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removed by a proper attention to the declaration of Christ, John iii. 21. that a justifying righteousness consists manifestly of deeds that are wrought in God.
11. It is acknowledged, that the law was a transcript or copy of the divine perfection, or the righteousness of God; but what, except the original itself, can perfectly answer to, and confirm and establish a copy? And who but God himself .could bring forward a work which would fully compare with, and every way answer to the exact copy of his own will?
There can be no more comparison between the righteousness of a Gabriel, perfect in love, and the law of God, considered as a transcript of the divine nature, than there is between him and God himself. And it is apparent, that any attempt made by mere creatures to answer, by their own deeds, that law which is the perfect transcript of the divine will, must proceed from great darkness and stupidity of mind; and whatever is done for such a purpose, must prove, on trial, to be the grossest counterfeit and falsehood.
12. No mere creature could have done the work which Christ did in the world. If this had been possible, then another besides Jesus Christ: might have beenthe First Begotten from the Dead, . the Prince of the Kings of the Earth, and the glorious Bridegroom of the Church; for all this exaltation of Christ results, according to the Scriptures, from the work which he accomplished in the world. By the merit of this work he opened. the book of the kingdom over which he now reigns; he opened the great house over which he is now seated; he opened all the springs of etermal life, and put in motion all the powers of the world to come. But, in doing this, he did no more than to answer the law, or to bring forward,
in the deed, that divine perfection, or righteousness, of which the law was the exact copy.
From such considerations doth it not appear, beyond all doubt, that "tire law which came by Moses was the law of redemption, or that law which contemplated the whole redemption werk, and which none but the Redeemer himself could possibly discharge; and that the moral code was not any peculiarity of that dispensation ? Moral obligation existed in the primitive state; it attached necessarily to the law, and is equally binding under the gospel. It results from the náture and relations of intelligent creatures in every
condition in which they are placed, and is equally a property of all dispensations. The common method of darkening and confounding the great subjects of the threefold state of man and the creation, by dwelling incessantly upon that moral quality which belongs in common to eaclt
, is certainly ingenious and well adapted to its fatal end. This way of leading men into darkness, and confirming them in delusion, is the more eligible for its affinity to the truth; and forasmuch as to the utility and importance of sound moral ity, there can be no dispute.
I know some have said, that another might have done the same work which Jesus did; and that the advantage of his work above that of another consists in the dignity and merit of his person; or, in other words, that the infinite estimation in which the work of Christ is to be held, arises not from its own intrinsic value, but from the infinite worth of the doer. But, upon this notion of merit, why need Christ have done any great and painful things? The infinite me. rit of his person might have been'attached to his.stooping down and taking up a straw, in the character of a servant, as really as to his laying down his life. The idea of merit held out by the
law itself is very different; it is this, The man that doth them shall live in them. Here the merit is attached to the works; the doer merits life, and shall live by the virtue of his deeds; and, therefore, Christ knew himself to be safe in laying down his life, as required of him in his Father's law; for life was there the promised reward; and, doing this, he asked life of a faithful God, and it was bestowed upon him with parental freedom, as what he had richly earned.
In the law, there was staked out a track of obedience so exceeding broad, that being followed to the end, a manifestation would be given of all the authority of God. It marked out a path of duty to the utmost bound of the universe, framed for the exhibition of the eternal God; from the height of the Father's bosom, it stretched through the angelic world down to the earth, even down to the chambers of death. He that was to undertake this work, and should not fail, nor be discouraged, till it were fully accomplished, must be supposed to possess almighty strength. Nothing greater could have been said of the work of Christ, nothing that could more fully have imported his divine character, than that he should magnify the law, and make it honourable. Isai. xlii. 21. For this work of obedience, the Lord is well pleased. Observe, the word is not, as some say, the Lord is well pleased for his person's sake, but expressly, for his righteousness sake. From the greatness and the peculiar merit of Christ's obedience, and the display made in this work of his divine character, we must conclude that the law which it regarded and honoured, was something infinitely more extensive than the moral code, the obligations of which may be fulfilled by mere creatures. The obedience, or righteousness of Christ, is dwelt upon in the scriptures, as manifesting
his infinite and eternal glory, equally with, yea far beyond, the work of creation. The holy angels have kept the law of love perfectly, but they have done nothing that will in the least compare with this work of Christ.
13. The Scriptures of the New-Testament abound with declarations, that the law is fulfilled, and that its works are completely finished; insomuch that any attempt now to do them, or even any act like that of circumcision, which implies an acknowledgment that the subject is holden to do the works of the law, would be nothing short of a disavowel of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are not under the lan, but under grace. The requirements of the law are not now dispensed; but the merits resulting from the performance of the whole work, are now in dispensation according to the promises, and these only.
Paul taught, that we are loosed from the bond of the law by the death of the cross, as completely as a woman is loosed from the bond of marriage by the death of her husband. The expressions he used to convey the idea of our perfect freedom from the law, were the strongest possible; such as our being dead to the law by the death of Christ, and our being delivered from the lany, that being dead, viz. the flesh, wherein we were held. But is this the moral law, or the law that requires love merely, love with its proper expressions ? Certainly not; for this law we are still required to fulfil, even under the fearful penalty of the portion of hypocrites and unbeliev
Grace requires this; the law of faith, the law of the spirit of life, the perfect law of liberty, requires love and charity; love and every work which expresses it. It is observed, that the law of love is called the law of Christ. Gal. vi. 2. And the royal lan, or law of our king, James
ii. 8. and is thus carefully distinguished from that law in relation to which Christ himself was a subject and a servant; and which ceased as to him, and his church being one with him, at the moment of his death, as entirely as the law of the husband terminates in his decease.
This decease, and consequent termination of the obligations of the law, is not against the promises; on the contrary, it gives them life and effect, the same as the death of the husband gives effect to his will. Hence, on this ground, not the law, or Old Testament, but the New Testament in the blood of Jesus, commences the mini stration of the spirit, and all the duties of the gospel.
Here we are met by a modern dectrine which, though an apparent quibble, and flat contradiction of the apostle, has been advanced with such strong popular influence, as renders it of serious importance. It is this, that the requirements of the works of the law are still in force, and are binding upon us, but, nevertheless, we are freed from the curse. In the matter of the works of the law, and in that of the promised rewards, the whole subject of our redemption may be summed up: This is the grand distinction of law and grace, so much laboured by the apostle; and the subject admits of no other distinction. Paul testified what he knew to be the truth, when he said that as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse. But the apostle had, and still has, his bold opponents. Popular preachers, popular because self-righteous! teach they know not what, when they say that we may be under the obligations of the works of the law, and at the same time be freed perfectly from the curse. These teachers say, that the transgressor of the law only is under the curse. By the curse I mean obligation to death. But there is higher