« PreviousContinue »
free will, as experience proved (God having reserved to himself the incommunicable property of being paturally unchangeable :) for mapy angels of their own accord tell by sin from their first estate, and be cam devils. Our first parents, being enticed by Satan, one of these devils speaking in a ferpent, did break the covenant of works, in eating the forbidea fruitwhereby they, and their posterity, being in their loins, as branches in the root, and comprehended in the fame covenant with them, became not only liable to eternal death, but also lost all ability to please God; yea, did become by nature enemies to God, and to all fpiritual good, and ioclined only to evil continually. This is our origioal fin, the bitter root of all our actual transgrellions, ie thought, word, and deed.
The remedy provided in Jesus Christ for the elect by the awvenant of grace,
Hof. xiii. 9. Ifrael, thou hast deitroyed thyself, but in me is thine help.
Lbeit man, having brought himself into this woful condition,
be neither able to help himself, nor willing to be helped by God out of it, but rather inclined to ly still unsensible of it, till he perith; yet God, for the glory of his rich grace, hath revealed in his word a way to save sioners, to wit, by faith in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, by virtue of, and according to the tenor of the covenant of redemption, made and agreed upon between God the Father and God the Son, in the conocil of the Trioity, before the world began.
!!. The sum of the covenant of redemption is this; God having freely cholen unto life, a certain number of loft mankind, for the glory of his rich grace, did give them, before the world began, unto God the Son, appointed Redeemer, that, upon condition he would humble himself so far as to anume the human nature, of a foul and a body, isto personal union with his divine nature, and submit bimself to the law, as furety for them, and satisfy justice for them, by giving obedience in their name, even unto the suffering of the cursed death of the cross
, he should ransom and redeem them all from fire and death, and purchale unto them righteousnets and elernal life, with all faving graces leading thereunto, to be effectually, by means of his own appointmeat, applied in due time to every one of them. This condition the Son of God (who is Jesus Christ our Lord) did accept before the world began, and in the fulness of time came into the world, was born of the Vir
. gin Mary, fubjected bimelt to the law, and compleatly paid the rantom on the cross: Bat by vertue of the forefaid bargaia, made before the world began, he is in all ages, since the fall of Adam, fill upon ihe work of applying actually the purchased benefits unto the elect: And that he doth by way of entertaining a covenant of free grace and
reconciliation with them, through faith in himself; by which covenant, he makes over to every believer a right and interest to himself and to all his blessings.
TIL. For the accomplishment of this covenant of redemption, and making the elect partakers of the benefits thereof in the covenant of grace, Christ Jelus was clad with the threefold office of a prophet, prielt, and king. Made a prophet, to reveal all faving knowledge to his people, and to persuade them to believe and obey the fame ; Made a prielt, to offer up himlelf a facrifice once for them all, and to interceed continually with the Father, for making their perions and services acceptable to him; And made a kiog, to lubdue them so himself, to feed and rule them by his own appointed ordinances, and to defend them from their enemies.
The outward means appointed !o make the el-it partakers of this covenant,
and all the rift that are called to be inexcufable, Mat. xxii. 14. Many are called.
the covenant of grace, are fo wilely dispensed, as the elect fhall be intallibly converted and saved by them : and the reprobate, among whom they are not to be justly stumbled, The means are especially thefe four; 1. The word of God. 2. The facraments. 3 Kirkgovernment. 4. Prayer. In the word of God preached by sent messengers, the Lord makes offer of grace to all signers, upon condition of faith in Jeliis Christ; and whosoever do confess their sin, accept of Christ offered, and tabmit theinselves to his ordinances, he will have both thein and their children received into the honour and privilege: of the covenant of grace. By the facraments, God will have the covenant fealed for confirming the bargain, on the forefaid condition. Bv kirk-government, he will have them hedged in, and helped forward unto the keeping of the covenant. And by prayer, he will have his own glorious grace, promised in the covenant, to be daily drawn forth, acknowledged, and employed. All which means are followed either really, or in profession only, according to the quality of the covenanters, as they are true or counterteit believers.
II. The covenant of grace, let down in the Old Testament before Christ came, and in the New fince he came, is one and the fame in Lubstance, albeit different in outward administration : For the cover nant in the Old Testament, being fealed with the facraments of circumcision and the paschal lamb, did set forth Christ's death to come, and the benefits purchated thereby, under the shadow of bloody facrifices, and fundry ceremonies : But since Chrift came, the covenant be
ing sealed by the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's fupper, doth clearly hold Christ already crucified before our eyes, victorious over death and the grave, and gloriously ruling heavca and earth, for the good of his own people.
The blefings which are effe ftually cordeyed by these means to be Lord's
elett, or chosen ones, Math xii. 14. Many are called, but few are chosen.
Y thete outward ordinances, as our Lord makes the reprobate in.
excusable, fo, in the power of his Spirit, he applies unto the e lect, effectually, all saving graces purchased to them in the covenant of redemption, and maketh a change in their persons. In particular, 1. He doth convert or regenerate them, by giving spiritual life to them, in opening their understandings, renewing their wills, affections, and faculties, for giving spiritual obedience to his commands.
2. He gives them laving faith, by making them, in the sense of deserved condcmnation, to give their consent heartily to the covenant of grace, and to embrace Jesus Christ unfeignedly. 3. He gives them repentance, by making them, with godly forrow, in the hatred of lin, and love of righteousness, turn from all iniquity to the service of God. And, 4. He fanctifies them by making them go on and persevere in faith, and spiritual obedience to the law of God, manifested by fruitfulness in all duties, and doing good works, as God offereth occasion.
II. Together with this inward change of their persons, God changes also their state : for, lo soon as they are brought by faith into the covenant of grace, 1. He justifies them, by impuring unto them that perfect obedience which Christ gave to the law, and the fatisfaction also which upon the cross Christ gave uoto justice in their name. 2. He reconciles them, and makes them friends to God, who were before enemies to God. 3. He adopts them, that they shall be no more children of Satan, but children of God, enriched with all spiritual privileges of his fons. And last of all, after their warfare in this life is ended, he perfects the holiness, and blessedness, first of their soul at their death, and then both of their louls and their bodies, being joy, fully joined together again in the resurrection, at the day of his glorious coming to judgment, when all the wicked shall be fedt away to hell, with Satan whom they have served :. but Christ's own chosen and redeemed ones, true believers, ftudents of holincis, shall remain with himself for ever, in the state of glorification.
The PRACTICAL USE of SAVING KNOWLEDGE,
Contained in Scripture, and holden forth briefly in the fore
said Confession of Faith and Catechisms. THE chief general ofe of chriftian doctrine is, to convince a man
of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, John xvi. 8. partly by the law or covenant of works, that he may be humbled and become penitent; and partly by the gospel or covenant of grace, that he may become an upfeigned believer in Jefus Christ, and be strengthned in his faith upon folid grounds and warrants, and give evidence of the truth of his faith by good fruits, and to be saved.
The sum of the covenant of works, or of the law, is this, If thou • do all that is commanded, and not fail in any point, thou shalt be • faved: but if thou fail, thou shalt die, Rom. X. 5. Gal. iii. 10, 12.'
The sum of the gospel, or covenant of grace and reconciliation, is this, If thou flee from deserved wrath to the true Redeemer Jelus Chrilt,' (who is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God thro? him)' thou fhalt not perish, but have eternal life, Rom. x. 8, 9, 11.'
For convincing a man of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment by the law, or covenant of works, let these fcriptures among many more be made use of.
1. For conviocing a man of sin by the law, consider Jer. xvi. 9, 10. THE beart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wic
ked, who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Here the Lord teacheth thefe two things ;
1. That the fountain of all our miscarriage, and actual fipping against God, is in the heart, which comprehendeth the mind, will, af fections, and all the powers of the foul, as they are corrupted and des filed with original fin; the mind being not only ignorant and uncapable of saving truth, but also full of error and enmity against God; and the will and affections being obstinately disobedient voto all God's directions, and beat toward that only which is evil : • The heart (faith he) • is deceitful above all things, and desperatelv wicked;' yea, and unsearchably wicked, so that no man can know it; and Gen. vi. 5. • Every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is only evil continually,' faith the . Lord, whose testimony we must trust in this and all other matters; and experience also may teach us, that, till God make us deny our
selves, we never look to God in any thing, but fleshly self-interest alone doth rule us, and move all the wheels of our actions.
2. That the Lord bringeth our origioal fin, or wicked inclination, with all the actual truits thereof, unto reckoning before his judgment feat; . For he searcheth the heart, and trieth the reins, to give every man according to his ways, and according to the frujt of his doings.'
Hence let every mag reason thus;
“ What God and my guilty conscience beareth witness of, I am con4 vinced that it is true.
“ But God and my guilty conscience beareth witness, that my “ heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; and “ that all the imaginations of my heart, by nature, are only evil conti « pually.
“ Therefore I am convinced that this is true,"
Thus a man may be convinced of sin by the law.
Gal. iii. 10.
As many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse:
for it is written, cursed is every one that continuet h not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
Here the apostle teacheth us three things ;
1. That by reason of our natural (infulness, the impossibility of any man's being justified by the works of the law, is so certain, that whosoever do feek justification by the works of the law, are liable to the curse of God for breaking of the law; . For as many as are of the • law, are under the curse.' faith he.
2. That unto the perfect fulfilling of the law, the keeping of one or two of the precepts, or doing of lome, or of all duties (if it were possible) for a time, is not sufficient; for the law requireth, that'a man continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.
' 3. That, because no man can come up to this perfection; every man by nature is under the curse; for the law faith, Curied is every * one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.'
Now, to be under the curse, comprehendeth all the displeasure of God, with the danger of the breaking forth more and more of his wrath upon toul and body, both in this life, and after death perpetually, if grace do not prevent the full execution thereof.
Hence let every man reafon thus ;
“ Wirofoever, according to the covenant of works, is liable to the "curfe of God, for breaking the law, times and ways out of number,