« ZurückWeiter »
If it should ever happen to these men, that their consciences should be so awakened, as to see that a state and course of enmity against God and his law, and of rebellion against the Majesty of Heaven, is as great a sin, in the sight of the Holy One of Israel, as stealing, considered as a criine coinmitted against our neighbour ; their consciences would soon tell them, that the one disqualified them in the sight of God, for entering into covenant with God, as much as the other. But if we tell men, that a state and course of enmity against God and his law, and of rebellion against the Majesty of heaven does not, in the sight of God, disqualify then to enter into covenant with God, though stealing does, it will have, according to Mr. M.'s reasoning, p. 44. “a direct tendency to prevent their minds being impressed with a sense of the beinous nature of such sins, and of God's displeasure against them ; but it is highly expedient they should be so dealt with, as to awaken in their minds a sense of the displeasure of God against their conduct."
2. Jesus Christ did not understand the law of Moses, which was the rule of duty in the Sinai covenant, in the same sense with the Pharisees, as requiring such a kind of obedience as they performed, and as other unconverted men inay perform; but professedly undertook to give another explanation of it. This he did in his sermon on the Mount, which may be considered as a confutation of the Pharisaic scheme of religion. But a man may comply with Mr. M.'s external covenant fully, who has not the least degree of that religion taught in this sermon. A graceless man may live up to Mr. M.'s covenant, and at the same time be entirely destitute of a compliance with the law of Moses, in our Saviour's sense of it. For, says Christ, he that heareth these sayings of mine, and docth them, shall be like a man that built his house upon a rock. But a man may hear and do those things required in Mr. M.'s external covenant, and yet finally be like the man that built his house upon the sand; as he himself allows.
3. The law of Moses, which was the rule of duty in the covenant into which the Israelites entered, required nothing but holiness. That covenant, which was externally exhibit
ed, and externally entered into, was so far from being altogether a graceless covenant, that it required nothing but true grace and real holiness; nothing but love, with all its various exercises and fruits, in heart and life; love to God and man : of this we are expressly assured by one who came from God, and infallibly understood the nature of that dispensation. Mat. xxii. 36-40. Master, which is the great commandment in the law ? said a Pharisee to our Saviour, referring to the law of Moses. « Jesus said unto hiin, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind: this is the first and great commandment; and the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Thus he had answered the Pharisee's question. But he proceeded to add another sentiment, which effectually overthrew the Pharisaic scheme. On these two commandments hung all the law and the prophets; for if the law obliged the Jew to perform every duty in a holy manner, out of love; and required no other kind of obedience but this ; if all the law and the prophets hung on these two commands ; so that radically love was all ; so that this holy love was the fulfilling of the law, Rom. xiii. 8. 10. then the Pharisees, who were entirely destitute of this, were equally destitute of that kind of religion required in the Mosaic law, and so their scheme was completely overthrown i.
i It is not only a fundamental maxim in the scripture scheme of religion, that love is the fulfilling of the law; but it is expressly affirmed, that without love the highest gifts and the greatest attainments, the most expensive deeds, and the most cruel sufferings, are nothing, and will profit nothing. The apostle Paul carries the point so far as to say, though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal ; as destitute of true and real virtue. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and have all knowledge : and though I have all faith, 80 that I could remove mountains, and have no charity, I am nothing. And to carry the point as high as it can possibly be carried, he adds, and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. For in his view charity, or love, was the sum total of all virtue. And so there is no virtue in any knowledge, faith, or practice, any further than there is love in them; and where there is no love, these are all nothing. In a word, holiness in the creature is a conformity to God's moral perfections. The law is a transcript of God's moral character:, God is love. 'The whole of what the law requires, is love with all its various exercises and
4. It is manifest, that Moses himself instructed the Israelites to understand the covenant in this sense, and that the blessings of it were promised, not to an ungracious, but to a holy obedience. Moses did instruct the Israelites to understand it in this sense, as requiring holiness, Deut. vi. 4, 5. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is oue Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Lev. xix. 18. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. And as requiring nothing but holiness. Deut. x. 12. And now Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul-and that the blessings of it were promised to this holy obedience: This was one clause of the covenant, Exod. xx. 6. Showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments. And thus it was afterwards explained. Deut. xi. 22. For if ye will diligently keep all these commundments which I command you to do them, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his zuys, and to cleare unto him, then will the Lord drive out all these uutions from before you, &c. &c. And if any man will read the first eleven chapters of Deut. he will see with what plainness and fidelity Moses explained the covenant to the Israelites : or rather let the whole book be read through from beginning to end in this view.
5. The saine kind of faith in God, as their conductor through the wilderness to the promised land, which was a type of the heavenly Canaan, was required of the whole congregation of Israel in their covenant, as is required of every believer, under the Gospel dispensation, in Christ Jesus, the captain of our salvation, on whom we depend to conduct us safe through this world to that rest that remains for the people of God : and this they professed, when they professed to take Jehovah for their God. And for the want of this - faith their carcasses fell in the wilderness, just as false pro
fruits. Therefore love is the sum of all virtue. Therefore, where there is no love there is no virtue : not the least degree of a real conformity to God's nature and law. Were this point understood and attended to, it would put an end to more than half the dispates in the Christian world.
fessors under the Gospel fall short of heaven through unbelief; as is plain from Num. xiv. and from the 3d and 4th chapters of the Epistle to the Hebrews. And this, beyond all dispute, is a saving faith, a faith of a holy nature, and not the faith of devils.
6. Paul understood Moses to include the covenant of grace in his law. This is so plain, that any may see it, that will read and compare Rom. x. 6-10. with Deut. xxx. 11, 12, 13.
7. Peter also understood the holiness required in the Sinai covenant to be the same kind of holiness which the Gospel requires of true saints, and without which no man shall see the Lord; as is so evident, that none will fail to see it, that will read and compare 1 Pet. i. 15, 16. with Lev. xix. 2.
Thus it appears, that the covenant externally exhibited, and externally entered into, in the wilderness, was not a . graceless, but a holy covenant.
Obs. “It will follow that perfect and sinless obedience was what they professed ;" for " nothing short of perfection comes up to the demand of loving God with all the heart. Although therefore they entered into a covenant which re. quired them to love God with all their heart; j'et the profession which they then made, cannot consistently be understood as a profession, that at that time there was such an heart in them ; but that such a heart was their duty, and intended as the object of their pursuit. But that an unrenewed sinner can, in no sense, be said to seek such an heart, is what to me wants proof.” p. 22, 23.
Ans. Although the Israelites did not profess a perfect compliance with the law of perfection ; yet they did professa cordial compliance with it, even with the whole of it; but the unrenewed sinner can, in no Scripture sense, be said cordially to comply with it, in the least degree. But to be more particular :
1. In this objection Mr. M. grants one main point for which we contend, viz. that the law, wbich was the rule of duty in the Sinai covenant, required perfect holiness. He must therefore acknowledge, that it fordid every sin, the least as well as the greatest : and that it therefore required'
nothing but holiness. And that therefore his unholy graceless covenant was not required by it, or contained in it.
2. It will on the other hand be readily granted by us, that the law of God, (considered as requiring perfect boliness, and forbidding every sin, the least as well as the greatest,) is the rule of life to believers; and as such, is presupposed and implied in the covevant of grace, which is not designed to inake vaid, but to establish the law. Rom. iii. 31. And therefore, whenever the covenant of grace is complied with in the exercise of faith, the law in the very act is cordially received as a rule of life by the believer : even as Abraham received that divine injunction, walk before me and be thou perfect, in the very act of bis renewing covenant with God. Gen. xvii. But I have endeavoured already to explain and prove this at large in an essay on the nature and glory of the Gospel.
3. None can consistently pretend, that Moses intended to lead the Israelites to profess sipless perfection in that covenant; because the daily sacrifice of a lamb, the great type of the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world, which was to be offered, morning and evening continually, as well as a great variety of other sacrifices of atonement, were essential
parts of the Sinai covenant. But these had been needless institutions, had perfect holiness been professedly expected. For it was professedly expected that they would keep covenant. For they were taken into covenant in tbat view. Isa. Izji. 8. For he said, surely they are my people, children that will not lie.
4. And yet po fact can be plainer than that Moses led them to receive the whole law for the rule of their lives, and that they professed to do this. Exod. xxiv. 3. And Moses came and told the people ull the words of the Lord, and all the judgments : and all the people answered with one voice, and said, all the words which the Lord huth said, will we do. Compared with Deut. xxvi. 17. Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice. For they professed, not merely to give the assent of their understandings to this truth, viz.