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tions which are the proper worship of God. These they have not, nor doth God any longer require them in them. They eternally cast them off in their first sin. And where these are not, where they are not required, where they cannot be, there no outward worship can be prescribed or appointed. For external instituted worship is nothing but the way that God assigns, and chooseth to express and exercise the inward affections of our minds towards him. He rules the fallen angels 'per nutum providentiæ, not 'verbum præcepti.' Now as God dealt with the angels, so also would he have dealt with mankind, had he left them all under the curse, without remedy or hope of relief. As he doth with them, he eternally satisfies himself in that revenue of glory which ariseth unto him in their punishment; so also he would have done with these, had there been no forgiveness with him for them. He would not have required them to fear, love, or obey him, or have appointed unto them any way of worship, whereby to express such affections towards him. For to what end should he have done it? What righteousness would admit, that service, duty, and obedience should be prescribed unto them, who could not, ought not to have any expectation or hope of acceptance or reward? This is contrary to the very first notion which God requires in us of his nature. For he that cometh unto God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of all them that diligently seek him;' Heb. xi. 6. which would not be so, should he appoint a voluntary worship, and not propose a reward to the worshippers. Wherefore,
3. It is evident that God, by the prescription of a worship unto sinners, doth fully declare that there is forgiveness with him for them. For,
1. He manifests thereby that he is willing to receive a new revenue of glory from them. This, as we have proved, is the end of worship. This he would never have done, but with a design of accepting and rewarding to his creatures. For do we think that he will be beholden unto them? That he will take and admit of their voluntary reasonable service according to his will and command, without giving them a reward, yea, and such a one as their obedience holds no proportion unto? no such thing would become his infinite self-sufficiency, goodness, and bounty. This the wife of
Manoah well pleads, Judg. xiii. 23. · If, saith she, Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a meat-offering, and a burnt-offering, at our hands.' His acceptance of worship from us, is an infallible demonstration, that he will not execute against us the severity of the first curse.
And this is clearly evidenced in the first record of solemn instituted worship performed by sinners, Gen. iv. 4. God had respect unto Abel and his offering.' Some think that God gave a visible pledge of his acceptance of Abel and his offering; it may be it was by fire from heaven. For how else should Cain so instantly know, that his brother and his offering were accepted, but that he and his were refused? However it were, it is evident that what testimony God gave of the acceptance of his offering, the same he gave concerning his person ; and that in the first place he bad respect unto Abel, and then to his offering. And therefore the apostle saith, that thereby he obtained witness that he was righteous;' Heb. xi. 4. that is, the witness or testimony of God himself. Now this was in the forgiveness of his sins; without which he could neither be righteous nor accepted, for he was a sinner. This God declared by acceptance of his worship. And thus we also, if we have any testimony of God's acceptance of us in any part of his worship, should employ it to the same end. Hath God enlarged our hearts in prayer? Hath he given us an answer unto any of our supplications? Hath he refreshed our hearts in the preaching and dispensation of the word, or any other ordinance? We are not to rest in the particular, about which our communion with him hath been. Our doing so is the cause why we lose our experiences. They lie scattered up and down, separated from their proper root, and so are easily lost. But this is that which we should first improve such particular experiences in the worship of God unto; namely, that God hath pardoned our sins, and accepted our persons thereon; for without that, none of our worship or service would please him, or be accepted with him.
2. Hereby God lets us know, that he deals with us upon new terms, so that, notwithstanding sin, we may enjoy his love and favour. For this we have the engagement of his truth and veracity, and he cannot deceive us; but yet by this command of his for his worship, we should be deceived if there were not forgiveness with him. For it gives us encouragement to expect, and assurance of finding acceptance with him, which without it cannot be obtained. This then God declares by his institution of, and command for, his worship, namely, that there is nothing that shall indispensably hinder those who give up themselves unto obedience of God's commands, from enjoying his love and favour, and communion with him.
4. For matter of fact; it is known and confessed that God hath appointed a worship for sinners to perform. All the institutions of the Old and New Testament bear witness hereunto. God was the author of them. And men know not what they do, when either they neglect them, or would be intermixing their own imaginations with them. What can the mind of man conceive or invent that may have any inAuence into this matter, to secure the souls of believers of their acceptance with God? Is there any need of their testimony to the truth, faithfulness, and goodness of God? These things he hath taken upon himself. This then is that which is to be fixed on our souls, upon our first invitation unto religious worship; namely, that God intends a new revenue of glory from us, and therefore declares that there is a way for the taking away of our sins, without which we can give no glory to him by our obedience, and this is done only by forgiveness.
5. There are some ordinances of worship appointed for this very end and purpose to confirm unto us the forgiveness of sin. Especially in that worship which is instituted by the Lord Jesus under the New Testament. I shall instance in one or two.
1. The ordinance of baptism. This was accompanied with the dawning of the gospel, in the ministry of John the Baptist. And he expressly declared in his sermons upon it, that it was instituted of God to declare the remission of sins ;' Mark i. 4.
It is true, the Lord Christ submitted unto that ordinance (and was baptized by John), who had no sin. But this belonged unto the obedience which God required of him, as for our sakes he was made under the law. He was to observe all ordinances and institutions of the worship of God; not for any need he had in his own person of the especial ends and significations of some of them; yet, as he was our sponsor, surety, and mediator, standing in our stead in all that he so did, he was to yield obedience unto them, that so he might ‘fulfil all righteousness;' Matt. iii. 13. So was he circumcised, so he was baptized, both which had respect unto sin, though absolutely free from all sin in his own person; and that because he was free from no obedience unto any command of God.
But as was said, baptism itself, as appointed to be an ordinance of worship for sinners to observe, was a declaration of that forgiveness that is with God. It was so in its first institution. God calls a man in a marvellous and miraculous manner; gives him a ministry from heaven; commands him to
go and baptize all those, who, confessing their sins, and professing repentance of them, should come to him, to have a testimony of forgiveness. And as to the especial nature of this ordinance, he appoints it to be such, as to represent the certainty and truth of his grace in pardon, unto their senses by a visible pledge. He lets them know that he would take away their sin, wherein their spiritual defilement doth consist, even as water takes away the outward filth of the body; and that hereby they shall be saved, as surely as Noah and his family were saved in the ark swimming upon the waters ; 1 Pet. iii. 21. Now how great a deceit must needs in this whole matter have been put upon poor sinners, if it were not infallibly certain, that they might obtain forgiveness with God.
After the entrance of this ordinance in the ministry of John, the Lord Christ takes it into his own hand, and commands the observation of it unto all his disciples. I dispute not now, who are the proper immediate objects of it; whether they only who actually can make profession of their faith, or believers with their infant seed. For my part, I believe that all whom Christ loves and pardons, are to be made partakers of the pledge thereof. And the sole reason which they of old insisted on, why the infants of believing parents should not be baptized, was, because they thought they had no sin, and therein we know their mistake. But I treat not now of these things; only this I say is certain, that in the prescription of this ordinance unto his church, the great intention of the Lord Christ was to ascertain unto us the forgiveness of sins. And sinners are invited to a participation of this ordinance for that end, that they may receive the pardon of their sins; that is, an infallible pledge and assurance of it; Acts ii. 38. And the very nature of it declareth this to be its end, as was before intimated. This is another engagement of the truth, and faithfulness, and holiness of God, so that we cannot be deceived in this matter. There is,' saith God, forgiveness with me;' saith the soul, How Lord shall I know, how shall I come to be assured of it? for by reason of the perpetual accusations of conscience, and the curse of the law upon the guilt of my sin, I find it a very hard matter for me to believe. Like Gideon, I would have a token of it. Why, behold, saith God, I will give thee a pledge and a token of it which cannot deceive thee. When the world of old had been overwhelmed with a deluge of waters by reason of their sins, and those who remained, though they had just cause to fear that the same judgment would again befall them or their posterity, because they saw there was like to be the same cause of it, the thoughts and imaginations of the hearts of men being evil still, and that continually; to secure them against these fears, I told them that I would destroy the earth no more with water; and I gave them a token of my faithfulness therein, by placing my bow in the cloud. And have I failed them ? though the sin and wickedness of the world hath been since that day unspeakably great, yet mankind is not drowned again, nor ever shall be: I will not deceive their expectation from the token I have given them. Wherever then there is a word of promise confirmed with a token, never fear a disappointment. But so is this matter. I have declared that there is forgiveness with me, and to give you assurance thereof, I have ordained this pledge and sign, as a seal of my word, to take away all doubts and suspicion of your being deceived. As the world shall be drowned no more, so neither shall they who believe, come short of forgiveness.
And this is the use which we ought to make of this ordinance. It is God's security of the pardon of our sins, which we may safely rest in.
2. The same is the end of that other great ordinance of the church, the supper of the Lord. The same. thing is therein confirmed unto us by another sign, pledge, token,