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upon their people to lift them out of the restingplaces where they found them. They swear by their honour still, they build upon their honesty, and decency, and respectable character, as they were wont to do. They are in soul the same as before they heard of God's law, with this difference, that they follow religious customs instead of irreligious customs; and so in France they would follow French customs ; in the city, city customs; and in the country, country customs.
The law, therefore, must stand wholly, or it must fall wholly; such is the nature of all legal institutions. Yet man cannot keep it wholly. How, then is man to escape? Here we find ourselves again at
? a stand, from which I challenge human reason to . deliver us, or afford us the shadow of a shelter. If God had not written out a law, sustaining our own conscience of good and evil, in all its purest judgments, and passing clean beyond into a region of superhuman, unclouded, celestial purity, there would have been a way of escape. You might have alleged against conscience what has been alleged by the jurisconsult, [noticed in the preceding discourse,] that it was a varying faculty in various minds, and not to be accounted of as a standard of the right and wrong. And there I think that jurisconsult is right, as he is also in seeking for something tangible which may be submitted to calculation by the lawgiver, and expounded in the shape of statute, not left in the fluctuating uncertainty of private feeling. Which seeing that God hath done giving us fixed and formal statutes.upon (I will not
say) calculations of utility, but most certainly issuing therein, there is no eluding or shunning of them; they must stand altogether, or altogether fall—they must be rejected altogether, or altogether be adopted.
If Christ had done no more than promulgate the code detailed above, then at this point I should have shut up this argument of Judgment to come, as not being able to make out of it any thing but universal condemnation to man, even though he should have done his best. I should have advised to preserve it for its good qualities in sustaining all the wholesome sentiments of the heart, and all the advantageous relationships of life,—but as an instrument to judge upon I should have been altogether dumb in its defence. But to his immortal praise, and our unspeakable deliverance from threatening judgment, He added to this constitution a second part, which removes this barrier impassable by human reason, and lifts us into new capacities of obedience. This second part of his constitution we are now to unfold.
Here we have to introduce an idea, which will be new, and therefore
may sound strange to such of our readers as are unacquainted with the Gospel of Christ; but we beg of them not to break off, but to hear us to an end; for we must proceed according to the rule which we laid down for the conducting of our argument, gathering the matters of fact out of the revelation, and showing that the whole is conducive to every good and noble , and gainful end.
Next to the existence of God, the truth most frequently revealed in Scripture, is that Christ is a Saviour from sins. Whether you take the prophets who spake of him before, or the
apostles who spake of him after his coming, or his own account of himself, they are harmonious upon this point,--that the great object of his coming was to save men from the consequence of transs gressions. Isaiah hath it so written in many places, “ All we, like sheep, have gone astray, and the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all.”. Jeremiah, describing the æra of his coming, or as he calls it, of the New Covenant, puts these words into the mouth of God, “ I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.” So also Ezekiel, when speaking of the same event. Daniel describes Messiah the prince as coming to“ finish transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in an everlasting righteousness.” So also it is written in Micah, Zechariah, and Malachi. When he was announced by the angel to Joseph, it was in these words, “ His name shall be called Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” At his birth, the angels rejoiced over him as a “Saviour." Zacharias
sung of him as a “ Redeemer.” Simeon hailed him as “ Salration arrived to all people."
” John the Baptist announced him as “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world." He announced himself as such in almost every miracle, saying, “ Thy sins be forgiven thee.” He put his miracles forth as evidence of the same,
“ That ye may know the Son of man'hath power to forgive sins. The last act of his life was "the forgiveness of sins.” Peter first preached him to the Jews.“as justifying them from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses ;" to the Gentiles as being the Son of God, “ through faith, in whose name there is remission of sins.” Paul gave no other name to the jailor of Philippi for forgiveness of sins but Christ's, and declares there is no other given under heaven. In short, it is in all their writings, like the sun in the firmament of heaven; and how men can miss finding it, or not rejcice over it when it is found, is a miracle of blindness and want of feeling, to be accounted for only by their being shut
up of those mistakes and prejudices about the nature of law, and its powers of yielding, which we have. exposed above.
It doth appear therefore, that we were not wrong in our argumentation, and that mankind are to a man brought, by the nature of God's government, into that dilemma of sinfulness and wrath to come, out of which we found ourselves unable to discover a release; that Christ hath brought the redemption we stood in need of; that God hath set him forth to be a propiatition for sins that are past, and that he can now be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. This is a fact of revelation not less certain than the fact of the law given from the mount, or the fact of Judgment to come, concerning which we argue.
By many, and indeed by the greater number, this
liberty of forgiveness through Christ is thought to strike a blow at the whole system of law delineated above, and altogether to evacuate the use of it; and it must be allowed that there are passages in Paul's writings, which being taken singly, and apart from the context, might be forced to this construction. But when he expressly argues out the questions, 'Is the law against the promises of God ?'Shall we sin because grace hath abounded ?' without having any thing else in his eye, he comes to the conclusion, that if righteousness could have come by the law, Christ would not have died. But that which puts the question to rest is, that Christ declares of himself that he came not to abrogate the law, but to fulfil it and make it honourable; and above all, that the Christian books wherein the doctrine of forgiveness through Christ is taught, contain throughout in every page a moral law, the same in substance with that delivered from the mount, but ramified and applied to every individual feeling and action which can occur. There is no intention, therefore, that the one should undermine or annihilate the other, but that both go to compose
the constitution under which we live. What remains, therefore, is, that we engross this new idea of forgiveness through Christ into our argument, and see how it affects the result.
If there had been any condition attached to this boon of forgiveness, we should have been in no better case than before. If it had been required that, anterior to any hope of pardon for past offences, we should be so far advanced in obedi