By Ralph Erskine
SECTION II. - A legal strain of doctrine discovered and discarded.
No wonder Paul the legal spirit curse,
Of fatal errors such a feeding nurse.
He, in Jehovah's great tremendous name,
Condemns perverters of the gospel scheme.
He damn'd the sophist rude, the babbling priest
Would venture to corrupt it in the least;
Yea, curs'd the heavenly angel down to hell
Who, daring, would another gospel tell. (1)
Which crime is charg'd on these that dare dispense
The self-same gospel in another sense.
Christ is not preach'd in truth but in disguise,
If his bright glory half obscured lies.
When gospel soldiers that divide the word,
Scarce brandish any but the legal sword;
While Christ the Author of the law they press,
More than the End of it for righteousness;
Christ as a Seeker of our service trace,
More than a Giver of enabling grace;
The King commanding holiness they show
More than the Prince exalted to bestow:
Yea, more on Christ the sin-revenger dwell,
Than Christ Redeemer both from sin and hell.
With legal spade the gospel-field he delves
Who thus drives sinners in unto themselves;
Halving the truth that should be all reveal'd,
The sweetest part of Christ is oft conceal'd.
We bid men turn from sin, but seldom say,
"Behold the Lamb that takes all sin away!"
Christ, by the gospel rightly understood,
Not only treats a peace, but makes it good.
Those suitors therefore of the bride, who hope
By force to drag her with the legal rope,
Nor use the drawing cord of conqu'ring grace,
Pursue with flaming zeal a fruitless chase;
In vain lame doings urge, with solemn awe,
To bribe the fury of the fiery law:
With equal success to the fool that aims
By paper walls to bound devouring flames.
The law's but mock'd by their most graceful deed,
Who wed not first the law-fulfilling Head;
It values neither how they wrought nor wept
Who slight the ark wherein alone 'tis kept.
Yet legalists "Do, Do," with ardour press,
And with prosperous zeal and warm address
Would seem the greatest friends to holiness;
But vainly, could such opposites accord,
Respect the law, and yet reject the Lord.
They shew not Jesus as the way to bliss,
But Judas like, betray him with a kiss
Of boasted works, or mere profession puft,
Law-boasters, proving but law-breakers oft.
(1) Gal. i. 7. 8.