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. By all which it appears, that the Bleffings of Justification and Salvation which we expect, muft 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 ferveth the Law? as the Apostle asks the question, in the next Verfe of our Text: to which the Anfwer is in the following words; It was added because of Tranfgreffions, till the Seed should come, to whom the Promife was made. Where its being added becaufe of Tranfgreffions, fignifies its being given both to difcover and prevent Sin, which is the Tranfgreflion 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 faid, Thou shalt not covet. And as it was given to discover, fo was it added to prevent Sin, and to reftrain Men from it, by fhewing them the Guilt and Punishment of it, and making them to feek out for a Remedy; which could only be by this promis'd Seed: and therefore they were to read and ftudy and live by that Law, till the Seed fhould come, to whom the Promife was made; that is, till Chrift and his Members, his Difciples and Believers, fhould 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 Inftrument of their Juftification, which could only be done by Faith in Chriff. In the mean time, the principal Ufe and Defign of the Law was to keep them from Sin, and to affright them from all Tranfgreffions and Violations of it: to which end, it was ordain'd by Angels in the hand of a Mediator; that is, it was deliver'd by them in a moft folemn and glorious manner, with Thunder and Lightning, and the Sound of a Trumpet, and with all the pompous Solemnities of Dread and Terror, to keep them to the Obfervance of it. Yea, fo terrible was the Appearance, that the People durft not approach the Mountain, and therefore Mofes was call'd 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 Ufe and Reafon of the Law, he proceeds, in the next Verse, to another Question, which they might be apt to move in this
Cafe and that is, Is the Law then against the Promises of God? Since the Promife made to Abraham is fo full of Comfort, and the Law given by Mofes fo full of Terror, is there any Clashing or Oppofition between them?
This Question he answers with an Abfit; No, God forbid! for if there had been a Lam given, which could have given Life, verily Righteoufnefs fhould 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 Righteoufnefs might have been by the Law; then might the Promife made to Abraham have been fuperfeded as void and ufelefs, having a later Remedy of being justify'd and pronounc'd righteous by the Law.
But alas! the Cafe is quite otherwise for neither hath the Law any fuch power of acquitting and granting Life; nor if it had, have we any power of performing the Conditions requifite to the receiving the benefit of it; and fo muft remain for ever in a helpless and undone Condition, if not reliev'd by the Promife made to Abraham and his Seed, and by the Merits of the Meffiah who iffa'd from him. This is evident from
The lait Words of our Text; for the Scripture hath concluded all under Sin, that the Promife by Faith in Jefus Chrift might be given to them that believe. The Scripture tells us, that no mere Man ever did or could keep the whole Law; far in many things we offend all, and if we fay we have no Sin, we 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 Curfe 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 fhut 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 recourfe to a Saviour, and that the Prontife by Faith in Chrift might be given to them that believe.
This is the Sense and Sunt of the Epiftle for this Day; from whence we may infer a few weighty and useful Leffons: As,
1. We may learn hence to magnify the infinite Wisdom, Power, and Goodnefs of God, in providing this Remedy for us in the promis'd Seed: We were all loft in Adam, but are happily reftor'd in Abraham; the Sin of the one being
done away by the Righteoufnefs of the other. This was the bleffed Contrivance of Heaven for the Reftauration 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 nobleft Rank of Creatures: for tho the Angels first fell from their Station of Glory, and after drew us into the fame Mifery with themfelves, yet the Son of God was pleas'd to pass by them, and to reftore us; for he took not on him the Nature of Angels, but took on him the Seed of Abraham: which is an Inftance 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 Juftification, which is not by the Works of the Law, by which no Flesh living can be justify'd, but by Faith in Chrift. The Law fpeaks nothing but Death and Damnation and as many as are under the Law, are under the Curfe, 'Tis the Grace and Spirit of the Gofpel, which alone fpeaks Life and Salvation; 'tis that helps us to the Pardon of our Sins, and the Acceptance of our Perfons as righteous before God. We all ftand condemn'd by the Sentence of the Law, which the best of us daily break in Thought, Word, and Deed; fo that we can expect no Favour thence, and it would be Arrogance and Folly to build the Hopes of Salvation upon fo bad a Foundation. To find Mercy, we must have recourse to the Promife made to us in Abraham, and look for a Bleffing from the promis'd Seed: and to obtain Juftification, we must appeal from the Rigour and Curfe of the Law, to the Mercy and Favour of the Gospel, to rely upon the Atonement reveal'd in it as purchas'd by Chrift, and bestow'd on them that believe.
Laftly, Let us learn from hence to qualify our felves for this Blefing, and that is by Faith in Chrift, for the Promife is made and given only to them that believe. 'Tis not the bare Defcent from Abraham that will intitle to it; for St. John bid the Jews, not to think it fufficient to fay, We have Abraham to our Father, for God was able of thefe Stones to raise up Children unto Abraham, Mat. 3. 9. And our Savipur tells them, that calling Abraham their Father would be of no ufe to them, without doing the Works and following the Faith of Abraham; John 8. No external Privileges can do them any fervice, without internal Grace in the Heart; for neither Circumcifion or Uncircumcifion availeth any thing,
but a new Creature. Wherefore let us pray and labour for a firm and ftedfaft 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 Promife of Salvation for us.
The GOSPEL for the Thirteenth Sunday after
St. Luke x. 23- 38.
Bleffed are the Eyes that fee the things that ye fee; for I tell you, that many Prophets and Kings have "defir'd to fee those things which ye fee, and have not seen them, and to hear those things that ye hear, and have not heard them, And behold a certain Lawyer ftood up, &c.
HE Epiftle for the Day fpake of Chrift in the Promife made to Abraham and his Seed, long before his Coming, of which before.
The Gofpel fpeaks of him as actually come, fhewing himself to his Difciples, and delivering to them the Words of eternal Life: and thence declares the much greater Bleffedness of thofe that faw him in the Flesh, than they that only beheld him in the Promife; as 'tis a far greater Confort to fee a Friend, than barely to hear of him. Which made him turn to his Difciples, and fay privately to them, Bleffed are the Eyes that fee the things that ye fee, &c. meaning, that their Eyes were bleffed with the fight of the most glorious Object, in feeing their Saviour, that they were capable of beholding. A fight that made good old Simeon defire to fee nothing more after he had feen that, as knowing that the World could not afford fuch another Profpect: Nom (faith he) let thy Servant depart in peace, for mine Eyes have seen thy Salvation, which thou haft pre
pared before the face of all People, to be a Light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the Glory of thy People Ifrael. Luke 2. 29, 30, &c.
St. John tells us, that he and many others were blefs'd with that happy Sight, John 1. 14. The Word was made Flesh, and we beheld his Glory, as the Glory of the only-begotten Son of God, full of Grace and Truth. And elsewhere, That which we have feen with our Eyes, which we have looked on, and our Hands have handled of the Word of Life, that declare we unto you; for the Life was manifefted, and we have feen it, and bear witness, and hem unto you that eternal Life that was with the Father, and was manifefted unto us. 1 John 1. I, 2.
Now here the Eyes are pronounc'd bleffed, that thus faw him in the Flefh; and that because many Prophets and Kings have defir'd to fee those things which ye fee, and have not Seen them, and to hear thofe things which you hear, and have not heard them. The Prophets and Kings here mention'd, were Abraham, Mofes, with other fucceeding Prophets and Princes, who in all the Meffages they deliver'd concerning the Meffias had longing Defires to fee him, and likewife to hear the Doctrine to be reveal'd by him. And yet none of them ever had the happiness of either; for tho God difcover'd himself to fome of them, and employ'd them in revealing his Will to others, yet the Revelations now made to you, are infinitely beyond any that were afforded to Men before. Abraham indeed is faid to fee Chrift's Day, but that was through a Glafs darkly; he faw him afar off in the Promife and the Prophecy, but ye faw him face to face. And thence he proceeds to blefs the Eyes that faw his Perfon, and the Ears that heard his Doctrine; both which were Favours and Privileges never vouchfafed to any Kings or Prophets before.
Upon Chrift's fpeaking these things to his Difciples, Behold, a certain Lawyer food up and tempted him, saying, Mafter, what shall I do to inherit eternal Life? Which Question proceeded not from any fincere Defire of knowing or doing his Duty, but from an infidious Design of intrapping or intangling of him: to defeat which, our Saviour fo orders the matter, as to make him anfwer his own Question; for referring him to the Law, he asks what is written there? and how readeft thou? He anfwer. ing, faid, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, and with all thy Soul, and with all thy Strength, and with all