« AnteriorContinuar »
mandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ.'
I shall conclude with a very few inferences.
Inf. 1. Faith is a precious thing, 2 Pet. i. 1. Not to be
after (Tohu) emptinefs was no more: but that he can fo treat them, and annihilate them as eafily. Thus Job fays, God reckoned him for his enemy, Job xiii. 24: not that he thought God judged him to be his enemy indeed; on the contrary, he was refolved to maintain his way, as to the main of it, before the Lord, ver. 15; and fays exprefsly, chap. x. 7. Thou knoweft that I am not wicked; but his meaning is, that God treated him as if he had been an enemy; and Elihu found fault with him, even for that, chap, xxxiii. 10. Obf. 3. This phrafe is ufed of reckoning a thing what it is not indeed confidered in its own nature, but yet in effeft is ; which lad bears the ground of the reckoning. Thus he who gives a flattering bk-ifing to his neighbour, hath a curfe reckoned to him, Prov. xxvii. 14. The blefling is not in itfelf a curfe; yet it is a curfe in effeft, as having the fame effeft as if lie had curftd his neighbour: and fo, on that ground it is reckoned to the flatterer a curfe. V. and laltly, To reckon a thing to a perfon, is to fet it down on his fcore, to put it on his account, as really his, antecedent 16 the reckoning; if ill, to anfwer for it; if good, that he may claim, or have the benefit of it. Examples of the former: Lev. xvii. 4.. Blood fhall be reckoned to that man ; t. e. the guilt of blood fhall be put on that man's account, as really his, and he fhall anfwer for it: he hath fhed blood, faith the text, and that man fhall be cut off. Pfal. xli. 8 7ths. Upon me they would reckon, evil to me, i. e. charge it on me as my faft and deed, and make me anfwer for it. So a curfe is reckoned to the flatterer, Prov. xxvii. 14-. Thus Shimei fays to David, Let not my lord rec kon iniquity tome, 2 Sam. xix. 20-19ths ; he owns bis crime, and do nut remember that which thy fervant did perverfely, ibid, but he begs that the king would not put it on his account, and make him anfwer for it. And thus David defcribes the bleffednefs of the juftified man, that the Lord will not . reckon iniquity to him, Pfal. xxxii. 2. i. e. that he will not put his iniquity on bis own account, and make him anfwer for it; the putting it on the Surety, and his anfwcring already for it, being already futtained at God's bar. Examples of the latter: 2 Sam. iv. 2. Betroth: it would have been reckoned upon Benjamin; viz. as truly theirs, to have the benefit of it, for indeed did belong to Benjamin, Jo(h. xviii. 25; though the Philiftines -violently poflefled it, 1 Sam. xxxi. 7. So it is faid of another plot of ground. It would have been reckoned to the Canaanites, Jofh. xiii. 3. namely, as really theirs; and therefore it remained to be poffeffed by Ifrael, ver. 1. And thus, Num. xviii. 27- Your heave-offerings (hall be reckoned to you; i. e. put on your account, as your own offerings, and you to receive the benefit of the fame. On the other hand, He that offereth a peace-offering, and eatetb of it on the third day, it was not to be reckoned to him, Lev. vii. 18. i. e. put on the account of his fervice to God. Pfal. xl. 18-17ths. I [am] poor and needy, my LORD will reckon to me; i. e.The Father would put the poverty of the Mediator on his account, and reward him for it. And thus the deed of Phinehas was reckoned to him, put on his account of acceptable fervice, and gtacioully rewarded, for the fake of the Mediator.
sworn by, but sought of the Lord. It saves the precious soul, and wraps it up in precious promises.
2. It is a most necessary grace; for it is that which bring3 Christ and the soul together. And without it, it is impossible to please God, Heb. xi. 6.
Thus far of the phrafes formed with Hh■ifchabh to reckon. Now, the Scope and defign of Mofes in the text, is to fhew to all, and particularly to the Jews, the way how a finner is juftified before the Lord, namely, by faith in the Meflias without the works of the law. Having given an account, how Abram entertained the promife, viz. that he trufted in Jehovah, he difcovers on that occafion, how he became righteous before God, namely, by that truft: that every one may fee in him, as in an exampler, how a (inner is juftified in God's fight. That this is the fcope of the words, is put beyond queftion by the apoltle, Rom. iv. from what is faid, it appears, that, according to the phrafeology of the Holy Ghoft, and the fcopV of this paf. fage, the following petitions are eftablifhed. Pof. I. The only righteoufnefs wherein a man can Hand before the Lord, is the fulfilling of the law, or a conformity to the law, refuging therefrom. For fuch is the fcripture-notion of righteoufnefs in the cafe of men. Pof. II. The fetife of this padage is not, That God reckoned Abram's trufting, or believing, tor a righteous and worthy action, as he did the faft of Phinehas, Pfal. cvi. 31. For it is the righteoufnefs of Abram's perfon, not the righteoufnefs of an aftion, of hil that is here aimed at. The deed of Phinehas was what could not have miffed, by fome at lead, to have been reckoned a ra(h and finful a&ion, if God himfelf had not declared his approbation of it: but Abram's trufting in Jehovah, was what could never be liable to any fuch mifconftruftion, among thofe who believe Jehovah to be God. But the fenfe is, His faith was accounted righteoufnefs for his perfon in the fight of God. Pof. III. Faith's being reckoned or accounted for righteoufnefs, which is the phrafe of the Scfituagint, retained by the apoftle Paul. Rom. iv. 2- >» equivalent to, and of the fame fenfe with, Mofes' phrafe in the text, viz. faith's being reckoned righteoufnefs. This is clear from what is faid on the third and fourth phrafes compared, Pof. IV. The nghleoufnefaof Chrilt, though righteoufnefs in the ftrifteft propriety, greateft reality and perfection, antecedently to the imputation or reckoning of it, may, according to the fcripture, be imputed for righteoufnefs to us: for, in the phrafeology of the Holy Ghoft, a thing is faid to be reckoned or imputed for what it ia really, as well as for what it is not; as appears from the inftances adduced, obf. 1. on the fourth phrafe. Pof. V. Since faith, or the aft of believing, is not in itfelf righteoufnefs for a perfon, before God, antecedently to the imputation of it, for that righteoufnefs: which is manifeft from that it doth not, in itfelf, exaftly anfvver or fulfil the law, the eternal rule of righteoufnefs: and fince God, the infallible Judge, wbofe judgment is always according to truth, is the party imputing it for righteoufnefs: therefore faith, or the aft of believing, imputed to tinners for righteoufnefs, neither is at any time, nor is made by the imputation, nor by any gratuitous acceptation, the very formal righteoufnefs for which a finner is juftified in the fight of GOD, It is no more f« than L.aban'8 daughters were really ftrangers to him, Gea. zxxi. 15;
3. It is of perpetual use while here; it is an eye, hand, and foot to the soul, Psal. xxvii. 3; and at death it does the last office to the man, supports him when all other comforts fail, Heb. xi. 13.
4. Lastly, Seek faith, to have it wrought, actuated, and strengthened in you; and for that cause, diligently attend ordinances, the preaching of the word particularly; for 'faith cometh by hearing,' Rom. x. 17.
or Zion's fons earthen pitchers, Lam. iv. 2; or the nations really lefs than emptinefs, lfa. xl. 17; though they were fo reckoned. Pof.Vl* Upon the fame grounds, faith is therefore faid to be imputed for righteoufnefs; not that God judgeth it to be the righteoufnefs of a perfoa before him, but becaufe he treats faith as if it were that righteoufnefs; namely, juftifying the perfon who hath it, pardoning all his (ins, and accepting him as righteous in his light, immediately upon his aft of believing. Even as the leviathan treats iron as draw, Job zli. 24. though he does not judge it to be, draw; and Laban treated his own daughters. Gen. xxxi. 15; and Job's fervants their mailer, Job xix. 15; as if they had been ftrangers; and Zion's enemies, her fons as earthen pitchers, Lam. iv. 21 though furely they did not judge them to be fo. And even at God treats the nations as if they were lefs than emptinefs: lfa. xL 17. though he infallibly knows they are more than emptinefs: and as Job thought himfelf treated of God, as if he had been his enemy, Job xiii. 24; while in the mean time he knew, that God did not judge him to be an enemy to him. Pof. VII. Though faith is not really and in itfelf the righteoufnefs of a guilty man before the Lord: yet being fo in effeft, to wit, relatively and indrumentally ;- for as much as it lays hold on, prefents, and pleads the righteoufnefs' of Chrift, it is on good grounds, faid to be imputed for righteoufnefs; even as the flatterer's bleifing is reckoned a curfe, Prov. xxvii. 14; as being fo in effeft. Pof. VIII. and lad. The righteoufnefs which is the relative and objeft of faith, viz. the righteoufnefs of Chrift, is reckoned or imputed to believers, as really theirs, as well as their faith; theirs, I fay, antecedently to the imputation of it at God's bar; though the former is not indeed inherent in them, as the latter is. This is evident from the true fenfe of the fifth phrafe, reckoning a thing to a perfoa, edablifhed by the indances of it above adduced. Cbritl's righ. teoufnefs becomes ours, by faith uniting us to him: from which union immediately refults a communion with him in his righteoufnefs; which being legally found at the bar of heaven, that perfeft righteoufuefs is reckoned or imputed to us, fet down on our fcore, put on our account, as really ours: even as the guilt of blood is reckoned to the man, Lev. xvii. 4; as really his guilt; and as the plot of ground, Jo(h. xiii. S; was reckoned to the Canaanites, as really theirs, or belonging to them, &c. And tbeieupon we are juftified on the account of that righteoufnefs truly being and reckoned to be purs.
OF REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE.
Acts xi. 18.—Then hath God also to tlie Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
REPENTANCE is an inseparable companion of faith, so that the soul blessed with faith in Christ will be also endowed with repentance towards God.
This is a conclusion drawn by the believing Jews from the account Peter had given them of what passed with respect to his receiving the Gentiles into Christian fellowship, with which they rest satisfied, namely, That God had given repentance to the Gentiles. Where consider,
1. A blessing granted; repentance unto life; so called, to distinguish it from legal repentance, and the sorrow that is unto death. This true repentance is unto life; for, by God's appointment, it must go before eternal life; and whoso have it shall be sure of that.
2. The parties to whom it was granted; the Gentiles, those who were once without hope and without God in the world.
3. The author of it, God. It is his gift, as well as faith is. He works it in the heart.
The doctrine of the text is,
Doct. 'To those whom God designs for life, he gives repentance unto life. They come all through this strait gate who enter into life.' Or, * Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.'
Here I shall shew,
IV. The springs of it.
I. I am to shew, what are the kinds of repentance. They are two.
1. Legal repentance, such as was in Judas, and may be in other reprobates, and so is not saving, Matth. xxvii. 3. being produced by law terrors, without gospel-grace changing the heart. . . .
2. Evangelical repentance, peculiar to the elect, which is that in the text, and is the only true and saving repentance, of which we speak. The general difference betwixt them hes here, that in this last, one repents of his sin as it is sin, or offensive to God, as David did, Psal. li. 4. saying, ‘Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight;" in the other, only as it brings wrath on him, Gen. iv. 13.
II. I proceed to shew, the general nature of repentance unto life. It is a saving grace, 2 Tim. iii. 25. disposing the soul unto all the acts of turning from sin unto God. 1. It is not a transient action, a sigh for sin, a pang of sorrow for it, which goes away again; but it is an abiding grace, a new frame and disposition, fixed in the heart, disposing one to turn from sin to God on all occasions, Zech. xii. 16. “I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications, and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.” - 2. Nor yet a passing work of the first days of one's religion; but a grace in the heart, setting one to an answerable working all their days. The heart being smitten with repentance at conversion, the wound is never bound up to bleed no more, till the band of glory be put about it. 3. It is not a common grace, as legal repentance is, but a saving one; distinguishing one from a hypocrite, and having a necessary connection with eternal life. HI. I shall shew, who is the author of this repentance. 1. Not men themselves; it is not owing to one’s natural