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1. The Lord God, the Almighty Creator of all things visible and invisible, has an unalienable right to make laws for the government of his creatures. This right is founded in his absolute dominion and sovereignty over them. They are his property, the work of his hands. He hath created and made them, and not they themselves. Their life, and all things belonging to it are his, coming from his gift, and continued by his bounty; and therefore he has a most indisputable claim to their obedience. What he requires they must perform : because they are his creatures. The relation between the Creator and his creatures puts them under a necessity of obeying his law and will, or else of suffering whatever he shall threaten to inflict upon their disobedience.
2. The law of the Lord God the almighty Creator is unalterable. It changeth not: for it is the copy of God's most holy mind and will
, in which there can be no variableness, neither shadow of turning. If the mind and will of God were to change, then God would be a changeable being, and whatever is changeable is imperfect; but God is perfect, therefore his mind and will change not. His word will he not break, nor alter the law that is gone out of his mouth. His infinite wisdom, and his almighty power, stand engaged to maintain its dignity, that it may be always an holy, just, and good law, which he will not break or alter.
3. The moral law, which the Lord God revealed to Adam in Paradise, required of bim perfect uninterrupted obedience. The whole
moral law is summed up in one word, namely, love; love to God for the blessings of creation and providence, and love to man for God's sake. This love was the indispensable homage due to the Creator. It could not be alienated from him, and given to any other object without idolatry: for which reason the moral law is unalterable. If a man withdraw his love in the least from God, he breaks that law which positively enjoins him to love the Lord his God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his strength.
4. The law given to Adam being unalterable, all his descendants are bound to keep it: for they are all under the law, as God's creatures. His will is the indispensable rule of their obedi
He requires their love, and if they refuse to give it him, then their will is opposite to his, which is rebellion against their sovereign Lord, and which must bring upon them swift destruction.
5. All mankind have sinned and broken the moral law. The authority of God's word is positive and express.
“ We have before proved, says the apostle, both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin, as it is written, there is none righteous, no not one. There is none
that understandeth, there is none that seeketh 6 " after God. They are all gone out of the way,
they are altogether become unprofitable, there “ is none that doeth good, no not one.” Rom. iii. 9, 10, &c. And after the apostle has proved these truths from various arguments, he sums up the evidence thus, “ 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 that all the world may become
guilty before God: therefore by the deeds of “ the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” Rom. iii. 19, 20. It is evident from
, these authorities, that all have sinned, and are transgressors of the law.
6. The law has made no provision for the pardon of the least transgression. It requires perfect unsinning obedience in thought, word, and deed. This is its just demand. And in case of the least failing, it immediately passes sentence and condemns. It will not accept of sorrow or tears, of repentance or amendment, as any satisfaction: but its language is, “ Do this, or thou “ shalt die.” There is not a word said about sorrowing for what was past, and reforming for the future, as if the style of the law was,
« Be sorry for thy sin, and reform, and then thou “shalt not die :" but it is positive and express, “ Keep the law, and thou shalt live. Transgress “ it, and thou shalt die: for cursed is every one, " who continueth not in all things, that are “ written in the book of the law to do them."
7. From those premises it follows, that the law being unalterable, and all men having broken it, and there being no provision made in the law for the pardon of the least transgression, but a punishment threatened to the least, they are therefore guilty before God. The law brings them in guilty, and condemns them, and divine justice is bound to inflict the deserved pains and penalties; so that there can be no possibility of
justifying them by the law. By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified : for the law is expressly called by the apostle, the ministration of condemnation, and the ministration of death.
8. Since the law is thus unalterable, and punishment is threatened to the least breach of it; and since all men have broken it, and all the world is guilty before God, and condemned by the law to death and hell, and without strength to do any thing for their deliverance, it follows that there can be no salvation by the law.
From these particulars we may be able to state the true nature of the moral law. It is the revealed will of God discovering to his creatures what obedience he requires of them, namely, perfect unsinning obedience, an absolute conformity to the law in thought, word, and deed. It is an unalterable law, founded on God's unalterable will, and therefore it requires this perfect obedience of all men, and at all times. It has made no provision for partial obedience, or for sincere obedience, but insists upon man's continuing to do all things that are written in the book of the law, if he hope by the deeds of the law to be justified and saved. If this be the true state of the case, how widely
, do these men mistake the nature and demands of the moral law, who expect to be made righteous before God, by their partial obedience. The law knows nothing of any righteousness, but what is perfect. If you put your trial at God's bar upon this issue, that you have kept the law in most instances, having failed only in some few, this is pleading guilty. It is owning your trans
gression, and confessing that you have not such a righteousness, as the law demands: for a part is not the whole. And the law insists upon the whole, and in case of failure, passes sentence, and condemns you; for it is written, “ Cursed is
every one, who continueth not in all things,” &c.
But some may ask, Will not the law accept of sincere obedience? Nay. It will abate nothing of its demands. It will have absolutely perfect obedience, if by the works of it a man be justi. fied before God. There is not one word in the law about sincerity; no, not a single hint, as if a man might be pardoned, who kept the law sincerely, although imperfectly. The law saysDo all things which God has commanded, and continue to do them with all thy heart, mind, soul, and strength, and then thou shalt be justified by thy works; but if thou offend in one instance, thou comest under the curse : for he that offendeth in one point is guilty of all, and consequently sincere obedience failing in one point, leaves a man guilty, and under the curses of the broken law.
It highly concerns those persons to consider this matter well, who fancy that Christ came as a great lawgiver, to publish milder terms of acceptance than the moral law had required. They have a notion of Christ, as if he were only the publisher of some new remedial law, which abated something of the demands, and mitigated some of the rigour of the moral law. Whereas he came not to publish any new law, but to save his people from their sins committed against the old