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imputed to natural incapacity or natural prejudice, but
of the Apostles were thus first opened. Effect of these
tageous to the majority. The abode of the Paraclete
Christ against his enemies. It is, then, as Dispenser
Their Inspiration proved by the miracles which they
Probability that some of the wrilings of the Apostles should be
inspired, shown,-1st, From the necessity of the case.
Written documents absolutely necessary to the ex-
This fact established from the promises of Christ,
The particular Treatises which made up the New Testament,
shown to be inspired.
Answer to the Objection of the Romanists that the Scriptures are,
Presumption of requiring an additional guide. The
Sermon IX.-Upon Forgiveness of Injuries.
AND THE GOSPEL.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A KNOWLEDGE OF THE DIVINE LAW.
The Editor of the Christian Library, in pursuance of his plan of farnishing occasionally original productions of American writers for the Library, applied to the author of the following Lec
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of
thy law.-PSALM CXIX. 18. tures for some assistance towards that object. These Lectures were prepared and delivered in the regular discharge of pastoral
No subject connected with religion is probably estimated
by Christians, and enforced from the pulpit, in such inadequate duty, to the congregation of St. Paul's church, in the autumn of
proportion to its real importance, as the divine law. ' By 1831. The author had no thought of their publication; and some it is considered a subject in which all are sufficiently though it has been often suggested to him, he has heretofore instructed. By others, it is spoken of as a matter which be
longs not to gospel preaching; and most men pass over the declined it altogether. The opinion of others has been, that study of its principles and requisitions with carelessness and they could be made useful in a larger distribution, and he has unconcern.
The view which the Psalmist entertained of this matter, is yielded now to this opinion. There is but little room for well displayed in the devot solicitude with which he speaks originality in such Lectures as these. All authors within of the law in almost every verse of the Psalm from which the writer's reach have been consulted, and very freely used. our text. is taken. The extent to which he regarded the From Bishop Reynolds, Bishop Hopkins, Dr. J. Edwards, Dr. that they might be engraven upon his heart, the sorrow which
spirituality of its precepts, the fervour with which he desired Dwight and the Rev. C. Simeon, many of the thoughts he experienced in witnessing its violation, the ardour with here presented have been obtained. The latter writer espe- show that he considered a knowledge and reverence for the
which he longed to understand its perfections, all unite to cially, in his university sermons, which have never been holy law of God of vital importance to the redeemed and republished in this country, so accorded with the views of enlightened soul. In this Psalm he employs several different the author of these Lectures, in his statements upon subjects connected system of divine revelations which are found in
words to designate the law. They all have reference to that on which they treated in common, that he has not hesi- the Scriptures; and whether the national law of the Jews, lated to embody large portions of his excellent argument in consisting of ceremonies and judgments proper for their cir
cumstances be considered, or the great moral law of God, these discourses. These Lectures exhibit, however, the au- which has an universal obligation in heaven and on earth, thor's plan of preaching, and the truth as ho receives it from there are contained in each, wondrous things, the understand the Scriptures. If they can be made useful to others, the
ing of which will well repay the labour of study, and reasona
bly forms the subject of prayer. object of their publication will be fully answered. At any A proper knowledge of the divine law lies at the foundation rate, in reference to a large portion of the clergy and members of all true religion. It opens the only way for understanding
and receiving the gospel of Jesus Christ. No man can gain of the Protestant Episcopal church, it may be said, “So we a true knowledge, or an adequate appreciation of the unpreach, and so they believed.”
S. H. T. searchable riches of redeeming grace, who does not make
use of the law, as his schoolmaster to bring him unto Christ. Philadelphia, October 9, 1832.
It is therefore of incalculable importance, that we attain right VOL. II.-A
views of the matter before us, and learn to exercise right and in his own revelations we behold his real character disaffections in reference to its demands.
played. Whatever be the character of the law which God has “ Open thou mine eyes,” is the prayer of David. There given for the government of his rational creation, must be the is, in our natural ignorance and sinfulness, a thick veil drawn character of the Deity himself. It is a perfect transcript of over our understandings, which utterly prohibits the admiss- his mind and will. If then we view this law as extending ion of the truth of God. We confine our views of his precepts to every action and word and thought of our being; if we entirely to the letter of them, and deny the extent of their believe it to require in us still, all that purity of mind and demands upon the inner man. We look upon the institutions character in which our race was originally formed, to demand and ceremonies appointed by him, according to the flesh, and that we preserve to our latest hour God's perfect image upon see nothing in them but unmeaning and unnecessary rites. our souls; if we acknowledge that it allows not the slightest This veil, God's Holy Spirit alone can remove. He must possible defect or deviation, even through ignorance or inaddeliver us from the blindness of our minds, and show us the vertency; if we see that it promises us nothing, but as the unsearchable wisdom, knowledge, and love, which are to be result of a spotless adherence to its utmost demands from first unfolded in all the revelations and dispensations of God. To to last, we shall of course look upon the Being from whom him, therefore, must our prayer be made, for illumination in it has proceeded, as one infinitely holy; one who cannot rehis ways, and for a proper knowledge of his holy will. gard iniquity but with abhorrence; and shall derive from this “ Open thou mine eyes;" take away the veil that covers my proper view of the law, so far as our powers enable
us to do heart, that I may look deeply into thy sacred revelations; it, an adequate conception of the holiness of God. But if we and passing beyond the letter of thy word, may, see the suppose the divine law to require any thing less than perfect spiritual instructions which are every where contained. In obedience, to admit any thing short of absolute perfection, the Sabbath, let me see an eternal rest; in unleavened bread, we must necessarily conceive of the giver of the law as a the simplicity of the gospel truth; in every victim bound for Being less abhorrent of sin. Our views of the holiness of the altar, let me behold the obedience required from me ? and his character will be lowered in proportion as we lower our in every thing, let me find Christ revealed to my soul, and views of his demands. If we believe that he will give us accepted anew, for my soul's comfort. The prayer of David liberty to depart with impunity from that high standard which extended thus, to all the wonderful things which were covered he proposed for man in paradise, and has established for either under the letter of moral precepts, or under the types angels in heaven around his throne, we lay a stain of imperof legal ceremonies. My present subject leads me to dismiss fection upon his character, and lose the just view which we the view of the ceremonial law, interesting as its considera- should entertain of his abiding holiness. Our reverence for tion would be, and to confine my remarks altogether to the him is diminished; our fear of his inspection is destroyed; moral law of God, all the commandments of which are holy, and all dread of his judgment passes away. just and good, more to be desired than gold, yea, than much In like manner, upon our view of the divine law, depends fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb, by all adequate conceptions of the justice of God. If we believe which the servant of God is warned, and in keeping of which that the sanctions with which he enforces his law, are strong there is great reward.
and awful; if we believe that these sanctions involve nothing To the understanding of this law I turn the petition of my less than the everlasting happiness or misery of every child text; and to display the importance of understanding it, I of man; if we are convinced that one single defect, of whatshall attempt to show some of the wonderful things which ever kind, will forfeit all title to happiness, and involve the are contained in it.
soul in irremediable guilt and misery; if we are satisfied that I have said that a correct understanding of the moral law these sanctions can never be set aside, can never be mitiof God forms the foundation of all true religion. It will be gated, can never cease to operate throughout eternity, we now my object to show, that upon a proper knowledge of shall of course derive from this just view of the law, a high this law rest all just views of religious truth; all proper feel- and honourable idea of that justice of God which will never ings of the religious character, and all scriptural and well-relax the smallest iota of his demands, either in reference to founded hopes of religious blessings.
the obedience of man, or to the execution of the threatenings That which is called the ceremonial and judicial law of denounced against him. But if we contract our view of the the Old Testament, was peculiarly the national law of the law, and entertain the idea that God will overlook some of Israelites. It was communicated through the mediation of our imperfections and wanderings, or that he will punish Moses to them, as a distinct people on the earth; and was them only for a time, and that, too, only in a way which feeble intended, in all its precepts and requirements, to lead their man will be able to endure, we, of necessity, proportionably minds to believe on him, who was afterwards to come as the lower our ideas of divine justice, accommodate our views of Saviour of the world ; and by showing them in experience, the character of God to the standard of human deficiency, and the utter impossibility of attaining an acceptable righteous- make him altogether such an one as ourselves. ness by their own obedience, to shut them up to the accept- It is equally true, that without a proper knowledge of the ance of the free and everlasting righteousness which should law, we have no correct apprehension of the divine mercy and be offered them in Jesus Christ. The moral law, which was love. When we acknowledge that we have contracted guiltiembodied in this national law of the Israelites, was not more ness, great beyond all measure and conception, and we feel obligatory upon them than upon all other men; nay, upon all ourselves exposed to judgments commensurate with our deother accountable creatures.
viations from God's perfect law; when we see that our sins The moral law is a simple revelation of the will, and a are more in number than the sands upon the sea-shore, and perfect transcript of the character of God. It is the law by that every one of those sins is deserving of the eternal wrath which angels are governed in heaven. It is the law by which and vengeance of God, we shall stand amazed at the mercy man was to be governed and justified in Paradise. Supreme of that offended Being, who, instead of executing his threatlove to God, and universal benevolence to his creatures, is ened vengeance, has himself provided a remedy for the whole the fulfilling of this law. This law was violated by man; world; a remedy suited to our wants, and adequate to our and its character and operation, as a covenant of life, was necessities; remedy by which he may restore us to his thus destroyed for man forever. From that moment, right- favour, not only without compromising the honour of his eousness was never to be obtained by man's personal obe-other perfections, but to the everlasting advancement and glory dience to the law. But the law itself, as the divine rule, and of them all. Yes, truly, with such correct views of the unthe revelation of the divine will to man, was unaffected. Its changing law of God, we shall magnify his mercy, that can claims are still the same, though the possibility of perfect pardon so much guilt, relieve from so much misery, and exalt personal obedience has been destroyed by sin. Its authority to his eternal glory, such unworthy and polluted creatures. and demands upon men are entirely unchanged. What this But should we imagine our offences to have been comparalaw demanded of Adam, it demands of every human being. tively few, and our desert of vengeance to be comparatively But what it promised Adam, because it was possible for him light; should we suppose our wanderings and deficiences to to attain it, it promises no longer, from the utter impossibility admit of any possible excuse, who does not see that we rethat its demands should ever be personally fulfilled by any duce to nothing, that mercy of God which has been so little sinner. To this holy and perfect law, our attention is now di- needed, and which has accomplished for us a deliverance so
and from a proper understanding of it, are to be derived, inconsiderable and unimportant? A ruined sinner, ransomed I. All just views of religious truth.
from eternal hell, like a brand plucked out of the fire, will 1. Upon our knowledge of the divine law depend all just have abundant cause to magnify the love of God forever. A views of the perfections of God. Here alone can we gain an man to whom much is forgiven, will have reason to love adequate conception of the holiness of his character. We much; while he who thinks that he needs but little to be know nothing of God, but what he has revealed of himself; forgiven, will of necessity love but little.
Thus all our views of the attributes of God depend upon law, and the necessities of the sinner, we bring down the our sentiments in reference to his law. Neither his holiness, whole work of Christ, whether in us, or for us, in the very nor his justice, nor his love, can be in any degree appreciated, same proportion. They that are whole need not a physiunless, like the Psalmist, we learn these wondrous things out of cian, but they who are sick. If we be not, and feel not ourthe law. In proportion as the law is magnified, are our con- selves to be totally lost and ruined, then surely in vain, so ceptions of the divine perfections exalted. And in the de- far as we are concerned, is the purpose of the Father, and the gree to which the law is superficially considered, are our substitution of the Son, for the redemption of the world. views of the character of Jehovah lowered and rendered in-Upon our accurate convictions of what the law actually deeffectual. What reason have we, then, from this view of the mands, and of what the law actually threatens, depend all subject, to adopt with earnestness the prayer of the Psalmist our views of the character and offices of Christ, in the salvain the text! But the importance of this petition will yetting of man, as displayed in the gospel. more evidently appear, while I proceed to observe,
3. I proceed to apply the same course of reasoning to the 2. That upon our clear knowledge of the law depend all operations of the Holy Ghost. just views of the character and offices of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our correct sentiments in regard to them, rest entirely upon
Our sole necessity for a Saviour arises from the relation in our proper knowledge of the divine law. The Spirit of God which we stand to the divine law. It is because we have is sent upon us from on high to form our natures and charactransgressed this law, are condemned by its sentence, and are ters anew; and to impress again upon our souls that utterly incapable either of atoning for our past sins, or of image of God which sin has destroyed. But the less we restoring ourselves to the Divine Image, that we need the suppose to be required of us, the less there is for him to do intervention of some Redeemer, who shall be able to save within us. unto the nttermost.
His office is to create our souls anew in holiness. But if Our view of the demands of the law will regulate our the first creation of them be not destroyed entirely, where is whole conception of the value of the atonement of Christ. If the necessity for a new creation? If the difficulty be partial, we are convinced that our sins are infinitely numerous, and the remedy may be partial too. He is to raise us up from that our guilt is inconceivably great; if we believe that every the dead, and to quicken us, by his power, into life. But if deviation from God's perfect law has brought upon us a we are not actually dead in sin, why should we require the curse, an everlasting curse, under the wrath of Almighty exercise of a life-giving power. He is to bring us back to God; if we see that the demands of law and justice could God, to give us a new heart, to sanctify us from our pollunever be satisfied with any thing but the full punishment of tions, and to deliver us from our darkness. But if we do not the offender, either in his own person or in the person of an feel ourselves to be entirely depraved, involved in the deepadequate surety; that the death which the law denounces must est darkness and ignorance, and altogether gone out of the be bome before satisfaction can be made; then do we at- way of life and peace, how shall we be led to seek and suptain a correct and satisfying apprehension of the atonement plicate his creative power upon our souls? If we believe our of Jesus. In exact proportion as our views of our own guilt dangers and onr wants to be extreme, we shall rejoice in the and misery are magnified and extended, do we exalt the value provision of a remedy suited to extremities. But such a of the Saviour, who, by the sacrifice of himself, has restored remedy will never be sought without this conviction be first us to the lost favour of God. And just in the degree to impressed upon our minds. It is entirely from this want of which we lower our views of our own necessities and of the a just view of the actual condition of man, under a violated divine demands, do we depreciate the value and destroy the law, that so many deny the necessity of the influences of the character of the atonement of the gospel. It is only by a Holy Ghost; either for the illumination of their minds, or correct knowledge of what the law demands, that we can for the sanctification of their souls. To this single source gain an adequate idea of what Christ has done.
must be traced the whole denial of the doctrine of the TrinOur view of the law will control our understanding of the ity, and of all the doctrines which are dependant upon it; gospel system of justification. Conceive of the law as never the doctrine of atonement, of imputed righteousness, and to be satisfied without a perfect obedience to its commands, of divine regeneration. Men do not feel their need of a as requiring every soul to possess, either in himself or in his divine Saviour, of an Immanuel, to make up the breach besurety, a righteousness commensurate with its highest de-tween them and God. They do not feel their want of an mands; as altogether refusing to relax its requisitions, unless Almighty Agent, to work in them the work of God; and thus
in every point and tittle they have been fulfilled; and then they bring down their systems and principles of theology to - you will proportionably exalt the Redeemer, who has wrought the low and miserable standard of the Pelagian, Arian and out, in his personal substituted obedience, a spotless righ- Socinian heresies. This ignorance of the law of God is the teousness for all who shall believe in him; and has opened Pandora's box from whence all these evils spring. Let a through the offering of this righteousness, first to God in man obtain a thorough insight into the spirituality of the man's behalf, and then to man for his acceptance, a way of divine law, and see how solemnly and fatally its demands salvation for every human sinner. But reduce your views of and sanctions shut up his soul under sin, and he will find these demands of the law, lower the righteousness which it will that these meagre systems will never supply his wants, accept to any inferior standard, say your own sincere but nor afford any remedy in the least degree adequate to his neimperfect obedience, and in this false view of the law you cessities. He will see that if any one less than God himself, undermine the whole system of gospel grace; you reduce to undertake to effect his soul's salvation, he must assuredly nothing your need of the righteousness of Christ; cancel al perish ; that if he is to depend upon any power inferior to together all the obligations under which you are placed to Jehovah, if he has none but the most exalted creature to rely him; and make him to have lived, obeyed, and died in vain. upon, he would be glad to take his portion under rocks and
But look still more extensively at the offices of the Son of mountains, if they could hide him from the unquenchable God. Consider him as the great Prophet who is to instruct wrath of God. us; and what comparative need is there for his instructions, I have thus made clear my first head of discourse : that if so partial and defective a knowledge of his religion as we upon our correct knowledge of the divine law depend all just are able of ourselves to obtain, will suffice our purpose ? views of religious truth. In the next discourse I shall proWhy should we ask for his teaching, if there be competency in ceed to consider all proper religious feelings and all scriptural any inferior guide? Why seek for light from heaven, if our hopes of salvation, as resting upon the same foundation. darkness be not too deep for any earthly glimmering to pene- In this partial accomplishment of my design, I feel that trate? Consider him as the great High Priest of our pro- there is seen sufficient reason for the prayer of our text. fession, who is to atone for us; and what need have we of Wondrous things the divine law reveals, when it shows us his infinite sacrifice, if our own repentance and reformation the depth of our own depravity, the extent of our actual dancan be accepted by God, and restore us to his favour? To gers as sinners against God, and our need of Christ and his what purpose was all this waste, if a smaller offering will great salvation. Let this prayer be made your own. It make up our deficiencies ? Consider him as the King of will be a blessing to you to know your wants, to see how Zion, who is to rule over us; and why do we require such holy much there is to be done for your souls destroyed by sin. and powerful government and protection, if our weakness and God alone can draw aside the veil, and enable you to behold rebellion and danger be so unimportant ? What need of in- this view of your own characters. So far, then, from opfinite authority, if so little is to be effected in our behalf
, posing this revelation, unite, I beseech you, with earnestness either in a way of deliverance from sin, or in a way of spir- of desire to him, that he would give you understanding of the itual renovation? The less that is required of man himself, truth; that he would make you to feel its power, and lead the less must of necessity be required of his surety. And you in the deep conviction of your wants, to cry aloud to God consequently, as we reduce our views of the demands of the for the pardon and salvation which Jesus has purchased, and