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the curse of the law, by becoming a curse for us.
Yen, the whole power and fanétion of the first covenant, the law of works, was transferred upon Christ, and in hini fulfilled and ended; so that finis deprived of its ftrength and fliny, by Christ's obedience unto death, eren the death of the cross: therefore, tho' death may foizz the believer in Christ, yet it can never iting liim, nor hold him in its power: “ Thanks be to God, then, that giveth us the victory, says the apostle, thiru' Jefus Christ.”' By faith the believer shares of his conquest and viciory; the victory is given through Christ to them, yet they are stiled the overcomers: To him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the tree of life.” Who are the overcomers? Even they to whom it is given of God through Jesus Christ. Christ hath obtained it, and gives it. As heaven, and eternal life, is the gift of God thro' Chrift; fo the victory over fin, and death, and hell, and all enemies in the way to heaven, is the gift of God thru' Jesus Christ. Hence the apostle in the last verse, infers duty and service incumbent upon all believers; “ Therefore, beloved brethren, be ye stedfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord;" teaching us, that there is no gospel-service, without the faith cf victory through Chrift; no gospel-holiness, till a persuin, being in Christ, hath victory in him over sin, deaih, anil the law, which is the strength of fin; then he is in case to abound in the work of the Lord, from a principle of gratitude; knowing that his labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. The believer hath in view the recompence of reward; and this is the reward of grace, that as in the Lord he hath victory, in the Lord he hath righteoufnels, in the Lord he hath strength for work and warfare ; fo in the Lord his work and warfare will be crowned: he shall not obtain the crown, no more than the victory, by his own work and labour, nor because he or his works are worthy, but because of Christ, in whom he is worthy, and hath by his dying obtained the victory and the crown both; and his work of faith, and labour of love, is an evidence of his union to Christ, in whom hé is blessed with grace and glory. Therefore he knows,
according to the measure of his faith, that his labour is not in vain in the Lord.
But now, the verfe where my text lies, seems to be an explication of the first part of the apostle's fong; he had said, “O death, where is thy iting? O grave, where is thy victory?” But if any should ask, What mean you, Paul, by the fing of death? Why, says lie, The sting of death is sin: so that, take away fin, and then death hath no sting; no firength to hurt or harm us. Well, but may it be faid, Where lies the strength of fin ? and whence hath it such sirength ? The answer is, The strength of fin is the law; as fin is the strength of death, so the law is the strength of sin. Sin puts arms in the hand of death, and the law puts arms in the hand of fin: The strength of fire is the law.
Where you may notice these three things following.
1. The grand cvil that ruins all mankind, here spoken of, namely, Sin; this is that which makes us need a Saviour, whose name is Jesus, because he faves his
people from their fri. The apostle speaks not here of any transient act of fin, but even of the root and fountain of fin; the corruption and depravation of nature, together with the lusts and affections of the flesh.
2. You have here the quality of fin; STRENGTH is afcribed to it. There are several attributes this monster hath, particularly these two, guilt and filtlı; but strength is the compend of all its other qualities. It hath strength to defile, and strength to destroy ; strength to kill, and strength to dam11. The strength of fin makes us stand in need of a strong Saviour, and of that help which is laid upon One that is mighty.
3. You have here the accidental fource or rise of the strength of fin, namely, the Law; the law of works, commanding cbedience, as the condition of eternal life, and discharging disobedience on pain of eternal death. The moral law, under the form of a covenant of works, is the law the apostle here speaks of; and this law, as it is violated and broken by our apostacy and rebellion against God; for, as this law is become so weak through the flesh, Rom. viii. 3. that it cannot justify nor fanctify a finner, nor save a breaker of it; fo it is become powerful only to condemn, and powerful to damn the finner; and this it does, by giving lin a power to ruin, condemn, and destroy the finner. As fin, in a manner took justifying strength from the law, so the law gives condernning strength to fin, leaving the finner under its curse : and, because sin violated the holy command of the law, the law gives sin a commanding power over the finner, and makes fin to rise, and rage, and reign over the finner, so as it commands him to serve like a drudge and a slave. This the law does, both by virtue of its curse, and by virtue of its command; the power of sin being a part of the curse of the law, and confequence of the command. Not that the holy, juít, and good law of God, that commands holiness, can possibly command fin or unholiness; but by reason of our corruption, which, like water, the more it is dammed up, the more it swells. The command of holiness excites and stirs up the rule and command of sin over us; which bears no more reflećtion upon the holiness of the law, than the stink of a dunghill, raised and excited by the heat of the sun, reflects any indignity upon, or in the least stains the purity of the beams thereof. The inore pure and refulgent the beams of the sun are, the more influence it hath for stirring up the filthy vapours of the dunghill; so, the more holy that the law is, the more does it excite the filthy fteams, and raise and exafperate the impurity of corruption. But in what respect the law is the strength of fin, may be shewed more at large in the sequel.
Having offered this short view of the words, there are two doctrines might be treated from them.
I. “ That fin is a very strong and powerful thing."
II. “ That the strength of sin is the law :" Or thus, " That the law of works is the strength of sin to a finner that hath violated and broken it."
I intend, thro' divine aid, to illustrate both these
propositions; but shall confine myself to the first at this time. If we get right views of the strength of fin, it will com. mend the strength of a Saviour to us.
Doct. I. Tbat fin is a very strong and powerful thing.
In treating of which, I would eslay to do the following things. I. Speak a little of the nature of fin; and show what
it is. II. I would enquire into the strength of fin, in the
qualities and degrees of its strength. III. I would lhew how the strength of sin discovers
itself. IV. Whence the strength of sin comes, and where it
lies. V. Draw fome inferences from this for application.
1. We propose to speak a little concerning the nature of fin. I shall confine myself to thefe two accounts of it, namely, (1.) That it is a transgression of the law, 1 John iii. 4. (2.) That it is an opposition to God the Lawgiver and enmity against God, Rom. viii. 7. · I. Consider it as it is a transgression of the law; and all mankind are transgressors from the womb, ever since Adam and Eve began the rebellion: we daily transgress it, in thought, word, and deed. It is strange to consider how many poor ignorant finners expect to be justified by that law which they are daily tranfgrefling ; which declares, that they know not themselves to be finners and tranfgreffors thereof. They say they are sinners, but they do not believe what they say; or, if they believe they are finners, they do not believe they are such finners, but that the law may bear with them; for they cannot see such depravity in their actions, as that the law should condemn them; and when once they imagine, that the law will not condemn them, they fancy next, that the law. will justify them. Some, whose lives and actions are not evidently grofs and profane, may be filled with foolish ignorant thoughts of this fort, that the law hath little to say against them ; yea, that they have done all these things from their youth up. O dreadful arrogance and ignorance, for a brat of hell to imagine that he hath not transgressed the law by any wicked deed!
But if any be fo grolly ignorant, as to justify their deeds as being conform to the law ; let them set the law of God, and even their words in opposition to each other, and see if they have tranfgrefled the law : for, tho’ in many things we offend' all; yet, “ If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man,” says the apostle, Jam. iii. 2.
But where is there even such perfection as this among the children of men, if you consider how every command of the law is broken by the ordinary speech of men ?- Why, every word that favours of atheism, unbelief, and contempt of God, and carnal confidence, is a breach of the first command.-Every word that savours of disrespect to divine ordinances, whether preaching, praying, reading, meditating, communicating, and the like, is a breach of the fecond command.Every word that tends to the abusing of God's name, by rash sivearing, minched oaths, carnal praying, formal devotion, and hypocritical protesta, tions and profession, is a breach of the third command. Every idle and unprofitable word on week-days, and efpecially on Sabbath-days, whereon we are in a peculiar manner called to abstain from our own words, is a breach of the fourth command.-Every disrespectful and dishonourable word of superiors, inferiors, or equals, and especially of parents and relations, whether natural, civil, or spiritual, is a breach of the fifth command.Every malicious, invective, bitter, offensive, and killing word, that cuts like a sword, is a breach of the sixth command. Every immodest, unchafte, sensual, and lascivious word, that favours of a vile, polluted mind, is a breach of the seventh command.Every cheating word, as in buying and selling, when you vilify too much what you buy, and magnify too much what you fell, is a breach of the eighth command.Every railing word, every reproach. ful, backbiting, lying, and false accusation, whether to,
of your neighbours, is a breach of the ninth command. And, finally, every murmuring and fretful word, that savours of discontent, grudging, and envy, is a breach of the tenth command.
You then that hope for justification by the works of the law, if you be not conscious of your ill works, what