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The Sum of Saving Knowledge may be taken up in these four heads : 1.
The woful condition wherein all men are by nature, through breaking of the covenant of works. 2. The remedy provided for the elect in Jesus Christ by the covenant of grace. 3. The means appointed to make them partakers of this covenant. 4. The blessings which are effeétually conveyed unto the elect by these means. Which four heads are set down each of them in some fer propofitions.
H E A D
A D I.
Our woful condition by nature, through breaking the covenant of works.
Hof. xiï. 9. O lfrael, thou haft destroyed thyself.
HE Almighty and eternal God, the Father, the Son, and the
divided Godhead, equally infinite in all perfections, did, before time, most wifely decree, for his own glory, whatsoever cometh to pass in time ; and doth moft holily and infallibly execute all his decrees, without being partaker of the sin of any creature.
II. This God, in six days, made all things of nothing, very good in their own kind: In special, he made all the Angels holy; and he made our first parents, Adam and Eve, the root of mankind, both upright and able to keep the law written in their heart. Which law they were naturally bound to obey under pain of death ; but God was not bound to reward their service, till he entered into a covenant or contract with them, and their posterity in them, to give them eternal life, upon condition of perfect personal obedience; withal, threatening death, in case they should fail. This is the covenant of works.
III. Both angels and men were subject to the change of their own free-will, as experience proved, (God having reserved to himself the incommunicable property of being naturally unchangeable): for many Angels of their own accord fell by sin from their first estate, and became devils. Our first parents, being enticed by Satan, one of these devils speaking in a ferpent, did break the covenant of works, in
cating the forbidden fruit; whereby 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 loft all ability to please God; yea, did become by nature enemies to God, and to all fpiritual good, and inclined only to evil continually. This is our original fin, the bitter root of all our actual transgressions, in thought, word, and deed.
H E' AD II.
The remedy provided in Jesus Chrif for the elect by the covenant of grace.
Hof. xiii. 9. O Israel, thou halt destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.
Lbeit man, having brought himself into this woful condition,
himself, nor willing to be helped by God out of it, but rather inclined to lie still, insensible of it, till he perish; yet God, for the glory of his rich grace, hath revealed in his word a way to save finners, viz. 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 council of the Trinity, before the world began.
II. The sum of the covenant of redemption is this: God'having freely chofen 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 assume the human nature, of a fonl and a body, unto perfonal union with his divine nature, and subunit himself to the law, as furety for them, and satisfy justice for them, by giving obedience in their name, even unto the fuffering of the cursed death of the cross, he should ransom and redeem them all from fan and death, and purchase unto them righteousness and eternal life, with all saving graces leading thereunto, to be effectually, by means of his own appointment, 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 Virgin Mary, fubjected himself to the law, and completely paid the ransom on the cross : But by virtue of the forefaid bargain, made before the world began, he is in all ages, since the fall of Adam, still upon the 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 a right and interest to himself, and to all his bleflings.
III. For the accomplishment of this covenant of redemption, and making the elect partakers of the benefits thereof in the covenant of grace, Christ Jesus was clad with the threefold office of Prophet
, Priest, and King: Made a Prophet, to reveal all saving knowledge to his people, and to persuade them to believe and obey the fame
made a Priest, to offer up himself a sacrifice once for them all, and to intercede continually with the Father, for making their persons and services acceptable to him ; and made a King, to subdue them to himself, to feed and rule them by his own appointed ordinances, and to defend them from their enemies.
Η E A D
A D III,
The outward means appointed to make the elect partakers of this covenant,
and all the rest that are called to be inexcufable. Matth. xxii. 14. Many are called.
1. HE outward means and ordinances for making men parta
kers of the covenant of grace, are so wisely dispensed, as the elect fall be infallibly converted and saved by them ; and the reprobate, among whom they are, not to be justly stumbled. The means are especially these four : 1. The word of God. 2. The facraments. 3. Kirk-government. 4. Prayer. In the word of God preached by sent messengers, the Lord makes offer of grace to all sinners, upon condition of faith in Jesus Christ; and whosoever do confess their sin, accept of Christ offered, and submit themselves to his ordinances, le will have both them and their children received into the honour and privileges of the covenant of grace. By the facraments, God will have the covenant sealed for confirming the bargain, on the foresaid condition. By 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 counterfeit believers.
II. The covenant of grace, fet down in the Old Testament before Christ
came, and in the New since he came, is one and the same in substance, albeit different in outward administration: For the covenant in the Old Testament, being sealed with the facraments of circụmcision and the pafchal lamb, did set forth Christ's death to come, and the benefits purchased thereby, under the shadow of bloody facrifices, and fundry ceremonies : but since Christ came, the covenant being sealed by the facraments of baptism and the Lord's fupper, doth
clearly hold forth Christ already crucified before our eyes, victorious over death and the grave, and gloriously ruling heaven and earth, for the good of his own people.
The ble fings which are effectually conveyed by these means to the Lord's elect, or chosen ones.
Matth. xxii. 14. Many are called, but few are chosen.
Y these outward ordinances, as our Lord makes the reprobate
inexcufable, fo, in the power of his fpirit, he applies unto the elect, effectually, all faving 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 fpiri. tual life to them, in opening their understandings, renewing their wills, affections, and faculties, for giving fpiritual obedience to his commands. 2. He gives them saving faith, by making them, in the sense of deserved condemnation, 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 sorrow, in the hatred of fin, and love of righteousness, turn from all iniquity to the service of God. And, 4. He sanctifies 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, fo foon as they are brought by faith into the covenant of grace, 1. he justifies them, by imputing unto them that perfect obedience which Christ gave to the law, and the fatisfaction also which upon the cross Chrift gave unto justice in their name. He reconciles them, and makes them friends to God, who were be, fore enemies to God. 3. He adopts them, that they shall be no more children of Satan, but children of God, enriched with all fpiritual privileges of his fons. And, laft of all, after their warfare in this fife is ended, he perfects the holiness and blessedness, first of their soul at their death, and then both of their fouls and their bodies, being joyfully joined together again in the resurrection, at the day of his glorious coming to judgment, when all the wicked shall be sent a. way to hell, with Satan whoin they have served: but Christ's own chosen and redeemed ones, true believers, students of holiness, shall renain with himself for ever, in the state of glorification,
Τ Η Ε
PRACTICAL Use of SAVING KNOWLEDGE,
Contained in Scripture, and holden forth briefly
in the foresaid Confession of Faith and Catechilins.
HE chief general use of Christian doctrine is, to convince a man
of fin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, John xvi. 8. part. ly 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 unfeigned believer in Jesus Christ, and be strengthened in his faith upon folid grounds and warrants, and give evidence of the truth of his faith by good fruits, and so 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 Jesus “ Christ, (who is able to save to the utterinoit all that come to God
through him,) thou shalt not perish, but have eternal life, Rom. X. 8.
For convincing a inan of sin, of righteoufress, and of judgment by the law, or covenant of works, let these scriptures among many more be made use of.
I. For convincing a man of fin by the law, consider Jer. xvii. 9. 10,
THE heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, 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 these two things :
1. That the fountain of all our miscarriage, and actual sinning againft God, is in the heart, which comprehendeth the mind, will,
affections, and all the powers of the foul, as they are corrupted and defiled 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 unto all God's directions, and bent toward that only which is evil : “ The heart, “ (faith he,) is deceitful above all things, and desperately 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,” saith the Lord, whose testimony we must trust in this and all other matters; and experience also may teach us, that,