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The Law

“The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.” Galatians 3:24.


What law? Three kinds of laws were given to the Jews. It is not necessary to exclude either, though the last is principally intended.


The judicial. This regarded their policy as a nation, regulated their conduct towards each other, and determined their civil crimes and penalties. Even, this led to Christ, especially the right of redemp­tion, which lay with the nearest of kin. So did also the provision of the cities of refuge, and happy they who have fled for shelter and relief to Him that was prefigured by them.


The ceremonial. This prescribed their worship, and enjoined a mul­titude of services and sacrifices which were all shadows of good things to come, but the body was Christ. It would be endless to particularize. The tabernacle, the mercy-seat, the altar, the table of show-bread, the paschal lamb—all these led to Him and derived their importance from the relation. And hence those who deny their typical use have always spoken depreciatingly of them. The Jews were in the infancy of the church, and these ceremonies were like pictures placed over the child’s lessons or the whole economy may be considered as a star to the travelers in search of the Consolation of Israel, going before them till it stood over where the young child was, and then disappearing.


The moral. This was of universal and perpetual obligation, being founded not on any positive appointment or authority, but in the nature of man, and the relations subsisting between him and God, and between him and his fellow-creatures. The substance of it is, to love God su­premely, and our neighbour as ourselves. Is this unreasonable? Can God Himself dispense with it? Can He require less?


Now this leads us to Christ, first, by convincing us of sin; for by the law is the knowledge of sin. It is owing to men’s ignorance of this law that they think so well of themselves. Did they know that it ranks all omissions of duty in the number of sins; that it extends to the state of the heart as well as of the life, and to our motives and principles as well as our actions; self-abased and despairing, they would be constrained to cry out, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.”


Secondly, by showing us our danger. This results from transgres­sion; for the curse enters with all sin: “Cursed is every one that con­tinueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them?” If you were in a room where there was a dead lion, you would not be afraid. But if, while you were walking by, he should come to life, and rise upon his feet, and glare his eyeballs, and begin to roar, as he re­vived, you would die with fear. So it was with Paul. “I was alive,” says he, “without the law; but when the commandment came, sin re­vived, and I died.”


Thirdly, by gendering despair of life by it. Here again the apostle tells us, that his death to the law was also by it. “I through the law am dead unto the law, that I might live unto God.” Thus the extrem­ity of the danger makes us call out for a deliverer. Famine lectured back the prodigal to his father’s house. Disease drives the patient to apply to a physician, which he would otherwise neglect, and to submit to a remedy which he would otherwise reject “The law is our school­master to bring us unto Christ.”


The law, therefore, is good if it be used lawfully; and ministers ought to preach it. Some pass under a greater law work than others; but let none question the genuineness of the relief they have obtained from Christ, because they have not experienced much terror and dis­tress. This terror and distress are but in the order of means, and the design of them is answered if we are brought to Christ, and acquiesce in His salvation.


Every one, therefore, that hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto HIM, and can find encouragement nowhere else. And “him that cometh unto me,” says the Saviour, “I will in no wise cast out.”


Rev. Wm. Jay

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