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mediatorial intervention, yet it is plain that the matter of moral obligation is not of such a na ture. The obligation to feel and conduct suitaably, in regard to ourselves, and all others, devolves immediately upon every rational agent. In the nature of things this duty is personal, and cannot be performed by any other than the individual subject.
2. It is acknowledged that the law was dispensed under a vail. Mount Sinai was covered with a cloud and thick darkness, and enclosed with bounds, through which whatsoever passed should die. In like manner the place of the holy sanctuary was surrounded with walls of partition. But no vail has ever covered, no cloud has obscured, no partition wall has enclosed any matter of moral obligation. The duty of love to God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and of love to our neighbors as to ourselves, has been dispensed without any vail, excepting what corrupters have cast over it, who, by confounding the law and the gospel, have turned the grace of God into laciviousness. This shews that the law is a distinct subject from that of moral obliga-
3. Why was this dispensation vailed?.......The answer to this question is obvious, and has been conceded by all, viz. The people could not otherwise have borne it. Had the law been given to them unvailed, they must all have perished. But the requirement of perfect love was made to the people openly, and they heard the voice of God speaking all these words out of the midst of the fire, and did live; which fact, upon groundsacknowledged by all, affords strong evidence that the moral code was far from comprising what is imported by the law that came by Moses; and that the work of the law was not, with the moral precepts, thrown out upon the hands of
mere creatures, whether angels or men. The ten commandments, given at Mount Sinai, together with the mediatorial institutions, may be compared to an ark or ship launched into the sea; which moral and ceremonial institutions were as distinct from the law itself, as the vessel is from the deep upon which it is borne, and thro' which it travels. When the mediatorial intervention towards the world shall cease, the law will then, indeed be thrown immediately upon the creature; and with a tide infinitely stronger than the waters of Noah, it will then rush forth and deluge all things, those only excepted which are established upon a ground above the level of the highest sources of the angelic world. If it be asked why it must be conceded, that under the immediate operation of the law the people must have perished? The answer to this question is furnished by the whole result of divine instruction, viz. that the law of God is the law of sacrifice. Jesus Christ, in laying down his life, did as the Father gave him commandment. The basis of this constitution was the ever burning altar, and the immediate subject of it must be the sacrifice, united immediately to that burning flame.
4. The ten commandments were spoken to the people as an immediate party; they were strictly adjusted to their natural capacities; these words they heard spoken to them immediately by God himself, and did live; but, at the same time, they appeared conscious of something in the divine will, yet mercifully kept back, which they could not endure to hear. They came near unto Moses and said, "Behold, the Lord our "God hath shewed us his glory, and his great<< ness, and we have heard his voice out of the "midst of the fire: we have seen this day that "God doth talk with man, and he liveth. Now
therefore why should we die? for this great
"fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the "Lord our God ANY MORE, then we shall die. Go "thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God 66 shall say; and speak thou unto us all that the "Lord our God shall speak unto thee, and we "will hear it, and do it.'
If the ten commandments had contained the principal requirement of the law, these apprehensions of the people were without foundation; for, thus far, God had already proceeded with them, and they lived; but we are assured that their fears were just. God said, they have well spoken. Why did they say, This great fire will consume us? None of the ten commandments involved them in the fearful flame; but they tho't of more; they justly thought that these injunctions of love and obedience contemplated some service, of the most solemn nature, which was not yet expressed. Should a master call into his presence his servant, and with the greatest solemnity begin to speak to him of his obligations of love and obedience to his master, calling upon him to prepare his mind, fully to acquit himself as a good and faithful servant? what would he expect, but that some arduous business was about to be undertaken, in which he was to bear a laborious and trying part? It is apparent that the people, standing before Mount Sinai, were in expectation of being required to come up unto God where he dwelt in the fiery flame, and there, in the midst of the burning, to take a part in the work of the manifestation of God, which they were required so perfectly to regard. After such a requirement of love to the glory of God, as they had received in the decalogue, what else could they expect, but to be ordered to the work? And had not a mediator appeared before them, they must soon have received the order, which would have brought them into immediate contact with that burning altar.
This is evident from the consideration, that when Moses was appointed the mediator in a figure, the people were dismissed. God said to them, get you into your tents; but to Moses he said, come thou up unto the Lord; and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. Rehearsing this scene to the people, Moses said, I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to shew you the word of the Lord; for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and ye went not up into the mount. By all which it appears, that a work of the nature of sacrifice, or of self devotion to the altar, was requisite to the law; which, had it been laid immediately upon the people, they must surely have been consumed. The question is truly of a vast import, who has a proper regard for the divine character? Yet, this question might be answered by crea tures in their own names.. But how much more was imported by this! Who shall ascend into the the hill of the Lord? or, Who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto God? What mere creature could answer this? To will, indeed; a right heart; might have been present with the man under the law; but how to perform the business, to approach unto God, dwelling in consuming fire, must still have remained, to him, an unanswerable question.
5. In the ten commandments, we contemplate no more than what may be done by mere creatures; but we hear it commanded, Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name. Psal xxix. Hearing this, we lose sight at once of the ability of creatures. We see an end of all their perfection; and we are constrained to say, Thy commandment is exceeding broad! What could men or angels do, to give glory unto the God of glory, and strength
anto the Almighty? All the divine character must be exhibited; God must be fully declared. Vain must be the mind which could suppose any thing short of this may be done worthy of his name. The commandment in view, is infinitely above the natural capacity of creatures, and never could be answered but by the strength of the Mighty God. Of this we are instructed by the inspiration of this psalm. No answer by creatures, to the loud and urgent demand, is here meditated; all flesh is silent; but the voice of the Lord is heard answering to the call of divine authority; the almighty voice answers immediately and perfectly; it answers seven fold, and the work is accomplished.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters, the God of glory thundereth: The voice of the Lord is powerful: The voice of the Lord is full of majesty: The voice of the Lord breaketli the cedars; yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon: The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire: The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness: The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests.
The Lord himself is here exhibited: The Lord sitteth upon the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth king for ever: His voice is upon the waters, and the leviathan trembles: His voice is upon the mountains, and opposing kingdoms, tho' great and majestic, like Lebanon and Sirion, fy away before it: His voice is upon the cedars, and the mighty of the earth are broken to pieces: His voice divideth the flames of fire, and thus openeth the way to God: His voice shaketh the wilderness, it goeth out through all the earth, even unto the ends of the world: His voice maketh the hinds to calve, and openeth the forests: he is Lord of all.
In this work, which answereth perfectly to the