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began, Tit. i. 2. And to whom could it be then made immediately and primarily, but to Christ the head of the covenant?
Lastly, These promises contain a part of the reward made over in the covenant to Jesus Christ, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, Heb. xii. 2. A great part of which joy lay here; He Mall see his feed the travel of his foul, Ifa. liii. 10. 11. All of these promises were the price of his blood to him, the purchase of his obedience and death: therefore called the new testament in his bloce!. To whom could the reward be chiefly promised, but to him who performing the condition, wrought the work? Unto him therefore it was of debt, namely, in virtue of the promise, which made it due to him upon his performing of the condition. The blefsings of the covenant which came on the elect, are certainly to be considered as a reward to Christ, as well as a free gift to them. And considering them in the first of these views, there is no more absurdity in the promise of the new hearts being made to Christ, than in a physician's making a promise to a father to cure his lame child, when he hath given him security for his fees; in which case, the child cannot look on the promises made to him self at all, but secondarily through his father, who was the party-contractor.
This is a point of considerable weight, and serves both to inform our mind, and direct our practice ; for the following inferences from it are native.
(1.) The promises of the covenant are not made to the believer's good works; but to Christ's works, and to the working believer in him. Unto the believer they are absolutely free, and not of debt; and therefore are not made to his work; for to him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace but of debt. Rom. iv. 4. There is indeed a comely order of the promises, whereby the promises of purity of heart to the elect, I 3
goes before the promise of their seeing God in hea. ven; the promise of humiliation, before that of lifting up: thereupon it is declared in the administration of the covenant, that the pure in heart shall see God: that they who bumble themselves, soall be lifted up: and thus godliness hath promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come, 1 Tim. iv. 8. But the foundation of all these promises, whether of things that are our duty, or our privilege, what they all depend upon as their proper condition, is the sobedience of Christ allenarly; they being all made to him in the first place, the latter as well as the former.
(2.) The first grace whereby the dead elect are quickened, and made to believe and unite with Chrift, is conveyed to them in the channel of a promise, as well as the grace following faith: Ezek. xxxvi. 27, 1 will put my spirit within you. For although in their natural estate they are not capable of a believing pleading of the promise; nor have they, at that time, a personal saving interest in the promises: yet the Lord Jesus knoweth them that are his, and for whom the promises were made to him; and having the ad. ministration of the covenant in his own hand, he cannot fail of seeing to the accomplishing of them, in the appointed time. Howbeit they, being dead in trespasses and fins, cannot consult their own intereft; yet he having the chief interest in the promises, will not neglect his own cause, but will see them exactly accomplished.
(3.) The way to be personally and savingly. interered in the promises, for time and eternity is to unite with Christ by faith: for all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen, 2 Cor. i., 20. Would ye fain know how the great and precious promises may become yours? Why, they are all his; they are all made to him. Take him and they are yours; even as he who marries the heiress, hath a
right to her portion, and all the bills and bonds wherein any of it is contained.
(4.) When through deadness and darkness of spirit, whether arising from some conscience-wasting guilt, or otherwise, your faith of the promise is failed, and you cannot again fasten your grip upon it, because you can see no good in you ; embrace Christ again, and the promise in him, notwithstanding of your seen, and felt sinfulness, and utter unworthiness ;'and by no means stand off from the promife until you be in better case : but say with the Psalmist, Iniquities prevail against me; as for our transgreffions, thou shalt purge them away, Pfal. Ixv. 3. For as the goodness in you was not the ground of the promise ; so the evil in you doth not overturn it, and make it of none effect. The foundation of the promise stands fure in Christ, whatever alterations the frame and case of a believer's fpirit do undergo. It is established as the moon, (Psalm Ixxxix. 37.), which is still the same in itfelf, notwithstanding of the variety of its appearances to our sight, one while waxing, at another time waneing.
(5.) The true way to plead the promises, is to come to God in the name of Christ, and plead the fulfilling of them to us for his fake : John xvi. 23. Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Matth. xxi. 22. Believing, ye mall receive. Dan. ix. 17. O our God cause thy face to shine upon thy fanctuary that is defolate, for the Lord's fake. To ask in Christ's name believing, is to present one's self before the Lord, as a member of Christ, joined and cleaving unto him offered unto us in the gospel ; and for the sake of the Head, te implore the free favour of the promise, relying on his merit for obtaining it. This is the import of that passage, Gen. xii. 3. as it relates to Christ, In thee fall all families of the earth (to wit, that shall be blessed) be blessed; or rather, as the original word pro
perly signifies, be made to kneel, namely to receive the blessing; all that are blessed, being blessed in Chrift, Eph« i. 3. Compare Philip. ii. 10. This is the method in which God difpenfeth the favours of his promise; 2 Sain. vii. 21. For thy word's fake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things. Compare 1 Chron. xvii. 19. For thy servant's fake, and according to thine own heart, haft thou done all this greatness ; i. e. for the sake of the Word, thy servant, the Meffias : for as both these patrages are a narration of the very fame thing, there is no manner of difference at all between them in the original, fave that where the one hath thy word, the other hath thy fervant.
(6.) Believers niay hereby strengthen their faith of the accomplishment of the promises to them. Whatever easy work fome have, in maintaining their presumptuous hopes of the mercy of God to eternal life; while, not seeing the heinous nature of their fin, they build their hopes on something in their selves, rather than upon the free promise of the covenant in Christ Jesus; yet unto the serious godly, no small difficulty of believing doth arise, from the joint view of the greatness and preciousness of the promi. fes, and the greatness of their fins, and of their un. worthiness. Hence they are ready to say, Can ever such promises be made out to such a one as I am ? And truly there is nothing in them that can furnish an answer to this grave case. But here is a satisfying answer to it; The promises are all of them made to Christ chiefly, even to him who purchased them with his blood ; and justice requires that they be performed to him ; and being performed to him, they must needs have their effect on all his members, for whom, because in themselves unworthy, he merited them.. So the soul may say, However unworthy I am, yet he is worthy for whom God should do this:
2. The promises having their immediate effect on the elect, are made to themselves secondarily, in and through Christ. As he hath the fundamental and chief interest in them, so they have a derived interest in them through him. There was from eternity a legal union between Christ and them in the covenant; whereby their debt became his, and the promises made to him became theirs. As, upon one hand, the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all, Ifa. liii. 6.; fo, on the other hand grace was given in Christ Jesus, before the world began, 2 Tim. i.9. In time there is a real mystical union made between him and them, upon his taking possession of them by his Spirit, and dwelling in them by faith. The former constituted a right for them unto the promises, in Christ the head; the letter vests them with a right thereto, in their own persons, through him; as being actual members of his body, In respect of the one, eternal life is said to be promised, and grace said to be given us, before the world began, Tit. i. 2. 2 Tim. i. 9. : in respect of the other, believers are called the heirs of the promise, Heb. iv, 17; partakers of his promise in Chrift, Eph. iii. 6,: and the promise is given to them that believe, Gal. iii. 22.
Thus it appears that these promises are made to Christ's fpiritual feed, as well as to himself; though primarily to him as the representative, on whom the fulfilling the condition was laid; and but secondarily to them as the represented, who were to receive, the benefit. And hence ariseth another difference, namely, that properly and strictly speaking, the promises were conditional to Christ, but they are absolute and free to us; even as the promise of life in the first covenant, which was conditional to Adam, would have been absolute to his natural feed, the condition once being fulfilled. Thus Christ's merit, and the free grace of God, meet together in the covenant : justice is fully satisfied, and grace runs free