed truth will survive the overthrow of the material universe, then so will all that is awful and alarming! The execution of threatened punishment is as sure to the wicked, as the stability of promised mercy is to the saint. Ah! dreadful conclusion, as it regards the ungodly. Still the great and solemn truth is unrepealed; still it is, and ever shall be, unrepealable, that "neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."* With this awful assurance I now dismiss you. May you be washed, sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God."
* 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10.