Page images

in we see our impotency, for what need we his perfect obedience to be made ours, but that we have not, cannot attain any? what need we his Spirit of life to quicken us, but that we are dead in trespasses and in lins?

3. The death of fin; fin dying in us, now in fome measure whilst we are alive. This is a third concernment of fin, which it is our wisdorn to be acquainted with, and it is hid only in Christ. There is a twofold dying of fin. 1. As to the exercise of it in our mortal members. 2. As to the root, principle, and power of it in our souls. The firit indeed may be learned in part, out of Christ. Christless men, may have fin dying in them, as to the outward exercise of it. Mens bodies may be difabled for the service of their lufts, or the practice of them may not conlist with their intereft. Sin is nés ver more alive, than when it is thus dying. Bat. there is a dying of it as to the root, the principle of it, the daily decaying of the strength, power and life of it, and this is to be had alone in Christ. Sin is a thing that of itself, is not apt to die, or to decay, but to get ground, and itrength, and life in the subject wherein it is, to eternity; prevent all its actual irruptions, yet its original enmity against God will still grow. In believers it is still dying and decaying, until it be utterly abolished. The opening of this treasury you have, Rom. vi. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, &c. Know you not, that as many of us as were baptized in Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, ever lo we also Nould walk in neconess of life; for if we høve been planted together in the likeness of his


death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection ; knowing this that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve fin. This is the design of the apostle in the beginning of that chapter, not only to manifest whence is the principle and rise of our mortification and the death of fin, even from the death and blood of Christ, but also the manner of fins continuance and dying in as, from the manner of Christ's dying for sin; he was crucified for us, and thereby fin was crucified in us; he died for us, and the body of fin is deAtroyed that we should not ferve fin; that as he was raised from the dead that death should not have dominion over him, so also are we raised from sin, that it should not have dominion over us. This wisdom is bid in Christ orly. Moses at his dying day had all his strength and vigour, so have sin and the law to all out of Jesus; at their dying day, sin is no way decayed. Now next to the receiving of the righteousness prepared for us, to know this

, is the chiefest part of our wisdom; to be truly acquainted with the principle of the dying of sin, to feel vertue and power flowing from the cross of Christ to that purpose, to find sin crucified in us, as Christ was crucified for us, this is wisdom indeed, that is in him alone.

4. There is a glorious end whereunto sin is appointed, and ordained, and discovered in Christ, that others are unacquainted withal. Sin in its own nature.tends meerly to the dishonour of God, the the debasement of his Majesty, and the ruin of the creature in whom it is; hell itfelf is but the filling of wretched creatures, with the fruit of their own devices. The comminations and threats of God in


[ocr errors]

the law, do manifest one other end of it, even the demonstration of the vindiétive justice of God in measuring out unto it a meet recompense of reward. But here the law stays (and with it all other light) and discovers no other use or end of it at all. In the Lord Jeļus there is the manifeitation of another, and more glorious end; to wit, the praise of God's, glorious grace, in the pardon and forgiveness of it, God having taken order in Christ, that that thing which'tended meerly to his dishonour, should be managed to his infinite glory; and that which of all things he desire th to exalt; even that he may be known and believed to be a God pardoning iniquity, transgression and fin. To return then to this part of our demonstration.

In the knowlege of ourselves in reference to our eternal condition, doth much of our wisdom con. fiit. There is not any thing wherein, in this depraved condition of nature, we are more concerned, than fin; without a knowlege of this, we know not ourselves, fools make a mock of fin. A true saving knowlege of fin is to be had only in the Lord Christ; in him may we see the desert of our iniquities, and their pollution which could not be born, or expiated but by his blood,' neither is there any wholsome view of these but in Christ, in hiin and his cross is discovered our universal impotency either of atoning God's justice or living up to his will; the death of fin is procured by, and discovered in the death of Christ; as also the manifestation of the riches of God's grace in the pardoning thereof, a real and experimental acquaintance as to ourselves, with all which, is our wisdom; and it is that which is of more value, than all the wisdom of the world.

2. Righ,

2. Righteousness is a fecond thing whereof the Spirit of Christ convinces the world, and the main thing that it is our wisdom to be acquainted withal, This all men are persuaded of; that God is a most righteous God; that is a natural notion of God which Abraham insisted on, Gen. xviii. 35. Shall not the Judge of all the world do right? They, know that this is the judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death, Rom. i. 32. that it is a righteous thing with him to recompence tribulation unto offenders, 2 Theff. i. 6. he is a God of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, Hab. i. 13. and therefore the ungodly cannot stand in judgment, Pfal. i. 5. Hence the great inquiry of every one, (who lies in any measure under the power of it,) convinced of immortality, and the judgment to come, is, concerning the righteoufness wherewith to appear in the presence of this righteous God: this more or less they are solicitous about all their days; and so as the apostle speaks, Heb. ii. 15. through the fear of death, they are subject to bondage all their life. They are perplexed with fears about the issue of their righteousness, left it should end in death and destruction.

Unto men set upon this inquiry, that which first and naturally presents itself, for their direction and affistance, assuredly promising them a righteousness that will abide the trial of God, provided they will follow its direction, is the law. The law hath many fair pleas to prevail with a soul to close with it for a righteousness before God. It was given out from God himself for that end and purpose; it contains the whole obedience that God requireth of any of the fons of men; it hath the promise of life annex


ed to it, do this and live; the doers of the law are justified; and if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments; yea, it is most certain, that it must be wholly fulfilled, if we ever think to ftand with boldness before God. This being some part of the plea of the law, there is no man that seeks after righteousness, but doth one time or another attend to it, and attempt its direction: many do it every day, who yet will not own that so they do. This then they set themselves about, labouring to correct their lives, amend their ways, perform the duties required, and so follow after a righteousness according to the prescript of the law. And in this course do many men continue long with much perplexity; sometimes hoping, oftner fearing, sometimes ready to give quite over, sometimes vowing to continue, (their consciences being no way satisfied; nor righteousness in any measure attained) all their days: after they have wearied themselves, perhaps for a long season, in the largeness of their ways, they come at length, with fear, trembling and disappointment to that conclusion of the apostle, by the works of the law no flesh is justified; and with dread cry, that if God mark what is done amiss, there is no standing before him. That they have this issue the Apostle witnesseth, Rom. ix. 31, 32. Ifrael who followed after the law of righteousness, attained not to the law of righteousness, wherefore? because they fought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law: it was not solely for want of endeavour in themselves that they were disappointed, for they earnestly followed after the law of righteousness; but from the nature of the thing itself, it would not bear, it; righteousness was not to be obtained that way, for faith the apostle, If


« PreviousContinue »