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the wilderness, (miraculously supplied were they with water out of the flinty rock, and with bread from heaven,) when they came to the mount of God, and all to teach them, that the God of Abraham was the MOST HIGH God; and to make them sensible that they were under the greatest and strongest obligations to him.
Israel pitched in the wilderness of Sinai, and there they camped before the mount. And that it might be seen whether they would receive bis law, God called unto Moses out of the mountain, and sent him to the house of Jacob, and bid him tell the children of Israel, “ ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure to me above all people. For all the earth is mine.” To which the children of Israel made answer, that the Lord hath spoken will we do."
« And Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord.” And the Lord sent him to sanctify the people that day, and the next, that they might be ready against the third day, when he would come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai.“ And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud, so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.” Upon which “ Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God. And Mount Sinai," to look to,“ was altogether on a
” smoke. And the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace. And the whole mount quaked greatly. And the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder." Exod. xix." And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like DEVOURING FIRE on the top of the Mount, in the
of the children of Israel.” Chap. xxiv. 17. And all this, to fill the hearts of the whole congregation with a sense of the greatness and majesty of God, and their infinite obligations to be obedient,
Now from the mountain, with all these solemn and awful things attending, God gave forth his law, with a voice so exceeding loud, as to be heard by the whole congregation, containing perhaps near three millions of souls. Which filled
the whole congregation with so great terror, that they besought that God would not speak any further to them in tbię awful manner, lest they should die under it. Chap. xx. 18, 19.
“ And God spake all these words, saying,
“I AM The LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
“ Thou shalt not take the naine of the Lord thy God in yain," &c.
“ Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy," &c. &c. &c.
Even ten Commandments.
The sum of all which was, “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart; and thy neighbour as thyself.”
And it was charged upon the children of Israel, when they had passed over Jordan, that they should stand, part on Mount Gerizzim, and part on Mount Ebal ; and that the Levites should say, “Cursed be the man that maketh any graven, or molten image," &c. "And all the people shall say, AMEN.” And the CURSE was to be repeated twelve times, according to the number of the twelve tribes of Israel, and all the people were to say, Amen. And to sum up the whole, the Levites were to say, “ Cursed be the man that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them." (Or, according to St. Paul, “ that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.") “And all the people shall say, Amen.” Thus the law, as requiring sinless perfection under the.penalty of the CURSE, was, iu this public manner, and with the utmost solemnity, to be approved by the whole congregation, as holy, just, and good. And all the people shall say, AMEN. Deut. xxvii.
In case of any transgression, the only way provided and prescribed to obtain pardon, was by shedding of blood. And without shedding of blood there was no remission b. The transgressor was to bring a bullock for a sin-offering to the
b Heb. ix. 20.
tabernacle, and present it before the Lord ; and having laid his hands on the head of the bullock, the priest was to slay bim, sprinkle the blood, burn the bullock, and so make an atonement for the sin. And in this way it should be forgiven
Once in every year, on the great day of atonement, the High-Priest, dressed in his holy robes, with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on his heart, and with the blood of atonement in his hands, was to enter into the most holy place, even into the immediate presence of God, who dwelt there, over the mercy-seat, in the cloud of glory, to make atonement for the whole congregation. After which, on the saine solemn day, the High-Priest was to lay both his hands on the head of a live goal, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and then send him away by the hand of a fit inan into the wilderness: and the goat was to bear upon him all their iniquities, unto a land not inhabited d.
And thus the law, by its requiring perfect obedience, and denouncing a curse for the least failing, discovered the necessity of an atonement. And thus the law by its sin-offerings, and its blood of atonement, and its scape-goat, pointed out Christ. And thus the law was in its nature suited to be a school-master to bring them to Christ, that they might be justified by faith.
IV. But that this point may stand in the clearest light, and the justness of the apostle's observation be seen in the plainest manner, these following particulars may be distinctly noted and illustrated :
1. “ That the law given on Mount Sinai required sinless perfection of the whole congregation of Israel.” If sinless perfection be defined to be “a feeling and acting towards intelligent beings, as being what they are,” this their law required. For it required them “ to love God with all their heart, and obey him in every thing; and to love their neighbours as themselves, and to do as they would be done by.” Which would have been to feel and act towards God and their neighbours as being just what they were. Or, if sinless
c Lev, iv,
perfection consists in always doing that “which is right, and fit, and beautiful to be done, all things considered ;” still it comes to the same thing. To love God with all our heart, and obey him in every thing; and to love our neighbours as ourselves, and do as we would by done by, is the sum of what is to be done by us, “as right, and fit, and beautiful." Or, if sinless perfection consists in a perfect conformity of heart and life to the will and law of God,” this was plainly required. For it is essential to every law, to require an exact, and entire conformity to itself. And it is a plain contradiction to suppose that God did not require them to do all that he did require them to do. They were always to obey God, and never to disobey hiin. And the law respected their hearts and lives, their thoughts, words, and actions; all their inward tempers, and all their outward behaviour. And it was never lawful for them to commit the least sin, or to omit the least duty ; but as to all things written in the book of the law, they were to do them. And,
2. “This perfect obedience was the condition upon which the law promised life.” “Ye shall keep my statutes, and my judgments, which if a man do, he shall live in them.” Lev. xviii. 5. This is repeated four times more in the Old Testament; once in Neh. ix. 29. thrice in Ezek. xx. 11. 13. 21. And twice in the New Testament; once in Rom. x. 5. and once in Gal. iii. 12.
And that this life, thus promised in Moses' law upon condition of perfect obedience, implied in it ETERNAL LIFE and happiness, is evident from the testimony of our blessed Saviour, in Luke x. 25. 28. “What shall I do to inherit ETERNAL LIFE?" said a certain Jew to Christ. To whom our Saviour replied, turning him back to the law of Moses, with these questions, " what is written in the law? How readest thoù ?" To which the man answered and said, “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” This he gives as the sum of Moses' law. To which our Saviour replied, “ Thou hast answered right. This do, and thou shalt live;" i. e. inherit ETERNAL LIFE. The same reply our Saviour made to an
other man, who also came to him, to know what he should do that he might have ETERNAL LIFE. “ If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments," said our blessed Saviour. Matt. xix. 16, 17. It is plain, that in both these passages, our Saviour means to declare how eternal life was to be obtained by the law. And he gives the same answer that Moses had done before. Which, if a man do he shall live in them. So that, according to our Saviour's interpretation of the law of Moses, ETERNAL Life was implied in the life therein promised.
This also is plain from the testimony of St. Paul, in Rom. X.; where, opposing the way to justification and eternal life by the law, to that which is by the Gospel, and showing the difference, he says, ver. 5. "Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man that doth those things shall live by them.” And then adds, ver. 6. " that the righteousness which is by faith speaketh on this wise, &c. &c. He that believeth shall be saved.” Ver. 9, 10. compared with Gal. iii. 12. : where he intimates that the law does not promise justification to faith, but to perfect obedience; plainly taking it for granted, that the life promised in the law implied ETERNAL Life. I have insisted the longer on this, be
. I , cause, if the life promised in Moses' law implied eternal life, no doubt, the death threatened, implied eternal death : which seems to be the meaning of Rom. vi. 23. “the wages,” (i. e. according to law,)“ of sin is death." i. e. Eternal death and misery. Even as “the gift of God is eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Therefore I may venture to affirm,
3. “ That the curse threatened in Moses' law against the man that broke it in any one point, implied in it ETERNAL DAMNATION, and that without any abatements made on account of their inability.”
How great their impotency was, whether from their native corruption, or from their contracted bad habits, I shall not pretend now to determine. But, as they were descendants of Adam, and had been educated in Egypt; so, I suppose, they were, at least, as bad as the generality of mankind. Bat be it so, they were ever so bad, ever so disinclined to yield this perfect obedience in heart and life, yet the law is not