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the law; but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh but he is a Jew which is one inwardly and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God. Therefore, baptised sinners, if they are Christless, are as much under the curse of the law, as those who are unbaptised and so, are as liable to
all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever.' And God is as much at liberty to strike dead and send to hell, at any moment, self-righteous, Christless sinners who are baptised, as those who are unbaptised. He is not bound by covenant to the one, any more than to the other. But, as to life, and to the outward means of salvation and to the strivings of the spirit, he is at perfect liberty to have mercy on whom he will have mercy. This is certain from the whole tenour of the divine conduct. For we all know, that baptised sinners are as liable to sudden death as the unbaptised. And when they die, there is an end to all the outward means of salvation, and inward strivings of the Spirit, and nothing before them but the pains of hell for ever. So that there is no covenant between God and them in the way; there is nothing of this kind to hinder; but God is at perfect liberty to execute the curse of the law, on any Christless sinner, at any moment he pleases. For they are all in his hands, held up over hell by the thread of their lives, justly condemned, at his sovereign disposal. And accordingly, he lets one drop into hell now, and another then, just as he pleases, from day to day, from hour to hour, continually. And this hath been his constant course of conduct in all ages past. And thus every Christless sinner is under the curse of the law. But here it may, be inquired, for what crime, or crimes, are they thus, by the law of God, sentenced to eternal wo? To which the answer is plain. For,
9. This curse, self-righteous Christless sinners are sentenced unto by the divine law, for not yielding a perfect obedience to it, continually, every day. Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things. So that the law of perfection is binding on the unregenerate, Christless sinner. And in the
judgment of him, whose judgment is always according to truth, they deserve eternal wo, for every instance of defect, in thought, word, or deed; in matter or manner. And that whether they were from eternity elected to salvation, or not; and whether Christ died with an absolute design to save them, or not; and whether they enjoy the strivings of God's spirit, or are given up to their own hearts' lusts: yea, and whether they enjoy the benefit of a written revelation, or not. Rom. i. 18-21. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. So that even the heathen are without excuse; because when they knew God, only by the light of nature and tradition, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful. Rom. iii. 9. For we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin. ver. 19. That every mouth may be stopped, and ALL THE WORLD may become guilty before God. For the curse extends to every one, to every Christless sinner of Adam's race. So that the divine law is binding on fallen man, previous to the consideration of the grace of the Gospel. And mankind are under so great obligations to perfect obedience, that in the judgment of him, who is over all God blessed for ever, they deserve eternal wo, for any one defect for not continuing in all things. For such is the infinite dignity of the Deity, such his infinite worthiness of supreme love and universal obedience, in being what he is in himself, and our Creator, that on these original grounds, it is infinitely criminal not to love him with all our hearts, and obey
him in every thing. Nor doth our original apostacy in Adam, or our present depravity, or our guilt and exposedness to eternal destruction, exempt us from the divine law, as our rule of duty, or from its curse for every transgression. Nor is God obliged in justice to grant us any relief: for this law itself is the rule of justice; holy, just, and good. Rom. vii. 12.
Thus stands the matter in the sacred writings. This divinity how new soever it may appear to those who never before attended to it, was taught of old by Moses, Deut. xxvii. and afterwards by the apostle Paul, Gal. iii. 10. or rather the God of Israel is the true author of this system. It was of old revealed, in the law of Moses: it was afterwards honour
ed with the highest honours, on the cross, by the blood of God's own Son. And it was considered as fundamental in that scheme of religion which the apostles preached and wrote under divine inspiration. And to be an enemy to this law, is to be an enemy to God himself, who is its author, and whose image it bears; and to his Son, who died to do it họ
To say that this law ceases to be binding, is to say, that God ceases to be God, or that we cease to be his creatures. For if God is God, and we are his creatures, we ought to glorify him as God, and pay the honour to him that creatures owe to their Creator, unless he has done something to forfeit our love and obedience, or we cease to be moral agents. But to say that the supreme Majesty of heaven and earth has hurt his character, by any part of his conduct, is to say, that he is not an absolutely perfect Being: which is the same as to say that he is not God. Nor can we throw the blame off from ourselves, by saying, that we cease to be moral agents, without casting it on our Maker. For either he is to blame for continuing this law in force, armed with its curse; or we are to blame for breaking this law, and deserve the threatened wo. And to say that it is not in force, is expressly to contradict divine revelation, which says, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But,
10. For God in his holy law to require holiness, and nothing but holiness, of the Christless sinner, and curse him for the least defect, is inconsistent with requiring of him something besides holiness, viz. sin; and promising by covenant, to bless him with great blessings, on condition he performs the sinful action required. For this is to bless, and to curse the same man, at the same time, for the same action. Those very actions of the Christless sinner, who hath no righteousness but his own, in which to appear before God; which by the law he is under, justly deserve, and really expose him to present damnation; cannot, at the same time, qualify him, in the sight of the same God, (considered as searcher of hearts,) for any blessings whatever. For that which merits God's eternal curse, considered in itself, cannot, considered in itself,
qualify for God's blessing: unless that which is in itself infinitely odious in the sight of God, is a meet qualification for a token of the divine favour. Besides, he who is by divine constitution, at this present moment, liable to be struck dead and sent to hell, without time to breathe one breath more, for doing as he does; cannot by divine constitution, be entitled to any one blessing by those doings; for this would imply two divine constitutions, in their own nature inconsistent, both in force at the same time, the one cursing, and the other blessing, the same sinner, at the same time, for the same action. Which is the same thing, as to suppose a thing to be, and not to be, in the same sense, at the same time: which is an express contradiction.
Objection. If this reasoning is just, then God is at liberty to kill and damn all the ungodly now at this present time before the elect are called in; and so before Christ has seen his seed, and the travail of his soul. And so God was at liberty to have killed and damned every unregenerate sinner in the congregation of Israel, while in Egypt; and so the promise to Abraham, that at the end of 430 years his seed should be brought out of Egypt, might have never been fulfilled. Or he might have killed and damned every unregenerate sinner, in any period afterwards; and the very ancestors of the Messiah himself might have been cut off. And so that great promise to Abraham, in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, might have never been accomplished.
Answer, Christ Jesus may have a covenant right to see his seed, and the travail of his soul; and yet the self-righteous sinner may be under the curse of the law, in perfect consistency. Both these are Scripture doctrines, and both are perfectly harmonious. God may not be at liberty, with respect to Christ Jesus, to kill and damn every unregenerate sinner now in the world; because this would be inconsistent with his promise to him: but yet, with respect to unregene rate sinners themselves, God is at liberty; because God hath made no promise to unregenerate sinners, as such, by which they can any one of them now on earth claim a covenant right, to an exemption from the curse of the law, one single
Abrahamn might have a covenant right to a posterity, in number like the stars and like the sauds, because God promised this to him; and so, on the same ground, he might have a covenant right to the land of Canaan, and to all the blessings comprised in God's covenant with him; and yet such of his posterity as refused to walk in his steps, and rejected the covenant of grace, and remained under the curse of the law, might have for their parts no covenant right to any one blessing; but rather lie exposed to all the curses written in God's book. And that this was in fact the case, is plain from the whole tenour of Lev. xxvi. Deut. xxvii. and xxviii.
Now, if these things are true, then it will follow,
1. That Christless sinners,. as they have no covenant right to any good, being by the curse of the law already sentenced to all evil; so all the good which they do receive from God, before they are united to Christ by faith, are, as to them, the fruits of the mere sovereign grace of God, which he is at liberty, with respect to them, to continue or take away at pleasure. Thus it is as to life and all the comforts of life. And thus it is as to all the outward means of salvation, and the inward strivings of the spirit. Every Christless sinner being under the curse of the divine law, God is at full liberty, with respect to them, to strike them dead, and send them to hell at any moment; and so put an eternal end to all the good which they enjoy, and let in all evil upon them like a flood.-See this sentiment illustrated at large through the 20th chap. of Ezekiel. And if this is true, then,
2. The carnal, unregenerate, Christless Israelites, under the Mosaic dispensation, being under the curse of their law, agreeable to Deut. xxvii. 26. and Gal. iii. 10. had, considered as such, no covenant right to one blessing of the Abrahamic covenant, no, not so much as to draw a breath, or live one moment in the promised land where all the peculiar biessngs of that dispensation were to be enjoyed; but God was at full and perfect liberty, with respect to them, to strike them dead, and send them to hell at any moment; and so for ever separate them from that good land, and from all the worldly good things and religious advantages, which were