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sed minds, attend to revelation as our only guide on the important question- Who of fallen creatures shall be saved ?-Whether it seem good in the sight of God, to save mankind universally, without any conditions ; or with certain limitations, and on certain terms.This question is so abundantly resolved in the inspired scriptures, that to quote all the plain proofs that only particular characters in this world, shall have any part or lot in the salvation of the next, would be to quote, as it were, the whole bible. In the text now chosen, there is evidently implied, a restriction of deliverance from the law, to believers in the gospel; and in discoursing upon the words, among other things, occa-sion will naturally be given to adduce some part of the abundant scripture proof, limited in opposition to universal salvation.
The apostle having spoken, in the preceding chapter, of the rejection of the Jews for their unbelief, he begins this with expressing his sincere concern for them, and his most devout wishes that they might be recovered from their delusion, and not be lost. Ver. 1. « Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” However opposed any may be to us, we ought to feel entirely friendly towards them to wish them no ill, but the greatest possible good. We ought also to entertain a charitable opinion concerning them, as far as the na-ture of the case will any way fairly admit. Such was the apostle's charity in regard to his deluded country.
He had no doubt that many of them acted conscientiously in their zealous opposition to the gospel, really believing it to be subversive of the divine law, and a system not according to godliness. He was once of the same way of thinking, as he confessed before king Agrippa. I verily thought with myself, says he, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth From his own experience, therefore, as well as from much personal acquaintance, he could testify for them that their way was right in their own eyes, though really very erroneous and wrong. Ver. 2. « For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowl edge.” He goes on to take notice whence their prejudices against the Christian revelation originated ; namely, from wrong ideas of God. From not under. standing his infinite and inflexible justice, the high demands of his holy law, and the absolute perfection required in order to legal justification in his sight. Ver. 3. “For they, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own rightcousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” Then in the text he observes, that the cause of righteousness, for which the Phari. sees were so full of anxiety, was in safe hands. That effectual care had been taken that the law should sustain no dishonour, but that the spirit of it should be supported, and its ultimate design be fully obtained. For, says he, Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, to' every one that believeth. For the illustration of what is here asserted, I propose,
1. To show, in general, how Christ is the end of the law for righteousness ; and
II. In what respects he is so, in a particular manner, to believers in him.
I. I shall endeavour to show, in general, how Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.
He was the end of the ceremonial law of the Jews, as that was wholly typical of him, and was abolished by his death.
But I cannot think the apostle here speaks merely, if at all, of the ceremonial law. That
he has reference to the eternal law of righteousness, seeins intimated by the manner of expression in the text; and it is evident from the words immediately fol. lowing: Ver. 5. “ For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” The ceremonial law was never able to give life, to those who trusted in the observance of it, however scrupulous and exact. It will therefore be incumbent on me to point out a sense, in which Christ is the end of the universal law of perfect righteousness; or of that law by the obedience of which innocent man might have obtained eternal life.
He is not the end of this law in every sense which the * carnal mind would wish, nor in several senses which many have supposed. More particularly,
1. It is certain Christ is not so, the end of the moral law, that it is no longer obligatory on mankind, as a rule of duty. That our Saviour had no such design as this, and that no such thing was possible, he was careful to inform the world in his first public discourse ; his sermon on the mount, " Think not,” says he, “that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For, verily, I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Nor did he come to fulfil this holy law so as to make it lawful for us to live in the violation of it. We do not, surely, cease to be in duty bound to love God or our neighbour, because Christ hath loved both, as much as they deserve. It is not become right for us to practise all iniquity, because he hath fulfilled all righteousness. By his having been perfectly obedient in our stead, we are not freed from all the obligation we should have been under to obey the commands of our Maker; nor from any part of it. We have as
much duty which we ought to do, as if he had done nothing He came to save his people from their sins, not from their duty.
2. Christ hath not so saved his people from their sins, that they cease to have any guilt, or desert of pun. ishment. As our obligation to obey is not removed by his obedience, so neither is our criminality when we transgress, taken away by his sufferings. We are not to conceive God sees nothing amiss in us, and is not at. all displeased with us, do what we will, because the blood of Jesus Christ his son, cleanseth from all sin. The eyes of the Omniscient are not so dazzled but that he can see our ways, and our hearts, as they truly are ; nor is the nature of things so altered by the atonement, that iniquity is become really blameless, and undeserving of divine wrath. I add once more on the negative side,
3. Christ is not so the end of the law, but that personal righteousness is still necessary in order to eternal life. Not only is perfect obedience as much our duty as ever, and all neglect or transgression as great an evil as ever; but sincere conformity in heart and life to the moral law, is so required on the gospel plan, that without it we cannot be saved. Of this we are abundantly assured. “Repent and be converted," says the apostle Peter," that your sins may be blotted out. Follow peace with all men," says the apostle Paul, “and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Verily, veri. ly,” says our Saviour," I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And again, “ I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." To the same purpose, having explained the moral law in a much stricter sense than the most
rigid of the Jewish doctors, he concludes with saying, “ Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand."
But in what sense, then, it will be asked, is Christ the end of the law for righteousness? I answer, He is the end of the law as a covenant of life; or as the term of justification or condemnation. That is, the end for which probationary obedience was required of man, order to his confirmation, is answered by the obedi. ence of Christ; and the end for which death was threat. ened in case of any disobedience, is answered by the sufferings and death of Christ.
According to the original constitution, perfect obedience, through a certain space of trial, was made neces. sary in order to the justification of life. There was some important end proposed by this, most certainly ; otherwise the benevolent Creator would have confirm. ed our first parents, with all their posterity, in-immortal happiness, without the hazard of a previous probation. The end which would have been answered by man's trial, had he persevered in innocence, may easily be conceived. Virtue would have been encouraged and had in eternal honour; and God, by crowning it with an eternal weight of glory, would have illustriously, manifested bis infinite love of righteousness. When man had sinned, he must, according to law, have been punished with everlasting destruction. Here again some good end, undoubtedly, was in view. God delighteth not in the death of the wicked. The misery of his creatures, however justly merited, cannot be an ultiinate object to a Being whose name, and