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and performed the law for us, as a law simply, or a rule of holiness and rigliteousness, as if these were not duties incumbent upon us; no doubt they are. our duty, as well as there are promises of them in the gofpel to bring them forth. I know none that can assert any such Antinomian positions, as thus dissolve the obligation of the inoral law; yet I assert, that Christ hath even freed us from these, as the proper pleadable condition for jullification and eternal life before God *; and that his fanctification, righteousness, and merit is the only proper pleadable condition, and ground of all that grace and salvation that lies in the promise, and upon which it is made sure and fast to his people the children of promise ;
My covenant shall stand fast with him," Plal. lxxxix. 28. This is that foundation of faith laid in Zion, as sufficient for all the hearers of the gospel, to build their hope and confidence upon for salvation, Ifa. xxviii. 16. Rom. ix. 33. 1 Pet. ii. 6. I Cor. iii. 11. “ Other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Hence, as Christ is promised for a covenant of the people, so the promises are said to be made to him, Gal. iii. 16.: and to be all yea and amen in him, 2 Cor. i. 20.: and the whole covenant of grace is called a promise of grace in Christ, 2 Tim. i. 1.; and thus given to us. Hence, of confequence,
5. It is a free and absolute promise to us, and unconditional: it is freely given ; “ Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises,” 2 Pet. i. 4. All the great things of the promise are freely given, and these are, Christ, and all things with him freely, Rom. viii. 32. Though the use of means is required both of finners, and faints, and though we be under a command and obligation to faith, repentance, and all other duties and graces; yet the covenant of grace is such a free, absolute, and unconditional promise, wherein the Spirit of grace is promised so freely, that no act or deed of ours is the condition thereof. There is a con
* This fubjet is largely treated of, and let in a clear light, Vol. II. Ser:1. XXXVII.
dition of order and connection betwixt one covenant-' blessing and another, they being like so many links of a chain clofed within each other and hence many promises are expressed, as it were, in a conditional way, in the dispensation of the gospel ; whereupon many mistake this matter, while they distinguish 'not betwixt the dispensation of the covenant, and the tenor of the covenant itfelf, wherein grace and glory, and all, is promised freely. The covenant of promise cannot be properly conditional to us; otherwise, wo would be to us, whose condition is nothing but fin and mifery by nature: this covenant stands upon absolute foundations ; such as the electing grace of the Father, the redeeming grace of the Son, and the applying grace of the Holy Ghost. They are all absolutely free and unconditional; there is no fpiritual act of ours previous to the application of the covenant of promise. The Spirit coming to work faith, by his creating power, is promised absolutely in the covenant ; “ Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power: They shall look to him whom they have pierced :” faith is cast out of the womb of the absolute promise, and begotten by it.And, indeed, there is not a conditional promise in all the Bible, but what is reductively absolute; because both the thing promised, and the condition of it, is contained in the womb of the absolute promise. Some worthy divines make faith the condition of the covenant; but their found explication of what they mean, shews they dare not make it the proper condition. If any that pretend to foundness do so, they but expose their darkness, and discover their mistake concerning the covenant of grace, which is a free promise in Christ Jefus : faith itfelf, and all the blessings that attend and follow it, being free and absolutely promised. Indeed, conditions on our part, properly so called, would destroy the nature of the gospel, which is a free promise. Where is the freedom of grace, if conditional ? It would turn the gospel to the law, and the free covenant of grace to the conditional covenant of works : yea, it would thus destroy the peace of the poor humbled finner; for when he thinks there is such and such
a. condition that must be fulfilled by him before he hath a right to meddle with the promise, then he stands a-back, he dares not believe, because he supposes he wants this and that condition and qualification; and so his legal dream hardens his heart against the gospel, and fosters his unbelief, to the dishonour of God, and to his own ruin. ----But if he could fee the promise free and absolute, “Without money and without price,” and there is no condition in this covenant, but Christ's obedience unto death, which is performed to God's satisfaction, then a' door is open to him to plead for all upon this ground, saying, Lord, give me faith, for Christ's fake ; give me repentance, for Christ's sake; give me grace, for Christ's fake; who hath performed the condition of all the grace of the new covenant, and through whom all the promises run out freely. He that clogs the gospel offer with so many terms and conditions, is like a man, as I noticed on a former occafion, offering a cup of wine to a friend, but he makes it scalding hot upon the fire, that his friend dare not touch it with his lip, lest he be burnt. It is the special property of the promise, that it is free, and absolute, and unconditional to us : and if it were not so, none would believe at all ; for, if faith itself were a proper condition, then the grand objection is, Oh! but I cannot believe : why, if faith be not abfolutely promised, there is no relief in that strait, the gospel could not be a joyful found to finners thať are humbled to see their want of faith, but only to them that are believers, and have faith already ; and so it were needless to preach the gospel to any but believers : but faith, well as other blessings, being freely promised, unbe. lievers may put in for a slrare of this frec-grace; “ Whofoever will, let him come, and take of the water of life freely.” And it is this free offer and promise that uses to create faith; Faith comes by hearing of it. There. fore,
6. It is a powerful and prolific promise ; hence the gospel, which is the promise of Christ, as the Lord our righteousness, is called the power of God to falvation ; because therein is revealed the righteousness of God,
-from faith to faith, Rom. i. 16, 17. It is the gospelpromise that is the ministration of the Spirit, and fo the organ of almighty power and sovereign efficacy for converting fouls, and so for saving of finners : When God comes, he comes in the promise. But here it may be asked, May not the Lord convey himself in a command, as well as a promise ?. To which we reply, As the Lord can convey himself graciously to us, in a threatening to the devil, such as that was, Gen. iii. 15.; yet there was a sweet promise to our first parents wrapt up in it, " The feed of the woman fhall bruise the head of the ferpent;” So the Lord can, and many times does, convey himself pwerfully into the soul by a command; such as that, “ Look to me and be saved;" or fuch as that, ws.Fear not, for I am with thee :” but still it is such a command, as hath the gospel mixed with it, and a promise wrapt up in the bofom of it, and wherein the Lord undertakes to work what he commands, according to his promise in Christ: and no command without a relation to the gospel, or the promise, is the channel of saving power; for there is no falvation to a finner but in the virtue thereof; fo that ftill it is the promise that is powerful -and-efficacious for begetting children unto God, who are therefore called, The children of promise. But more of this afterwards.-In a word, it is an extensive promise; and this leads me to the last thing proposed upon this first general head, and that was,
4tbly, To consider the object of the promise, or to whom it belongs. And here three things belong to this purpose concerning the promise. 1. For whom it is designed. 2. By whom it is poffeft. 3. To whom it is presented.
1. Who are the objects of the promise, for whom it is designed; I mean, for whom it is appointed of God from eternity, so as they shall reap the saving benefit and obtain all the good that is in it? I answer, “The election fhall-obtain, tho' the rest be blinded,”. Rom. ix. 7. Eph. i. 11. And hence all the elect and chosen of God, such of them, I mean, as are subjects capable of actual believing, they, and they only, are brought, by the power of divine grace, to believe the promise, to the
saving their fouls ; “ As many as were ordained to eter. nal life, believed,” Aas xiii. 48.; and, “ All that the Father hath given me, shall come to me,” John vi. 37. If any think, O! how can this doctrine of particular election agree with the universal offer of the gofpel, and the promise thereof? And how is it evident that God deals fairly with men in this matter, seeing some only are elected and designed of God to the good of the promise? Why, Sirs, does not God deal fairly, when he tells us plainly what he is doing, and that he designs to Inow his mercy towards fome, and his justice towards others, Rom. ix. 22, 23. ; that he designs the revelation of Christ, for the falling and rising of many in Hrael; and the gospel for a favour of life to fome, and of death to others ? If a gardener (as a great divine exemplifies it) watering his garden, where there are many weeds; yea, more weeds than herbs, declares that he waters the whole garden, both weeds and herbs together, that he may make them both to come up above ground, and appear what they are, and, after that, that he may pull out the weeds, and fofter the herbs for special use; is not this very right, and fair, and reafonable, infomuch that none needs enquire further, why does he water the weeds? Even fo, the church is God's garden, and many reprobate weeds are therein; and when God orders the watering of a gospel-dispensation to a mixed multitude of elect and reprobate, declaring that the offer of the gospel is to both, for the conversion of the elect from their natural eninity, and for bringing to light the hatred and enmity of the reprobate against him and the offer of his grace ; is it not fair dealing, and a reasonable answer to the cavils of men against the gospel-osier, God by his word makes it manifest, that all men, elcct and reprobate, are under sin and unbelief, and that no man can come to Christ in the gospelpromise, unless the Father draw him? And none would come, unless he shewed mercy on fome. And this man. ner of proving men, and shewing them to be what they are, by a common offer of grace unto all, and cafting in the net of the gospel-promise among them, is a