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The subject of the present discourse, is the convincing gether the greater part of your lives, without pondering what power of the law upon the conscience of the sinner. “Now we you do, or caring whether you do well or ill. It accuses of know that whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to them secret sins of thought and desire, literally like the ocean's that are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped and sand; sins which, though they are concealed from the cogthe whole world become guilty before God.”
nizance of the world, are open and naked to him with whom It is by “whatsoever things the law saith,” that its power you have to do; sins which pass you like the motes that to convict the sinner is displayed. The legitimate and pro-play upon the sunbeam, and elude all your exertion to exper operation of this power is “ to those who are under the amine or pursue them. It accuses you of the habitual law ;'' and so extensive will be seen this proper operation of omission of holy duties; of negligence of God and his rethe law, “that every mouth will be stopped, and the whole quirements; of restraining the voice of prayer, and refusing world will become guilty before God," or come under the the offerings of praise. It accuses you of total deficiency in judgment of God, justly forfeited and condemned. This the spirit of those duties which you have undertaken to perconvincing power of the law is either shown in the salutary form; of dullness, formality and hypocrisy in your apparent awakening of the sinner in his day of grace, that he may be approaches to the service of God. It accuses you beyond all brought to Christ for life, or in the final arousing of his con- acts of omission or commission, of that which they infallibly science in the day of judgment, that he may acknowledge the indicate, a natural state of sin; a nature of rebellion; a foun. justice of his own condemnation. In one or the other of tain in your hearts, of aversion to God; a state of character these conditions, the mouth of every sinner in the universe and life, in which every feeling and purpose partakes of the shall be stopped ; and under an irresistible conviction, he universal bitterness, and is sinful and worthy of condemnashall be compelled to acknowledge himself guilty before God. tion; from which there has never proceeded in the minutest
The power of the law to convince the sinner in his day of or most infantile shape, one good thing. These are the grace, that he may be saved by his acceptance of the Lord charges which the law makes against you, as constituting Jesus, is the subject to which I would direct your attention at the guilt of your past transgressions; and with these, by the this time. The law is the great instrument which the spirit quickening power of the Holy Spirit, it convinces you of sin. of God employs to convince men of sin; and in his hands it II. By “whatsoever things the law saith," the spirit conis declared to be living and powerful, and sharper than a vinces the sinner of his exposure to the wrath of Almighty two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder the God, and of his danger of eternal death. The divine law soul and spirit; laying open to view the most secret pur- has guarded itself against all violations, by the most importposes and plans of the inner man; and discerning or sepa-ant and solemn sanctions. While it promises life everlasting rating, for the purpose of clearer exhibition, the thoughts and as the result of everlasting obedience, it denounces eternal intents of the heart.
death as the inevitable consequence of eternal sin. It proIn this process of conviction, the law is altogether an in- claims an unspeakably awful curse upon every soul of man strument of the Holy Ghost. In itself, it is to the conscience that doeth evil, and because every man living is born a sin. of the transgressor a mere dead letter, because his eyes are ner, and grows and matures in sin, this curse, in all its terso blinded that he will not see its impartial records; and like ror, is laid upon every soul of man. The sinner's condemnathe deaf adder, he stops his ears that he may not hear that tion is not a future matter. He is condemned already; and which it testifies against his soul. This refusal to behold although, like a convict in his cell, there is a respite yet and listen, the spirit of God overcomes; and putting life and re-allowed before the execution of his sentence, still his case is sistless power into the declarations of the law, he breaks down to be regarded as disposed of; no new act of authority is reall the sinner's strong holds of pride and self-confidence, and quired for his punishment; his time is fixed, and he is only crushes his rebellious spirit into the dust of humiliation and to be let alone until it shall arrive. The state of an unconconscious ruin. Though without this spiritual application of verted sinner is a state of condemnation and wrath. There the law he may be alive and boastful in himself, when the are many of you who may be ignorant of this; nay, perhaps, commandment comes with the attendant power of the Holy who may feel disposed to deny it. But this is one of those Ghost, sin revives in all its awful, deadly and destructive things which the law saith, and in the exercise of its confeatures, shows itself to his conscience, without disguise, in vincing power upon the conscience, it makes you acquainted its own hideous form; and he, under the clear apprehension with this solemn and all-important fact, that you are conof its guilt, and the danger which attends it, dies ; lies pow. demned already, and the wrath of God is abiding on you. It erless at the feet of Jesus, and yields himself to the new shows you, that although prosperity and wealth, and ease and creation of his grace.
honour, may be allowed to decorate your passing hours here, 1. By the instrumentality of " whatsoever things the law your final destiny, while you remain under the law, is neversaith,” the Holy Spirit convinces the sinner of the guilt of theless fixed; there is a curse rolling forward upon your souls his past trangressions. We have already seen that the law which will sink you into eternal ruin. While the law conclaims entire, perpetual and spotless obedience. It de-vinces you of your real character, as sinners, it fastens this scribes the holiest of possible character, and demands the acknowledgment upon your minds, that for you, in this chaconformity of the whole man to that. In the exercise of its racter, there remains, the fearful expectation of judgment convincing power, it reveals this true character of itself to and fiery indignation,” which will consume you, as the adthe sinner's understanding, and compels him to acknowledge versaries of God. It shows you, that all your past blessings it; and then comparing the obliquity and defects of his own are no proof of God's acceptance of your souls ; that although character with its strictness and purity, laying down a rule he has sustained you, with much forbearance, you were still perfectly straight and unbending upon the crookedness of all " vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. In the hour of his conduct, it gives him thus a knowledge of sin. It com- conviction, it lays open before you the solemn fact, that you municates a knowledge both of the nature of sin in itself, as a have been the enemies of a God who has said, “Vengeance transgression of this law, and of the existence of it, in an ag- is mine, I will repay.” It shows you that you are, with the gravated degree, in his own character and life. You have utmost reason, condemned to everlasting death, and that it naturally no disposition to attend to the things which the law would be altogether right and just in God to cast you finally saith. In reply to its holy and inflexible demands, your from his presence, and to refuse the exercise of mercy to your hearts are ready to say, “ Not so; be that far from thee to souls. It lays down before you the long chain of sins to condemn the righteous with the wicked.". But it is the which reference has been already made, and attaches to every truth, that the law lays the most awful charges of guilt individual in the series an everlasting curse, and then bids against your souls; and in the operation of it, to which I you to look at your condition, and see what hope you have of now refer, it convinces you of their justice. It searches into escape from the damnation of hell. I pray you to observe your character, and shows you to be, by nature and voluntary that this conviction of your exposure to God's holy indignahabit, a mass of corruption and sin; having the whole head tion, is only the revelation of a fact of which you were besick, and the whole heart faint. It charges you with having fore entirely ignorant. The law saith, “There is none that spent the time which the divine forbearance has allowed you doeth good-no, not one; they have all sinned; they have on earth, in an open defiance of the great God of heaven. It ac- all become abominable." Then it saith, “Cursed be every cuses you of presumptuous sins committed against warning one that sinneth against God.” “ Let wrath come upon them, and knowledge; of relapsing into them against vows, and and let them go down quick into hell, for I have seen iniquity protestations, and prayers; of rushing by all the admonitions in them all." of this condition of ruin in which transgressand eñtreaties of your own conscience, in the determination ion of the law has placed you, in your state of native careof your sin. It accuses you of sins of inadvertence and ig- lessness, you are entirely ignorant. The convincing power norance, utterly without number; of allowing days to of the law, of which I now speak, does not make the fact of pass without consideration or reflection; of crowding to your danger, but it unveils your eyes, and compels you to
see it. Under the operation of this power, though you groan there is not an individual who is not justly accused of transin anguish, you are no more in condemnation than you were gression, and threatened with punishment for having refused before, when you were thoughtless and gay ; but you have to comply with it, “For all have sinned and come short of been made to see and consider dangers to which you were the glory of God;" nor is there a man who can say, without before voluntarily blinded, and the sight of your previous ac- entire falsehood, “I have made my heart clean; I am pure tual condition, over which you have long slept in heedless- from my sin." The proper operation of this convincing ness, will now, under this convincing power of the law, fill power of the law is upon every human being. Its broadest you with apprehension and grief.
accusations, and its most fearful threatenings, belong to every III. The law, with the attending power of the Spirit, con- one before me, and none can have the prospect of security vinces the sinner of the utter impossibility of his ever ob- by pleading an exemption from the charges which it makes. taining justification before God, on the ground of his own Whatsoever things it says, it says to you. And whether it works. This fact the apostle declares in the verse immedi- comes in the power of the precept, or in the terror of the deately following the text, " Therefore, by the deeds of the nunciation, it lays its iron grasp upon your souls, and will law, shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by the law hold you to eternity, unless there come to your rescue, a power is the knowledge of sin.". The law teaches no other know- of grace stronger than the power of wrath. Its object is to ledge than this. A knowledge of pardon and salvation must convince you of sin; to show you your entire need of a Sabe acquired from some other source. The convinced sinner viour; to constrain you to throw away all deluding and desees this utter impossibility, and while he is obliged to ac-structive pleas; to compel you, in the acknowledgment of knowledge his guilt, and to confess his just exposure to your guilt, to cry aloud for the exercise of mercy; to send wrath, for his transgressions, he finds himself compelled to you to the blood of an Almighty Redeemer, as the only founlay down all hope of working out any righteousness for him-tain which can be opened for sin and for uncleanness. If its self. He cannot obtain acceptance by his obedience to the operation upon your consciences, for this purpose, be denied law, for the law shows him the total imperfection of any and resisted, its further design is then to convict you before obedience which he can render. He cannot be justified by the bar of God; to compel you there to see your exposure making satisfaction for his disobedience, for the law shows to wrath and eternal woe, and to draw from your own conhim again, that no satisfaction can be received, short of the science the acknowledgment that your condemnation is just. penalty threatened, which is everlasting death; so that to This end and result the apostle declares in the conclusion hope for life, by satisfying and recompensing divine justice of our text; the law says all these things, that every mouth for his offences, is simply to hope for salvation by being may be stopped, and the whole world become guilty before damned. This twofold impossibility he sees demonstrated God.” Now, the mouths of sinners are by no means sealed; to his conscience beyond the power of denial. To this great they are every day uttering complaints against the unreaend, the convincing power of the law will operate upon your sonable strictness of the divine commandments. You find consciences. When it has thus brought you to despair in your natural hearts constantly rebelling against the solemn yourselves, by showing you your unspeakable dangers, and demands of God: you do not, you cannot acknowledge, that your utter inability to find a remedy in yourselves, by any you are bound to such devotion as it requires, or that you thing which you can do or suffer, it has finished its work. are justly charged with guilt, for failing in that, which you There it must leave you, in this horror of great darkness, un- find to be so repugnant to your dispositions, that its fulfiltil the Holy Spirit, who, by this ministry of the law, has ment amounts to an impossibility. You find your hearts convinced you of sin, shall, by the gracious ministry of the inventing a thousand excuses and pleas for your security; gospel, convince you of a perfect and sufficient righteousness temptation, ignorance, heedlessness, weakness, are all sevelaid up for you in Jesus Christ.
rally urged as sufficient reasons why you should be dealt This is the conviction which the Spirit of God produces, with upon some milder system, and receive a more extensive by “whatsoever things the law saith ;” and until the law toleration. All these complaints and excuses arise from the has wrought with this convincing, power upon your con- want of that conviction, which it is the province of the law sciences, all preaching of Jesus Christ to you is utterly vain. to impress upon you. When by the power of the Spirit, Until you are thoroughly awakened to acknowledge the facts with the ministration of the law, you are convinced of sin, to which the law calls your notice, you will never turn, with a your mouths will be sealed. The justice and holiness of godly sorrow for sin, to embrace the offers of mercy which God will be so apparent, that you will feel no right to the gospel holds out to your acceptance. You will wrap complain though you are condemned. Your own aggravated yourselves in your own carnal confidence, and see no need of guilt will be so clearly manifested, that no excuse or extenulooking after any other righteousness than your own. You ation will occur to your remembrance; you will lie down will think yourselves whole, and will, therefore, refuse the before a God of immaculate purity, with a spirit torn and physician. You will be blind to danger, and deride the pro- bruised, acknowledging the truth of every accusation, and posal of salvation.
proclaiming the entire justice of every woe.
Whatever may But upon whom is this convincing power of the law to be the character of others, you will feel that shame and operate ? The text declares, “whatsoever things the law confusion of face alone belong to you, and that God is saith, it saith to them that are under the law.” In the con- righteous though he taketh vengeance. If this conviction be nexion in which the apostle uttered this assertion, it was to not awakened in your souls in your day of grace, while it prove the guilt of those persons who were supposed to be in may be salutary and effectual, it will come upon you like a possession of the greatest privileges. The Jews, who were giant aroused from his sleep in the day of judgment; conin every sense “under the law,” were perfectly ready to ac- fusion will cover you in that day when God arises to shake knowledge the truth of the broadest statements of sinfulness, terribly the earth, and to repay vengeance and recompense to when applied to the Gentiles, but were disposed to deny the all his adversaries. Then, every impenitent and unprofitproper application of the same statements to themselves. In able servant will be speechless, though he be bound hand opposition to their personal assumption, the apostle wrote the and foot and cast into outer and final darkness : while the text; he argues the reasonable application of all that the law universe will proclaim the abiding spotlessness of the judge, had said, to those to whom the law had been given, and while who thus solemnly condemns. the law did utter aloud the charge of universal and indis- The final result of this convincing power of the law is, criminate guilt, it certainly designed to direct the charge that beside silencing the complaints of every transgressor, against those to whom its holy and searching precepts had the whole world may become guilty before God," or come been communicated. In applying this assertion to the moral under the judgment of God, condemned for sin, and without law, which we are peculiarly considering, I must unequivo- a claim for the exercise of mercy. The holy law announces cally assert its appropriation to every human being; all, with its requisitions, and proclaims its sanctions, that it may out exception, are born under the inflexible obligations of this make room in this world for the exercise of abundant grace, sacred law, and the things, therefore, which it saith, belong and hereafter display the entire justice of God in the exerto the whole family of man. If they applied to Jews, to cise of condemnation. It brings the whole world, and every whom had been given the oracles of God, as well as to Gen- individual transgressor, under the divine judgment; nothing tiles, who had been without a revelation, they apply to those can be demanded but the wages of sin; in passing by every to whom these divine oracles are still granted, as much as to sinner, God would not be unjust; in pardoning and saving the heathen, who are without the knowledge of God. As one, he is infinitely gracious and merciful. When the sinner extensively as the precepts of the law reach upon the earth, is truly convinced, he sees this fact strikingly displayed to do its charges of guilt, and its denunciations of punishment, his mind. Under such circumstances you will feel that also go; and if there be not an individual man who is re- you are justly under condemnation, under the judgment of leased from the obligation of loving God with all his heart, God, and that there can be no reason found for the extension
THE CONDEMNING POWER OF THE LAW.
of any compassion to you, but in the unsearchable riches offdo it, or you are cursed.” “I have done it in almost every the love of God. This conviction will lead you to look to particular.” “Tell me not of what you have done almost, nothing for pardon and rescue, but free and unlimited grace: have you obeyed it altogether? Have you obeyed it in all to throw yourselves altogether upon the mercy and sufficiency things? If not, you are cursed." "I have for a great number of that Being, who has become the end of the law, that he of years obeyed it
, and but once only, through inadvertence, might bring in an everlasting righteousness for you, and in have I transgressed." “ Then you are cursed; if you have whom God can be just, and the justifier of all who believe offended in one point, you are guilty of all."
“ But I am in him.
sorry for my transgression;" “I cannot regard your sorrows, When the law works its last and eternal conviction upon you are under a curse.
“But I will reform, and never transthe conscience of the impenitent, in the day of retribution, gress again.”. “I care nothing for your reformation, the curse this great and final end to which the text points you will be remains upon you.”. “ But I will obey it perfectly in future displayed, “The whole world will come under the judgment of if I can find mercy." “ I have no concern with your determiGod." He will be seen to be righteous who judgeth in the nations for the future, I know no such word as mercy, I canearth; and while not a being has any claim to mercy, and not alter my terms for any one. If you rise to these terms, the impenitent and hardened are justly condemned; he will you will have a right to life and need no mercy. If you fali show, in the free and full redemption of every soul that has short in any one particular, nothing remains for you but fled to Christ for refuge, how, in his own appointed and everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and glorious way, mercy can rejoice against judgment, and grace from the glory of his power.' accomplish what the law must leave undone forever.
I pray you to observe, that this is no fancy of mine. St. Paul says, “ as many as are of the works of the law," or looking to the law for any ground of hope, a description which includes all men in a natural state, “ are under a curse." have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." There is
no mere human being who has ever obeyed the law; and, LECTURE V.
therefore, without an exception, every mouth is stopped ; every soul is counted guilty before God, and is under a curse now; condemned already; a curse, which, if the only refuge
for the sinner be rejected, must remain on them eternally: The law worketh wrath.-ROMANS IV. 15.
This is a plain statement of the demands of the law. And
from the utter impossibility that an apostate being should The whole subject of the present discourse is presented rise to the terms of its inflexible demands, " it works wrath ;" in the declaration of this text. It is the condemning power of it warns men to flee from itself, and to seek a hope of peace the divine law. We are now to consider the law as standing somewhere, where it may be obtained, in consistence with forth, to warn then against itself; we are to regard it as pro- the character of God. claiming to every sinner who is seeking after salvation, it This condemning power of the law, this solemn warning is not in me;" we are to speak of that aspect of its character, which it utters against itself, is manifested in the obedience which occasions it to be called “a fiery law,” a “ministra- which it demands, and in the sentence which it passes. tion of condemnation," and a “ministration of death.” Let 1. If it referred solely to overt and gross acts of transgressit be distinctly understood, that the whole power of the ion, it would rather encourage us to cleave to it, for our law here referred to, has accrued from the apostacy of man. hope, than dissuade us from abiding by its terms. But such For man, as an innocent being, it was ordained unto life. Its is the spirituality, the exceeding broadness of its character; one grand requisition of implicit and total submission to the such is the extent of obedience which it demands, that it will of the Creator, was written upon his heart; and whether charges us with guilt, not only on account of open violations that controlling will of God prohibited the eating of an apple, of its commands, but also on account of the defectiveness of or the crime of murder, the necessity of obedience and the our best actions. Suppose that you are at this moment filled guilt of transgression were not in any degree altered. This with love to God; does this love rise to the full measure of law, to a holy and obedient man, would have wrought life the precept which requires it? If not, your best moment is and happiness, as it does to the pure spirits of heaven. a moment of guilt, and a sufficient reason for condemnation.
But to a fallen man, it works nothing but wrath. In the The same may be said in reference to all your best efforts to violation of its one grand requisition, Adam and his pos- fulfil the commands of God. The law cannot receive the disterity fell into ruin and guilt. “ By one man's disobedience position in place of the act. It makes no toleration for the many were made sinners.” “By the offence of one, many sincerity of desire, if there be not the utmost fulfilment of died, and judgment came upon all men, to condemnation." the requisition. It is so rigorous in its claims that it admits This violated law is the covenant under which every child of no deviation, no weariness, no defect, even for a moment, of man is born into the world : it rolls down its sentence of or under any circumstances, to the very end of life. Thus, death for past transgression, from generation to generation, in the inexorable character of its claims, it works wrath; it at the same time that it does not relax in any degree the obli- produces inevitable condemnation, and lifts up its voice in gation of its demands. Every infant of the race is exposed perpetual warning against itself.
“ Do not think,” it says from his birth to the awful penalty of this broken covenant, to you, “ of obtaining life by me; you see my demands; you as much as Adam was in the moment of his sin, and is still see that they can never be relaxed; you see that a curse is bound to render the full obedience which its precepts de- denounced against the least transgression; I can make no mand, as much as Adam would have been, if he had never abatement on account of your weakness; I can offer no assinned. Every unconverted sinner remaining still " a child sistance for the performance of any one duty; I can present of wrath,” remains under the two-fold pressure, which is no hope of mercy; I must have a spotless obedience from here referred to, of a penalty, the endurance of which is first to last; and though there be but a single failure in that, intolerable, and of a requisition, the fulfilment of which is I must testify against the acceptance of the whole; and will impossible. Christ Jesus the end of the law for righteous- you seek life in me? O fly from me; be afraid to remain ness, offers the only refuge from the wrath which the law one hour under my curse; escape for your life to him whom thus works, and every man who is rejecting Christ Jesus I acknowledge to be a Prince and Saviour, able to give refrom his heart, is voluntarily choosing to abide under a cove-pentance and forgiveness of sins.” The terrors of Mount nant which works, and can work, nothing but wrath. “ Tell Sinai, and the fence around its base, and the strict injunctions me, then, you who desire to be under the law, do you not against any attempt to break through and gaze, marked the hear the law ?". Does it say any thing to you, but “do this, impossibility of gaining access to God by any way which and thon shalt live?" Does it set before you any alterna- the law could open. In reference to that illustration, Moses tive, but “Cursed be he that continueth not in all things, said, “I exceedingly fear and quake;" and much more, in which are written in the book of the law, to do them?" the actual exposure to the reality, may you feel awakened Has it any other terms than this? “Do this," this wrath- and terrified at the wrath which this holy law thus works. working law proclaims; do it all, all without exception, con- 2. In the sentence which it passes, it still further manifests tinue in it from first to last, and you shall
live. But a curse, this destroying power, and warns you to flee from all idea an everlasting curse, awaits you if you offend in any one par- of attaining hope in the personal satisfaction of its claims. ticular; plead what you will, its denunciations are utterly The penalty of disobedience in a single deficiency, is everirreversible: “ I wish to obey it,” you may say, and it lasting death. There is no alternative less than this preanswers you, “ Tell me not of your wishes, but do it.” “I sented by the law. Whatsover things the law saith, it saith have endeavoured to obey.” Tell me of no endeavours, butfto those who are under the law; and reveals indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that before him; and thus they do not feel that their total dependdoth evil; and then shows that all have sinned or done evil, ance must be in sovereign and all conquering grace; that they and come short of the glory of God. In proclaiming its must receive a salvation entirely without money and without irreversible sentence, the law asks you the simple question, price. “Who can dwell with the devouring fire? who can dwell There are others who refine still more than this. They with everlasting burnings?” Thus bringing up every soul of think themselves willing to give all the glory of their salvaman before God, under the solemn charge of guilt, and then tion to Christ; but they want some warrant, some argument laying the obligation of endurance of its penalty upon every for believing in him. They are not willing to take the fulone who hath sinned, the law can work nothing but wrath; ness of the provision, and the freeness of the promise, for this and man might as reasonably seek for rest and shelter in a warrant, but they must find it in themselves. They will burning fiery furnace, as seek for life and salvation in his either say, that they dare not go to him, because they are so own obedience to the law.
vile; and therefore they will endeavour to make themselves It is remarkable that the whole body of the Israelites were better before they venture into his presence, and indulge the required to give their cordial assent to this condemning power hope of his acceptance; or else, that they have a good hope of the law. "When the Levites proclaimed from Mount Ebal, of his acceptance and mercy, because they have never trans“ Cursed be he that continueth not in all the words of this gressed the bounds of human infirmity, or have truly repented law, to do them,” it is added, “and all the people shall of their faults. The result of all these delusions is the same. say Amen.” Be it so, it is right. Some of my hearers have They throw the sinner wholly back upon the claims of the been ready, perhaps, to cry "God forbid,” under some of my law. Salvation must be all of grace, or all of works. Any statements, to imagine that I have overstrained the matter. attempt to blend the two, in any measure, destroys the whole But I would commend this example to you; and while I idea of grace, and exposes to the demand of perfect works, make assertions correspondent with the evident revelations of under the alternative of endless wrath upon their failure. Almighty God, and so conformable to all the sober deduc- This is your connexion with this subject. If you do not tions of our own reason, I would hope there may yet be found come as poor and outcast and perishing, to the atoning sacribut one sentiment pervading this whole assembly; and that fice and the justifying obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ, all, in the way of intellectual acknowledgement, and of cordial you must stand by the law and meet its requisitions. If you approbation, will be ready to cry out, “Amen, amen." are not willing freely to accept the work of a perfect surety Having considered this condemning power of the divine offered in the covenant of grace, you must, in your
own perlaw, and shown how it works wrath, I wish now to point out sons, fulfil the utmost demands or bear the eternal penalty of the connexion which this attribute of the law has with our the covenant of works. The terms of this covenant you canselves. I have said, that every child of man is born under not, in any degree, alter; you must come up to the full of its the curse of this law, as a matter of unavoidable inheritance. demands, or it works for you nothing but wrath. Let this But beyond this, I now assert that every unconverted man, consideration lead you, with St. Paul, to seek earnestly and every one who has not yielded himself to the spiritual only to be found in Christ, not having your own righteousdominion of the Lord Jesus Christ, is labouring to obtain ness, which is of the law, but the righteousness which is of salvation by his obedience to the law. All men by nature, God, by faith in Christ; and to count every thing but loss, being ignorant of God's righteousness, attempt to establish a for the excellency of the knowledge of him. righteousness of their own, and in the refusal to submit to the If this connexion of our ourselves with the condemning righteousness of God, thus expose themselves to all the wrath power of the law be a fact; if it be true that it works wrath which the law can work. This connexion you all have with to an extent so universal, O what deep humiliation of soul this vitally important subject. The moment in which you becomes you all, in view of its claims! What an amount of turn to any thing which you have done, as a ground of hope curses it suspends over the sinner's devoted head! You must and justification, you choose this for your covenant, and be- not look solely to your outward transgressions of the comcome debtors to do the whole law; and then there is presented mands, your grosser violations of precepts, as reasons for to you the simple choice of perfect and perpetual obedience, God's righteous anger. The wrath of God is revealed against or chains of everlasting darkness. This disposition to rest all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Your defects upon the works of the law, you will find all persons to be expose you as much as your violations to condemnation, indulging who are not spiritually united to Christ. and every omission, as well as every positive disobedience,
There are some who look for their justification altogether will receive its just recompense of reward. If, then, it upon the ground of their own works; they cannot understand should be granted that your lives are blameless, so far as why good works should be required at all, if they are not to regards outward violations of God's authority, still your inobtain our acceptance with God. And when the assertion is iquities have grown over your heads; your sins are utterly made, that our own obedience does not in any degree operate innumerable. In comparison with many of your fellow-men, to procure our justification, they suppose that we set good who have suffered the punishment of trampling upon human works altogether aside, and encourage all manner of licen-laws, your characters may appear exemplary and worthy; tiousness. These persons throw themselves altogether upon and such, men may think you; but in the sight of God the the law; agree to abide by its terms; expose themselves to difference between you is small. He may behold in you less the utmost of its claims; and voluntarily assume the whole gross iniquity, but see it far more than counterbalanced by amount of wrath which it has power to work.
an abundant measure of spiritual sins, by no means less There are others who see and acknowledge that some hateful in his sight. Suppose it had all been true which honour is due to Christ, and that from his being called a the self-righteous Pharisee asserted of himself, that he had Saviour, we must stand indebted to him in some manner, in been no extortioner or adulterer ; did not his hateful pride, his part at least, for our salvation. They will assert, therefore, self-complacency, his uncharitableness, more than compenà partial dependance upon Christ, and try to connect his sate for that? If he had tried himself by a proper standard atonement with their own obedience. The utter impossibility he would have found but little reason for his self-preference of such an expedient they do not see. The one makes void above the contrite Publican; he would have seen, that had the other. Their salvation must be altogether of grace, or alto- all been true which he had asserted, the simple difference begether of works. The attempt to unite them, only forms a tween them was, that the one was a painted sepulchre, and system, like the feet of Nebuchadnezzar's image, part of iron the other a sepulchre without paint. I do not assert that and part of clay, which can sustain no weight, and consti- gross outward transgressions add nothing to a man's guilt; tutes a totally insufficient foundation. These persons, in the but that in the absence of these, God may see spiritual transrejection of a free redemption through unassisted grace, laygression in the heart, more than enough to supply their place. themselves down beneath the whole burden of the law; and I'he point to which the attention must be directed to produce not being able to produce the perfect obedience which it re- true humiliation, is the defectiveness of our best services. quires, for them the law worketh wrath.
Look upon this deep deficiency in duty; behold it in its agThere are others who think they must do something for gravated character, as against a God of infinite love and themselves; and therefore they enter into a kind of compo- mercy; against a God who has assumed our nature and laid sition or agreement with the Lord of all, that they will render down his life for us; against a God who has been interceding him obedience, if he will bestow upon them salvation. They with our hearts, to guide us aright, and to lead us to repentance. do not expressly unite their merits with his, but they make Behold it also against light and knowledge, against vows and their own obedience the ground upon which they confide in resolutions, against judgments and mercies, and continued him, the reason for the trust which they affect to place in in without repentance or shame for many years. Behold it him. They do not remember that they have no obedience to as a proud rejection of the boundless love of a crucified Sabring; that they have nothing but sin and misery to lay down viour; as a bold and persevering determination to stand upon
your own ground, and to claim salvation upon your own Christ, is delightful to those who appreciate his worth; and merits, and you will see that the law reasonably works for to be able to lead the hearts of the sinful children of men to you nothing but wrath; that your guilt must sink you into a cordial acceptance of his redemption, and to a free submission everlasting perdition, if God do not interpose in the multitude to his power, more than compensates for the unpleasant seof his mercies, and cause his grace to superabound, where verity by which their minds need often to be awakened to an sins have so fearfully abounded. Behold the aspect under acknowledgment of their necessities. which this condemning law brings out your character, and The interesting subject now before us, is the guiding power you will see that to call yourselves the chief of sinners, is not of the divine law to lead our hearts to Christ. The illustration merely a humble expression, which, though it sounds well in which the apostle presents this subject to us, in connexion upon the lips, need not be felt in the heart, but is the real with our text, has great force. He argues from the total imcharacter which belongs to you all, since the very best man possibility that any law should be given to a fallen being among you must know far more evil of himself than he can which could bestow life, the necessity and value of that know of any other individual, and see a depth of guilt in his system of redemption which the gospels reveals by faith in own heart, concealed from the knowledge of the world, which, Jesus Christ. He then considers the condition of all those were it exposed to public view, would overwhelm him with in whose hearts this life-giving faith had not been produced, total degradation.
as one in which no alternative was presented to them but this, If you will fairly bring up your character to the trial of this or ruin. He represents the law as a jailor, under whose condemning power of the law, you will see yourselves ex- power they were fast shut up, for this alternative. The law posed to God's heaviest judgments, no less than the most was added because of transgressions. It was not designed flagrant transgressors in the world. You will feel obliged to to give life to a fallen being, or to be in any way the friend cry for mercy, as Peter did when sinking in the waves, of sinners. It imprisoned all under the bondage of sin, and “Lord save me, or I perish.” Others who have different allowed no avenue of escape but that which grace opened in views of what God demands, may wonder and say, “What Jesus Christ. Before this great object of faith came, men can you have done to call for such humiliation and distress?" were thus universally imprisoned under the law. Every But you will know your own deserts, taste the bitterness of door was fast barred, and every one was to remain so but the your own sins, and feel compelled to lie down before a holy single one, which opened upon the satisiaction of Christ. God in the deepest self-abasement.
They were shut up unto the faith which should afterwards O that you could be brought to this state of mind; to have be revealed, as their only alternative to perpetual imprisonit as a settled principle in your judgments while the mir-ment. Thus the law, closing every other way
of ror of God's requirements is held up to you, that by the dealing with its captives with great severity, became a kind works of the law no man living can be justified. O listen of schoolmaster or guide, to bring them unto Christ, that to this law, though it works nothing but wrath. If its they who could not be justified by works might be justified warnings are alarming to you, they are indispensable; and by faith ; and when this door of grace opened npon them, as surely it is better that you should be warned in season, that it were of itself, and the divine messenger of mercy loosed your house is built upon the sand, than be suffered to perish their chains and bade them go in peace, while the keeper bein its ruins. Should'I know your danger, and utter no warn- came as a dead man; then, except they remained voluntarily ing, I should be accessary to your ruin. It is a fatal delusion in their captivity, they were no longer under this schoolwhich shuts your hearts against the acceptance of a Saviour, master ; no longer under the law, but under grace. This is who is the end of this fiery law, for righteousness to your souls. the course of the apostle's argument, in which he introduces There is no other hope presented to you; but this is presented. the assertion of the text. And while the law drives you thus away from itself, hum- 1. In considering this guiding power of the law, the views bled, guilty and condemned, it does not thrust you upon an of the law, which have been already presented, must be borne ocean of uncertainty, to find by chance, where you can, a re- in mind. It must be remembered, that the law can never be set medy for your disease and a satisfaction for your want. It ac- aside. It is as unalterable as the character of God himself. knowledges a righteousness in your anointed substitute com- It is holy, and can never abate of its commands. It is just, mensurate with its utmost demands. It bids you seek to and can never mitigate its sanctions. It is good, and must him and live. It tells you of a Saviour who can preach glad eternally continue so, whatever may become of those who tidings, though it cannot. This has been my present object, are subject to its dominion. In every thing which it reto show you that there was no dependance to be placed in quires, its direct tendency is to promote the honour of God your own obedience, and no hope to be offered you in the and the happiness of man; and if it become an occasion of law. The law offers nothing but a curse; and yet all the unhappiness to any, it is only through their own perverseunconverted among men are still seeking salvation in this ness in violating its commands. Immutable in its constraint,
The gospel of Jesus brings a full salvation, and yet it says to all, “ The curse which I have denounced must be the same sinners are rejecting all the mercy which it pre-inflicted; the commands which I have given must be obeyed. sents. I ask your serious thoughtfulness to be directed to If there be any person found to endure the one for you, and the subject now presented to you; and if you can be per- to fulfil the other in your stead, and God Most High_be suaded to listen to the warnings which the law utters against pleased to accept a substitute in your behalf, it is well. But itself in the condemnation and wrath which it works, your without such a regard to my right and my honour, no man livminds will be prepared to consider it with me next as a ing shall be saved. I must be magnified and made honourable. guide to him who is able to save unto the uttermost, all who My integrity and faithfulness must be shown before the whole come unto God througlı him.
creation, or no sinner shall find acceptance before him from whom I proceeded, and whose authority I must maintain."
The law thus, as it were, puts us upon a search for some sufficient Saviour. It leads us to look at the demands which it makes upon us; and when we are convinced of the unal
terable character of those demands, and see the impossibility LECTURE VI.
of our complying with them, we are directed to the inquiry, if there can be a possibility of finding an adequate substitute. It is not my object to consider the text in its application to
those who lived before the actual appearance of the Saviour Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, on the earth. I wish to present the whole matter in the that we might be justified by faith.–GALATIANS III. 24.
light of personal application to individuals among ourselves,
and to consider the present habitual operation of the law as The subject which we are now to consider, is one the sinner's guide to Christ. Considered in this light, it upon which we may enter with delight, as in every respect makes its personal demands upon us, by a compliance with congenial to the feelings of a redeemed soul. There has which it promises us acceptance. It tells us honestly and been an unavoidable aspect of severity in the views of the candidly, that if we can undergo the full punishment which law, which have been previously, presented to your minds. it requires for our past transgressions, we shall be accounted But this severe appearance of its demands will serve to ren- free from guilt, and allowed to set out again in our attempts der the more cheering and valuable our reflections upon the to obey the divine commands; and then, if we can offer a great object of proper love and adoration who is now brought full and perfect obedience to the precepts which it sets before Before you, as the chill and darkness of the night which is us, we shall be considered righteous, and be justified and just passing away prepares us to welcome the rising of the accepted upon the ground of our own righteousness. When sun with the greater gladness. To meditate and to speak of our consciences have become convinced of the folly of any
THE LAW A GUIDE TO CHRIST.