« PreviousContinue »
bound to do, for other men's souls, viz. to pray, preach, exhort, and reprove for their falvation.
Error IX. • They will not allow the new covenant to be properly made with us, but with Christ for us. * And some of • them affirm, That this covenant is all of it a promise, having
no condition upon our part. They acknowledge, indeed, faith, repentance, and obedience, to be conditions, but say they are
not conditions on our part, but on Christ's ; and consequently • affirm, that he repented, believed, und obeyed for us.'
Refutation 1. The confounding of distinct covenants leads them into this error; we acknowledge there was a covenant properly made with Christ alone, which we call the covenant of redemption. This covenant, indeed, though it were made for us, yet it was not made with us: It had its condition, and that condition was laid only upon Christ, viz. That he should assume our nature, and pour out his soul upto death, which condition he was folely concerned to perform; but befides this, there is a covenant of grace made with him, and with all believers in him : with him primarily, as the head, with them as the members, who personally come into this covenant, when they come into the union with him by faith. This covenant of grace is not made with Christ alone, personally considered, but with Christ, and all that are his, mystically confidered, and is properly made with all believers in Chrift; and therefore it is called their covenant, Zech. ix. 11.
" As for " thee, also, by the blood of thy covenant, I have sent forth thy “ prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” So when God entered into the covenant of grace with Abraham, Gen. xvii. 7. I will establish my covenant (faith he) between me and
thee, and thy feed after thee." So when he took the people of Israel into this covenant, Ezek. xvi. 8. “ I sware upto thee " (faith he) and entered into a covenant with thee, and thou " becameft mine."
This covenant of grace made with believers in Chrift, is not the fame, por must it be confounded with the covenant of redemption made with Christ before the world began ; they are two distinct covenants : For in the covenant of grace, into which believers are taken, there is a Mediator, and this Mediator is Christ himself. But in the other covenant of redemption, there neither was, nor could be any Mediator, which manifestly distinguishes them. Besides, in the covenant of grace, Christ bequeaths manifold, and rich legacies, as he is the Testator ;
* Vide Saltmarsh of Free Grace, pag. 126, 127.
but no man gives a legacy to himself. This covenant is really, aod properly made with every believer, 'as he is a member of Jelus Christ, the head; and they are truly, and properly toederates with God: The covenant binds then to their duties, and encourages them therein by promiles of strength, to be derived from Christ, to enable them thereunto.
2. We thankfully acknowledge, that the glory of the new covenant is chiefly discovered in the promises thereof; upon the belt promises it is established. And all the promises are res ducible to the covenant. They meet, and center in it, as the rivers in the sea, or beams in the fuo ; but yet we cannot say, that nothing but promises is contained in this covenant : For there are duties required by it, as well as mercies promised in
Nor may we say, that those duties required by it are required only to be performed by Christ, and not by us; but they are required to be performed by us in his strength : Nor is it Christ that repeats and believes for us, but we ourselves are to believe, and repent in the strength of bis grace: And till we do fo actually, in our own periods, we have no part, or por. tion in the blessings, and mercies of this covebant. If Christ by believing for us, give us an actual right and title to the promises and blessings of the new covenant, then it will unavoidably follow :
(1.) That men, who never repepted for one fin in all their lives, may be, nay, certainly are pardoned as much as the greatest penitents in the world; because though they never repented themselves, yet Chrilt repented for them; exprelly contrary to his own words, Luke xiii. 3. “Except ye repent, yo “ Thall all likewise perish ;” and contrary to his own established order, Luke xxix. 47 Acts iii. 19.
(2.) It will also follow, that unbelievers, who pever had union with Christ by one vital act of faith, in all their lives, may be, nay, certainly shall be saved, as well as those that are actual believers : because, though they be unbelievers in them. felves, yet Christ believed for them; exprefly contrary to Mark xvi. 16.“ He that believeth not, shall be damned.” Joha iii. 36. “ He that believes not the Son, shal! not see life; but the “ wrath of God abideth on him.” And Luke xii. 46. “ He “ will cut him in fuader, and will appoint him his portion with " unbelievers."
(3.) It will also follow from hence, that men may continue in a state of disobedience all their days, and yet may be faved, as well as the most obedient souls in the world; exprefly con
trary to Eph. V. 6." Let no man deceive you with vain words; “ for because of thefe things, cometh the wrath of God upon 6' the children of disobedience.” Aod Rom. ii. 8: “ But'unto " them are contentious, aod do not obey the truth, but obey
varighteousness, indignation, and wrath.” And i Pet. iv. 17.
" What shall the end of them be that obey not the gospel 6 of God?"
This language founds ftrange and harsh to the ears of Chriftians, a repenting Christ saving the impenitent finner ; a believing Chrilt saving unbelievers; an obeying Christ saving obfioate, and disobedient wretches : Whither doch such doctrine tend, but to encourage and fix men in their impenitence, unbelief, and disobedience? But the Lord grade no poor Der in the world may trust to this, or build his hopes of eternal life upon such a loose, fandy foundation, as this is. Rea. der, all that Chrift hath done without thee, will not, cannot be effectual to thy salvation, unless repentance, faith, and obedience, be wrought by the Spirit in thy soul. It is * Chrift " in thee, that is the hope of glory," Col. i. 27. beware, there, fore, on what ground thou buildeft for eternity.
Error 10. They deny fanctification to be the evidence of justification, and deridingly tell us, this is to light a candle to the Jun; and the darker our fanctification is, the brighter our juf* tification is.'
Refutation. I am not at all surprised at this strange and abfonous language ; it is a false, and dangerous conclusion, yet fuch as naturally results from, and, by a kind of necessity, follows out of their other errors : For if the elect be all justified from eternity, and thai neither repentance, faith, or obedience, be required of us in the covenant of grace ; but were all required of, and performed by Christ, who repented, believed, and obeyed for 'us; then, indeed, I cannot understand what relation our fanctification hath to our justification, or how it: should be an evidence, mark, or sign thereof, or what regard is due from Christians to any grace, or work of the Spirit wrought in them, to clear up their interest in Christ to them. For we being in Christ, and in a state of justification, before we were naturally born, we must necessarily be fo before we be regenerated, or new-born : and, confequently, no work of grace wrought in us, or holy duties performed by us, can be evidential of that which from eternity was done before them, and without them.
1. l.grant, indeed, That many vain profesors do cheat, and
deceive themselves, by false, unlcriprural signs, and evidencet, as well as by true ones misapplied.
2. I grant also, That by reason of the deceitfulness of the heart, instability of the thoughts, fimilar works of commor grace in hypocrites, distractions of the world, wiles of Satan, weakness of grace, and prevaleocy of corruptions : The clear. ing up of our justification by our fanctification, is a work that meets with great, and manifold difficulties, which are the things that moft Christians complain of.
3. I also grant, That the evidence of our fanctification in this, or any other method, is oot essential, and absolutely de cessary to che being of a Christian. A man may live in Christ, and yet not koow his interest in him, or relation to him, Ifa 1. 10. Some Christians, like children in the cradle, live, bar understand not that they live; are born to a great inheritance, but have no knowledge of it, or present comfort in it.
4. I will further grant, That the eye of a Christian may be too inteatly fixed upon his own gracious qualifications; and being wholly taken up in the reflex acts of faith, may too much Deglect the direct acts of faith upon Christ, to the great detriment of his soul.
But all this notwithstanding, The examination of our justi. fication by our fanctification, is not only a lawful, and possible, but a very excelleat aod necessary work and duty. It is the course that Christians have taken in all ages, and that which God hath abundantly blessed to the joy and encouragement of their
He hath furnished our souls to this end with noble, felf-reficct. ing powers and abilities. He hath answerably furnished his word with variety of marks and signs for the same cad and use. Some of these marks are exclusive, to detect and bar bold presumptuous pretenders, 1 Cor. vi. 9. Rev. xxi. 8, 27. Some are inclu. five marks, to measure the strength and growth of grace by, Rom. iv. 20. And others are positive signs, flowing out of the very esseoce of grace, or the new creature, i Joho iv. 13.“ Hereby we “ know that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath “ given us of his Spirit."
He hath also expresly commanded us to examine and prove ouro felves; upbraided the neglecters of that duty, and enforced their duty upon them by a thundering argument, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. “Exa“ mine yourselves whether ye be in the faith, prove your own “ selves; know you not your own felves, how that Jesus Christ “ is in you, except ye be reprobates.” lo a word, for this end and purpose, amongst others were the scriptures written, 1 Joha
3. " These things have I written to you, that believe on he name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have ternal life.” And therefore, to neglect this duty is exceeddangerous; but to deny and deride it, intolerable. It may aftly feared, fuch men will be drowned in perdition, who into the waters, by making a bridge over them with their
shadows. for my own part, I verily believe, that the sweetest hours istian's enjoy in this world, are when they retire into their ets, and fit there conccaled from all eyes, but him that made m; looking now into the bible, then into their own hearts,
then up to God; clofely following the grand debate about ir interest in Christ, till they have brought it to the happy ired iffoe. And now, reader, for a clofe of all, I call the Searcher of arts to witness, “That I have out intermeddled with these controversies of Antipaedo-baptism, and Antinomianism, out of ny delight I take in prolemical studies, or an uapeaceable con · tradicting humour, but out of pure zeal for the glory, and truths of God; for the vindication, and defence whereof, I have been necessarily engaged therein. And having dir charged my duty thus far, I now resolve to return (if God will permit me) to my much fweeter, and more agreeable ftudies ; ftill maintaining my Christian charity for those whom I opposé ; not doubting but I shall' meet those in heaven, from whom I am forced, in lesser things, to dissent and differ upon earth.
GOSP E L-UNIT Y
Recommended to the CHURCHES OF CHRIS T.
S E R M O N.
3 Cor. i. 10. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you ; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the fame mind, and in the same judgment. WHE
HEN I consider this healing and unitiog text, and the scandalous divisions of the congregations to which I te