Galatians 3:10
Not only, says the apostle, did you begin the Christian life in faith, but even Abraham, whom the Jews reverence as their great exemplar, and whose heir they profess to be, even he was justified by faith; and therefore they who enjoy his blessing are the possessors of the same faith.

I. ABRAHAM WAS A MAN OF FAITH. He knew nothing of the Levitical Law. He walked by faith. His faith was not assent to a creed. Nor was it an intelligent conviction of any "plan of salvation" obtained by means of a miraculous foresight of the atonement to be accomplished many centuries later in the sacrifice of Christ. It was a grand, simple trust in God. It was shown in his forsaking the idols of his forefathers and worshipping the one spiritual God, in his leaving his home and going he knew not whither in obedience to a Divine voice, in his willingness to sacrifice his son, in his hope of a future inheritance. Such a faith is personal reliance, leading to active obedience and encouraged by confident anticipation. Abraham's faith is the model faith for us. For us faith is to rely upon Christ, to be loyal to Christ, to hope in Christ, and also to accept the fuller revelations of truth which Christ opens up to us as Abraham accepted the Divine voices vouchsafed to him. For the contents of faith will vary according to our light, The spirit of it, however, must be always the same.

II. ABRAHAM'S FAITH WAS RECKONED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS. The special point in Abraham's character was not his holiness, but his faith. God's favour flowed to him through this channel. It was the way through which he, though imperfect and sinful, as are all the sons of Adam, was called to the privileged place of a righteous man. This is recorded of him in the sacred history (Genesis 15:6), and therefore should be admitted by all Jews. So much for St. Paul's special argument. For us the important lesson is that, if so famous a saint, living even under the older religion, was accepted through faith, how much more apparent is it that faith is necessary for us! The reasons for relying on faith are

(1) historical - faith justified Abraham, therefore it will justify us;

(2) theological - faith brings us into living fellowship with God, and so opens our hearts to receive the forgiveness that puts us in the position of righteous men; and

(3) moral - faith is the security for the future growth of righteousness, with the first effort of faith the first seed-grace of righteousness is sown.

III. PARTICIPATION IN ABRAHAM'S FAITH IS THE CONDITION OF PARTICIPATION IN ABRAHAM'S BLESSING. Jews claimed the blessing by birthright. Jewish Christians offered it to the Gentiles on condition of their becoming as Jews. Both were wrong. Abraham received his blessing through his faith. It was necessarily conditioned by faith. Only men of faith could have it. Therefore Jews who lost faith lost the blessing. But all men of faith are spiritual sons of Abraham. Therefore all nations are blessed in Abraham just in proportion as they have a similar faith. Indeed, the finest legacy left by the patriarch was his faith. Canaan came and went. Spiritual blessings such as faith includes are eternal. - W.F.A.

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.
I. THE CURSE OF THE LAW IS OF UNIVERSAL APPLICATION. All are born under the law, and are bound to observe it. But all have broken it, and their guilt remains. There is no question of mercy here. Law, viewed in itself, knows no mercy. It pronounces a man righteous only on condition of perfect obedience. The chain is severed, though only one link be broken. The cable which joins two continents together, fails to convey the electric current if hut a single flaw exist in it. Every other part may be perfect; but one fault mars the whole. So with law. Thus all are under condemnation.

II. THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW IS ANTAGONISTIC TO FAITH. The starting-point of the law is obedience.

III. THE CURSE REMOVED. Christ not only died for our sins, but suffered that particular kind of death with which the law had specially connected the infliction of the curse, and so became a curse for us.

1. He who was to remove the curse must not be Himself liable to it. The Substitute for the guilty must Himself be innocent.

2. He who was to be the Substitute for all, must have the common nature of all.

3. He who was to do more than counterbalance the weight of the sins of all, must have infinite merits of His own, in order that the scale of Divine justice may preponderate in their favour.

4. In order that He may remove the curse pronounced in the law of God for disobedience, He must undergo that punishment which is specially declared in that law to be the curse of God.

5. That punishment is hanging on a tree (Deuteronomy 21:23).

(Emilius Bayley, B. D.)

The curse that men have in this life is as nothing compared with the curse that is to come upon them hereafter. In a few short years, you and I must die. Come, friend, I will talk to you personally again — young man, we shall soon grow old, or, perhaps, we shall die before that time, and we shall lie upon our bed — the last bed upon which we shall ever sleep — we shall wake from our last slumber to hear the doleful tidings that there is no hope; the physician will feel our pulse, and solemnly assure our relatives that it is all over! And we shall lie in that still room, where all is hushed except the ticking of the clock, and the weeping of our wife and children: and we must die. Oh, how solemn will be that hour when we must struggle with that enemy, Death! The death-rattle is in our throat — we can scarce articulate — we try to speak; the death-glaze is on the eye; Death hath put his fingers on those windows of the body, and shut out the light for ever; the hands well-nigh refuse to lift themselves, and there we are, close on the borders of the grave! Ah! that moment, when the spirit sees its destiny; that moment, of all moments the most solemn, when the soul looks through the bars of its cage, upon the world to come! No, I cannot tell you how the spirit feels, if it be an ungodly spirit, when it sees a fiery throne of judgment, and hears the thunders of Almighty wrath, while there is but a moment between it and hell. I cannot picture to you what must be the fright which men will feel, when they realize what they often heard of. It is a fine thing for you to laugh to-night! But when you are lying on your deathbed, you will not laugh. Now, the curtain is drawn, you cannot see the things of the future, it is a very fine thing to be merry. When God has removed that curtain, and you learn the solemn reality, you will not find it in your hearts to trifle... I think I see that terrible day. The bell of time has tolled the last day. Now comes the funeral of damned souls. Your body has just started up from the grave, you unwind your cerements and look up. What is that I see? Oh! what is that I hear? I hear one dread, tremendous blast, that shakes the pillars of heaven, and makes the firmament reel with affright; the trump of the archangel shakes creation's utmost bound. You look and wonder. Suddenly a voice is heard, and shrieks from some, and songs from others — He comes, He comes, He comes — and every eye must see Him. There He is; the throne is set upon a cloud, which is white as alabaster. There He sits. 'Tis He, the Man that died on Calvary — I see His pierced hands — but ah, how changed! No thorn-crown now. He stood at Pilate's bar, but now the whole earth must stand at His bar. He opens the book. There is silence... "Come, ye blessed"... "Depart, ye cursed." Oh, escape, before it is too late.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Though we have sinned less than others, we cannot be saved by merit; even as, thank God, though we have sinned more than others, we maybe saved by mercy. How idle to talk of other men being greater sinners than we are — to flatter and deceive ourselves with that! He drowns as surely who has his head beneath one inch of water, as he who, with a millstone hung round his neck, has sunk a hundred fathoms down. Let the strain of the tempest come, and the ship that has one bad link in her cable, as certainly goes ashore to be dashed to pieces on the rocks, as another that has twenty bad. It is, no doubt, by repeated strokes of the woodman's axe that the oak, bending slowly to fate, bows its proud head and falls to the ground, and it is by long dropping that water hollows the hardest stone. But those who speak of great and little, of few or many, sins, seem to forget that man's ruin was the work of one moment, and of one sin. The weight of only one sin sank this great world into perdition; and now all of us, all men, lie under the same sentence of condemnation. Extinguishing every hope of salvation through works, and sounding as ominous of evil in men's ears, as the cracking of ice beneath our feet, or the roar of an avalanche, or the grating of a keel on the sunken rock, or the hammer that wakens the felon from dreams of life and liberty, that sentence is this: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law, to do them." Such is our position; and instead of shutting our eyes to it, like the foolish ostrich that hides her head in the bush when the hunters are at her heels, it is well to know and to face it.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things
Who does not see that the tiniest flaw or fracture in a diamond vitiates the whole gem, be it a very Koh-i-noor — that the smallest streak or stain sets aside the marble block of Carrara that is like the driven snow — that the slightest spot or speck dims to rejection the whole polished speculum — that the most insignificant leak is perilous? In these cases it will not arrest the verdict, to allege the fault is so very small. Actual transactions can easily be quoted which establish this. Once a famous ruby was offered to this country. The report of the crown jeweller was that it was the finest he had ever seen or heard of, but that one of its facets — one of the "little" cuttings of the face — was slightly fractured. The result was, that almost invisible flaw reduced its value by thousands of pounds, and it was rejected from the regalia of England. Again: when Canova was about to commence his great statue of the great Napoleon, his keenly-observant eye detected a tiny red line running through the upper portion of the splendid block, which at infinite cost had been fetched from. Paros, and he refused to lay a chisel on it. Once more: in the story of the early struggles of the elder Herschel, while he was working out the problem of gigantic telescope specula, you will find that he made scores upon scores ere he got one to satisfy him. A scratch like the slenderest spider-cord sufficed to place among the spoiled what had cost him long weeks of toil and anxiety. Again: in the leak of a ship, the measure of the ship to resist the shock of wave or the strain of wind, is not, its strongest but its weakest part. The tremendous issues contingent on attention or non-attention to the slightest leak, was illustrated in a recent incident in the late deplorable civil war in America. One of the Federal war-ships had what seemed a merely superficial leakage, and, though noticed, it was not thought necessary to countermand the order that she should take part in an approaching conflict. At the crisis of the encounter, it was found that the sea-water had got oozing into the gunpowder magazine, and rendered nearly the whole useless. On that powder hung victory or defeat. The "little leak" went uncared for, and an inferior force won. The very perfection aimed at, you will observe, necessitated rejection of gem, and marble block, and speculum, and leaking timber. Even so, were Christianity a less holy thing — a thing that could abide compromise — then what are called "small sins" — the larger and grosser being acknowledged — might be passed over, winked at.

(A. B. Grosart, LL. D.)Look, as one drop of ink coloureth a whole glass of water, so one gross sin, one shameful action, one hour's compliance with anything of Antichrist, will colour and stain all the great things that ever you have suffered, and all the good things that ever you have performed; it will stain and colour all the good prayers that ever you have made, and all the good sermons that ever you have heard, and all the good books that ever you have read, and all the good words that ever you have spoken, and all the good works that ever you have done; and therefore, whatever you do, keep off from sin, and keep off from all sinful compliances, as you would keep off from hell itself.

(T. Brooks.)

We shall —


1. One pleads "not guilty." Well, have you continued in all things? Let us go through the Ten Commandments. Each convicts you.

2. Another says, "I shall not plead guilty, because, although I have not continued in all things, I have done the best I could."

3. Another pleads, "While I have broken the law, I am no worse than others."

4. Another cries, "I have striven to keep the law, and think I have succeeded a little."

5. Another, "There are many things I have not done, but I have been virtuous." But all are guilty because none have continued in all things.

II. DECLARE THE SENTENCE. Sinner, thou art cursed —

1. Not by some wizard.

2. Not by an earthly monarch.

3. But by God the Father.

4. This curse is present.

5. In some cases visible: in the drunkard, e.g.

6. Universal.

7. Eternal.


1. Christ has borne your curse.

2. This substitution is realized by penitence and faith.

3. All classes of sinners may be freed from the curse through Christ.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. Brings home to the sinner THE GUILT OF SIN.

1. He is a debtor to do the whole law



2. But he has broken the whole law in

(1)sins of omission,

(2)sins of commission.

II. Places the sinner under THE WRATH OF GOD.

1. God has guarded the law with the most solemn and terrible sanctions.

2. The condemnation of the sinner is present as well as future.

III. It reduces the sinner to DESPAIR.

1. To perform its obligation.

2. To escape its penalties.

IV. It drives the sinner TO CHRIST the only Saviour who has borne this curse.

(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)






(T. Manton.)

I. Practical obedience: not hearing, knowing, speaking what is written, but doing.

II. Personal obedience — "every one." Proxies, sureties, mediators, are excluded.

III. PERFECT obedience — "all things," every jot and tittle as well as weightier matters.

IV. PERPETUAL obedience — past, present, future.


The voice of that cromlech stone, which still stands on our moors, the centre of the Druids' grey, lonely, mystic circle, and on whose sloping surface I have traced the channel which, when human victims lay bound on this altar, drained off the blood of beautiful maiden, or grim captive of the fight — the voice of those tears the Indian mother sheds, as she plucks the sweet babe from her throbbing bosom to fling it into the Jumna or Ganges' sacred stream — the voice of those ruined temples which, silent now, once resounded with the groans of expiring victims, what are these, again, but an imperfect echo of the words, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us?

(Dr. Guthrie.)

I read lately that the Emperor of Brazil had given the Queen a dress made of spiders' webs; it took 17,000 webs to make it. What a curiosity! No doubt the Queen would keep it all her life. Such a robe is the righteousness of works without Christ, a curiosity indeed, but not made to stand the storm of the judgment day.

One wheel broken in the machinery will render the whole inefficient; one breakage of a stave in the ladder may make it unfit for safe and full use; one piece of rail displaced on the railway may result in fearful disaster: one inch of wire cut out of the telegraph would prevent the use of all the rest, whatever its extent; one failure in any law of Nature may go on producing other failures ad infinitum. So the transgression of but one law of God: it is ruinous to the soul; it leads on to innumerable transgressions; it violates the whole code.

(J. Bate.)

The penalty of the law is —

I. Severe — in character — authority — execution.

II. Comprehensive — includes every sinner-every sin.

III. Inevitable — except through God's mercy — for none is guiltless, can satisfy the demands of the law or make amends for the past.

(J. Lyth.)

I. Its import — it includes Divine condemnation — moral weakness — misery — death.

II. Its extent — it reaches all men because all have sinned — are incapable of fulfilling the law — are condemned by the law.

III. Its severity — the law permits no escape — provides no justification — insists upon its full demands.

IV. Its relief — God is merciful — has made full satisfaction — justifies us by faith.

(J. Lyth.)

Expository Outlines of Sermons.

1. What the law demands.

2. The reasonableness of this requirement. Law cannot be satisfied with partial obedience.

3. The doom denounced upon all who do not comply with this requirement.

(1)It is universal — "Cursed is every one," etc.

(2)It is unspeakably awful in its nature.

(3)It is present in its infliction.

(4)It is irremediable as far as our own deeds and deservings are concerned.


1. The person who interposed in order to effect our redemption.

2. From what He redeems.

3. How this redemption was effected — "Being made a curse for us."

4. The blessed results which flow from His redeeming work.

(Expository Outlines of Sermons.)

The law consists of two parts: a system of precepts, and the sanction and enforcement of those precepts by promises and threatenings. According to the first, it is the rule of our obedience, and shows what we ought to render unto God. According to the second, it is the rule of Divine justice, and shows what God will render unto us.

I. THE SANCTION OF THIS LAW IS TWOFOLD. First: A promise of life and happiness to the observers of it (Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12; Ezekiel 20:11). Second: Threatenings of a most heavy and tremendous curse against all that transgress it; a curse that will blast and wither their souls for ever.

1. What the apostle means by those who are "of the works of the law." To be of the works of the law signifies no other than to expect justification and eternal happiness by legal works; to depend wholly on our obedience unto and observation of the law, to render us acceptable to God and worthy of eternal life. Those, who thus rely on a legal righteousness, are said to be of the works of the law; as persons are said to be of such or such a party, because they stiffly defend the cause of the law; and stand for justification by the observance of it, in opposition to the grace of the gospel, and the way of obtaining justification and eternal life by believing.

2. What it is to be accursed. So that the true and proper notion of a curse is this: That it is the denunciation or execution of the punishment contained in the law, in order to the satisfaction of Divine justice for transgressing the precepts of it.(1) Some, therefore, are only under the curse denounced. And so are all wicked men, whose state is prosperous in this life, though they flourish in wealth and honour, and float in ease and pleasure; yet are they liable to all that woe and wrath, with which the threatenings of the law stand charged against them.(2) Some are under the curse already executed. And so are all wicked men, on whom God begins to take vengeance and exact satisfaction in the miseries and punishments which He inflicts on them in this life,

II. You see, then, WHAT AN UNIVERSAL CURSE these words denounce; a curse that sets "its mouth and dischargeth its thunder against all the sinful sons of Adam. A curse it is which, as Zechariah speaks (Zechariah 5:3), "goeth forth over the face of the whole earth;" and will, if mercy rebate not the edge of it, cut off on every side all those that stand in its way; that is, all that are sinners, and all are so; for the characters which the apostle doth here give to those who are under the curse of the law are so general and comprehensive, that no man living could possibly escape if God should judge him according to the conditions of the covenant of works.

1. It is said that every one is accursed that doth not those things which are written in the book of the law. And this is a curse that cuts off on both sides. On this side it cuts off those who are but negatively righteous, who ground all their hopes for heaven and happiness upon what they have not done and put into the inventory of their virtues that they have not been vicious, no ex. tortioners, no unjust persons, no adulterers, etc., but, alas! this account will not pass in the day of reckoning; the law requires thee not only to forbear the gross acts of sin but to perform the duties of obedience. And it cuts off on that side all those who have done contrary to what is written in the law.

2. Those, also, who have not done all that is written in the law are struck with this anathema or curse. And where is the man that dares lift up his face to justify himself against this charge?

3. But suppose that, at some time or other, thou shouldst have performed every particular duty; yet, hast thou continued in all things that are written in the law to do them? Hast thou spun an even thread of obedience? Are there no flaws, no breaks, no breaches in it? Hast thou been always constant in the highest fervour of thy zeal for God? Hast thou been in the fear of the Lord all the days of thy life? Have thy affections never languished; thy thoughts never turned aside, so much as to glance upon vanity? Didst thou never drop one unsavoury word, nor do any one action which, both for the matter and manner of it, was not perfectly agreeable to the law?

III. THIS CURSE IS MOST DREADFUL, if we consider that it is universal, and extends itself not only over all persons but unto all things. Everything which a sinner either doth or hath is accursed to him.

1. He is accursed in all his temporal enjoyments. His bread is kneaded and his drink mingled with a curse, his table becomes a snare to him, and every morsel he eats is dipped in the bitterness of God's wrath and curse. His very mercies are curses unto him; as, on the contrary, a true believer's afflictions are blessings.

2. He is accursed in all his spiritual enjoyments. And, oh, what a sad and dreadful curse is this that thou, who comest to hear the same word preached, which to ethers proves the savour of life unto life eternal, to thee, through the corruption and wickedness of thine own heart, it should prove the savour of death unto death eternal!

3. If all the favours of God's providence and all the dispensations of His grace; then, certainly, much more are all their chastisements and afflictions turned into curses. If there be poison in the honey, much more certainly is there in the sting. If God be wroth with them when He shines, much more when He frowns upon them.

4. In hell they shall be cursed to purpose, and lie for ever under the revenging wrath of God. Their sentence is, "Depart from me, ye cursed" (Matthew 25:41). Hell, indeed, is the general assembly of all curses and plagues. They are eternally cursed

(1)In their separation from the sight and presence of God.

(2)In the society of devils and damned spirits.

(3)In the work of hell, which is blaspheming and cursing.

(4)In the pains and torments which they must eternally suffer.


1. See what an accursed thing sin is that carries, wrapped up in its bowels, woe, wrath, and eternal death.

2. If every transgressor of the law be accursed, see, then, the desperate folly of those wretches who make light of sin, and account the commission of it a matter of small or no concern to them.

3. If every transgression exposes us to the curse, beware, then, that you never encourage yourself to commit any sin because the world accounts it but small and little.

4. See here, what reason we have to bless God for Jesus Christ, who has delivered us from the curse of the law.

(E. Hopkins, D. D.)

Though some sins are greater than others, yet there is no sin but deserves damnation. Consider —

1. The party condemned by the law. Every sinner. Condemned for omissions as well as commissions.

2. The doom pronounced. God's wrath and curse.


1. God's wrath is no passion nor is there any perturbation in God, though an angry God. His wrath may be taken up in these two things.(1) God's displeasure against the sinner (Psalm 5:4, 5). Sin makes the soul loathsome and hateful in God's sight, kindles a holy fire in His heart against the sinner (Psalm 90:11).(2) God's dealing with sinners as His enemies, whom He is incensed against (Nehemiah 1:2; Isaiah 1:24). The wrath of a king is as the roaring of a lion; what then must the wrath of God be, an enemy where we can neither fight nor flee from, neither outwit nor outbrave? Of this wrath it is said, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

2. His curse is His separating one to evil (Deuteronomy 29:21). It is a devoting the sinner to destruction, to all the direful effects of the Divine wrath.


1. In this life they comprehend all the miseries of this world which one meets with on this side of time, miseries on the body, relations, name, estate, employment; miseries on the soul, as blindness, hardness, vile affections, horrors of conscience, etc., and, finally, death in the separation of soul and body. Thus they make a flood of miseries in this life.

2. In the life to come they comprehend eternal death and damnation, and an eternal being under the punishment of loss and sense in hell. So they make a shoreless sea of miseries in the life to come.


1. The wages of every sin is death (Romans 6:23).

2. Every sin is a breach of the law; and he who breaks it in erie point is guilty of all (James 2:10). The commands of the law have all one Author, whose majesty is offended by whatsoever breach. The law requires universal obedience.

3. Christ died for all the sins of all His elect (1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 1:7).

4. The least sin will condemn a man if it be not forgiven (Matthew 5:19); even idle words (Matthew 12:36, 37).

IV. I come to show, WHY EVERY SIN DESERVES SO MUCH. The reason is, it is a kind of infinite evil; and, therefore, since the punishment is deservedly proportioned to the offence, it deserves infinite punishment. Sin is an infinite evil in two respects.

1. In respect that the guilt and defilement of it is never taken away, but endures for ever, unless the Lord Himself in mercy do remove it.

2. In respect it wrongs an infinite God. The creature, being finite, is not capable of punishment infinite in value, therefore it is necessarily infinite in duration, There is a manifold wrong to God in the least sin.

(1)It wrongs His infinite sovereignty (James 2:10, 11).

(2)It wrongs His infinite goodness (Exodus 20:1, 2).

(3)It wrongs His holiness (Habakkuk 1:13).

(4)It breaks His law, the eternal rule of righteousness (1 John 3:4).

(T. Boston, D. D.)

In a shipwreck, when the ship is dashed in pieces upon a rock, how heavy is the case of the crew among the raging waves? The ship can no more carry them to the harbour, but, failing them, leaves them to the mercy of the waves. If one can get a broken plank to hold by, that is the greatest safety there; but that doth often but hold in their miserable lives for a little, till the passengers are swallowed up. Such, and unspeakably worse, is the case of sinners under the broken covenant of works, which leaves them under the curse, as we see in the text. In which we have —

1. The covenant-state of some of mankind, yea, of many of them. They "are of the works of the law;" it is the same thing as to be of the law of works; that is, to be under the covenant of works.

2. The state and case of men under that covenant; they "are under the curse." The covenant is broken, and so they are fallen under the penalty. As the blessing or promise, which they have lost, comprehends all good for time and eternity, soul and body; so the curse comprehends all evil on soul and body for time and eternity.

3. The proof and evidence of this their miserable state and case.

I. I shall evince the truth of this doctrine, that THERE ARE SOME, YEA, MANY OF MANKIND, WHO ARE STILL UNDER THE BROKEN COVENANT OF WORKS. This will clearly appear, if ye consider —

1. That there are but "few that shall be saved" (Matthew 7:14). Christ's flock is but a very little flock (Luke 12:32). The truth is, all men by nature are under it, and so are born under the curse (Ephesians 2:3).

2. The Scripture is plain on this head. It curseth and condemneth many; Galatians 3:10, "Cursed is every one," viz., who is under the law; for its curse cannot reach others, there being "no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). It condemns all unbelievers; John 3:18, "He that believeth not is condemned already," viz., by the sentence of the law as the covenant of works; for the covenant of grace condemns no man (John 5:45); said our Lord to the Jews, "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust." Chap. John 12:47, "And if any man hear My words and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world but to save the world."

3. As all men in Adam were taken into the covenant of works, so no man can be freed from the obligation of it, but they who are discharged from it by God, who was man's party in it. This is evident from the general nature of contracts. And none are discharged from it but on a full answering of all it could demand of them (Matthew 5:18). This no man can attain unto but by faith in Jesus Christ, whereby the soul appropriates and applies to itself Christ's obedience and satisfaction offered in the gospel; and so, pleading these, gets up the discharge; "For being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).

4. Freedom from the covenant of works is such a privilege as requires both price and power, each of them infinite, to invest a sinner with it.

5. There are many who still live as they were born; in the same state wherein their father Adam left them when he broke; who were never to this day in any due concern how to be discharged from the debt he left upon their head, or of the bond of the covenant of works which in him they entered into.

6. There are but two covenants, viz., of works and grace (Galatians 4:24), as there never were but two ways of life and salvation, by works and by grace; and but two federal heads of mankind, the first and second Adam.


1. Men may be under the covenant of works, and yet living under the external dispensation of the covenant of grace.

2. Men may receive the seals of the covenant of grace, and yet be under the covenant of works.

3. Men may be convinced in their consciences of the impossibility of obtaining salvation by Adam's covenant of works, and yet remain under it still.

4. Men, upon the offer of the covenant of grace made to them, may aim at accepting of it, and so enter into a personal covenant with God, and yet remain under the covenant of works. But more particularly and directly —(1) All unregenerate persons are under the covenant of works. That man or woman is yet a branch of the old Adam, growing on the old stock, a stranger to ,the new covenant, because not in Christ, the head of the covenant.(2) All that have not the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them are under the covenant of works, for "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Romans 8:9). Galatians 5:8, "But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law." It is one of the first promises of the covenant of grace, the giving of the Spirit (Ezekiel 37:27), "A new Spirit will I put within you."(3) All unbelievers (John 3:18). Whosoever is destitute of saving faith is under the covenant of works; for it is by faith that one is brought within the bond of the covenant of grace, is married unto Christ, being dead to the law.(4) All unsanctified, unholy persons (Romans 6:14). So that true holiness is an infallible mark of one delivered from the law; and unholiness, of one that is yet hard and fast under it (Galatians 5:18).(5) All profane, loose, and licentious men are under the covenant of works (Romans 7:5 and Romans 8:2). These men of Belial are under that heavy yoke.(6) All mere moralists, such as satisfy themselves with common honesty and sobriety, living in the meantime strangers to religious exercises, and without a form of godliness. These are under the covenant of works, as seeking justification and acceptance with God by their conformity (such as it is) to the letter of the law (Galatians 5:4). They are under the covenant of works with a witness, having betaken themselves to their shreds of moral honesty, as so many Broken boards of that split ship.(7) All formal hypocrites or legal professors, these .sons and daughters of the bond-woman (Galatians 4:24, 25). These are they who have been convinced, but never were converted; who have been awakened by the law, but were never laid to rest by the gospel; who are brought to duties, but have never been brought out of them to Jesus Christ; who pretend to be married to Christ, but were never yet divorced from nor dead to the law; and so are still joined to the first husband, the law, as a covenant of works.


1. It has and exercises a commanding power over them, binding them to its obedience with the strongest bonds and ties of authority.(1) It commands and binds to perfect obedience under pain of the curse.(2) It commands, without any promise of strength at all to perform.

2. It has a debarring power over those under it, in respect of the promise. It bars them from life or salvation so long as they are under its dominion,(1) There is no life to the sinner without complete satisfaction to justice for the wrong he has done to the honour of God and His law; Hebrews 9:22, for "without shedding of blood is no remission."(2) There is no life and salvation without perfect obedience to its commands for the time to come; Matthew 19:17, "If thou wilt enter into life," says Christ unto the young man in the gospel, "keep the commandments." This was the condition of the covenant; and it is not enough that a man pay the penalty of a broken covenant, but he must perform the condition of it ere he can plead the benefit.

3. A cursing and condemning power, in respect of the threatening.

4. An irritating influence upon all that are under it, so that, instead of making them better, it makes them worse, stirring up their corruptions, like a nest of ants, being "troubled by one's touching of them (Romans 7:9, 10, 11). Now this is accidental to the law as the covenant of works; for it is holy, and just, and good; and therefore ,an never bring forth sin as the native fruit of it. But it is owing to the corruption of men's hearts, impatient of restraint (Romans 7:12, 13), forecited. While the sun shines warm on a garden, the flowers send forth a pleasant smell; but while it shines so on the dunghill, it smells more abominably than at other times. So it is here. There are two things here to be considered in the case of the law.(1) It lays an awful restraint on the sinner with its commands and threatenings (Galatians 3:10). The unrenewed man would never make a holy life his choice; might he freely follow his own inclination, he would not regard what is good, but give himself a liberty in sinful courses. But the law is as a bridle to him; it crosses and contradicts his sinful inclinations. It is to him as the bridle and spur to the horse; as the master and his whip to the slave. So that the sinner can never cordially like it, but all the obedience it gets from him is mercenary, having no higher springs than hope of reward and fear of punishment.(2) In the meantime it has no power to subdue his corruptions, to remove his rebellious disposition, to reconcile his heart to holiness, or to strengthen him for the performance of duty; "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). As it finds the man without strength, so it leaves him, though it never ceases to exact duty of him. Though no straw is given to the sinner by it, yet the tale of the bricks it will not suffer to be diminished.


1. It is natural to men, being made with Adam, and us in his loins; it is engrained in the hearts of all men naturally. "Tell me," says the apostle (Galatians 2:21), "ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?" And there are impressions of it to be found in the hearts of all among the ruins of the fall. We have a clear proof of it —(1) In men left to the swing of their own nature; they all go this way in their dealing with God for life and favour.(2) In men awakened and convinced, and in moral seriousness seeking to know what course they shall take to be saved, and plying their work for that end. They all take this principle for granted, That it is by doing they must obtain life and salvation (Matthew 19:16).(3) in the saints, who are truly married to Jesus Christ, O what hankering after the first husband, how great the remains of a legal spirit, how hard is it for them to forget their father's house! (Psalm 45:10).

2. The way of that covenant is most agreeable to the pride of man's heart. A proud heart will rather serve itself with the less, than stoop to live upon free grace (Romans 10:3). Man must be broken, bruised, and humbled, and laid very low, before he will embrace the covenant of grace. While a broken board of the first covenant will do men any service they will hold by it rather than come to Christ; like men who will rather live in a cottage of their own than in another man's castle.

3. It is most agreeable to man's reason in its corrupt state. If one should have asked the opinion of the philosophers concerning that religion which taught salvation by a crucified Christ, and through the righteousness of another, they would have said it was unreasonable and foolish, and that the only way to true happiness was the way of moral virtue.

4. Ignorance and insensibility of the true state of the matter as it now is. There is a thick darkness about Mount Sinai through the whole dominion of the law, so that they who live under the covenant of works see little but what they see by the lightnings now and then flashing out. Hence they little know where they are nor what they are.(1) They do not understand the nature of that covenant to purpose (Galatians 4:21).(2) They are not duly sensible of their own utter inability for that way of salvation.


1. For information. Hence learn —(1) That some, yea, many of mankind, are under the curse, bound over to wrath.(2) See here whence it is that true holiness is so rare, and wickedness and ungodliness so rife.(3) Here ye may see the true spring of legalism in principles as well as in practice.(4) See whence it is that the doctrine of the gospel is so little understood, and in the purity of it is looked at as a strange thing.

2. For exhortation. Be exhorted then seriously and impartially to try what covenant ye are under. For motives, consider —(1) It is in the region of the law that we all draw our first breath. And no man will get out from its dominion in a morning dream. We owe it to our second birth, whoever of us are brought into the covenant of grace; but that is not our original state.(2) Till once ye see yourselves under the covenant of works, and so lost and ruined with the burden of that broken covenant on you; ye may hear of the covenant of grace, but ye will never take hold of it in good earnest (Galatians 2:6). Here lies the ruin of the most part who hear the gospel; they were never slain by the law, and therefore never quickened by the gospel; they never find the working of the deadly poison conveyed to them from the first Adam, and therefore they see no beauty in the second Adam for which He is to be desired.(3) Your salvation or ruin turns on this point.(4) There is no ease for a poor sinner but severity and rigour, under the covenant of works.(5) While ye are under that covenant ye are without Christ (Ephesians 2:12). And being without Christ, ye have no saving interest in his purchase.(6). All attempts you make to get to heaven while under this covenant will be vain. The children of that covenant are, by an unalterable statute of the court of heaven, excluded from the heavenly inheritance; so that, do what you will, while ye abide under it you may as well fall a-ploughing the rocks, and sowing your seed in the sand of the sea, as think to get to heaven that way.

(T. Boston, D. D.)


1. God's curse.

2. The curse of the law.

(1)the revenging wrath of God is in it.

(2)A binding over of the sinner unto punishment for the satisfaction of offended justice.

(3)A separating of the sinner unto destruction.


1. Under the wrath of God.

2. Bound over to revenging justice.

3. A mark for the arrows of vengeance.


1. This is evident from plain Scripture testimony. The text is express.

2. It is evident from the consideration of the justice of God, as the Sovereign of the world.Two things will make this clear.

1. The breaking of that covenant, whereof all under it are guilty, deserves the curse. They broke it in Adam, and they are breaking it every day; and so they deserve the curse. Now, sin's deserving of the curse does not arise from the threatening of eternal wrath annexed for a sanction to the commands in the law, as our new divinity would have it; that is framed for bringing believers under the curse of the law too. But it arises from sin's contrariety to the command of the holy law; for it is manifest, that sin does not therefore deserve a curse, because a curse is threatened against it; but because it deserves a curse, therefore a curse is threatened. Now look at sin in the glass of the holy commandment, and you will see it deserves the curse. For the commandment is —(1) An image of the sovereign spotless holiness of God — "The law is holy" (Romans 7:12). When God would let out the beams of His own holiness to man, He gave him the law of the ten commandments, as a transcript of it, and wrote them in his heart; and afterwards, the writing being much defaced, He wrote them to him in His Word. So the commandment is holy without spot, as God is. So that the creature rising up against the commandment, riseth up against God.(2) It is an image of His righteousness and equity, whereby He does justly to all: "The commandment is just" (Romans 7:12). The commandment is all right in every part, and of perpetual equity" I esteem all Thy precepts concerning all things to be right" (Psalm 119:128). Look to it as it prescribes our duty to God, to our neighbour, and to ourselves (Titus 2:12). It is of spotless and perfect righteousness, as that God is whose righteous nature and will it represents.(3) An image of His goodness The commandment is good (Romans 7:12). It is all lovely, lovely in every part; lovely in itself, and in the eyes of all who are capable to discern truly what is good, and what evil — "O how I love Thy law!" (Psalm 119:97). Conformity to it is the perfection of the creature, and its true happiness, as rendering the creature like unto God (1 John 3:2). Thus the breaking of the covenant, by doing contrary to the holy commandment, is the transgressing of the holy, just, and good will of our sovereign Lord; a defacing of and doing violence to His image, who is the chief good and infinite good. Therefore sin is the chief or greatest evil, and consequently deserves the curse.

2. Since it deserves the curse, the justice of God, which gives everything its due, ensures the curse upon it (Genesis 18:25; 2 Thessalonians 1:6). If sin did not lay the sinner under the curse, how would the rectoral justice of God appear? He will rain a terrible storm on the wicked, not because He delights in the death of the sinner, but because He loves righteousness (Psalm 11:6, 7), and His righteousness requires it.

3. It appears from the threatening of the covenant — "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). And the truth of God requires that it take effect, and be not like words spoken to the wind.

4. If man had once run the course of His obedience, being come to the last point of it, he behoved to have been justified and adjudged to eternal life, according to the tenor of the covenant — "The man which doth those things shall live by them" (Romans 10:5); the sentence of the law would immediately have passed in his favour, according to the promise. And therefore man, having once broken the covenant, falls under the curse, and is adjudged to eternal death; for the curse bears the same relation to the threatening that law-justification bears to the promise.

5. Christ's being made a curse for sinners is a clear evidence of sinners being naturally under the curse.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

The most terrible scene that men are capable of beholding, in time or eternity. Happy they who timely behold it, so as to be thereby stirred up to flee to Christ.

I. THE CONDITION OF THE NATURAL MAN'S SOUL UNDER THE CURSE. This is the most noble part of man. In the moment he sinned, his soul fell under the curse. And so

1. His soul was separated from God, in favour with whom its life lay.

2. Hence, man's soul-beauty was lost; death seized on him by sin, his beauty went off. A dead corpse is an awful sight, where the soul is gone.. But thy dead soul, from which God is gone, O natural man I is a more awful one. Couldst thou see thy inward man, as well as thou seest the outward, thou wouldst see a soul within thee of a ghastly countenance, the eyes of its understanding set, its speech laid, all the spiritual senses now locked up, no pulse of kindly affection towards God beating any more; but the soul lying speechless, motionless, cold and stiff like a stone, under the curse.

3. Hence the whole soul is corrupted in all the faculties thereof. As the soul being gone, the body corrupts; so the soul, being divested of its original righteousness, is wholly corrupted and defiled, having a kind of verminating life in it — "They are altogether become filthy" (Psalm 14:3). And as when the curse was laid on the earth, the very nature of the soil was altered; so the souls of men under the curse are quite altered from their original holy constitution. This appears in all the faculties thereof.(1) Look into the mind, framed at first to be the eye of the soul; there is a lamentable alteration upon it under the curse. "O how is the fine gold become dim!" There is a mist upon it, whereby it is become weak, dull, and stupid in spiritual things, and really incapable of these things. Darkness has sat down on the mind — "Ye were sometimes darkness" (Ephesians 5:8); and there spiritual blindness and ignorance reign, not to be removed by man's instruction, or any power less than what can take off the curse. This cursed ground is fruitful of mistakes, misapprehensions, delusions, monstrous and misshapen conceptions in Divine things; doubtings, distrust, unbelief of Divine Revelation, grow there, of their own accord, as the natural product of the cursed soil; while the seed of the word of the kingdom sown there does perish, and faith cannot spring up in it, for such is the soil that they cannot take with it.(2) Look into the will, framed to have the command in the soul, and it is in wretched plight. Its uprightness for God is gone, and it is turned away backward from Him. It is not only under an inability for good, but having lost all power to turn itself that way — "We were without strength" (Romans 5:6); "For it is God which worketh in you to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13); but it is averse to it, as the untrained bullock is to the yoke (Psalm 81:11).(3) Look into the affections, framed to he the arms and feet of the soul for good, and they are quite wrong. Set spiritual objects before them to be embraced, then they are powerless, they cannot embrace them, nor grip them stedfastly; they presently grow weary, and let go any hold they have of them; like the stony-ground hearers, who because they had no root withered away (Matthew 13:6). But as for carnal objects, agreeable to their lusts, they fly upon them, they clasp and twine about them; they hold so fast a grip, that it is with no small difficulty they can be got to let go their hold. Summon them to duty, they are flat, there is no raising of them, they cannot stir; but on the least signal given them by temptation, they are like Saul's hungry soldiers, flying on the spoil.(4) Look into the conscience, framed to be in the soul God's deputy for judgment, His spy, and watchman over His creature; and it is miserably corrupted — "Their mind and conscience is defiled" (Titus 1:15). It is quite unfitted for its office. It is fallen under a sleepy distemper, sleeping and loving to slumber.(5) Look into the memory, framed to be the storehouse of the soul, and the symptoms of the curse appear there too. Things agreeable to the corruption of nature, and which may strengthen the same, stick fast in the memory, so that often one cannot get them forgotten, though they would fain have their remembrance razed. But spiritual things natively fall out of it, and are soon forgotten; the memory, like a leaking vessel, letting them slip.

4. Man being in these respects spiritually dead, the which death was the consequent of the first sin, the curse lies on him as a gravestone, and the penalty binds it upon him, that he cannot recover. So he is in some sort, by the curse, buried out of God's sight.

5. Hence that corruption of the soul grows more and more. As the dead corpse, the longer it lies in the grave, it rots the more, till devouring death has perfected its work in its utter ruin; so the dead soul under the curse grows worse and worse in all the faculties thereof, till it is brought to the utmost pitch of sin and misery.

6. And hence the corruption of nature shoots forth itself in innumerable particular lusts, according to its growth (Mark 7:21, 22, 23). But this is not all the misery of the soul under the curse; there are additional plagues, which by the curse they are liable to, who are under it. These soul-plagues are of two sorts — silent strokes, and tormenting plagues.

1. Silent strokes, which make their way into the soul with no noise; but the less they are felt, they are the more dangerous; such as —

(1)Judicial blindness.

(2)Strong delusions.

(3)Hardness of heart.

(4)A reprobate sense.

(5)Vile affection.

2. Tormenting plagues. Many are the executioners employed against the soul fallen under the curse, who together do. pierce, rack, and rend it, as it were, in pieces.




(4)Sorrow of heart.

(5)Fear and terror.



1. It is liable to many defects and deformities in the very constitution thereof. Adam and Eve were at their creation not only sound and entire in their souls, but in their bodies, having nothing unsightly about them. But O how often now is there seen a variation from the original pattern, in the very formation of the body! Some are born deaf, dumb, blind, or the like. Some with a want of some necessary organ, some with what is superfluous. Some with such a constitution of body as makes them idiots, the organs of the body being so far out of case, that they are unfit for the actions of the rational life; and the soul is by them kept in a mist during the union with that body. All this is owing to sin and the curse, without which there had been no such things in the body of man.

2. As the temperature of the body was by the first sin altered, so as it disposed to sin (Genesis 3:7), so by the curse that degenerate constitution of it is penally bound on, by. which it comes to pass that it is a snare to the soul continually. The seeds of sin are in it; it is "sinful flesh" (Romans 8:3), "a vile body" (Philippians 3:21), and these seeds are never removed while the curse lies on it, being a part. of that death to which it is bound over by the curse.

3. It is under the curse a vessel of dishonour. By its original make, it was a vessel of honour, appointed to honourable uses, and was so used by the soul before sin entered; and every member had its particular honourable service, serving the soul in subordination to God. But now it is brought down from its honour, and its "members are yielded instruments of unrighteousness unto sin" (Romans 6:13), and it is abused to the vilest purposes; and it is never restored to its honour till, the curse being removed, it becomes the temple of God, by virtue of the purchase of it made by the blood of Christ.

4. It is liable to many mischiefs from without, tending to render it uneasy for the time, and at length to dissolve the frame of it. From the heavens above us, the air about us, the earth underneath us, and all that therein is, it is liable to hurt.

5. There is a seed-plot of much misery within it. It is by the curse become a weak body, and so liable to much toil and weariness, fainting and languishing under the weight of the exercise it is put to (Genesis 3:19). And not only so, but it hath in it such seeds of corruption, tending to its dissolution, as spring up in many and various maladies, which often prove so heavy that they make life itself a burden.

6. In all these respects the body is a clog to the soul in point of duty, often hanging like a dead weight upon it, unfitting it for, and hindering it from, its most necessary work. The sinful soul is in itself most unfit for its great work, in this state of trial, by reason of the evil qualities of it under the curse. But the wretched body makes it more so. The care of the body doth so take up its thoughts with most men, that, caring for it, the soul is lost. Its strength and vigour is a snare to it, and its weakness and uneasiness often interrupt or quite mar the exercises wherein the soul might profitably be employed. But it may be objected, That by this account of the condition of those under the curse, the case of natural men and of believers in Christ is alike; since it is evident, that not only these bodily miseries, but many of these soul miseries, are common to both. I answer: Though it seem to be alike in the eye of beholders, in regard these miseries are materially the same on natural men and on the children of God; yet really there is a vast difference. On the former they are truly effects of the curse; on the latter they are indeed effects of sin, but not of the curse — "For Christ hath redeemed them from the curse of the law, being made a curse for them" (Galatians 3:13).(1) The stream of miseries on soul or body to a natural man, runs in the channel of the covenant of works; but to a believer, in the channel of the covenant of grace.(2) There is revenging wrath in the one, but fatherly anger only in the other.(3) The miseries of the ungodly in this life are an earnest of eternal misery in hell; but those of the godly are medicines, to keep back their soul from death — "When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world" (1 Corinthians 11:32).


1. In his name and reputation.

2. In his employment and calling in the world.

3. In his worldly substance.

4. In his relations.

5. In his lot, whether afflicted or prosperous.

6. In his use of the means of grace.

7. In his person.

(1)He is under the power of Satan.

(2)Being under the curse, he is continually in hazard of utter destruction, of having the copestone put on his misery, and being set beyond all possibility of help.If his eyes were opened he would see himself every moment in danger of dropping down into the pit of hell (Psalm 7:12).

(T. Boston, D. D.)

I. THE NATURAL UNDER THE CURSE MUST NOT ONLY DIE, BUT DIE BY VIRTUE OF THE CURSE. Death in any shape has a terrible aspect, it is the king of terrors, and can hardly miss to make the creature shrink, being a destruction of nature, and carrying him into another world where he never was before, and putting him into a quite new state, which he has had no prior experience of. But death to the natural man is in a singular manner terrible; it is death of the worst kind. Soul and body joined in sin against God, and by sin the man was separated from God; and as a meet reward of the error, the companions in sin are separated by the curse at length; which would have remained eternally in a happy union had not sin entered. Now, that we may have a view of death to a sinner by virtue of the curse, consider —

1. It is the ruining stroke from the hand of an absolute God, proceeding according to the covenant of works against the sinner in full measure.

2. It is the breaking up of the peace betwixt God and them for ever: it is God setting His seal to the proclamation of an everlasting war with them; after which no message of peace is to go betwixt them any more for ever.

3. It puts an end to all their comfort of whatsoever nature (Luke 16:25).

4. It is death armed with its sting, and all the strength it has from sin, and a holy just broken law.

5. It is the fearful passage out of this world into everlasting misery (Luke 16:22, 23). It is a dark valley at best; but the Lord is with His people while they go through it (Psalm 23:4). It is a deep water at best; but where the curse is removed, the Lord Jesus will be the lifter up of the head, that the passenger shall not sink. But who can conceive the horror of the passage the sinner under the curse has, upon whom that frightful weight lies? It leads him as an ox to the slaughter; it opens like a trap-door underneath him, by which he falls into the pit, and like a whirlpool swallows him up in a moment, and he is staked down in an unalterable state of unspeakable misery.

II. AFTER DEATH HE STILL REMAINS UNDER THE CURSE. Then comes the full execution of the curse, and it is fixed on the sinner without possibility of deliverance.

1. All his sins, of all kinds, in all the periods of his life, from the first to the last breathing on earth are upon him. The curse seals them up as in a bag, that not one of them can be missing (Hosea 13:12).

2. As the man's sins were multiplied(so the curses of the law were multiplied upon him; for it is the constant voice of the law, upon every transgression of those under the covenant of works, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Galatians 3:10). How then can such a one escape, while innumerable cords of death are upon him, before a just Judge with their united force binding him over to destruction?

3. There is no removing of the curse then (Luke 13:25). The time of trial is over, and judgment is to be passed according to what was done in the flesh. When a court is erected within a sinner's own breast in this world, and conscience convicts him as a transgressor of the law, a covenant breaker, and therefore pronounces him cursed; there is a Surety for the sinner to fly to, an Advocate into whose hands he may commit his cause, a Mediator to trust in and roll his burden on by faith. But before that tribunal there is none for the sinner who comes thither under the curse.

4. Wherefore he must there inevitably sink under the weight of the curse for ever (Psalm 1:5). He must fall a sacrifice for his own sin, who now slights the only atoning sacrifice, even Christ our passover sacrificed for us.


1. Separate souls under the curse, after their particular judgment, are lodged in the place of the damned.

2. The dregs of the curse shall there be wrung out to them, and they made to drink them, in the fearful punishment inflicted upon them for the satisfaction of offended justice, for all their sins, original and actual.

3. They are sensible of their lost happiness (Luke 16:23). They see it to their unspeakable anguish. And how must it pierce the wretched soul, to think that not only all is lost, but lost without possibility of recovery?

4. Their consciences are then awakened, never to fall asleep any more for ever. They will scorch them then like a fire that cannot be quenched, and gnaw them like a worm that never dieth. The conscience that was seared till it was past feeling, will then be fully sensible. The evil of sin will then be clearly seen, because felt; the threatenings of the holy law will no more be accounted scarecrows, nor will there be any such fools there as to make a mock of sin.

5. They will be filled with torturing passions, which will keep the soul ever on the rack. Their sinful nature remains with them under the curse, and they will sin against God still, as well as they did in this life; but with this difference, that whereas they had pleasure in their sins here, they shall have none in their sins there.

6. In this state they must continue till the last day, that they be reunited to their respective bodies, and so the whole man get his sentence at the general judgment, adjudging both soul and body to everlasting fire.


1. It is laid up there as in a prison, like a malefactor in a dungeon, to be kept there till the day of execution. The bodies of the godly go to the grave too, but it is a place of rest to them, where they rest as in their bed, till the joyful morning of the resurrection (Isaiah 57:2).

2. Their sin and guilt remains on them there, and that without further possibility of a removal (Job 20:11). Sin is a dangerous companion in life; one had better live in chains of iron, than in chains of guilt; but happy they with whom sin parts when soul and body part at death. That is the lot of believers in Christ, who at the Red Sea of death get the last sight of it. There the Lord says to the dying saint, whether he hears it or not, as Exodus 14:13, "The Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day ye shall see them again no more for ever. But the man dying under the curse, all his sins take a dead gripe of him never to helot go; and when he lies down in the grave, they lie down with him, and they never part.

3. All the ruin brought on their bodies there, is done by virtue of the curse (Job 24:19, "The grave consumes those which have sinned"). Death makes fearful havoc where it comes; not only doth it separate the soul from the body; but separates the several parts of the body one from another, until it reduce the whole into dust, not to be discerned by the quickest eye from common dust. Thus it fares with the bodies of the godly indeed, as well as the bodies of the wicked; nevertheless great is the difference, — the curse working these effects in the bodies of the latter, but not of the former, — stinged death in the one, unstinged death in the other; so all these effects in the one are pieces of revenging wrath for the satisfaction of justice; in the other not so, but like the melting down of the crazy silver vessel, to be cast into a new mould.


1. They shall rise again out of their graves by virtue of the curse (John 5:29). When the end of time is come, the last trumpet shall sound, and all that are in the graves shall come forth, godly and ungodly; but the godly shall rise by virture of their blessed union with Christ (Romans 8:11); the ungodly by virtue of the curse of the broken covenant on them. As the malefactor is, in virtue of the sentence of death passed on him, shut up in close prison till the time of execution; and in virtue of the same sentence brought out of prison at the time appointed for his execution; even so the unbeliever is, in virtue of the curse of the law adjudging him to eternal death in hell, laid up in the grave till the last day; and, in virtue of the same curse, brought out of the grave at that day.

2. All their sin and guilt shall rise again with them; the body that was laid in the grave, a vile body; a foul instrument of the soul in divers lusts; an unclean vessel, stained, polluted, and defiled, with divers kinds of filthy-impure lusts; shall rise again with all its impurities cleaving to it (Isaiah 66:24, "They shall be an abhoring unto all flesh "). It is the peculiar privilege of believers to have their "vile bodies changed" (Philippians 3:21). If the bodies of sinners be not cleansed try the washing with that pure water (Hebrews 10:22), viz., the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ; though they be strained in never so minute parts, through the earth in a grave, they will lose nothing of their vileness and pollution, it will still cleave to every part of their dust, and appear again therewith at the resurrection.

3. Their appearance will be frightful and horrible beyond expression, when they come forth of their graves under the curse, and set their feet on the earth again. When, at the sound of the trumpet, the dead shall all arise out of their graves, and the wicked are cast forth as abominable branches, what a fearful awakening will they have out of their long sleep!


1. In virtue of the curse they shall be set on the left hand (Matthew 25:33). No honour is designed for them, but shame and everlasting contempt.

2. The face of the Judge must needs be terrible to them, as being under the curse of Him who sits upon the throne (Revelation 6:16, 17).

3. To clear the equity of the curse, and the execution thereof upon them, their "works shall be brought into judgment" (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Their whole life shall be searched into, and laid to the rule of the holy law, and the enormity and sinfulness thereof be discovered. The mask will then be entirely taken off their faces, and all their pretences to piety solemnly rejected, and declared to have been but hypocrisy. Their secret wickedness, which they rejoiced to have got hid, and which they so artfully managed, that there was no discovering of it while they might have confessed and found mercy, shall then be set in broad daylight before God and the world when there is no remedy. Conscience shall then be no more blind nor dumb; but shall witness against them and for God; and shall never be silent any more.

4. Their doom shall be pronounced (Matthew 25:41). A final sentence.


1. In virtue of the curse, the pit, having received them, shall close its mouth on them.

2. The curse shall then be like a partition wall of adamant, to separate them quite from God, and any the least comfortable intercourse with Him (Matthew 25:41). While on the other side of the wall the light of glory shines, mere bright than a thousand suns, filling the saints with joy unspeakable.

3. It shall hence be a final stop to all sanctifying influences towards them. While they are in this world, there is a possibility of removing the curse, and that the worst of men may be made holy; but when there is a total and final separation from God in hell, surely there are no sanctifying influences there. The corrupt nature they carried with them thither, must then abide with them there; and they must needs act there, since their being is continued; and a corrupt nature will ever act corruptly, while it acts at all (Matthew 7:17).

4. It shall be the breath that shall blow the fire continually, and keep it burning, for their exquisite torment in soul and body (Isaiah 30:33).

5. The curse shall lengthen out their misery to all eternity (Matthew 25:41). Hence, when the sinner has suffered millions of ages in hell, the curse still binds him down to suffer more.


1. For conviction.(1) Saints.i. Do ye suitably prize and esteem your God, Redeemer, and Saviour? Are your hearts suitably affected with the love of God in Christ, that set on foot your deliverance, and brought it about?ii. Do ye suitably prize the new covenant, the second covenant? Do ye pry into the mystery of the glorious contrivance, stand and wonder at the device for bringing cursed sinners to inherit the blessing? Would it not become you well to be often looking into it, and saying, "This is all my salvation, and all my desire?" (2 Samuel 23:5.)iii. Do ye walk answer-ably to the deliverance from this curse? O look to the curse of the covenant of works, from which ye are delivered, and be convinced and humbled to the very dust.(1) That ye should walk so untenderly, unwatchfully, and uncircumspectly, before the Lord that bought you, and that in the midst of cursed children, a crooked and perverse generation.(2) That ye should so dote upon this earth, this cursed earth, that the curse of the broken covenant of works has lain upon these five thousand years, and has sucked the sap out of, and so dried up by this time, that it is near to taking fire, and to be burnt to ashes, by virtue of the curse upon it.(3) That ye should perform duties so heartlessly, coldly, and indifferently; with so little faith, love, fervency, humility, zeal, and confidence. O look to the curse of the broken covenant, with the effects of it in earth and hell, that ye may be stirred up to the performance of duty after another manner.(4) That ye should bear your troubles and trials so impatiently, as if your crosses were so many curses. Look to the condition of those under the curse in this world, and you will see your heaviest cross is lighter than their smallest ones, yea your adversity is better than their prosperity. Look how Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, and you will see the poison taken out of the cup, and the pure water of affliction presented to you in your cup to pledge Him in; and why not drink it, and drink it thankfully?iv. Have ye due thoughts of the evil of sin? Is your horror of it suitably raised? Romans 12:9, "Abhor that which is evil," abhor it as hell, so the word may bear. If you duly consider the curse, it may fill you with shame and blushing on this head.v. Are ye duly affected with the case of those who, being(1) Strangers to Christ, are yet under the curse? Are ye at due pains for their recovery and deliverance? How natural is it for men, who with difficulty have escaped the greatest danger, to be affected with the case of others who are still in the same danger, in hazard of perishing?(2) Sinners; ye who are under the broken covenant of works still, not united to Christ by faith, and savingly interested in the covenant of grace, but living yet in your natural unregenerate state, ye may hence be convinced —

1. That ye are under the curse.

2. That, being under the curse, ye are in a very miserable condition.

3. That your case is desperately sinful, while under the covenant of works.

(1)The guilt of your sin lies on you, the guilt of eternal wrath; and it cannot be removed.

(2)Sin has a reigning power over you; and it neither is nor can be broken, while you continue under that covenant.

4. That while ye remain under that covenant, ye remain under the curse; and there is no deliverance from the curse without deliverance from the covenant.

5. That there is no salvation for you under that covenant.

6. That there is an absolute necessity of being set free from the covenant of works, of being brought into the covenant of grace, and savingly interested in the Lord Jesus, the second Adam.

7. That your help must come wholly from the Lord Jesus Christ, and that you can contribute nothing by your own working for your own relief (Hosea 13:9).

2. For exhortation, First, Let unbelievers, who are still under this covenant, receive these convictions, and be warned, excited, and exhorted timely to sue to be belivered from under the covenant of works, and for that end to be instated in the covenant of grace, by faith in Jesus Christ.

1. The curse is a weight which you will never be able to bear.

2. It is a growing weight; as your sins grow, the curse grows (Romans 2:5).

3. It is a weight that may be now removed from off you (2 Corinthians 6:2), "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Those whom this weight has sunk down into the pit already, it can never be removed from off them; but ye are yet within the reach of mercy, the Mediator is ready to take the yoke off your jaws.

4. If the weight of the curse be not removed from off you, it will be the heavier that deliverance from it was in your power (Matthew 11:21).

5. It will be an eternal weight (Matthew 25:41), "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." There is an eternal weight of glory for the saints in the promise; and an eternal weight of wrath for sinners in the curse, which they shall for ever lie under, and never get clear of. Let these motives then excite and induce you to flee from the curse of the broken covenant of works, unto the covenant of grace, where life is only to be found.Secondly, believers in Christ, delivered from this covenant —

1. Be thankful for your deliverance, as a deliverance from the curse. Let the warmest gratitude glow in your breasts for so great a deliverance; and let your soul, and all that is within you, be stirred up to bless your glorious Deliverer for this unspeakable blessing.

2. Walk holily and fruitfully in good works, since the bands of death are removed, and your souls are healed. Be holy in all manner of life and conversation; adorning, the doctrine of God your Saviour in all things. Let the whole tenor of your lives testify that you are not under the curse, but that you inherit the blessing of eternal life, by living to the praise and honour of Christ, who hath delivered you from the wrath to come.

3. Turn not back to the broken covenant of works again, in legal principles, nor in legal practices. The more the temper and frame of your spirit lies that way, the more unholy will ye be; and the more your duties savour of it, the less savoury will they be unto your God. It is only by being dead to the law, that ye will live unto God.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

The way to Christ lies through the sense of misery.

1. The attribute, "cursed." This curse is the penalty of God's violated law, and so an evil of punishment. This evil of punishment being assigned by Divine justice, must be proportionable to the evil of sin.

2. There is the subject expressed as fully and pregnantly as anything in Scripture. Here is no less than a threefold universality; it extends to all persons, times, things.(1) It is extended to all persons, ever one. It is not some; for so, many might escape. It is not many; for so, some might escape. It is not the greatest part; for so, a considerable part of mankind might be excepted. It is not all; for that might be taken, for some of all sorts; for so, some of every sort might be exempted. But it is every one, simply and absolutely; universal, without restriction, without exception; every one, Jew and Gentile. Adam himself not excepted; the curse seized upon the root, and so diffused itself into every one of the branches. Nay, the second Adam, Christ himself, is not exempted; he taking upon him our sins, came under our curse. Sin and the curse are inseparable. Where-ever sin is, the curse will be, even there where sin is but by imputation.(2) It is extended to all times. "That continues not." It is not enough to begin well, it is not enough to persist long, if at length there be any desisting from a practical observance. Wherever there is a breach, the curse enters.(3) It is extended to all things.

I. PREMISE SOMETHING BY WAY OF CAUTION. That the expressions may not be mistaken (when I say "the least sin") observe there is no sin absolutely little. Every sin is big with guilt and provocation. If we speak absolutely, every sin is great; but if we speak comparatively, some sins are greater than others. Astronomy teaches us that the earth, compared with the heavens, is of no sensible magnitude, it is but like a point; yet considered in itself, we know it is a vast body, of a huge bulk. Compare an idle word with blasphemy, it will seem small; or a vain thought with murder. Ay, but consider these in themselves, and they are great sins. There needs no other proof of this than what I am to undertake in the next place. They make liable to eternal death.


1. From general testimonies of Scripture (Romans 1:18; Romans 6:23, etc.).

2. From instances in some particular sins which pass for small in the world.(1) Omission of good (see Jeremiah 10:25; Matthew 25:30, 42, 43).(2) Secret evils, those that are confined to the heart, and break not out into visible acts. Men are apt to think that the Lord is such a one as themselves, that he will take little notice of those things which men cannot take notice of, and therefore are secure if no pollutions taint their lives, whatever evils lodge secretly in their hearts. But this is a delusion too (Ecclesiastes 12:14).(3) Idle words, how fearless or careless soever ye are of them, are sufficient to bring you under the curse (Matthew 12:36, 37).(4) Vain thoughts, the unaccountable vagaries of the cogitative faculty, the mere impertinencies of the mind, are of no less concernment to the soul than everlasting condemnation (Acts 8:22). Evil thoughts, while not forsaken, are unpardonable, they are such as infinite mercy will not pardon; and what then remains for these but a fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation?(5) Motions to sin without consent. Such motions as, arising from our corrupt natures, are suppressed, stifled in the birth, these expose to the curse. For the law requires a conformity to itself, both in qualities, motions, and actions, but such motions to sin are a nonconformity to the law, therefore sinful, and consequently cursed; for the penalty annexed to the law is due to every violation of it.

3. From the object against which sin is directed. The least sin is infinitely evil.

4. from the continuance of that law which at first made eternal death the penalty of the least sin.


1. For conviction.(1) To sinners, in whose lives the characters of wickedness are so large and visible, as he that runs may read them. These words should be to you as the handwriting on the wall to Belshazzar (Daniel 5:6).(2) To formal professors; those who think their condition good because they are not so bad as others; think they shall escape the curse merely because they have escaped the visible pollutions of the world, who are apt to say with the Pharisee (Luke 18:12), "I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican." It may be thou dost not act that wickedness which is frequently perpetrated by the sons of Belial amongst us. Oh, but let thy conscience answer, Dost thou not omit the exercise of holiness and mortification? Dost thou not omit, in whole or in part, the duty of religion and godliness?

2. For exhortation.(1) To those that are under the curse. Make haste for deliverance. "The Lord has laid help upon One that is mighty," upon Christ, who was only able, who was only willing, to bear man's curse, who is both able and willing to deliver sinners from it; but then you must come to Him for deliverance, in a way honourable to Him, prescribed by Him. You must resign up yourselves wholly unto Christ, as your King, your Redeemer.(2) To those that are delivered from the curse. You whom Christ has redeemed from everlasting wrath, you whom He has saved from going down into the pit, you whom He has rescued from these everlasting burnings, oh praise, admire, adore, rejoice in your Redeemer. How will they draw out your affections to Christ!(3) To all. If the least sin bring under the curse, then look upon the least sin as a cursed evil. Let your apprehensions, affections, actings, be answerable. Say not of any as of Zoar, "Is it not a little one?" etc. Hate the least sins as you hate that which is destructive, that which will destroy the whole man. But to enforce this more distinctly, let me represent to you the heinousness of the least sins in some particulars. Nor will I digress; the considerations will be such as have a near affinity with the truth, and such as do tend to confirm and illustrate it.

1. There is something of atheism in these small sins. It is atheism to deny there is a God, to deny the Lord to be God. Now, these less sins are a denial of God; if not expressly, yet by interpretation; if not directly, yet by consequence; for he that denies any excellency to be in God which is essential to Him: denies Him to be God.

2. There is something of idolatry in these small sins. But now, in admitting these small sins, we prefer other things before God, and so give that worship to others which is due only to God.

3. There is something of murder in admitting the least sin. The least is a deadly evil, of a bloody tendency, as to the life of the soul (Ezekiel 18:20). He says not, "that sinneth thus and thus, that sinneth in this or that degree," etc. (Romans 6:21). No matter how small the seed be, the fruit is death. The least is a deadly evil, and that should be enough to make it formidable. A spider may kill, as well as a lion; a needle run into the heart or bowels may let in death, as well as a rapier or cannon bullet; a small breach neglected may let in the enemy, and so prove as destructive as if all the walls and fortifications were thrown down. Sin is compared to poison, the poison of asps (Psalm 140:3), and the venom of dragons (Romans 3:8; Deuteronomy 32:1.). Now a drop of such strong poison may kill as well as a full draught.

4. The least sin is a violation of the whole law, and therefore more heinous, of more dangerous consequence, than we are apt to imagine. There is in the least sin, as in plants (and other creatures) a seminal virtue, whereby it multiplies itself. The seed at first is a small inconsiderable thing, but let it lie quietly on the ground, it will take root, grow into a bulky stock, and diffuse itself into a variety of branches. A sinful motion (if not stifled in the conception) will procure consent, and consent will bring forth into act; and one act will dispose to others, till custom have begot a habit, and a habit will dull and stupefy the conscience.

5. The least part of the law is more valuable in God's account than heaven and earth; a tittle of the law of more account than the whole fabric of the world. He had rather heaven and earth should perish, than one iota of the law (Matthew 5:18). First, heaven and earth shall vanish, rather than the least letter, one ἰωτα, rather than the least apex, the least point, one χέραια of the law shall pass away. So much more valuable is the law, etc., as He seems more tender of the least point of this, than of that whole fabric.

6. The least sin is the object of infinite hatred. The Lord infinitely hates the least sin; He hates it, is not only angry for it, offended with it, grieved at it, but He hates it; He hates it perfectly; there is not the least mixture of love, liking, or approbation, nothing but pure hatred.

7. There is more provocation in the least sin against God, than in the greatest injuries against men. Let all the injuries imaginable be put together, the total sum of them will not amount to so much as a single unit against God. The dignity of the person puts an accent upon the injury.

8. The least sin requires infinite satisfaction. Such an injury is the least sin, as nothing can compensate it, but that which is of infinite value; this is grounded upon the former.

9. The least sin is now punished in hell with those torments that will last for ever. Hell is the reward of the least sin, not only in respect of its demerit, but in regard of the event.

10. The least sin is worse than the greatest punishment.

3. For information.(1) See here an impossibility for a sinner to be justified by his observance of the law, or according to the tenor of the first covenant. The law requires to justification a righteousness exactly perfect; but the best righteousness of fallen man is as a rag. It is not only torn and ragged, but spotted and defiled.(2) See here the dangerous error of those who make account to be justified and saved by works; by their conformity to the law, or observance of it. The apostle is express (ver. 10). An imperfect observance of the law leaves the observer under the curse, but all observance of the law by fallen man is imperfect; no observance of all, no continuing in the observance of all, imperfection in both.(3) See here the necessity of Christ. Get lively apprehensions of your necessity of Christ. Walk continually under the sense and power of these apprehensions, and be often making application of the blood and mediation of Christ to your souls. So hath the Lord ordered the way to salvation, as that every one should see a necessity of Christ; a continual necessity of Him, and a necessity of Him in all things. And it is evident upon this account, because "cursed is every one that continueth not in all things to do them."

(D. Clarkson, B. D.)

1. It is a general curse. It extends itself to all things. Many things may reach the body that cannot reach the soul.

2. It is a growing curse. Every sinner is treasuring up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath.

3. It is real wrath. The cursings of men are but verbal curses, but the curse that is due for sin is not a verbal curse, but a real curse.

4. It is a righteous curse. We know that God is righteous in pouring out the vials of His wrath upon sinners.

5. It is an unavoidable curse. None can run sway from it.

6. It is an intolerable curse. As there is no avoiding from it, so there is no abiding of it.

7. It is an effectual curse. It doth its business where it comes; that which it is sent to do it doth always.

8. It is eternal wrath.

(Philip Henry.)

Galatians 3:10 NIV
Galatians 3:10 NLT
Galatians 3:10 ESV
Galatians 3:10 NASB
Galatians 3:10 KJV

Galatians 3:10 Bible Apps
Galatians 3:10 Parallel
Galatians 3:10 Biblia Paralela
Galatians 3:10 Chinese Bible
Galatians 3:10 French Bible
Galatians 3:10 German Bible

Galatians 3:10 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Galatians 3:9
Top of Page
Top of Page