« PreviousContinue »
venant. Rev. i. 16. Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged fword. What that fword is, and by what a ftrong arm it is weilded, in this cafe, may be learned from the Apostle, calling it the fword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Eph. vi. 17.; and what the effect of it is, being managed by that arm of the Lord revealed, is declared by the Pfalmift, Pfalm cx. 3. Thy people fhall be willing in the day of thy power; and by the Prophet, Ifa. xliv. 3. I will pour my fpirit upon thy feed:ver. 4. And they shall Spring up.-ver. 5. One fhall fay, I am the Lord's. Chrift communicates to them, and every one of them, at the time appointed in the eternal counfel, the fpirit and grace of the covenant, therein fecured for them by promife; and thereby they are quickened, enabled and determined to believe. And whereas he finds them prifoners, though prifoners of hope, he opens the house of their bondage, breaking the yoke of fin, death and the devil, from off their necks, by his Spirit applying to them his fatisfaction. The which has that mighty effect, inafmuch as then the law hath full fatisfaction as to them; and the -law being fatisfied, the ftrength of fin is broken; and the ftrength of fin being broken, the fting of death is taken away: and the fting of death being taken away, the devil lofeth his power over them and Satan's power over them being loft, the prefent evil world, which is his kingdom, can hold them no longer. Thus are they feparated from the world lying in wickedness, and conftituted members of the kingdom of Chrift; delivered from the power of darkness, and tranflated into the kingdom of God's dear Son, Col. i. 13. And from thenceforth, though they be in the world, yet they are no more of it; but ftrangers and pilgrims in it, true and lively members of the invifible kingdom of Chrift; a fociety to which the world is an implacable enemy, John xv. 19. Te are not of the world, but I have chofen you R 4
out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. And herein Chrift doth, in a special manner, thew himself a King mighty in battle, by the power of his grace overcoming the moft perverfe and rebellious to a cordial fubmiffion, and refcuing them from the bondage and dominion of their enemies.
4. Gathering them and others with them together into a visible church-ftate, Gen. xlix. 10. Unto him Shall the gathering of the people be. Thus is erected the visible church or kingdom of Chrift in the world; a fociety feparate from the visible kingdom of the devil, and profeffing faith in, and obedience to Chrift, outwardly bearing his badge, and the figns of his covenant. Among them is the ordinary feat of the administration of the covenant, the ordinary means of falvation, and offers of grace. In their land the voice of the turtle is heard, and the finging of birds in the preaching of the glorious gofpel; while there is a lafting winter over all the world befides. They have the Bible, and fabbaths, the miniftry of the word, and the holy facraments. Among them is to be found the communion of faints, and a church-government, inftituted for controlling the unruly, fuppreffing of fin and wickedness, and encouraging an orderly walk. And they have the privilege of Heaven's protection; infomuch that the church fhall be defended, and her enemies fo restrained and conquered by her King, that the fhall continue while the world ftands, maugre all oppofition that hell can make a gainst her Matth. xxviii. 20. Lo, I am with you alway even to the end of the world.
5. Lastly, Ruling and governing his true and kind. ly fubjects agreeably unto the covenant, by which his royal prerogative is stated, and their privileges are fecured, Ifa. ix. 6. The government shall be upon his fhoulder. Of this his government there are feveral acts, the chief of which are thefe following.
ift, He gives them the laws of the covenant; not only
only intimating the fame unto them externally by his word; but teaching them internally by his Spirit, writing them upon the tables of their hearts,. and leaving an indelible copy of them affixed there: Heb. viii. 10. I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts. Thefe laws of the covenant, are no other but the laws of the ten commandments, originally given to Adam in his creation, and at his transportation into Paradife and fettlement there, vefted with the form of the covenant of works; and now, unto believers in Chrift, ftanding without that form, in the covenant of grace, as the eternal rule of righteoufnefs, whereunto they are to be conformed by the grace of the covenant; the effectuat ing of which is committed by the Father to Jefus Christ as Administrator thereof. And accordingly, he carries it on, by his word and Spirit, in a fuitablenefs to their nature as rational agents, and to their ftate; making thefe laws known to them, as the rule of life, unto which they ftand bound by the fovereign authority, and matchlefs love of God their Creator and Redeemer; and withal inclining their hearts unto the obedience of the fame.
2dly, He gives them the rewards of the covenant in the course of their obedience: Pfal. xix. 11. In keeping of them there is a great reward. He puts his people indeed to work and labour; but not to labour in the fire, and for vanity, as the fervants of fin do; they are to work and labour, like an ox treading out the corn, which was not to be muzzled, but to have access at once to work and to eat. The fervice now done to Zion's King, hath a reward in this life, as well as a reward in the life to come. By the order of the covenant, there is a privilege established to follow duty, as the reward thereof; the which order is obferved by the King in his adminiftration. Accordingly, he propofeth the privilege of comfort, to excite to the duty of mourning, Matth.
v. 4. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted: the special tokens of Heaven's favour, to excite unto a holy tender walk, John xiv. 21. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them,— fhall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifeft myself to him. In like manner, to excite to the fame holy obedience, he propofeth the full reward in the life to come, 1 Cor. ix. 24. So run that ye may obtain. Rev. iii. 21. To him that overcometh will I grant to fit with me in my throne. And fo certainly doth he accomplish the promise of the reward of both kinds, that his people may be affured their labour is not in vain in the Lord, 1 Cor. xv. 58.: for faithfulness is the girdle of his loins and in difpenfing of the privileges to his people upon the back of their duty, he doth but obferve the stated order of the covenant. Not that the order of the covenant is, in every particular, first, duty, then privilege: nay, it is, firft, privilege; next, duty; then privilege again: and fo forward, till privilege and duty come both to perfection in heaven, not to be distinguished more, Woe to us if it were otherwise ! truely if it were otherwife, we could neither be brought. into the covenant, nor kept within it in life for how fhall one at firft believe, till once he is privileged with the quickening Spirit? and how shall a fallen faint renew his faith and repentance, till once he is privileged with new influences of grace? John xv. 5. Without me ye can do nothing. But here lies the matter, the leading privilege bringing in duty, there follows further privilege on the back of duty, according to the order of the covenant: and these further privileges are the rewards we fpeak of. And the Scriptures calls them reward, even in refpect of the faints; because they are given to a working faint, on the back of his work. Howbeit, they are as far from the nature of a reward, ftrictly and properly fo called, the which on the account of one's work is
of debt to him, as the leading privileges are, that
3dly, He minifters unto them the difcipline of the covenant, in cafe of their disobedience. The discipline of the covenant is fatherly chaftifement, which their eftate of imperfection in this life makes neceffary to their welfare and therefore it is fecured for them in the covenant, Pfal. lxxxix. 30. If his chil dren for fake my law;-verse 32. Then will I visit their tranfgreffion with the rod,-verfe 33. Neverthelefs-verfe. 34. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. It belongs to the promiffory part of the covenant, and particu. larly to the promise of fanctification: forafmuch as It is not vindictive, but medicinal; being an ap pointed means of advancing holiness in them. He chaftens for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness, Heb. xii. 10. And thus it ferves to purge iniquity, and to take away fin, Ifa. xxvii. 9.; namely, in that as a fire melting down the paint and varnish of the defiling objecte in the world, in our fight, and as a looking-glafs fhewing us our pollution, it occafions and excites us unto washing in the only laver of the blood of Chrift, by faith. Now the administering of the difcipline of the covenant is comitted unto Zion's King, John v. 22. The Fa ther hath committed all judgment unto the Son, Rev. iii. 19. As many as I love, I rebuke and chaften. And, as to the nature of it, it comprehends all manner of ftrokes upon their worldly fubftance, name, em ployments, and relations; all manner of bodily af Aictions, difeafes and pains incident to finful flesh ; even natural death itself, 1 Cor. xi. 30. 32.: and generally, all outward strokes which any of the children of men are liable to, Ecclef. ix. 2. All things come alike to all. Moreover, it comprehends fpiritus