Page images
PDF
EPUB

for the remission of their sins that are past.'

But how will their state of justification be continued, and their sins pardoned, but in the way of renewed exercise of faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, and repentance towards God? How will they make any progress in the divine life, but by a renewed flight to the fountain of grace, for new supplies of spiritual life and strength? From whence, then, can any man fetch arguments for a careless indifference about his sins, unless he be also careless and indifferent about the favour of God, and his own eternal welfare? Let no man deceive himself with vain words, nor dream of any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God, while he can sin without care or fear. For, “because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.”

You go on to argue" If believers are united to Christ, in the manner described, so that his obedience to the law was performed on their behalf; and is become their obedience; it then follows, that they have in Christ fulfilled the law in all respects, and it can therefore have no more demands upon them; and consequently they can be no more chargeable with sin, nor have occasion to be concerned about it. For where there is no law there is no transgression.”

In answer to this objection, I shall, first, endeavour to show.you in what respects our blessed Saviour has, in our place and stead, answered the demands of the law, and thereby delivered the believer from its power and dominion; and then proceed to show in what respects the law has still a claim to the believer's observance, notwithstanding his interest in and union to the Lord Jesus Christ.

[ocr errors]

us."

Our blessed Redeemer has these several ways fulfilled the law for believers :-He has fulfilled all the penal demands of it; and hath “ redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for

We being guilty criminals, the law condemns us to deserved punishment, and the justice of God demands satisfaction. The blessed Saviour has therefore stepped in between us and the avenging justice of God, and has received the flaming sword into his own bowels.

Justice is satisfied, and the guilty offender released, upon his acting faith in this blessed Surety. The law does, moreover, require of us a perfect active obedience, as we are rational and moral agents; and accordingly, the original terms of our acceptance with God were, “Do this, and live. The man which doth these things shall live by them. But cursed is every one that continueth not in all things of the law to do them.” Now Christ has, in this respect also, answered the demands of the law. He has fulfilled all righteousness, and taken away the power of the law, as it is the strength of sin, as it is a killing letter, and ministration of death, on the behalf of all that believe in him ; that it no longer demands perfect personal obedience, as the condition of their acceptance with God. In this respect believers are “not under the law, but under grace.” Thus Christ has performed a passive obedience to answer the penalty of the law, and an active obedience to fulfil the precept of it, whereby justice is satisfied, God reconciled, and the believer made accepted in the Beloved. I may add to this, that there is an infinite merit in this twofold obedience of our blessed Mediator. He being an infinite per

son, the value of his obedience was proportioned to the glory and dignity of his divine nature; and he has, therefore, by his fulblling the law, purchased all grace here and glory hereafter, for all who shall believe in him, and be thereby united to him. Thus, then, the believer's first husband is dead, that they are loosed from the law of their husband; and “they are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that they may be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead.”

And now, in order to answer the second part of my promise, and show you in what respect the law has still a claim to the believer's observance, I must remind you of what I have formerly observed to you, that the moral law is also to be considered as a rule of living, as the standard or directory of our conduct. As such, it is a copy, or transcript, of the divine perfections; in particular, of his rectitude, justice, and holiness; and therefore is immutable, like the infinitely glorious nature from whence it was derived. It is utterly inconsistent with the infinite perfections of the glorious God, for him to give us a rule of life, contrary to what is contained in the moral law. Should the law in this sense be abrogated and buried, the holiness and justice of God must be buried in the ruins of it. Now, though our blessed Saviour has in this sense also fulfilled the law, he has fulfilled it to establish it, and not to vacate or destroy it. He has fulfilled it as exemplar, to give us a pattern of obedience, that we may walk in his steps.

He hath fulfilled it to glorify his heavenly Father, that, in imitation of him, we also may glorify him, by bringing forth much

our

fruit. In this respect, then, the law retains its full demand upon us.

6 Do we then make void the law by faith? God forbid ! yea, we establish the law.”. With respect to the law, as a rule of life, our blessed Saviour assures us, that “it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than one tittle of the law to fail.” How vile and abominable, therefore, are those pretences, that there remains no law to regulate our conduct; that we are under no bonds to obedience; that we have no law to transgress, and therefore no sins to lament ! Has the blessed Saviour shed his precious blood to open a door to licentiousness? Has he come to legitimate a lawless, careless, worldly, and sensual life? No! surely he came with a quite contrary view"to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” The law must certainly be either the rule of our conduct while we live, or the rule of our final trial and condemnation in the day of Christ. Though our conformity to the law, as a rule of life, be neither an atonement for our sins, nor a purchase of the divine favour, nor the covenant condition of our pardon and acceptance with God; yet it is, in the nature of things, and in the doctrine of the Gospel, the believer's path-way to eternal life. that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." “He that saith, he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk even as he walked.” 66 Whosoever committeth sin, transgresseth also the law." this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” “ If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,

66 He

os For

ye do well.

And now, Sir, it belongs to you to consider, whether the Antinomians have any handle at all for their licentious principles, from the doctrine of our union to Christ, rightly considered and understood. If no man can have any good evidence of his union to Christ, without a repentance and humiliation for his offences against God, theu no man can have reason to be easy and secure in sinning, from a presumption of his union to Christ. If the sins of believers are, by virtue of their union to Christ, more aggravated than the sins of other men, they have more cause than others to lament their sins before God, and to be deeply humbled on the account of them. If believers, as well as others, must repent of their sins, or perish, they have then the same cause which others have to mourn for their sins, and, with the greatest detestation, to renounce and forsake them. If believers, by means of their union to Christ, though perfectly justified, are yet not perfectly sanctified, but in many things do all offend; if Christ has not taken away the pollution of sin, and personal innate guilt, though he has borne the curse, and taken away the penalty of sin from believers : if the law still remains a rule of obedience to believers, and if their deviation from, or violation of that rule, be of the nature of sin, and brings them under guilt and defilement, they have then cause to be humbled for their sins, to groan under the burden of them, and ardently to pant after deliverance from their remaining body of death. All these premises are (I think) fully proved, and the consequences cannot, therefore, be fairly denied. Whence it follows, that whoever quiet their conscience with such vain pretences, expose

« PreviousContinue »