Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ And this indeed is not any new doctrine. It is the old way of justification. Your father Abraham was, two thousand years ago, justified in this way. And in this way all his children are justified.” Ver. 6^9.

Besides, you cannot be justified by the law, if you are ever so desirous of it. All your hopes are built upon ignorant and mistaken notions. For it is evident that the law requires sinless perfection under the severest penalty. Therefore, so far from being justified will you be, if you adhere to this way of justification, that every man of you, who does so, will inevitably fall under the curse. For it is expressly written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. Ver. 10. And therefore see you remember, that if you are circumcised, and intend to be saved by the law, that you yield a sinless perfection. For I, Paul, assure every man of you that is circumcised under that notion, that he is a debtor to keep the whole law; he is bound to yield a perfect obedience, as he hopes to be saved. For if you go this way to obtain justification, I assure you, whatever you think, Christ will profit you nothing. You shall, however, you may flatter yourselves, have no benefit from him. But must stand, or fall, as you yield a perfect obedience, or not." Chap. v. 2, 3, 4a.

a An Arminian might justly query-Why did not the Galatians reply to St. Paul, and say,

Sir, you quite abuse us, we have no notion of being justified by Jaw in your sense. We only depend upon our sincere obedience, and hope and expect to receive some benefit from Christ, and free grace, as you are sensible. We are, in the main, exactly of your mind. The dispute is only about words. We mean the same thing you do. For when you say, that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law, you only mean that he is justified by sincere obedience, and not by perfect. And this is just the thing we would. And you yourself know we do not pretend to perfect obedience. Why then do you bear down so very hard upon us ? And even pronounce the man ACCURSED, that teaches our scheme? Pretending that it is so essentially different from yours. We think we obey God in being circumcised, and observing the rites of Moses law. And you think you obey God in not doing these things. We own we have been too uncharitable in thinking none could be saved, unless they were circumcised and kept the law of Moses. But if this is all the error we are in, you are full as uncharitable towards us, to doom us to destruction for such a mistake, Therefore, being now willing to give up this one point as for all the rest, we think your own words will equally suit us both. Rom. xiv. 3, 4. Let not him that

« And if to all this you should object, and say, And what was the law given for, if we are not to be justified by it? I reply, it was given to answer many wise ends; as for instance, to check and restrain vice. Chap. iii. 19. But espécially to be a school-master, to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. For by the law all sin was forbid under the highest penalty. And so by it we were shut up under sin and condemnation, and shut up to the faith. There was no way to escape the curse, but by faith. All other ways were shut up. And thus the law was to teach us our need of Christ and free grace, and to bring us to look this way for justification and eternal lite.” Ver. 22, 23, 24. Aad thus we see the occasion of the words, and how they were introduced in the thread of the apostle's argument.

III. And now, that we may more fully understand them, let us turn back to the sacred books of Moses, and take a view of the law given on Mount Sanai, that we may see what foundation there was in that dispensation, for this observation of the inspired apostle.

Let us begin with the 19th Chapter of Exodus, and see the particular steps divine wisdom took to introduce that dispensation, after that God had already in general prepared the way for it, by redeeming the children of Israel out of Egypt, by an out-stretched hand, by signs and wonders, and led them through the Red sea. Two months they had now been in

cateth despise him that eateth not. Ånd let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant ? For as to the terms of justification, that one mistake excepted, we are exactly of your mind.”

And had St. Paul been in the same scheme with our modern Arminians, I do not see how he could have answered them : being obliged to own, as he would have been, that their notions about justification were right in the main, although he had condemned them by wholesale.

But if St. Paul denied justifieation by any kind of obedience short of abso. lute perfection, how sincere soever it might be, as it is plain he did ; then there was no room for the Galatians to make this reply to his manner of arguing. Nor is there any more room for the Arminian way of justification by sincere obedience, consistent with the apostle's way of reasoning. For if they will be justified by their obedience, Christ will profit them nothing, will make up for none of their defects. They therefore must yield a perfect obedience, or fall under the curse ; but they do not yiell a perfect obedience. As many therefore as are not only in head, but in heart, in the Arminian scheme, are under the CURSE, according to St. Paul. Gal. ii. 10.

the wilderness, (miraculously supplied were they with water out of the finty rock, and with bread from heaven,) when they came to the mount of God, and all to teach them, that the God of Abraham was the most high God; and to make them sensible that they were under the greatest and strongest obligations to him.

Israel pitched in the wilderness of Sinai, and there they camped before the mount. And that it might be seen whether they would receive his law, God called unto Moses out of the mountain, and sent him to the house of Jacob, and bid him tell the children of Israel, " ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure to me above all people. For all the earth is mine.” To which the children of Israel made answer, “ All that the Lord hath spoken will we do.” “ And Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord.And the Lord sent him to sanctify the people that day, and the next, that they might be ready against the third day, when he would come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai.-“ And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud, so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.” Upon which Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God. And Mount Sinai," to look to,“ was altogether on a smoke. And the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace. And the whole mount quaked greatly. And the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder.” Exod. xix. “ And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like DEVOURING FIRE on the top of the Mount, in the eyes of the children of Israel." Chap. xxiv. 17. And all this, to fill the hearts of the whole congregation with a sense of the greatness and majesty of God, and their infinite obligations to be obedient.

Now from the mountain, with all these solemn and awful things attending, God gave forth his law, with a voice so exceeding loud, as to be heard by the whole congregation, containing perhaps near three millions of souls. Which filled the whole congregation with só great terror, that they besought that God would not speak any further to them in this awful manner, lest they should die under it. Chap. xx. 18, 19.

“ And God spake all these words, saying,

“I AM THE LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” - Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image,” &c.

« Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain," &e.

" Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” &c. &c. &c.

Even ten Commandments.

The sum of all which was, “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart'; and thy neighbour as thyself.”

And it was charged upon the children of Israel, when they had passed over Jordan, that they should stand, part on Mount Gerizzim, and part on Mount Ebal ; and that the Levites should

say,

“ Cursed be the man that makelb any graven, or molten image," &c. "And all the people shall say, AMEN.” And the CURSE was to be repeated twelve times, according to the number of the twelve tribes of Israel, and all the people were to say, Amen. And to sum up the whole, the Levites were to say, Cursed be the man that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them.” (Or, according to St. Paul," that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.")" And all the people shall say, Amen.” Thus the law, as requiring sinless perfection under the penalty of the CURSE, was, in this public manner, and with the utmost solemnity, to be approved by the whole congregation, as holy, just, and good. And all the people shall say, AMEN. Deut. xxvii.

In case of any transgression, the only way provided and prescribed to obtain pardon, was by shedding of blood. And without shedding of blood there was no remission b. The transgressor was to bring a bullock for a sin-offering to the ? tabernacle, and present it before the Lord ; and having laid his hands on the head of the bullock, the priest was to slay him, sprinkle the blood, burn the bullock, and so make an atonement for the sin. And in this way it should be forgiven

b Heb. ix. 22.

Once in every year, on the great day of atovement, the High-Priest, dressed in his holy robes, with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel op his heart, and with the blood of atonement in his hands, was to enter into the most holy pluce, even into the immediate presence of God, who dwelt there, over the mercy-seat, in the cloud of glory, to make atonement for the whole congregation. After which, on the same. solemn day, the High-Priest was to lay both his hands on the head of a live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and then send him away by the hand of a fit inan into the wilderness : and the goat was to bear upon him all their iniquities, unto a land not inhabited a.

A’nd thus the law, by its requiring perfect obedience, and denouncing a Curse for the least failing, discovered the necessity of an atonement. And thus the law by its sin-offerings, and its blood of atonement, and its scape-goat, pointed out Christ. And thus the law was in its nature suited to be a school-master to bring them to Christ, that they might be justified by faith.

IV. But that this point may stand in the clearest light, and the justness of the apostle's observation be seen in the plainest manner, these following particulars may be distinctly noted and illustrated :

1: “ That the law given on Mount Sinai required sinless perfection of the whole congregation of Israel.” If sinless perfection be defined to be “ a feeling and acting towards intelligent beings, as being what they are,” this their law required. For it required them “ to love God with all their heart, and obey him in every thing; and to love their neighbours as themselves, and to do as they would be done by.” Which would have been to feel and act towards God and their neighbours as being just what they were. Or, if sinless

c Lev. ir.

d Lev. xvi.

VOL. III.

« PreviousContinue »