« PreviousContinue »
man elfe, who knows what he is doing. Nay, further, he says plainly enough, that, he could not. And what he says of himfelf, holds true with all right Chriftains : for as he was, so are they, dead to the law; and death, we know, puts an end to all connections and obligations. Those who read this, and the other epistles of this apostle where the same fubject is treated, can have no doubt, but that it is the Judaical law, as given by Mofes, he here speaks of. But here the patrons of moral government find themselves at a loss, as a great part, and, one may fay, the principal and fundamental part of it, consists of such precepts as are strictly moral; or, what I suppose they mean by that term, binding all mankind at all times, and in all places; the same which is very properly called the law of creation, and founded in that relation; or, in plain terms, their being obliged to their creator for their being, and all the enjoyments of life. If the Christian is dead to these commands, their whole fabrick falls at once. They therefore attempt to split the law into the ritual or ceremonial, and the moral; which accordingly they call P2
the ceremonial and moral laws; and earnestly plead, that it is only the first which the Apostle here fpeaks of, and which he says he is dead to. And those on the other side have given them great advantage, by taking up the same distinction and arbitrary terms, and maintaining, that what they call the moral part of Moses's law, continues binding on all mankind, as it was given to the Ifraelites in the wilderness of Sinai.
But those who consider the Jewish law attentively, and the very peculiar circumstances which preceded the giving of that law, with the state of that nation after it, and compare it with the state of those who lived before that time, and of the other nations who were contemporary, and especially since the coming of Christ, find themselves obliged to conclude, that, excepting that single nation, and those who were incorporated with them, no other whatever had any concern in that law, in whole or in part, as it was given at Sinai. Yet were they not without law. They were all under the law of creation from the time they had their being. They were, moreover, from the publication of the first
promise, promise, under what the Apostle calls the . law of faith, the same that Christians are under in all respects, except the circumftantial difference between faith in Chrift to come, and in Christ already come. But neither of these were inforced with that terrible sanction, “ Cursed is every one " that continueth not in all things written “ in the law to do them,” as the Sinaic law was : fo that, as the Apostle says, those who lived before that time could not fin after the fimilitude of Adam's tranf- • greffion, who had such a law given him. Nor did there need any such: for that one transgression bound all mankind under death by the righteous sentence of the great sovereign judge, which admits of no repeal, nor of any relief, but by his grant of grace, who raises the dead, and can give a new and perfect life to whom he. pleases. But, in the nature of the thing, it is plain, none can be thus raised and quickened, until they be dead first..
The Apostle, in some of his other epistles, describes that death from which believers in Christ are quickened, and raised up, as consisting in trespasses and sins, Eph. ii. 1. with some other such expref
fions. Whence occasion has been taken to conclude, that all that is said about the old man being crucified with Christ, crucifying the flesh, with the lusts and affections of it, are no more but bold metaphors and figures of speech, which they tell us the eastern people were very fond of; and mean no more but the finner's forsaking his evil courses, reforming his life, and thus becoming a new man. To make their plan consistent, they must make God's grant of pardon and eternal life, which Christ is said to convey to them by his quickening Spirit, to be likewise figurative and metaphorical; and to mean no more, but lengthening out this perishing life the children of Adam are in some sort possessed of, until, by a gradual progress in virtue, they raise themsèlves to the highest perfection and dignity the human nature is capable of. And some have carried it very far this way; but how consistently with the accounts God himself, by his blessed Son and his apostles, hath given us of these things, those who will give themselves the trouble of reading them, will easily judge. It will not surely be refused, that such as was the life which
our first father loft, such, at least, believers in Christ are raised up to ; that there is a fpiritual and eternal world, of which this gross perishing one is but an imperfect image; that, of course, there must be a sort of life, and way of living, suitable to that world, as the life we have from Adam fits us for living in this world; and that God himself is the very substance of that world, on whom all the happy inhabitants fubfift.
If these things be so, (and they must be so as certainly as that there is a God), whenever any creature, made for living in this manner, comes to be separated and cut off from God, and of course shut out from all communication with the spiritual world, however alive to this present world, it inust be really, and without any metaphor, dead, being deprived of that kind of life which can only make it capable of living as fpirits do, and must do. And as we can be surer of nothing, than that sin thus makes a separation between the creator and the creature, it is truly, and without any figure, the death of the human fpirit; and so much worse than what we call natural death, the death of the