« ForrigeFortsæt »
preached it in my text to this young man, viz. to convince of sin." So Rom. iii. 20. By the law is the knowledge of sin. Rom. iv. 15. The law worketh wrath; it sheweth to the consciences of men. the wrath of God, which is due to sin, and therefore saith the apostle, I by the law am dead to the law; Gal. ii. 16, 19. By considering and studying the purity, the extent, and perfection of the law of God, I am dead to all expectation of righteousness and life by it, for I see I cannot fulfil its pure and perfect demands, and therefore I fly to the gospel as my only refuge and hope.
We must be made sensible of our guilt of sin, our liableness to death and misery, and our incapacity to save ourselves by the law, that we may fly to the gospel of grace. We must be wounded by the law, that we may seek and find healing by the gospel. The law impressed on the conscience is an excellent preparative for the gospel of forgiveness; for sinners that are not awakened to a sense of sin and danger, will not hear the sweet invitations of the Saviour. Dare not charge and censure those as legal preachers, who frequently preach the law of God in its demands and in its curses: There is abundant use of preaching the law, for many excellent purposes under the dispensation of the gospel Jesus himself is our pattern.
IV. "How happy are we who live under the clear and complete light of the gospel, as it is explained and illustrated by the inspired apostles, since the death and resurrection of our blessed Saviour." We are happier in several respects than those that lived even in the life-time of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are ready to say within ourselves, Surely if I had seen Christ in the flesh, I must have loved him: If I had beheld his pure and perfect example of holiness, I could not help imitating: If I had heard him speak as never man spake, I must have embraced his doctrine, and submitted to his instructions: But we are much mistaken in this thought, for we might have been carried away from Christ by the common national prejudices against him, we might have been among the proud Pharisees, building up a righteousness of our own, and refusing the gospel, while we heard Jesus himself preach it. Multitudes who heard this glorious preacher rejected his divine counsels, and perished in their unbelief and disobedience, though they had as good an opinion of themselves as we have. Besides many other advantages that we have now, beyond what they had in the days of Christ; besides the many predictions and promises that are since accomplished, which confirm his mission; besides the explication of a greater part of the Old Testament, by the apostles, than could have been done before the death of Christ; besides the many proofs of the christian religion, which we derive from the resurrection and ascension of Christ, and the arguments drawn from the miraculous gifts
of the Spirit, which could never have been brought in our Saviour's life-time, we have this advantage also amongst others, that we have the gospel set in a clearer light by his apostles, in their sermons and epistles, than our Saviour himself set it in by his own personal ministry.
That divine teacher explained the law clearly, and set the commands of it in their full light and beauty, partly to lead us to a more spiritual practice than the Pharisees, and the Jewish doctors of the law were acquainted with, and partly to shew our utter incapacity of keeping the law, or obtaining eternal life by it: He also began to publish the gospel of grace, repentance and forgiveness; but as was declared before, his sovereign wisdom did not think proper publicly to explain and illustrate this gospel of forgiveness with the doctrine of his own sacrifice, his death, his atonement for our sins, his resurrection for our justification, his intercession for us in heaven, and his ruling the world for the good of his people: He left all this to be done by his apostles, when the Spirit should come down upon them and teach them many things which they could not bear in his life time, and which therefore he did not clearly teach them; John xvi. 12.
Value therefore and love the gospel, and return not to the law of works, as the means or rule of your justification; Gal. iv. 21. Tell me ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law, how it curses every sinner, and condemns them all without remedy and without hope? It is the business of sinners to fly to and live upon this gospel of forgiveness, and not seek to establish their own imperfect righteousness before God. Rejoice in the way of justification by the obedience, death and resurrec tion of the Son of God in flesh. Never hope to obtain pardon of sin, and to secure the salvation which Christ has revealed, by your own keeping the commandments of the law, for your best righteousnesses are all very defective and insufficient: But repent of sin, trust in Christ, and live upon atoning blood and pardoning grace, while you humbly seek after the highest degrees of holiness and conformity to the commands of the law. By this means you shall magnify the law of God, and make it honourable to the sight of men, even while your hope of salvation and eternal life is entirely owing to the rich grace of God in the gospel of his Son Jesus: To him that has loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood, to him that has redeemed us from the curse of the law, by being made a curse and a sacrifice for us, be glory, honour and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
It is proper to put in a remark here, which perhaps would have been better placed at the end of the first essay, viz, That the ingenious commentator Dr. Whitby, was well known to the learned world, when he wrote his Comment on the New Testament, to be a pretty warm defender of the Arminian doctrines concerning the will of man and divine grace, &c. though at the same time he was a zealous opposer of the Socinian sentiments concerning the person of Christ, and a strict and zealous asserter of the doctrine of his satisfaction and atonement for sin, and probably he borrowed some of his sentiments on that point from Dr. Owen, on the epistle to the Hebrews. In his latter days, a little before his death, he seemed to raise the character of the human nature of Christ as high as the Arians do, but supposed it still below divinity.
Likawouken Ways of Coming to God without Christ:
JOHN xiv. 6.-No man cometh unto the Father but by me. IF the race of man were immortal on earth, and sinners were never summoned to die, or if they could put an eternal end to their souls when the body lies down in the dust, there would be little concern among us, How shall I come and appear before God? or " What shall I do to obtain his favour?" Sinful creatures seem to live well enough among the cares or amusements of this life, though they are without God in the world; and if they could live for ever without seeing him, or could plunge into deatli and the unseen world, and not meet him there, they would take no thought about that grand enquiry, which Balak the king of Moab thought to be of such importance, Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, or bow myself before the high God? Micah vi. 6. But when the consciences of men begin to be convinced that they are transgressors against the law of their Maker, and that they must one day appear before him, as their Governor and their Judge, and answer for their conduct, then they enquire in good earnest," What they shall do to stand in his sight with acceptance, or to draw near his Majesty without terror?" Then reason and nature exert all their forces to find an answer to this grand question. But nature and reason darkened and weakened by the fall of man, and unassisted by revelation and divine grace, lead them into many mistaken ways, such as will never bring them into the favour of him who made them, nor obtain true happiness. Poor foolish and fallen mankind is ready to try many means of procuring eternal life for themselves, before they will betake themselves to the one only way which God has appointed by his gospel, and that is, faith in Jesus Christ.
Of the several mistaken ways that sinners are ready to chuse in this case, these three are the chief, viz. The way of supposed innocency, The way of dependence on God's general goodness, and the way of their own repentance and self-righteousness. Let us consider each of these, and enquire into the justness of their pretensions :
I. First, "the way of innocency." How many souls are there in such a land as this, who come to God with a thoughtless confidence, and expect to find mercy at his hands, though they are conscious they have not done so much good as they ought, nor have been so religious as they should be? Yet they think
they are harmless and have done no wrong, and therefore they are safe for eternity. Perhaps, by education and other methods of restraining grace, they have escaped the viler pollutions of the age, and been preserved from gross impieties: Then they hope and believe all shall go well with them, and dream of nothing but the favour of God, and happiness after death, because their life has been outwardly unblameable in the world. Thus they live, and thus they die. Ask these persons when they lie Janguishing on a dying pillow, " How they can venture to appear before the great, the just, and the holy God, in the world of spirits?" They will readily return this answer, "They have done no harm and they hope God will do them none; they have wronged no man, and they know not why they should not be accepted of God." Poor ignorant, unthinking creatures! One would wonder that so gross blindness and stupidity should remain on the minds of any who sit under the preaching of the law and gospel. Let me endeavour to convince such sinners here, and prove that this hope is a false and dangerous one.
1. If it were possible that they should be found such as they suppose themselves, that is, innocent in their outward carriages and actions towards their fellow-creatures, yet have their language and their lips been always innocent too? Or if they have in the main learned to bridle their tongues from gross falsehood, and wrath and slander, yet have they never indulged evil imaginations against their neighbour, and the working of evil passions? Sirs, if we construe the law of duty to extend to our hearts, as well as to our lips and our lives, as our Saviour has construed it in his sermon on the mount, Mat. chapters v. and vi. and vii. who is there can ever plead innocence? You have kept your actions to all appearance tolerably blameless, with regard to men, but have you never broken the last command of the second table, never been desirous or covetous of another's possessions in thought, never been guilty of immoralities in heart? Can such souls plead at the bar of God, that they never allowed one envious thought against their neighbour, and never let loose a malicious word? That they never coveted that which belonged to another, nor wilfully lessened their neighbour's good name or reputation? Did they never find wrath or revenge kindling and burning within them without resistance? Did they never indulge the motions of lust or intemperance, or any sinful desire stirring in their hearts? When the great apostle, in the second and third chapters to the Romans, is convincing all the world of sin, and laying mankind under a sense of guilt, he convinces them effectually by their breach of the second table, that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Rom. ii. 21. and iii. J0, 12—20. Where is the son or daughter of Adam that can stand forth and say, I never dishonoured father or mother, nor ever dis