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profane wretches in the book of Job, who say to God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?'* Neither the commands of the divine law, though the strictest and purest imaginable, nor all the vengeance threatened against disobedience to those commands, can work in our hearts the least degree of love to God the Lawgiver: nor, considering ourselves as apostate creatures and under the curse, is it in the nature of things possible. For the more pure its precepts are, so much the more contrary to the bias of corrupt nature; and it is self-evident that the rigour of its sanction can never be loved by a person obnoxious to its condemning power; consequently, the divine Lawgiver can have no share in our affections while we continue in this deplorable condition.
Fallen man, therefore, cannot love God, but as he is revealed in a Mediator. He must behold his Maker's glory in the face of Jesus Christ before he can love him, or have the least desire to promote his glory. And as there is no revelation of the glory of God in Christ but by the gospel, and as we cannot behold it but by faith, it necessarily follows that no man can unfeignedly love God, or sincerely desire to glorify him, while ignorant of the truth. But as there is the brightest display of all the divine perfections in Jesus Christ, and as the gospel reveals him in his glory and beauty, so, under the sacred influence of the Holy Spirit, the sinner is brought to see the infi
*Job xxi. 14, 15. I humbly conceive that the unregenerate man's ha bitual forgetfulness of God-the uneasiness he feels when the thought of his Maker and Judge darts into his mind, and his endeavours to exclude them as unwelcome intruders-his passion for sinful pleasures, and his love to present enjoyments-the enmity he has to the people of God, and his aversion to serious, religious, heavenly conversation—and, finally, the treatment which the gospel meets in his breast-even the gospel of saving grace, that brightest mirror of the divine perfections are evidences of this humbling truth, and fully prove the opprobrious charge. Is not this a striking proof that a divine power, an invincible agency, is necessary to regenerate the soul and convert the heart?
nite amiableness and transcendent glory of God in the person and work of Immanuel. The gospel being a declaration of that perfect forgiveness which is with God, and of that marvellous salvation which is by Christ, which are full, free, and everlasting, by whomsoever the gospel is believed, peace of conscience and the love of God are enjoyed in some degree. While in proportion to the believer's views of the divine glory revealed in Jesus, and his experience of divine love shed abroad in his heart, will be his returns of affection and gratitude to God, as an infinitely amiable Being, considered in himself; as inconceivably gracious to a needy, guilty, unworthy creature. His language will be, 'What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits? Bless the Lord, O my soul! and all that is within me, bless his holy name!' Being born from above, he delights in the law of God after the inward man, and is habitually desirous of being more and more conformed to it, as it is a transcript of the divine purity, and a revelation of the divine will. Now he is furnished with that generous principle of action, the love of God. The obedience he now performs, and that which God accepts, is not the service of a mere mercenary, in order to gain a right to life, as a reward for his work; much less of a slave, that is driven to it by the goad of terror-but the obedience of a child, a spouse-of one who regards the divine conmands as coming from a father, an husband; being dead to the law, but now lives to God.
I said, being dead to the law. This is the case of none but those who have seen their own insufficiency, and have received the atonement in the blood of Jesus Christ-of those who rely on his work alone, as completely sufficient to procure their acceptance with an holy God, and as satisfying to the anxious inquiries of an awakened conscience respecting that important affair. So the apostle-Ye are become dead to the law by the body of Christ. We are delivered from the law,
that being dead wherein we were held.'* In these remarkable words the believer is described as dead to the law, and the law as dead to him, By these are signified, that the law has no more power over a believer to exact obedience as the condition of life, or to threaten vengeance against him in case of disobedience, than a dead husband, in a literal sense, has to demand obedience from a living wife, or, on account of disobedience, to threaten her with punishmentthat the real Christian, who is dead to the law, has no more expectations of justification by his own obedience to it, than a living wife has of assistance from a dead husband-and that as she can have no expectations of receiving any benefit from him, he being dead, so she cannot rationally have any fears of suffering evil at his hand.†
But though the law, as a covenant, ceases to have any demands on them that are in Christ Jesus, yet it ceases not as a rule of conduct, and as in the hand of Christ, to the experienced believer or advanced saint. Nor, thus considered, is it possible that it should be deprived of its authority, or lose its use; for it is no other than the rule of that obedience which the nature of God and man, and the relation subsisting bebetween them, render necessary. So that to suppose the law vacated in this respect, is to suppose that relation to cease which has ever subsisted, and cannot but subsist, between the great Sovereign and his dependent creatures, who are the subjects of his moral government. Nor, thus considered, are its commands burdensome, or its yoke galling, to the real Christian. He approves of it, he delights in it, after the inward man. For, as a friend and a guide, it points out the way in which he is to manifest his thankfulness to God for all his favours; and the new disposition he received in regeneration from his Law-fulfiller, inclines him to pay it the most sincere and uninterrupted regard. The obedience he now performs, is in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.' + Rom. vii. 1-4.
*Rom. vii. 4. 6.
Rom. vii. 6.
Should any pretenders to holiness, the genuine offspring of the ancient Pharisees, object that by faith we make void the law,' our answer is ready, 'God forbid! Yea, rather, we establish the law,' both by the doctrine and principle of faith. By the doctrine of faith: For we teach that there is no salvation for any of the children of men, without a perfect fulfilment of all its righteous demands. This, though impossible to a fallen, enfeebled creature, was punctually performed by Messiah the Surety; and being placed to the account of a believing sinner, renders him completely righteous. Thus the law is so far from being made void, that it is honoured, it is magnified, and that to the highest degree. The obedience performed to the preceptive part of the law by a divine Redeemer, and the sufferings of an incarnate God on the cross, in conformity to its penal sanction, more highly honour it than all the obedience which an absolutely innocent race of creatures ever could have yielded-than all the sufferings which the many millions of the damned can endure to eternity. By the principle of faith: For as it purifies the heart from an evil conscience by the application of atoning blood, so it works by love-love to God, his people, and his cause, in some measure conformably to the law as the rule of righteousness. Hence it is, that they who believe are said to be 'sanctified by that faith which is in Jesus.* any one, therefore, pretend to believe in Christ, to love his name, and enjoy communion with him, who does not pay an habitual regard to his commands, he ' is a liar, and the truth is not in him.' For our Lord says, 'If a man love me, he will keep my words.' He informs us also, that the reason why any one does not keep his sayings, is because he does not love him, whatever he may profess to the contrary. That is no love which is not productive of obedience, nor is that worthy the name of obedience which springs not from love. Pretensions to love without obedience are glaring hypocrisy, and obedience without love is mere slavery, † John xiv. 23, 24.
* Acts xxvi. 18.
The great and heavenly blessing of sanctification is the fruit of our union with Christ. In virtue of the union which subsists between Christ as the head, and the church as his mystical body, the chosen of God, in their several generations, become the subjects of regenerating grace, and are possessed of the Holy Spirit; according to these emphatical and instructive words, "Without me,' without a vital union with me, similar to that of a living branch to a flourishing vine, 'ye can do nothing' that is truly good and acceptable in the sight of God.* It is by the Spirit of truth, and the word of grace, that any sinner is sanctified; as it is written, "Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.' Hence we read of the 'sanctification of the Spirit,' of the 'holiness of truth,' and of being 'sanctified by the truth.' By comparing these passages together, it is evident that the divine Spirit, the grand agent, employs evangelical truth as the appointed instrument in producing that holiness in the heart and life of a Christian which is included in the blessing, and signified by the term sanctification. For this reason, our great Intercessor prays, Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth;' and asserts,' Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.'§
The truth of the gospel is that mirror in which we behold the gracious designs of God respecting us-the all-sufficiency and glory of Christ, together with his finished salvation wrought out for the guilty. ‘Beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.' As the countenance of Moses, after his familiar converse with Jehovah, shone with such dazzling radiance that the chosen tribes could not steadily behold it; so the believer, viewing Jesus the King of Glory in his matchless beauty, derives a likeness to the glorious object
‡ 1 Pet. i. 2. 2 Thess. ii. 13. Eph. iv, 24. John xvii. 19. John xvii. 17. and xv. 3.