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the curfe of the law, by becoming a curfe for us. Yea, the whole power and fanction of the firft covenant, the law of works, was transferred upon Chrift, and in him fulfilled and ended; fo that fin is deprived of its ftrength and fting, by Chrift's obedience unto death, even the death of the crofs: therefore, tho' death may feize the believer in Chrift, yet it can never fling him, nor hold him in its power: "Thanks be to God, then, that giveth us the victory, fays the apoftle, thro' Jefus Christ.” By faith the believer fhares of his conqueft and vićtory; the victory is given through Chrift to them, yet they are ftiled 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 Jefus Chrift. Chrift 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 thro' Jefus Chrift. Hence the apoftle in the laft verfe, infers duty and fervice incumbent upon all believers; "Therefore, beloved brethren, be ye ftedfaft and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord;" teaching us, that there is no gofpel-fervice, without the faith of victory through Chrift; no gofpel-holinefs, till a perfon, being in Chrift, hath victory in him over fin, death, and the law, which is the ftrength of fin; then he is in cafe to abound in the work of the Lord, from a principle of gratitude; knowing that his labour fhall 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 righteoufnefs, in the Lord he hath ftrength for work and warfare; fo in the Lord his work and warfare will be crowned: he fhall not obtain the crown, no more than the victory, by his own work and labour, nor because he or his works are worthy, but becaufe of Chrift, 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 Chrift, in whom he is bleffed with grace and glory. Therefore he knows, B3


according to the meafure of his faith, that his labour is not in vain in the Lord.

But now, the verfe where my text lies, feems to be an explication of the firft part of the apoftle's fong; he had faid, "O death, where is thy fting? O grave, where is thy victory?" But if any should ask, What mean you, Paul, by the fting of death? Why, fays he, The fting of death is fin: fo that, take away fin, and then death hath no fting; no ftrength to hurt or harm us. Well, but may it be faid, Where lies the ftrength of fin? and whence hath it fuch firength? The answer is, The Strength of fin is the law; as fin is the ftrength of death, fo the law is the ftrength of fin. Sin puts arms in the hand of death, and the law puts arms in the hand of fin: The Strength of fin is the law.

Where you may notice thefe three things following. 1. The grand evil that ruins all mankind, here fpoken of, namely, SIN; this is that which makes us need a Saviour, whofe name is Jesus, because he faves his people from their fin. The apoftle speaks not here of any tranfient act of fin, but even of the root and fountain of fin; the corruption and depravation of nature, together with the lufts and affections of the flesh.

2. You have here the quality of fin; STRENGTH İS afcribed to it. There are feveral attributes this monfter hath, particularly thefe two, guilt and filth; but strength is the compend of all its other qualities. It hath ftrength to defile, and firength to destroy; ftrength to kill, and ftrength to damn. The firength of fin makes us ftand in need of a ftrong Saviour, and of that help which is laid upon One that is mighty.

3. You have here the accidental fource or rife of the ftrength of fin, namely, the Law; the law of works, commanding obedience, as the condition of eternal life, and discharging difobedience on pain of eternal death. The moral law, under the form of a covenant of works, is the law the apoftle here fpeaks of; and this law, as it is violated and broken by our apoftacy and rebellion against God; for, as this law is become fo weak through the flesh, Rom. viii. 3. that it cannot juftify nor fanctify a finner, nor fave a breaker of it; fo it is become


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powerful only to condemn, and powerful to damn the finner; and this it does, by giving fin a power to ruin, condemn, and deftroy the finner. As fin, in a manner took juftifying ftrength from the law, fo the law gives condemning ftrength to fin, leaving the finner under its curfe and, becaufe fin violated the holy command of the law, the law gives fin a commanding power over the finner, and makes fin to rife, and rage, and reign over the finner, fo as it commands him to ferve like a drudge and a flave. This the law does, both by virtue of its curfe, and by virtue of its command; the power of fin being a part of the curfe of the law, and confequence of the command. Not that the holy, juft, and good law of God, that commands holinefs, can poffibly command fin or unholinefs; but by reafon of our corruption, which, like water, the more it is dammed up, the more it fwells. The command of holinefs excites and ftirs up the rule and command of fin over us; which bears no more reflection upon the holinefs of the law, than the flink of a dunghill, raised and excited by the heat of the fun, reflects any indignity upon, or in the leaft ftains the purity of the beams thereof. The more pure and refulgent the beams of the fun are, the more influence it hath for flirring up the filthy vapours of the dunghill; fo, the more holy that the law is, the more does it excite the filthy fteams, and raife and exafperate the impurity of corruption. But in what refpect the law is the ftrength of fin, may be fhewed more at large in the fequel.

Having offered this fhort view of the words, there are two doctrines might be treated from them.

I. "That fin is a very ftrong and powerful thing."

II. "That the strength of fin is the law :" Or thus, "That the law of works is the ftrength of fin to a finner that hath violated and broken it."

I intend, thro' divine aid, to illuftrate both these propofitions; but fhall confine myfelf to the firft at this time. If we get right views of the ftrength of fin, it will commend the ftrength of a Saviour to us.

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DocT. I. That fin is a very strong and powerful thing.

In treating of which, I would effay to do the following things.

I. Speak a little of the nature of fin; and fhow what

it is.

II. I would enquire into the ftrength of fin, in the qualities and degrees of its ftrength.

III. I would fhew how the ftrength of fin discovers itfelf.

IV. Whence the ftrength of fin comes, and where it lies.

V. Draw fome inferences from this for application.

I. We propofe to fpeak a little concerning the nature of fin. I fhall confine myfelf to thefe two accounts of it, namely, (1.) That it is a tranfgreffion of the law, 1 John iii. 4. (2.) That it is an oppofition to God the Lawgiver and enmity againft God, Rom. viii. 7.

1. Confider it as it is a tranfgreffion of the law; and all mankind are tranfgreffors from the womb, ever fince Adam and Eve began the rebellion: we daily tranfgrefs it, in thought, word, and deed. It is ftrange to confider how many poor ignorant finners expect to be justified by that law which they are daily tranfgrefling; which declares, that they know not themfelves to be finners and tranfgreffors thereof. They fay they are finners, but they do not believe what they fay; or, if they believe they are finners, they do not believe they are fuch finners, but that the law may bear with them; for they cannot fee fuch depravity in their actions, as that the law fhould condemn them; and when once they imagine, that the law will not condemn them, they fancy next, that the law will juftify them. Some, whofe 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 fay 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 tranfgreffed the law by any wicked deed!



But if any be fo grofly ignorant, as to juftify their deeds as being conform to the law; let them fet the law of God, and even their words in oppofition to each other, and fee if they have tranfgreffed the law for, 13t tho' in many things we offend all; yet, "If any man of fend not in word, the fame is a perfect man," fays the apoftle, Jam. iii, 2. But where is there even fuch perfection as this among the children of men, if you confider how every command of the law is broken by the ordinary fpeech of men?-Why, every word that favours of atheifm, unbelief, and contempt of God, and carnal confidence, is a breach of the first command.Every word that favours of difrefpect to divine ordinances, whether preaching, praying, reading, meditatre ing, communicating, and the like, is a breach of the fecond command.-Every word that tends to the abufing of God's name, by rafh fwearing, minched oaths, carnal praying, formal devotion, and hypocritical proteftations and profeflion, is a breach of the third command. Every idle and unprofitable word on week-days, and ef pecially on Sabbath-days, whereon we are in a peculiar manner called to abftain from our own words, is a breach of the fourth command.-Every disrespectful and difhonourable word of fuperiors, inferiors, or equals, and especially of parents and relations, whether natural, civil, or fpiritual, is a breach of the fifth command.-Every malicious, invective, bitter, offenfive, and killing word, that cuts like a fword, is a breach of the fixth command. Every immodeft, unchafte, fenfual, and lafcivious word, that favours of a vile, polluted mind, is a breach of the feventh command.-Every cheating word, as in buying and felling, 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 reproachful, backbiting, lying, and falfe accufation, whether to, or of your neighbours, is a breach of the ninth command. And, finally, every murmuring and fretful word, that favours of difcontent, grudging, and envy, is a breach of the tenth command.

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You then that hope for juftification by the works of the law, if you be not confcious of your ill works, what


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