« НазадПродовжити »
Again, when Moses was summoned to receive the declaration of God's purposes, Mount Sinai burned with fire; blackness, and darkness, and tempest surrounded it, and there was heard“ the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake.” But the grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ, was characterised by its different announcement. All was condescension in God, and comfort to mankind. “ Fear not ; I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” “Glory to God in the highest ; on earth peace, good will towards men.”
Still it was an advantage which we must not undervalue, that the law was given by Moses to the Israelites. It was an “ advantage, great every way, that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” God did not pass them by : or give them up, like other nations, “to a reprobate mind,” ignorant of Him and of his will. They were taught his “statutes and his judgments, which if a man do, he shall continue in them. And they were many, more than we pretend to number, who were thus led to “do justice, and love mercy, and walk humbly with their God,” and to direct their lives “according to the commandments and ordinances of the law.”
What, however, would be the effect of this law of God, if we had no other revelation of his will ? What, but to condemn all mankind ? As the apostle says, to conclude all under sin,” that “every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.” This law, whether given to the Israelites by Moses, or repeated by Jesus in his discourses, may all be summed up, as He has Himself summed it up,
under these two heads : “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart ; and thy neighbour as thyself.” And
1 Heb. xii. 18-21.
who can hold up his hand and affirm, I am guiltless of any transgression against these laws ?
If then the terms of the law are such, as to condemn those who transgress it—and such must be the terms of every law~" Cursed is every one that continueth not in all the things which are written in the book of the law to do them:"—it is clear that“ by the law is the knowledge of sin :" that “by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified :” and we have eternal reason to be thankful, that grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. The apostle has taught us how to feel and reason : saying, " The strength of sin is the law: but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is right to be often reflecting upon this : to call to mind, how many things we have done which we ought not to have done : how many things we have left undone that we ought to have done : and that our only comfort must be, “ By grace are ye saved ;" “ by Jesus Christ all that believe
are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Thus the law is used by the Spirit to “convince of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment ;” becomes “a schoolmaster,” a mighty teacher, “ to bring us unto Christ :" to awe the transgressor into a thankful acceptance of his mercy. In earthly cases, we often find the criminal hardened in his denial of guilt, confident of escape, sullen, obstinate: but when an unexpected witness appears against him, and his guilt is clearly shown, bis spirit fails, his conscience shrinks, and the terror of death subdues, if it does not soften him. The effect of the law upon our hearts should be of a like nature : should be to soften them, now, in time, that we may not at last fall into the hands of an unpropitiated God. It seems to say, Why contend and dispute against God ? You cannot change him who is unchangeable : you cannot alter his will
, which is fixed from everlasting upon the pillars of eternal right: but you may reject
his counsel against yourself, (it is but too possible,) you may despise his mercy, and then, too late, experience his anger. Whether you will hear, or whether you will forbear, you must submit to die, and stand before God, to be judged by that law which he has ordained. “ Woe to him that striveth with his Maker !" Repent, and return unto the Lord : there are still the means of
and truth came by Jesus Christ : cast upon Him your burthen, and find rest unto your
soul. Therefore, as the demand of the law is perfect obedience, so the offer of Christ is perfect forgiveness. Perfect obedience no man has paid or can pay. Perfect forgiveness every one may enjoy who seeks to be accepted
through the righteousness which is of God by faith. The two covenants have this great distinction
is command, the other is mercy; mercy which assures us, that, though man had transgressed the covenant of command, God had still in store covenant of grace; that though man had fallen far short of the obedience which God required, God has not altogether cast off his unworthy servants. “Herein was love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and, while we were yet sinners, has reconciled us to himself by the death of his Son.”
But here a question meets us, which occurred to St. Paul, when arguing in this same strain. 66 Wherefore then serveth the law ?"2 Are we at liberty to disparage it, to neglect it? God forbid. Think not, said our Lord himself, foreseeing what might be alleged, 6 think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets ; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” And there are three uses which the law
all which tend to establish the Christian character; there are three considerations which it suggests to the mind, all which we must attentively cherish. 2 Gal. iii. 19.
We read the commandments of the law, as Moses gave them to the Israelites. The Lord Jesus enforced them, explained them, extended them; showed that the spirit of them, and not the letter only, must be fulfilled. The apostles still further point out their bearing upon the heart and life.
The first thought should be, This is God's will respecting me. My Saviour kept all these laws perfectly. Not that I might not keep them, but that He might leave me an example as well as an injunction to follow his steps, and walk as He walked. These, then, are to be my rule; and by these I must exercise myself, that I may “ keep a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man.”
The second thought is of another nature. These are the commands of God. This law is his law-my Maker's law. What could be my hope, if He were to reward me according as I had kept it from my youth up ?-if that were to be my “righteousness, that I had continued in all the things that are written in the law to do them?” Thanks be to Him, who has redeemed me from the curse of the law ; whom God has made to me “wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption."
And, lastly, consider within yourselves, Do I keep these commandments? Do I allow myself in the wilful neglect of any of them? Is it my aim, my desire, my prayer, to love the Lord my God with all my heart, and my neighbour as myself?—to bring every thought, word, and wish, into captivity to the obedience of Christ ? Do I direct my life by the law, and try myself, and judge myself, by the law, though I trust not to be “ under the law before God ?”
This use of the law remains under the Gospel ; and those who most constantly use it for these purposes, are those who understand the Gospel best. Whatever, then, your state is, there is use in the law. If
you are yet unreconciled to God, the law condemns you.
Agree with thine adversary quickly.” Apply yourself unto Christ, who bore your sins in his own body, that you may
find rest unto your soul. If you have already sought shelter under his cross, still keep your eye upon the law. Look to it, that you may better measure that which is beyond all measure, the goodness of Him who has blotted out the record of your transgressions. Look to it also as the rule by which you are to be guided ; the standard by which you are to judge yourself now, and hereafter to be judged: see how far, how very far, you come short of that standard, and be humble.
WHATEVER KNOWLEDGE WE HAVE OF GOD, IS DERIVED TO US
THROUGH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST : WHO HAS DECLARED HIS JUSTICE AND HIS MERCY.
JOHN i. 18.
18. “No man hath seen! God at any time; the only begotten Son, which
is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."
This sentence reminds us of a most important truth. We know nothing of God, nothing which we can depend upon, or trust to, except what He has Himself revealed. No man hath seen God at any time. As it is justly asked in the book of Job,“ Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection ?”a
Yet we often meet with those who argue respecting God and his counsels, as if they had seen Him, and been admitted to the “ secret things which belong to
Seen—perceived, discovered, and fully understood, either as to his essence or his attributes. Declared—revealed, disclosed.
2 Job xi. 7.