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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
From The Pulpit Cyclopedia, 1851
"Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." (Galatians 3:10)
I desire on this occasion, to place before you one complete view of the law of God, that we may understand distinctly how we stand connected with it, and the great end it should answer in our experience. Correct views of the law are indispensable to a right understanding of the gospel, and a just knowledge of both is essential to our comfort and salvation. We ask then:
I. WHAT DO WE UNDERSTAND BY THE LAW? Sometimes the term signifies the divine Word, the revealed truths of the Holy Scriptures, &c. Sometimes the whole of the Mosaic dispensation, but in our text we understand it signifying the moral law — A law which God wrote upon the hearts and consciences of our first parents, and which was afterwards written upon the tables of stone on Sinai, and which Jesus has summed up in two great commandments, Matthew 22:37, &c. Every duty to God and to men is included in these.
II. WHAT IS THE CHARACTER OF THIS LAW? A summary of this is given by the great apostle, Romans 7:12. It is holy, the reflection of God's holy mind. Just, that is, based on rectitude; not unreasonable, but equitable between man and God, and man and man. Good, that is, benevolent, having a kind aspect to those for whom it legislates, and production of their happiness.
III. WHO ARE UNDER ITS AUTHORITY? All mankind. It is the law of God for the human family, and for each person and for everyone. None are above it—none are beneath it. It is the law of the Creator of everyone. The law of the Benefactor, &c., of everyone. The law of the great Judge, &c., of everyone.
IV. WHAT IS THE CONSEQUENCE OF DISOBEDIENCE? God's curse. That is, every disobedient person is under God's displeasure and wrath, and exposed to eternal death. And this curse extends to every transgressor, and for every act of transgression. One sin involves the soul beneath this curse. We ask,
V. WHAT REMEDY DOES THE LAW PROVIDE FOR TRANSGRESSORS? Our text contains none, and the law of God recognizes none,—it cannot relax its claims,—it cannot allow of one violation — it cannot clear one transgressor. It will not be satisfied with repentance; floods of tears avail nothing. It refers to its purity, &c., and demands satisfaction. It is not met by reformation. It says, Pay me what thou owest! The law is inexorable. It blesses the obedient, but curses the sinner.
VI. CAN ANY ONE THEN BE SAVED BY THE LAW? We reply, no, not one. For this reason, there is none righteous, &c. All have sinned, &c. Every man then is condemned by the law, and not one can have any hope from it. We ask then,
VII. WHAT END THE LAW IS DESIGNED TO ANSWER?
1. By it we see what are the just claims of God. Here we behold the extensive and perfect obedience he requires.
2. By it we are brought under conviction of sin. By the law is the knowledge of sin; see Romans 7:9. That is, living without the law there was no impression of evil, no sense of guilt. But when the commandment of God came with power to the conscience, and I saw its just demands, then my sin revived. I saw myself guilty, and exposed to death. All my former hopes at once expired.
3. By the law, all self-righteousness is to be destroyed. A consciousness of its demands, and our disobedience, clearly show us, that by the deeds of the law no living flesh can be justified. As a criminal by referring to the statute book, would only read his sentence, so by the law, we read our exposedness to death, and must at once perceive that from the works of the law there is not the least hope of salvation.
4. The hue is to be our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. To instruct us as to our duty, our guilt, our peril, our helplessness, and our need of a Saviour. So that when we exclaim, "O wretched man that I am," (Rom. 7:24) &c., This then refers us to Christ, who alone can save us from the curse of the law, Romans 8:3, “For what the law could not do," &c. Here then we have a door of hope,—not on Sinai, but Zion,—not from the law, but the gospel,—not from Moses, but Jesus. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, &c., Galatians 3:13. An interest in Christ saves us from all the consequences of sin, both in this life, and that which is to come. From present condemnation—“There is therefore no condemnation," (Rom. 8:1) &c. And from endless wrath —"The gift of God is eternal life," (Rom 6:23) &c.
1. How do you stand connected with the law? Some perhaps are alive in their own indifference, &c. to it. Never felt their sins to be a burden, &c. What will you do when the law flashes across your souls in death or judgment? Others may be seeking heaven by the deeds of the law. How foolish and fruitless! One sin condemns, and binds over to eternal death. Others I trust are convicted of sin. The law has revived it, &c., and they exclaim in sorrow before God,
"Guilty I stand before thy face,
On me I feel thy wrath abide,
'Tis just, the sentence should take place:
'Tis just, but oh, thy Son has died!
Many of you, I trust, are rejoicing in Christ's free and justifying grace. Being justified by faith, &c. (Eph. 2:8-10)
2. Learn how God alone is glorified in our salvation, He has provided for us the Redeemer. "…when in the fulness of the times was come, God sent forth his Son," (Gal. 4:4) &c.
3. Let his love and mercy be exalted. (Isa. 30:18)
4. Let all our hopes rest continually on the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. 2:10)