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gles and contentions of the Bar (for the terms, employed in the text, being forensic, direct us chiefly to that interpretation), a series of civil and judiciary pleadings, such as have been preserved to us, from heathen times, in the writings of a Demosthenes, or Cicero, are a standing, unanswerable argument for the existence of a Rule of Right, or Law of natural reason. For how should these debates be carried on without a Rule, to which the advocates of either party refer? or how, should these judicial differences be composed, without a common Law, to arbitrate between them? And what though the Law, referred to, be a written institute : It was first written in the heart, before legislators transcribed it on brass, or paper.
You see then, the sum of the Apostle's reasoning stands thus. The Heathens, who had no revealed Law, DID by nature, the things of the Law: their JUDGEMENT, too, of their own actions, conformed to the judgement of the Law : and, lastly, their DEBATES with one another, whether public or private, concerning right and wrong, evidenced their sense of some Law, which Nature had
prescribed to them.
And in this fine chain of argument, we may observe the peculiar art, by which it is conducted, and the advantage, resulting from such conduct to the main conclusion. For if the argument from works should seem of less weight (as it possibly might, after the Apostle's own charge upon the heathen world, and in that age of heathen corruption) yet the evidence arising from CONSCIENCE, which was an appeal to every man's own breast, could hardly be resisted : or, if conscience could be laid asleep (as it inight be by vice and ill habits) it was impossible they could deny the DEBATES among themselves, or not see the inference that must needs be drawn from them.
It may, further, seem to have been with some propriety that the sacred reasoner employed these topics of argument, in an address to Romans: who could not but feel the weight of them the more, as well knowing the ancient VIRTUE of their country; as knowing too, that the Roman people had been famous for their nice sense of right and wrong, or, in other words, a moral CONSCIENCE; and that, as having been a free people, they had been always accustomed to DEBATES about moral action, public and private,
Such is the force, and such the elegant disposition and address, of the Apostle's reasoning. The conclusion follows irresistibly, That there is a Law written in our hearts, or that, besides a Revealed Law, there is a law of natural reason.
That this conclusion is not injurious to revealed Law, but indeed most friendly and propitious to it; that, in particular, it no way derogates from the honour of the Christian Law, nor can serve in any degree to lessen the value, or supersede the use and necessity of it I shall attempt to shew in another discourse.
S E R MON IV.
PREACHED MAY 24, 1767.
GAL. iii. 19.
Wherefore then serveth the Law ?
WHEN the Apostle Paul had proved, in his Epistle to the a Romans, that if the uncircumcision kept the righteousness of the Law, his uncircumcision would be accounted for circumcision ; that is, if the Gentile observed the moral law, which was his proper rule of life, he would be accepted of God, as well as the Jew, who observed the Mosaic Law; this generous reasoning gave offence, and he was presently asked, WHAT ADVANTAGE THEN HATH THE JEW b?
a Ch. ii. 26.
b Ch. iii. 1.
In like manner, when the same Apostle had been conténding, in his Epistle to the Galatians, that the inheritance was not of the Law, but of Promise ; that is, that all men, the Gentiles as well as the Jews, were entitled to the blessings of the Christian covenant, in virtue of God's promise to Abrahámóthat in his seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed — and not the Jews exclusively, in virtue of the Mosaic Law, given to them only; the same spirit discovers itself, as before, and he is again interrogated by his captious disciples, WHEREFORE THEN SERVÉTH THE LAW? if the Gentiles may be justified through faith in Christ, and so inherit the promise made to Abraham, as well as the Jews, to what purpose was the Jewish Law then given ?
And to these questions, how unreasonable soever, the learned Apostle has himself condescended to give an answer.
Now, the same perverseness, which gave birth to these Jewish prejudices, seems to have operated in some Christians ; who, on being told, and even by St. Paul himself, of a Law of Nature, by whieh the Heathen were required to govern their lives, and by the observance of which, without their knowledge of