Moses Unveiled in the Face of Christ
A SERMON BY WILLIAM HUNTINGTON PREACHED AT MONKWELL STREET MEETING, AUGUST 12, 1794
MOSES UNVEILED IN THE FACE OF CHRIST
Verse the first, "Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?" This is a throw at the false apostles, who, when they had by their evil insinuation ingratiated themselves into the affections of the simple and unwary, obtained letters of commendation from them, to recommend themselves to other churches, that they might do more mischief; for they had nothing else to recommend them but their pride and their speech, which Paul paid no regard to. "I do not want to know the speech of them that are puffed up, but the power." But of this they were destitute. They had not the power of God manifested in them, they had no power with God in prayer, nor did they ever communicate, by their instrumentality, the power of God?s grace and Spirit to others. They were false apostles, and ministers of Satan; and Paul is commended by the Lord himself for proving them so to be. "Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars."
These disciples of Moses, "who preached Christ out of envy," when they could not obtain letters of commendation from one church to another, would even dare to counterfeit letters in Paul?s name; which induced him to sign every epistle of his in future with his own hand writing, as a token that they were not spurious. "The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle, &c. so I write." Yea, the apostle cautions his followers against this damnable quackery. "See that ye be not troubled, neither by word, nor by spirit, nor by letter, as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand;" for we have written no such things unto you.
"But do we need these letters of commendation?" No; those whom God sends, God will recommend, and make them manifest in the consciences of all his people. It is not he who commends himself that is approved, but whom the Lord commends. Besides, if a minister be a good workman, one that needs not to be ashamed, his own work will recommend him; and the seals of his ministry will be forward enough to proclaim him to others; for "a gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it, and whithersoever it turneth it prospereth; " yea, "a man's gift shall make room for him, and bring him before great men:" and, therefore, we need no letters of commendation from you, nor letters of commendation to you.
"Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men." We are the pens that the Spirit of God uses to write his laws of faith, truth, love, and liberty on your minds; and we have heard a reason of your hope, and of your experience that worketh hope; and it agrees with ours, and with the written word; and therefore we know, dearly beloved, "your election of God; for our word came not unto you in word only, but in power, in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance:" and God has made you manifest in our hearts; you have a share in our affections; and thus, as our epistle, you are written in our hearts: and, as your conversion to God is manifested in our hearts, so all men may read you, in your external reformation, your turning from idols to the living God, your separation from the world, your light and knowledge, shining in the midst of a crooked generation, your honest life and humble walk, your singularity and chaste conversation, the persecution you endure for Christ and conscience sake, which are manifest to all, and may be read by all men. So that the very heathen may say, "God hath done great things for you."
"Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, ministered by us." What the Saviour himself taught in his ministry, he hath by his Spirit written upon your hearts; and, as the scriptures are a sealed book, so hath he sealed you, upon your believing, with the holy spirit of promise; and you shall, by and bye, as the Lord's secret treasure, be carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom, as so many love letters and living epistles; and there be opened, and openly read and acknowledged, before all the celestial inhabitants.
"Ministered by us." You are the workmanship of us labourers, the seals of our mission and commission, the trophies of our victory, as good soldiers of Christ, and the crop and fruit of us ploughmen and vine-dressers; yea, the sheaves of the harvest in which we labour; which those that go forth weeping and bearing precious seed shall (at their return to God) bring with them, as their joy and crown of rejoicing in that day. We shall present you to Christ at the beginning of the thousand years' reign upon the new earth, and Christ will present you to his Father in ultimate glory at the close of that period, when he delivers up, in full tale, all the subjects of his kingdom to the Father.
"Written, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart" The word of truth in the scriptures is written with ink, but the impressions on your hearts is with humbling grace; the Bible was written by holy men with a pen, but your writing is by God himself, with the finger of his Spirit, and not in tables of stone, as the moral law was, but on the soft and fleshly tables of the heart; the stony heart being removed by a feeling sense of the pardoning love of God and a believing view of Christ; which lead men to contrition, meekness, humiliation, godly sorrow, and evangelical repentance; and make the impenitent, hard, and obdurate heart soft, and susceptible of every divine impression.
"And such trust have we through Christ to Godward." We trust that what we have here asserted of your happy state, and of our success among you, is true. And this discernment of men and things we obtain by Christ, from whom all our wisdom, knowledge, and discernment comes. And it is "to Godward." The acknowledgment of our success, and of our blessed state, is to the honour of God; for I will not boast of any thing that God has not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient either by word or deed.
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves." We are not sufficient to communicate the Spirit, truth, or grace, of God to men; nor sufficient to discern, read, think, or judge, aright of a work of grace upon the hearts of men.
"But our sufficiency is of God." Our light, knowledge, grace, that we have, are of God's free gift; and so is all the success that has attended our labours. And, as for our discernment into your hearts, and knowledge of the goodness of your state, they are of God also; which he gives us light to see; and knowledge to judge of, and a persuasion in our own hearts that our judgment of you is true. Moreover, he told me "to speak boldly at Corinth, for he had much people in that city." And it was by us that ye were called. God may use others, even men of one talent, graceless men, to cast a little light upon his word, and on your minds, and to furnish his spiritual exchangers with some sound expressions for prayer and conversation; but he never uses nor honours these in converting souls to himself; for, "if ye have ten thousand instructors, ye have not many fathers; I have begotten you," through the gospel; therefore our sufficiency is of God;
"Who hath made us able ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the Spirit." The New Testament is the covenant of grace, which was made between the Father and the Son. But, when Christ had performed the conditions of it, and it became sealed and ratified by his blood, and of force by the death of the testator, it then became a testament, valid and of force; and no man may disannul, add thereunto, or make it void. It is of force to every heir of promise, who may come and receive the legacies that are therein appointed by the Father, and bequeathed by the Son, to him.
"An able minister of the New Testament" is one that has received the spirit of promise, one that has felt and enjoyed the truths, blessings, and promises, of the gospel in his own heart, and so "tells to others what God has done for his soul." He has the Spirit, and is a minister of the Spirit; he is a partaker of grace, and a good steward of it; he is pardoned; and preaches, forgiveness; he is justified, and preaches righteousness; he believes, and therefore speaks; he is quickened, and holds forth the word of life; he is free, and preaches liberty to others; he made his own calling and election sure, and therefore shuns not to declare the whole counsel of God. Christ is revealed in him; and he bears him and preaches him amongst the Gentiles. He has felt the savour of his name as an ointment poured forth, and therefore is instrumental in making manifest the savour of his name in every place; he has salt in himself, and his words are seasoned with salt, to season others; he is illuminated, and lets his light shine before men; he is a candle on the stick, and gives, light to all that are in the house. Such an one, in the hands of Christ, is an able minister of the New Testament.
"Not of the letter," which gives no life, no hope, no help; it brings nothing good to the sinner, but calls for every thing at his hands; it calls for love, for righteousness, for perfect and perpetual obedience; but gives no grace, mercy, nor salvation. A minister of the letter is a man dead to God, a miscarrying womb, and a dry breast to others; he is an instrument without life, giving uncertain sound; and a well without water, that refreshes none; he may furnish the head, but not manure the heart; he may nurse pride, but never nourish the soul; he may lead to presumption, but never can communicate faith, being but a minister of the letter.
"For the letter killeth." It threatens death temporal to every transgressor. The blasphemer was stoned without the camp; the worshippers of Baal-peor were killed on the spot, he that gathered sticks on the sabbath-day was killed at the command of God; the rebellious child, that dishonoured his parents, was to be stoned. It ministers spiritual death, cursing every transgressor who is under it, and already dead by it; and it ministers eternal death to both body and soul. It condemns the soul to eternal wrath, and the body to endless flames.
"But the Spirit giveth life." It quickens the dead soul, gives it life and feeling, and motion towards God. It removes the sting of death by the application of the atonement, and removes the sentence of death by bringing in the righteousness of Christ. It works faith in the heart, and presents the Lord and giver of life to it, and so enables the soul to live by the faith of the Son of God.
"But, if the ministration of death written and engraven in stones was glorious" - The law was given with much glorious majesty. God came down upon mount Sinai; his chariots were twenty thousand, even thousands of angels; thunder, lightnings, smoke, and darkness, the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of Words. God wrote the law with his own finger, and gave it to the angels; and Moses received it by the disposition of them. The mediator had a ray of glory on his face when he delivered it, to give a sanction to it, and to put an honour upon the office of Moses: but, notswithstanding all this majestic glory, it is the ministration of death; and the glory itself was terrible to Israel.
"So that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away" - This last word glory is not in the original, but is supplied by the translators. This glory the children of Israel could not look to. The voice and terrible majesty of God brought them all in guilty before him, so that they could not endure the light; and the vail of ignorance was upon their hearts, that they could not see the meaning of it, and therefore darkness suited them best; And this is the case with every bond-child, to this day; he gropes at the old mount; amidst blackness and darkness; but bring him to Zion, the perfection of beauty, out of which God shines, and he shuns the rays and hates the light; nor will he come to it, lest his deeds should be reproved; and this is his condemnation; and, as it is now, so it will be in the last day; he will call to the rocks and mountains to hide him from the face of him that sits upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; and, as he cannot endure the light, he shall be driven to outer darkness, to the generation of his fathers, and shall never see light. If all this glory attend the ministration of death,
"How shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious?" The law reveals the holiness and justice of God, and his wrath and indignation at all sin: but the gospel reveals and promises the Holy Ghost to every soul that believes; who is the God of glory, and makes the saints? bodies his own temple; who reveals the Father's eternal love, grace, mercy, and good-will of purpose and of promise; who shines with a glorious light, works a glorious work of grace, is an earnest of future glory, and a pledge of it, and will at last put the soul in full possession of it.
"For, if the ministration of condemnation be glory"?if a dispensation, that brings in the whole world guilty before God; which makes the offence of Adam abound, and all sin become exceeding sinful; that curses, condemns, and assigns men over to future judgment, there to have the sentence passed and eternally executed?be glory,
"Much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory." For the gospel reveals the righteousness of God fully satisfied by the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ; and the perfect obedience of the Son of God is clearly revealed in the gospel, and imputed by God himself to the justification of all that believe; who likewise promises grace and strength to help in every time of need, that we may be thoroughly furnished for every good work. As much as the incorruptible seed, the word of God, exceeds the letter; as eternal life exceeds eternal death; as much as a blessing exceeds a curse; and as righteousness exceeds condemnation; so much the everlasting gospel exceeds the moral law, engraven on tables of stone.
"For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth." The law was but a moon-light at best; which rules over the night, and over the children of the night and of darkness, who have the old vail upon their heart, and are of the works of the law, under it, and under the curse of it. But, like the moon, there is no heat to warm the heart in it, nor does it cause any genuine fruitfullness in the barren soil that is under it. Bitter clusters of error, wild grapes of sin, and dead works, are all the fruits that can be found in bond-children; and you may as well expect grapes from thorns, and figs from thistles, as to look for any other from barren hearts, unrenewed by grace. But the gospel reveals God in all his glory and majesty; and Christ, the sun of righteousness, with all his reviving glorious light and heat, who turns the desert into a fruitful field, and the barren heart into a springing well: it brings life and immortality to light, and shews the way of life and the path of peace. As soon as the beams of light dart into the sinner's heart, and the glory of God rises upon him, this is the sun that shall never go down, but make the path of the just shine more and more, even to perfect day: and the child of light, however eclipsed, however obscure, hid, or unknown in this world, will at last shine forth as the sun in the glory of his Father's kingdom for ever and ever, When he comes to enjoy the inheritance with the saints in light. This is the glory that excelleth; the law had no glory in this respect, for it neither shews, discovers, nor gives, any of these things.
"For if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious." Paul here repeals his assertion, that the law is done away. The old covenant gives way to the new; the will of precept gives way to the will of purpose and of promise, which brings glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, and good-will towards men. The new covenant is not according to the old; it is not a killing command and a cursing sentence; but is attended with the Spirit of God, who writes his laws of faith, truth, and liberty, in the sinner's mind; takes the, stony heart away, and gives a heart of flesh; pardons iniquity, and remembers sins no more; cleanses the sinner from all his filthiness and from all his idols, and brings him to loathe himself under the soul-melting flames of everlasting love. And this ministry shall ever remain, though the other is waxed old and vanished away because of the weakness and unprofitableness of it; for it made nothing perfect; but the bringing in of a better hope did, by which we draw nigh unto God; for Christ is not a priest after the law of a carnal commandment which ministers nothing but wrath and death to carnal men. For, though the law be spiritual, because it ministers spiritual and eternal death to the spirits and souls of men, yet its whole ministration is to carnal men; for it is not made for the righteous, but for the lawless and disobedient. But Christ is a priest after the power of an endless life, who lives in his office for ever, and has, by his one offering, perfected for ever all them that are sanctified in the purpose of God, and that he should give eternal life to all the chosen race.
"Seeing then that we have such hope"?that Christ is formed in our hearts the hope of glory; that we are brought to the God of hope; are happy partakers of the Spirit, and intrusted with the ministry of the Spirit of life and of righteousness, in which we hope?
"We use great plainness of speech." We do not muzzle the truth, nor cover the force or blunt the edge of it; we do not corrupt the word, nor frustrate the grace of God, by walking in craftiness and handling the word of God deceitfully; we are not afraid that the truth of God and his sovereign grace will lead people into licentiousness; nor do we shun to declare the whole counsel of God, for fear of losing our good name and reputation. They call me an heretic, and my doctrine heresy; but, after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers. They charge me with saying, "Let us sin that grace may abound;" whose damnation is just. They call my preaching foolishness; but it pleases God to save all that believe in it: and call my gospel a lie; but it is plain that the truth of God abounds through my lie unto his glory; for his word runs, his grace is communicated, and God is glorified, in every soul that receives it. While these my traducers do no good, communicate no power, nor win one soul to Christ, they deceive themselves, and others too; and are nothing but false apostles, deceitful workers, and ministers of Satan; who creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with divers sins, ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Female followers suit them best; the weaker vessel is the soonest deceived. They are always in love, and cannot allure but only through the lust of the flesh and much wantonness. But we dare not compare ourselves with these. We are not of the number of preachers which men heap to themselves, who scratch itching ears and turn them from the truth to fables; nor a set of vain janglers, who desire to be teachers of the law, knowing neither what they say nor whereof they affirm: but we are ministers of God, not of men, nor by men, nor did we learn our gospel of men, nor were we taught it but by the revelation of Christ. God revealed his Son in us, that we should bear him and preach him among the Gentiles; and we are determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified; for he is the wisdom of God, and the power of God. Knowing, therefore, of whom we learned these things, and in whom see have believed; and seeing the success that attends our labours, and how you are all partakers of our grace; and seeing how you shine as lights in the world, who have received the truth by us; we have made full proof of the ministry, and by a manifestation of it have appealed to your consciences in the sight of God, and have seen the power and blessed effects of it upon you; and, therefore, without mincing the matter, and without fearing an ill name from man, we use great plainness of speech.
"And not as Moses, who put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished."
In handling these words, I will,
Treat of the office of Moses.
Of the glory of his face.
Of the vail upon it.
Of the end which Israel could not see.
(and lastly). Of the abolition of the law
First, Moses was one of the children of Israel, of the stock of Abraham and tribe of Levi; a brother to the rest of the tribes; flesh of their flesh, and bone of their bone; and, as such, was a type of that plant of renown, that Israelite indeed in whose mouth was no guile, who was the brother born for adversity; made flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone.
Secondly, He was raised up, appointed, commissioned, and sent, by God himself, to deliver the children of Israel from Pharaoh, that river dragon, and from their cruel task-masters. He de1ivered their necks from the yoke of bondage, their souls from the iron furnace, and their fingers from the pots. In all which he was a figure of the better Deliverer, who delivers us from that old dragon the devil, from the tyranny of oppressors and of reigning sins, the galling yoke of our transgressions, the yoke of legal bondage, from the furnace of divine wrath, and our fingers from the potsherds of the earth. He executed judgment upon Egypt, shewed the goodness and severity of God at the Red Sea, led them through the wilderness, and never left them until he brought them in sight of the promised land. In all which he was a type of Christ, but came short of him in every thing. Christ came for judgment into this world, that they who see not might see, and those that see might be made blind. He executed vengeance on the Jewish nation, for their rejection of him and cruelty to his church. He shews his goodness to all that obey him, and his severity to all that hate him; leads his people through the wilderness of this world, and brings them into the promised land, which is very far off. Moses had a miraculous rod, with which he smote the waters and turned them into blood, by which he divided the sea, and under which Israel prevailed and Amalek was defeated: a faint emblem this of the Saviour?s sceptre, with which he smites the earth and slays the wicked; by the sway of which righteous sceptre he doth in righteousness judge and make war; and by the same rod of his strength, sent out of Zion, He rules in the midst of Jerusalem; and under which we are enabled to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. Moreover,
Moses was invested with the high office of mediator, He found grace in the sight of the Lord; was indulged with access to him, and communion with him; he was God's mouth to the people, and the people's mouth to God; and was allowed to stand in the gap when the anger of the Almighty waxed hot against the rebels. In all which he represented the better Mediator of the better covenant; who found grace in the eyes of the Lord for all his members; who engaged his heart to draw near to God, and appears in his presence for us; by whom in these last days the Father hath spoken to us, and who in his intercession speaks to God for us; who, as our daysman, has laid his hand upon both, broken down the middle wall of partition, made peace by the blood of his cross, and stands in the gap for ever, to receive gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God may dwell amongst them. Furthermore,
"Moses was a prophet. He foretold a Messiah to come, and that all the saints should be in his hand; that they should all sit down at his feet, and be taught of him; and the vengeance that should fall on the rejectors of him. He pointed out the word of faith and imputed righteousness by him, which is witnessed both by the law and the prophets; shewed the vanity of all human righteousness, and foretold the calamities of those that should lightly esteem this Rock of salvation. In all which Christ is a prophet like unto him who has foretold the salvation of the Gentiles and the restoration of the Jews; the righteousness, life, peace, rest, and happiness, that all should enjoy who receive him; and the destruction of the Jewish nation for rejecting him; the desolation of all that are incensed against him, and the dreadful damnation of all that hear and despise his everlasting gospel. Again,
Moses was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the tribes were gathered together. And in this he was a figure of the King of righteousness and King of peace, who is set upon the holy hill of Zion; and of whose increase, government, and kingdom, there should be no end. This leads me to my second general head, which is to treat of
"The glory of Moses' face." The Lord, having appeared on the mount in thick darkness, and spoken to them in the secret place of thunder, and ordered bounds to be set all round the mount, that none might break through to gaze, left the following ways open. One was by having a name on the breast-plate of the high-priest, who was to approach through the vail to the mercy-seat; and the other was by Moses as the Mediator of the new covenant, the apostle and high-priest of our profession, and the only throne of grace, propitiation, and mercy-seat, Them was a glory between the cherubim; Urim and Thummim in the breast-plate of judgment; and the glory of God on the face of Moses. But now he that dwelt between the cherubim has stirred up his strength and come among us; light and perfection are found in the Holy One; and the glory of God is only to be seen in the face of Jesus, Here we are to look that we may be enlightened, for every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of light by and through Jesus Christ. If our language be, "Shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us;" the answer is, "Have I been so long with you, and hast thou not seen me, Philip?" To Jesus we must look for the express image of his person, and the brightness of his glory; and here we shall see him at once, for so it is written; "God, who caused the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." This is the light of the Lord?s countenance, which lay hid in Israel?s blessing, "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee; the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; and the Lord give thee peace." The lifting up the light of the Lord's countenance brings favour and life; and the light and love that are reflected by it shew us the consecrated way through the veil, and sweetly attract the soul to God, until the heart is so inflamed, and our nearness so great, that "he that loveth dwelleth in God, and God dwelleth in him:" and here we look as through a mirror, till "we are changed into the same image from glory to glory." And this was shewed to the three witnesses on mount Tabor, when Moses the mediator, and Elijah the prophet, appeared in glory, both to resign their offices to the only prophet of his church, and to the only mediator of the better testament. At which time the Lord Jesus appeared in his proper lustre, and through the vail of his flesh let his natural rays of infinite divinity, glory, and majesty shine forth; at which time Moses and Elijah resigned their offices; and in the glorious vision withdrew, and appeared no more; to let the witnesses see that the borrowed rays on Moses' face are no where to be seen but in the face of the Son of God, who is the fountain of glory; light, life, and love.
Again. The light of glory on the face of Moses was to shew the original of the law, to give a sanction to it, and to put an honour on the office of Moses; that the law was given by the God of glory, and was to be received as such, being attended with the glory, of God on the face of the mediator of it, who brought it to them. But, then all this was to lead the people to another Mediator, to a brighter glory, and another dispensation, which was to be written on the fleshly tables of sinners' hearts and to be attended with the glory of God by the coming of the Holy Ghost: the original of which is from God, the fountain of all grace; and which brings life and immortality to light in the sinner?s soul, that the ever-blessed Mediator may be glorified; for God will have the Son honoured even as himself is honoured by all that believe, and will display "the riches of his grace in glory by Jesus Christ" for this very end and purpose, that all who are saved and glorified may ascribe their salvation equally to God and the Lamb for ever and ever.
And, lastly, This glory on the face of Moses, in the ultimate end of its signification, was to show, not only the glorious vision of faith in this militant state, but the glorious views of the Saviour in the world to come; when we shall see as we are seen, and know as we are known; awake in his likeness, and be for ever satisfied therewith. This is the mystery of Moses' rays. I come now,
Thirdly, to the vail upon his face. This vail sheweth, that the law then given was a veil, or covering, over the covenant of grace, which God made with Abraham; and that this covenant lay hid under it; that Moses himself, and his law on tables of stone, were swaddling bands over the law of faith, which ever was and ever will be written on the fleshly tables of the heart of God's elect when called by grace: and this vail was a covering over the better Mediator, "who stood behind this wall, and shewed himself through this lattice;" and that the better covenant was hid under the law, and only here and there peeped out in an unconditional promise, here a little and there a little, in such passages as these; "The Lord will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, that thou mayest love the Lord with all thine heart, that thou mayest live." "He shall raise you up a prophet like unto me; him shall ye hear." "He is thy life, and the length of thy days." "He is the rock, and his work is perfect." "Say not, who shall ascend into heaven, or descend." "That (says Paul) is the word of faith that we preach." "The word is nigh thee," &c. "Shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." "Pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin; and will not clear the guilty" - that is, not without satisfaction by a surety. All these, with all the shadows of the ceremonial law, were so many branches of the everlasting gospel, which shone through the vail of that dark dispensation, and which Israel could not see; but took the law as their rule of righteousness, by which they thought to obtain eternal life, when it only promised life in the land of Canaan. They sought righteousness by the works of it, and never attained to it;. but stumbled at the Rock of ages. They called themselves Moses? disciples, who accuses them to the Father for rejecting the prophet he foretold should come; threatening them with destruction if they refused to obey his voice: hence, being dead, he yet speaketh in his testimony against them; but they clove to their accuser, and cursed and killed the only Advocate, who shewed himself to their fathers behind the skirt of Moses, and whose glorious gospel lay couched under his killing letter. This was the delusion of poor Paul: "he thought the law was ordained to life; but, when the commandment came, he found it to be unto death." And thus "their table" of the law "became a snare unto them, and that which should have been for their welfare" (properly viewed) "became a trap;" the way that seemed right unto them became, in the end, the way of death; "for the way of God is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.". The wise and learned scribe, and the self-righteous pharisee, who thought themselves, and no others, at the portals of heaven, were displaced by the publicans and harlots; and they themselves were left to add sin to sin, by not entering heaven themselves, and by hindering others who were going; and thus became the deceivers of the sons of men, the murderers of the Son of God, and the awful heirs of the greater damnation.
And the church of God at the present day swarms with such as these; who have no holiness but a sheep's skin, an outward shew in the flesh, a voluntary humility, natural meekness, and the art of moving the passions of poor sinners, in order to counterfeit the operations of the Holy Ghost. And thus they who sit under them are deceived by the art of oratory, by having their feelings affected, their blood moved, and their natural and corrupt affections stirred up - -by an audible voice, a hollow speech, whining art, and crocodile tears; when such are conscious to themselves that they are destitute of grace, and in a state of enmity to God; that they aim at nothing but a livelihood, and that the work of the pulpit is the hardest labour they grapple through. Being destitute of the well of living water, the whole of their matter is pressed from their library, committed to a treacherous memory, and brought forth as empty husks from the external surface of the letter, without any light into the matter, or life in the means, unctuous experience of it, or faith in it: it is the work of a blind watchman, who speaks a vision out of his own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord; having seen nothing, and known nothing, but what he knows naturally.
Secondly, This vail was to shew the Israelites that Christ, the light of God's Israel, and the co-eternal beam with God the Father, was then shining in the face of Moses, to lead their minds to the sinner's only and everlasting friend; and that after that glory and that divine ray they should seek, however it might be veiled or wrapped up - whether by the law then given, or the cloud that went before the camp, or by the napkin that was before Moses' face, or by the vail which parted the holy place from the sanctum sanctorum, or by the lid of the ark; all these being types of the humanity of Christ. "The way into the ho1y of holies is now consecrated through the vail of his flesh," and within that vail "dwells all the fullness of the godhead bodily ;" and through which veil, on mount Tabor, in the sight of Moses, Elijah, Peter, James, and John, the light shone, to the astonishment of every witness: which vision was to be published to the world after his resurrection from the dead; and for the which testimony I have obtained the name of "a liar, a deceiver, an Antinomian, a dangerous man, a disturber of the churches, a sower of discord, and a smiter of my fellow-servants." But my work is with my God; nor do I call one preacher in five hundred my fellow-servant in the kingdom and patience of Christ, unless acquainted with the power of Christ, in which his kingdom stands; with that righteousness, peace, and joy, of which it consists; and of the patience of Christ, which is a grace of his, exercised towards him, in his cause, and in the defence of his truth. All other patience, however tried or exercised, is nothing but a being buffeted for their faults, and reproved for running unsent of God; for vitiating the minds of the people against the truth, for misleading the blind, and for corrupting the covenant of life and peace, which was with Levi. However, all who are real labourers in the Lord's vineyard - all that preach Christ crucified in sincerity and truth - such preachers, and only such, have my best wishes and hearty prayers. But I have no call to sound my own trumpet; God will bring this forth at the great day, when every heart will be open, every desire known, and every real petition in faith fully answered.
Secondly, This vail was to lead Israel to the incarnation of Christ, or to the long-predicted and promised seed, in human nature (as hath been already hinted). Moses, with this vail on his face, was to point them to the glorious mediator Christ Jesus; and to the fullness of grace and truth that was to shine forth in him; as they have recorded, who saw his glory and spake of him. And this was shown with a witness, when they pierced his side on the cross; at which instant the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, as a proof that the shadow was then vanished, and that the real substance was then come; that he who dwelt between the cherubim was gone out through the veil; that he had quitted his holy habitation, broke up housekeeping, and left his house desolate, Christ now becoming the true tabernacle which God pitched, and not man, called by the prophet Ezekiel a sanctuary. "And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore." Into which all the elect are to be gathered, in the unity of the faith, as to their Covenant Head and God of all grace and providence, who is to shelter all fowl of every wing.
But, thirdly, This vail was to convince Israel of their native guilt, enmity, and blindness of mind. Of their guilt - They could not see the light. Of enmity - "They could not endure that which was spoken." Of blindness - "They could not see to the end of that which is abolished." Hence to this day, when the Old Testament is read without the light of Christ, the vail of the law is all that is seen; and there is another vail upon their hearts, which is called "a covering cast over all nations." The god of this world still blinds the minds of them which believe not, lest the glorious light of the gospel should shine unto them. and they should be saved. And which "covering" can only be destroyed by the anointing, that is, by the eye-salve, or unction of the Holy Ghost, who teacheth us all things, and is no lie; and by turning the heart to the Lord Jesus: when this is done, "the vail shall be taken away;" that is, when the heart of the sinner shall be turned to the Lord; then he shall see Moses borrowed rays in Christ Jesus; the servant's glory in the Son's face; yea, the glory of God in the face of Jesus, and the law fulfilled and established in the everlasting gospel.
Fourthly, This vail was to shew them that the way into heaven by a better Mediator was then hid, and not made manifest: for the Holy Ghost, by Moses and by this veil, by the tabernacle and the vail of that, this signified - that the way into the holiest of all was not made manifest, while that worldly sanctuary, and the ministry of it, were then standing. But now the law is magnified, the better Mediator hath appeared, the better covenant is revealed, the way of life cast up, the door of hope opened; and free, full, and eternal salvation by grace proclaimed to every self-lost, self-condemned, and self-despairing sinner, whether Jew or Gentile.
Fifthly, This vail was to shew the superior privileges of the children of Israel to all the rest of the world. They had a vail to look through, but the Gentiles had none; the law encompassed them as a partition wall ("For you only," says God, "have I known of all the families of the earth"), while the poor Gentiles were in utter darkness, left to their own ways, given up to a reprobate mind, "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenant of promise, without God, and having no hope in the world:" Which partition wall, vail of separation, and obscure covering, was to be removed when Christ came and the Holy Ghost was poured forth; then the holy waters of the sanctuary, which came under the threshold, from the fountain of the Fathers love, went forth, overflowing all the banks of separation, and ran into the sea of the Gentile world; causing all to die that touched them, and raising up trees of righteousness on each side of the banks, both of Jews and Gentiles; causing some, instrumentally, to be for meat, and others for medicine. This vail is now done away, and of twain Christ hath made one new man; there is one fold and one shepherd, "though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not."
Sixthly, This vail pointed to the remains of darkness that should remain in the best of men; that none would know but in part, and prophesy in part; that they would see only through a glass darkly, and that mortality and her shrouds would be a heavy vail upon the hearts of the brightest saints and servants of the Lord, who would at times grope like the blind at noon day: but that the time would come when this sackcloth, in which we now prophesy, would be put off; when mortality would be swallowed up of life; when he who only hath immortality would appear, and burst the vail of corruption, and of the grave also, and raise the sleeping dust of the saints to a state of immortality, glory, power, and eternal felicity! Thus much for the vail of Moses; which leads me to the fourth general head, which is to shew the end that Israel could not look to:
"They could not look steadfastly to the end of that which is abolished." The end of which is the Lord Jesus Christ, personated by Moses; who was to be born of the children of Israel, made of a woman, made under the law: and who, as the sinners surety, was to discharge their infinite debts, "and restore that honour to the law which he took not away." And this is published by the Lord himself, in the proclamation of his ever-blessed and ever-adorable name, "The Lord, the Lord God, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in goodness and truth, pardoning iniquity, transgressions, and sin, and who will not clear the guilty," or at all acquit the wicked, "nor hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain." All which was to shew the need of. a surety, and. the certainty of one; that God never could clear the guilty without satisfaction, nor hold any guiltless without an atonement; nor shew mercy to any, much less to thousands, without a perfect obedience to the law which was then given. And this surety Moses then personated, his high office he then bore, of him he prophesied, and of his righteousness he witnessed; who was to be sent into the world, and should be a prophet like unto Moses, be circumcised, and so become a debtor, in the debtors law, place, to keep the whole law, and thereby fulfil all righteousness; who, by holiness, by love, and in life, never deviated from one tittle of it; but could appeal to God his Father for the perfection of his obedience: "Father, I have finished the work winch thou gavest me to do;" I have obeyed thy law perfectly; have magnified it, and made it honourable; and now I come to thee, holy Father, by the sacrifice of myself, in which I will endure the curse, appease thy wrath, satisfy justice, make an atonement for sins; and so, as a surety, be numbered with the transgressors, make my grave with the wicked and with the rich in my death, and arise to an immortal life, as the first fruits of all that sleep: by which I shall dethrone Satan, destroy death, be the plague of the grave, and bring life and immortality to light in the souls of my purchased inheritance.
It is needful to make a difference between the law of God, which was given by Moses, and the law of truth, which came by Jesus Christ, Mal. ii. 6. The Father says, "he shall magnify the law," which is the moral law; and then he was to publish his own law, which is the law of faith. "The isles shall wait for his law," which was to be sealed among his disciples. He kept his Fathers commandments, and abode in his love; and we are to keep Christ's commandments, and abide in his love. Christ was a servant, whom the Father upheld; and, as such, obeyed the legal precepts; and the life-giving commandment is "made known to us for obedience to the faith," Rom. i. 5.
The moral law is a chastening rod in the hand of God the Father, which he uses upon all the elect children that he has given to Christ, who are all of them transgressors of his law, being by nature under it, and children of wrath even as others; and guilty before him: hence it is, "If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments: if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquities with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not make void from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to lie," Psalm lxxxix. 30, 31,32. All the elect have broken this law - therefore God sends the commandment home, and reveals his wrath in the soul till the sinner becomes dead, and left without either hope or help, the Father then leads the soul to Christ, in whom he has chosen him, where loving kindness is to be had, and where faithfulness is not to fail.
"Thus God chastens the sinner upon his bed with pains, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain; so that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat; his flesh is consumed, that it cannot be seen; and his bones, that were not seen, stick out. Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life unto the destroyers. If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness; then he is gracious unto him, and saith. Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom." Job, xxxiii. This is God the Fathers teaching. An "interpreter" is one that has passed under it, understands it, and can explain it to others; and these are like Solomon's "faithful men." "One among a thousand;" he is to shew the uprightness of God, in correcting the sinner for his folly, and then to point him to Christ, the ransom which God has provided, where he can be gracious unto him, and deliver him from going down into the pit.
When Moses passed under this discipline, he expected nothing but destruction; till Christ was exhibited to his faith, and God called him to the fellowship of him. "Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men," Ps. xc. 3.
Those who never knew any thing of this severity of God, never rightly knew any thing of his goodness. God gave Israel the law first, and then ordered a mercy-seat to be made. He disciplined them with blackness and darkness, storm and tempest, and spoke to them in the secret place of thunder; and after that pointed them to Christ by a sacrifice, and to the voice of mercy from off the mercy-seat; and he does the same now: "Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant," Ezek. xx. 36,37. God?s pleading against the sinner in the law, is to teach him the need of an advocate; passing under the rod, is feeling the terrors of the law; and going into the bond of the covenant, is the enjoyment of Gods eternal love in Christ Jesus, which neither life nor death shall ever separate us from.
David, under this severe discipline, sunk into "the horrible pit" and into "the miry clay;" and would have sunk into the bottomless pit to all eternity, if God had not led him to Christ, which he calls "the rock higher than I," where God put a new song in his mouth, fixed his heart, and established his goings.
The generality of converts in our days escape all this teaching, of the Father; they get married to the second husband before the first is dead; they tell us they were drawn by love," they dwell on high, their place of defence is the munitions of rocks, they see the King in his beauty, and the land which is very far off," Isa. xxxiii. 16, 17. But God says, "thine heart shall meditate terror," Isaiah, xxxiii. 18. Such converts begin in the Spirit, and end in the flesh: they are not Gods blessed ones. For, "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law, that thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, till the pit be digged up for the wicked," Psalm xciv. 12, 13. And why is the man blessed that is thus chastened with terrors, and taught to know the terrible majesty of God and his own sin and condemnation out of the law? Because, to such a weary and heavy laden sinner, God gives his soul rest by faith in Christ Jesus, till the pit be digged up for the wicked. Here he quits his yoke and his burden, and in Christ finds rest, an easier yoke, and a lighter burden. Under his teaching David had fainted, unless faith had been wrought in his heart: "I had fainted unless I had believed."
This chastening of the Father is called our judgment: "When we are chastened we are judged of the Lord, that we might not be condemned with the world." We are judged by the law, and condemned to death; then led to Christ, to believe in him for righteousness; and so "pass from death to life, and never more come into condemnation." And thus our judgment by the law drives us from it, and from the wrath to come, revealed in it, to embrace the refuge set before us, which is Christ; where we find life for the dead, and righteousness for the ungodly; and thus, as David says, "Judgment shall return unto righteousness, and all the upright in heart shall follow it," Psalm xciv. 15.
But it may be asked, Why does God appear so terrible in his law? Because every sinner has broken it, and is cursed by it; and because God does not appear in Christ in this dispensation, but out of Christ as incarnate, and, as Paul says, "a consuming fire:" and he that drives the saint to this law, drives him into the fire, where Christ profits him nothing. The law, in the hand of God, is our schoolmaster until Christ is revealed; but, when faith in him comes, we are no longer under the schoolmaster. And to this agrees the Saviour: "Every one that hath learned of the Father cometh unto me, and him that cometh I will in nowise cast out." And his counsel to such is, "Abide in me" - for the reasons above mentioned.
Let us now see what poor sinners learn by this teaching. Job learned the need of a surety. He knew God would not, could not, hold him innocent, because he possessed the iniquities of his youth. He said God had sealed up his transgressions in a bag; and that God was so just and wise, that in judgment he could not answer him one word in a thousand; and therefore begs him to put him in a surety, and to lead him to his seal, where he might "be delivered for ever from his judge."
David, under this teaching, "turned his feet to God?s testimonies; he made haste, and delayed not, to keep the commandments;" but found that no flesh could be justified this way, and, therefore prayed God not to enter into judgment with him, in the great day, on the footing of the law: and entreated Christ to be surety for his servant for good. Here David learned the extent of the killing commandment; and, when he found Christ, he found the end that the law aimed at. "I have seen an end of all, perfection; but thy commandment is exceeding broad." And, being pardoned and justified by faith in the surety, and in his righteousness, and so delivered from legal bondage, and upheld by a free spirit, be pronounces the blessedness of such a man. "Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sin is covered: and blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit is no guile." Thus the psalmist learnt to sing both of mercy and of judgment; and Paul learnt the terrors of the Lord in the law, and his eternal love in Christ. Hence it appears that the moral law is found in the hand of God the Father; but the scripture never says it is in the hand of Christ, as too many assert; for I have already proved that it is no part of Christ?s sceptre, which comes, not from Sinai, but out of Zion. But ministers, and their converts, in our days, have found out quite another way, and an easier method of salvation; for this is, in their esteem, the rant of an Antinomian: however, I know it is God?s way, and the good old way.
Thus Christ is the end of the law for righteousness; the end that the law looked to for a perfect obedience; the end which the Father looked unto to have it magnified; the end that justice looked to for satisfaction; and the end that every self-condemned sinner must look to for righteousness, if ever he be saved. Christ has obeyed the law perfectly, and "by the obedience of" that "one shall many be made righteous." he has appeased the wrath of God, and opened a way for his love to be "shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto us;" he gives us his Holy Spirit to make us holy, and teaches us by his grace to love one another: by which four things "the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit" And thus "the law was our schoolmaster until Christ" came to us: "but, after he is come, we are no longer under a school master, but are redeemed from the law, that being dead wherein we were held, that we should serve in newness of the Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." Yea, we are divorced from the law as a barren husband, that can produce no fruit or fruitfullness in us, that we should be married to another, even to him that is raised from the dead (which Moses is not), that we should bring forth fruit unto God: and therefore are not adulteresses in the sight of God, though we quit the law of Moses, and be married to another; seeing that the first husband made us barren, and the second makes us fruitful; who marries the widow, raises up the name of the dead upon the inheritance, and does so worthily in Ephratah, and is so famous in Bethlehem; who has raised up an everlasting name, which shall not be cut off; who is such a father of the fatherless, and such a husband to the widow, in his holy habitation, as to make them forget the shame of their barrenness in the days off their youth, and remember the reproach of their widow bond no more: for He is our Maker who is our husband; "the Lord of hosts is his name, the God of the whole earth shall he be called." This is he who is eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame; who plucks the spoil out of the jaws of the oppressor, and makes the widows heart to sing for joy. And, as he is the fulfilling end of the moral law, to which justice looked for satisfaction, to which the law looked for honour; so he is the end to which we must look for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and for grace to perform every righteous act, if ever we would follow after righteousness, or be found in one that will stand us in any stead in the great day; for we are all taught and led to look for "the hope of righteousness" which is by faith. And thus this righteousness appears to be the perfect obedience of Christ to the law; which God accepts, which is imputed by God himself to all that believe; and therefore it is God that justifies. This obedience of Christ is brought to us, and applied by the Spirit of our God, and therefore we are said to be "justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." It is received and put on by faith; therefore we are said to be "justified by faith" and the soul that has got it makes an honest confession of his lost estate, and of the free, justifying grace of God to him; on which account he is said to be "justified in his sayings, and clear when be is judged." And this righteousness justifies him before God: "for, if Abraham were justified, by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God:" and this righteousness, or justification before God, is attended with a sincerity of heart, a humble walk, a tender conscience, and an honest life; in which sense (and before men), "by works a man is justified, and not by faith only;" as Abraham was by offering up his son, which was done after the justification of his person; as Rahab was by receiving the spies in peace, and sending them out another way; and as every righteous man is, by letting his light of knowledge shine before men, and by letting others see his good works, his works of faith, his labours of love, and his patience of hope, in the Lord Jesus Christ. And I think treating the subject in this manner is doing the work of an evangelist, and making full proof of the ministry: it is fighting the good fight of faith, giving a certain sound by the gospel trumpet, and running the Christian race with certainty: without yea and nay, without "Lo here" and "Lo there," without, vain jangling, without beating the air, without pro and con, without a mixture of Hebrew and Ashdod, without daubing with untempered mortar, without building again that which I destroyed, without beginning in the flesh and ending in the Spirit, and without ifs and buts and "I trust," &c. - which leave all at an uncertainty; when the effect of righteousness in our days is to be peace and assurance for ever, and quietness and confidence is to be our strength.
I come now, in the last place, to treat of the abolition of the law; which will probably procure and secure me all the malice and envy that devils can infuse or men ferment, and perhaps as many vilifying letters, and pence for postage, as I have hairs upon my head: but my good name is gone without any open scandal, and those that have watched for my halting are not as yet come to their banquet; they have coined a phrase of their own, have made me an offender for not acknowledging that word, and have lain in wait for me when reproving in the gate. They that have combined against me, in defence of the law, have called themselves an "evangelical association;" others, in the possession of two wives, have publicly reproached me as an Antinomian for seven years together, and contended for the law "as their only rule; forgetting the seventh commandment, which forbids adultery, and the criterion of a bishop, which is to be "the husband of one wife;" others, who have traduced me worse than a devil, have blamed me for a bad spirit; others, in language too bad for Billingsgate, call upon me for charity; these can see a mote through a beam of timber; and some who have shut me out of their pulpits, have contended for a rule that tells them "to do as they would be done by;" and thus I have ten thousand instructors, but not one earthly father.
Some tell us that all the angels in heaven are under the moral law, forgetting that Gods voice in the law is "to the sons of men," not to angels; and that the law of angels is not the will of precept, which is the will of the master to the earthly servant; "for angels (as well as gospel ministers) are evangelical, and not bond servants; are elected and confirmed in their standing in Christ Jesus; have the same rule as God?s sons have; and, according to Christ's words, it is the good will of the Father, and not the will of the slaves master, which is the rule of angels - Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." Hence it appears to be the good will of the Father's purpose, who elected them in Christ Jesus, which is the law of the elect angels, called the will of God done in heaven by angels, who are confirmed in Christ; of whom Moses never was the head, nor the lawgiver, but Christ, who is the head of all principalities and powers; and "into whose glorious gospel the angels desire to look, and "to whom, even now - unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places - is known, by the church," (not by the law) "the manifold wisdom of God."
I know "Moses hath in every city them that preach him;" who cry up the servant in order to exhalt themselves, that they may have some room for boasting. But God tell us that Moses, his servant, is dead, and that the haughty shall be humbled, and the Lord of Hosts only shall be exalted in gospel days. And it is well known that "a minister, of the letter" can do nothing, nor cut any figure, but in the letter of the law; "for, as a thorn goeth up in the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools;" for he is so galled in his conscience while he is about it, that he appears only as a brier and a thorn, who is nigh unto cursing in the eyes of every experienced soul that hears him and, like Abraham's ram in the thicket, he can never get out of the entanglement either with truth or honour, because he is nothing but an impostor; and both God and conscience rebuke him for taking the covenant in his mouth.
Some tell us that "if the law is done away to the believer, the believer can never die, death being the sentence of the law." in one sense this is true, for "he that believes shall never die." But I think they have forgotten that "Christ to this end died, rose again, and revived: that he might be the Lord both of the dead and of the living;" and that no saint liveth to himself, or dieth to himself; but, whether he live or die, he is the Lord?s. Death, as the sentence of the law, is a penal evil; but death in Christ is a new covenant gift. "All things are yours, whether life or death." To the sinner it is a cursed end, to the believer a blessed one; "the sinner, being an hundred years old, shall be accursed;" but, "blessed are the dead that die in the Lord." Death, armed with guilt and the curse of the law, is "the king of terrors;" but, disarmed of its sting, "a shadow." Death to the sinner is "the beginning of judgment," but to the believer "the end of his faith." Job longed for it, Jacob waited for it, and Simeon prayed for it; and no wonder, for "precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." Besides, Christ is the grand example, pattern, and forerunner, and the first fruits of them that slept; and it is needful that his followers should follow their Head, and be conformable unto his death. He was the first to whom the path of life was shewn; for, though the widows son, by Elijah; another by Elisha; Lazarus, and many more, by Christ, were raised from the dead; yet it was only to a mortal life; they died again; and, though Enoch and Elijah went to heaven without tasting death, yet they never went from the tomb: Christ was the first that ever trod the way to an immortal life from the grave. "Thou hast made known to me the way of life," &c. Furthermore, believers are to be "planted together in the likeness of Christ?s death, and in the likeness of his resurrection. If one died for all, then were all dead when he died, and with my dead body shall they arise." Instead of believers never dying, it is plain they die twice, and some have died daily. Their first death is by the application of the law?s sentence, when the law comes with power, when sin revived, and the sinner dies; and their first resurrection is under the operation of the Spirit of God: and there is a dying again. But we should make a distinction between dying in faith, and dying in sin; between dying in the flesh, and in the Lord; between the flesh resting in hope, and perishing in its own corruption: and between falling asleep in Jesus, and going down to the grave with a lie in the right hand.
Others tell us, that "the law is the legal covenant, of grace:" which is as full of sense, and as pregnant with meaning, as to talk of black snow, or white charcoal; for it amounts to this; that Gods free grace is the just wages of the sinners dead works; which wages, or reward, if it be of grace, is no more of works; but, if of works, then it is no more of grace: one must give way to make room for the other; either works must be no more works, or grace must be no more grace. But we know that "God gave it to Abraham, and his seed, by promise."
Others, who are more learned, tell us that what is said in this chapter to be done away and abolished, is the glory of Moses face: but this glory was done away long before Christ came. We do not read of his face shining, but only at the giving of the law or while God abode upon the mount; for we can hardly think that Moses walked for eight and thirty years with a napkin on his face: and, could this be proved, we know that the rays of his face must be done away at death. The face of Moses had been buried in the country of Moab many hundred years before Christ came in the flesh: nor can we suppose that the Redeemers errand into this world was only to wipe off the rays from the face of Moses. This is not the end spoken of in my text, to which the children of Israel could not steadfastly look. Christ is not called "the end of Moses face," but "the end of the law;" the magnifying, the honour giving, the perfectly obeying, the punctually fulfilling, the doing away, and the abolishing "end of the moral law for righteousness to every one that believeth;" and to none else; for such, and only such, "are justified freely from all things:" and if they are not justified from the galling yoke of the moral precept, which is, "Do, and live" (which precept never was altered by Christ, nor shall be); if they are still under the law as their rule of life, they are under the curse; for a precept without a sentence is no law; therefore, if this is the cast, they are not "justified from all things," nor from the worst thing, nor from any thing; for there is no separating the precept of the law from the sentence: Christ never did this, and I know he never will. He came not to divide the law, nor to alter the law; there is not a hint of this in all the Bible. He fulfilled every precept of it in behalf of his own elect; which obedience God accepted, and to every believer he imputes it: but to the reprobate the law is still, in the hand of God the Father, what it ever was; a covenant of works. God reckons the reward of such to be of debt. It is a dreadful rod in the hand of God, even to his own children, when he lays it on; and this Paul found when his sin revived and he died: and he would have died for ever if Christ had not appeared; "but it pleased God to reveal his Son in him." And if it is a dreadful rod in the Fathers hand to the elect, what must it be in the hand of an angry God to the sinner? Why it is a fiery law still; and that they shall find who set themselves against him and his anointed. "Let us break their bands asunder, and east their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, he shall have them in derision; then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure: yet have I set my King upon my holy hill." Thus you see that God takes all those into his hand who reject his anointed, and in all the wrath of the law still speaks to them, and vexes them in his sore displeasure; yea, all that make a match with Christ, before their first husband be dead, God takes into his hands; every plant that he hath not planted he plucks up; and every branch in Christ that bears not fruit - all barren branches, apostates, and hypocrites - he takes away from Christ, who is the sinners only refuge and hiding place; and such fall under all the storms of his wrath; and in the law, not in Christ, God appears to them, and in that law he is a consuming fire; and a terrible thing it is to be taken from the living vine and only refuge, and then to fall into the hands of the living God. Such wretches see not a God in Christ, but a consuming fire and a slighted Saviour. Hence the awful cry, "Hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb." They, who talk of the believers being under the moral law in the hand of Christ, talk nonsense; the moral law is in the hand of an angry God to every sinner. Hence the Fathers counsel to his children, "Turn to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope;" and Christ's advice is, "Abide in me," for those that turn from me to their crooked ways, my Father will lead them forth with the workers of iniquity; and those that depart from "the way of understanding, shall remain in the congregation of the dead;" and, if you go over to the law, either for righteousness or perfection, I shall profit you nothing; therefore "abide in me, for he that abides in me, and I in him, brings forth much fruit," and "my Father purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit." Those that are making their boast of the law, and bringing the believer under it as his rule, little think what they are doing; they have no experience of these things, or has God revealed these to them, nor have they the Spirit to lead them, and therefore know not what they say nor whereof they affirm. And I know several, who have been for years labouring at the law; not fully, but against the gospel; who by their countenances shew what hands they are fallen into; they feel something of it, but do not understand it, and therefore call it temptation, the workings of unbelief, and the trial of faith; but the truth is, it is the bondage of the law, the wrath of God, and the fearfullness of hypocrites; for, "as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse." Paul, in his explanation of this mystery in this chapter, doth not palm the glory upon Moses, but upon the law. The glory, which appeared upon the face of Moses, was to give a sanction to the law; and it was a miracle of the lawgiver to confirm the law to Israel, that it was of God, divine, and authentic. Paul takes the glory from the face of Moses, and puts it upon the tables of stone; "but if the ministration of death written and engraven upon stones was glorious." v. 7; "for if the ministration of condemnation be glory," v. 9. The law, which in the seventh verse is said to be glorious, is in the ninth verse emphatically said to be "glory; but that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect," because it made nothing perfect, and "because of the glory that excelleth," which is the bringing in of a better hope; "for, if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious:" Hence it is plain that the glorious ministration of death engraven on stones - the glory called the ministration of condemnation - is excelled, done away, and abolished by the gospel. And, although in the last clause of the seventh verse it is written "which glory was to be done away," that word glory, is not in the original text, nor has it any business there; for Paul is not opposing the glory of the gospel to the glory on Moses face, for these glories in the mystery are one in Christ; but to the moral law he opposeth the gospel, and tells us that the one is done away and abolished, that the other, which excels, may remain. And certainly it is shaken, waxed old, decayed, and vanished away; that the kingdom which we have received may stand by itself, and which shall never, be shaken. "The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and many are pressing into it"
Not long since, at a friend?s house, I got hold of the Bishops Bible; wherein it is twice declared, in the chapter out of which my text is taken, that the law is abolished. In the same house I saw a learned commentator on the Bible, who dropped many pretty things on this chapter, but skipped entirely over the words done away and abolished; to escape, as I suppose, the name of an Antinomian. But many are my godfathers and godmothers who have given me this name; and therefore as I have no good name to lose, I shall, with Paul, use great boldness and plainness of speech, and endeavour to shew mine opinion.
Some time ago, I borrowed the comments of the learned Dr. Gill. I found he was strenuous for the law as the saint?s rule; and in the following extract he makes some very learned and nice distinctions: "What is ceremonial, or purely relative to the Jews, whilst in their civil polity in the land of Canaan, is done away; but, as to what is purely moral, is, as to the matter of it, still obliging. Distinguish between the law as a covenant of works, and as a rule of walk and conversation; as a covenant of works it is done away, as a rule of walk and conversation it still continues. Distinguish between persons and persons. To them that are redeemed from it, it is done away; to them that are under it, it remains. And, lastly, distinguish between a right and wrong use of it," &c.&c.
God knows I have no learning but what he has taught me; and I must confess that I do not understand all these distinctions, nor do I find them supported by scripture proof: nevertheless, I shall not presume to contradict so great, so able, and so learned a man. I shall do as the apostle Peter bids me; that is, "minister as of the ability that God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ." Nor do I believe that the moral law is any part of the rod of Christ's strength which came out of Zion, and by which he rules his saints in the midst of Jerusalem: if it is, David had no call to pray so earnestly for the coming of it, seeing it had been already in the world some hundreds of years.
Some say that "the law is in the hand of Christ," and that "we are under the law to Christ;" for the support of which this text is generally brought in, "being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ," 1 Cor. ix. 21. But where the text stands that tells us the law is in the hand of Christ, I know not; for I believe the moral law is a rod in the hand of God the Father, as will appear in this piece, and no part of the sceptre of the Mediator by which he rules his saints. Dr. Gill, in his comment upon the above text, supports the notion of the law as a rule; "their being not without law to God, or the law of God, the moral law: for, though he was delivered from the curse and condemnation of the law, and as a covenant of works, and the ministry of it by Moses, yet not from the matter of it, and obedience to it as a rule of walk and conversation." and upon the same text the Doctor says, "but as one that was under the law to Christ, or under the law of Christ; that is, the law of love."
It is true the believer is "not without, law to God," nor can he be, because God promises to make a new covenant with him, not according to the old; in which covenant forgiveness of sins is promised, a new heart, and a new spirit also; and this new covenant is to be written in the heart and put in the mind. Now what is this new covenant that promises all these things? The scripture says it is the covenant of grace, and of promise. And what is promised? Forgiveness of sins. How does pardon come? By faith; he that believes receives the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ. And how comes this new heart? By the regenerating operation of the Spirit. And does God minister the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? By the hearing of faith. And what laws are these that are to be written in their hearts, and put in their minds? What Isaiah speaks of when he says, "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, there is no light in them." What is this law and this testimony? Not the moral law; for we are sure that those who are under that have the vail still on their heart, and never will have any light in them till their heart is turned to Christ. The above testimony is the gospel of Christ, and the above law is the law of faith, which the prophet calls the word, which word is the word of life. All which the prophet himself explains. He tells us that Christ shall be for a sanctuary to them that fear him, but "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel;" and that many among them "shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken." But, though this would be the case with some, yet not with all; for, saith the prophet, "bind up the testimony, seal the law, among my disciples." Now what is this testimony? It is truth, which "came by Jesus Christ," which Christ testified, and is his testimony; which truth is to make us free. But what is this bond that binds the testimony? Paul says it is receiving "the truth in the love of it," which love casts out fear and makes us free indeed. And what is the above law sealed among the disciples? Paul says the law of faith; "the day you believed you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise." These are the laws that God promises to write in his people?s hearts, and to put in their minds. One law God calls "the law of truth," which he himself explains to be the covenant of life and peace: and the other law, which is sealed, is called "the law of faith;" by which the just shall live, and which excludes all boasting. And of such God says, "I will be their God, and they shall be my people."
Now what does Paul call a man with whom this new covenant is made, who has received his pardon, who is blessed with a new heart and a new spirit, and in whose heart and mind these laws are written? He calls them the manifest "epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshly tables of the heart." And which ministration of the gospel, written on the fleshly tables of the heart by the Spirit, Paul opposes to the moral law throughout this whole chapter from whence my test is taken.
Now, as the Spirit works these laws on the believer?s heart, it will be necessary to inquire where this Spirit and his laws are. Paul says they are all in Christ. God?s word and his Spirit are never to depart from Christ and his seed; and therefore in Christ we must look for them, "for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death." Here is the law of faith and of truth, called the Spirit's law; which by Isaiah is called Christ's laws. "The isles shall wait for his law;" but by Ezekiel they are called God's laws - " I will write my laws in their heart." All which are plain enough. They are God?s laws, being his good will of purpose and promise in a covenant of grace in Christ Jesus to us. It is Christ's law, because "grace and truth came by him;" and is called "the law of the Spirit," because he writes them on the fleshly tables of our hearts. Now what did this "law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." do for Paul? Why he says it made him "free from the law of sin and death." What is the law of sin? The law in our members. And what is the law of death? The moral law on tables of stone. And Paul was made free from both; free from the guilt, from the reigning and destroying power of the law of sin, and from the commanding and damning power of the moral law. And this is being made free indeed; not free to sin, but in the above sense free from it. All this is done in us by the Spirit - "Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. Stand first, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, and be not again entangled with the yoke of bondage." Which moral law genders to bondage, and worketh wrath.
Now can we say that a man, in whom God has written these laws, and in whom he has done all these things, is an Antinomian? Surely he is "not without law to God, but under this law to Christ;" or, as Doctor Gill says, "under the law of Christ, which is the law of love." And so it is, for we are to "bear each others burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ;" for it was love constrained Christ to bear the burden of us all. "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Under this law of love; call it grace, faith, truth, and liberty, or whatever you please - these are all in Christ; and the believer in Christ is under these, and under no other; nor did God ever by his Spirit write any other laws than these on the minds and hearts of his saints, who stand fast and complete in Christ since the world began; and I am sure he never will; for service in the oldness of the letter, and legal works, are both rejected. "The obedience of faith," and service "in the newness of the Spirit," is what God will have: "and he that in these things serves Christ is accepted of God, and approved of men;" and "as many as walk according to this rule, mercy on them, and peace upon the Israel of God."
The new covenant revealed to us, is sometimes in scripture, called laws, in the plural - " I will write my laws," &e.; and sometimes in the singular number law - "The isles shall wait for his law." Let this be observed, that "the law of truth," Mal. ii. 6, which is called "the covenant of life and peace," verse 6, includes the whole of the everlasting gospel, with all the grace of God held forth and promised therein; which grace and truth came by Jesus Christ; and, because the Spirit applies faith to the sinner?s heart by hearing of it, it is called "the law of faith;" and, because love is promised and applied by it, it is called "the law of love;" and, as love by the Spirit casts out fear and torment, and enlightens the eyes and enlarges the heart, it is called a "looking into the perfect law of liberty;" and, because the Spirit comes to us and quickens us by this ministration, and no other, it is called "the law of the Spirit of life." This accounts for the plural and singular number of the word law being alternately used in scripture.
Hence I conclude that, as the believer, who is in Christ, is not under the moral law, it is plain that the moral law is a rod in the hand of God, and a schoolmaster, by which the Father teaches and corrects the sinner, that he may know his dreadful state, and then leads him from the law to Christ, where salvation may be had; which is called passing from death to life. So that we may safely conclude the moral law is no part of the rod of Christ's strength, by which he rules his saints.
Yea, and even Doctor Gill himself, notwithstanding all his distinctions (so close doth Paul press him), when commenting upon my text, is obliged to speak as follows; "Now this vail upon Moses?s face had a mystery in it; it was an emblem of the gospel being veiled under the law, and of the darkness and obscurity of the law in the business of life and salvation; and also of the future blindness of the Jews, when the glory of the gospel should break forth in the times of Christ and his apostles: and which was such, ?that the children of Israel, the Jews, as in the times of Moses, so in the times of Christ and his apostles, could not steadfastly look to; nor upon the face of Moses, whose face was veiled: not that they might not look, but because they could not bear to look upon him; but they could not look to the end of that which is abolished? - that is, to Christ, who is the end of the law, which is abrogated by him: to him they could not look, nor could they see him to be the fulfilling end of the law for righteousness; which, being fulfilled, is done away by him." And, in his comment on the 17th verse, speaking of liberty, he says, "A liberty from the bondage and servitude of it - a liberty from the laws rigorous exactions, curse,? and condemnation.?" Which Peter calls an unbearable yoke; and which yoke differs much from that of a dear Redeemer, whose "yoke is easy" and whose "burden is light." In these quotations the Doctor has said as much as I ever did, only we differ in words. I say, "we are not under the law, nor under the commanding power of it." And the Doctor says, "we are delivered from the service of it; and from its rigorous exactions, curse, and condemnation." Thus far the Doctor speaks plainly. But how the moral law can be "abrogated, done away," and "abolished," In one sense, and the saints be under it as their rule of life in another, I know not; Christ never came to alter the law, nor divide it. And how the whole Mosaical dispensation can be removed, as the Doctor in another place confesses, and yet remain to the believer; and how it can be abrogated by Christ, and we under it in the hand of Christ - are mysterious things to me, and want scripture proof; for it is no part of the Saviour?s rod by which he rules his saints, as I have already proved. However, I believe the difference between the Doctor and myself, on this point, consists more in learning and in words than in heart and judgment. I proceed again.
Paul, writing to the Colossians, says, "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses, blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross." Now to whom was the apostle writing? To the Colossians, who are here called the uncircumcision: for the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed to Paul. Then what was "the hand writing," or debt book, that stood against these uncircumcised ones? If you say it was the ceremonial law; I reply, that was never given to them: but, if you add, that the Judaizing teachers were bringing them under their ceremonies and sacrifices; I answer, that the Jews held it unlawful to offer sacrifices any where but in their own land: in their Babylonish captivity, and in their present dispersion, they were, and still are, "without an ephod, without a sacrifice, and without a teraphim." If it be urged that the Gentiles used sacrifices as well as the Jews and therefore were under the ceremonial law; it may be answered God never gave that law to them, and, as he did not, they cannot be said to be under it; nay, they are said to "sacrifice to devils, and not to God." It remains, therefore, that this book debt, or "hand writing," is "the works of the moral law written upon their hearts, their thoughts and their conscience accusing or excusing one another." And whoever has felt a wounded spirit, or a guilty conscience, knows by sad experience what a restless creditor, wretched hand writing, and dreadful debt book, that is; and that it may well be said to be against us, and contrary to us: but, blessed be God, Christ took it out of the way, and nailed it to his cross. This same law upon tables of stone was the debt book, or hand writing, against the Jews, and not the ceremonial law; "For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices; but this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God," Jer. vii. 22, 23. The debt that God exacted of them was perfect obedience to the moral law, which is here called his voice; and which law Paul calls "a voice of words." The debt book of the Jews, therefore, is the moral law on tables of stone; and that of the Gentiles is the same, which shews the work of the law written in their hearts; and by this law both Jews and Gentiles, yea, the whole world, are become guilty before God: and the hand writing is against us, because it works death and wrath in us, and curses us; because it is always finding fault with us, but affords no help to us; and therefore the Surety discharged the debt, and blotted out the hand writing, took it out of the way, and nailed it to his cross. And I am sure that no pardoned sinner, or real believer, will ever wish to pull one nail out of it; but rejoice, as I do, to see it where it is. If it be objected that the ceremonial law was the Jews debt book; I answer, the ceremonial law was a refuge for the transgressor of the moral law to fly to, where the sinners transgressions of the moral law were confessed over the head of the victim, and the brute died in the sinner?s stead; which was their gospel, and pointed out the Surety, and how the debt book was to be cancelled by him. Furthermore, Paul couples himself with these Gentile debtors, and as one who had been under the same hand writing; "blotting out," says he, "the hand writing against us, and which was contrary to us." It remains, therefore, that this hand writing against both Jews and Gentiles was the moral law, for the other the Gentiles never had. Again,
"For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby," Ephes. ii. 14, 15, 16. To the Jews were given the glory, the covenants, the service of God, and the promises; which distinguished them from all other people. "You only," saith God, "have I known of all the families of the earth." This Paul calls "the middle wall of partition between us," which was broken down by Christ when be ordered his gospel to be preached to every creature. He "abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments." Should any object that the law here abolished is the ceremonial law; then I ask, What comfort could that afford to the Ephesians, who were never under it? and I would further ask such an objector (if he knows by experience any thing of the terrors of the Lord), what enmity the ceremonial law worked in him when he was first awakened; or whether it was that law which condemned him; or whether he fell to work upon all the Jewish ceremonies as soon as his conscience troubled him, in order to work out a righteousness? I trow not; I take it for granted that he found matters as I did - that it was the moral law which brought him in guilty before God; yea, every precept of it; and to that he went to work, in order to appease an angry God and pacify his own conscience; he went to keeping the sabbath, to making concession to his offended neighbour, to giving alms, to fasting, to trying to love God and to keep the whole law; in order to counterbalance, or rub off, the long score which by the law was brought in against him - and all in vain. The commandment comes, and sin revives; the law works wrath, and sin takes occasion by it; it threatens with death and damnation, and all manner of concupiscence is stirred up. This is called the enmity. The precepts of this law Christ perfectly obeyed in his life, and our transgressions of it he bore in his own body on the tree. The wrath and curse of it he endured also, "being made a curse for us;" and by his death, he abolished it, and thereby slew the enmity. His obedience is our righteousness, which justifies us from the galling yoke of the precept; his death is our ransom, which justifies us from all the future demands of vindictive justice. Hence we are said to be made righteous by the obedience of one, and to be justified by his blood.
"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began; but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel," 2 Tim. i. 7, 10.
Christ hath "abolished spiritual death" from the insensible sinner?s soul by quickening him; he hath abolished the "sting of death" from the conscience by his own blood; he hath "abolished eternal death" by dying "the just for the unjust;" he hath "abolished the ministration of death" on tables of stone by slaying the enmity, taking it out of the way, and nailing it to his cross; and hath destroyed "him that had the power of death, that is the devil," by casting him out of every believer?s heart, and spoiling his works. But now let us see to whom this law is abolished.
It is not abolished from the hand of justice with respect to the reprobate. "My sword shall be bathed in heaven, and come down on Idumea, and on the people of my curse to judgment."
Secondly, It will not be abolished, in the sentence of it, from the mouth of the Judge of quick and dead: he will bring in every soul that is under it a transgressor by the precepts of it; and will pass the awful sentence of it - "Go, ye cursed."
Thirdly, It is not abolished to any one that works for life and righteousness under it; "to him that worketh the reward is reckoned of debt;" the debt book stands open against him.
Fourthly, It is not abolished to the elect themselves, while they are in the ruins of the fall; such differ nothing from servants, though lords of all, but are under this schoolmaster and governor, Gal. iv. 1, 2, and are "by nature children of wrath, even as others," being under the law, which reveals and works wrath. In Short, every soul is under it that is out of Christ.
I come now to describe the persons with respect to whom this law is abolished; and in doing this I shall contend for no liberty but "the glorious liberty of the children of God."
And he is a pardoned, justified sinner, who is joined to the Lord, and one spirit with him; who stands by faith, and stands fast and complete, in Christ Jesus his covenant head. Paul says it is we that have such hope, we who have received the Spirit of the Lord, and are made free by him, for "where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty," not to sin; but liberty from the bondage of the law, the wrath of God, the guilt of sin, and the dread of damnation. To us, says Paul, it is abolished, who have our hearts turned to the Lord, and whose vail is taken away; We, who "beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory" - We, who "know whom we have believed" - We, "who have fled from the wrath to come, and for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us" - We, who have found "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus making us free from the law of sin and death" - We, who do not "make void the law through faith," but "establish it," by asserting that "the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in those who have received the Holy Ghost, the love of God, and the gift of righteousness; who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" - We, who hold the law of truth, faith, love, and liberty, to God, and who are under the law of faith and the covenant of grace to Christ. It is we who see the law done away, the enmity slain, the hand writing nailed to the cross, and abolished; standing fast in Christ, who is the believers "strong hold, fortress," and "high tower," his "hiding place," his "refuge from the storm" of wrath, and "the shadow of a great rock" to the soul weary of the yoke of precept and his own sins.
This is the "cleft of the rock," the "secret place of the Most High," and the "munitions of rocks," where we so lose the vail as to "see the King in his beauty, and the land a very far off." Hence it is plain that the real believer is in Christ, as the Lord says, "Believe that I am in you, and you in me:" and those that are in him enjoy him, and stand fast in him, see the law abolished and done away, and feel nothing of the commanding, binding, terrifying, nor condemning power of the law; for in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit makes them free, and they are free indeed. The obedience which the law called for, and the satisfaction that justice exacted of us, are now both in the heart of Christ; and thus in the heart of Christ is the law magnified; "Thy law is within my heart." And in the heart of eternal love the believer feels his happy deliverance and glorious liberty. But, if he stands not fast in his liberty, if he is not aware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees, if he suffers legal preachers to bring him into bondage, or if he sins against Christ, he will find that the law will again entangle such a foolish Galatian, and he may pray, as David did, "Restore me to joy, and uphold me with thy free spirit." This legal bondage communicated by legal, preachers, I know by sad experience; but I take care now never to go nigh them, for fear of infection. None but those who are savingly in Christ can either see, feel, or enjoy, this mystery. All others, if they attempt to handle it, only darken counsel, and do mischief by it; for, as they have no inward testimony, experience, or enjoyment of it, no unction can attend what they say. They have not the Spirit?s teaching to direct them, nor a mouth and wisdom given them, and therefore they cannot appeal to the experience of the just, nor properly guard what they say against the contempt of fools, and the craft of malicious critics. I had rather hear such thunder the law than meddle with the deep things of God. Yea, God tells them not to take his covenant in their mouth, because they are yet in their sins, and truth has no place but in their heads, and they have nothing to depend upon but a teacherous memory; which God often baffles, which Satan often plunders, and which oftentimes refuses to give back one half of what is committed to it.
Furthermore, he who is not in the liberty of the gospel never knew, nor can he know, experimentally, these things of the law, nor the bondage and terrors of it. Christ's commission is "to preach deliverance to captives, to open the prison doors to them that are bound, and to set at liberty them that are bruised." He, who never felt himself a captive, who was never sensibly bound nor bruised, knows nothing of this abolition of the law, nor does he feel the need of it; he knows neither the wrath of the law, nor the love of the gospel; none shall enjoy the latter who never felt the former. Now in all this I have said no more than the scriptures do, which testify that to the believer the law is done away, that Christ is the fulfilling end of it for righteousness to all that believe, and by him it is abolished to every believer.
If it be objected that this leads to licentiousness, I shall answer, in the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ, "Make the tree good, and the fruit will be good; for a tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, nor can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. He that abides in me, and I in him, bringeth forth much fruit; and my heavenly Father purgeth such, that they may bring forth more fruit; but he that abideth not in me is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; for without me you can do nothing." Therefore let the believer walk in the Spirit, and he shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh; for sin shall not have dominion over him who is under grace, because he is not under the law. If this be Antinomianism, I have no objection to the name, but hope to die in this nest.
But some may reply, "Do you make void the law through faith?" No; Paul says that preaching faith establishes the law, and that nothing else will or can do it. It establishes the righteousness of the law, which is fulfilled in every believer, though not by him. It establishes the law in the hand of the Father to his own elect, as a rod of correction and a schoolmaster; and, in the hand of justice, to all the wicked; and as a killing commandment to all the reprobate and bond children. Those who preach the law in any other way are but vain janglers, and establish nothing; for they know not "what they say, nor whereof they affirm;" and the ignorance of fools is sin, and therefore cannot be called the establishment of the law. And bringing the believer from Christ to the law, as his rule of life, where Christ profits him nothing, is called destroying the path of the just, frustrating the grace of God, causing the righteous to err, subverting their souls, and preaching arrant lies, for God has given man no such commission or commandment; wherefore such preaching can never be called establishing the law.
Paul tells us that the law is dead, the enmity slain, and the debt book nailed to the cross, by the death of Christ, "that being dead wherein we were held, that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. Some, may reply, "If this be the case, that the law is dead, how came it to kill Paul, as it is written, ?when the commandment came sin revived, and I died??" It is a hard matter to answer logicians, who are so wise and nervous; and yet this doctrine might be learned by seeing a murderer take his trial. The law brings him in guilty of death, and yet becomes dead to him; for it gives no life, nor will it let him enjoy even that natural life which he hath; and yet it kills him, for it will never let him go till it brings him to the gallows. So God's law is dead to the sinner; for it gives him no life, and yet kills him by working death in him by itself, which is good; and it will bind him over both to judgment and punishment too, for "the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God which giveth us the victory."
Some, who are more wise and learned, tell us that they shall take the spirit of the law to heaven with them, that is (I suppose) when they go there, who "are of the works of the law, and under the curse of it;" when those who are of the law are heirs, and faith is made void, and the promise of God made of none effect All these things must be done before such souls, with the spirit of the law, can get to heaven. Besides, the bond woman and her children are desolate, without a father and without a husband, saith the Lord of Hosts. She is not my wife, nor am I her husband. And surely none but the queen, the bride, the Lamb?s wife, shall enter into the King?s palace. Not only the bond woman and her family are excluded, who cleave to the law, but hypocrites in possession, who cleave to Christ, and lay claim to him before they are delivered from the law; even these foolish virgins are shut out of the marriage chamber.
It is to be feared that these men do not understand what the scriptures mean by the spirit of the law. By it they never mean the Holy Ghost. This I know by sad experience, for the Holy Spirit is not promised in the law, nor does he come from the law, nor by the law. "God ministers not the Spirit by the works of the law, but by the hearing of faith." If the Spirit comes this way, then they are ministers of the Spirit, which Paul calls ministers of the letter; and those that are of the works of the law, and under the curse of it, must be the happiest men; whilst those who are redeemed and delivered from it must be "of all men the most miserable." As "the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient," whatever the law works or ministers, it must be to them that are under the law. Paul says, God ministers not the Spirit by it; for the ministry of the Spirit is opposed to the ministry of the letter on tables of stone. The law gives no life, nor righteousness. "Had there been a law given that could have given life, verily righteousness should have come by the law." But the Spirit that giveth life is opposed to the ministration of death, and the ministration of righteousness opposed to the ministration of condemnation, throughout this whole chapter. Jerusalem, which rejected Christ and his gospel, is said to be "in bondage with her children." But this bondage cannot be the Holy Ghost, for "where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty," not bondage; and the mother of the saints, as well as themselves, are said to be free. "We are not children of the bond woman, but of the free." It remains then that the spirit of the law is bondage; it genders to bondage; it is the chain of a bond slave, called the spirit of bondage to fear, servile fear; it is temporal and spiritual death, and therefore called the ministration of death and condemnation. All which is neither more nor less than the wrath of God revealed in it against all unrighteousness of men. "The law worketh wrath." This is the spirit of the law. John calls it fear and torment; but there is nothing of this in the spirit of love; "there is no fear in love, for perfect love casteth out fear." Cain, Esau, Judas, with every desperate sinner that has been given up to a fearful looking for of judgment, have been filled with this spirit of bondage, till the sons of the bond Of woman have laid at the top of every street, "like a wild bull in a net, full of the fury of the Lord and the rebuke of our God." But this spirit in them is never called an earnest of heaven, but "an evident token of perdition." When the killing commandment came home to David, attended with an awful sense of the wrath of God, he calls the sentence of the law the snares of death, and the wrath of God the pains of hell; and, when bondage, fear, the sorrows of death, the curse of the law, and the wrath of God, got hold of the Saviour, he was so sorely amazed as to sweat blood, and never calls this spirit of bondage to fear the joy that was set before him, but hell itself. "Thou wilt hot leave my soul in hell," &c. Paul knew what the ministration of death and wrath was; and blessed Christ, who had delivered him from so great a death, and saved him from the wrath to come. Paul, and his companions, had felt the spirit of the law, and their deliverance from it. God hath not given us "the spirit of fear; but of power, of love, and of a sound mind." And Paul stood fast in this liberty wherewith Christ had made him free, and was not entangled with the yoke of bondage a second time, having felt it severely before; for "we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but the Spirit of adoption: whereby we cry, Abba Father." This is the Comforter that is to abide with the saints for ever; who shall quicken our mortal bodies in the great day, fashion them like the glorious body of Christ, and fill them with all his fullness for ever. "The law is a fiery law;" and, whenever the spirit of bondage to fear, and the wrath of God revealed therein, comes to be poured forth upon carnal professors, they will feel the effects of it as such. "The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfullness hath surprised the hypocrites; who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" They shall find that the wrath of God revealed in the law is "a fire kindled in his anger, and shall burn to the lowest hell." So that, instead of the spirit of bondage going with these professors to heaven, it shall only serve to bind them hand and foot when they are cast into utter darkness. "The strength of sin is the law;" and they that now mock shall find their bands strong; for fear, death, torment, wrath, and damnation, is the spirit of the law, and all that the law works in men, or ministers to men; and as it "is not made for the righteous, but for the lawless and disobedient," it will go with the wicked, and work all its contents in their souls in hell to all eternity; and this they know who are in that dreadful place. They know what bondage is, by being bound; what the ministry of death is; by being in the second death; what the ministry of condemnation is, by being damned; and what the law that worketh wrath is, by being in the dreadful furnace of it. Thus the lawless and disobedient, with their violated law and broken covenant, with all its dreadful contents, shall go to hell together. For there is not one thing which the law works in men, or which it ministers to men; neither bondage, death, wrath, condemnation, nor damnation (and it works nothing else); I say, not one of all these things shall ever be found among the saints in heaven. But grace and truth, which make us free, and the church, which is the pillar and ground of the truth, shall enter heaven with their law of truth in their hearts "Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in." And thus grace shall be displayed in glory, truth settled in heaven, mercy shall be built up forever, and faithfulness be established for evermore.
And, although some tell us that "they never expect to be delivered from a law which commands them to love God with all their heart," yet I know that if they are not redeemed from the law, and in every sense delivered from it, and not under it, but under grace, they never shall love God in this world, nor in the next. If a man love God, it must be because God first loved him: for "the carnal mind is enmity against God," and never can by nature be subject to the law, which commands love; nor does God love a sinner in the law, for the love of God is in Christ Jesus. He that is not delivered from the law is in bondage to fear, and hath torment; and nothing but the love of God in Christ can ever deliver him from it, or cast it out; and he that hath not this charity is "an instrument without life," under "the ministry of death," by which he cannot live; and, as the law worketh wrath, by the law he cannot love.
Ignorant, bold, presumptuous men may wanton, trifle, and sport, with these deep, momentous, and important things, of God, in order to raise a shout from fools, to harden graceless professors, and to embolden daring hypocrites to lampoon the servants of God, and to ridicule and vilify the gospel of a dear Redeemer; which I think is sinning against the Holy Ghost, or doing despite to the Spirit. But, as the Lord liveth, it will be found to be bitterness in the end; and this some feel already; though, being blinded by the old veil, they know not whence their bondage comes, whereas in truth it comes from that law for which they so strenuously contend, and from an angry God, for slighting his dear Son; for he will speak in his wrath to all, and vex them in his sore displeasure, who set themselves against his Anointed; nor shall any enjoy his blessing who put not their trust in his King on Zion?s hill. God's rejection of the Jews is to this day an awful proof of this truth.
They must be born again that enter God's kingdom; and a real spiritual birth terminates in the enjoyment of love, which casts out fear and torment; for "he that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God; but he that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." If bond servants, under a spirit of bondage, go in all their fetters to heaven, the Father?s promise of the Spirit is of little value; the Saviour?s death, to procure the Spirit, no blessing; and redemption and salvation from the bondage of the law must be one of the greatest evils.
I have pushed this point a little home, because it seems to go into the very bowels of Arminianism, and of graceless professors, who discover such enmity to the grace of God. However, this I know by blessed experience, that the perfect obedience which the law required is now in the heart of our Surety the satisfaction that justice required is now in a dear Redeemer the promises of God are yea and amen in Christ all the fullness of the Spirit is in him; all the fullness of grace, and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; in him the law of the Spirit of life makes us free, and in him the believer is complete. Therefore, O believer, abide in him, and let neither Satan, ministers of Satan, justice, nor Moses, ever catch thee out of the cleft of the Rock, lest, like one of old, thou get entangled again, and pray to be restored to the joys of Christ?s salvation, and again to be upheld by his free Spirit; for "the works of faith and labours of love" are a service that is perfect freedom. This thousands confess with their mouth, and this thousands have felt in their heart.
But, without giving any more attention to the croaking of frogs, or spending my arguments on dogs that bark at the moon,
One would be ready to wonder where this almost universally received notion, of the law being the believer?s rule of life, could come from, seeing the believer (and no other) is said to be redeemed from the law, delivered from it, and not under it, but under grace; why it should be called his rule, when the scripture says that "the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient." If the law is made for the lawless (all of whom are out of Christ, under the law, and under the curse of it), one would have thought that they were the only men to whom the law is a rule of life, seeing Christ always sent the legalist to it with a "What is written in the law; how readest thou?" But always told the believer to abide in him.
I think the first that enforced and practiced this doctrine was Cain. Cain and Abel were brethren. They both came at one time to bring their offerings to God. One was a keeper of sheep, and the other a tiller of the ground; and their offerings were according to their occupations. One brought the first fruits of the ground, and the other the firstling of his flock. And we may warrantably conclude that the one was a lamb; a type of him that was a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The other brought a sheaf of the harvest, which the scriptures allow to be a type of Jesus, the first fruits of them that slept. Now these two worshippers prefigured, the publican and the pharisee in the gospel. They had but two foundations to build on, or but two footings to go upon: the one was the law broken by Adam; the other the promised woman?s seed, held forth in the first volume of the book, who was to bruise the serpent?s head. Abel, who had been informed by his parents how a divine person had stripped them of their fig-leaved dress, and clothed them with the skins of the sacrifices, and made this promise to them, believed the report of his parents (like Jacob, the figure of him), and therefore took his lamb, in the faith of the same pardon and covering; and thus he ploughed in hope, and, looking to the throne of grace and the cherubim placed in Eden?s gate, he, in faith of the promised seed, offered his lamb, looking to him that was promised to bruise the serpents head: and, as the serpent was to bruise Christ?s heel by death, he judged that Satan would be destroyed; and, by the obedience of the promised seed, he expected all cleansing and covering, as well as his father. The Spirit, which wrought faith in Abel, taught him where to look; for his work is, and ever was, to testify of Christ. In this faith be approached, and offered his lamb or kid. This was Abel?s rule of life and worship; and "to Abel and to his offering God had respect."
Cain, he comes with the sheaf of his first fruits, trusting in the law, which his parents had broken; and expecting a right, on the footing of works, to the tree of life, from which his parents had been banished. This was a daring approach without looking to the cherubim, or to the flaming sword of justice, which God himself had placed there to keep the tree of life, and teach them the way of mercy by the tree, and the need of the surety by the sword. But Cain went on, as Korah did after him, in the wilderness. The cherubim and mercy-seat there were no more than a repetition of what was done in Eden. However, Korah went on as Cain did; and God couples them together, Jude, xi. Cain paid no regard to the mercy-seat, or to the cherubim; but, like a horse in the battle, he broke through all bounds, and ventured upon the bottom of a broken law, which his parents had violated, and expected a "right to the tree of life" on the footing of works, without any view to, or faith in, the promised seed. And what was the consequence? Why "to Cain and to his offering God had not respect;" while the fire fell from heaven, and consumed Abel?s burnt-offering, as it did at the decisive offering and humble prayer of Elijah, when Baal?s prophets cried in vain for such an answer by fire. This Cain saw, he was wroth, and his countenance fell. This dead work, on the footing of a broken law, God rejects as a deviation from the rule given to Adam and Eve, and practiced by Abel; which he vindicates upon the rules of the everlasting gospel, saying, "Why art thou wroth, and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and, if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door." This was the first hint of that important truth; "without faith it is impossible to please God." And thus from the womb of the morning God revealed the beauties of holiness. About this point Cain and Abel disputed. The one made faith in the promise his rule of life, the other made the broken law his rule; and, the believer being too much in argument for the bond child, he (Cain) defended his rule with the fist of wickedness, and killed the believer (his brother, and the third part of the whole world) at one blow. And the New Testament tells us that it was "by faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, God testifying of his gifts;" and, as for Cain, he is said to be of that wicked one the devil, who slew his brother, because his own works were evil and his brother?s righteous.
Those, who were next to Cain in vindication of this doctrine, seem to be those mongrel professors who were called the sons of God, but fell in love with the daughters of Cain. These held in their head the discriminating doctrines of their fathers, but paid no regard to the rule of faith, being destitute of God?s power; and extended their charity to those that were cursed of God. And this mixture of law and gospel, and the mixed marriages of professors and reprobates, was productive of that wickedness which was great before the Lord. Against such wicked ones Enoch prophesied; who were determined to kill him, and sought after him for the slaughter; but they could not find him; he was not to be found, for God took him, and had translated him; "for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God;" but "without faith it is impossible to please him."
Against these Noah, the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, was sent; who preached imputed righteousness, and a faith that overcomes the world, for upwards of an hundred years. But they rejected his doctrines, and resisted the Spirit which spoke by him, till God said, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man," and soon after drowned them all.
The Israelites in the wilderness could see no rule to go by but the law; and when God asked, "How long will it be ere this people believe in me?" it appeared a strange thing to them; for, as they had no faith themselves, they hated those who had, and envied Moses in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the Lord. The land of promise was expected as a reward of their partial obedience: but, when they came to understand that it was through faith they must subdue kingdoms, they in heart turned back to Egypt; and thus unbelief shut them out of the promised rest of God, "having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed them that believed not."
In Ezekiel?s days, the false prophets burdened the just with the law as their only rule, and encourage the wicked with the promise of life. They "made the hearts of the righteous sad, whom God had not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, by promising him life."
In the apostle?s days, the rabbies and rulers opposed the gospel, till they got out of favour with the people, and almost out of office and out of bread. And what must they do then? Why they must turn hypocrites. "A great Company of the priests were obedient to the faith. Thou seest, brother Saul," (saith James) "how many there are that believe, and they are all zealous of the law of Moses. They made a tool of the Son of God to exalt his servant Moses. These Paul calls "false brethren, unawares brought in to spy out our liberty that we have in Christ, that they might bring us into bondage." And, having found out that the apostles preached up deliverance from the galling yoke of precept, they set off into the ministry, intending to sap the very foundation of the gospel; and, to cover their villany, "they preached Christ, not out of good will, but out of strife and envy, to add affliction to Paul?s bonds." The text and the tidings, which these false apostles carried to the saints, was, "except ye be circumcised, and keep the law of Moses, ye cannot be saved." They did not handle the law lawfully, nor speak the language of it, saying, "This do, and thou shalt live:" but they tacked the word salvation to it, "except ye keep the law of Moses, ye cannot be saved;" which the law says nothing about; for, if a man can keep the law, he needs no salvation; and, if he does, the law cannot give it, "for there is salvation in no other name but in Christ"
First, This preaching up circumcision was in order to glory in their flesh; that is, that they might boast of having made proselytes.
Secondly, Circumcision was preached that the offence of the cross might cease, and the world and the church be reconciled together.
"Thirdly, It was to bring the Gentile believers in debtors to the whole law. And,
Fourthly, To set aside the whole suretyship engagements of Christ, and all the benefits of it: for, if I become a debtor to do the whole law, then the Saviour?s debt of perfect obedience to the precept, and the penal sum of suffering, which he paid to divine justice, profits me nothing; and I am saddled with all my infinite debts. The everlasting righteousness that Christ brought in is set aside, and the whole satisfaction that he made to justice by his sacrifice is set aside also. Add to this, I give up the free promise of life for the law, turn my back upon grace, and go to work; and then God "reckons the reward to me of debt, not of grace." and under this debt book these false apostles laboured to bring the Gentile believers; for the Gentiles had no other hand-writing against them but this, which is the "moral law," With these men Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation; but all in vain; therefore they must: go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question." And, when they were convened, "there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses." Here we see the devil had some agents, to spread the leaven at Antioch, and some at the council chamber at Jerusalem, to support the cause there.
But Peter tells them that God had purified their hearts by faith: "and now why tempt ye God to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we are able to bear?"
The sentence of James is, "that we trouble not them which from among the Gentiles are turned to God," Acts, xv. 2?19.
And now we come to the commission and character of these men. "Forasmuch as we have heard that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, ye must be circumcised and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment," Acts, xv. 24.
Their character is?that they troubled the churches, subverted their souls, preached lies, and went out without either commission or commandment from them.
In the next place, we have the judgment of the Holy Ghost, and of all the apostles and elders, upon this point. "For it seemeth good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things?that ye abstain from meals offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which if ye keep yourselves ye shall do well. Fare ye well," Acts, xv. 28, 29. How beautiful upon the mountains were the feet of those that carried these good tidings! This is a confirmation of the Saviour?s words, "My yoke is easy, and my burden light.". We now come to see how these tidings were received.
"So, when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and, when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle; which, when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation," Acts, xv. 30, 31. These false apostles, under the influence of Satan, had brought them into bondage, and fast closed up all the wombs in the kings palace at Antioch: but God restored unto them the joys of his salvation, and upheld them again with his free Spirit; for the Holy Ghost, who loves liberty and proclaims, it, who was "a spirit of judgment to them that sat in judgment" at Jerusalem, went with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch, and applied the tidings to the hearts of all the believers there, and comforted their souls with love, joy, and peace, in believing; and "they rejoiced for the consolation:" and thus the apostles took heed, and were "aware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." For "to these," says Paul, "we gave not place by subjection, no, not for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. Woe unto them, for they have gone in the way of Cain."
I once read an old book, when I first came into the ministry, which said "the believer is under the law as a rule of life;" from which I embraced that notion, without ever consulting the scripture, or asking wisdom from God, about it: and this I have asserted in one of my first publications: which I intend to expunge whenever that book shall be reprinted; for it is no part of the gospel which I received, not did it ever come to me from God, but from man.
Then, say some, "if we are not under the law as a rule of life, we may live as we list." I answer, I wish I could: for I would then be filled with the Spirit of God, and be free from all sin; and, if Paul could have lived as he listed, he would have been delivered from his "body of death;" and Jabez would have been kept "from sin, that it might not grieve him." However, God has promised to put his fear in our hearts, that we shall not depart from him; and that he will work in us to will and to do; direct our steps; uphold us by his right hand; keep us by his mighty power; purge us, that we may bring forth fruit; and that sin shall not have dominion over those that are under grace, only over those that are under the law, who are of the works of it, and under the curse of it, who are in unbelief, and cannot please God; who, being in sin, and under it, can do nothing but sin.
I have written these things to thee, believer, to furnish, to arm, and equip thee, "that thou mayest have somewhat to answer them who glory in appearance, but not in heart;" for "the innocent shall stir up himself against the hypocrite."
This publication will, I expect, procure me many anonymous epistles, and not a few twopenny and threepenny pamphlets, by those who shoot in secret, and use sharpness; all which will only serve to convince me that my doctrines are the mysteries of the cross, because the offence is not ceased. As to their sharpness, it is neither for edification nor destruction; not for edification, because there is no savour of charity; nor for destruction, because there is no power.
But God says, "Look unto Abraham your father, and to Sarah that bare you, for God called him alone and blessed him." All the laws and rules that Abraham had, were written on the tables of his heart - tables of stone he had none. The first step that he took from his own country was in that faith which overcomes the world; which faith, working by love, took away all desire of returning back again. This is the same faith as ours. He was circumcised at the command of God, which was a seal in is flesh of the righteousness he had in his heart, which was to be wrought out by a seed from his loins. And, when our hearts are circumcised to love God, it is a seal of the Spirit to us that imputed righteousness is ours. He was to walk before God, and be upright; and God was his shield and exceeding great reward. This was walking in the fear of God, in the faith of his protection, and in the expectation of an eternal enjoyment of him as his reward and portion. This rule he was to command to his household after him; and God says they shall keep the way of the Lord. Such was faithful Abraham the friend of God; who, although he had not the two tables of stone with him, yet "obtained a good report through faith." "Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws," Genesis, xvi. 5. "In these last days," believer, "God hath spoken to us by his Son;" therefore he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God. "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. I have set my King upon my holy hill; blessed are all they that put their trust in him." Obey his voice, and stand fast in him, and thou shalt see and feel, to thy soul?s comfort, that the moral law is abolished and done away in Christ Jesus to thee. But, if thou get from Christ, backsliding in heart, or sinning against him, thou must not wonder if God again and again speak to thee in the secret place of thunder, because thou dost not abide in him who is a hiding-place from that storm. For my part, was I going to the tribunal of God this night, and was to be asked of this matter now delivered, and sure of perishing if I spoke falsely, I would declare that, to the best of my knowledge and judgment, and agreeable to the testimony of my own conscience, I believe what I have now preached is (as far as I hare gone) the pure, unadulterated truth of the everlasting gospel. Let us, therefore, hold fast the word of Christ?s patience, and we shall be kept from the hour of temptation. And let us not be afraid of the name ANTINOMIAN, which in our days is given by graceless professors to those who are partakers of the Holy Ghost; for a bad name will never hurt a good man.
A real Antinomian, in the sight of God, is one who "holds the truth in unrighteousness;" who has gospel notions in his head, but no grace in his heart. He is one that makes a profession of Christ Jesus, but was never purged by his blood, renewed by his Spirit, nor saved by his power. With him carnal ease passes for gospel peace; a natural assent of the mind for faith; insensibility for liberty; and daring presumption for the grace of assurance. He is alive without the law, the sentence of the "moral law" having never been sent home to him. The "law of faith" was never sealed on him, the "law of truth" was never received by him, nor the "law of liberty" proclaimed to him. He was never arraigned at, nor taken from, the "throne of judgment." He was never justified at the "throne of grace," nor acquitted at the "bar of equity." The tremendous attribute of righteousness was never seen or felt by him. The righteousness of the law was never fulfilled in him; the righteousness of the law was never fulfilled by him; the righteousness of faith was never imputed to him; nor the fruits of righteousness brought forth by him. He is an enemy to the power of God, to the experience of the just, and to every minister of the Spirit; and is in union with none but hypocrites, whose uniting ties are "the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity." He is one that often changes his opinions, but was never changed in heart. He turns to many sects and parties, but never turns to God. In word he is false to Satan, in heart he is false to God; false to Satan by uttering truth, and false to God by a false profession. He is a false reprover in the world, and in the household of faith a false brother. He is a child of Satan in the congregation of dissemblers, and a bastard in the congregation of the righteous. By mouth he contends for a covenant that cannot save him, and in heart he hates the covenant that can. His head is at Mount Calvary, his heart and soul at Mount Sinai. He is a Pharisee at Horeb, and a hypocrite in Zion. He is a transgressor of the law of works, and a rebel to the law of faith; a sinner by the ministry of the letter, and an unbeliever by the ministry of the Spirit. As a wicked servant, he is cursed by the eternal law; and, as an infidel, he is damned by the everlasting gospel. And this is a REAL ANTINOMIAN in the sight of God.