Page images


with many other words did he testify and ex. CHAP, hort his hearers, saying, “ Save yourselves from this untoward generation, Acts ii. 38, 40. Every where, as often as the Apostles went to minister the word, they both preached Jesus with the resurrection of the ead, and commanded men to repent, “because God hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained,” Acts xvii. 18, 30, 31. And Paul did not deal privately with Felix, without reasoning concerning faith in Christ, and also at the same time concerning righteousness, and chastity, and judgment to come, Acts xxiv. 24, 25. Likewise when he makes mention of its entrance among

the Thessalonians, he says, “ Ye know how we exhorted and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you to his kingdom and glory," i Thess. ii. 11, 12. The declaration of faith, and the exciting to the study of holiness ought to be always so conjoined, that the one never be torn from the other. Nor are we bound by any rule, always to premise to other things, either these which belong to the law, or these which belong to the gospel. The order of a discourse is arbitrary, and to be prudently varied, according to the variety of subjects and persons.



of the

XIV. I do not conceal, however, that in my judgment, the beginning of the new life is

not from the preaching of the law, but of the The begin- gospel. The gospel, is the seed of our rege. new life is neration, and the law of the Spirit of life, from the which makes us free from the law of sin and preaching

death. Doubtless, while Christ is preached, gospel. and life through him, his Spirit falls upon the

souls of the elect, and infuses into them a principle of spiritual life. " Because of his own will begat he us by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures," James i. 18. `Paul, of old, asked the Galatians, chap. iii. 2. “ This only would I learn of you, received ye the Spirit by the

works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” XV. But in its XV. But when that life, infused by the progress, Spirit, through means of the gospel, begins to sometimes

exert itself; if I am not deceived, it generally takes the lead, and proceeds in the following order. That the sometimes soul, awakened as from a deep sleep, or faint, the gospel. or rather death, views itself polluted with

sin, guilty of many crimes, abominable unto God, most miserable in every respect, and altogether unable to deliver itself: and therefore seized with pungent grief, and despairing of itself, it pants after salvation, about to come to it from another quarter, to which purpose, the ministry of the law is useful: anon, it sees Christ held forth in the gospel, and discovering, that in him there is a fulness of salvation, and an abundance of grace, it immediately betakes itself to him, altogether

the law


empty of itself, that it may be filled by him; CHAP destroyed in and of itself, that it may be saved by him. It is not possible, that apprehending Christ, and being apprehended by him, it should not, through his inestimable goodness, be infiamed with love to him, and be willing to devote itself wholly to his service, to whom it professes to owe its salvation; nor is it possible that it should not acknowledge him for a Lord, whom it hath found by experience to be a Saviour. And thus again, the gospel brings us back to the law as a rule of gratitude. Hence it is evident, how law and gospel mutually assist one another, in promoting the salvation of the elect; and how sometimes the former, sometimes the latter, takes the lead.


THUS far we have disputed concerning


these things. From which I draw the fol-
lowing inferences: That it will be our best,
if leaving the dangerous precipices of opi-
nions, we walk on the easy, the plain, and
safe way of scripture, the simplicity of which
is vastly preferable to all the sublimity of high-
swollen science: if we are not afraid to say
what scripture says, foolishly hoping, by our
more convenient phrases, to polish those which
seem somewhat rugged; and do not by ex-
pressions, rigid, stubborn,'hyperbolical, and
unusual to the Holy Spirit, sharpen the mo-
derate language of scripture, giving none oc-
casion to the adversary to speak reproachful-
ly: if finding that some things rather incauti-
ous have dropped from us, we candidly and
generously cancel, correct, or retract them;
and what things have unwillingly fallen from
others, provided it appear they were not from
an evil design, let us rather assist these with
a favourable interpretation, than torture them
with a rigid: if we so assert the free grace
of God, that no pretext be given to the li-
centiousness of the flesh; so extol free justi-
fication, that nothing be derogated from sanc-
tification; so inculcate the one righteousness
of Christ, which only can stand before the


Divine tribunal, that neither the utility nor CONCLUthe reward, which scripture assigns it, be denied to our piety; in fine, so preach the saving grace of the gospel, that the most holy law may still have its place and its use. If on both sides, we sincerely do these things, by the goodness of God, it shall follow, that instead of the quibbles of obscure controversy, the clear day shall begin to shine, and the day star arise in our hearts: instead of the briars and brambles of thorny disputation, righteousness and peace shall spring out of the earth; and banishing the contentions of unhappy differences, we shall all, as with one voice, celebrate the glorious grace of God, in Christ, and with united strength, eagerly adorn the chaste bride, the Lamb's wife, with the embroidered garments of the beauties of holiness, and with the golden chain of Christian virtues. With which benefit, through the unsearchable riches of his free grace, may we be graciously honoured by the blessed God, the only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, · dwelling in light inaccessible, whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

So I wrote, and warmly urged at Utrecht, on the viiith. of the calends of March, 1696, and again at Leyden, 1699.


« PreviousContinue »