Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

than another. Therefore we see how often the Scripture insists upon this. The execution of the law upon other guilty creatures is a warning to us. If he spared not the fallen angels, if he spared not Sodom and Gomorrah, all who, like them, rebel against God, and transgress his laws, may learn their doom; for it is an ordinary objection made by persons against the judge who deals unrighteously, for a criminal to say, If I be punished, either the judge was in the wrong in sparing such a one, or he is in the wrong in punishing me.

The authority, and majesty, and sovereignty of God, is evidently concerned in this magnifying of the threatening and penalty of the law. There is nothing more shocking to that reason that God has given to man, than to see the ruler of any society wanting that authority which he ought to have; to see a magistrate without authority among his subjects; to see a parent without authority among his children, or a master among his servants: but all that is nothing, in comparison of beholding the Creator without authority among his creatures. In other cases, it would only infer confusion and want of order in families or kingdoms; but this case we are speaking of, would infer confusion in the universe. The former case refers to discord for a small time, but the other supposes the law of God neglected entirely, and fallen to the ground, and his authority despised. This would bring in confusion and universal disorder.

The unchangeable wisdom, and truth, and justice of God, is concerned likewise; for to make a law, is to signify an inclination to continue it and when a sovereign makes a law to his subjects, he may be said in some sense, to make a law to himself; that is to say, when he obliges his subjects to obey the law, he obliges himself to maintain the authority of the law. Even the glory of the goodness of the lawgiver is concerned in this. A good king will always make good laws against evil actions; and the same reason that is for making them, is for keeping up their authority, and putting them in execution.

We may consider here, that, in the government of the world, God is both lawgiver and judge. This is not always in other governments. The lawgiver may be absent, or may be dead; the judge may dis pense with the law as to us, without the lawgiver's fault. When a judge disannuls a law, it reflects on the lawgiver, condemning what he did. Indeed, in the laws of men, because men are creatures liable to mistake, it is oftentimes an honour to them to dispense with the law, considering that cases may fall in they never foresaw when the law was made. But here, considering the infinite wisdom of God, that cannot take place.

The glory of the holiness of God is concerned in it likewise. But this would lead us to consider the nature of God's law. God's law is his image in a manner. God is love, and love is the fulfilling of the law. God's law commands such things as God necessarily loves; for God must love himself, and consequently love holiness, and love holiness in every being that has it, and hate the contrary, and show his hatred of it.

(2.) The end of the law of God is an end of unspeakably greater importance than the end of the laws of men. The immediate end is the holiness and glory of God, and happiness of his creatures. The laws of men, the last end of them, is, or should be, the glory of God. The laws of men cannot punish every thing contrary to the holiness of God; holiness has its seat in the heart. Men cannot make laws against what is contrary to holiness; because they can never know nor prove such things, nor conse quently punish them. The end of the moral law is the end of our being, the end of the being of all things; it is the end of creation and providence. The original end of it, at first, was to make creatures glorify God and be thankful to him. I am speaking of the original end of the law to creatures, not to sinners; which is, to bring to him who fulfilled the law, to give us the knowledge of sin: but the other end

likewise continues still. It is the end of all those laws of nature that govern heaven and earth, sun, moon, and stars. The moral law is the highest law; it is the law given to the inhabitants of the world, to reasonable creatures.

Every body is convinced, that it is agreeable to reason, that even the laws of nature given to the sun, moon, and stars, should be kept up to the end of the world. There is nothing more unreasonable, than the scruples of unbelievers against the miracles in the Bible, for deviation from the laws of nature. Indeed to believe miracles for trifling ends, is not reasonable; but the miracles wrought by Moses, publishing the moral law, when man through wickedness had forgot it, and by Christ in fulfilling the law, were of the greatest importance; and, in that case, to dispense with the laws of nature, was not properly a breaking of them, but making them subservient to a higher end, for which it was designed. But even the laws given to lifeless creatures are so kept up, that they may make men less wonder, that God keeps up the authority of that law, which is of incomparably greater importance.

(3.) The kingdom of God, governed by this law, shews the importance of it. It is of incomparably greater extent than any other. If the laws of any kingdom were dispensed with, then the kingdom would run to confusion. The confusion of other kingdoms is nothing in comparison of this. Keeping up order in this, is of incomparably greater importance. This kingdom is also of incomparably greater duration. God's kingdom is over all, from everlasting to everlasting. God's government is supreme; every other government is subordinate to it. It is of far greater moment that the law should be kept up in the supreme government, than in the subordinate. What is done wrong in the subordinate one, may be rectified therefore it is of unspeakably greater importance that all the strictest regard be had to justice in the supreme government.

The reasons that are for dispensing with the law in other kingdoms and governments, cannot take place here. The multitude of rebels and criminals is a reason in human governments for dispensing with the penalty of the law, when many subjects are guilty. Many times there are some crimes forbidden by law so numerous, that if the law were put in execution upon all, it would, in some respect, empty the dominions. And other kings cannot make up the loss of subjects; such sovereigns stand in need of heir subjects, depend upon them, are maintained by hem. The Sovereign of the world has no need of his subjects. All nations of the earth, as Isaiah the prophet tells us, (chapter xli.), are before him as less than nothing. He has no occasion for them; they are the greatest criminals that can be against God; he stands in no need of them, because he can create innumerable better to serve him in a moment.

2. We proceed briefly, after considering the importance of the execution of the penalty of the law, to show the properties of Christ's suffering the penalty of the law.

(1) It was a real execution of the law. It would have altered the nature of our redeinption very much, if Christ had only come to explain the law, without fulfilling it; only to teach us our duty, without atoning for our sin. Christ could have taught us our duty without assuming our nature. He teaches us our duty by others; but purges our sins by himself. The law was given by Moses, but fulfilled only by Christ. It magnified the law indeed, when the Son of God did spend so much time upon earth, in publishing and explaining the law. But execution is a quite different thing. The putting laws in execution is one of the fittest things to inspire subjects with veneration and respect to the law. Actual execution gives more impression than pronouncing of threatenings. Men can make a shift to doubt of any thing that is to come; it is not so easy to argue against

what is past. God's threatenings should be believed whenever pronounced; yet we see Adam doubted of them till he came to feel them. We follow him in his unbelief that way; and it is the readiest thing in the world we imitate him in, in misbelieving threatenings. But the actual execution of them is an excellent remedy against that unbelief.

It is not

(2.) It is a total execution of the law. needful to insist to show, that this is singular. No other punishment of creatures can be called such. The law is put in execution properly when all that is threatened is accomplished. Those who are in hell will never have to say that which he said on the cross, "It is finished." It is of him only that can be said, Dan. ix. that he made an end of sin, of the punishment of it. He died unto sin," as the apostle expresses it, Rom. vi. "once." Every wicked man dies for sin. Though we distinguish between a violent and natural death, yet the natural death of every wicked man that dies in unbelief is an execution of divine wrath, he dies for sin; but to die to sin is to put away that burden of sin which brought death upon us *. So Christ will come the second time, without sin, unto salvation. He not only died for sin, but unto it; he bore all the weight of it. This serves

to magnify the law, by shewing the certainty of the threatening, everlasting punishment. The end of eternity cannot be seen; but yet when a punishment equivalent to everlasting punishment was actually borne by Christ, it was a kind of ocular demonstration to the eye of the eternity of the punishment of sin.

pa

(3) Another property of it briefly we name is rallel to what we said of Christ's obedience. It was not only a total execution of the law, but an execution of it upon the most honourable person that could suffer. It was said of David, that he was worth more than ten thousand. The law is execu

See Heb. ix. 26.

« ForrigeFortsæt »