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merit from your own works; if you feel "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked";' the law, in the hand of the Spirit of God, has made you willing to prostrate yourself at the foot of the cross; and, there suing for mercy, to place an entire reliance on Christ for salvation. Enlightened by this process, you discern his incomparable excellence and sufficiency as a Saviour, you discover every thing in him suited to the relief of your necessities.
Do you, then, feel yourself a sinful rebel, needing pardon, justification, and peace? How can these invaluable blessings be obtained, but through a saving faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ? Do you
want a sanctifying principle to cleanse your hearts from the pollution of wicked thoughts and desires? The blood of Christ, sprinkled on the conscience, has this desirable effect'.
Is it necessary that you should appear holy at the tribunal of Heaven? You must cast away the defiled garment of your own obedience, to be clothed with the spotless robe of Jesu's Righteousness, in which neither God nor angels can see any defects ".
Thus the law is our schoolmaster, to bring us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith and it shews us our wants, that we may come to the Gospel to have them supplied".
10. It is a matter of great importance to regard the law in these different lights; and not to expect benefits from it which it never was designed to convey. It cannot bestow life upon us; yet it performs the friendly office of directing us to the Saviour, at whose disposal the inestimable gift is placed.
eRev. iii. 17, 18.
f Heb. ix. 14.
We should avail ourselves of the instructions of the law, and feel thankful for them. The traveller, who is treading an unknown path, will not despise the information of a passing stranger, nor reject the direction of the post which points to the place where he is going:-And ought you to undervalue the kind monitions of the law, which are given to enable you to obtain "the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory?" Whilst, however, you thus esteem the Law as a system of discipline to prepare you for the Gospel, beware how you apply it to improper uses. Do not, like some, lower the obedience which it enjoins, in order that they may have full scope for gratifying their wicked desires. This is a manifest contempt of the authority of the Divine Legislator, whose law admits of no relaxation'. Nor, like multitudes blinded with a conceit of their spiritual strength, falsely imagine you are able to observe inviolably its precepts, and merit everlasting life. The Word of God reprobates the false notion, by affirming, "there is none other name (but that of Christ) under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved".”
h2 Tim. ii. 10.
'Matt. v. 17, 18. "Acts iv. 12.
ON THE COVENANT OF GRACE, OR THE DISPENSATION OF THE GOSPEL.
Jer. xxxi. 31. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel, and with the House of Judah.
MAN, having broken the covenant of works, was now plunged into an abyss of woe, never could have extricated himself.
from which he Having, of his
own accord, withdrawn from the service and protection of God, he was brought into a most deplorable state of captivity. The sport of sinful passions and desires, every temptation would serve to carry him further away from his Maker; whilst Satan, by whom he was enslaved, would tyrannize over him, and lead him on to the commission of fresh acts of outrage against the offended Majesty of Heaven. Being thus deservedly "given up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient," what else could he expect, but "that recompence of his error which was meet?" He could do nothing to repair the injury which he had offered to God, whose law he had wantonly infringed. He had lost the power to comply with the Divine will in future, and had incurred a penalty which exposed him to endless wrath. Thus, as an outcast from the society of heaven, and as a companion of devils, man must inevitably have sunk under the burden of his guilt and sorrow, if God, who in the midst of judgment remembers mercy, had not displayed the most signal compassion towards him.
At the very moment when Adam and Eve were trembling with apprehensions of merited vengeance, God took occasion to exercise the riches of his grace, by determining, in a way honourable to his perfections, to rescue them from the dread gulph into which they had fallen". To carry this merciful purpose into execution, he first entered into covenant with his own Son, who, by virtue of his death, was to redeem his people as a "purchased possession" for himself; and, secondly, he made a covenant of grace with men, whereby he promised for Christ's sake to forgive the sins of the penitent, and to confer
a Gen. iii. 15.
upon them the blessings of eternal life. Here was a plan fraught with matchless love to ruined man. Here, "mercy and truth met together; righteousness and peace embraced each other "." Here a way was pointed out to the heavenly Paradise, which is far preferable to the earthly one, from which Adam was driven. Here the brightest hopes suddenly shone upon lost mortals, both unexpected and surprising. Here there is no danger of incurring a forfeiture of privileges, through any difficulty of observing the conditions of the covenant; since He has performed them, who was able "to fulfil all righteousness."
1. Before we speak more particularly of the covenant of grace, we must briefly notice the compact between the Father and the Son. This agreement was made before "the foundation of the world:" for God, foreseeing the fall and misery of man, resolved beforehand to recover him from perdition, and to exalt him to everlasting life and glory, through Jesus Christ. There is an evident allusion to this covenant in the sacred writings. Our Redeemer is called "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." And Christians are said to be chosen in him to salvation before the world began.
By virtue of this compact, God constituted Christ the Head of his people ; and the Son presented himself a Surety for them. Hence he said to his Disciples, "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me."
The high contracting parties are thus brought before us by the prophet; "and the counsel of peace shall be between them both"." As no enmity could ever have existed betwixt God and Christ, the coun
sel here spoken of was the contrivance of a scheme of mercy, which was to procure, for sinners, peace nd reconciliation with God, and peace in their own
In consequence of this mutual agreement, the Father demands the obedience of the Son, and Christ cheerfully undertakes to perform the conditions of the covenant. Thus he testifies his consent, and readiness, to fulfil his engagements: "Mine ears hast thou opened: burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the Book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God! yea, thy law is within my hearth.
Nor did he only undertake, but actually performed, the task assigned him. "When the fulness of the time was come, he was made of a woman, made under the law;" and perfectly satisfied all its demands, both in the letter and spirit of them. By the unsullied righteousness of his life, and his "obedience untó death, even the death of the cross," he brought a greater revenue of glory to God, than if all men had kept the law themselves, or had borne the penalty of breaking it. The Almighty expresses his utmost satisfaction with the manner in which Christ accomplished his Mediatorial work: "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth! I have put my Spirit upon him"." "The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness'sake: he will magnify the law, and make it honourable." For this reason, Jesus is named the "Surety of a better testament'," which is "established upon better promises and conveys an eternal inheritance "to them who are the called according to his purpose." i Gal. iv. 4. 'Heb. vii. 22.
b Psalm xl. 6-9.
Isa. xlii. 1.