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him Christ is truly the life; and over him the second death shall have no power.
I have now shewed you, how just a description the text hath given us of Jesus Christ; and from that you may learn the value of his religion ; and wbat a bles, cing it is to us all that we are still in possession of it; for if we lose that, we lose all. The world would no fonger be a place ft to live in. If there be any such thing as a religion without Christ, you may judge what it must be : it can neither shew us the way, nor tell us the truth, nor give us the life ; and that must be a strange religion. It has no teacher to shew us the way; no mediator to prepare it. It leaves us like sheep in a desert; departed from God, and not knowing how to return to him. If we try to be wise, we are ecer learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. If we are shocked at the brevity and vanity of man in this world, we see no remedy. The richest and fairest parts of the earth, whatever trees and fruits they may produce, have no tree of life. Death reigns without controul : for whatsoever the various schemes of man's wisdom may promise, not one of them all ever pretended to give life.
How devoutly thank ul ought we to be for that inestimable blessing which God hath bestowed upon us, in giving us his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life! The way to heaven lies right before us, and is so plain that a child may find it. We have knowledge of that truth, which is above all truth: and we partake of that life, which is a life of eternity.
We shall be thankful in the only proper manner, and as God requires, if we take advantage of these blessings, and use them as we ought,
Therefore, if Christ be the way; let us return to God by him: let us pray, with him for our intercessor; and then we shall have access to God. It is the custom in the East to this day for persons to gain access to some great and powerful man, by sending an offering before them to prepare the way. Our offering is Christ : we offer hiin to the Father, and we are accepted in the beloved. Paradise itself is open to those who seek it in this manner : no flaming sword is now in the way, to stop them from the tree of life.
If Christ be the Truth, let us find him in the word of truth. Let us learn how he is the end of the law for righteousness : how it all points to him, and is fulfilled in him. Let us look unto him through the works of the creation, and learn how he is the truth of nature : the true vine; the true bread; the true light ; the truth of every thing our eyes can see, that is great and valuable in the world. Till we see this use and sense of nature, the sun may give light to our eyes, but it gives none to our minds.
If Christ be the Life, let him be our life. As man liveth not by the bread of earth alone, but by the bread of heaven ; let us go out to gather that manna, where it is to be found (and' as often as it is to be found) at the table of the Lord. Christ our passover being sacrificed for us, let us keep the feast; and let us think it a feast; as indeed it is, in comparison of which all that is in the world is emptiness and famine. Christ being also the true Tree of Life, the old prohibition is no longer in force against us ; we may now with safety put forth our hand, and take of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.
Now to God the Father, &c.
FOR IF THEY WHICH ARE OF THE LAW BE HEIRS,
FAITH IS MADE VOID, AND THE PROMISE MADE OF NONE EFFECT. ROM. iv. 14.
The five books of Moses stand in the beginning of our Bible, and it is of great importance to all readers of the Scripture, that they should have a right understanding of them; for two reasons: first, because we have in those books the foundation of all that follows; and secondly, because in this age they have been dangerously misrepresented.
The doctrine of the text is this ; that they who were under the law could not, as such, inherit the promise ; because the promise had been made to the faith of Abraham before the law; and had it afterwards been given to the law, it would have been taken from faith; and so the whole together would have been a contradiction. But as the promise had first been given to faith, it could not be given to the law afterwards ; and it was not given : for the law answers other purposes, as we shall sce.
That the promise is given to faith, the case of the great father of the Church was intended to shew. God called Abraham from his friends, that he might go out to a land which he had not seen : he com: manded him to devote his son to God, and he obeyed : in consequence of which he received the promise. — Now I know that thou fearest God—thou didst not withhold thy son-in blessing I will bless thee, &c. Few words are here wanted to shew, what sort of religion is most pleasing to God. It is the religion of Abraham; which leaves father and mother, and forsakes the world, at the call of God; which believeš his word, while appearances argue the contrary; and resigns itself to his will, though he requires what is most valuable in life. In a word, it shews, that God is pleased with faith, and that without faith it is impossible to please him-he believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness. Gen. xv. 6.
If you would know the justice of this, the case is plain. Man is in a state of alienation and forfeiture : the works of his nature are nothing worth : here is none righteous, no not one. God hath therefore concluded all under sin : and as righteousness is not to be found, another service is admitted, to be counted for righteousness :. which is the service of faith. The Apostle breaks out into rapture when he thinks on it
- the depth of wisdom and goodness! that God should conclude all under sin, that he might have mercy upon all! Thus Gentiles as well as Jews are all brought in, as children of Abraham, and heirs of the promise. All that was given to faith in Abraham; the promise, and the blessing, and the oath which confirmed it, might also be given to the like faith in them. Every thing is given to this faith ; even Christ himself, the greatest blessing of all. For as Abraham had given up bis son, so did God in due time give up his. In return for that act, which resigned Isaac as a sacrifice, did God on the very same spot, in after ages, give Jesus Christ to die for the sins of the world. In conformity to the same example the Christian is still required to resign his fame, his pleasure, his children, his friends, when God requires; and then he will have Christ in return. This is the true religion, which leads men to salvation, and which always did $0; and it is as plain and easy as it is true.
But with this religion of faith, there was another sort of service, another necessary rule of obedience to God, called the law : concerning which the text inforins us, that they who were of it could not be heirs; that is, could not thereby be intitled to inherit the blessing which God had promised to Abraham. And, I believe, whosoever shall examine the law of Moses, will find that no such promise is any where added to the works of the law. The apostle expressly declares the contrary : by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight: and again; a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Rom, iii. 20, 28. Certain it is then, that if the law cannot justify; it could give life; and if it could not give it, it could not promise it ; and accordingly it never did. But here the Jew made a fatal mistake. He went about, thinking it possible to establish the sufficiency of his own righteousness by the deeds of the law; and so he failed of that other righteousness which God had imputed to Abraham. It is no disparagement to the law of Moses, that it did not give righteousness : nor should we hence imagine that the law and the promise were in opposition: God forbid ! for if there had been a law given, which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law; it was the most excellent system which could be for the purpose: but from the nature of man that could not possibly be.