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mands. It commands, not as a covenant to be there. by justified or condemned: but as a rule to be thereby guided into the way of peace. And while we look to the tables of the law as the rule of duty, we must look to the cross of Christ for assistance and acceptance
COVENANTS OF WORKS AND GRACE,
GAL. iv. 24.
The one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth unto
The fifth and last thing proposed, was to shew how the Sinai covenant gendereth to bondage. These are the two covenants, saith the text, the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth unto bondage, viz, unto bondage of state, and bondage of spirit, Rom. viii. 2, 15. We need scarcely observe that bondage is opposite to liberty, as fear to boldness. Whatsoever tends to fill the mind with a forbidding fear, gendereth to bondage, because fear hath torment, 1 John iv. 18. But not to anticipate what will occur more naturally in its proper place, I beg leave to make two remarks before I show how the Sinaitic covenant gendereth to bondage. And the First is,
The very manner in which the Sinaitic covenant was given, gendereth to bondage. Every circumstance at: tending that transaction was calculated to fill the minds of the Israelites with terror. The mount was railed around by Jehovah's express command. And whosoever touched the border of the hill, was to die, were it man or beast, Exod. xix. 12, 13. Heb. xii. 20.
When the third, the solemn day was come, early the dreadful thunders began to roar, the lightnings to flash, and the trump of God to sound louder and louder. The tribes are summoned to attend, trembling seizes all the camp, and Moses their leader, man of God as he was, cries out, I exceedingly fear and quake, Exod. xix. 16. Heb. xii. 21. Inanimate nature discerns her Maker's approach, and Sinai is altogether on a smoke at the Almighty's touch. The mountain and the multitude, all, all are trembling at the presence of the Law-giver. Death is written as on every face, and the cry of Beth-shemesh, “ Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?” is heard at Horeb. Orders are given a second time to prohibit the people’s gaze, lest many of them perish. The priests and the people must not break through to come up unto the Lord, lest he break forth upon them, Exod. xix. 21-24. If they come nigh, it is at their peril. How unlike, how opposite, was all this to the glorious liberty of the sons of God? What bondage of spirit did it gender among all the thousands of Israel? When they perceived the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they removed and stood afar off. In their representatives, they came near to Moses, and besought him to go near to that God whose presence they durst not approach, and whose words they trembled to hear. Speak thou with us, said they, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. This great fire will consume us.
If we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die, Exod. xx. 19. Deut. iv. 23—27. If we hear the voice of the Lord our God! --Strange, to die with terror at the voice of their own God! Were not his first words full of grace? I am the Lord thy God. Yes. But the awful circumstances attending this proclamation, made them in effect forget every thing but their own danger. The thunder, the earthquake, the fire, the smoke, and the trumpet made deeper impressions on them than the words of grace. As law may be preached evangelically, so here the gospel was given amidst legal terrors. The one covenant was given together with the other. And the smoke of the fiery law, was ready to obscure the precious words of gospel-grace. Thus the very manner in which the Sinai covenant was given, gendereth to bondage. It brought saints themselves into a kind of comparative bondage, from which we are now hap. pily delivered under the New Testament. Of this the apostle puts the Hebrews in mind, chap. xii. 18, 19, 20, 21. Ye are not come unto the mount that was touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, which voice they that heard, intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more. But I observe,
2dly. The Sinaitic transaction subjected the Old Testament church to the galling yoke of ceremonies. We have seen already that the ceremonies had. a double relation, legal and evangelic. By that they stood related to the covenant of works, by this to the covenant of grace. Both these relations are intimated by the apostle, Heb. x. 1, 3. The law had a shadow of good things to come, viz. inasmuch as it was typical of Christ the body, and so as it was related to the covenant of grace. But in those sacrifices there wasa remembrance of sins. In them, as related to the broken covenant of works, there was a remembrance of sin, of sin as not yet expiated. They contained a hand-writing that was against us, that was contrary to us, (Col. ii. 14.) and which therefore did not belong to the covenant of grace, every article whereof is for us. In them there was a remembrance of sin, not only in the conscience of the offerer, but as by God himself. I do not say a remembrance of it, as still imputing it to such as believed in the promised Seed. No, no: but as not being yet expiated by the blood of his Son. As often as the sacrifices were offered, that God, on whose altar they lay, said, My justice is not yet satisfied. Thus he remembered sin. Whereas now under the New Testament he, in this sense remembers it no more, Heb. X. 16, 17, 18. There is no more offering for sin, no ceremonial sacrifices to upbraid the saints with the remembrance of their guilt as not yet expiated.
Though Old Testament saints were subjected to the ceremonies, and these ceremonies were related to the broken covenant of works, it will not follow that they were under the curse of that covenant. This they escaped by faith in him who was to come. Only they were held in a comparative kind of bondage, being every now and then obliged to acknowledge, as with their own hand-writing, in the blood of the sacrifices, that the broken covenant of works was not yet fulfilled. With this yoke their necks were galled, Acts xy. 10. And therefore it was very different from that which Christ puts upon us under the New Testament, Matt. xi. 29, 30.
In their sacrifices there was a remembrance of sin. In our sacraments, especially that of the Supper, there is a remembrance of the Saviour, who has put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, 1 Cor. xi. 24, 25. Heb. ix. 26. In them there was an acknowledging of the debt: in this there is a shewing of the discharge, a shewing forth the death of the Lord. Thus while the Sinaitic dispensation of the covenant of works remained, the church was under a kind of bondage, from which she is now delivered. So our apostle
teacheth, Gal. iv. 3, 4, 5. When we were children, we were in bondage under the elements of the world, but when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons: to redeem us not only from the curse, but from the ceremonies of the law. To blot out the hand-writing of ordinances, and to take it out of the way, nailing it to his triumphant cross, as part of the glorious spoil, Col. ii. 14. This, this is now part of that liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. The law can no more produce the handwriting against us. Before it can, it must draw that