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from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses, which was the most complete dispensation of the law. Rom. iii. 21-28. Now the righteousness of God without the law (that is, the righteousness which does not at all consist in the works of the law, but is quite a different thing from it *) is mani. fested-even the righteousness of God, which is by the faith of Christ. This you see is the way in which it comes unto all and upon all them thai believe ; for there is no difference of Jew or Gentile here : all being freely justified by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ. Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law : so Rom. iv. To him that worketh, and on that account is considered as righteous, the reward is reckoned not of grace, but of debt : he is not at all dealt with in the gospelmethod, which is entirely a plan of grace, (ver. 4.) but to him that worketh not, with a view to his justification, and is not considered as entitled to it upon the account of his works, but believeth, hum. bly trusteth and dependeth upon him that justifieth the ungodly, upon him who considers the sinner, whatever previous" endeayours he may have used, as ungodly, and destitute of all personal righteousness, to such an humble believer, his faith is counted for righteousne88. (ver. 5.) Even as David describeth the blessedness of that man, to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness without works, &c. (ver. 6.) Gal. ii. 15. We, says St. Paul, who are Jews by nature, (and therefore stand most fair for justification by the law, if it were possible) and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ ; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified, (ver. 16.) These, my brethren, are but specimens of the many plain and express scriptures that support this doctrine ; and I think it plain, upon the whole, that if we can understand any thing contained in that sacred book, we may safely conclude that this truth is contained in it.
Here I would hint, what I intended to enlarge opon, had the time allowed, that this is the only way in which any of the sons of Adam have been saved since the fall ; and that this gracious scheme has run through all the dispensations of religion from Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, and from Moses to Christ ; and that now, by the gospel, it is more fully and illustriously revealed, the object of a more distinct, particular, and
* χωρίς νόμι δικαιοση.
explicit faith. Rom. i. 17. It was first published immediately after the first breach of the covepant of works, in that gracious promise, The seed of the woman shall break the serpent's head. Gen. iii, 15. It was communicated to Abraham in that promise, In thy sced ; that is, as St. Paul teaches us to understand it, in Christ, who shall spring from thee according to the flesh, shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Gen. xxii. 18. Gal. iii. 16. Hence St. Paul tells us, that the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Heathen through faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham. Gal. iji. 8. This was, as it were, the substratum of all the ceremonies and institutions of the law of Moses ; and as was observed, the whole of this law, and the solemn and dreadful manner of its publication, were intended to subserve this scheme, by making men more sensible of their need of it, and constraining them to fly to it for refuge. The prophets also re
. ceived this evangelical light, and continued to diffuse it around them, till the Sun of Righteousness arose ; but all these discoveries were but dark, when compared to the clearer revelation we have of it in the New Testament, particularly in the epistles to the Romans and Galatians, which designedly treat upon it. However, they that lived under former dispensations, bad light enough to direct them to place their trust in the mercy of God, and to look out with eager eyes for the Messiah, through whom alone they were justified, though they might not have distinct ideas of the way. Hence Abraham and David are mentioned by St. Paul as instances of the gospel-method of justification by faith in Christ. Rom. iv. 1-7. I now proceed to another proposition.
VII. That all mankind are under the law, as a covenant of works, till they willingly forsake it, and fly to the gospel for ref. uge by faith in Christ.
There are but two constitutions that God has set up in our world, by which mankind can obtain life, namely, the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, or the law and gospel ; and all mankind are under the one, or the other. They are all either under the constitution which demands perfect obedience as the only title to life, and threatens death, eternal death, to the least failure ; or under that which does indeed both require and enable them to yield sincere obedience, but does not insist upon our obedience at all as the ground of our acceptance and justification, but confers that honour entirely upon the complete righteousness of Jesus Christ, received by the humble faith of a guilty, self-con.
demned, helpless, broken-hearted siaper. We are all of us, iny brethren, under one or other of these constitutions : for to be from under both of them is the same thing as to be lawless and to be under no plan of life at all. Now, we are under the law while we are under the government of a legal spirit ; and we cannot be freed from it till we are brought off from all dependance upon the law, and constrained to choose the gospel-method of salvation as helpless, law.condemned sinners, by our own personal act. We live under the gospel dispensation indeed, and were never under the law of Moses : and yet we may be under the law notwithstanding, as the Romans and Galatians were till they were set free by faith, though they had been heathens, and were never under the Mosaic dispensation. An outward dispensation is not the thing that makes the difference in this case. Many who lived under the dispensation of the law had an evangelical spirit, or faith in Christ, and therefore they were upon the gospel-plan, and obtained salvation in the way of grace. And multitudes that live in the New Testament age, under the gospel administration of the covenant of grace, and who profess the christian religion, and were never subject to the law of Moses, are under the influence of a legal, self righteous spirit, and therefore are not under grace, but under the law as a covenant of works : upon this footing they stand before God, and they can enter no claim to life upon any other plan. As for the righteousness of Christ, and the grace of the gospel, they have nothing to do with it, because they have not chosen it, and made it theirs by their own personal act.
And would you know whether you are set free from the law, and placed under the covenant of grace ? St. Paul, who knew it, both by his own experience, and by inspiration from heaven, will inform you, (1.) You have been made deeply sensible of sin and condemnation by the law. By the law is the knowledge of sin. Rom. iii. 20. I had not known sin but by the law, says St. Paul, personating a convinced sinner under the law, without the law, Rom. viii. 7, that is, while I was ignorant of the extent and spirituality of the law, sin was dead, as to my sense and apprehension of it; but when the commandment came, with power and conviction to my conscience, sin revived, and I died ; that is, I saw sin to be alive in me, and myself to be dead, dead in trespasses and sins, and condemned to death by the law, verse 9. ; the law also worketh wrath ; that is, a sense of the wrath of God, and the dreadful punishment of sin ; Rom. iv. 14. And has the law ever
had these effects upon you, my brethren? Have you ever had such a conviction of sin and condemnation by it? If not, you are still under it. (2.) If you have been delivered from the law, you have been cut off from all hopes of obtaining justification by your own obedience to it; you have given up this point as altogether desperate ; or in the strong language of the apostle, you have been slain by the law. When the commandment came, sin revived and I died. Rom. viii. 9. My brethren, says the apostle to the christians at Rome, ye are become dead to the law, verse 4, that is, ye are become dead to all endeavours, all hopes and desires of justification by the works of the law ; you see nothing but death for you in that constitution. And he tells you how this death was brought about ; I through the law am dead to the law, Gal. ii. 19. that is, the law itself became the executioner of all my hopes of life by it, and forever put an end to all my endeavours to seek justification in that way : it was a view of the extensive demands of the law that discovered to me my own inability to comply with them, and so deadened me entirely to all expectations of life by my obedience to it.
And have you ever, my brethren, been thus slain by the law to the law ? Have you ever been made sensible of the absolute im- . possibility of working out a justifying righteousness for yourselves by your own endeavours, and thereupon given up the point, as hopeless and desperate ? If not, you are still under the law, and your hearts eagerly cling to it, and will not be divorced from it. Here you will hold and bang, till you drop into the bottomless pit, unless God deliver you from this legal spirit.
(3.) If you have been set at liberty from the law, and brought under the covenant of grace, you have believed in Christ, and filed to the gospel, as the only way of escape from the bondage and condemnation of the law. It is the uniform doctrine of the apostle, that it is by faith only that this happy change is brought about in our condition. We have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law. Gal. ii. 16. But after faith is come, we are set at liberty, and no longer under the law, as a schoolmaster, Gal. iv. 25. Righteousness shall be imputed to us also, if we believe in him that raiseth up our Lord Jesus from the dead. Rom. iv. 24. Faith, you see, is the turning point. And so it is represented by Christ himself. He that believeth in him is not condemned: but he that believeth not, is condemned already, John iii. 18; he has sinned, and therefore the sentence of condemnation is already passed upon him by
the law. And have you, my brethren, ever been brought thus to believe? Have you found yourselves shut up to the faith, as the only way of escape ? and have you 'fled to the mercy of God in Christ in that way, with all the vigour of your souls ?
(4.) If you are under the covenant of grace, then you are not willing slaves to sin, but make it your great business to live to God. This is represented as the privilege and constant endeav. our of all that are delivered from the law. Sin shall not have do. minion over you, for ye are not under the law, which requires obedience, but furnishes no strength to perform it, but under grace, which will enable you to resist sin, and live to God. Rom. vi. 14. Ye are dead to the law, that ye might be married to another, even to him that is raised from the dead, that you might bring forth fruit unto God : This is the great design of your divorce from the law, and your marriage to Christ, Rom. vii. 4.' I through the law, am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. Gal. ii. 19. And do you thus live to God, sirs? Is this the great busmess, and constant endeavour of your whole life? If not, you are not under grace, but under the law, the Egyptian task-master, who demands perfect obedience, but gives no ability to perform it ; and now, you that are under the law, take a serious view of your condition. They that are of faith are blessed, Gal. vi. 9. but faith has never entered your hearts, and therefore you have nothing to do with the blessing. But you may read your doom in the next verse : A8 many as are of the works of the law are under the curse, (verse 10.) for, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them. Thus you lie under the ministration of death and condemnation, and you can never get free from its curse till you can perform impossibilities; till you can annihilate all your past sins, till you can transform your sinful life into an uninterrupted course of perfect obedience. Do this, and you shall live, even according to that constitution under which you are. But till you can do this, till you can yield perfect, perpetual obedience, in your own persons, you can never get free from the curse, or obtain life, while you affect this way of justification. I tell you again, all your prayers and tears, all your repentance and reformation ; in short, every thing that comes short of perfect obedience, will avail you nothing at all upon this constitution : they are but fig leaves that cannot hide your nakedness. And do not imagine that the rightcousness of Christ will supply your defects, and procure you acceptance ; for his righteousness belongs only to the covenant of