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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
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
admitted; still the inference, from what we have said, that endeavours to keep the law are useless, or not required, is denied.
For we maintain not only the sublime spirituality of the divine law, but also that it is eternally in force ; that there is in it an eternal fitness, and that it will be the neverabrogated rule of right between the Creator and the creature, and between creatures circumstanced as
we are ; that there is an inseparable connexion between obedience to it and human happiness; and, therefore, it is absurd to suppose it will ever cease to be requisite, or to be useful. The Saviour came not to destroy the law, but to confirm and fulfil the law; not only to save us from the penalty of the broken law, but also to restore our desire and ability to keep it.
And here comes in the necessity of the Scripture doctrine of regeneration. To obey the spiritual law, “ Ye must be born again;" if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new. The man has a new belief and perception of eternal realities, new motives hence arise, new hopes, new dependencies, new antipathies, new pleasures. He is translated out of the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God's dear Son; turned from darkness to light; from the power of Satan to God. To as many as believe the Gospel, Jesus gives the power to become the sons of God; he gives them the spirit of adoption, they look up to Jehovah and call him Father.
Now then, there is no condemnation to them that are thus in Christ Jesus. But, be it observed, they must walk, not after the flesh, but after the spirit; must cleanse thenselves from all filthiness of the flesh, and also of the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God; and must be on earth a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Thus fighting the good fight of faith, and laying hold on eternal life, they shall eventually finish their course with joy, and have an abundant entrance—that is, as under full sail, enter the haven of eternal purity, peace, and felicity.
There the spiritual law of love shall still be their rule, and then their obedience to it will be perfect, and, partly from that very cause, their bliss will be complete.
These, my brethren, are I believe, the solemn and delightful truths of God's Holy Book; and say now, Do we make void the law? or, does our doctrine establish the law? Is it not evident that that which magnifies the law is the Gospel ? And this Gospel, the Gospel of God our Saviour, is utterly unlike any other system of religion or morals in the world? The Gospel never abandons the position, that the law is spiritual, and eternally binding, as a rule. And, it is only an ignorance of this truth, or a forgetfulness of it, or some false opinions concerning it, that allows the careless, carnal security, and lamentable indifference of so many persons, who are every hour, every moment, still liable to the awful penalty of heaven's violated law, because they will not come to Christ, that they may be saved.
The preacher had closed here, and were he to meet you weekly he would now have done. But, recollecting that most of us will never meet again, under similar circumstances, he is anxious that the discourse of this day, should not be considered as a piece of matter-of-course declamation; he solemnly and seriously requests that those not convinced, will “search the Scriptures, and see whether these things be so" or not; for, if true, their importance is greater than words can express, or mind conceive. Oh, how tremendously awful the penalty of the law! Oh, how great a salvation to be redeemed from its curse, and restored to obedience to it, which is life and peace. This is happiness! this is heaven! Oh, that this may be the portion of us all. Look to Jesus! None but Christ, none but Christ! Let him be all our salvation, and all our desire. If we abide in him, we shall bring forth plenteously the fruits of righteousness and holy living, which are to the praise and glory of God.
DELIVERED TO TWO FAMILIES IN DR. LIVINGSTONE'S House,
AT MACAO, MARCH 3, 1822.
[Macao, in China, is a small island-like peninsula of a larger islet, in the bay which forms the entrance to Canton. The Chinese Government receives a ground-rent from the Portuguese residents, who are allowed a Government for the management of their own people, and forts for their own protection, but subject and open at all times to the Chinese authorities. Here the European Merchants, during the absence of their ships, retire from Canton, by the permission and the authority of the Chinese Government. The Portuguese have, in Macao, several Parish churches, and about fifty Ecclesiastics.
Here, during the summers, of 1818 and 1819, in quence of there being no Protestant Chaplain in the settlement, Dr. Morrison felt constrained to deduct a few hours from his Chinese pursuits, and prepared Lectures for the Sabbath mornings, which were subsequently printed for distribution in the east.
In 1819 a Chaplain for the Honourable East India Company's Factory arrived in China, and Dr. Morrison discontinued his morning lecture. The following brief discourse was, composed on a visit to Macao, during what is called the Canton season, when there wa
1 CoR. XV. 50-58.
“ O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory ?”
The death of a human being presents to the eye of an observer a shocking spectacle, and most shocking, when the deceased has been an acquaintance, a dear friend, or a beloved relative. The first cessation of life darkens the brightest eye, that it can no longer see, and deafens the