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admonition, "Write what thou hast seen"-write it with the pen of a diamond; and, from henceforth, remember, that "Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (James i. 15.) There is no escape from the effect, when the cause exists. The FIAT of OMNIPOTENCE hath sealed the fate of every sinner-"The soul that sinneth, IT SHALL DIE." (Ezek. xviii. 20.) And as life is unto life, so death is unto death. And these effects are the ministrations of the two covenants. Also remember, and treasure up the great truth taught by the Lord Jesus Christ, by his servants Peter, and Paul, illustrating the principle of Christ's Gospel, as I have exhibited it in several of the preceding Sermons. For by this principle "God judges the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to Paul's gospel;" which he affirmed he received by revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul (2 Cor. iii.,) proceeds-He contrasts "the ministration of death," with "the ministration of the Spirit." And this is his conclusion, "For if the ministration of condemnation [katakrima, a judgment that is kata, against the judged,] be glory, much more doth the minis tration of righteousness exceed in glory." Here I pause
Reader, did you ever hear a pretended embassador of Christ, preach Calvin's and Hopkins's gospels? If you have, you have heard much of the glory of their gospels. How that their god would be as much glorified by the endless damnation, misery, yea, wretchedness that beggars all powers of description to portray-torment, that would wring with anguish the bosom of Devils to witness-horror unutterable-inexpressible suffering-never, never, no, never to end-and all for the glory of their god. And their god, too, will be as much glorified by the horrible misery and endless tortures of myriads of sinners, in their pagan Hell, as he will be glorified by the salvation of his few elect!
An idea has this moment presented itself, and here it is-Not a doubt can be entertained of the truth of the conclusion, deduced from this infernal hypothesis. For, say these preachers of the gospels of men, even the elect few, that are saved, if they had their deserts, would be in. Hell, likewise. Now there is prima facia evidence, from their own showing, that there is no glory in either case; but a burning shame, to make such a distinction of condition, where no difference exists in the merit or demerit of the patients! That is, the conclusion is a true
one from such premises: For as there would be no glory in either case, both being an abominable description, that makes even Heathen Egypt, and pagan Greece and Rome, blush for shame of pretended christian's mercy, and reflects a negative honour on the devil of Persia; there is just about as much glory discoverable in their hell, as in their heaven; and that is none at all in either place.
But Paul uses a term that can find no place in the gospels of men: He speaks of "the ministration of righteousness." You can find no righteousness in Calvin's or Hopkins's hell, or heaven. And why, I ask, is the ministration of the letter that killeth, glorious? Is it glorious in its consequences? or, is it glorious in its design? Its consequences are death. What was the design of God, in His ministration of the letter that killeth? "Is the law [the ministration of death,] then against the promises of God?" Paul both asks, and answers the question"GOD FORBID: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily, [most assuredly,] righteousness should have been by the law." (Gal. iii. 21.) Paul, in his parabola, uses the term life, the effect, by a metonymy, for the righteousness, afterward mentioned, as the cause of the life. The Divinely inspired and logical Paul, has settled the question as follows: The reason assigned, why the law is not against the promises of God, is, because no law could give life; that is, impart (not impute!) righteousness, the cause, and the only efficient cause and mean of life, as contrasted with death. The two terms stand in contrast as follows: Sin, or wrong, as the cause; and death as the effect. And righteousness, or right, (as opposed to wrong,) as the cause; and life as the effect. Now what are Paul's premises and conclusions? I answer
First-The law is not against the promises of God; was never so designed; and this negatively. And it would be both impious and absurd, to say that God, first, made promises; and second, God afterward made a law against his own promises. It would be like a man, who
The reader is referred to Vol. I. p. 151, note.; for a particular illustration, etc., of the Scriptural signification of the Greek phrase, μì yɛvoɩтO, (me genoito,) rendered" God forbid."
† Once for all, I define righteousness to signify any thing that can be named, that is right; and unrighteousness or sin, to signify every thing that can be named, that is wrong. Love being the only criterion or rule, to determine the respective merit of all things.
should solemnly promise on the first day of January, to do a certain thing before the year should terminate; and on the first day of the next month, February, should make a law, that the thing he promised to do, should not be done.
Second-The reason: Affirmatively, because the law could not give life-could not give righteousness, produce, and impart righteousness to man, without which, man can never have life-the reason, there can be no life without righteousness. Therefore, righteousness, or life, being the thing promised, the law, so far from being against the promises of God, that God would have made this very law the medium of the righteousness, or the life He had previously promised, provided the law could have answered this purpose. But the law could not give life-therefore, the righteousness, the cause of life, and without actually possessing which, the sinner can have no life, is not by the law. And Paul, like a good logician, anticipated the inquiry,
Well, Paul, if the law cannot give the sine qua non, the indispensable righteousness, without which there can be no life; and also, is not against the promise, of this righteousness, which only can give life, pray, tell me, What use is there for this law? What was it designed to accomplish?
Paul replies "The law was added because of transgressions till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator." Also, "The law was our schoolmaster unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith."* (Gal. ii. 16, 20!) And Paul found it a hard master. In his Epistle to the Romans, (vii.) Paul, on account of the schoolmaster's importunity, asks, "Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin but by the law: for I had not known lust, [desire,] except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But the law killed Paul; that is, the sin that the law, as the accuser, laid to Paul's charge, killed him; and the schoolmaster, instead of bringing Paul to Christ, brought him to the death, and there left him!!!
*It is surprising, the blunders of the world on this passage. Taking the supply of the translators, who had no conception of Paul's meaning, by his parabola, men talk of the law bringing them to Christ. It has brought thousands to the gallows, and the State prisons; and to Calvin and Hopkins; to the Pope; and to Arminius; but none to Christ! The righteousness of God is without the law. The righteousness of Calvin, if any where, may be with the law, as he understood it!
Paul is still more explicit, and settles the whole question, in few words; to the point-Paul declares, "Moreover, the law entered that the offence might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. v. 20, 21.)
Paul has settled two important questions, viz:
First-Sin, by the law, has reigned unto death. Here the law ends. The law, after the sinner is slain by the sin, has done with him.
Second-The righteousness, that the law is powerless in producing, is never efficacious until the law has left the sinner in death. How reasonable is this! Paul says, the law was weak through the flesh. It had bad materials to work upon. The law as a schoolmaster, had never so much as one scholar that could learn his lesson, save the man Christ Jesus! The task was more than the poor, earthly image could get along with; and the schoolmaster punished all the scholars, without exception, with death! But the righteousness, the cause of life to the dead sinner: The sinner is DEAD. The law slays but once. The dead sinner-What shall be done with him? Paul says, (Rom. iii.) after representing all as guilty and dead, “But now [since the law has slain all men, and left them dead,] the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ [eis for] unto all, and [epi] upon all them that believe; for there is no difference; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ." Observe two things, stated by Paul:
First-The righteousness, according to the promise and design of God, without any reference to the law, the law wholly out of the question, is for all without exception; in the future; in reference to the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.
Second-The righteousness of God (by faith of Jesus Christ,) is epi upon all them that believe, in the sense of the believer's being, in reality, the recipient of the righteousness. And here is the important distinction; and keeping this in view, let us return to the connexion of
We have seen how the ministration of death is glori
ous; viz: in the design. It gave man all the possible means of attaining to righteousness himself; and obtaining life by his own exertions. He had a good Schoolmaster to teach him; but the penalty of not learning his lesson, was death; and the schoolmaster, so weak was the flesh, found it necessary to slay all his scholars, and break up the school! Then Christ appeared-His way of teaching is different. Paul contrasts the two ministrations; that of the letter, and that of the Spirit. The letter kills the sinner and leaves him; and then the Spirit comes and gives him life! Paul represents the ministration of the Spirit, as so much more glorious in its consequences, that the other has no glory, when seen in the contrast. The one ended in death; the other in life. And Paul, in reference to the Jews, says, of the veil that blinded them, "Even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their hearts." Then, in reference to believers of the truth of Christ's gospel, Paul says, "But we all, with open face, beholding as in a glass [where the image seen is reflected,] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord."
Paul then refers especially to his ministry, saying, "Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
On this testimony, I remark, First-The reason assigned by Paul, why the gospel is hid to any, is, that "the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not."
Second-Those spoken of as lost, therefore, are characterized by Paul's imagery, as being blinded by the god of this world; or, in other words, giving such a preference to the things of this world, over all other things and considerations, that this constitutes a state of blindness-the blind do not see; the gospel is hidden to them by their blindness; but in the sense of their voluntary rejection of it, and giving a preference to the things of this world, over the things of Christ's kingdom. And these blinded per