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meaning of these terms the law and works, the apostle takes for granted as very well known, and agreed on between himself and those with whom he had to do.
2. The Jews by the law intended what the Scriptures of the Old Testament meant by that expression. For they are nowhere blamed for any false notion concerning the law, or that they esteemed any thing to be so, but what was so indeed, and what was so called in the Scripture. Their present oral law was not yet hatched, though the Pharisees were brooding of it.
3. The law under the Old Testament, doth immediately refer unto the law given at mount Sinai, nor is there any distinct mention of it before. This is commonly called the law absolutely; but most frequently the law of God, the law of the Lord; and sometimes the law of Moses, because of his especial ministry in the giving of it. Remember the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him;' Mal. iv. 4. And this the Jews intended by the law.
4. Of the law so given at Horeb, there was a distribution into three parts. 1. There was an nwy Deut. iv. 13. 'the ten words;' so also chap. x. 4. that is, the ten commandments written in two tables of stone. This part of the law was first given; was the foundation of the whole, and contained that perfect obedience which was required of mankind by the law of creation, and was now received into the church, with the highest attestations of its indispensable obligation unto obedience or punishment. 2. pn which the LXX render by dikawμara, that is 'jura;' 'rites' or 'statutes;' but the Latin from thence 'justificationes,' 'justifications,' which hath given great occasion of mistake in many both ancient and modern divines. We call it the ceremonial law. The apostle terms this part of the law distinctly, vóμos Évτodwv iv dóyμaoi, Eph. ii. 15. The law of commandments contained in ordinances; that is, consisting in a multitude of arbitrary commands. commonly call the judicial law. This distribution of the law shuts up the Old Testament, as it is used in places innumerable before, only the Day the ten words,' is expressed by the general word 'the law,' Mal. iv. 4. 5. These being the parts of the law given unto the church in Sinai, the whole of it is constantly called in the law,'
which we משפתים .3
that is, the instruction (as the word signifies) that God gave unto the church, in the rule of obedience which he prescribed unto it. This is the constant signification of that word in Scripture, where it is taken absolutely; and thereon doth not signify precisely the law as given at Horeb, but comprehends with it all the revelations that God made under the Old Testament, in the explanation and confirmation of that law, in rules, motives, directions, and enforcements of obedience.
the law' is the whole rule of obedience which God gave to the church under the Old Testament, with all the efficacy wherewith it was accompanied by the ordinances of God, including in it all the promises and threatenings, that might be motives unto the obedience that God did require. This is that which God and the church called the law under the Old Testament, and which the Jews so called with whom our apostle had to do. That which we call the moral law was the foundation of the whole; and those parts of it which we call the judicial and ceremonial law, were peculiar instances of the obedience which the church under the Old Testament was obliged unto, in the especial polity and divine worship, which at that season were necessary unto it. And two things doth the Scripture testify unto concerning this law.
1. That it was a perfect complete rule of all that internal, spiritual, and moral obedience which God required of the church. The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul, the testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple;' Psal. xix. 7. And it was so of all the external duties of obedience, for matter and manner, time and season; that in both, the church might walk 'acceptably before God;' Isa. viii. 20. And although the original duties of the moral part of the law are often preferred before the particular instances of obedience in duties of outward worship; yet the whole law was always the whole rule of all the obedience, internal and external, that God required of the church, and which he accepted in them that did believe.
2. That this law, this rule of obedience, as it was ordained of God to be the instrument of his rule of the church, and by virtue of the covenant made with Abraham unto whose administration it was adapted, and which its intro
duction on Sinai did not disannul, was accompanied with a power and efficacy enabling unto obedience. The law itself, as merely preceptive and commanding, administered no power or ability unto those that were under its authority to yield obedience unto it; no more do the mere commands of the gospel. Moreover, under the Old Testament it enforced obedience on the minds and consciences of men, by the manner of its first delivery, and the severity of its sanction, so as to fill them with fear and bondage; and was besides accompanied with such burdensome rules of outward worship, as made it a heavy yoke unto the people. But as it was God's doctrine, teaching, instruction in all acceptable obedience unto himself, and was adapted unto the covenant of Abraham, it was accompanied with an administration of effectual grace, procuring and promoting obedience in the church. And the law is not to be looked on as separated from those aids unto obedience, which God administered under the Old Testament, whose effects are therefore ascribed unto the law itself. See Psal. i. xix. cxix.
2. This being the law in the sense of the apostle, and those with whom he had to do, our next inquiry is, what was their sense of works, or works of the law? And I say it is plain that they intended hereby, the universal sincere obedience of the church unto God, according unto this law. And other works, the law of God acknowledgeth not; yea, it expressly condemns all works that have any such defect in them, as to render them unacceptable unto God. Hence notwithstanding all the commands that God had positively given for the strict observance of sacrifices, offerings, and the like; yet, when the people performed them without faith and love, he expressly affirms that he commanded them not,' that is, to be observed in such a manner. In these works, therefore, consisted their personal righteousness, as they walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the law blameless,' Luke i. 6. wherein they did 'instantly serve God day and night;' Acts xxvi. 7. And this they esteemed to be their own righteousness, their righteousness according unto the law, as really it was; Phil. iii. 6. 9. For although the Pharisees had greatly corrupted the doctrine of the law, and put false glosses on sundry precepts of it; yet that the church in those days did by the works of the law, understand either
ceremonial duties only, or external works, or works with a conceit of merit, or works wrought without an internal principle of faith and love to God, or any thing but their own personal sincere obedience unto the whole doctrine and rule of the law, there is nothing that should give the least colour of imagination. For,
1. All this is perfectly stated in the suffrage which the Scribe gave unto the declaration of the sense and design of the law, with the nature of the obedience which it doth require, and was made at his request by our blessed Saviour, Mark xii. 28–33. ́ And one of the Scribes came and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, which is the first commandment of all;' or as it it is, Matt. xxii. 36. Which is the great commandment in the law? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength; this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. And the Scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God, and there is none hut he. And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.' And this so expressly given by Moses as the sum of the law, namely, faith and love, as the principle of all our obedience, Deut. vi. 4, 5. that it is marvellous what should induce any learned sober person to fix upon any other sense of it; as that it respected ceremonial or external works only, or such as may be wrought without faith or love. This is the law concerning which the apostle disputes, and this the obedience wherein the works of it do consist. And more than this, in the way of obedience God never did nor will require of any in this world. Wherefore, the law and the works thereof, which the apostle excludeth from justification, is that whereby we are obliged to believe in God as one God, the only God, and love him with all our hearts and souls, and our neighbours as ourselves. And what works there are, or can be in any persons regenerate or not regenerate, to be per
formed in the strength of grace, or without it, that are acceptable unto God, that may not be reduced unto these heads, I know not.
2. The apostle himself declareth, that it is the law and the works of it in the sense we have expressed, that he excludeth from our justification.
For the law he speaks of, is the law of righteousness,' Rom. ix. 31. The law whose righteousness is to be fulfilled in us,' that we may be accepted with God, and freed from condemnation, chap. viii. 5. That in obedience whereunto, our own personal righteousness doth consist, whether that we judge so, before conversion, Rom. x. 3. or what is so after it, Phil. iii. 9. The law which if a man observe, he shall live,' and be justified before God, Rom. ii. 13. Gal. iii. 12. Rom. x. 5. That law which is holy, just, and good,' which discovereth and condemneth all sin whatever, Rom. vii. 7.9.
From what hath been discoursed, these two things are evident in the confirmation of our present argument. 1. That the law intended by the apostle, when he denies that by the works of the law any can be justified, is the entire rule and guide of our obedience unto God, even as unto the whole frame and spiritual constitution of our souls, with all the acts of obedience or duties that he requireth of us. And 2. That the works of this law which he so frequently and plainly excludeth from our justification, and therein opposeth to the grace of God, and the blood of Christ, are all the duties of obedience, internal, supernatural, external, ritual, however we are or may be enabled to perform them, that God requireth of us. And these things excluded, it is the righteousness of Christ alone imputed unto us, on the account whereof we are justified before God.
The truth is, so far as I can discern, the real difference that is at this day amongst us about the doctrine of our justification before God, is the same that was between the apostle and the Jews, and no other. But controversies in religion make a great appearance of being new, when they are only varied and made different, by the new terms and expressions that are introduced into the handling of them. So hath it fallen out in the controversy about nature and grace. For as unto the true nature of it, it is the same in these days, as it was between the apostle Paul and the Pharisees,