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have seen what it is that God declares that He will do within his people,—that he will conform their will to his own laws. Observe then now, IN WHAT LIGHT THIS CHANGE WITHIN THE HEART IS HERE PRESENTED TO US. It is spoken of as one of the grand and chief blessings which the Lord bestows upon his people. It is made a matter of promise, of gracious promise, and therefore is contemplated as among the special favours of a God of love.
And so it is indeed. This gift of the Holy Spirit to free our souls from the power of sin, and set the law of God within our hearts, and cause us to yield a ready obedience thereunto, it is a blessing indeed. So the sinner feels it to be, when first he is seeking the way of life. Othe miserable slavery of sin ! It is horrible, and hateful to his mind. And deliverance from it, and heavenly grace to sanctify his soul, these he does esteem true blessings, and right gladly therefore does he hail the promises of them which the new covenant brings. What joy for him to think that holiness, the thing he longs for, is. what God hath undertaken to impart.
So the advanced Christian : he too regards it among his most precious mercies, that God hath said, “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts.” And why? Because he is one who feels, more and more continually, the constraining power of the love of God toward him, and hence it is the thing which he unceasingly desires, to be made holy in body, soul and spirit. Yes, the Christian man is one who thinks how the Lord has looked on him, and loved him with an everlasting and unchanging love: he thinks upon the cross, and wonders at the redemption there accomplished for his soul, the Son of God in human flesh dying to save a wretched sinner such as he has been: he thinks of heaven, and adores the mercy which has opened to him that glorious kingdom, and given him a place at God's right hand : and then his soul's emotion, what is it? Lord, let me, more than ever, give myself to Thee : let all within me praise thy holy name : sanctify me wholly to Thyself: make and keep me only thine.' Then, for such an one what a comfort it is to reflect, that this is that very thing whereof God hath made him a free promise, even grace to be holy.
So that holiness, that is, conformity to God's law, submission to God's will, obedience to God's commandments, while it is with you, my Christian brethren, the very thing you most desire, it is also the very thing which God hath given you his word that He will work within you. Therefore wait on Him for it. Ye Christians indeed, ye who choose the law of God, ye who feel the love of God to you, and therefore do bind his law to your hearts, and aim to walk in all his holy ways, bless Him for his promise ; put Him in remembrance of it; plead it in your prayers; use the means which He has given, his word and his ordinances, and seek in them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, advance in holiness. And “the very God of
God of peace shall sanctify you wholly. Faithful is He that calleth
who also will do it."
THERE is something, at first sight, almost contradictory in the way in which the Apostle St. Paul speaks, at different times, respecting the law of God. But a little before, in this same epistle, he had said that Christian men were not “under the law :” that they were “delivered from the law :” yea, that they had become “dead to the law. Yet what have we now in our text ? A declaration most distinct, and decided, of his own attachment to the law. “I delight,” saith he, " in the law of God."
I trust we shall see what his meaning is, and understand how entirely his several statements agree together. And may God grant us in our own hearts to feel how true it is that a Christian man, though not under the law, but delivered from it, and in a sense dead to it, yet does, from his heart, love it, and delight in it.
There are three matters which I would wish you to observe in order to understand the subject before us.
I. WHAT IS THAT LAW OF WHICH THE APOSTLE SPEAKS.
II. WHAT IS THE POSITION OF THE CHRISTIAN MAN IN RESPECT OF THAT LAW. And
III. WHAT ARE HIS FEELINGS TOWARDS IT.
I. WHAT IS THAT APOSTLE SPEAKS? It is the law of God: in other words, the will of God.
The first law given to man was that to Adam in Paradise, “Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat.” A very simple law, but quite sufficient to serve the purpose for which it was given. All that was wanted then was some rule laid down to be a test of Adam's love to God. And for this that one command was quite enough. So long as he loved his Maker, so long would he refuse to touch the tree. Alas, too soon he took thereof, and did eat : plain proof that his love was gone.
From that day other laws, more in number, more particular, and more defined, became requisite. Man was fallen. He needed to be told of duty: he needed to be warned of sin: he needed specific injunctions, and specific prohibitions, such as before were uncalled for.
Hence the multiplied rules which, from time to time, we find his Maker giving him. All these were parts of his law. The whole together constituted the statute book of the Creator's moral government.
The substance of this law is in various places collected together, and exhibited before us : some
times more fully than at other times : but the law is the same.
Thus in the ten commandments we have a short, but a most comprehensive setting forth of the will of God. All duties toward Him, all duties toward our fellow-men, are there enjoined : all sins against Him, all sins against our fellowmen, are there forbidden. Under a few heads every thing that God would have us do, or not do, is expressed. Hence the way in which those ten commandments are often alluded to in holy scripture : and hence too the manner in which our Church in her Communion service recites them continually as the law of God.
But the ten commandments are not the only form in which the law of God is set before us. Again and again we meet with separate passages of holy writ in which the same representations are repeated, only in other words. Take an example: the prophet Micah speaks: “He hath shewed thee, Oman, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”
Examine those words : you will find the ten commandments all condensed there : justice and mercy to man: faith and obedience toward God.
To mention one other instance: Jesus Himself gives us, if I may so say, his version of the law: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and mind, and soul, and strength: and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Here again, though in few words, is the whole