A DISCOVERY OF THE LAW AND GRACE; THE NATURE OF THE ONE, AND THE NATURE OF THE OTHER, AS THEY ARE THE TWO COVENANTS, ETC.
"FOR YE ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW, BUT UNDER GRACE" (Rom 6:14).
[THE WORDS OF THE TEXT OPENED, AND THE DOCTRINES LAID DOWN.]
In the three former chapters, the Apostle is pleading for the salvation of sinners by grace without the works of the law, to the end he might confirm the saints, and also that he might win over all those that did oppose the truth of this doctrine, or else leave them the more without excuse; and that he might so do, he taketh in hand, first, to show the state of all men naturally, or as they come into the world by generation, saying, in the Third Chapter, "There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth; there is none that doeth good," etc. As if he had said, It seems there is a generation of men that think to be saved by the righteousness of the law; but let me tell them that they are much deceived, in that they have already sinned against the law; for by the disobedience of one, many, yea all, were brought into a state of condemnation (Rom 5:12-20). Now, in the Sixth Chapter he doth, as if he had turned him round to the brethren, and said, My brethren, you see now that it is clear and evident that it is freely by the grace of Christ that we do inherit eternal life. And again, for your comfort, my brethren, let me tell you that your condition is wondrous safe, in that you are under grace; for, saith he, "Sin shall not have dominion over you"; that is, neither the damning power, neither the filthy power, so as to destroy your souls: "For ye are not under the law"; that is, you are not under that that will damn you for sin; "but" you are "under grace," or stand thus in relation to God, that though you have sinned, yet you shall be pardoned. "For ye are not under the law, but under grace." If any should ask what is the meaning of the word "under," I answer, it signifieth, you are not held, kept, or shut up by it so as to appear before God under that administration, and none but that; or thus, you are not now bound by the authority of the law to fulfill it and obey it, so as to have no salvation without you so do; or thus, if you transgress against any one tittle of it, you by the power of it must be condemned. No, no, for you are not so under it; that is, not thus under the law. Again, "For ye are not under the law." What is meant by this word "law"? The word "law," in Scripture, may be taken more ways than one, as might be largely cleared. There is the law of faith, the law of sin, the law of men, the law of works, otherwise called the Covenant of Works, or the first or old covenant. "In that He saith a new covenant," which is the grace of God, or commonly called the Covenant of Grace, "He hath made the first old," that is, the Covenant of Works, or the law (Heb 8:13). I say, therefore, the word "law" and the word "grace," in this Sixth of the Romans, do hold forth the two covenants which all men are under; that is, either the one or the other. "For ye are not under the law"-that is, you to whom I do now write these words, who are and have been effectually brought into the faith of Jesus, you are not under the law, or under the Covenant of Works. He doth not, therefore, apply these words to all, but to some, when he saith, "But ye"; mark, ye, ye believers, ye converted persons, ye saints, ye that have been born. (YE) "for ye are not under the law," implying others are that are in their natural state, that have not been brought in to the Covenant of Grace by faith in Jesus Christ.
The words, therefore, being thus understood, there is discovered these two truths in them-DOCTRINE FIRST. That there are some in Gospel times that are under the Covenant of Works. DOCTRINE SECOND. That there is never a believer under the law, as it is the Covenant of Works, but under grace through Christ. "For ye," you believers, you converted persons, ye "are not under the law but under grace"; or, for you are delivered and brought into or under the Covenant of Grace.
For the first, THAT THERE ARE SOME THAT ARE UNDER THE LAW, OR UNDER THE COVENANT OF WORKS, see, I pray you, that Scripture in the Third of the Romans, where the Apostle, speaking before of sins against the law, and of the denunciations thereof against those that are in that condition, he saith, "What things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law"; mark, "it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God" (Rom 3:19). That is, all those that are under the law as a Covenant of Works, that are yet in their sins, and unconverted, as I told you before. Again he saith, "But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law" (Gal 5:18). Implying again, that those which are for sinning against the law, or the works of the law, either as it is the old covenant, these are under the law, and not under the Covenant of Grace. Again he saith, "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse" (Gal 3:10). That is, they that are under the law are under the curse; for mark, they that are under the Covenant of Grace are not under the curse. Now, there are but two covenants, therefore, it must needs be that they that are under the curse are under the law, seeing those that are under the other covenant are not under the curse, but under the blessing. "So, then, they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham," but the rest are under the law (Gal 3:9).
Now I shall proceed to what I do intend to speak unto. FIRST. I shall show you what the Covenant of Works, or the law, is, and when it was first given, together with the nature of it. SECOND. I shall show you what it is to be under the law, or Covenant of Works, and the miserable state of all those that are under it. THIRD. I shall show you who they are that are under this covenant, or law. FOURTH. I shall show you how far a man may go and yet be under this covenant, or law.