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before me.” This
precept does not only mean that man shall not nominate the sun, moon, or stars, or any imaginary beings, gods, and go and offer worship to them; but it also denotes, that the reverence, submission, and awethe gratitude, esteem, and admiration, which constitute worship-the affection, love, devotedness, and the trust, hope, and dependance, which are due from man to God, shall not be given to any other object whatever; whether to the distinctions and honours of the ambitious, the pride of life, the pomps and vanities of this world, or the hoards of the covetous-riches, and all their attendant luxuries and attractions ; or inordinate affection to any human creature-such as the devotion of the impassioned lover, or a parent's excessive attachment to a favourite child; for, in the estimation of the heart, all must be subordinated to the Great Supreme. The spiritual law says, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and soul, and strength, and mind; this is the first and great commandment. He whose heart departs from the living God, who trusts in any creature, any power, instead of the Almighty arm, who does not, at all times, and in all circumstances, cherish supreme love, with all the workings of mind that the divine perfections deserve-gratitude, esteem, and adoration-has violated the spiritual law, and is condemned thereby, as a transgressor of the first commandment, first in order, and first in dignity and importance ; the great commandment, which has, indeed, been violated by the whole human race.
Again, although a man does not carve a graven-image, and set it up to worship, he may set up an idol in his heart; although he does not curse and swear, he may want that reverence for the Divine Name, which the third commandment implies; and in these cases, he is convicted, by the spiritual law, of having broken the second and the third commandments.
The Sabbath-day is not only a rest from bodily labour, but is designed as a spiritual rest from secular concerns and worldly pursuits, that the eternal interests of the soul may be attended to, and that man may not forget his rela
tion to the world of spirits. Hence the law says, “Thou shalt not do thine own pleasure ón my holy day, but 'shalt call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, 'honourable, and shall honour him, not doing thine own ways, not finding thine own pleasure, not speaking thine own words."
• The Lord blessed the Sabbath-day and hallowed it," as a memorial of the wonderful works of creation; and the Lord's day, observed by Christians, is in commemoration of the resurrection of the Saviour, and the wonders of redemption ; on that day, therefore, the mind should be turned to the study of the divine perfections, as displayed in creation, providence, and redemption, in the public and private exercises of devotion, and in the perusal of the Bible, or of religious books, otherwise the spiritual import of the fourth commandment is violated. Further,
None can ever imagine that the precept, “honour thy father and thy mother," is obeyed by merely external acts of respect. Even the Chinese, (who indeed place filiál duty at the head of all the virtues,) inculcate the spiritual meaning of the law, and teach that the most complete attention to external forms of respect, and the most abundant supply of bodily comforts, is still not a fulfilling of the law, unless the heart of the child honour, and be deeply interested in the parent. But they err egregiously in not subordinating duly, filial piety, towards an earthly parent, to what all owe to the great Parent of mankind, our Father in heaven; for the law requires that in the performance of the social duties we should still have a supreme reference to the Divine Being; and not only so, but whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we should do all to the glory of God.
The same principle of spiritual obedience applies to the remaining precepts of the Decalogue, in a manner similar to the cases which have been exemplified. Actual murder is happily not often committed ; but divine revelation so expounds the law as to declare, “He that hateth his brother is a murderer.” (1 John iii. 15.) And thus he who maliciously Harbours in his breast a spirit of hatred and enmity against another män, although he may not have
actually injured his person, or destroyed his life, has violated the sixth commandment.
And so of the seventh, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” it is so explained by the Saviour and his apostles, as to include a prohibition of every form and degree of lewdness and impurity of the mind; and “he that looketh with licentious desire, hath committed adultery already in his heart.”
The sins forbidden in the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” are not only “ Theft, robbery, and manstealing, but also receiving any thing that is stolen, fraudulent dealing, false weights and measures, removing land-marks, injustice and unfaithfulness in contracts between man and man, or in matters of trust, extortion, engrossing commodities to enhance the price, and all other unjust or sinful ways of taking, or withholding from our neighbour what belongs to him; or of enriching ourselves ;” and (which is more strictly a spiritual violation ‘of the law) all “envying at the prosperity of others, and secretly wishing their downfal.”
The ninth precept of the Decalogue, which forbids malicious falsehoods injurious to our neighbour, should not be confined to evidence given before a magistrate; the spirit of the law is violated by all slander and defamation, or rejoicing in the disgrace and infamy of others.
Discontentment with our own estate or condition in life, envying and grieving at the good of our neighbour, together with all inordinate motions and affections of the mind to any thing that is his, constitute a violation of the tenth and last precept of the Decalogue; and the duties required, as well as sins forbidden in it, are all solely, of a spiritual nature.
Now the spirituality of the divine law being established, it follows of course that its penalties are spiritual, that the punishment of violations of this law are not confined to temporal and bodily calamities, but affect the immortal spirit after its separation from the body.
And it should be remembered, that he who administers this law, and judges of offences against it, is the Searcher
of hearts, “ from whom no secret is hid,” but before whom all thoughts and imaginations are naked and open; from whose sight the darkness is no covering, and to whose all-seeing eye, night and day are the same.
Now if God enter into judgment with us, and we be tried by his holy and spiritual law, who can stand acquitted ? even we ourselves being judges, who of us is not self-condemned? Yes! by the law, is only the knowledge of sin, it can only serve to convict and to condemn; it never can justify; we can never be acquitted if judged by it; the obedience of the best man on earth, since the first fatal sin was committed, has not come up to its requirements; and he who goes about to establish his own righteousness, or to seek salvation by the works of the law, by pleading before Heaven his well-spent life, or other similar pleas, shews only his own gross ignorance of God's righteousness, and of the spirituality of the divine law.
The fact is, the more we know of the law the more we shall be convinced of our own guilt ; and therefore the law is now a “Schoolmaster,” (as St. Paul says,) a preceptor, to lead or point us to Christ, the surety and the Saviour of men; and the design is that we may become dead to the law, abandon it as to any idea of ever being acquitted and justified by it, and seek for salvation only by the faith of the gospel. For, even defective as our illustration has now been, it is sufficient to shew every heart, that its obedience to the spiritual law is imperfect, even when in its
very best state, and how much more when in its worst. When the mind, as the Bible says, is “ carnal, sold under sin," as a willing slave to a diabolical profligate master, at
enmity against God;" and yielding the bodily members “servants to uncleanness and to iniquity,” fallen man, having a hard and impenitent heart, filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, being haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, without natural affection, disobedient to parents, implacable, unmerciful ; and still more, men
knowing the judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death; not only do the same, but take pleasure in those who do them.
This description of human nature is drawn by St. Paul, the same inspired person who in our text stated the holy and spiritual requirements of the divine law.
But some say, “ Jesus died that he might mitigate the strictness of the law;" however, of this there is no evidence; the evidence is all on the other side. His exposition of the law increases, instead of mitigating its strictness, and exalts its 'sublime spiritual import. The Bible says, he died to magnify the law, and to make it honourable; but to mitigate its requirements would, by assuming its originally excessive strictness, and by consequence its injustice, degrade it and dishonour it, as well as its Author. The Scripture doctrine is, that sooner may heaven and earth pass away, than one jot or tittle of the law fail ; that ere forgiveness could be granted to sinful man, it was necessary that God, manifest in the flesh, must obey and suffer the penalty of the latv, ás a substitute. Herein is the mystery of redemption; it honours all the divine perfections; justice and mercy, though seemingly opposed to each other, there meet together; the law is honoured and magnified, and yet the sinner is saved. This is the wonderful subject into which the angels desire to look; for they see in the Church of Christ, in the assembly of the redeemed, the manifold wisdom of God; they see a grand and full display of all the attributes of Deity.
Thus it will appear, that the Scripture doctrine of justification by faith, or salvation only by a complete relinquishment of all claims on account of man's righteousness, and a humble, sincere application to the Saviour, to be clothed by his righteousness, to be " found in him," so far from making void the law, in fact establishes it. For the argument runs thus :
The holy spiritual law of God, framed by the divine and infinite wisdom, is a standard to which no man, since the fall, can come up. And this law knows nothing of