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From hence we may infer, that what St. Paul says concerning the state of those that were under the law, as that "they are in bondage, shut up under sin, under the curse, that the law is their schoolmaster to bring them to Christ," &c., is not to be confined to the Jews, or to persons in that age, but may in part, at least, be applied to us, though we have been educated under the gospel, and never were under the Jewish law; for we may be possessed of a legal spirit, though we live under the gospel, and never were subject to the Mosaic economy. Our observation also supported from hence, that the apostle represents the Galatians (the main body of whom were Gentiles, and had no more connection with the law of Moses than we) as under the law, under the curse of the law, &c., in this sense; and as freed from the law by their faith. Therefore, though the outward dispensation of faith came into our parts of the world before we were born, yet we may apply the text to ourselves and say, before faith came; that is, before faith came into our hearts; before the evangelical grace was wrought in us by the power of God, we were kept under the law; the original word is very emphatical,* we were prisoners under close confinement, we were held in custody by the law, as by a strong guard, to prevent all escape. 'We were shut up to the faith. Here again the original word is very emphatical,t we were enclosed all round; every way of escape was stopped, but only that of faith; we were shut up to this way; in this way we were obliged to fly, or to continue for ever bound fast under condemnation; shut up to the faith nhich should afterwards be revealed. This also may be accommodated to us, and signify the clear discovery of the gospel to our minds, as an object of faith, by that illumination of the Spirit, which is the cause of it. But it is more properly

* Εφρο ρούμεθα.

† Συγκλειόμενοι.

and peculiarly applicable to the Galatians, while as yet the doctrine of faith in the gospel was not revealed to them. They were held in custody by the law till that happy time came, and then, upon their believing the gospel, they were set at liberty.

My present design is to lay down some propositions for the explication of the apostolic doctrine concerning the law and the gospel, that you may see in what sense mankind are kept prisoners by the law, under condemnation, and shut up to the faith; or to the method of justification, through the righteousness of Christ, as the only way of


The propositions I would lay down are these: That all mankind in all ages are under a law to God: That this law was first given to man, in a state of innocence, in the form of a covenant of works, by which he was to obtain happiness: That it has passed through several editions, and received several additions and modifications in different ages: That this law requires perfect, personal, and perpetual obedience: That it is impossible for any of the sons of men to be justified and saved by this constitution: That therefore God has graciously made another constitution, namely, the gospel, by which sinners may be justified and saved through the righteousness of Jesus Christ: That all mankind are under the law, as a covenant of works, till they willingly forsake it, and fly to the gospel for refuge by faith in Christ: And consequently, that they are shut up by the law to this method of salvation, as the only way of escape.

I. "All mankind, in all ages, are under a law to God." This can be denied by none who grant there is such a thing as sin or duty; for where there is no law, there can be no duty or transgression. If murder or blasphemy are universally evil with regard to all mankind, in all ages, it

must be because they are forbidden by a law universally and perpetually binding. If the love of God, or justice towards men, be a duty binding upon all mankind, in all ages, it must be because it is enjoined by some law of universal and perpetual obligation. This cannot be disputed with regard to the Jews, the subjects of the Mosaic law, who are said, by way of eminence, to be under the law: and the apostle infers, that those who lived between Adam and Moses were also under a law, from the punishment of death inflicted upon them; for as where there is no law, there can be no transgression, so where there is no law, there can be no punishment: for punishment is the execution of the penalty of the law upon an offender, for transgressing the precept. Thus St. Paul reasons, (Rom. v. 13, 14,) until the law; that is, all the time from Adam's fall till the giving of the law at Mount Sinai, (about 2536 years,) sin was in the world; and consequently there was a law then in force; for sin is not imputed where there is no law. But sin was evidently imputed in that period; for though the Sinai law was not then published, "nevertheless death," the penalty of the law, "reigned with dreadful uncontrolled power, from Adam to Moses." Thus you see the patriarchal age was under a law to God. And as to the Gentiles, though they had not the revealed law, yet they were not lawless, but bound by the law of nature of the contents of which their own reason and conscience informed them in the most important particulars. Thus St. Paul tells us, "that the Gentiles who have not the revealed law," perform by nature the part of a law, and therefore "are a law to themselves, the works of the law being written in their hearts." Rom. ii. 14, 15. As to us, who live under the gospel, "we are not," as the

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* So I would choose to render φύσει τὰ του νόμου ποιη; and thus it agrees better with what follows, ἑαυτοῖς εἰσι νόμος.

apostle observes, "without law to God, but under the law to Christ;" (1 Cor. ix. 21,) that is, we are still under a law to God, with all those endearing obligations superadded, which result from the gracious gospel of Christ. And we cannot suppose the contrary, without supposing that the gospel has put an end to all religion and morality, and set us at liberty to all manner of vice and impiety; for if we are still obliged to religion and virtue, it must be by some constitution that has the general nature of a law. St. Paul rejects the thought with horror, that the law is made void by the gospel. "Do we then make void the law by faith? Far be the thought, nay, we establish the law." Rom. iii. 31. This first proposition, therefore, is sufficiently evident, "That all mankind, in all ages, and under every dispensation of religion, are under a law to God." Let us now advance a step farther:

II. This law was first of all given to man in a state of innocence, under the model of a covenant of works; that is, it was the constitution, by obedience to which he was to secure the favour of God, and to obtain everlasting felicity. It was his duty to observe it with a view to obtain immortality and happiness by it; and these blessings he was to secure by his own works of obedience. That the law was first published to man with this view, is evident from many passages of Scripture, particularly from that oftenrepeated maxim of the apostle, "The man that doth these things shall live by them;" (Rom. x. 5; Gal. vii. 12; see also Lev. xviii. 5; Neh. ix. 29; Ezek. xx. 11, 13, 21;) nay, he tells us expressly "that the commandment was ordained unto life;" (Rom. vii. 10,) that is, it was appointed as a plan by which man was to obtain life. Hence Christ assures the lawyer, who had repeated the substance of the law to him, "This do, and thou shalt live," Luke x. 28. This implies, that if he fully obeyed the law, we would

certainly obtain life by it, according to the original design of that constitution. And when St. Paul says, That the salvation of sinners was a thing which the law could not do, in that it was "weak through the flesh," Rom. vii. 3; it is implied, that it was not weak in itself, but fully sufficient to give life; only by the weakness of our flesh, we were not able to obey it, and on this account it was not able to save us. This proposition also is sufficiently evident, that the law was first given to man in innocence, as a covenant of works, or as a constitution according to which he was to obtain life by his own works. I now proceed to the next proposition, and to show you,

III. That this law has passed through several editions, and received several additions and modifications, adapted to the various circumstances of mankind, and the designs of heaven towards them.

That you may more fully understand this, I would observe, by the way, that the law is either moral or positive. By the moral law, I mean that law which is founded upon the eternal reason of things, and that enjoins those duties which creatures under such and such circumstances owe to God, and to one another, and which necessarily flow from their relation to one another. Thus, love to God, and justice to mankind, are moral duties universally binding upon mankind in all circumstances, whether in a state of innocence, or in a state of sin; whether under the revealed law, or the law of nature. There can be no possible circumstances in which mankind are free from the obligation of such duties, and at liberty to commit the contrary sins. These are more properly the materials of a moral law. But there is another set of duties agreeable to the circumstances of fallen creatures under a dispensation of grace, which I may call evangelical morals; I mean repentance and reformation, and the utmost solicitude to

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