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2. That they might attain the higbest degree of boli. €55
(There is no absolute perfection or completeness in the creature
But there are high degrees of holiness to which the upright may attain'
He longed that they might be as eminent as possible-] 3. That they might be stedfast to the end
(Many “ endure only for a season, and in a time of tempo tation fall away”.
But the apostatizing of persons who have been hopeful, is death, as it were, to a faithful minister of Christ
He knew that there were many seeking to turn them from the faith"
He therefore sought to have them so established that they might“ stand”-] We may OBSERVE from hence
1. What should be the standard of a minister's preaching
[Faithful ministers are often thought too strict and severe But if they should desire such perfection for their people, they should labour also to promote it by their preaching
If they should lower the standard of men's duty, they would betray and murder the souls committed to them—
Let not any then condemn the strictness or severity of what they hear, unless it exceed the Scripture standard-]
2. What should be the measure of the people's prac. tice
[There is no attainment with which we should be satisfied, while there remains any thing to be attained
What ministers should desire for us, we ought to desire and aim at for ourselves
Whatever then we may have attained, let us forget what is behind, and press forward toward that which is before-1
ofteuch perhy theit Luty, the
* Τίλειοι και πιπληρωμένοι imply, that he wished them not to continue babes, but to arrive at a state of manhood; and not to be satisfied with a scanty measure of grace and knowledge, but to be " filled with all the fulness of God.” 1 Thess. v. 23.
1.1 Thess, üi, 8. . o Col. ü. 8.
LXIX. THE EXTENT AND EXCELLENCY OF THE
Deut. xxvii. 26. Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them: And all the people shall say, Amen. THE law here spoken of is the moral lawo —
This every person is bound to keep in its utmost extent
The curse of God is denounced against every violation of it
This sanction, tremendous as it is, should be universally approved
Hence God commanded his people to express their approbation of it
**Amen” in Scripture signifies an affirmation, or a wish —
The adding of “ Amen” to the doctrine of the text implies I. An assent to its truth
The doctrine is, that the law of God curses us for one offence
This is often, through ignorance of the Scriptures, de. niedBut it may be established by a cloud of witnesses
[Death is declared to be the necessary fruit of sin Every deviation from the line of duty subjects us to God's wrathe
An idle word is sufficient to condemn us
A violation of the law on one point insures condemnation as truly, though not as severely, as a rejection of the whole
One single transgression brought misery on the whole worldk
• Several particulars of the moral law are enumerated from ver. 15. to the end; and here it is mentioned summarily, as comprehending the whole.
6 John iïi. 3. • Matt. vi. 13. d James i. 15. e Rom. i. 18.
Matt. xii. 36. 8 Eccl. xii. 14. • Matt. xxv. 30. i James ï. 10. k. Rom. v. 13, 18, 19..
And this was agreeable to the terms of the Adamic covebant!
St. Paul speaks of this penalty as still in forcem
He even cites the very words of the text in proof of the doctrine which we deduce from them"
Hence the law is called “a ministration of death”-]
None, however, will cordially assent to the truth of this doctrine till they see ground for II. A confession of its reasonableness
The law, both in its extent and sanctions, is highly reasonable
That one sin may reasonably subject us to condemna. tion appears From analogy
[Offences in civil society are rated according to the dignity of the person against whom they are committed
Now sin is committed against an infinitely great and good God
Hence it contracts an inexpressible malignityMoreover one act of treason is punished with death Nor is this judged unreasonable in human governments Why then may not the death of the soul be annexed to every instance of rebellion against God? ] From the nature of sin
[Sin dishonours God, takes part with Satan, and unfits for heaven
Are these light evils, that they not only may, but must be overlooked?
I Gen ii. 17.
m Rom vi. 23. It is not said that death is the wages of much or Reinous sin, but of sin, i. e. of any and every sin.
» Gal. iii. 10.
o We would not be understood to make the doctrine depend on its reasonableness, and much less on our statement of its reasonableness: we only wish to vindicate it from the objections which un. humbled reason would bring against it. If we were not able to urge one reason in its defence, it were quite sufficient to say, “ God has Fevealed it, and therefore it must be reasonable;" for nothing can be unreasonable which proceeds from him.
p Should we strike an inferior, an equal, a superior, a benefactor, a parent, a sovereign, the offence would proportionably rise; so that, what in one case might be expiated by a small fine, in another would be counted worthy of death.
4 Is not God's Majesty to be regarded as well as man's! and his government to be supported as well as man's?
Is God forced to honour those who dishonour him!--:
Has not He as much right to be our enemy, as we have to be his?
When he sees us destitute of any love to him, is he bound to renew our hearts that we may be capable of enjoying him?
Is he unjust if he leave us to eat the fruit of our own way?r-]
But an extorted confession of its reasonableness is not. sufficient
God requires of us further
The law thus sanctioned is truly excellent
Any other would have been less worthy of the great law-giver
[Had it required less than perfect obedience, or had the penalty of transgressing it been no more than a temporary punishment, neither his holiness nor his justice had been so conspicuous-] Any other would have been more ruinous to man
[A permission to violate that law in ever so small a degree would have been a licence to make ourselves miserable
Had death been annexed to many transgressions, and not to one, we should have been at a loss to know our state
We should have been with more difficulty drawn from seeking righteousness by our obedience to the law
We should have seen less evil in transgressing it
We should have been less anxious to obtain an interest in Christ• Thus, though mercy is provided, we should have been less likely to obtain it, or to secure its continuance-] Any other would have been less honourable to Christ
[He would have endured less suffering for us
Is it unreasonable that God should vindicate his own honour? are we at liberty to insult him, and he not to punish us? may we be his enemies, and must he treat us as friends ? When our first parents sinned, was God obliged to remedy the evil they had brought upon themselves? might he not have left them, as he had already left the fallen angels ? was there any necessity that God should assume the human nature, and offer himself a sacrifice for his creature's sin ? If so, they, even after their fall, might have dis. dained to ask for heaven as a gift ; they might still have demanded it as a debt. Then God is under a law, and we are free from a law; we are free to live as we please ; and he is under a necessity to save us at all events. The absurdity of such positions is obvious. Vol. I.
His interposition for us had been less needed
The obligations conferred by it would have been comparatively small
He would have been less honoured by allSome would have been saved without his aid Many would, to eternity, have ascribed the honour of their salvation to themselves-]
In this view " the ministration of death was glorious"
Such a discovery of its excellency will immediately produce IV. An approbation of it with respect to our owa
A person taught of God will cordially approve of this law
He will love it as the means of humbling him in the dust
[It discovers to him, as in a glass, his manifold transgressions* It convinces him of his desert of punishment
It shews him the impossibility of making reparation to God
It constrains him to ery, “Saye, Lord, or I perish" ,
[The depth of his disorder makes him value the physician
He sees his need of one to "bear the iniquity of his holy things”u—
He finds that Christ is set forth for this very purpose Hence he rejoices in Christ as his almighty Saviour '
Such an approbation of it was expressed by Jere. miah'
St. Paul also highly commends it in this view?
And every true Christian can adopt his words—
[Let us study this law as a covenant-
s2 Cor. iii. 7, 9, 10, 11.
Ļuke xviii. 13.
Exod. xxviii. 38. .