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ventions of men. But this is contrary unto natural light, and the whole current of Scripture revelations.
(2.) All expiatory sacrifices were from the beginning, types and representations of the sacrifice of Christ, whereon all their use, efficacy, and benefit among men, all their acceptance with God, did depend. Remove this consideration from them, and they were as irrational a service, as unbecoming the divine nature, as any thing that reasonable creatures could fix upon. They are to this day, as reasonable a service as ever they were, but that only their respect unto the sacrifice of Christ is taken from them. And what person of any ordinary understanding, could now suppose them a meet service whereby to glorify the divine nature. Besides, all expiatory sacrifices were of the same nature, and of the same use, both before and after the giving of the law. But that all those afterward were typical of the sacrifice of Christ, the apostle demonstrates at large in his Epistle unto the Hebrews. The inquiry therefore is, whether this blessed prefiguration of the Lord Christ and his sacrifice, as he was the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world, was an effect of the wisdom, goodness, and will of God, or of the wills and inventions of men. And let it be considered also, that these men who are supposed to be the authors of this wonderful representation of the Lord Christ and his sacrifice, did indeed know little of them, or as the asserters of this opinion imagine nothing at all. To suppose that those who knew no more of Christ than they could learn from the first promise, which, as some think was nothing at all, should of their own heads find out and appoint this divine service, which consisted only in the prefiguration of him and his sacrifice, and that God should not only approve of it, but allow it as the principal means for the establishment and exercise of the faith of all believers for four thousand years, is to indulge unto thoughts deviating from all rules of sobriety. He that sees not a divine wisdom in this institution, hath scarce seriously exercised his thoughts about it. But I have elsewhere considered the causes and original of these sacrifices, and shall not therefore farther insist upon them.
4. Our first parents and all their holy posterity did believe this promise, or did embrace it as the only way and means of their deliverance from the curse and state of sin,
and were thereon justified before God. I confess we have not infallible assurance of any who did so in particular, but those who are mentioned by name in Scripture, as Abel, Enoch, Noah, and some others. But to question it concerning others also, as of our first parents themselves, is foolish and impious. This is done by the Socinians, to promote another design, namely, that none were justified before God on the belief of the first promise, but on their walking according to the light of nature and their obedience unto some especial revelations about temporal things; the vanity whereof hath been before discovered. Wherefore, our first parents and their posterity did so believe the first promise, or they must be supposed, either to have been kept under the curse, or else to have had, and to make use of, some other way of deliverance from it. To imagine the first is impious; for the apostle affirms that they had this testimony that they pleased God;' Heb. xi. 5. which under the curse none can do ; for that is God's displeasure. And in the same place he confirms their faith, and justification thereon, with a 'cloud of witnesses;' chap. xii. 2. To affirm the latter is groundless. And it includes a supposal of the relinquishment of the wisdom, grace, and authority of God in that divine revelation, for men to betake themselves to none knows what. that there was in this promise the way expressed which God in his wisdom and grace had provided for their deliverance, we have proved before. To forsake this way, and to betake themselves unto any other, whereof he had made no mention or revelation unto them, was to reject his authority and grace.
As for those who are otherwise minded, it is incumbent on them directly to prove these three things.
(1.) That there is another way, that there are other means for the justification and salvation of sinners, than that revealed, declared, and proposed in that first promise. And when this is done, they must shew to what end on that supposition the promise itself was given, seeing the end of it is evacuated.
(2.) That upon a supposition that God had revealed in the promise the way and means of our deliverance from the curse and state of sin, it was lawful unto men to forsake it, and to betake themselves unto another way, without any su
pernatural revelation for their guidance. For if it was not, their relinquishment of the promise was no less apostacy from God in the revelation of himself in a way of grace, than the first sin was, as to the revelation of himself in the works of nature. Only the one revelation was by inbred principles, the other by external declaration, nor could it otherwise be. Or,
(3.) That there was some other way of the participation of the benefits of this promise, besides faith in it, or in him who was promised therein; seeing the apostle hath declared that no promise will profit them, by whom it is not mixed with faith; Heb. iv. 2. Unless these things are plainly proved, which they will never be, whatever men declaim about universal objective grace in the documents of nature, it is but a vain imagination.
5. The declaration of this promise before the giving of the law with the nature and ends of it, as also the use of sacrifices whereby it was confirmed, was committed unto the ordinary ministry of our first parents and their godly posterity, and the extraordinary ministry of the prophets which God raised up among them. For God spake of our redemption by Christ, by the mouth of his holy prophets from the beginning of the world;' Luke i. 70. No greater duty could be incumbent on them by the light of nature and the express revelation of the will of God, than that they should in their several capacities, communicate the knowledge of this promise unto all in whom they were concerned. To suppose that our first parents who received this promise, and those unto whom they first declared it, looking on it as the only foundation of their acceptance with God, and deliverance from the curse, were negligent in the declaration and preaching of it, is to render them brutish, and guilty of a second apostacy from God. And unto this principle which is founded in the light of nature, there is countenance given by revelation also. For Enoch did prophesy of the things which were to accompany the accomplishment of this promise; Jude 15. and Noah was a preacher of the righteousness to be brought in by it; 2 Pet. ii. 5. as he was an heir of the righteousness which is by faith, in himself; Heb. xi. 7.
6. All the promises that God gave afterward unto the
church under the Old Testament, before and after giving the law, all the covenants that he entered into with particular persons, or the whole congregation of believers, were all of them declarations and confirmations of this first promise, or the way of salvation by the mediation of his Son, becoming the seed of the woman to break the head of the serpent, and to work out the deliverance of mankind. As most of these promises were expressly concerning him, so all of them in the counsel of God were confirmed in him; 2 Cor. i. 20. And as there are depths in the Scripture of the Old Testament concerning him which we cannot fathom; and things innumerable spoken of him or in his person which we conceive not; so the principal design of the whole is the declaration of him and his grace. And it is unprofitable unto them who are otherwise minded. Sundry promises concerning temporal things were on various occasions superadded unto this great spiritual promise of life and grace. And the enemies of the person and mediation of Christ, do contend that men are justified by their faith and obedience with respect unto those particular revelations, which were only concerning temporal things. But to suppose that all those revelations and promises were not built upon, and resolved into, did not include in them the grace and mercy of this first promise, is to make them curses instead of blessings, and deprivations of that grace which was infinitely better than what on this supposition was contained in them. The truth is, they were all additions unto it, and confirmations of it, nor had any thing of spiritual good in them, but upon a supposition of it. In some of them there was an ampliation of grace in the more full declaration of the nature of this promise, as well as an application unto their persons unto whom they were made. Such was the promise made unto Abraham, which had a direct respect unto Christ as the apostle proveth, Gal. iii, 4.
7. Those who voluntarily through the contempt of God and divine grace fell off from the knowledge and faith of this promise, whether at once and by choice, or gradually through the love of sin, were in no better condition than those have been, or would be, who have so fallen off, or should so apostatize from Christian religion after its revelation and profession. And although this proved in process
of time, both before and after the flood, to be the condition of the generality of mankind, yet is it in vain to seek after the means of salvation among them, who had voluntarily rejected the only way which God had revealed and provided for that end. God thereon' suffered all nations to walk in their own ways;' Acts xiv. 16. winking at the times of their ignorance,' not calling them to repentance; chap. xvii. 30. yea, he gave them up unto their own hearts' lusts, and they walked in their own counsels;' Psal. lxxxi. 12. And nothing can be more derogatory unto the wisdom and holiness of God, than to imagine that he would grant other ways of salvation unto them, who had rejected that only one which he had provided, which was by faith in Christ, as revealed in that first promise.
8. From these considerations, which are all of them unquestionable principles of truth, two things are evident.
(1.) That there was no way of the justification and salvation of sinners, revealed and proposed from the foundation of the world, but only by Jesus Christ, as declared in the first promise.
(2.) That there was no way for the participation of the benefits of that promise, or of his work of mediation, but by faith in him as so promised. There was therefore faith in him required from the foundation of the world; that is, from the entrance of sin. And how this faith respected his person hath been before declared. Now faith in him as promised for the works and ends of his mediation, and faith in him as actually exhibited, and as having accomplished his work, are essentially the same, and differ only with respect unto the economy of times which God disposed at his pleasure. Hence the efficacy of his mediation was the same unto them who then so believed, as it is now unto us after his actual exhibition in the flesh.
But yet it is acknowledged, that as unto the clearness and fulness of the revelation of the mystery of the wisdom and grace of God in him, as unto the constitution of his person in his incarnation, and therein the determination of the individual person promised from the beginning, through the actual accomplishment of the work which he was promised for. Faith in him as the foundation of that divine honour which it is our duty to give unto him, is far more evidently and