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Pofterity. For if the Blessing foretold to come upon all Nations, Gentiles as well as Jews, come upon the performance of the Mofaical Law, then there is an end of the Promise made to Abraham, and nothing can come to him or his Seed by virtue of that, which is directly contrary to the whole Tenor of Scripture, for that affirms it to come to Abraham and his Posterity by Promise only. Be. side,
The ascribing of Justification to the Works of the Law, will attribute our fuftification to our selves, and our own Performances, and wholly derogate from the Honour and Efficacy of Christ's Satisfaction : for if our keeping the Law be the Terms of our Acceptance with God, we are then our own Justifiers and Saviours, and there can be no Heed of another's Righteousness, if our own will serve the turn. Moreover,
This will advance the Notion of Merit, and beat down the Price of the Mercy and Merits of a Redeemer : for if pur Works are sufficient to Justification, then may they deserve and claim it at God's hand, and we need look no farther, or be beholden to any other. 'Tis upon this foot, that St. Paul fo_strongly argues against Juftification by Works, in his Epistle to the Romans and elsewhere; tel. fing us, that they who raise the Structure of their Hopes upon the Foundation of their legal Performances, and trust too much to themselves, have whereof to boast : like the proud Pharisees, who counted upon a generous kind of Happiness to be atchiev'd by the Merit of their own Works, and scorn'd a borrow'd and beggarly Felicity, that came like an Alms from the Bounty of Heaven. Which Pride and Arrogance of the Pharisees is sharply rebuk'd by our Saviour, who told them that Publicans and Harlots Mall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven before them.
Now to him that worketh (faith St. Paul) is the Reward reckou'd not of Grace, but of Debt, Rom. 4. 4. that is, he that looks to be justify'd by his own Works, receives the Blesling not as from the Grace and Favour of God, but as a Debt due to his own Merits : which Vanity he blames in some of the Israelites, who being ignorant of Christ's Righteousness, and going about to establish their own Righteousness, submitted not to the Righteousness of God; Rom. 10. 3. And this depriv'd them of all the Comfort and Benefit of it; and therefore we are all taught to say, Not by Works of Righteousness which we have done, but by his Mercy he saveth
Ms. By all which it appears, that the Blessings of Justification and Salvation which we expect, must come from the Promise made to Abraham and his Seed, and not from the Law, which was after given by Moses.
But if matters be thus, Wherefore then "Serveth the Law as the Apostle asks the question, in the next Verse of our Text: to which the Answer is in the following words ; It was added because of Transgressions, till the Seed jould comey to whom the Promise was made. Where its being added because of Transgressions, fignifies its being given both to discover and prevent Sin, which is the Transgression of the Law : By the Law (faith the Apostle) cometh the Knowledg of Sin, for I had not known Luft, if the Law had not said, Thou shalt not covet. And as it was given to discover, so was it added to prevent Sin, and to restrain Men from it, by Thewing them the Guilt and Punishment of it, and ma king them to seek out for a Remedy; which could only be by this promis'd Seed: and therefore they were to read and study and live by that Law, till the Seed should comez to whom the Promise was made; that is, till Christ and his Members, his Disciples and Believers, should come to give them clearer and fuller Directions. So that the Law was given them as a Rule to walk by, and to govern their Actions, tho it could not be the Means or Instrument of their Justification, which could only be done by Faith in Chrilt In the mean time, the principal Use and Design of the Law was to keep them from Sin, and to affright them from all Transgressions and Violations of it: to which end, it was ordaind by Angels in the band of a Mediator ; that is, it was deliver'd by them in a most folemin and glorious man
а ner, with Thunder and Lightning, and the Sound of a Trumpet, and with all the pompous Soleninities of Dread and Terror, to keep them to the Observance of it. Yea, so terrible was the Appearance, that the People durft not approach the Mountain, and therefore Moses was callid up to be a Mediator, to fhew them the Word of the Lord, and by his Hand to deliver it to them. Now this Mediator was not to God only, but between God and the People ; for a Mediator is not a Mediator of one, but God is one.
When the Apostle had given this Account of the Use and Reason of the Law, he proceeds, in the next Verse, to another Question, which they might be apt to move in this Х2
Cafe : Cafe : and that is, Is the Law then against the Promises of God? Since the Promise made to Abraham is so full of Comfort, and the Law given by Moses so full of Terror, is there any Clashing or Opposition between them?
This Question he answers with an Absit ; No, God forbid! for if there had been a Lam given, which could have given Life, verily Righteousness mould have been by the Law; ver, 21. That is, had the Law any power of abfolving us from our Guilt, and granting to us Life and Salvation, indeed then Righteousness might have been by the Law; then might the Promise made to Abraham have been superseded as void and useless, having ą later Remedy of being juftify’d and pronounc'd righteous by the Law.
But alas! the Case is quite otherwise : for neither hath the Law any such power of 'acquitting and granting Life ; nor if it had, have we any power of performing the Conditions requisite to the receiving the benefit of it; and fo must remain for ever in a helpless and undone Condition, if not reliev'd by the Promise made to Abraham and his Seed, and by the Merits of the Messiah who iffa'd front hin. This is evident from
The lait Words of our Text; for the Scripture hath concluded all under Sin, that the Promise by Faith in Jesus Chrift might be given to them that believe. The Scripture tells us, that no mere Man ever did or could keep the whole Law; tar in many things we offend all, and if we say we have no Sin, me deceive our felves, and the Truth is not in us. The Law exacts from us perfect and unfinning Obedience, which is not in our power to pay; and pronounces a Curse upon every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the Book of the Law, to do them. So that by this we are all shut up under Sin, and fentenc'd to eternal Death, the juft Wages and Punishment of it. This the Scriptures have reveal'd to us, that we may have recoarse to a Sa. viour, and that the Promise by Faith in Christ might be given to them that believe.
This is the Sense and Suni of the Epistle for this Day from whence we may infer a few weighty and useful Lessons : As,
1. We may learn hence to magnify the infinite Wisdom, Power, and Goodness of God, in providing this Remedy for us in the promisd Seed: We were all loft in Adam, bať re happily restor'd in Abraham; the Sin of the one being
done away by the Righteousness of the other. This was the blessed Contrivance of Heaven for the Restauration of Mankind, who had neither Knowledg nor Ability to help themselves: in this forlorn Condition our gracious God took pity upon us, and found out this Expedient to relieve us in our lowest State, and thereby distinguish'd us in his Favour above the noblest Rank of Creatures : for tho the Angels first fell from their Station of Glory, and after drew us into the same Misery with themselves, yet the Son of God was pleas'd to pass by them, and to restore us; for he took not on him the Nature of Angels, but took on him the Seed of Abraham : which is an Instance of the Divine Goodness, ever to be own'd and admir'd by the Sons of Men.
2. We learn hence the right Way and Method of our Justification, which is not by the Works of the Law, by which no Flesh living can be justify'd, but by Faith in Christ. The Law speaks nothing but Death and Damnation ; and as many as are under the Law, are under the Curse, 'Tis the Grace and Spirit of the Gospel, which alone speaks Life and Salvation; 'tis that helps us to the Pardon of our Sins, and the Acceptance of our Persons as righteous before God. We all stand condemnd by the Sentence of the Law, which the best of us daily break in Thought, Word, and Deed; so that we can expect no Favour thence, and it would be Arrogance and Folly to build the Hopes of Sal. vation upon so bad a Foundation. To find Mercy, we must have recourse to the Promise, made to us in Abraham, and look for a, Blessing from the promis'd Seed : and to obtain Justification, we must appeal from the Rigour and Curse of the Law, to the Mercy and Favour of the Gospel, to rely upon the Atonement reveald in it as purchas'd by Christ, and bestow'd on them that believe.
Lastly, Let us learn from hence to qualify our felves for this Blesling, and that is by Faith in Christ'; for the Promise is made and given only to them that believe, Tis nat the bare Descent from Abraham that will intitle to it; for St. John bid the Jews, not to think it fufficient to say, We have Abraham tq our Father, for God was able of these Stones to raise up Children unto Abraham ; Mat. 3.9. And our Sa
. vipur tells them, that calling Abraham their Father would be of no use to them, without doing the Works and following the Faith of Abraham John 8. No external Privileges can
1 ; do them any service, without internal Grace in the Heart; for neither Circumcision or Uncircumcision availeth any thing,
but a nero Creature. Wherefore let us pray and fabour for a firm and stedfast Faith in Chrift; and that not a dead, idle, and ineffectual Faith, but a Faith that is lively and operative, and is accompany'd with good Works : for a dead Faith will never bring us to Life, nor obtain the Promise of Salvation for us.
The GOSPEų for the Thirteenth Sunday after
St. Luke x, 23-38. Blessed are the Eyes that see the things that ye see;
for I tell you, that many Prophets and King's have desir’d to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things that ye hear, and have not heard them, And behold & certain Lawyer stood up, &c.
HE Epistle for the Day fpake of Christ in the Promise made to Abraham and his Seed, long before
his Coming; of which before. The Gospel speaks of him as actually come, shewing himself to his Disciples, and delivețing to them the Words of eternal Life: and thence declares the much greater Blersedness of those that faw him in the Flesh, than they that only beheld him in the Promise; as 'tis a far greater Conifort to see a Friend, than barely to hear of him. Which made him turn to his Disciples, and say privately to them, Blesed are the Eyes that see the things that ye fee, &c. meaning, that their Eyes were bleffed with the light of the niosť glorious Object, in seeing their Saviour, that they were capable of beholding. A fight that made good old Simeon desire to see nothing more after he had seen that, as knowing that the World could not afford fuch another Prospect : Nom (faith he) let thy Servant depart in peace, for mine Eyes have seen thy Salvation, which thou hast pre