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Observ. II. God would have appointed the justification of fallen man to have been by some law of his giving, if any law could have given such a poor sinful perishing creature justification, or a title to eternal life.

And tlie reasons for it may be these :

1. Because God is not wont to change bis methods of government, where he sees them effectual to attain the ends of that government. He is an unchangeable God, and doth not need second thoughts to mend his own first contrivances, or to change his conduct towards man, unless the case of his creatures and the nature of things require it. The law which was given at first to man in Paradise, and in innocency, had continued the same instrument of the government of God, if the case of fallen man had not required an alteration. But God was not willing all mankind, who were condemned by the law, should be utterly ruined, and perish in their folly; and therefore he changed his dispensation. The law could not give life, because it required more than fallen man could perform; and therefore, through the weakness of a man's fallen and corrupted nature, the law became incapable of justifying man ; i. e. it was weak to justify man by reason of the flesh, and to pronounce a sentence of righteonsness or justification on him, because he was a feeble, guilty, disobedient creature. He had sinned already, and his passions and fleshly appetites were too strong for his reason, and are rising up continually against the commands of the law, and therefore God brought in the gospel, and gave promise to our first parents as soon as they fell, and made his gospel as well as his law, the instrument of governing his fallen creature man. There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared ; Ps. cxxx. 4. i. e. that there may be piety and religion maintained in the world.

2. If the law could have given life to fallen man, righteousness or justification should have been by the law, that God might magnify this original law, and make it honourable. This would have shewn it was not only a law fit to govern innocent man, but to recover fallen man too. The law hath a great glory in it, in that it is the transcript of the holy name of God; it is holy, just, and good; Rom. vii. 12. and it would have been a great honour pat on the law, if it could have recovered a sinful ruined creation,

If fallen man could have performed this law, and answered the demands of it, here had been a glorious display of all the wisdom and majesty, goodness and holiness, which first made the law of God, exemplified in the recovery of a poor, fallen, perishing creature by this law of his. But this could not be. The law was weak, and insufficient for this purpose, through the flesh, i. e. through the weakness of fallen man.

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3. If the law could have given life, righteousness should have been appointed and obtained for fallen man by it; because God would never have been at the expence of a gospel, if there had been no need of it, to recover fallen man, and to do that which the law could do. God does not lay out his thoughts or counsels, nor his riches of grace, in needless things, or in useless contrivances. Now if the law would have attained this end, viz. the justification and salvation of man, then the gospel had been needless : then all these glorious riches of grace, ånd these counsels of wisdom, and mysteries of mercy, had been in vain.

Surely if the law could have done this work, the blessed God would never have sent his own Son out of his bosom, upon such a long journey to this sinful providence of his dominion, to this lower world, to take flesh and blood upon him, and to be exposed to sufferings and labours, reproaches and shame, pain and anguish, and death ; if the law could have done the work of the salvation of man without it. God hath more value for the peace, and honour, and life of his Son, than to expose it at this rate; but it is plain from scripture, that the Son of God was sent into the world to do that which the law could not do; Rom viji. 3. These treasures of wisdom and goodness, these riches of grace, which appear in the gospel, were all laid out to save a ruined creature, whom the law could not save; otherwise Christ died in vain, so the apostle saith expressly; Gal. i. 2.

Observ. III. No law could give life and salvation to poor fallen man.

Here let it be considered, that all laws are either moral, i.e. drawn from the nature of God and the creature; or they are positive ; i. e. such as are appointed merely by the will of God, for particular purposes, and in particular seasons or circumstances. Again, moral laws are either such as belong to all mankind in general, whether innocent or sinful, or they are such as belong only to sinful and fallen man.

Now none of all these sorts of laws can save sinful mankind. Let us prove it thus:

1. Moral laws, such as oblige all mankind in general, are contained in a due love to God and man; but fallen man can never be saved or justified by this law, because all these moral laws of God require perfect obedience, and cannot justify us without it. God is a most holy, a most wise, and righteous God, a most perfect being; and the relation between God and creatures, requires the creature should honour him, and obey him in perfection, and without any defect.

The moral law did require this perfection in the state of inVOL. II.

nocence; and, as it is taken into the constitution of the gospel, it does not diminish its requirements : It still requires perfection of obedience in all instances of thought, word and deed, and that without defect or intermission. The gospel doth not abate or lessen the requirements of the law, but it shews a way to relieve us when we have broken it, or cannot fulfil it, and the reasons are plain.

If the law did not now require perfection of obedience, but only sincerc imperfect obedience, then the creature, if he were but sincere and honest, would have fulfilled the law, though he were not perfectly holy. And then imperfection of obedience would have been, as it were, established by the law, if it could obtain salvation for fallen man. Then also the imperfections of obedience to the law would not have been sin; for if they were, they could not have made up a saving riglteousness.

The gospel is a constitution of grace, which accepts of less obedience from man than the law requires, and pardons the imperfect obeyer for the sake of Christ the Mediator; but still the law requires perfection, which mankind cannot pay. Now that man cannot pay it, is evident, not only from the conscience of every man in the world, for if it be awakened to see the extent of the law, it must condemn itseif; but the scripture expressly asserts in many places; Rom. iii. 10. There is none righteous, no, not one; Ec. v. 20. There is not a just man on earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not; 2 Chron. vi. 36. There is no mun who sinneth not.

2. Moral laws, such as belong only to sinful man, and oblige him, can never justify a sinner or save bim. Let us enter into particulars: The requirements thereof are repentance for sin, sorrow and shame for past follies, and a displeasedness with self for being guilty : trusting or hoping in the forgiving grace of God, praying

to him for pardon and grace, and universal watchfulness against every temptation, under a sense of former failings. This the very light of nature and reason teaches a sinner, as well as the word of God requires it. But this law cannot justify any creature, and that for two plain reasons.

1. Because all our repentance, or new endeavours after obedience, cannot make atonement for our past sins. A righteous governor doth not suppose, that the tears, and sorrows, and repentance of criminals and malefactors, make any satisfaction to the public for his crimes, nor make due reparation to the government for his offences; nor are sufficient to procure pardon for criminals. A penitent criminal is often executed to fulfil the demands of the law, and to secure the authority of the government. And what trifling things are our sorrows, to answer for the dishonour done to the law of God our Maker?

2. Because even our repentance itself, our hope or trust in

grace, our prayer for mercy, our endeavours after new obedience, are all imperfect : whereas the law requires a perfection even of this sort of duties, a perfect hatred of sin, a perfect displeasure with self on account of it, perfect sincerity in every thought, word and action, and perfect watchfulness in guarding against temptation, and striving after new holiness. But how shamefully do we fail in these, and destroy our claims to justification and life, even if we were to be tried only by this part of the law which requires repentance at the hand of criminals? We sce then that no moral law can justify us.

3. Let us come to positive laws, i. e. such rites, and forms, or ceremonies, as are appointed by the mere free-will of God, for particular purposes, such as sacrifices, circumcision, washings, baptism, the Lord's-supper, &c.

These cannot justify us, because it is not in the power of any positive rites or ceremonies we perform, to make up for the neglect of moral duties, or the violation of moral commands. They were never given for this end, nor appointed for this purpose. Heb. x. 1, 2, 5. It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take

away

sins. "Nor can circumcision cut off the vices of the heart. No, nor can baptism wash us from our spiritual de. filements.' Nor can the Lord's-supper give us spiritual life and nourishment. It is not outward performances of any kind can stand instead of real holiness, much less can they answer for our past iniquities. No law of commandments, written in ordinances, can give righteousness and life to a sinful creature ; for they were never ordained for that end.

Quest. What were they ordained for then? Answ. 1. To shew us what sinful and defiled.creatures we are, who have need

of such washings, &c. and to give intimation that we are worthy in of death, who need such sacrifices by the death of so many living sa creatures, to make atonement for our sins, and to die in our room? [ Answ. 2. To give some typical hints that there is grace to be ob

tained of God, and there is a way for atonement for sin and salvation provided for sinful man.

4. The last reason why no laws can justify or save fallen man is this : viz. All laws, whether moral or positive, may command,

but they give no power to obey, and therefore cannot give life. li It is the promise that gives life. It is the gospel and grace of

God that enables us to obey the law, even so far as the best of men do obey it in this life. The law commands, but it gives no

strength to obey ; Rom. v. 6. When we were without strength It Christ died for us, to obtain life and strength, to yield obedience

to the law from principles of faith and love. It is the gospel that brings spirit and life with it, to incline our hearts to obey the law. Gal. iii. 2. Received ye the spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Heb. viii. 10. This is the covenant that I

will make-after those days,- I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.

Object. But is it a righteous thing with God to give mán a law which cannot be fulfilled, or perfectly obeyed by him? Answ. 1. It is righteous to give innocent man a law, which at first he was well able to fulfil; and this law continues in its force and demands, though man hath lost his innocency, and by his wilful crimes hath rendered himself unable to fulfil this law. The sin of the creature, and his own rendering himself unable to fulfil his Maker's law, doth not make void the law of his Maker, and abolish its commands.

Simile. Suppose a servant hath an order from his master to carry a message to his neighbour, if costead of going into the neighbour's house whither he was sent, he goes into an alehouse or tavern, there drowns his senses and his natural powers in liquor, that he hath so weakened himself, that he can neither walk nor speak; he can neither go to the place where he was sent, nor deliver his

message: : I would ask, doth his master's command cease, or is his command abolished ? and is his authority at an end in this instance, because his servant hath rendered himself incapable of fulfilling it, either with his feet or his tongue? This would be an easy way to cancel a master's laws and commands, if the wickedness of a servant could have this effect.

Now apply this to the case between God and man, and see whether God may not be justified in continuing his law in its perfection of demands, though man hath lost or weakened his power to obey. Surely the moral law of God stands in force, requiring perfect obedience both of men and devils, and all intelligent beings, how feeble and impotent soever they have made themselves by their own crimes : For it is a law that arises from the nature of God and the creature, and from the relation that is between them; and therefore it is an everlasting law.

Answ. 2. But God is still farther to be justified in this matter; for though man hath weakened himself by his fall, he hath not utterly lost his natural powers, his natural ability of obeying the law. He has an understanding, he has a freedom of will, to choose good and refuse evil; but his will is so obstinately bent upon sin, vanity and folly; and his passions are grown so headstrong, that he will not give himself the trouble to subdue them : He willingly lets them bear him away from God: He is unwilling to obey; and this is called a moral inability. Now God may require such duties by his law, as through the weakness of the flesh, and the strength of appetite and passion in this frail state, man is morally or immediately unable to perform, though he hath a remote or natural power. An infinitely holy God cannot but command that we should never sin, never transgress the rule of

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