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event was contrary. So upon the executing an offender, he saith, • The people shall hear and fear, and do no more presumptuously;' which yet might not have its effect on all. So God saith, 'I will give them one heart;' not out of any certainty of knowledge or determination in himself that any such heart or way should actually be given them, which would infallibly produce the effect mentioned, but that he would grant such means as were proper to create such a heart in them.”
Ans. 1. The nearer the bottom the more sour the lees. First, Doth God foretell the coming to pass of things future upon a probable conjecture, which is here assigned to him? Is that the intendment of the expression in the parable, “They will reverence my Son.” Or was he mistaken in the event, the thing falling out contrary to his expectation? Or is there any thing in this, or the place mentioned, Deut. xvii. 12, 13, but only an expression of the duty of men upon the account of the means offered ? Is there any the least intimation of any intent and purpose of God as to the events insisted on? any promise of his effectual working for the accomplishing of them? any prediction upon the account of his purpose and design, which are the foundation of all his predictions? Or is there any the least correspondency in name or thing between the places now instanced in and called in for relief with that under consideration? This, then, is the sinew of Mr Goodwin's arguing in this place: “Sometimes when there are means offered men for the performance of a duty, the accomplishment of it is spoken of as of what ought to have succeeded; and it is the fault of men to whom that duty is prescribed and these means indulged if it come not to pass; therefore, when God purposeth and promiseth to work and bring about such and such a thing, and engageth himself to a real efficiency in it, yet it may come to pass or it may not,—it may be accomplished, or God may fail in his intendment.” 2. The sense here given to the promise of God, “ I will give them one heart," etc., hath been formerly taken into consideration, and it hath been made to appear that, notwithstanding all the glorious expressions of God's administration of means to work men into the frame intimated, yet, upon the matter, the intendment of the exposition given amounts to this: “ Though God saith he will give us a new heart, yet indeed he doth not so give it to any one in the world, nor ever intended to do so; but this new heart men must create, make, and work out themselves, upon the means afforded them, which, being very eminent, are said to create such hearts in them, though they do it not, but only persuade men thereunto.” A comment this is not much unlike the first that ever was made upon the words of God, Gen. iii. 5! Whether God or man create the new heart is the matter here in question.
For what he lastly affirms, “That if this be a promise of absolute perseverance, it is inconsistent with all the prophecies of the rejection of the Jews, which are accordingly fulfilled," I must refer him to St Paul, who hath long ago undertaken to answer this objection; from whom if he receive not satisfaction, what am I that I should hope to afford the least unto him?
And these are the reasonings upon the account whereof Mr Goodwin dischargeth this text of Scripture, by virtue of his autocratorical power in deciding controversies of this nature, from bearing testimony in this cause any more. Whether he will be attended unto herein time will show. Many attempts to the same purpose have formerly been made, and yet it endureth the trial.
I have thus turned aside to the consideration of the exceptions given in to the ordinary interpretation of this place, lest any should think that they were waived upon the account of their strength and efficacy to overthrow it. The argument I intended from the words, for the stability of God's love and favour to believers upon the account of his covenant engagement, is not once touched in any of them. These words, then, yield a third demonstration of the steadfastness and unchangeableness of acceptation of believers in Christ, upon the account of the absolute stability of that covenant of grace whereof God's engagement to be their God and never to forsake them is an eminent portion.
ARGUMENT FROM THE PROMISES OF GOD.
Entrance into the argument from the promises of God, with their stability and his
faithfulness in them—The usual exceptions to this argument—A general description of gospel promises—Why and on what account called gospel promises—The description given general, not suited to any single promiseThey are free, and that they are so proved, all flowing from the first great promise of giving a Redeemer-How they are discoveries of God's good-will; how made to sinners—Consequential promises made also to believers--Given in and through Christ in a covenant of grace_Their certainty upon the account of the engagement of the truth and faithfulness of God in them-Of the main matter these promises, Christ and the Spirit_Of particular promises, all flowing from the same love and grace_Observations on the promises of God, subservient to the end intended-1. They are all true and faithful; the ground of the assertion—2. Their accomplishment always certain, not always evident—3. All conditional promises made good, and how_4. The promises of perseverance of two sorts—5. All promises of our abiding with God in faith and obedience absolute The vanity of imposing conditions on them discovered—6. Promises of God's abiding with us not to be separated from promises of our abiding with him—7. That they do not properly depend on any condition in believers demonstrated-Instances of this assertion given8. Making them conditional renders them void as to the ends for which they
are given-Given to persons, not to qualifications—The argument from the VOL. XL
promises of God stated—Mr G.'s exceptions against the first proposition cleared, and his objections answered—The promises of God always fulfilledOf the promise made to Paul, Acts xxvii. 24, etc.—Good men make good their promises to the utmost of their abilities—The promise made to Paul absolute and of infallible accomplishment_Of the promise of our Saviour to his disciples, Matt. xix. 28—Who intended in that promise; not Judas—The accomplishment of the promise—The testimony of Peter Martyr considered
- The conclusion of the forementioned objection—The engagement of the faithfulness of God for the accomplishment of his promise, 1 Cor. i. 9; 1 Thess. v. 23, 24; 2 Thess. iii. 3-The nature of the faithfulness of God, expressed in the foregoing places, inquired into–Perverted by Mr G.-His notion of the faithfulness of God weighed and rejected—What intended in the Scripture by the faithfulness of God-The close of the confirmation of the proposition or the argument proposed from the promises of God—The assumption thereof vindicated—The sense put upon it by Mr G.–The question begged.
THE consideration of the promises of God, which are all branches of the forementioned root, all streaming from the fountain of the covenant of grace, is, according to the method proposed, in the next place incumbent on us. The argument for the truth under contest which from hence is afforded and used is by Mr Goodwin termed “The first-born of our strength," chap. xi. sect. 1, p. 225; and indeed we are content that it may be so accounted, desiring nothing more ancient, nothing more strong, effectual, and powerful, to stay our souls upon, than the promises of that God who cannot lie. I shall
, for the present, insist only on those which peculiarly assert, and in the name and authority of God confirm, that part of the truth we are peculiarly in demonstration of,-namely, the unchangeable stability of the love and favour of God to believers, in regard whereof he turneth not from them nor forsaketh them
the account of any such interveniences whatever as he will suffer to be interposed in their communion with him; leaving those wherein he gives assurance upon assurance that he will give out unto them such continual supplies of his Spirit and grace that they shall never depart from him to their due and proper place.
I am not unacquainted with the usual exception that lieth against the demonstration of the truth in hand from the promises of God, to wit, that they are conditional, depending on some things in the persons themselves to whom they are made, upon whose change or alteration they also may be frustrated, and not receive their accomplishment. Whether this plea rnay be admitted against the particular promises that we shall insist upon will be put upon the trial, when we come to the particular handling of them. For the present, being resolved, by God's assistance, to pursue the demonstration proposed from them, it may not be amiss, yea, rather it may be very useful, to insist a little upon the promises themselves, their nature
· Heb. vi. 18; Tit, i. 2.
and excellency, that we may be the more stirred up to inquire after every truth and sweetness of the love, grace, and kindness (they being the peculiar way chosen of God for the manifestation of his good-will to sinners) that is in them; and I shall do it briefly, that I may proceed with the business of my present intendment.
Gospel promises, then, are,—1. The free and gracious dispensations, and, 2. discoveries of God's good-will and love, to, 3. sinners, 4. through Christ, 5. in a covenant of grace; 6. wherein, upon his truth and faithfulness, he engageth himself to be their God, to give his Son unto them and for them, and his Holy Spirit to abide with them, with all things that are either required in them or are necessary for them to make them accepted before him, and to bring them to an enjoyment of him.
I call them gospel promises, not as though they were only contained in the books of the New Testament, or given only by Christ after his coming in the flesh,- for they were given from the beginning of the world, or first entrance of sin, and the Lord made plentiful provision of them and by them for his people under the old testament,—but only to distinguish them from the promises of the law, which hold out a word of truth and faithfulness, engaged for a reward of life to them that yield obedience thereunto (there being an indissolvable connection between entering into life and keeping the commandments), and so to manifest that they all belong to the gospel properly so called, or the tidings of that peace for sinners which was wrought out and manifested by Jesus Christ."
Farther; I do not give this for the description of any one single individual promise as it lieth in any place of Scripture, as though it expressly contained all the things mentioned herein (though virtually it doth so), but rather to show what is the design, aim, and goodwill of God in them all; which he discovers and manifests in them by several parcels, according as they may be suited to the advancement of his glory, in reference to the persons to whom they are made. Upon the matter, all the promises of the gospel are but one, and every one of them comprehends and tenders the same love, the same Christ, the same Spirit, which are in them all. None can have an interest in any one but he hath an interest in the good of them all, that being only represented variously for the advantage of them that believe. My design is to describe the general intention of God in all gospel promises, whereby they, being equally spirited, become as one. And concerning these, I say,
1. That they are free and gracious as to the rise and fountain of them. They are given unto us merely through the good-will and
1 Gen. iii. 14, 15; Gal. iii. 17; Tit. i. 2.
pleasure of God.' That which is of promise is everywhere opposed to that which is of doubt, or that which is any way deserved or procured by us: Gal. iii. 18, “ If the inheritance be of the law” (which includes all that in us is desirable, acceptable, and deserving), “it is no more of promise,"—that is, free, and of mere grace. He that can find out any reason or cause without God himself why he should promise any good thing whatever to sinners (as all are, and are
under sin, till the promise come, Gal. iii. 22), may be allowed to glory in the invention which he hath found out, Matt. xx. 15. A well-conditioned nature, necessitating him to a velleity of doing good, and yielding relief to them that are in misery (though justly receiving the due reward of their deeds, which even among the sons of men is a virtue dwelling upon the confines of vice), for their recovery, is by some imposed on him. But that this is not the fountain and rise of his promises needs no other evidence but the light of this consideration: That which is natural is necessary and universal; promises are distinguishing as to them in misery, at least they are given to men, and not to fallen angels. But may not God do what he will with his own?
Farther; Jesus Christ is himself in the promise. He is the great original, matter, and subject of the promises, and the giving of him was doubtless of free grace and mercy: so John iii. 16, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son;" and Rom. v. 8, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, whilst we were yet sinners, Christ died for us;" and in 1 John iv. 10, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” All is laid upon the account of love and free grace, Matt. xi. 26. I confess there are following promises given out for the orderly carrying on of the persons to whom the main, original, fundamental promises are made, unto the end designed for them, that seem to have qualifications and conditions in them; but yet even those are all to be resolved into the primitive grant of mercy. That which promiseth life upon believing,-being of use to stir men up unto and carry them on in faith and obedience, must yet, as to the pure nature of the promise, be resolved into that which freely is promised, namely, Christ himself, and with him both faith and life, believing and salvation. As in your automata there is one original spring or wheel that giveth motion to sundry lesser and subordinate movers, that are carried on with great variety, sometimes with a seeming contrariety one to another, but all regularly answering and being subservient to the impression of the first mover;. [so) the first great promise of Christ, and all good things in him, is that which spirits and principles all other promises whatsoever;" and
1 Tit. i. 2; 2 Pet. i. 3, 4.