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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
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 law, as 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
forgiveness; it says, "Do this and live," if not, suffer the penalty. Nor is it judged right by Heaven to mitigate its requirements, or lower the purity, spirituality, and strictness of the standard.
But then, the case being thus, man must perish, for he has not only once violated the law, not only often transgressed it; but it may be safely affirmed, that no man, in any instance, now FULFILS the law; he does not love God and love his neighbour to the degree that the law requires.
Thus the hope of salvation by our own doings, by works of righteousness, which we think we have done or can do, is excluded. Man is "shut up" to the faith of Christ. There is no door of hope open, but the door of faith. He who knew no sin; Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, was made a sin-offering for man. He obeyed, and suffered in our stead, and so redeemed us from the curse of the law. The law is by him honoured, its justice, and goodness, and purity, are admitted and maintained, and all its demands satisfied; and now God is in Christ, reconciling the world to himself; but out of Christ there is no promise of reconciliation. And the language of Heaven seems to be, "O sinner, give up thy vain pretensions to righteousness and to merit. See the lightnings, and hear the thunders of Sinai, the awful penalty of the violated law hovers over thy head; flee for refuge to the hope set before thee in the Gospel; slumber not! linger not! Cavil no longer, but to-day, instantly, ere death cut thee down, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!"
Now, is it this doctrine that makes void the law? Certainly by no means. It maintains and exalts the dignity of the law.
It is the human fiction, that repentance is enough, without any atonement, to satisfy the law and save us; which degrades the divine law to a level with the impracticable, sleeping, unrepealed laws of human codes. This notion in fact nullifies the law of God, for it supposes that the law is neither obeyed, nor its penalty inflicted; and if so,
then what is the use of it! Ah, no! this notion is too gross, too much calculated to bring the divine law, and its Author, the Divine Being, (I almost tremble, when I but express the just consequence,) into utter contempt, ever to be believed, if closely investigated in the light of divine revelation.
And the justness of our reasoning is fully confirmed by an appeal to facts. The doctrine of justification, by faith in the Saviour, is much more efficacious in producing good works, than the doctrine that repentance, and such good works as ours, are a sufficient ground of acceptance with God.
And the mode of operation on the mind seems to be, that the doctrine which teaches the necessity of atonement, is calculated to fill the soul with deep humility, seriousness, and anxiety to be saved from the wrath to come; and it leads the sinner to Jesus for help, and none ask him for help in vain. He gives the Holy Spirit to them that ask him, and the spirit helpeth our infirmities.
The other doctrine engenders a spirit of pride, and of self-sufficiency, and little or no seriousness; no anxiety to avoid that evil, which the man thinks it is in his own power at any time to remove. He does not feel his need of help, he does not ask it, and he does not get it; for it is written, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble."
It may be objected, that we "have sublimed and spiritualized the standard of the law, to such a degree, as to cut off all hope of fulfilling it, and of consequence would render all attempts or endeavours to keep it of no use; and indeed, that it is of no use, since we are said to be saved by the righteousness of another; and thus man is set against the law, or made careless about it, and Antinomianism, that pernicious heresy, is defended." I answer, that I am not aware of having over-strained the declarations of the Bible; but that truth may be perverted and abused, that the grace of God may be turned into licentiousness; that man may have a true theory in his head, and yet not believe it, and so may lead a wicked life, and "hold the truth in unrighteousness:" This is