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ON THE COVENANT OF GRACE.
I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people.--ISAIAH XLII. 6.
Yes, and he will give a people to him. The covenant of grace is so rich, that it comprises all the wealth of God. Christ is given to his people as the covenant, because he is the Head and the Mediator of this Covenant. The parties to this Covenant are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Some have said that the Holy Spirit is not mentioned as a party to this Covenant; but it is clearly revealed in the Scripture that he is as much a party to the Covenant as the Father and the Son. In speaking of the Holy Spirit, scripture mentions him as acting by concert with them, and consequently by Covenant. When the Father and Son are working, we find the Holy Spirit working also. It is said of the Saviour, that he, through the Eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God. Our attention is primarily directed to Jesus Christ, it is true; but this is in no respect setting aside the offices of the Father and the Spirit; this is doing justice to the attributes of the Father, Son, and Spirit, in believing the work of Jesus Christ. It is the work of the Spirit to make known unto his people, Christ as their Head and Covenant. The Covenant of Grace comprizes all the wealth of God; and it comprizes this wealth to annihilate for ever the poverty of the sinner.
In the secret purposes or counsels of God, in a covenant sense, Christ was given from all eternity as the Covenant Head of his people, and so also was a people given to him. A Covenant comprizes all Christ can be, do, and suffer for his people, that he might enrich them for ever. Some have erroneously maintained, that this elect covenant people of God were not viewed as sinners in this Covenant; but this supposition is both erroneous and blasphemous. The people of God must primarily have been so considered in the Covenant of Grace; for what idea can we form of a Saviour without a sinner. The idea of a physician necessarily implies that of one who is sick; a surety implies the existence of some one who has contracted a debt and cannot pay. In this Covenant we see Christ fulfilling all the work.
In this Covenant we are to consider,
I. CHRIST JESUS AS THE REPRESENTATIVE OF ALL THOSE WHO ARE INCLUDED IN IT.
II. THAT IT COMPRISES ALL WE WANT. · III. THAT THE BLESSINGS OF THE COVENANT ARE IMPARTED TO HIS PEOPLE THROUGH CHRIST, and
IV. THAT IN THIS COVENANT WE ARE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE SECRET PURPOSE AND THE REVEALED WILL OF GOD.
I. In this Covenant we are to view Christ AS THE REPRESENTATIVE OF HIS PEOPLE. He obeyed for himself, it is true, but not exclusively, he obeyed also for others. Adam was a type of Christ, as the representative of his descendants; they all fell in him: this is a doctrine very galling to the pride of man, it is most commonly vilified by man, but it is most clearly revealed in Scripture. It is not only clear from Scripture, but also from the testimony of our senses. The penalty of death (the wages of sin) frequently visits the womb, the infant pays it ere he comes into perfect existence. See the infant dead, and tell me how can you reconcile this with the attributes of God, if all did not fall in Adam. Tell me,
whether does it redound more to the glory of God to visit with death an innocent, or a polluted being ? But Christ is the representative of his spiritual people, as Adam was of his family. “He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.” The obedience of Jesus Christ is the obedience that shall justify the church for ever. St. Paul plainly proves the truth of this in the fifth chapter of his epistle to the Romans, seventeenth verse : “ For if by one man's offence, death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” As Adam therefore was the representative of his family, so was Christ of his; as the disobedience of Adam brought death, so the obedience of Christ brought life. The Saviour says, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly ;” he quickens them from the death of sin to a life of righteousness, by an act of power involving in it all the glory of the divine attributes.
II. In viewing Christ as the Head and Representative of his people, we shall find in him, ALL WE CAN POSSIBLY WANT; every thing temporal, spiritual, and eternal. St. Paul, writing to the Philippians, says, “ But my God
shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus ;” and again, in his epistle to the Corinthians, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Christ as a surety justifies, as a covenant head he sanctifies his people: as the former, he imparts a new nature -as the latter he strengthens, comforts, and purifies them. This covenant comprizes every thing, our most minute as well as our greatest concerns; all things concerning the body as well as the soul. In viewing your own unworthiness you are saying, surely there never was such a sinner as I am ; I am too great a sinner to be pardoned : beware of this desponding conclusion ; the Spirit of God alone can annihilate this error. Is there any difference between the characters of other convinced sinners and yourself? Is there one who would not concur with you in reproaching and condemning his own aggravated sin ? and if those who are now in heaven were once poor pensioners perpetually dependant upon Christ for all things, why should you insult Christ by forsaking him, because you are poor? “He filleth the hungry with good things.”
III. THE BLESSINGS OF THE COVENANT ARE