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among us, or we would not have so little respect to that station he lived in. That a man is a poor man, is enough to give the most diminishing thoughts of him. A poor godly man is rather a character or object of disdain, than esteem; and yet the character of a poor godly man was the character that the Creator of the world chose of all others when he passed some time in it.
These things serve to shew how Christ magnified the law; because whatever magnifies holiness, whatever magnifies obedience, doth magnify the law, and its commands. And we see from these considera tions, that Christ choosed to lower the price of every other thing, in order to raise the price of obedience to God's laws.
IN discoursing on these words in the forenoon, it was shown, that they are to be understood of the work of redemption; and that in the work of redemption, God hath magnified his law in a particular manner by the perfect obedience that his Son gave to it, and the manner in which he performed that obedience, particularly by fulfilling the law in such a mean and low condition as he did; that whereas it was easy for him to have shewn himself glorious in power, and every thing that the world esteem and overvalue, he chose only, in a manner, to show himself glorious in holiness, and to lessen the price of every other thing, except obedience to God, considering how he endeavoured, by his behaviour, in fulfilling the law, to shew, that holiness, divested of riches, is the greatest ornament that any reasonable creature is capable of.
It would be easy to show likewise, how that Christ lived in the world, so as to lessen the value of all other qualifications that men are ready to value more than holiness. We shall only instance in one thing. It was easy for the Son of God to have shewn know
ledge, profound knowledge, incomparably beyond all the learning of the greatest geniuses that ever the world could boast of; whereas we see, that Christ, in a manner, confined himself so much to the magnifying of the law, and of obedience, that there is this distinguishing character of Christ's doctrine beyond that of all others, that there is nothing to gratify curiosity, nothing but what is useful to encourage holiness and obedience. It was easy for him to have mingled with his doctrine such things as would have discovered the most perfect knowledge of all the mysteries of nature and works of God; but Christ was so intent upon his magnifying of the law, that all other things were neglected by him, in order to honour this, and dishonour every other thing comparatively that could come in competition with it.
To set this in a further light, we would briefly consider, not only the universal influence of Christ's example, but also the great force of it to all that duly consider it and love it. Creatures that are capable to be subject to a law, must be reasonable creatures, social creatures; consequently creatures to whom example is one of the most powerful motives to action. Ye see how that, even in human government, judges, in distributing either rewards or punishments, have regard chiefly,, not to the particular effects of a good or bad action, but to the example of it. Good actions are rewarded, evil actions are punished, to encourage the imitation of the one, and to prevent the infection of the other; nor can any subject in human government merit better at the hands of the Deity, than by setting the greatest and noblest pattern of obedience to other subjects. In this respect, therefore, (though this is not the only thing to be considered about Christ's obedience), there are infinitely greater merits in Christ's obedience than in any other whatsoever. It is easy to observe in Scripture, how frequently we are commanded and exhorted to holiness by God's example, to be holy because he is holy. This we have in the Old Testament oftener than once
with regard to God, essentially considered. Christ's obeying the law as he did, brings the example, or the argument, far nearer and closer, because that he performed those very actions that he requires of us. What an unspeakable encouragement is this to every act of devotion, of honesty, of justice, of righteousness, of charity, to say, that such and such an action is an action that God incarnate did before us, and did it on purpose, not only to entitle us to bliss, but to recommend to us our duty!
All examples of obedience are not of equal force. There are two things in the example of Christ that are incomparable; the excellency of his person, and also his being a benefactor to us. The example of great, and excellent, and honourable persons, reflects a lustre upon any practice or custom of which they set a pattern. It gives an air of dignity to any behaviour of persons among men, that it is a royal or courtly behaviour. The Lord hath in Christ put a dignity, in a particular manner, on the royal law of liberty. The force of great persons' example is so considerable, that oft-times it makes men, out of respect to their greatness, to follow their example, even in their infirmities. So historians tell us of Alexander the Great, that his courtiers, because there was some natural infirmity that he had, though it was an infirmity, yet because it was Alexander's infirmity, they endeavoured, by an unnatural affectation, to imitate to themselves what was to him natural. With unspeakable more reason, had we the impressions of the greatness of God and of his Son, would his example be an additional motive to that practice, which is of itself so just and honourable.
We e may say there is a sort of blessed affectation in endeavouring to be as like as possible unto Christ in our temper and behaviour; to him who was made so like to us in outward state and circumstances; especially considering, in the 2d place, not only the excellency of his person, but his relation to us as our chief benefactor, the source and fountain of all our
blessings and benefits. The example of Jesus Christ's fulfilling the law, considering the excellency of his person, was an additional motive to magnify and recommend the law, even to angels; but as he is a benefactor, gives an additional strength to his example with regard to us; especially considering, that his obedience to the law itself was a benefit to us, his obedience to the law, and satisfying it, being the source and fountain of all our blessings. Nothing, therefore, is more reasonable, than practising that, of which the highest recommendation was given, by what, at the same time, conferred on us the highest benefit. Indeed the merit of Christ is but another name for his fulfilling the law; it is that obedience by which we are justified, and have a title to glory.
II. The second thing in the work of redemption that magnifies the law, and makes it honourable, is, that Christ not only fulfilled the commandments, but also the penalty of it, by his sufferings and death.
1. But before we consider this directly, it is useful to consider the great moment and importance of magnifying the law, by putting it in execution upon disobedience and transgression; for it is natural for us, corrupt and guilty creatures, to have an aversion to believe this doctrine more than any thing else. No wonder it should be so. No wonder that one who has transgressed the law, and is under the power of corruption, should have an aversion to believe the necessity of the execution of punishment for what he has done; and yet sense and reason tell us, that a law without a penalty, is no law at all. That a superior should reveal to us his will, and yet threaten no punishment upon disobedience, is not a law, but an advice, a counsel, a recommendation, a request. A Jaw is not a law, unless there be a penalty annexed. It is not the part of a sovereign to request, but to command. And if a law cannot be a law without a penalty, without a threatening, neither can that law
be kept up, without putting the penalty in execution. The glory and honour of the law depend upon it. But in this case, to show the import of keeping up the authority of the law, we may take a short view of these two or three things; the author of the law, the matter and end of it, and the kingdom that is commanded by it.
(1.) The author of the law. God is the lawgiver, as well as the creator of the world. It is enough to shew that a thing is of the greatest importance, it we shew that God's glory is deeply concerned in it. Now the glory of the law, and of the lawgiver, are inseparable; they cannot be distinguished; they are one and the same thing. We are said to glorify God, when we obey the precepts of the law; but yet the glory and honour of the law do not depend upon our obedience. There are two parts in this, the part of the sovereign, and of the subject. The part of the subject is, to obey the commandments of the law; the part of the sovereign is, to keep up the authority of the law. Though that subjects neglect their part, the sovereign may do his; when that is not done, the honour of the law falls to the ground. It is a different thing to disobey the law, and to disannul it. A creature can do the one, but not the other. Though the law be broken, yet whether obeyed or disobeyed, while that treatment is given to disobedience and obedience which God has appointed, the authority of the law is still kept up. But if the sovereign neglect his part, dispense with the execution of the law, then does indeed the law fall to the ground and pass away; which Christ tells us (Matth. v.) cannot be, till heaven and earth pass away. If he should dispense with it wholly, or in part, with re-. gard to some, and not to others, it would be contrary to the nature of justice. As the word of God teach es us, justice is equal, God accepteth no man's person; justice is an even uniform thing. Friendship is a different case; one may give greater gifts to one than another, but not dispense with the law to one more