« PreviousContinue »
came dead to it, dying to it in his death on the cross; so that the holiness and righteousness of the man Christ did thereafter no more run in the channel in which it had run before, namely, from the womb to his
grave; that is to say, it was no more, and fall be no more for ever, obedience performed to the law for life and salvation; these having been compleatly gained and secured by the obedience he gave it from the womb to the grave. Wherefore, my brethren, if ye are his, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, which became dead to it on the cross, Rom. vii. 4. As ye will not be Libertines in your life and practice, being dead to sin and the world with Chrift; fo ye will not be Legalists in your life and practice neither, being also dead with him to the law as a covenant of works. Your obedi. ence will run in another channel than it did before your union with Christ, even in the channel of the gospel. Ye will serve in newness of spirit, in faith and love. The frowns of a merciful Father will be a terror to you to fright you from sin; love and gratitude will prompt you to obedience. The griev. ing of the Spirit of a Saviour will be a spring of forrow to you; and his atòning blood and perfect righteousness will be the spring-head of all your comfort before the Lord; your good works but streams there of, as they evidence your faving interest in these, are accepted through them, and glorify God your Saviour. Ye will not continue to serve in the old. ness of the letter, as before; at what time the law was the spring of all the obedience ye performed ; fear of the punishment of hell for your sins, and hope of the reward of heaven's happiness for your duties, being the weights that made you go, though for all them you often stopped: your forrows Springing from your ill works, under the influence of the law allenarly; and your comforts from your good works, under the same influence; ye being alive to
the law, and dead to Christ. Rom. vii. 6. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we voould serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the latter. If by faith you wholly rely on Christ's rigliteousness, the holiness of his nature, the righteousness of his life, and his fatisfaction for fin, how is it pofSible but ye must be dead to the law? for the law is not of faith, Gal. iii. 12. But if you perform your obedience for life and falvation, looking for acceptance with God on the account of your works, you go in a way directly opposite to the way of faith, and either altogether reject Christ's satisfying of the law, or else imputę imperfection unto his payment of the bond. And Christ is become of no effect unto you, whofoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace, Gal. v. 4.
Thus far of the first part of the covenant, namely, the conditionary part. The SECOND Part of the Covenant, namely, the
IN it .
proper covenant, there is a promile. And in a proper covenant, the promissory part answers to the conditionary part, being an obligation which the party.covenanter to whom the condition is performed, comes under for some benefit to be bestowed in view of the performance of the condition. This is the promise of a proper covenant, binding on him who makes it, providing the party contracting with him do his part. In every such case, where the thing is lawful and possible, it binds in point of truth and faithfulness, by virtue of compact: in fome cases it binds also, in point of remunerative justice : to wit, where the condition performed is properly equivalent to the benefit promised.
The covenant of grace, made between God and. Christ as the head and representative of his fpiri: tual seed, is a proper covenant. And in it there is a promissory part, answering to the conditionary part already explained: and it is God's part of the covenant, as the other was the Mediator's. Thereby God hath obliged himself, to make the benefits therein condescended on forthcoming, upon the con. fideration of the performing of the condition. And forasmuch as the condition performed by Christ, was strictly meritorious of the benefits promised; the promises are binding and firm, not only in respect of the truth and faithfulness, but also of the justice of God.
of what weight and importance the promissory part of the covenant is, will appear by the following considerations.
1. The covenant hath its name from this part of it, being called the covenants of promise, Eph. ii. 12. Covenants, because, tho’ still in itself but one covenant, yet from its first promulgation in paradise, it was often renewed, as to Abraham, Jacob, the If raelites, in the wilderness, and to David : and as oft as it was renewed, it was renewed in a promise. The first covenant had a promise of life, yet is not it called a covenant of promise: on the contrary, the law or that covenant, is opposed to the promise; though not in its use, yet in its nature, Gal. iii. 18. If the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise. For the law's promise of life was suspended on the condition of works, to be performed by men themselves : whereas in the second covenant, life and salvation are promised to finners freely, for Christ's fake, without respect to any work of theirs as the condition thereof.
2. The covenant is described to us, by the holy Ghost, as a cluster of free promises of grace and glory to poor finners, in which no mention is made
of any condition; Heb. viii. 10. This is the covenant -I will put my laws in their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they Jhall be to me a people. Ver. 11. And they Anall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all Mall know me, from the least to the greatest. Ver. 12. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their fins and their iniquities will I remember no more. These promises with their condition, having been proposed to, and accepted by Christ as second Adam, and the condition performed by him; the covenant comes natively, in the gospel, to be set before us in him, to be by us received and embraced in and through Chrift, by faith. Thus the promises are the covenaut by way of eminency; even God's covenant, wherein he hath bound hiinself to perform his part. as the Mediator hath already performed his. And in this fense, indeed, the covenant of grace is not conditional, but consists of absolute promises; that is, promises become abfolute, through the condition thereof actually performed already; but being considered in its full latitude, and in respect of Christ, the covenant, and all the promises thereof, are properly and strictly conditional.
3. The promises of the covenant are the purchase of the blood of Christ : the fruit of his fulfilling all righteousness, in his birth, life, and death. As the curse came by the demerit of Adam's sin; so the promises are owing to the merit of Christ's righteoulnefs; they are the new testament in his blood, i Cor. xi. 25. From the promise of the bread and water, (Ita. xxxiii. 16.), to the promise of a feat with him on his throne, (Rev. iii. 21.), they are all the purchase of his meritorious obedience even to the death. Juftly are they called exceeding precious promises, 2 Pet. i. 4. as being the price of his blood. Of what unspeak. able weight and importance mult they be, that cost
such a price, between the Father and his own Son !
4. The great design and end of the covenant is accomplished in the performing of the promissory part thereof; and that is, the glory of God, and the salvation of linners. The great glory to God, and grace to finners, springing up from the whole of the covenant, meet together here, namely, in the accomplishment of the promises, as all the rivers meet together in the sea. The promises were the great thing the parties contractors had in view, when they entered into the covenant: it was room for them the Father fought by his proposal of the covenant ; and that was what the Son intended to purchase, by his fulfilling the condition. The condition of the covenant is the foundation of the promises: the promises the glorious' superstructure reared upon that costly foundation. The administration of the covenant, is subservient to the accomplishment of the promises. The condition of the covenant was performed on earth, in the space of about thirty three years; the promises have been a performing more than five thousand years on earth, and will be a performing in heaven, through the ages of eternity.
5. The happiness and comfort of all the elect, for time and eternity, depends upon the promises of the covenant. What keeps unconverted elect perfons from dying in that state, and so dropping down to hell, but the promise of the covenant? What makes grace overtake them, when they are fleeing from it, but the promise? What preferves grace in then, like a spark of fire in an ocean, that it is not extinguilhed, but the promise ? And what is their secu. rity and comfort in the face of death, but the fame promise ? 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.
6. The glory of the man Christ, as Mediator, depends on the promise of the covenant. This was the security, in the faith of which he lived on earth, about the space of thirty-three years in a very low