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Gal. V. 1. Standfast, therefore, in the liberty wheretoith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again loith the yoke of bondage. THE doctrine of justification by faith is inculcated throughout all the Holy Scriptures, even in parts where we should never have thought of looking for it. ot only was it fully and explicitly declared to Abraham ; but it was allegorically set forth by his putting away of Hagar and her son Ishmael, and his constituting of Isaac his sole heir. This was intended by God to shadow forth to us that we cannot be saved by the legal covenant, the covenant of works ; but that we must embrace, and be saved by, the new covenant, the covenant of grace''. By the covenant a Gal. iv. 21— .31.
2077.1 LIBERTY OF THE CHRISTIA . 193 of grace we are liberated from the bondage of the covenant of works ; and " in this hberty it becomes us all to stand fast." We shall be led from these words to notice, I. The Christian's privilege — The Christian is a behever in Christ : and by his faith he is made a partaker of all that Christ has procured for him. He was formerly under the law ; and by that law was condemned. As long as he
continued under that law, he continued under the curse. But " Christ has freed him from that lawV' and brought him to a state of perfect liberty. 1. By suffering the penalty due to his transgressions, he has released us from it — [Christ became the Surety and Substitute of sinful man. Did we owe a debt which it was impossible for us to pay ? He discharged it for us, even to the uttermost farthing. Were we under the curse of the broken law ? " He became a curse for us*^," and endured all that was due to our sins. Hence there remains " now no condemnation to us"^." " If only we believe in Christ, we are justified from all things^," and " our sins are blotted out as a morning cloud."] 2. By giving us faith, he has brought us into a better covenant — [There is a new covenant, which is a perfect contrast with the old covenant. The old covenant cursed us for one ti'ansgression, and provided no remedy for us whatever : the nevv covenant provides for us all that our necessities can require — pardon, and peace, and holiness, and glory. Into this covenant all are bi'ought, who believe in Jesus. He therefore, by imparting faith to our souls, translates us from the one to the other ; and both liberates from all the evils of the former, and conveys to us all the blessings of the latter. From the very instant of our believing in Christ, we cease to have any thing either to hope or fear from the covenant of works : we are dead to it, and it is dead to us : it is abrogated and annulled : and, like a woman released from her nuptial bonds by the death of her husband, we are at liberty to " unite ourselves to Christ, that through him we may bring forth fruit unto God^." Thus, " being made free by Christ, we are made free indeed^."] b Rom. viii. 2. c Rom. iii. 13. ^ Rom. viii. 1. e Acts xiii. 39. ^ Rom. vii. 4. e John viii. 86.
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194 GALATIA S, V. 1. [2077. We may easily conceive, from hence, what is, II. The Christian's duty — Privilege and duty comprehend all that constitutes religion. In themselves they are widely different ; but they are never to be separated from each other. Possessing this high privilege of freedom from the law, we are to " stand fast in it ;" 1. Against the influence of false teachers — [There were such among the Jews, who were extremely zealous in propagating their sentiments, and in endeavouring to subvert the faith of Christ. And such there are at this day. What is the whole system of popery, but an establishment of the covenant of works ? It inculcates, in all its ordinances, the merit of good works, and teaches men to expect salvation by their works. And what do they who teach that we are justified by the act of baptism ; and they who administer the Lord's supper to dying persons as a passport to heaven ? I deny not the use or efficacy of the sacraments, when duly received : but, to teach men to rely on the mere administration of them, irrespective of the manner, and mind, and spirit in which they are received, is as fatal an error as ever was broached : it is nothing but popery revived amongst us. Against all such errors, by whomsoever they are inculcated, you must be on your guard. If Peter himself make such an use of a sacrament, he must be reproved, as a traitor to the cause of Christ^ : and " if an angel from heaven were to bring such a doctrine as that, he must be held accursed'."] 2. Against the devices of Satan —
[That great adversary is ever fighting against Christ ; and endeavouring to " blind men, lest the light of Christ's glory should shine unto them''." But you must " resist him, steadfast in the faith'." It is impossible for you to be too much on your guard against his temptations. As he beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so will he, if possible, turn you from the simplicity that is in Christ"^*:" He will, both by his emissaries and by his suggestions, pervert the Scriptures themselves, just as he did when he tempted Christ: but you must " take the sword of the Spirit, and the shield of faith," and, " in the strength of Christ, resist him " to the uttermost"; that you " may never be moved away from the hope of the >i Gal. ii. 11—16. ' Gal. i. 8, 9. ^2 Cor. iv. 4. ' 1 Pet. V. 8, 9. "» 2 Cor. xi. 3. " Eph.vi. 10—17.
2077.1 LIBERTY OF THE CHRISTIA . 195 Gospel °," or be induced to " make shipwreck of your faith in ChristP"] 3. Against the treachery of your own hearts — [There is no evil whatever more deeply rooted in the heart of man than self-righteousness. It will assume in you ten thousand shapes. Sometimes it will put on the garb of holiness ; and make you fearful of exalting Christ too much, lest you should depreciate and discourage morality. Sometimes it will assume the form of humility; and make you stand aloof from Christ because of your own unworthiness : * You are not good enough to come to him : he will never receive so vile a sinner as you.' There is no end to the delusions which your own deceitful hearts will suggest, to sanction, in some degree or other, a dependence on your own works. But you must put away every thought that may interfere with the honour of Christ, to whom the glory of your salvation must be given, whole and entire, from first to last. It is altogether
the purchase of his blood, and the gift of God for his sake : and it must be received, by every creature under heaven, " without money, and without price." St. Paul tells you, that if you do the best act in the world with a view to augment your interest in Him, " he shall profit you nothing'^." The least attempt of this kind will invalidate the whole Gospel "■: and therefore look well to yourselves, that ye " receive not the grace of God in vain."] Address — 1. Those who are yet cleaving to the covenant of ' works — [What works will ye ever do, that shall be effectual for your salvation ? or what single act have ye ever done, that will bear the test of God's law? O, think of your folly and your wickedness! your folly, in preferring bondage to liberty ; and your wickedness, in so requiting the grace of Christ ] 2. Those who are enjoying the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free — [Enjoy it, and be thankful for it but " turn it not to licentiousness." Shew, by your lives, that the Gospel is " a doctrine according to godliness :" and let the world see that, whilst you " contend earnestly for the faith delivered to the saints," you are '* careful to maintain good works."] Col. i. 23. P 1 Tim. i. 19. <i ver. 2. ' ver. 3, 4.
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