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be, " By grace are ye saved;" "by Jesus Christ all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." Thus the law is used by the Spirit to "convince of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment;" becomes "a schoolmaster, a schoolmaster," a mighty teacher, "to bring us unto Christ:" to awe the transgressor into a thankful acceptance of his mercy. In earthly cases, we often find the criminal hardened in his denial of guilt, confident of escape, sullen, obstinate: but when an unexpected witness appears against him, and his guilt is clearly shown, his spirit fails, his conscience shrinks, and the terror of death subdues, if it does not soften him. The effect of the law upon our hearts should be of a like nature: should be to soften them, now, in time, that we may not at last fall into the hands of an unpropitiated God. It seems to say, why contend and dispute against God? You cannot change him who is unchangeable: you cannot alter his will, which is fixed from everlasting upon the pillars of eternal right: but you may reject his counsel against yourself, (it is but too possible,) you may despise his mercy, and then, too late, experience his anger. Whether you will hear, or whether you will forbear, you must submit to die, and stand before God, to be judged by that law which he has ordained. "Woe to him that striveth with his Maker!" Repent, and return unto the Lord there are still the means of peace and reconciliation grace and truth came by Jesus Christ: cast upon him your burthen, and find rest unto your soul.
Therefore as the demand of the law is perfect obedience, so the offer of Christ is perfect forgiveness. Perfect obedience no man has paid or can pay. Perfect forgiveness every one may enjoy who seeks to be accepted through the righteousness which is of God by faith. The two covenants have this great distinction. One is command, the other is mercy mercy which assures us, that though man had transgressed the covenant of command, God had still in store a covenant of grace; that though man had fallen far short of the obedience which God required, God has not altogether cast off his unworthy servants. "Herein was love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and while we were yet sinners has reconciled us to himself by the death of his Son."
But here a question meets us, which occurred to St. Paul, when arguing in this same strain. "Wherefore then serveth the law?" Are we at liberty to disparage it, to neglect it? God forbid. Think not, said our Lord himself, foreseeing what might be alleged, "think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil."
And there are three uses which the law serves, all which tend to establish the Christian character; there are three considerations which it suggests to the mind, all which we must attentively cherish.
We read the commandments of the law, as Moses gave them to the Israelites. The Lord Jesus
2 Gal. iii. 19.
enforced them, explained them, extended them, showed that the spirit of them, and not the letter only, must be fulfilled. The apostles still further point out their bearing upon the heart and life.
The first thought should be, This is God's will respecting me. My Saviour kept all these laws perfectly. Not that I might not keep them, but that he might leave me an example as well as an injunction, to follow his steps and walk as he walked. These, then, are to be my rule; and by these I must exercise myself, that I may "keep a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man.”
The second thought is of another nature. These are the commands of God. This law, is His lawmy Maker's law. What could be my hope, if he were to reward me according as I had kept it from my youth up? If that were to be my "righteousness, that I had continued in all the things that are written in the law to do them?" Thanks be to him, who has redeemed me from the curse of the law whom God has made to me "wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."
And, lastly, consider within yourselves, Do I keep these commandments? Do I allow myself in the wilful neglect of any of them? Is it my aim, my desire, my prayer, to love the Lord my God with all my heart, and my neighbour as myself? To bring every thought, word, and wish, into captivity to the obedience of Christ? Do I bring my life under the law, and try myself and judge myself
by the law, though I trust not to be "under the law before God?"
This use of the law remains under the Gospel ; and those who most constantly use it for these purposes, are those who understand the gospel best. Whatever, then, your state is, there is use in the law. If you are yet unreconciled to God, the law condemns you. 66 Agree with thine adversary quickly." Apply yourself unto Christ, who bore your sins in his own body, that you may find rest unto your soul.
If you have already sought shelter under his cross, still keep your eye upon the law. Look to it, that you may better measure that which is beyond all measure, the goodness of him who has blotted out the record of your transgressions. Look to it
also as the rule by which you are to be guided; the standard by which you are to judge yourself now, and hereafter to be judged: see how far, how very far, you come short of that standard, and be humble.
WHATEVER KNOWLEDGE WE HAVE OF GOD, IS DERIVED TO US THROUGH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST: WHO HAS DECLARED HIS JUSTICE AND HIS MERCY.
JOHN i. 18.
18. No man hath seen' God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
This sentence reminds us of a most important truth. We know nothing of God, nothing which we can depend upon or trust to, except what he has himself revealed. No man hath seen God at any time. As it is justly said in the book of Job, "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?"
Yet we often meet with those who argue respecting God and his counsels, as if they had seen him, and been admitted to the "secret things which belong to him." And still more often we find men so acting, so living in the world, as if they knew that he cared not for good or evil, and would make no difference between those who serve him and those who serve him not.
1 Seen, perceived, discovered, and fully understood, either as to his essence or his attributes. Declared, revealed, disclosed. 2 Job xi. 7.