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GAL. hi. 10=
Ft5R AS MANY' A# Altfe" OP "THE WORDS' OF THE LAW, ARE UNDER THE CURSE": FOR IT IS WRITTEN, CURSED IS EVERY ONE THAT CONTINUETH NOT IN ALL THINGS WHICH ARE WRITTEN IN THJK BOOK OF THE LAW TO DO THEM. .' '.
Jt He Law consists of two parts: a system of Precepts; and the Sanction and Enforcement of those precepts, by promises and threatenings.
According to the first, it is the H?pTe <>f ouF Obedience; and shews what we ought to fender irrita God.
According to the second, it is the Rule of Divine Justice i and shews what God will render unto us.
I have already considered the Precepts of theLaw; and, in part, treated of those important duties, both of piety towards God and of love and equity towards men, that are summarily comprehended in them.
The Sanction of this Law is" twofold.'
First. A Promise of Life and Happiness to the observers of it.
Rom. x. 5. Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the Law, That the Man, which doeth those things, shall live by them. And, again, Gal. iii. 12. The man, that doeth them, shall live in them, i. e. by them. Which we have once more confirmed to us, Ezek. xx. 11.1 gave them my statutes, and.....myjudgments;which if a man do, he shall even live in them. All which places are transcribed from that of Moses, Lev. xviii. 5. Ye shall keep my statutes and my judgments; which if a man do he shall live in them, or by them. But, because our natures are woefully degenerated from their primitive excellency; and we have contracted such an impoteney, thsj,t the same obedience, which, in our upright estate, was both easy and delightful, is now become irksome and impossible, as I have demonstrated to you in the last subject I treated of: therefore we can receive no consolation from this promise; nor entertain any hopes of life and salvation, according to the tenor' x)f this Covenant of Works: For all have sinned, and are come short of the glory of God. The Precepts of the Law convince us of sin; and our sins convince us that we have no right to the Promise of the Law. And, therefore, as I have endeavoured to promote the conviction of sin, by representing to you the infinite defects, irregularities, and contrarieties of our actions compared with the divine commands; so now, likewise, I shall endeavour to convince of that wrath, which is due unto the transgressors of the Law. For there is a
Second Sanction of the Law, by the Threatenings of a most heavy and tremendous Curse, against all that transgress it: a curse, that will blast and wither their souls for ever. And this we have in the words of my text: Cursed is every one, who, &c.
The great design of the Apostle in this chapter, and indeed in this whole Epistle, is, to demonstrate, that Justification cannot possibly be obtained by the righteousness of the Law, nor according to the terms of the First Covenant, Do this, and live. And, among many others, one of the strongest arguments he makes use of to prove this his assertion, lies couched in these words, which we are now considering.
I. Wherein we have these Two Parts:
First. A Thesis, or POSITION. As many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse.
Secondly. A PROOF of this position, by an irrefragable testimony of Scripture. For it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them.
The words are plain and obvious. Only I shall briefly enquire,
What the Apostle means by those, who are of the Works of the Law. And, What it is to be Accursed.
i. To the former, I answer: To be of the Works of the Law signifies no other, than to expect justification and eternal happiness by legal works; to depend wholly on our obedience unto and observation of the Law, to render us acceptable to God and worthy of eternal life.
Those, who thus rely on a legal righteousness, are said to be of the Works of the Law; as persons are said to be of such or such a party; because they stiffly defend the cause of the Law; and stand for justification by the observance of it, in opposition to the grace of the Gospel, and the way of obtaining justification and eternal life by believing. But, saith the Apostle, As many as are of this party and faction are accursed; even by the sentence of that Law, which they hope will justify them: For it is written in the Law, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, S(c.
ii. To BE Accursed, or to BE UNDER THE Curse, is no other, than to be liable unto or actually under that wrath and punishment, which the Law threatens shall be inflicted on the transgressors, as a satisfaction to divine justice for their offences.
So that the true and proper notion of a curse is this.. That it is the denunciation or execution of the punishment contained in the Law, in order to the satisfaction of divine justice for transgressing the precepts of it.
Some, therefore, are only und«. 'he curse denounced. And so are all wicked men, whose state is prosperous in this life: though they flourish in wealth and honour, and float in ease and pleasure; yet are they liable to all that woe and wrath, with which the threatenings of the Law stand charged against them.
Some are under the curse already executed. And so are all wicked men, on whom God begins to take vengeance and exact satisfaction, in the miseries and punishments, which he inflicts on them in this life. He sometimes puts the cup of fury and trembly mto thejr hands, while they are on earth; and gives them some toi^otes 0f tnat bitter draught, the dregs of which they must for ever dm*. „pp m hell. And, there, they are accursed completely and eternally. For the curse of the Law contains in it all the direful ingredients of God's wrath: whatsoever we can suffer, either in this world or in the world to come, all plagues, woes, and miseries, being comprehended in that death threatened in the Covenant of Works: In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shall surely die: Gen. ii. 17. It is true, many godly men suffer sore afflictions in this life; pains, diseases, losses, persecutions from men, and chastisements from God: yet these are not curses to them, because not inflicted for the satisfaction of divine justice; but for the exercise of their graces, and the manifestation of his holiness; as I shall hereafter shew you more at large. But whatsoever evil any wicked man suffers, it is from the malignity of the curse; which will, at last, pour all its venom into his cup in hell.
And, thus, you have seen what it is, to be of the Works of the Law; and what it is, to be of the Curse of the Law.
Suffer me only to paraphrase the words, and I shall add no more for explication.
It is impossible, saith the Apoltle, that any should be now justified by the observation of the Law: for, as many as rely upon their works only, to justify them; and endeavour to uphold the faction of a Legal righteousness, against the grace of the Gospel, and the way of justification by faith; they are under a curse, and stand liable to all the punishments which the Law threatens. For, even in the Law, it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the. Law to do them: which because no mere man hath done, therefore all lie under the doom of t&is curse: and those, who expect justification by no other way, must for ever lie under the execution of it. And this I take to be the clear scope of the Apostle's argument. /...... ..
Now, whereas he saith, It is written, he certainly refers us to Deut. xxvii. 26;. Cursed, is he, that confirmeth not all the words of this Law to do them. In the original it is, Cp' Nv Nonstabilet: "Doth not establish," or " ratify." In the Septuagint, mi ey.\LBvo, non permanet: " Doth not continue:" and, according to that translation, the Apostle both read, and used them. However, the sense is the same in bpth.
II. You see, then, whatau UNIVERSAL CURSF "riese words denounce: a curse, that sets its mouth. ".J aar§ its thunder, against all the sinful sons ^aam. A curse it is, which, as Zechariah speaks, r^ *• 3. goeth forth over the face of the whole earth; «-d will, if mercy rebate not the edge of it, cut off on every side all those, that stand in its way; that is, all that are sinners: and all are so; for the characters, which the Apostle doth here give to those, who are under the curse of the Law, are so general and comprehensive, that no man living could possibly escape, if God should judge him according to the conditions of the Covenant of Works.
i. It is said, that every one is accursed, that Doth Not tho« fhings, which are written in the book of the Law.
And this is a curse, that cuts off on both sides. On this side^ it cuts off those, who are but negatively righteous, who ground all their hopes for heaven and happiness upon what they have not done; and put into the inventory of their virtues, that they have not been vicious, no extortioners, no unjust persons, no adulterers, &c. but, alas! this account will not pass in the day of reckoning: the Law requires thee, not only to forbear the gross acts of sin, but to perform the duties of obedience. And it cuts off, on that side, all those, who have done contrary to what is written in the Law: and that, not only scandalous and outrageous sinners; but even those., who have been least peccant, and rather sinners in thought and imagination than in practice: yet these also fall under the curse of the Law.
ii. Those, also, who have NOT Done All, that is written in the Law, are struck with this anathema or curse.
And where is the man, that dares lift up his face, to justify himself against this charge? Is there no one duty, either of the First or Second Table, respecting either God or Man, that thou hast utterly neglected? Is there no one sin, that thou hast committed; either ignorantly or knowingly, either out of weakness or wilfulness, by surprise or upon deliberation? Certainly, the Law of God is so vastly large and comprehensive, that we can scarcely know all that is contained in it: and our impotence and corruption so great, that, much less, can we perform it: and yet, in case of the least failure in any one particular, we become obnoxious to the curse and malediction.
iii. But suppose that, at some time or other, thou shouldst have performed every particular duty; yet, hast thou Continued in all things, that are written in the Law to do them? Hast thou spun an even thread of obedience? Are there no flaws, no breaks, no breaches in it? Hast thou been always constant, in the highest fervour of thy zeal for God? Hast thou been in the fear of the Lord, all the days of thy life? Have thy affections never languished; thy thoughts never turned aside, so much as to glance upon vanity? Didst thou never drop one unsavoury word; nor do any one action, which, both for the matter and manner of it, was not perfectly agreeable to the Law? If otherwise, as indeed such an absolute perfection of holiness is to be found in no creatures but the glorified spirits, thou art still exposed to the curse of the Law: for Cursed is every one, thai con.