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the same time and for the same reason greatly establish both the design and the effect of it. For as by Requiring Repentance it secures the honour and authority of the Law; (as was remark'd before,) so by accepting Repentance, it promotes its good effect and success, and carries on its great end, Holiness of Life, which otherwise, (as the World now stands) could never be obtained. For the present Impotence of the World cannot bear so feyere a Discipline, as that of the first Covenant; which since Men could not exactly keep, they would not care how much they did, trans. gress. For, what incouragement is there to set abɔut such a thing as a good Life under a Law that is impossible to be kept, and that allows no room for Repentance where 'tis not kept? The most immediate consequence of this, is to make Men careless and desperate : But now the Gospel, at once requiring and accepting Repentance,affords Men all the incouragement in the World, to repent and live well;since they cannot be pardoned, Taved without it, and may with it ; fince 'tis nei ther a thing superftuoi,nor in vain, to Repent. And 'herein lies the great Mystery of Godliness, the My, sterious Contrivance of the Gospel, for the promotion of good Life, effecting that by its indulgence, which the Law could not do by its Rigor ; according to that of the Psalmist, There is Meriy pith thee that thou mightesto be feared.So that when the whole account is cast up, the Law is rather a Gainer than a Loser by the lenity of the Gospel, by that Pardon which it indulges to Penitent
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Offenders ; especially considering, that the polfibility of this pardon upon Repentance, was procured by the Death and Satisfaction of Chrift; whose alone Sufferings, were a greater Justification and Vindication of the Law, than all the Sins of the whole World were a desecration of it; and did it infinitely more Honour, than if Man had either exactly kept it, or eternally fuffered for the violation of it : So greatly is the Law established by the Gospel,even in those Two parts of it, wherein it seems to have received the greatest Damage, viz. in respect of the Ceremaa nial part, and as 'tis a Covenant of Life and Death. * But 3dly, 'Tis yet more established as 'tis a Rule of Life and Manners. Here the Gofpel does more abundantly strengthen and confirm the Law, by repeating and renewing its Precepts, by giving them a fresh Promulgation, and stamping them with the impress of a greater Authority; by clearing and improving the sense and obligation of them, by adding to it new express Precepts of its own, such as that of Poverty of Spirit, Purity of Heart, the Love of Enemies, the Duties of Mor. tification and Self-denial, and the like ; and lastly, by inforcing both the old and new Precepts, by more powerful and awakening Sanctions, by better Promises, and by Severer Threatnings, and by a greater evidence and aflurance of both, as bringing that Life and Immortality to light; which before was under great Darkness and Obfcurity, and which either Men did not heartily and fully
· believe, or upon very uncertain and unsatisfying
Principles. In all which respects, the Gospel is the greatest Establishment of the Law; Christ sustains and holds up the Hands of Moses; and Christianity is so far from being against Marality, that 'tis the greatest Improvement of it.
I have hitherto argued against the Voidarec, and for the Establishment of the Law, upon rational Principles, and in a more abstract way of Discourse; but if you would have a more senfible Argument, and that is more of a level with a popular Capacity, I consider, that to be sure · Christ understood his own Religion (there is no doubt of that,) he knew the full extent of his undertaking for the World, and the utmost effe& of his Death and Passion, and consequently how far we are freed by it from the obligation of the Law; and yet he tells us expresly, that he came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil it, Mat. 5. 17. And accordingly to him that asked him what he should do to have Eternal Life, his answer was, If thou wilt enter into Life, keep the Commando ments, Mat. 17. 17. And again, to another that put him to the fame question, says he, What is written in the Lam? How readeft than ? Lake 1o. 26. You see he refers him to the Law, to that Old (and as some fancy superannuated) thing the Law, as that which was still in force, and necessary to be conscientiously kept and obey'd, in order to Eternal Life. So that, if we will take an Idea of Christianity from him who belt underfood it, the Blessed Author of it; there is not
that difference between that and Morality, which some imagin.
From the Measures laid down, we may now in few Words, form an exact Answer to that great Question; in giving an account of which, those that treat of it are generally so voluminous, and so intricate ; namely, How far the Gospel is an Abatement, and how far an Improvement of the Law ?
'Tis a grofs mistake, to think that the ease and advantage of Christianity consists in having any Abatements of Moral Duty ; so far from that, that the Gospel, as a Rule of Life, is the severer Institution of the Two, as being a more perfect and excellent Law. The Abatement therefore does not lie here, in the Gospel consider'd as a Rule of Life; but in the Gospel consider'd as a Covenant of Life and Death, which abates just so much from the Rigor of the first Covenant, as Repentance is less than exact Obedience; which exact Obedience tho' the Gospel still exacts as a Duty, (for otherwise the coming short of it, would be no Sin,) yet it does not exact as the Condition of Eternal Life : So that in short, the Gospel as a Covenant, is an Abatement ; as a Rule,'tis an Improvement of the Law. But, in neither Sense an Evacuation, but rather an Establishment of it.
I shall now in short, make a practical Application of what has been discours’d; which I shall direct. ' ? First, To all Christians in general.
- Secondly, To the Publick Professors and Teach-