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dience? Can the law abate nothing of its demands, but must I love God always, and with all my mind, heart, soul and strength, and my neighbour as myself, if I hope to enter into life by keeping the commandments? Surely then I ought to examine whether I have always loved God and my neighbour, as the law requires. If these be the thoughts of your hearts, then you are prepared to follow me to a serious consideration of the third head of discourse, namely,
Whether we all have kept the moral law. Its demands are very great. It will not accept of any obedience, unless it be continual. You must conti. nue, without the least interruption, to do all things that are written in the book of the law. And have any of you walked with a steadfast course in the way of the commandments without once turning aside? Consult conscience. Does it not accuse ? Consult scripture. Does it not say, “all we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own, way,” leaving the way of God's commandments.
The law also requires spiritual obedience. It reaches to the ininost thoughts and intents of the heart. · You must never have one sinful thought in you, if you expect life from your keeping the law; for the law is spiritual It searches the heart and the reins, and strikes at the very first motion or rising of sin. One sinful desire cuts you off from legal righteousness, as much as ten thousand sins: for it is written, “thou shalt not covet;" and he that covets offends in one point, and therefore is guilty of all.
Besides, the law is perfect, perfectly holy, just, and good: for it is the will of God, and can no more suffer the least iniquity in its sight than God himself can.,. It will abate nothing of absolutely perfect obedience. All the strength and all the mind, every faculty of soul and body is to be exerted, and with their utmost vigour, in the observance of the law. The heart too is to love it, and the affections are to be delighted with obeying it.
· This is what the law demands of every one of you.
It will have a continual, a spiritual, and a perfect love of God, without one thought ever arising in opposition to his holy will; and the love of your neighbour must be like the love of yourself. And does any man, or woman, keep the law in this manner ? Do any of you? Certainly you cannot suppose that you have never broken the law, because you have just now declared the contrary out of your own mouths. You have confessed this day, and on your bended knees, before God—“ we have offended against thy holy laws; we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.” And when you spake these words, did not your consciences assure you that they were true ? for have you not offended against the holy law of God, and have not you left undone what it required, and done what it forbid ? Surely you did not prevaricate with God, when in another part of the service you confessed that you had broken all the commandments. The rubric says-" Then shall the priest, turning to the people, rehearse distinctly all the ten commandments; and the people, still kneeling, shall, after every commandment, ask God mercy for their transgression thereof for the time past, and grace to keep the same for the time to come;" and accordingly, after every commandment, you prayed God to have mercy upon you for breaking it, and to incline your hearts to keep it. And have you not all sinned, and come short of the glory of God, by robbing his law of its due obedience?
What! would you make me a breaker of all the commandments ? says some self-righteous formalist. I never murdered any body, nor committed adultery. No! Had you never one angry thought or word against your neighboar? This is murder. Or did not one impure and unclean thought ever' arise in your mind ? This is adultery, according to the spiritual law of God. You look at your actions in the glass of man's law, and because you have not outwardly offended, you think you have kept the law of God. There is your mistake; search the scriptures, and you will see that anger and hatred are murder in the eye of God; and that one lustful look is heart-adultery. God regards the heart, and heart-sin is as much sin against his spiritual law as outward transgression, and when the formalist sees his heart, naked and open, as God sees it, he will not preteid that he has not bro. ken all the commandments, but will rather desire God to have mercy upon him, and to incline bis heart to keep his laws.
If any of you refuse to be determined by these authorities, hear what the Lord God has declared concerning you, and his decree will, I hope, be decisive. He is represented as looking down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek after God. But they were all gone out of the way; they were altogetber become filthy; there was none that did good, no, not one; there was not one of the children of men that did good, and sinned not. We have the apostle's comment upon this passage. After having proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin, and transgressors of the law, as it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one, legally righteous, he says, “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.” Thus God himself has declared that you have not done good; that you are under sin, and in his sight guilty. And what can you object to these scriptures? Are you not greatly alarmed at hearing thein ? for they come home to every one's case, and ought to reach every one's conscience. And what are the present apprehensions of your minds concerning thern? Have you broken the holy law of God, and you know you have, and do you not dread the consequence of your transgression ? What can tempt you to hope that you shall escape the threatened penalty ? Has your sorrow for breaking the law, or your repentance, or your amendment, merit enough so far to undo the sin committed, as. that law cannot demand, nor justice inflict punishment for it? or have you some blind notions of absolute mercy in God, as if he would cease to be just, rather than not be merciful to you? Men and brethren, if any, or all these false notions tempt you to be secure under the breach of the law, and under the wrath of the Almighty Lawgiver, let us bring them to the standard of scripture, and enquire,
Fourthly, what is the penalty due to the breach of the moral law ? · When God published his law, he enforced it with proper sanctions. He promised reward to the obedient “Do this, and thou shalt live.” And he threatened punishment to the disobedient—"In the day that thou transgressest, dying thou shalt surely die.” This is the rule of God's process. If you keep the law you shall have the life promised. But if you transgress you shall be alienated from the life of God and subject to death, to the first and to the second death, to a death of nature, and to a death of grace ; for both these kinds of death are the punishment of sin : “ For as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” And besides this death of the body, there is a death of the soul-" The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezek. xviii. 4. It shall be alienated from the life of God for ever and ever, and shall suffer the vengeance of eternal fire: so that the broken law not only cuts you off from the fountain of life, but also pours out its curses, and inflicts real torments upon the unholy, the unjust, and the evil, according to the description in Rev. xxi. 8: “ And the fearful and the unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerer's, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”.
These are the penalties which every transgressor of the law deserves, and these God has threatened to inflict. His will herein is unchangeable. His truth requires the performance of his threatenings. His justice is bound to see them inflicted. His holiness and goodness call upon justice for the immediate execution of the penalties due to sin. And how can the sinner escape? What can he do to deliver himself? He has nothing in his own power wherewith to satisfy the demands of law and justice. Suppose him sorrowful for his sin; that sorrow proves him guilty, and leaves him so. Say he tries to repent; the law knows nothing of repentance; its language is; “ Do this, or thou shalt die." Grant, he amends his life for the future, yet what becomes of his past sins? Is his doing part of his duty any satisfaction for neglecting part of it? The law makes no provision for any such groundless pleas, but insists upon perfect obedience, and for the least failure puts the sinner under the curse, and under the wrath of God, and there leaves him to suffer the just punishment of his sin.
But some persons, perhaps, may object, if this be the case, what flesh can be saved ? None; no, not one can be saved by keeping the law : for all have sinned and transgressed the law of God, therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight. · But still some may ask, why then do you preach the law ? Because it is a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ. It teaches them the nature of sin, and convinces them of their want of a Saviour. “By the law is the knowledge of sin.”—Rom. iii. 20, and vii. 7. Men are secure and careless in sin, until the law, that worketh wrath, reach their consciences, then they begin to know sing and to feel the exceeding sinfulness of it: “ for it is the ministration of condemnation.”—II. Cor. iii. 9. The law, spiritually understcol and applied, convinces the sinner that he is a condemned creature, shows him in God's word the sentence passed upon him, and makes him dread