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I believe God entered into a double covenant with man, the covenant of works made with the first, and the covenant of grace made in the second Adam.
THAT the most high God should take a piece of earth, work it up into the frame and fashion of a man, and ‘breathe into his nostrils the breath of life,’ and then should enter into a covenant with it, and should say, ‘Do this and live,’ when man was bound to do it, whether he could live by it or no, was without doubt, a great and amazing act of I love and condescension; but that, when this covenant was unhappily broken by the first, God should instantly vouchsafe to renew it in the second Adam; and that too upon better terms, and more easy conditions than the former, was yet a more surprising mercy; for the same day that Adam eat the forbidden fruit did God make him this promise, that ‘the seed of the woman should 73bruise the serpent’s head.’108108 Gen. iii. 15. And this promise he afterwards explained and confirmed by the mouth of his prophet Jeremiah, saying, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days; I will put my law into their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.’109109 Jer. xxxi. 33. And again, by St. Paul under the New Testament, almost in the self-same words.110110 Heb. viii. 10.
A covenant so gracious and condescending, that it seems to be made up of nothing else but promises. The first was, properly speaking, a covenant of works, requiring on man’s part a perfect and unsinning obedience, without any extraordinary grace or assistance from God to enable him to perform it; but here, in the second, God undertakes both for himself and for man too, having digested the conditions to be performed by us, into promises, to be fulfilled by himself, viz. that he will not only pardon our sins, if we do repent, but that he will give us repentance, that so we may deserve his pardon; that he will not only give us life, if we come to Christ, but even draw us to Christ, that so he may give us life; and so not only make us happy, if we will be holy, but make us holy, that so we may be happy: for the covenant is, not that he will be our God, if we will be his people, but he will be our God, and we shall he his people. But still, all this is in and through Christ, the surety and mediator of this covenant, in whom all the ‘promises are yea and amen,’111111 2 Cor. i. 20. so that Christ may be looked upon, not only as a surety, but as 74a party in this covenant of grace, being not only bound to God, but likewise covenanting with him for us. As God-man, be is a surety for us, but as man he must needs be a party with us, even our head in the covenant of grace, as Adam was in the covenant of works.
What therefore though I can do nothing in this covenant of myself? yet this is my comfort, that he hath undertaken for me, who can do all things. And therefore it is called a covenant of grace, and not of works, because in it there is no work required from me, but what, by grace, I shall be enabled to perform.
And as for the tenor in which this covenant runs, or the Habendum, and grant which each party covenants for, it is express in these words, ‘I will be your God, and you shall be my people;’ God covenants with us, that we shall be his people, we covenant with God, that he shall be our God. And what can God stipulate more to us, or we stipulate more to him than this? What doth not God promise to us, when he promises to be our God? and what doth he not require from us, when he requires us to be his people.
First, He doth not say, I will be your hope, your help, your light, your life, your sun, your shield, and your exceeding great reward; but I will be your God, which is ten thousand times more than possibly can be couched under any other expressions whatsoever, as containing under it whatsoever God is, whatsover God hath, and whatsoever God can do. All his essential attributes are still engaged for us; we may lay claim to them, and take hold on them: so that what the prophet saith of his righteousness and strength, ‘surely shall one say, in the 75 Lord have I righteousness and strength.’112112 Isa. xlv. 24. I may extend to all his other attributes, and say, surely in the Lord have I mercy to pardon me, wisdom to instruct me, power to protect me, truth to direct me, grace to crown my heart on earth, and glory to crown my head in heaven: and, if what he is, then much more what he hath, is here made over by covenant to me. ‘He that spared not his own Son,’ saith the apostle, ‘but delivered him up for us all; how shall he not but with him likewise freely give us all things?’113113 Rom. viii. 32. But what hath God to give me? Why, all that he hath is briefly summed up in this short inventory; whatsoever is in heaven above, or the earth beneath, is his; and that this inventory is true, I have several witnesses to prove it, Melchizedec,114114 Gen. xiv. 19. and Moses,115115 Deut. x. 14. and David.116116 1 Chron. xxix. 11. Indeed, reason itself will conclude this, that he that is the Creator and preserver, must of necessity be the owner and possessor of all things; so that let me imagine what possibly I can, in all the world, I may with the pen of reason write under it, “this is God’s;” and if I take but the pen of faith with it, I may write, “this is mine in Jesus Christ.”
As for example; hath he a Son? He hath died for me. Hath he a Spirit? It shall live within me. Is earth his? It shall be my provision. Is heaven his? It shall be my portion. Hath he angels? They shall guard me. Hath he comforts? They shall support me. Hath he grace? That shall make me holy. Hath he glory? That shall make me happy. For the Lord will 76give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from those that walk uprightly.’117117 Psal. lxxxiv. 11.
And as he is nothing but what he is unto us, so he doth nothing but what he doth for us. So that whatsoever God doth by his ordinary providence, or (if our necessity requires) whatsoever he can do by his extraordinary power, I may be sure, he doth and will do for me. Now he hath given himself to me, and taken me unto himself, what will he not do for me that he can? And what can he not do for me that he will? Do I want food? God can drop down manna from the clouds, or bid the quails come down and feed me with their own flesh, as they did the Israelites;118118 Exod. xvi. 4, 13. or he can send the ravens to bring me bread and flesh, as they did the prophet Elijah.119119 1 Kings, xvii. 6. Am I thirsty? God can broach the rocks, and dissolve the flints into floods of water, as he did for Israel.120120 Deut. viii. 15. Am I cast into a fiery furnace? He can suspend the fury of the raging flames, as he did for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.121121 Dan. iii. 23. Am I thrown among the devouring lions? He can stop their mouths, and make them as harmless as lambs, as he did for Daniel.122122 Dan. vi. 22. Am I ready to be swallowed up by the merciless waves of the tempestuous ocean? God can command a fish to come and ship me safe to land, and that in its own belly, as be did for his prophet Jonah.123123 Jonah, ii. 10. Am I in prison? God can speak the word, as he did for St. Peter, and the chains shall immediately fall off, and the doors fly open, and I shall be set at liberty, as he was.124124 Acts, xii. 7, 8, 9, 10.77And thus I can have no wants, but God can supply them; no doubts, but God can resolve them; no fears, but God can dispel them; no dangers, but God can prevent them. And it is as certain that he will, as that he can, do these things for me, himself having, by covenant, engaged and given himself unto me.
And as in God’s giving himself, he hath given whatsoever he is, and whatsoever he hath unto me, and will do whatsoever he can do for me; so in my giving myself to him, whatsoever I have, I am to give to him, and whatsoever I do I am to do for him. But now, though we should thus wholly give up ourselves to God, and do whatsoever he requires of us, (which none, I fear, without some degree of presumption, can say he has done,) yet I there is an infinite disproportion between the grant I on God’s part, and that on ours, in that he is God, and we but creatures, ‘the workmanship of his own hands,’ to whom it was our duty to give ourselves, whether he had ever given himself to us or no: he is ours by covenant only, not by nature; we are his both by covenant and nature too.
Hence we may infer, that it is not only our duty to do what he hath commanded us, because he hath said, ‘Do this and live;’ but because he hath said, ‘Do this;’ yea, though he should say, Do this and die, it would still be our duty to do it, because we are his, wholly of his making, and therefore wholly at his disposing; insomuch that should he put me upon the doing that which would inevitably bring ruin upon me, I am not to neglect obeying him for fear of destroying myself, his will and pleasure being infinitely to be preferred before my life and salvation.78
But, if it were my duty to obey his commands, though I should die for it, how much more when he hath promised, I shall live by it? Nay, I shall not only live, if I obey him, but my obedience itself shall be my life and happiness; for if I be obedient unto him, he is pleased to account himself as glorified by me; ‘for herein is my Father glorified, if ye bring forth much fruit.’125125 John, xv. 8. Now, what greater glory can possibly be desired, than to glorify my Maker? How can I be more glorified by God, than to have God glorified by me; it is the glory of God to glorify himself; and what a higher glory can a creature aspire after, than that which is the infinite glory of its all-glorious Creator? It is not, therefore, my duty only, but my glory to give myself, and whatsover I am, unto him, ‘to glorify him both in my body and in my spirit which are his,’126126 1 Cor. vi. 20. to lay out whatsoever I have for him, ‘to honour him with all my substance,’127127 Prov. iii. 9. and ‘whether I eat or drink, or whatsoever I do, to do all to his glory.’128128 1 Cor. x. 31. Not as if it was possible for God to receive more glory from me now, than he had in himself from all eternity. No: he was infinitely glorious then, and it is impossible for him to be more glorious now; all that we can do, is duly to acknowledge that glory, which he hath in himself, and to manifest it, as we ought, before others; which, though it be no addition to his glory, yet it is the perfection of ours, which he is pleased to account as his.
As for the grant, therefore, in the covenant of grace; I believe it to be the same on our parts, 79with that in the covenant of works, i. e. That we Christians are as much bound to obey the commands he lays upon us now, as the Jews under the old covenant were. What difference there is, is wholly and solely on God’s part; who, instead of expecting obedience from us, is pleased, in this new covenant, to give this obedience to us. Instead of saying, ‘Do this and live,’ he hath, in effect, said, I will enable you to do this, that so you may live. ‘I will put my laws into your minds, and write them in your hearts; and I will be to you a God, and you shall he to me a people.129129 Heb. viii. 10. Not, I will, if you will, but I will, and you shall. Not, if you will do this, you shall live, but, you shall do this, and live. So that God doth not require less from us, but only hath promised more to us, in the new, than he did in the old covenant. There, we. are to perform obedience to God; but it was by our own strength: here we are to perform the same obedience still; but it is by his strength. Nay, as we have more obligations to obedience upon us now, than we had before, by reason of God’s expressing more grace and favour to us than formerly he did; so I believe God expects more from us, under the new, than he did under the old covenant. In that, he expected the obedience of men; in this, he expects the obedience of Christians, such as are by faith united unto Christ, and, in Christ, unto himself; and so are to do what they do, not by the strength of man, as before, but by the strength of the eternal God himself; who, as he at first created me for himself, so he hath now purchased me to himself, received me into covenant with him, and promised to enable me 80with grace to perform that obedience he requires from me; and, therefore, he now expects I should lay out myself, even whatsoever I have or am, wholly for him and his glory.
This, therefore, being the tenor of this covenant of grace, it follows, that I am none of my own, but wholly God’s: I am his by creation, and his by redemption, and, therefore, ought to be his by conversion. Why, therefore, should I live any longer to myself, who am not my own but God’s? And why should I grudge to give myself to him, who did not grudge to give himself for me? or rather, why should I steal myself from him, who have already given myself to him? But did I say, I have given myself to my God? Alas! it is but the restoring myself to him, whose I was ever since I had a being, and to whom I am still infinitely more engaged, than I can thus cordially engage myself to him; for, as I am not my own, but his, so the very giving of myself to him, is not from myself, but from him. I could not have given myself to him, had he not first given himself to me, and even wrought my mind into this resolution of giving myself to him.
But, having thus solemnly by covenant given myself to him, how doth it behove me to improve myself for him; my soul is his, my body his, my parts his, my gifts his, my graces his, and whatsoever is mine, is his; for, without him I could not have been, and therefore could have nothing. So that I have no more cause to be proud of any thing I have, or am, than a page hath to be proud of his fine clothes, which are not his, but his master’s; who bestows all his finery upon him, not for his page’s honour or credit, but for his own.
And thus it is with the best of us, in respect of 81God; he gives men parts and learning, and riches and grace, and desires and expects that we should make a due use of them: but to what end? Not to gain honour and esteem to ourselves, and make us proud and haughty: but to give him the honour due to his name, and so employ them as instruments in promoting his glory and service. So that, whensoever we do not lay out ourselves to the utmost of our power for him, it is downright sacrilege; it is robbing God of that which is more properly his, than any man in the world can call any thing he hath his own.
Having, therefore, thus wholly surrendered and given up myself to God, so long as it shall please his majesty to entrust me with myself, to lend me my being in the lower world, or to put any thing else into my hands, as time, health, strength, parts or the like; I am resolved, by his grace, to lay out all for his glory. All the faculties of my soul, as I have given them to him, so will I endeavour to improve them for him; they shall still be at his most noble service; my understanding shall be his, to know him; my will his, to choose him; my affections his, to embrace him; and all the members of my body shall act in subserviency to him.
And thus, having given myself to God on earth, I hope God in a short time will take me to himself in heaven: where, as I give myself to him in time, he will give himself to me unto all eternity.82
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