« AnteriorContinua »
himself in our stead, and borne the wrath of God for us. He has not only silenced the thunders of Mount Sinai, but "has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being himself made a curse for us. "* In a word, "he has made reconciliation for us by the blood of his cross;" so that we may now come to God as our Father and our Friend; and may expect at his hands all the blessings of Grace and glory.-"Through him we have access to God," even to his throne: and by faith in him we may even now receive the remission of our sins, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Shall we not then love him? Shall we not honor him? Shall we not employ him in his high office as our Advocate and Mediator? Shall we not glory in him, "and cleave unto him with full purpose of heart?" It was said by the prophet Isaiah, "Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength; even to him shall men come, and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory." O that this prophecy may be fulfilled in us; and that there may henceforth "be in every individual amongst us such an heart!"
Lastly, God would behold in us An unfeigned delight in his commandments. This will be the fruit, and must be the evidence, of our love to Christ: "If ye love me, says our Lord, keep my commandments;" and again, † Isai. xlv. 24, 25.
*Gal. iii. 13.
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me. 99* Indeed without this, ALL our sentiments or profes`sions are of no avail: "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God."t
When persons hear of our being "delivered from the law," and "dead to the law," they feel a jealousy upon the subject of morality, and begin to fear that we open to men the flood gates of licentiousness: but their fears are both unnecessary and unscriptural; for the very circumstance of our being delivered from the law as a covenant of works, is that which most forcibly constrains us to take it as a rule of life. Hear how St. Paul speaks on this subject: "I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God;" and again, "My brethren, ye are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." perceive then that the liberty to which we are brought by Jesus Christ, has the most friendly aspect imaginable upon the practice of good works, yea rather, that it absolutely secures the performance of them. Whilst therefore we would urge with all possible earnestness a simple affiance in Christ as your Mediator, we would entreat you to receive the commandments at his hands, and to observe them with
† John xiv. 21.
* 1 Cor. vii. 19,
your whole hearts. Take our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, for instance; study with care and diligence the full import of every precept in it. Do not endeavour to bring down those precepts to your practice, or to the practice of the world around you; but rather strive to elevate your practice to the standard which he has given you. In like manner, take all the precepts contained in the Epistles, and all the holy dispositions which were exercised by the Apostles; and endeavor to emulate the examples of the most distinguished saints. You are cautioned not to be righteous overmuch; but remember that you have at least equal need of caution to be righteous enough. If only you walk in the steps of our Lord and his Apostles, you need not be afraid of excess; it is an erroneous kind of righteousness, against which Solomon would guard you, and not against an excessive degree of true holiness; for in true holiness there can be no excess. In this way we may vie with each other, and strive with all our might. St. Paul, says, "This is a faithful saying; and these things I will that thou affirm constantly; that they who have believed in God might be careful to maintain (or as the word imports) to excel in good works."* By these we shall evince the sincerity of our love to Christ; and by these we shall be judged in the last day. I would therefore recommend to every one to ask himself, What is there which I have left undone? What is there which I have done defectively?
* Titus, iii. 8.
What is there which I have done amiss? What is there that I may do more earnestly for the honor of God, for the good of mankind, and for the benefit of my own soul? O that such a pious zeal pervaded this whole assembly; and "that there were in all of us such an heart!" Το those amongst us in whom any good measure of this grace is found, we would say in the language of St. Paul, "We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more."*
*Thess. iv. 1.
DEUT. V. 28, 29,
They have well said all that they have spoken: O that there were such an heart in them.
WHEREVER the word of God admits of a literal interpretation, its primary sense ought to be clearly stated, before any spiritual or mystical application be made of it: but when its literal meaning is ascertained, we must proceed to investigate its hidden import, which is frequently the more important. This has been done in relation to the passage before us; which primarily expresses an approbation of the request made by the Jews, that God would speak to them by the mediation of Moses, and not any longer by the terrific thunders of Mount Sinai; but covertly it conveyed an intimation, that we should all seek deliverance from the curse of the law through the mediation of that great Prophet, whom God raised up like unto Moses, even his Son Jesus Christ.
The further use which we propose to make of this passage, is only in a way of accommodation; which however is abundantly sanctioned by the example of the Apostles; who not unfrequently adopt the language of the Old Testament to convey their own ideas, even when it has no necessary connexion with their subject. Of course, the Liturgy of our Church