Page images
PDF
EPUB

clared in the heavens, and the earth is filled with his praise. With this demand, Job was struck dumb; and, filled with self abasement, sunk down into dust and ashes.

In like manner, Isaiah was convinced and humbled. He had been well acquainted with the subject of moral obligation; but in the year that king Uzziah died, a new scene was disclosed to him, he saw the Lord as exalted upon his high throne, and the temple filled with his train; in which view, he was the subject of an impression such as he had never before felt.

The case was the same with Habakkuk; the subject that rent his heart, and filled his bones with rottenness, was as different from that of the ten commandments, as the making and disgolving of the heavens and the earth. It was a disclosure of God's everlasting ways; his going forth with his anointed for the salvation of his people ; it was the work of redemption; his riding upon his horses and his chariots of salvation ; in which work, the heavens are covered with his glory, and the earth is filled with his praise. The nature of this work, as distinguished from the mcral subject, appears to be regarded in these emphatical enquiries, Was the Lord displeased against the rivers ? Was thine anger against the rivers ? Was thy wrath against the sea? They, surely, were not subjects of moral obligation; they could not be touched with a sense of moral conviction. But the same speech that made Habakkuk afraid, affrighted the mountains; the same pang that seized upon the prophet, was felt by the rivers and the heap of great waters.

This agrees with all that I have seen or known of the work of the spirit of truth. Ask a man, under a deep law work, if he feels himself oppressed with a sense of moral crimes, and he will say, that nothing particular of this nature is the cause of his distresss; but he feels that he is un done; his comeliness is turned in him into corrupti. on, and in every part, soul, body and spirit, he: is as one entire and abhorrent mass of sin.... “ When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of “ Jacob from a people of strange language, Ju“ dah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion. “ The sea saw it and fled; Jordan was driven

back; the mountains skipped like rams, and “ the little hills like lambs.” The question, what aileth a man in this wonderful case ? mayreceive the same answer, with the questions, " What aileth thee, O thou sea, that thou fledest ? “ thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? ye “ mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye of little hills like lambs? Tremble thou earth at “ the presence of the Lord, at the presence of “ the God of Jacob; which turned the rock into., "a standing water, the flint into a fountain of “ waters."

It is equally observable, that when the foun-dation of hope and consolation is disclosed to a perishing soul, this all justifying righteousness, which answers so perfectly to the law of God, does not appear, particularly, in the work which Christ performed of obedience to the moral law; it appears in the one intire work of infinite wisdom and power, in which God is manifested, both in heaven and in earth.

This life appears, in the word and providence of God throughout; in the sun, moon and stars; in the air, earth and waters; in the frame and workmanship of man, and of all the creatures; in the tree and in the herb; in all the productions of nature, from the corn of the field, down to the leaf of the forest. When these things are considered, it will not appear strange, that “The “angel, having the everlasting gospel to preach “ unto them that dwell in the earth, should fly

were in the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, “ Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour “ of his judgment is come: and worship him “ that made heaven and earth, and the sea and " the fountains of waters.” This, however, is a very different style from that generally adopted by the reputed evangelical preachers of the present day.

To withdraw men from a self-righteous course, i. e. contemplating a moral righteousness before God, is of all things the most necessary, and the most difficult to effect..... This pursuit of moral righteousness may be ealled the purpose of man, and is the most directly opposed to the purpose of God. No means have been left untried to corr vince men of the criminality of this way, but they are still set upon it with the full bent of their souls.“ God speaketh once; yea, twice, yet mea

perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in

slumberings upon the bed; then he openeth the - ears of men, and sealeth their instruction. That “ he may withdraw man from his purpose, and “ hide pride from man. He keepeth back his soul w from the pit, and his life from perishing by the s sword. He is chastened also with pain upon his

bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong

pain: So that his life abhorreth bread, and his “ soul dainty meat: Yea, his soul draweth near “ unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. Happy, if now there be a messenger with himni

, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew * unto man the Lord's uprightness.'

9. The first covenant constitution given to Adam, extended to the beasts, &c, as appears hy the extensive effects of the fall; in like manner they were included in the covenant with Noah and, it appears, that the law froni Mount Sinai was a constitution of a vature equally compre

[ocr errors]

hensive; for, if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart. This shews that the dispensation of the law had an extension far beyond the compass of the ten commandments; for what relation has the beast to the subject of moral obligation?

And as the law was not, particularly, of a moral nature, so neither is that righteousness which fulfils it. It appears clearly from the Scriptures, that as the law was all comprehensive, and of a " nature calculated to subject the creation in every part, the animate and inanimate equally with the rational; so, likewise, the righteousness of Christ comprehends the whole creation, and is of a nature to reach and restore the natural equally with the intellectual world; hence, from the nature of the redemption by Christ, a restitution of all things must one day take place, and the whole creation be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Thus, in the Psalms, the creation, in every part, is bidden to exult before God, because of his salvation. “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the “ earth be glad ; let the sea roar, and the fulness “thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is “ therein: then shall the trees of the wood re“joice before the Lord; for he cometh, for he “cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the “ world with righteousness, and the people with “ truth.” And, in Revelation, this universal joy is heard as expressed. “ And every creature “ which is in heaven, and on the earth, and un“ der the earth, and such as are in the sea, and “ all that are in them, heard I, saying, blessing,

and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him " that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb “ for ever and ever.”

10. It appears from the answer of Christ to the question, Which is the first commandment of

all? that the law was principally couched in the matter of the oneness of the divine nature; and that the answer to it, primarily, was asked for, looked for, and is only to be found in God himself. “ Jesus answered, The first of all the “ commandments is, Hear, O Israel, The Lord “ our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the “ Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all

thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all is

thy strength: this is the first commandment." Matth. xii. 29, 30......Is it not evident from the words before us, that the first thing brought into view in the law of Moses, and which lies at the foundation of the whole system, is the oneness of God and Christ; or, that eternal parental requirement and filial obedience, in which exists the perfect union of the divine will. They who have treated of the law of God, and have not brought forward this eternal righteousness in the front of their discourses, and made it the foundation of all their improvement, have, indeed, greatly erred.

The Scribe who asked the question above, discerned the glorious truth; and following the reply of Christ, he kept it distinctly in view; wherefore our Lord said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. This, substantially, is the doctrine of the kingdom. Happy it were, had our latter Scribes been equally discreet.

That the two verses, quoted above, point to distinct things relative to the great question, may be perceived in this, that he who appears as the commander in the second verse, places himself on the ground of a subject in the first. Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. But if there should remain still any reasonable doubt of this, that the law of God requires, principally, a divine righteousness; that it looks for and receives its answer in God only, I think it must be

Y

« PreviousContinue »