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THE BROKEN LAW MAGNIFIED AND MADE
The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the
law, and make it honourable.--Isa. XLII. 21.
THE FIRST SERMON ON THIS TEXT.
This chapter, you see, is ushered in with a solemn call from God the Father of all the world, both Jews and Gentiles, to take notice of Messiah the Prince, the eternal Son of God, whom he was, in the fulness of time, to send into the world, upon the great errand and business of the redemption of lost sinners of Adam's family: and, to arrest their attention and admiration to this extraordinary person, many great and glorious things are said of him ; as, that he was his Father's honorary servant, his elect, the darling and delight of his soul; that he is qualified, and fitted, and called to his work. And, having spoken of the base treatment he was to meet with from the Jewish nation, the prophet comes, in the words of my text, to declare what account his own Father made of his person and undertaking. Whatever base and low thoughts his friends and countrymen may have of him, yet he “is glorious in the eyes of the Lord;" God's sentiments of him are quite different from theirs, for the Lord is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; as if he had said, However he be “despised and rejected of men, as a root sprung out of a dry ground,” however you may make no more account of him than if he were deaf, blind, and dumb, yet “he is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Observe, from this connexion, that God's thoughts of Christ are very different from the thoughts that an unbelieving world have of him; an unbelieving world, with Herod, and his men of war, set him at naught, but his Father reckons him the “ brightness of his glory," and calls him his elect.
The words then, in general, are, Jehovah's verdict concerning the righteousness brought in. by the great Messiah, with the ground of it; the Lord is well pleased for his righteousness' sake.
Where we may notice, 1. The great and glorious party here spoken of, and that is the Lord, or, as in the original, Je
hovah, the righteous Judge, the offended Lord and Lawgiver, to whose wrath all mankind are obnoxious and liable, through the breach and violation of the first covenant.
2. Something asserted concerning him, which may arrest the attention of all mankind, and fill their hearts with joy, and their mouths with praises, and that is, that he is well pleased. Whenever man had sinned, the anger and wrath of God was kindled against him, and his fury was breaking out like fire, and nothing remained for poor man, but "a fearful looking for of wrath, and fiery indignation," to consume him and all his posterity, as a company of traitors and rebels; but here is a surprising declaration, that though he "was angry, yet his anger is turned away," his frowns are turned into smiles; the Lord Jehovah is well pleased. Again,
3. We have the cause and ground of this surprising declaration. Why, what is the cause of his being well pleased? It is for his righteousness' sake; not for the sake of any ransom, atonement, or satisfaction, that the sinner could make, for "no man can by any means redeem" his own or his brother's soul," nor give unto God a ransom for it.”. "The redemption of the soul is precious, and ceaseth for ever" as to him; but it is for his righteousness' sake, who finished transgression, and made an end of sin," who makes "reconciliation for iniquity," and so brings in an "everlasting righteousness;" the "righteous Lord loveth righteousness," and without it he cannot look with pleasure on any of Adam's race; while Christ becomes the "end of the law for righteousness,' he fulfils the precept, and undergoes the penalty of it, upon which the Lord declares himself to be well pleased for his righteousness' sake.
4. We have the reason why the Lord Jehovah sustains the righteousness of the Surety in the room of the sinner, or why he is so well pleased for his righteousness' sake; why (he shall magnify the law, and make it honourable,) the holy law of God, given to man in innocence as a covenant, or an eternal rule of righteousness, was violated, and broken, and the authority of the great Lawgiver affronted and contemned by man's disobedience: but Christ, as our Surety, is "made of a womàn, and made under the law;" and, by bringing in everlasting righteousness, he not only fulfilled the law, both in its precept and penalty, but he magnifies it, and makes it honourable; he adds a new lustre and glory to the law, which it never had before, through the dignity of his person who obeys it.
Some read the latter clause of the verse thus, He shall magnify the law, and make (him) honourable: and so the meaning is this: 1. Christ shall not only repair the honour of the law,
but restore honour to God the great Lawgiver; and, indeed, never was there such a revenue of glory and honour brought in to the crown of heaven, as by the obedience and satisfaction of Christ: “Now," says Christ, " is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” Through Christ, God can save 'sinners, and give vent to his love, grace, and mercy, upon terms that are honourable to his law, justice, holiness, severity, and other perfections, that were [obscured] and injured by the sin of man. Or, 2. He shall magnify the law, and make him (that is, Christ) honourable; and so the latter clause of the verse is a promise of the Father to the Son, that, upon his repairing the honour of the law by his humiliation, he would make him honourable by a glorious exaltation, he would give him a name above every name.” But, in my subsequent discourse, I shall follow the reading in the translation, and the sense already given of it.
From the words thus opened, I observe this comprehensive doctrine, almost the same with the words:
“That Christ, as our glorious Surety, having magnified the law, and made it honourable, the Lord Jehovah declares himself to be well pleased for his righteousness' sake.”
But I shall divide this doctrine into these two:
First, " That Christ, as our Surety, has magnified the law, and made it honourable, by his obedience to the death."
Secondly, “That however God was displeased and provoked with the sin of man, yet he is well pleased for the righteousness sake of the blessed Surety."
1 begin with the first of these, namely, “That Christ, as the Surety of lost sinners, has magnified the law, and made it honourable.”
I only quote two scriptures for the confirmation of this; the one you have, Rom. viii. 3, 4; where the apostle tells you, that through the sacrifice and satisfaction of Christ, “sin is condemned, and the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us ;” and Rom. x. 4; Christ is there said to be “the end of the law, for righteousness unto every one that believeth."
Now, in discoursing on this doctrine, or this branch of the complex doctrine, I shall, through divine assistance, observe the order and method following:
I. Suggest a few things concerning the law, and how it was disparaged by the sin of man.
II. Speak a little of the glorious person who undertakes the reparation of it as our Surety.
III. Inquire what may be imported in the expression of his magnifying the law, and making it honourable.
IV. How he magnifies the law, and what way he takes to make it honourable.
V. Give the reasons of the doctrine.
I. The first thing is, to suggest a few particulars concerning the law of God, which is debased and disparaged by the sin of man.
1st, Then, You would know, that the law here principally intended is the moral law of the ten commandments, at first engraved upon the hearts of our first parents at their creation, and afterwards, because that edition or copy of it was much obliterated and defaced by the fall, published to Israel from the mouth of God upon Mount Sinai, and writton upon tables of stone, and laid up in the ark for the use of Israel. This, 1 say, is the law here intended. The ceremonial and judicial law were things peculiar to the Jews, or commonwealth o Israel; but the moral law had a being so soon as man wafs created, and is binding upon all nations. For the breach of this law man was condemned, and all his posterity laid under the curse: and therefore this must be the law which Christ, as our Surety, came to magnify and make honourable. And concerning it, I offer,
2dly, That the moral law is nothing else but a transcript of the original holiness and purity of God's nature. God's essential holiness and righteousness was too bright and dazzling a pattern for man, even in a state of innocence; and therefore he transcribes a copy of it, and pictures it out upon the heart of man, that he might make it the rule of his o bedience in heart and in life, requiring him to be “ holy as he is holy.”
3dly, The law being a copy or emanation of God's holiness and righteousness, it must be dearer to him than heaven and earth, or the whole frame of nature. Hence is that declaration] of Christ, Matth. v. 17, 18: “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no ways pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Sirs, whatever mean or low thoughts we may have of the law, through the blindness of our minds, yet I can assure you, that it is such a sacred
thing with God, that he will sooner unhinge the frame of nature, and reduce it to its original nothing, than suffer it to be trampled upon by sinners, without showing a suitable resentment.
4thly, This law was given to our first parents under the form of a covenant; a promise of life being made to them, upon condition of their yielding a perfect obedience; and a threatening of death added, in case of disobedience, " In the day thou eatest, thou shalt surely die.” In this covenant Adam stood as the public head and representative of all his posterity: had he continued in his obedience to the law of that covenant, eternal life had been conferred on him, and all his posterity, by virtue of the promise of God; the sum and substance of that covenant being, as the apostle tells us, “ the man who doth these things shall live by them.”
5thly, Man being left to the freedom of his own will, through the flattering hisses of the old serpent, “ did break the law of God," and so forfeited his title to life by virtue of that covenant; and brought himself, and all his posterity, under the curse or penalty of death temporal, spiritual, and eternal, Rom. v. 12: By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
6thly, The law being broken and violated by sin, the honour of the law, and the authority of God, the great Lawgiver, are, as it were, laid in the dust, and trampled under foot, by the rebellious and disobedient sinner.. When man sinned, he, upon the matter, denied that the law was holy, just, and good; and, at the same time, disowned God for a sovereign, saying, with proud Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him ?" " I myself am Lord, and will come no more unto thee.” In a word, every sin, every transgres. sion of the law, is a breaking God's bands, and a casting his cords from us, and a saying practically, “Let the Almighty depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of his ways." And what an insufferable affront and indignity is this, for
, worm man to offer to the “ high and lofty one that inhabiteth eternity?" and what a wonder is' it, that "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish,” do not pursue every sinner through eternity ?
7thly, The law being violated, and the Lawgiver affronted, in such a way as has been hinted, the salvation of sinners by the law, and the works of it, becomes utterly impossible, unless the honour of the law, and of the great Lawgiver, be repaired and restored somehow or other. It is among the irreversible decrees of heaven, that “in his sight no flesh living shall be justified," unless the holiness of the law be