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immediately after this to hear God saying, as it just follow3 ; “ I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy tranf. gressions, for mine own fake, and will not remember iny fins !” So Isa. lvii. 17, 18. “ For the iniquity of his covetoufncis I was wroth, and fmote him; I hid me and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.” O what a wonderful and surprising birth of free grace is that which follows! " I have seen his ways and will heal him; I will lead him also, and restore confort unto him, and to his mourners." When one would think, now the threatning is big with child, and ready to bring forth vengeance; then, to the praise of free grace, the promise, being big with a blessing, brings forth mercy and salvation. This is what makes Abraham's faith necesary, according to its measure, in all the children of promise; because fome resemblance of the difficulties that Abraham's faith had to encounter, does present to them. Why, say you, it was a thing incredible, that was promised to Abraham, he being so {uperannuate and dead, and Sarah likewise fo old and barren.---Well, man, woman, but the case is yours in other respects: you have the old man of fin and corruption, and your heart is dead and barren of any spiritual good; and it is as impoflible for you to bring forth any spiritual issue, as it was for Abraham and Sarah to have an Isaac, if he had not been a child of promise, brought forth, not by the power of nature, but by the virtue of the promise: Even so it is with you ; you need Abraham's faith; and faith of the same nature you will have, if you be a child of Abraham. Senfe and reason will oppose and say, It is incredible that fpiritual life and fruit can issue out of such a dead and barren foul; but now the language of faith is, What says the promise ? " As Abraham considered not the deadness of his own body, or of Sarah's womb,” nor the difficulties that stood in the way of the promise; but the truth, faithfulness, and power of the promiser: cven so, fiaith confiders not the deadness, hardness, and barrenness of the heart; but the truth and veracity of that God, who is able, of stones, to raise up children to Abraham, according to his promise. And thus the promise brings



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forth its happy issue, and the child of promise owns that it is not by the power of nature, but merely by the power of grace, and virtue of the promise, that any spiritual good is brought forth, saying,

By grace I am what I am."-Thus, “ We are the children of God by faith ;” and, As Ifaac, the cbildren of the promise.

6. Isaac's birth was the joy of his parents; the comfurt of Abraham, the laughter of Sarah, Gen. xxi. 6.: Even so, the birth of the promise is the joy of their heavenly relations. It is a day wherein God is evidencing that he is well-pleased in Christ : it is a day of the gladness of Christ's heart ; faints and angels are glad ; the church militant and triumphant rejoice ; “ There is joy in heaven over one finner that repenteth,” Luke xv. 7. 10.

See how, in the preceeding verse, where our text lies, the barren Christian church is called to re. joice when children are born to God within her, Gal. iv. 27.“ Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travaileft not : for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an huf. band.” Then is the church in joyful circumstances, when, by virtue of the gospel promise, children are brought forth in her, even this man and that man there. Such happy days have been in the church of Scotland, when the spirit of reformation was poured out; but when that fpirit is much quenched, and reformationlight obfcured, and reformation-zeal cooled, when the edge of it is blunted, when the carved work thereof is burnt, the covenanted work buried much in oblivion, and when old reformation-principles, together with the gospel doctrine of free grace, which was the great inftrument of conversion, is brought under much contempt and reproach ; little wonder, when God is like to give the mother-church a bill of divorce, that she be not the joyful mother of many children to him. The gospel promise, and the free revelation of grace in Christ, is the very womb of the church, that brings forth her children ; but, now-a-days, the doctrine of the gof. pel is brought under much disparagement, under much fufpicion, as if it were some new dangerous scheme of doctrine; as the Athenians said of Paul's, Acts xvii. 19.


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Yea, it was said of Christ's, " What new doctrine is this?" Mark i. 37 Such is the natural bias towards the law, as a covenant, and so natively does a church and people fall into it, even after and under a profession of sound principles, that when evangelical doctrine comes to be revived, in any measure, it is still branded with novelty *.' Thus it was with Christ himself; his doctrine was called new, when he came to be a minister of the old and ancient truths of God, even to confirm the promises made unto the fathers, Rom. xv. 8. But it is the free promise, the free grace of God, that begets holy children to God; and therefore an unholy devil will raise up all the calumnies in the world against it, that so when it is brought under an ill report, and universal fufpicion, none may receive or get good of it; for alt the saving good that is gotten, is by the power grace, by the virtue of the promise : however, “ The election shall obtain ;" but, if the devil could get his will, the promise should never be the joyful mother of any children.

7. Isaac was born, not after the flesh, but by the promise ; not of the bond-woman, but of the free. See the context, Gal. iv. 22, 23. And how this is explained, you see in the following ver. 24, 25, 26.; and how it is applied both in the text, and ver. 31. ; where it is in: like manner, said of all believers, “So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond-woman, but of the free." As Hagar and Sarah here fignify the old and new covenant, as I shewed in the explication ; fo Ishmael and ISAAC hold forth these that are under the law, and these that are under grace. Now, believers are thus distinguished from all unbelieving Ishmaelites, that they are not under the law, but under grace; and hence fin cannot have dominion over them, Rom. vi. 14. There is a threefold bondage to the law that unbelievers are under, which the children of the promise and the freewoman are delivered from.

* See the ground of this charge accounted for, and the unjustness thereof evinced, Vol. I. page 232. Vol. II. page 304, 305. 395. Vol. III. page 40. 44.


(1.) The

(1.) The commanding power of the law; that is, the precept of it under this conditional form, De and live. The law of works, that they are under, says, Do and live, Rom. x. 5. That law that they are under, says to theni, “ If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments;” which, no doubt, is galling to the conscience, as it was to that young man in the gospel, to whomi Chriit thus speaks for his awakening and conviction. How galling must it be to them that are under the law, to understand that they are under such an imprestable command, Do perfectly, and live eternally ; considering the holiness and spirituality of that law, and also the wickedness and inability of the creature? Therefore,

(2.) They are under the bondage of the condemning power of the law, cursing every one that continues not in all things written in the book of the law to do them, Gal. iii. 10. The law not only curses its tranfgreflors from heaven, which they have forfeited, but curses them to hell, which they have incurred; for, “ All have finned, and conié flort of the glory of God,” Rom. iii. 23.; yea, “ The wages of sin is death;” and, “ The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,” Rom. i. 18.

(3.) They are under the bondage of the irritating power of the law; “ The motions of fin which are by the law, work in their members to bring forth fruit unto death,” Rom. vii. 5. The spiritual law mightily irritates the corruption of a man in nature, fo as he becomes angry and chast, and sins more and more ; for, Tbe carnal mind is enmiiy against, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. The law inrages his corruption, like a inad horse, thật rages the more that he is checked with the bridle : here is a fad bondage, that all unbelievers, Ishmaelites, children of the bond-woman, are under. Now believers, the children of promile, are, with Isaac, the children of the free-woman, being delivered from that bondage: from the first, by Christ's obedience imputed, Rom. v. 19. ; from the second, by his fatisfaction imputed, Gal. iii. 13.; from the third, by his grace imparted, and his Spirit implanted, according to the new covenant, Rom. viii. 2. The believer is not under the


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law of works, because Christ hath done all for him : he is not under the threatening of it, because Christ hath · fuffered all for him ; he is not under the irritation of it, for, the law, as a rule, is written in his heart, and, Chrift, by his Spirit, works in-him both to will and to do of his good pleature. He is not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby either justified or condemned; hence he is neither under the bondage of doing duty, from hope that he shall be justified by doing it; nor from the fear that he shall be condeinned for not doing it, seeing that as by the deeds of the law no flesh living can be justified ; fo, “ There is no condemnation to them that are in Chrift.” He is freed both from the legal hope of getting to heaven by his doing, and Navith fear of going to hell for not doing; for, as his title to heaven is founded on Christ's obedience only, and his security from hell upon Christ's death and satisfaction only; fo his motives to obedience are more evangelical, and suited to the gospel-liberty that he is under, such as love and gratitude towards that God who hath saved liim. I speak of believers now, as such, and in so far as freed from the law, and not in so far as unbelief and a legal temper, in the fad remains thereof, may hold them under much bondage : but such is their freedom, as I have expressed, in so far as they hold fast the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free, Gal. V. I.-I might here also speak of the freedom of God's children even from the ceremonial law, which may be a part of the apostle's intent; a bondage which the Jews, by their own consent, are still under; this is called, by that famous council, Acts xv. 10.“ A yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither we, nor our fathers, were able to bear." And if instituted ceremonies were such, how much more must uninstituted ones be: This is a yoke which many in our land are wreathing about their own necks, embracing the abjured English popish ceremonies, and new modes of divine service, which have no ftamp of divine authority. We fhould even pity and pray for those who are fond of such a yoke, as cannot but, in the issue, gall their necks; and that this generation may not run wholly back to Rome.


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