Galatians 3:22
The mediator here referred to is not Christ, but Moses, for St. Paul is describing the process through which the Law was given. This he contrasts with the direct flow of grace in the gospel. A mediator implies more than one party, and the gifts that come through mediation do not come immediately from the hand of the giver. But God is one person, and in Christ he immediately confers his grace upon us.

I. A RELIGION OF LAW SEPARATES US FROM DIRECT COMMUNION WITH GOD. The Levitical Law depended on an elaborate system of mediation. The Jew regarded it as given through angels. Moses received it for the people. When the Israelites saw the terrors of Sinai they shrank back and begged Moses to go alone for them into the presence of God, and thus they received the Divine message through their human leader (Exodus 20:18, 19). Subsequently it was administered through the priesthood. The consequence was that the people were not admitted to the sanctuary. The penalty of relying on a human intercessor out of fear of God was separation from direct communion with Heaven. This penalty is still paid by those who pursue the same course. The magnifying of human priesthood and the elaboration of ceremonial religion by one school in the Church, and the over-dependence on human teaching and preaching of another school, put new mediators between us and God, and so separate us from the privileges of immediate Divine fellowship. The same result follows the slavish observance of rules and regulations laid down by the wisest and holiest of teachers. Those men come between us and God.

II. THE HIGHEST RELIGION CONSISTS IN DIRECT COMMUNION WITH GOD, "God is one." When he speaks to us we have all that we need. Many advantages belong to this pure and lofty relation with God.

1. Clear visions of truth. Truth is no longer adulterated with human imaginations.

2. The full efficacy of grace. This is not weakened by the harsh and ugly additions of man's blundering attempts to improve his fellow-man. It flows clear and full in its own heavenly beauty.

3. The blessedness of fellowship with God. A religion of Law is irksome. There is no joy in obedience forced by constraint. But direct communion with God is itself the source of the deepest joy, and it makes all service glad, so that we delight to do the will of God.

III. THE GOSPEL BRINGS TO US THIS RELIGION OF DIRECT COMMUNION. It is true that Christ is a Mediator, but in quite another way from the mediation of Moses. Moses and all human mediators stand between us and God, so as to separate us from him and darken the vision of his glory by their human shadows. But Christ only comes between to bridge over the gulf that separates, to unite us to God, to be the mirror in which the presence of God is revealed; nay, to bring God to us, made manifest in the flesh. Thus in Christ we have immediate communication with God. Through him we not only know that God is spirit and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth, we also have grace thus to worship. In Christ God's grace directly flows to us with all its fresh, untainted purity and power. In Christ we have grace to enter through the rout veil to the holiest place, and to rest in the eternal light of God's near presence. - W.F.A.

But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin.
I. THE SCRIPTURE STATEMENT OF MAN'S NATURAL CONDITION. And what now do you expect to hear? That man, though fallen and frail, has nevertheless many native virtues and excellences? that, if his conduct be sometimes amiss, yet his heart is good? These are, I know, the vain imaginations which multitudes indulge: — but they receive no countenance from Holy Scripture. No — if God's Word is to decide, you will find that —

1. The Scripture brings against man a charge of sin. As preparatory to this, the Bible fully sets forth man's duty: sometimes dwelling on the several particulars of the ten commandments; at other times, comprehensively demanding "Love" as "the fulfilling" of the whole law; expanding this, again, into the two branches of that love — love to God, love to man; or pointing to still more special duties, arising out of special relations and situations in life. Furthermore, we are told, that "whoso offendeth in one point is guilty of all" — he has broken through that hedge of the law, which should have kept him from all sin. After laying down a strict principle like this, it ceases to be surprising, that the Scripture invariably addresses man as a sinner. For man's own conscience must tell him that God's perfect law has not been kept.

2. On this charge the Scripture shuts man up (for that is the meaning of the words "hath concluded") as already sentenced and condemned. Man is not merely in danger of this sentence; it is passed on him already. Living in this world, he is but a prisoner at large. God's justice has got firm hold of him; and wander where he may, and vaunt as he likes, the day of execution is coming nearer and nearer — and he cannot escape.

3. All men, without a single exception, come under this charge. All nations. All ranks. All ages.

4. The charge is incessantly reiterated, and pressed again and again.

II. THE DESIGN WITH WHICH THIS STATEMENT IS SO EARNESTLY INSISTED UPON. Why do the Scriptures thus shut up all men under the charge of sin. St. Paul replies — "that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ may be given to them that believe." The object aimed at, in the Scripture doctrine of man's sin, was —

1. To show the reasonableness of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone. Though man be guilty, condemned, and under actual sentence; yet his condition, so long as life endures, is not hopeless. There is in the same Scripture a promise — a promise of salvation.

2. To compel sinners actually to accept the promise by believing in Christ. The terrors of God are really mercies; they are the wholesome rod by which the lost sheep are driven back to that gracious fold, where they may remain safe, under the care of the good shepherd, Jesus Christ. In conclusion, I ask,(1) Are you not sinners? Methinks there should be no doubt on this head.(2) Is salvation yet given to you? In other words, have you believed in Jesus Christ?(3) What will ye do in the end — that end which is shortly approaching — death — judgment?

(J. Jowett, M. A.)

How much is declared in these few words! They set forth the whole counsel of God with regard to mankind. They show us what man is by nature, and what he may become by grace: and they point out the only way in which it is possible for him to pass from one of these states to the other. God, speaking to man through His Holy Scriptures, hath concluded all under sin. He has, so to say, shut up all mankind together in the same great prisonhouse of sin. How has He done this? When a conqueror overruns a country, he will sometimes drive the inhabitants, or at least a large part of them, into bondage (e.g., Shalmaneser, Nebuchadnezzar). Now is this the way in which God concluded all mankind under sin? by driving them into sin, and shutting them up in it? God forbid! Satan does indeed draw and drive men into sin: this is the accursed work of his restless sabbathless life: and when he has got them there, he binds them fast, and will not let them flee from his toils. He builds a high wall of sin all round them, so that they shall not look over it into the goodly land beyond: and here he shuts them all up together, sinner with sinner, and sinner with sinner, a never-ending ghastly multitude, that they may encourage and pamper each other in wickedness, and that no example, no voice of holiness, may ever reach and startle them. This is the way in which Satan would conclude all mankind under sin, in which he does conclude all such as give themselves up to him, to work his bidding. But God never drove, never drew any man into sin. Throughout His Scriptures He is calling to us to come out from the deadly land, from the loathsome plague-breathing dungeon of sin. By His commandments, by entreaties, by threats, by promises, He calls us to come out from sin. So that, when the Scripture concludes, or shuts up all men together under sin, it is not by driving them into sin, but for the sake of calling them out from it. In order however that men should come forth from a place, in order that they should desire to come forth, it is necessary they should know that they are there, that they should know too what sort of a place it is, how dismal, how miserable, how terrible. How unwilling are we to be persuaded that the prison can indeed be a prison! To us at least, we feel confident, it is nothing of the sort. For how can it be a prison, we say to ourselves, when there are no bare walls to be seen? when the walls are all glittering with precious stones, and are far more like the walls of a palace? How can it be a prison, when it is so vast, stretching out to the furthermost parts of the earth, and all mankind are walking about in it: Nay, how can it be a prison, when all the people in it are doing just what they like, are following the lusts of their own hearts, are drinking and rioting and thieving and lying, without any fear of law, without any regard for truth, without any restraint to check them? And what is there to keep them from going out whenever they please? There are no bars, no locks, no chains, no jailor. For this is the craft and subtilty of the evil one, — that he makes us fancy we are free, when we are in prison: he makes us fancy that we are at liberty, when we are in bondage: he makes us fancy that we are our own masters, when we are his slaves: he blinds and cheats and stupefies us, until we deem we are doing our own will, and pursuing our own pleasure, when in fact we are drudging in his toils, and rushing into the jaws of destruction before his lashing scourge. Therefore, in order that our eyes might be open to the misery of our condition, that we might see our danger before it was too late, God was mercifully pleased to give us His Scriptures, wherein He declares in the ears of all mankind, that one and all are concluded under sin; that, however its appearance may deceive us, sin is not a palace but a prison, that in that prison we are all shut up, and that no earthly power can deliver us out of it. God, by the voice of His Scripture, hath concluded all under sin. Now suppose that you were to be carried before an earthly court of justice, and that one sweeping accusation were to be brought against you; suppose that you were to be found guilty to the full extent of that accusation, and that the very excuses you set up were the complete proof of your guilt, — what would follow: The judge would straightway pass sentence upon you; and you would all be condemned to suffer punishment, according to the measure of your offence. Such would be the course of things, if you were taken before an earthly court of justice. The verdict is followed by the sentence; and they who are found guilty are condemned. And must we not expect that the course of things should be the very same, when we are carried before a heavenly court of justice? Surely they who are found utterly guilty, whose own mouth declares their guilt, must likewise be condemned. And yet St. Paul assures us that God has concluded all under sin, not in order that He may stretch forth His arm, and take vengeance on His enemies, and sweep them away from the face of the earth; but in order that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. This has ever been the one great end of all God's ordinances, both at first in the creation, and ever since in the government of the world. His purpose was from the beginning to pour out all the blessings which infinite wisdom could conceive, and infinite power could bring to pass, upon His creatures. But why was it necessary that all should be concluded by the Scriptures under sin? Would it not have been enough to set the promise by faith in Jesus Christ before men, without saying anything about the sins by which they were bound? No, my brethren, it would not have been enough. Jesus Christ came as a Deliverer: and who will welcome and rejoice in a deliverer, unless he knows that there is something from which he needs to be delivered, unless he feels that he is in a wretched galling bondage, and that he cannot of himself burst his chains, that he cannot throw off his yoke? But when a man's eyes are opened to see the prison in which he is shut up, to see and feel the chains which are fast bound round his soul, and have eaten into it, — when he has learnt to see and to know that the pleasures, whatever they may be, of sin are only, like the fleshpots of Egypt, intoxicating drugs given to him to deprive him of all sense of his captivity, — then will he long for a deliverer, and rejoice on hearing of his approach, and hail him when he comes into view, and follow him whithersoever he may lead.

(J. C. Hare, M. A. .)

Let us try to realize what would have been Paul's line of argument with modern schools who construct their own methods of self salvation.

I. The school of NATURAL RELIGION holds that men are bound to obedience. But this law has been and is constantly violated. What now? Is God to perpetually interpose with an act of oblivion? If so, what becomes of his admitted moral government? The very foundations of natural religion are destroyed by such a supposition. Then the only alternative is the gospel system of mediation by means of which sin may be forgiven and God justified.

II. The school of CLASSICAL MORALITY aims at the exaltation of the individual by a species of moral accomplishment. But where has the ideal been realized outside of Christianity? If sincere, therefore, this school must be grievously disappointed as they are brought face to face with universal proofs of the Scripture doctrine of man's depravity, and so they are "shut up" to the only means of its removal, the sanctification of the Spirit through faith.

III. The school of FINE FEELING AND POETIC SENTIMENT worships what is beautiful in human character. But look at the state of the world. That beauty is wanting, and so they are shut up to the operation of that Spirit who alone can produce what is pure, lovely, and of good report.

(Dr. Chalmers.)

The gospel is a reasonable scheme, on the principle that whatever other way is divised is found on trial to be deficient: so that man is shut up to the gospel as his only resource. In demonstrating this Paul introduces the law as a successful general which outmanoeuvres man in his every attempt at escape, and so compels him to await the throwing open of God's method of deliverance.

I. WE MUST ASSUME IN MAN THE WORKINGS OF SPIRITUAL SOLICITUDE AND ANXIETY. The crying sin of the day is apathy, and many men are shut up in the prison of their own moral listlessness. But, presuming an awakened state, we must examine the avenues through which he tries to enter heaven, and the tactics of the law in intercepting him.

II. REPENTANCE is one of these avenues: but in his attempt to escape:by it man is outgeneralled by the law, which refuses to admit the efficacy of sorrow and amendment, crying, "do this and live," "fail to do so and die."

III. Forced back from this outlet, men endeavour to take refuge in the supposed MERCY OF GOD. But the law comes forward and dislodges them by showing that God has left no ground for the hope of unconditional forgiveness.

IV. Thus men are SHUT UP BY THE LAW TO THE NEED OF A SURETY. It proves to the sinner —

1. That his curse must be endured.

2. That it has been endured by Christ the only Saviour.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

We preach, at God's command, the way of salvation by mercy, not by merit; by faith, not by works: by grace, not by the efforts of men.

I. A CROWDED PRISON. All are shut up under sin.

1. The jailer — Scripture.

(a)A lawful authority, for it is not the word of man, but of the Spirit of God.

(b)A powerful authority, for it has the strength of the Almighty to support it.

2. The prisoners — all.

(a)Heathen (Romans 1:18-21).

(b)The outwardly moral.

(c)The sincerely religious.

3. The prison. No escape from vengeance of broken law. One offence enough to keep a sinner bound for ever in misery and degradation.

II. A GLORIOUS DELIVERANCE. Jesus opens the prison door, and all who will may go free.

1. This deliverance by Jesus is complete. A slave before, a child now; no longer under the law, but under grace. Guiding principle formerly was, "This do, and thou shalt live"; it now is, "I am saved, and so I love to serve my God." The man now does not work for wages, and expect to win a reward by merit; he is a saved man, and he has all he needs; for Christ is his, and Christ is all.

2. This deliverance comes to men by promise. No bargain — the free gift of God's sovereign good-will.

3. The promised deliverance is not made to works, but only to faith.

4. The faith necessary for appropriating the promised deliverance, is faith in Christ. Not faith in yourself, or in a priest, or in sacraments, or in a set of doctrines; but you must believe that Christ the Son of God came on earth and became a man, took your sins upon His shoulders, bore them up to the tree, and suffered what was due for your sins in His own person on the cross; and you must trust yourself with Him, with Him fully, with Him alone, and with all your heart: and if you do so, the promise will be fulfilled to you.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

In every work which we undertake, it is most important that we should act upon right principles; for if We are misled upon essential points, our efforts will be wasted, since success cannot possibly be the result. A man may study the stars as long as he pleases, but he certainly will not come to right conclusions if he calculates their courses upon the theory that they daily revolve round the earth as a centre. The alchymists were earnest even to enthusiasm, but the object of their pursuit was unattainable, and the theories which guided their investigations were absurd, and therefore they exhibited a sorrowful spectacle of perseverance misapplied, and labour thrown away. In mechanics the most ingenious contriver must fail if he forgets the law of gravitation. You must proceed upon right principles, or disappointment awaits you. Now, the greatest matter of concern for any one of us is the eternal salvation of our soul. We need to be saved, and, according to the Scriptures of truth, there is but one way of salvation; but that way does not happen to be in favour among the sons of men. The great popular principle, popular all over the world, no matter whether the people happen to be Protestant or Catholic, Parsee or Mahomedan, Brahminist or Buddhist, is self-salvation — they would reach eternal life by merit. There are differences about what is done, but the great universal principle of unregenerate man is that he is, somehow or other, to save himself. This is his principle; and the further he goes in it, the less likely is he to be saved.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Objections are continually raised to the Divine plan of salvation. The world's plan of salvation is, "Do"; the Bible says, "It is all done; accept it as a free gift." The gospel way of salvation is, Christ has saved His people, and as many as trust in Him are His people, and are saved. Just think for a minute, is not this way of salvation the only one which would be suited to all sorts and conditions of men? Dear sir, you yourself may be a man of excellent disposition, and of admirable habits; I will suppose that the salvation to be preached by us was exactly such as would be suitable to such a person as you believe yourself to be, but would not this be a very unfortunate thing for many others? Are there not living within your observation many persons who are far below you in moral character? Do you not know of whole swarms of your fellow-creatures whose outward life is utterly defiled? Some of these are conscious of their degradation, and would fain rise out of it: would you have them left to despair? A way of salvation suited to the righteous it is clear would not suit them: are they to be overlooked? Would you have salvation put up to an examination like a place in the Civil Service, and only those allowed to pass who are as good as you are? Are all beneath your level to perish? I feel sure you love your fellow-men enough to say, "No; let the plan of salvation be such as to save the most reprobate of men." Then I ask you, what plan could there be but this one, that God freely forgives for Christ's sake even the greatest offenders, if they turn to Him and put their trust in His dear Son?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

A ship's crew mutinied against their commander, who was the king's son; and not only-refused to obey him, but threw him overboard with the intention of depriving him of life. Feeling their condition desperate, they commenced pirates, and while disorder and every evil work prevailed among themselves, they carried terror and misery over the ocean and into all the surrounding coasts. The prince, contrary to all probability, reached the shore in safety, and on arriving at his father's palace, instead of urging the punishment of those who meant to murder him, employed all his influence, and with success, to induce his justly-offended parent to lay aside all thoughts of vengeance, and even to despatch immediately heralds of mercy offering a free pardon to them if they would but acknowledge the prince as their saviour and ruler, and submit to be guided by him in all their future proceedings; but reminding them that if they did not accede to this overture of mercy, sooner or later they must fall into the hands of some of his war-vessels, and must count on being dealt with according to the rigour of the law. On the messengers of mercy approaching the vessel, some of the most determined villains were for treating them as they had done their commander, but this proposal being overruled, they were taken aboard, and their sovereign's proclamation was made in the hearing of the piratical rebels. Some mocked at it; others said it was a stratagem to get them into the king's power; and even the most sober thinking among them, though they were tired of this scene of discord and ravage, both in the vessel and when the.y were on the shore, said that really they could not give the king credit for such extraordinary kindness, nor bring their mind to acknowledge the authority of the prince, but that they would endeavour to behave better as individuals, to establish better order in the ship, and to restrain their companions from those excesses of cruelty and rapine in which they had formerly indulged, so that if the king's cruisers should lay hold of them, as they feared might be the case, the king might be induced to pardon them, perhaps reward them for their good conduct. The time dreaded by them all at last arrived. Their vessel is boarded by the king's servants in irresistible force, and the whole crew are safely lodged in prison, and in due time brought before the king for judgment. With a calmness of inflexible determination, more appalling than the most furious passion, the sovereign pronounces their sentence. "You most causelessly violated your allegiance; you transgressed the law; you, in intention, murdered my son; yet, on his intercession, I proffered you forgiveness — free, full forgiveness. You refused to give me credit for the generosity I manifested, and dishonoured me by supposing me false and malignant like yourselves. You persisted in despising my authority and opposing my will. And even such of you as have not run to the same enormity of licentiousness and cruelty, have formed laws to yourselves which ye have observed; but my laws ye have not regarded. And you have trampled on my grace as well as my authority. You have spurned mercy on the only terms consistent with my honour to offer it; and you have had the insufferable arrogance of attempting to dictate to me in what way I should bestow my favour. You have had your choice, and you must abide by it. As for those men who would not that I should reign over them, bring them forth and slay them before me." Let the self-righteous see, in a figure, the doom which awaits him if mercy prevent not. The law by which he must be judged" is none of the laws of human device, but the law of God.

(John Brown, D. D.)

There is a well in Belgium which once had very pure water, and it was stoutly reasoned with stone and brick, but that well became afterwards the centre of the battle of Waterloo. At the opening of the battle the soldiers with their sabres compelled the gardener, William yon Kylsom, to draw water out of the well for them, and it was very pure water. But the battle raged, and three hundred dead and half dead were flung into the well for quick and easy burial, so that the well of refreshment became the well of death, and long after, people looked down into the well and they saw the bleached skulls but no water. So the human soul was a well of good, but the armies of sin have fought around it, fought across it, and been slain, and it has become a well of skeletons. Dead hopes, dead resolutions, dead ambitions. An abandoned well unless Christ shall reopen and purify' and fill it as the well of Belgium never was.

Unclean, unclean.
It is a pretty thing which is told of the father of the Rev. Newman Hall, that his common seal was a crown with an anchor fixed into it, with just these words: "Other refuge have I none." Well, if you do not use that seal, if you do not write the words over the door of your house, yet take care that you hear their meaning in your hearts, and never hesitate on any occasion to confess that you are saved by faith in Christ Jesus.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Faith, in my text, and in sundry places in this Epistle, seems to have a complex signification: it signifies the object of faith, revealed in the gospel, or the method of salvation through faith in the righteousness of Christ; and it also signifies the grace of faith in the soul, or a hearty compliance with this way of salvation, so that this expression, "before faith came," refers to the time before the doctrine of faith was revealed in the gospel to the Galatians, and before the grace of faith was wrought in their hearts. Here it may be proper to observe, that the members of the primitive church in general, and particularly that in Galatia, were brought under the gospel dispensation, and embraced the doctrine of the gospel by faith, at one and the same time. But they were not, like us, educated under the gospel dispensation; for part of them had been Jews, educated under the Mosaic dispensation, which by way of eminence is frequently called the law; and, as they were under the legal dispensation, they were generally under the influence of a legal spirit; that is, they sought for justification by their own works of obedience to that law. Another part of them had been educated heathens, and were destitute at once of the revelation of the gospel, and of faith in it. Of this sort the generality of the Galatians had been. And yet St. Paul represents them also as having been under the law, not the Jewish or Mosaic law, which the Gentiles had no concern with, but the law of nature, which is universally binding upon all mankind. And as they were under this law, they were also possessed of a legal spirit; that is, they sought salvation by their own obedience to it, as the only way which they knew, and which was natural to them. But, when the gospel dispensation was set up in the world, and the doctrine of faith preached to them, they immediately believed, and so were freed from the outward dispensation of the law, and from a legal spirit at once; and they heard the doctrine, and received the outward dispensation of the gospel, and savingly believed, "at one and the same time." My present design is to lay down some propositions for the explication of the apostolic doctrine concerning the law and the gospel, that you may see in what sense mankind are kept prisoners by the law, under condemnation, and shut up to the faith; or to the method of justification, through the righteousness of Christ, as the only way of escape.

I. All mankind, in all ages, are under a law to God. This can be denied by none who grant there is such a thing as sin or duty; for where there is no law, there can be no duty or trangression. If murder or blasphemy are universally evil with regard to all mankind, in all ages, it must be because they are forbidden by a law universally and perpetually binding.

II. This law was first of all given to man in a state of innocence, under the model of a covenant of works; that is, it was the constitution, by obedience to which he was to secure the favour of God, and to obtain everlasting felicity. It was his duty to observe it with a view to obtain immortality and happiness by it; and these blessings he was to secure by his own works of obedience.

III. That this law has passed through several editions, and received several additions and modifications, adapted to the various circumstances of mankind, and the designs of heaven towards them. That you may more fully understand this, I would observe by the way, that the law is either moral or positive. By the moral law, I mean that law which is founded upon the eternal reason of things, and that enjoins those duties which creatures under such and such circumstances owe to God, and to one another, and which necessarily flow from their relation to one another. Thus, love to God, and justice to mankind, are moral duties universally binding upon mankind in all circumstances, whether in a state of innocence, or in a state of sin; whether under the revealed law, or the law of nature. There can be no possible circumstances in which mankind are free from the obligation of such duties, and at liberty to commit the contrary sins. These are more properly the materials of a moral law. But there is another set of duties agreeable to the circumstances of fallen creatures under a dispensation of grace, which I may call evangelical morals; I mean repentance and reformation, and the utmost solicitude to re-obtain the forfeited favour of our Maker. These are universally binding upon mankind in their present state, and result from their circumstances, and consequently partake of the general nature of a moral law. By a positive law, I mean a law not necessarily resulting from the reason of things, and our relations and circumstances, but founded upon the will of the lawgiver, and adapted to some particular occasion. Such was the appendage to the first covenant, "Thou shalt not eat of the tree of knowledge." Such were the institution of sacrifices immediately after the fall, the ordinance of circumcision given to Abraham., and the various ceremonies of the law of Moses; and such are baptism and the Lord's Supper, and the institution of the first day of the week for the Christian Sabbath under the gospel. These ordinances are not binding in their own nature, and consequently they are not of universal or perpetual obligation, but they are in force when and where the lawgiver is pleased to appoint.

IV. That the law of God requires perfect, perpetual, and personal obedience. This holds true with regard to every law of God, whatever it be. If it requires purely moral duties, it requires that they be performed exactly according to its prescriptions. If it requires evangelical duties as repentance or sincerity, it requires perfect repentance, perfect sincerity. If it requires the observance of any ceremonial or sacramental institutions, as sacrifice, circumcision, baptism, or the Lord's Supper, it requires a perfect observance of them. This, my brethren, is the nature of the law, of every law that God ever made under every dispensation of religion, before the fall, and after the fall, before the law of Moses, under it, and under the gospel. In all ages, in all circumstances, and from all persons, it requires perfect, perpetual, and personal obedience: to the performance of this, it promises eternal life: but the sinner, by every the least failure, falls under its dreadful curse, and is cut off from all the promised blessings. And hence it most evidently follows,

V. That it is absolutely impossible for any of the fallen sons of men to be justified and saved by the constitution of the law. Take what dispensation of the law you please, the law of innocence, the law of Moses, or the moral part of the gospel, it is impossible for one of the fallen posterity of Adam to be saved by it in any of these views; and the reason is plain, there is not one of them but what has broken it: there is not one of them that has yielded perfect obedience to it: and, therefore, there is not one of them but what is condemned by it, to suffer its dreadful penalty. Thus you are held in close custody by the law; you are shut up under condemnation by it. And is there no way of escape? No; there is no possible way of escape — but one; and that shall be the matter of the next proposition.

VI. That God has made another constitution, namely, the gospel, or the covenant of grace, by which even guilty sinners, condemned by the law, may be justified and saved by faith, through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. According to this constitution there is encouragement for sinners to repent and use the means of grace; and all who are saved by it, are not only obliged to yield obedience to the law, but also enabled to do so with sincerity, though not to perfection. They are effectually taught by it "to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live righteously, soberly, and godly in the world;" and, in short, holiness of heart and life is as effectually secured in this way as in any other.

VII. That all mankind are under the law, as a covenant of works, till they willingly forsake it, and fly to the gospel for refuge by faith in Christ. There are but two constitutions that God has set up in our world, by which mankind can obtain life, namely, the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, or the law and gospel; and all mankind are under the one, or the other. We are all of us, my brethren, under one or other of these constitutions: for to be from under both of them is the same thing as to be lawless, and to be under no plan of life at all. And would you know whether you are set free from the law, and placed under the covenant of grace? St. Paul, who knew it both by his own experience, and by inspiration from heaven, will inform you.

1. You have been made deeply sensible of sin and condemnation by the law (Romans 3:20; Romans 8:7). Has the law ever had these effects upon you, my brethren? Have you ever had such a conviction of sin and condemnation by it? If not, you are still under it.

2. If you have been delivered from the law, you have been cut off from all hopes of obtaining justification by your own obedience to it; you have given up this point as altogether desperate; or, in the strong language of the apostle, you have been slain by the law. "When the commandment came, sin revived and I died" (Romans 8:9).

3. If you have been set at liberty from the law, and brought under the covenant of grace, you have believed in Christ, and fled to the gospel, as the only way of escape from the bondage and condemnation of the law. It is-the uniform doctrine of the apostle, that it is by faith only that this happy change is brought about in our condition.

4. If you are under the covenant of grace, then you are not willing slaves to sin, but make it your great business to live to God. "I through the law, am dead to the law, that I might live unto God" (Galatians 2:19). And do you thus live to God, sirs? Is this the great business and constant endeavour of your whole life? If not, you are not under grace, but under the law, the Egyptian task-master, who demands perfect obedience, but gives no ability to perform it.

(President Davies, M. A.)

I have heard of one who fell into the water and sank, and a strong swimmer standing on the shore did not at the same instant plunge in, though fully resolved to rescue him. The man went down the second time, and then he who would rescue him was in the water swimming near him, but not too near, waiting very cautiously till his time came. He who was drowning was a strong, energetic man, and the other was too prudent to expose himself to the risk of being dragged under by his struggles. He let the man go down for the third time, and then he knew that his strength was quite exhausted, and swimming to him he grasped him and drew him to shore. If he had seized him at first, while the drowning man had strength, they would have gone down together. The first part of human salvation is the sentence of death upon all human power and merit.

(C. H. Spurgeon.).

I. THE UNHAPPY PERIOD — "Before faith came."

1. We had no idea of faith by nature. It would never occur to the human mind that we could be saved by believing in Jesus.

2. When we heard of faith as the way of salvation we did not understand it. We could not persuade ourselves that the words used by the preacher had their common and usual meaning.

3. We saw faith in others, and wondered at its results; but we could not exercise it for ourselves.

4. We could not reach to faith, even when we began to see its necessity, admitted its efficacy, and desired to exercise it. The reason of this inability was moral, not mental.

5. We were without the Spirit of God, and therefore incapable. We do not wish to go back to the state in which we were "before faith came," for it was one of darkness, misery, impotence, hopelessness, sinful rebellion, self-conceit, and condemnation.

II. THE CUSTODY WE WERE IN — "Kept under the law, shut up."

1. We were always within the sphere of law. In fact, there is no getting out of it. As all the world was only one prison for a man who offended Caesar, so is the whole universe no better than a prison for a sinner.

2. We were always kicking against the bounds of the law, sinning, and pining because we could not sin more.

3. We dared not overleap it altogether, and defy its power. Thus, in the case of many of us, it checked us, and held us captive with its irksome forbiddings and commandings.

4. We could not find rest. The law awakened conscience, and fear and shame attend such an awakening.

5. We could not discover a hope; for, indeed, there is none to discover while we abide under the law.

6. We could not even fall into the stupor of despair; for the law excited life, though it forbade hope. Among the considerations which held us in bondage were these: The spirituality of the law, touching thoughts, motives, desires. The need of perfect obedience, making one sin fatal to all hope of salvation by works. The requirement that each act of obedience should be perfect. The necessity that perfect obedience should be continual throughout the whole of life.

III. THE REVELATION WHICH SET US FREE — "The faith which should afterwards be revealed." The only thing which could bring us out of prison was faith. Faith came, and then we understood —

1. What was to be believed.

2. What it was to believe. We saw that it was "trust," implicit and sincere.

3. Why we believed.

(C. H. Spurgeon.).

The law and the gospel are two keys. The law is the key that shutteth up all men under condemnation, and the gospel is the key which opens the door and lets them out.

(William Tyndale.)

To let you more effectually into the meaning of this expression, it may be right to state that in the preceding clause, "kept under the law," the term, kept, is, in the original Greek, derived from a word which signifies a sentinel. The mode of conception is altogether military. The law is made to act the part of a sentry, guarding every avenue but one, and that one leads those who are compelled to take it to the faith of the gospel. They are shut up to this faith as their only alternative — like an enemy driven by the superior tactics of an opposing general, to take up the only position in which they can maintain themselves, or fly to the only town in which they can find a refuge or a security. This seems to have been a favourite style of argument with Paul, and the way in which he often carried on an intellectual warfare with the enemies of his Master's cause. It forms the basis of that masterly and decisive train of reasoning which we have in his Epistle to the Romans. By the operation of skilful tactics, he (if we may be allowed the expression) manoeuvred them, and shut them up to the faith of the gospel. It gave prodigious effect to his argument, when he reasoned with them, as he often does, upon their own principles, and turned them into instruments of conviction against themselves. With the Jews he reasoned as a Jew. He made use of the Jewish law as a sentinel to shut them out of every other refuge, and to shut them up to the refuge laid before them in the gospel. He led them to Christ by a schoolmaster whom they could not refuse; and the lesson of this schoolmaster, though a very decisive, was a very short one — "Cursed be he that continueth not in all the words of the law to do them." But in point of fact, they had not done them. To them, then, belonged the curse of the violated law. The awful severity of its sanctions was upon them. They found the faith and the free offer of the gospel to be the only avenue open to receive them. They were shut up unto this avenue; and the law, by concluding them all to be under sin, left them no other outlet but the free act of grace and of mercy laid before us in the New Testament.

(Dr. Chalmers.)

by showing them that there is no other way of salvation except through Him. It had two especial ends: the first was to bring the people who lived under it into a consciousness of the deadly dominion of sin, to shut them up, as it were, into a prison-house out of which only one door of escape should be visible, namely, the door of faith in Jesus; the second intention was to fence about and guard the chosen race to whom the law was given — to keep them as a peculiar people separate from all the world, so that at the proper time the gospel of Christ might spring forth and go out from them as the joy and comfort of the whole human race.

(T. G. Rooke.)

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