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nothing unconditionally and unsubmissively.
They never know what it is best for God to grant, or to deny.
Moses did not know whether it was best for God to forgive his people, though he ardently desired it; and therefore he prayed conditionally and submissively for their forgiveness. This was acceptable to God and he granted his request; and if he had refused to forgive them, still he would have granted his request; just as he granted Christ's request, though he denied what he prayed for in particular. God knows what is best for a person, or a people, better than they do ; and this christians believe to be true ; and accordingly refer it to God to grant, or deny the particular favors they plead for; and he always either grants what they ask, or gives them something better, so that their petitions are always answered, He never says to the seed of Jacob, “Seek ye me in vain.” To pray in faith is not to pray in a certain belief of God's granting what is prayed for ; but to pray in faith is to pray in a belief that he will do what is wisest and best to be done and in cordial submission to the divine disposal. This is all the assurance, that christians ought to desire to have, to encourage their intercession for others. It is all that Moses had to encourage him to pray for himself and others. And they would have reason to be afraid to pray, if they knew beforehand, that God would certainly give them the very things they prayed for. For they might desire and pray for things, that would prove a curse to them and others, instead of a blessing. It is their wisdom, as well as duty, always to pray conditionally and submissively ; for then they may be assured their prayers will be answered benevolently and graciously.
7. If the conditional prayer of Moses was proper and acceptable to God; then the prayers of sinners are always sinful and unacceptable to God. For they never pray conditionally, but unconditionally. They are not willing to be denied on account of God's glo. ry.
It does not satisfy them to be told, that God cannot grant their requests consistently with his own glory and the good of the universe. For his glory and the good of the universe do not appear so important as their own good ; and they will not submit to be denied, for such reasons. But if they will only ask for mercy, conditionally and submissively, they shall certainly find mercy.
I. John, 11. 4.- For sin is a transgression of the lau.
The whole verse is this : “Whosoever committeth sin, transgresseth the law : for sin is a transgression of the law."
Taking the text as an independent declaration, I shall,
1. Let us consider what law the apostle mentions in the text. God has given a great many laws to mankind at different times.
He gave a positive law to Adam, forbidding him to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He gave him another positive law, requiring him to keep the Sabbath. He gave him another positive law, requiring him to labor and cultivate the earth. He gave him another positive law, requiring him to offer vicarious sacrifices to make atonement for sin. He gave a positive law to Noah, forbidding him to commit murder. Afterwards he gave a code of laws to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai, by the hand of Moses. This code of laws comprised the moral law, the ceremonial law and the civil law. The question now is, which of all these divine laws does the apostle mean in the text? There is no reason to think, that he means any law given to Adam, or any law given to
Noah, or any law given by Moses, except the moral law, which is founded in the reason of things and is of perpetual obligation. This he calls the law, in distinction from all positive laws and particular precepts.--By the law, therefore, he means the first supreme and universal law of God's moral kingdom, which is binding upon all rational and accountable creatures. The apostle John means the same law that the apostle Paul meant, when he said, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law : that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” The law, by which both Jews and gentiles stood condemned, could not be either the ceremonial, or civil law given by Moses ; for the gentiles were never under either of those laws; consequently it must mean the moral law, in distinction from all other laws given under either the Mosaic, or christian dispensation. Any mere positive law, which God has given to any of his creatures, he has a right to abolish, or repeal, when a change of circumstances requires it; but the moral law he has no right to abolish, or repeal, under any change of circumstances, because it is founded in the immutable relation, which he bears to his creatures and they bear to him. He must cease to be their creator and they to be his creatures, before the obligation of the moral law can cease to bind them. This appears to be true from plain, acknowledged facts. All the civil and ceremonial laws given by Moses have actually been superceded and abolished by the christian dispensation. This the apostle John knew; and therefore by the law in the text, he could mean no other divine law, but the moral law, which is as binding under the
christian dispensation as ever it was under the Mosaic. I now proceed,
II. To consider what this moral law, which is binding upon all mankind, requires. It certainly requires something, that is reasonable, because it is founded in reason ; and it will appear to require what is reasonable, according to an infallible exposition of it; by an infallible judge. Our Savior perfectly understood the true import and perpetual obligation of the law, and came to fulfil and magnify it. He said to his hearers in his sermon on the mount, “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” The Sadducees, who were enemies to the divine law, came to him on a certain occasion. " Then one of them, who was a lawyer, or Jewish teacher, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” According to this divine exposition of the divine law, it requires all men to love God and one another; and implies, that all, who do love God and their fellow
men perfectly, obey the law. And the apostle Paul gives the same exposito ion of the law. He says, “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another : for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this thou shalt not com