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of clay.

While I am a child I must speak as a child. But I shall soon put away childish things. For when that which is perfeEt is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

6. But to return. The law of God, (speaking after the manner of men) is a copy of the eternal mind, a transcript of the divine nature : yea it is the fairest offspring of the Everlasting Father, the brightest efflux of his essential wisdom, the visible beauty of the Most High. It is the delight and wonder of cherubim and seraphim and all the company of heaven, and the glory and joy of every wise believer, every well-instructed child of God upon earth.

III. I. Such is the nature of the ever-blessed law of God. I am, in the third place, to shew the properties of it: not all; for that would cxceed the wisdom of an angel. But those only which are mentioned in the text. These are three : It is holy, just, and good. And first, The law is holy.

2. In this expression the apostle does not appear to speak of its effects, but, rather of its naturc; ás St. James speaking of the same thing under another name, says, Tipe wisdom froin above (which is no other than this law, written on our heart) is first pure, chap. iii. r7. ayun, chaste, spotless, internally and essentially holy. And consequently, when it is transcribed into the life, as well the soul, it is (as the same apostle terms it), chap. i. 27. Opnouela ragaza *, quia vloga Pure religion and undefiled; or, the pure, clean, unpolluted worship of God.

3. It is indeed, in the highest degree, pure, chaste, clean, holy. Otherwise it could not be the immediate offspring, and much less the express resemblance of God, who is essential holiness. It is pure from all sin, clean and unspotted from any touch of evil. It is a chaste virgin, incapable of any defilement, of any mixture with that which is unclean or unholy. It has no fellowship with sin of any kind. For what communion hath light with darkness? As sin is in its very nature enmity to God, so bis law is enmity to sin.

Therefore it is, that the apostle rejects with such abhorrence, that blasphemous supposition, that the law of God is either sin itself, or the cause of sin.

God forbid,

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that we should suppose, it is the cause of sin; because it is the discoverer of it: because it detects the hidden things of darkness, and drags them out into open day. It is true, by this means, (as the apostle observes, ver. 13.) sin appears to be sin. its disguises are torn away, and it appears in its native deformity. It is true likewise, that sin by the coinmandment becomes exceeding sinful. Being now committed against light and knowledge, being stript even of the poor plea of ignorance, it loses its excuse as well as disguise, and becomes far more odious both to Gud and man. Yea, and it is true, that sin worketh death by that which is good, which in itself is pure and holy. When it is dragged out to light, it rages the more: when it is restrained, it bursts out with greater violence. Thus the apostle, (speaking in the person of one, who was convinced of sin, but not yet delivered from it) sin taking occasion by the commandment, detecting and endeavouring to restrain it, disdained the restraint, and so much the more wrought in me all manner of concupiscence, ver. 8.' All manner of foolish and hurtful desire, which that commandment sought to restraiii." Thus when the commundment caine, sin revived, ver. 9. It fretted and raged the more. But this is no stain on the commandment.Though it is abused it cannot be defiled.

This only proves, that the heart of man is desperately wicked. But the law of God is holy still.

5. And it is, secondly, just. It renders to all their due. It prescribes exactly what is right, precisely what ought to be done, said or thought both with regard to the author of our being, with regard to ourselves, and with regard to every creature which he has made. It is adapted in all respects to the nature of things, of the whole universe 'and erery individual. It is suited to all the circumstances of each, and to all their mutual relations, whether such as have existed from the beginning, or such as commenced in any following period. It is exactly agreeable to the fitnesses of things, whether essential or accidental. It clashes with none of these in any degree; nor is ever unconnected with them. If the word be taken in that sense, there is nothing arbitrary in the law of God. Although still the whole and every part thereof, is totally dependent upon his will : so that


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thy will be done, is the supreme, universal law both in earth and heaven,

6. “But is the will of God the cause of his law? Is his will the original of right and wrong? Is a thing therefore right, because God wills it? Or does he will it, because it is right ?".

I fear this celebrated question is more curious than useful And perhaps, in thie manner it is usually treated of, it does not so well consist with the regard that is due from a creature, to the Creator and Governor of all things. It is hardly decent for man, to call the Supreme God to give an account to him! Nevertheless, with awe and reverence we may speak a little. The Lord pardon us, if we speak amiss !

7. It seems then, that the whole difficulty arises, from considering God's will as distinct from God. Otherwise it vanishes away. For none can doubt, but God is the cause of the law of God. But the will of God is God himself. It is God considered as willing thus or tbus. Consequently, to say, That the will of God, or that God himself is the cause of the law, is one and the same thing.

8. Again ; if the law, the immutable rule of right and wrong, depends on the nature and fitnesses of things, and on their essential relations to each other: (I do not say, their eternal relations; because the eternal relation of things existing in time, is little less than a contradiction :) if, I say, this depends on the nature and relations of things, then it must depend on God, or the will of God : because those things themselves, with all their relations, are the works of his hands. By his will, for his pleasure alone, they all are and were created.

9. And yet it may be granted (which is probably all that a considerate person would contend for) that in every particular case, God wills this or this (suppose that men should honour their parents) because it is right, and agreeable to the fitness of things, to the relation wherein they stand.

10. The law then is right and just concerning all things. And it is good as well as just. This we may easily infer from the fountain whence it flowed. For what was this, but the goodness of God? What but

goodness goodness alone inclined him to impart that divine copy ot' himself to the holy angels ? To what else can we impute his bestowing upon man the same transcript of his own nature ? And what but tender love constrained him afresh to manifest bis will to fallen man ? Either to Adam, or any of his seed, who like him were come short of the glory of God? Was it not mere love that moved him to publish his law, after the understandings of men were darkened? And to send his prophets to declare that law to the blind, thoughtless children of God ? Doubtless his goodness it was which raised up Enoch and Noah, to be preachers of righteousness; which caused Abraham, his friend, and Isaac and Jacob, to bear witness to his truth. It was his goodness alone, which when darkness had covered the earth, and thick darkness the people, gave a written law to Moses, and through him, to the nation whom be had chosen. It was his love which explained these living oracles by David and all the prophets that followed: until, when the fulness of time was come, he sent his onlybegotten Son, not to destroy the law, but to fulfil, to confirm every jot and tittle thereof, till having wrote it in the hearts of all his children, and put all his enemies under his feet, be shall deliver up his mediatorial kingdom to the Futher, that God may be all in all.

11. And this law, which the goodness of God gave at first, and has preserved through all ages, is, like the fountain from whence it springs, full of goodness and benignicy: It is nild and kind ; it is (as the Psalmist expresses it) sweeter than honey and the boney-coinb. It is winning and aniiable. It includes whatsoever things are lovely or of good report. If there be any virtue, if there be any praise before God and his holy angels, they are all comprized in this: wherein are hid all the treasures of the divine wisdom and knowledge and love.

12. And it is good in its effects, as well as in its nature. As the tree is, so are its fruits. The fruits of the law of God written in the heart, are righteousness and peace and assurance for ever. Or rather, the law itself is righteousness, filling the soul with a peace which passeth all understanding, and causing us to rejoice evermore, in the testimony of a good conscience toward God. It is not so properly a pledge, as an earnest of our inheritance, being a


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part of the purchased possession. It is God made maa nifest in our flesh, and bringing with him eternal life: assuring us by that pure and perfect love, that we are sealed unto the day of redemption : that he will spare us as a man spareth his own son that serveth him, in the day when he maketh up his jewels, and that there remaineth for us a crown of glory which fadeth not away.

IV. 1. It remains only to shew, in the fourth and lasť place, the uses of the law. And the first use of it without question is, to convince the world of sin. This is indeed the peculiar work of the Holy Ghost : who can work it without any means åt all, or by whatever means it pleaseth him, however insufficient in themselves, or even improper to produce such an effect. And accordingly some there are whose hearts have been broken in pieces in a moment, either in sickness or in health, without any visible cause, or any outward means" whatever. And others (one in an age) have been awakened to a sense of the wrath of God abiding on them, by hearing, that God was in Cbrist, reconciling the world unto himself. But it is the ordinary method of the Spirit of God, to convict sinners by the law. It is this, which being set home on the conscience, generally breaketh the rocks in pieces. It is more especially this part of the word of God, which is Swo Me,' svegins, quick and powerful, full of life and energy, and sharper than any two-edged sword. This, in the hand of God, and of those whom he hath sent, pierces through all the folds of a deceitful heart, and dirides asunder even the soul and spirit, yea, as it were, the very joints and marrow. By this is the sinner discovered to himself. All his fig-leaves are torn away, and he sees that he is wretched, and poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. The law flashes conviction on every side. He feels himself a

a mere sinner. He has nothing to pay, His mouth is stopt, and he stands guilty before God.

2. To slay the sinner is then the first use of the law; to destroy the life and strength wherein he trusts, and convince him that he is dead while he liveth ; not only under the sentence of death, but actually dead unto God, void of all spiritual lise, dead in trespasses and sins. The second use of it is, to bring him unto life, unto Christ,


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